Following a battle in an arbitration, members of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees at seven post-secondary institutions are celebrating an independent arbitrator’s rejection of the employer’s attempt to cut worker salaries by two per cent, and instead awarding workers a one per cent pay increase.
“Once again, an independent arbitrator has thoroughly rejected rollbacks for public sector workers,” said Kevin Barry, a vice-president of AUPE. “Independent experts agree that rollbacks don’t make economic sense. Experts are telling this government, once again, that ideology and economics are spelled differently.”
The decision will affect over 2,300 workers across seven postsecondary institutions. They can expect to receive a payment reflecting the hours they worked between July 1, 2019, and June 30, 2020.
Arbitrator David Tettensor wrote in his decision that rejecting the proposed rollbacks and awarding a pay increase is “fair and reasonable” and “in the best interest of the public.”
“This government has been on an ideological crusade to dismantle public services and turn Alberta into a low-wage nightmare,” Barry says. “They say they want to grow the economy. But the economy is people. It’s workers. And you can’t make the economy grow by making workers more poor and more desperate. We’re happy to see another expert repudiate that upside-down agenda, and concretely improve the lives of working people.”
“Look, this is a good start, but education workers deserve better than the cuts this government continues to throw at them, and every other public sector worker.” Barry says. “We’ve seen education workers’ purchasing power shrink substantially over the past few years, after the previous contract imposed two years of zeros.”
The postsecondary institutions affected by this decision are the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, Norquest College, Athabasca University, University of Lethbridge, Lakeland College, Northern Lakes College, and Red Deer College.
“This win is just the beginning,” Barry says. “We’re going to continue fighting to improve the working conditions for education workers—and the learning conditions for students. Education is a key part of Alberta’s future, and we’re fighting to make it better.”
Kevin Barry is available for comment. Contact Jon Milton, Communications Officer, at email@example.com