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A Message to Members

From AUPE President Guy Smith

Jul 02, 2021

Dear Fellow AUPE Members,

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I hope you are all doing well, staying healthy and safe, and managing to navigate the very stormy waters that surround us.

In addition to the pandemic and the toll it has taken on our emotional and social wellbeing, we have some tough struggles ahead. For example, it is becoming clear that the government could be preparing to lock out its entire workforce (except those designated to provide essential services) to try and pressure staff into accepting wage rollbacks and many other concessions at the bargaining table.

This is an unprecedented and imminent threat. However, for many months we have been preparing our Government of Alberta (GoA) members for the picket lines, building worksite contacts, spreading fanout lists and training picket captains. We don’t know when, or if, a lockout will occur, but it could be in the next few months. Regardless, we are determined to be prepared and to stand as strong as possible against the attacks on our members’ wages, benefits, employment security and working conditions.

In the meantime, we will be finalizing an Essential Services Agreement (ESA), preparing for informal and formal mediation, and working hard to reach a collective agreement with the government. But it must be an agreement that recognizes the value of our members and contains the level of respect and provisions that our members need and deserve.

Likewise, our members in Post-Secondary Education could be facing a similar struggle with employers as their bargaining tables move towards an impasse. The next steps will then be ESA negotiations, mediation, and potential lockout. Again, it is very clear that the government is dictating employers in all sectors to force concessions on their own workers by any means, including lockouts.

Meanwhile, in AHS, the announcement that K-Bro will eventually take over the province’s laundry services is another callous provocation by the government to throw workers out of their jobs, hurting their livelihoods, their families and their (mostly rural) communities. The brutal disrespect that the government and AHS have displayed toward healthcare workers, particularly through the most severe period of the pandemic, is beyond reprehensible.

So, where bargaining is moving very fast and approaching impasse in some sectors, in others, such as healthcare, AHS and other employers are intentionally delaying it, either with or without the agreement of our negotiating teams. This would indicate that the government is determined to provoke confrontation in some areas while doing its best to avoid it in others.

These are dangerous times, and the stakes are high for both our members and a government that has been rocked by recent internal dissent. Premier Kenney is desperate to create a distraction from his poor performance on the pandemic and the dismal economic environment across Alberta. A head-to-head confrontation with the public sector, including his own employees, and forcing wage rollbacks and concessions will, he hopes, shore up his tanking popularity and reunite the fractured UCP.

Despite all these massive challenges, we have the resilience, tenacity, compassion, and organizational strength to over come them. Our union is based on mutual support and solidarity – this is what we do best! In the face of this adversity, I ask that you stay strong, support each other, look after one another, and ultimately stand together to protect jobs, wages, working conditions, public services and your own dignity and self-respect.

Take care, and stay safe.

In Solidarity

Guy Smith


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