A message to members
From AUPE President Guy Smith
Dear Members, 2020 is off to an interesting start. Between the political attacks on our bargaining rights and threats to our pensions, as well as the thousands of job losses that the UCP signaled are around the corner, there is hardly anyone that hasn’t felt daunted in the past year.
The last day of January 2020 finally brought us news on wage increases for AUPE members working directly for Government (GOA), AHS General Support Services (GSS) and AHS Nursing Care (ANC): 1%, 1% and 0% respectively. These numbers don’t reflect what you deserve, but one thing was made clear: The government did its best to suggest that wages needed to be rolled back and they failed, miserably. The arbitrator determined there’s no economic justification for rollbacks to be found.
While the arbitration decision wraps up negotiations for the last collective agreements for these members, work is already under way the next round of bargaining which for AHS and GOA members starts immediately. Members in post secondary education (PSE), boards and agencies and private health care are also getting ready to start bargaining this spring.
Bring It On
To get ready, thousands of members working for GOA and AHS have taken part in telephone town halls to talk about their priorities for the next round of contract negotiations. Thousands more have completed bargaining surveys.
Members on PSE, boards and agencies, and private health care negotiating teams are gearing up for a bargaining conference being planned for later in the spring. This March, 250 members from all sectors and parts of the province will gather for five days for our union’s advanced labour school, where the theme is ‘Bring It On’.
Members across the province are working to get ready to make a direct impact on their worksites to protect their jobs, working conditions, pay and benefits and collective agreements. To do this we must all be prepared to take a firm stand, so AUPE members are being provided with the tools, information and supports you’ve told us you want more of, including:
- Continuation of member-organized fight-back rallies, info pickets and actions;
- Digital transformation of our online tools to improve timely communications, such as Local Chairs being able to message members in their component directly;
- Local organizers who have been trained and are actively mapping and organizing their worksites and having ongoing conversations with members about the need to prepare for action;
- A series of training workshops for AUPE union stewards on the topic of building, supporting and taking direct action;
- Simple, one-stop reporting form to track privatization attempts on the front lines;
- Working short study to show the impact of understaffing in all sectors;
- Ongoing pension education in collaboration with Alberta Pension Services; and
- New courses focused on the practice (not just theory) of solidarity, including the Creative Action course at Labour School and Solidarity Across Difference and Direct Action core courses.
All of these efforts are to honour, and to put into action, the commitment your elected representatives made to you at AUPE’s centennial convention by unanimously endorsing an emergency resolution to do whatever it takes to fight back against this government’s ideological agenda.
2020 marks the start of our union’s second century. The fact that we exist today, as Alberta’s largest union, doesn’t change the reality that less than one in four Albertans work with the protection of a union contract. Nor does it change that we’re in the fight of our lives to stop what this government has in store for Alberta. The odds might seem daunting, but together we’re poised to make 2020 a year to remember!