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Bargaining Update: Special Areas Board 118/020

Members return to bargaining with open minds. Employer returns with their mind made up.

May 10, 2021

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On April 26, 2021 members of your Bargaining Committee and an AUPE representative met with the Employer and the Employer’s legal counsel for a Resolution Conference with the Alberta Labour Relations Board (ALRB). The ALRB Chair explicitly directed the attendees not to share the discussions outside of the virtual conference.

After eight months of requests to the Employer by your negotiator to get back to the bargaining table, the Employer suggested coming back to the table would be a good idea. Your Committee wanted to be at the table much sooner to negotiate and resolve this long outstanding matter in the hopes of having a tentative collective agreement for the membership. The Committee proposed numerous scenarios to resolve this long-standing matter, including asking the mediator to write a recommendation that we would immediately put to a vote, regardless of the content of the recommendation or the potential outcome of the vote.

The Employer refused to meet with your new negotiator or the Committee. The Employer also refused any proposal to resolve outstanding issues, and it became abundantly clear they have no interest in mediation or a mediator’s recommendation on the matters.

On May 6 2021, your Bargaining Committee met with the Employer’s team to continue negotiating a fair collective agreement. This was the first time the teams had met since December 2019, when we got together for a day of mediation.

Your Bargaining Committee went into the meeting with open minds and fresh hope for agreement after the long cooling-off period. We proposed several different scenarios we hoped might break the stalemate and demonstrate our willingness to engage, compromise and find a solution that would preserve the cordial relationship between the Members and the Employer. The Employer came into the meeting with their mind made up, evidenced by the fact when the Employer heard the numerous scenarios, they did not need to take a break to discuss a response – their answer was predetermined. 

The one and only “idea” the Employer brought to the table is there is a dollar amount for the flex spending account for the next round of negotiations and they would react positively or favourably to the demand in the future. Normally, when an Employer states that, the Committee could take them at their word. Based on the Employer removing numerous monetary items they have put on the table over the past two years, the Committee worries this “idea” will not materialize in the next round of negotiations.

The Employer’s canned response to the numerous proposals from your Committee was that their Dec. 11, 2020 offer is a final offer. They refused any type of negotiation or compromise to their position, muddying the waters and fracturing the membership. They refuse to undertake an Employer Final Offer Vote as is their privilege under Alberta legislation.

Your Bargaining Committee recognizes and acknowledges the current situation of Alberta and the rest of the world due to the pandemic. The Employer states because of the changes to economic reality they had to amend their offer, which begs the question - where are the substantial amount of money to pay their legal fees coming from? The question was asked, and there seems to be a magical pot of never-ending money available to defend how they have conducted themselves throughout this round of bargaining.  We have always maintained the position we want to present a contract to the membership which provides improvement to all members, including our seasonal brothers and sisters. The Employer would rather torch this money and give it to a law firm instead of their hardworking employees at such an uncertain time.

Your Bargaining Committee has presented another offer, and our complaint at the Labour Board has been adjourned. Please continue to check for updates.

Paulette Pratt or 403-664-0549 
Clint Nicholson or 403-854-1056 
Robin Lacelle or 403-363-9855 
Christian Tetreault, negotiator 
Darcy Thiessen, organizer or 780-850-1449

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