June 15th, 2024

AUPE prepares for new round of bargaining; members receive increased strike wages

By BRENDAN MILLER on June 11, 2024.

Curtis Jackson, AUPE south region vice-president, speaks to members during a town hall meeting at the Medicine Hat Lodge on Monday. AUPE is hosting more than 50 similar meetings across the province as the union prepares to enter negotiations on several new collective agreements.--NEWS PHOTO BRENDAN MILLER

bmiller@medicinehatnews.com

If members of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees are forced to strike because of failed negotiations on reaching a new collective agreement, they will be better compensated for their time on the picket line.

In May AUPE’s executive board voted unanimously to increase strike wages for each member to $700 a week, with no deductions or taxes, while maintaining their pension and benefits.

According to Curtis Jackson, AUPE south region vice-president, members would be asked to participate in a strike 30 hours per week. Meaning members would make $23 an hour, a wage higher than some members make working.

“So we’re actually doing what employers won’t do. We’re actually offering every AUPE member a living wage to fight for a better wage,” says Jackson.

Monday, the provincial union held a town hall meeting with its members in Medicine Hat to discuss bargaining challenges the union is experiencing across the province as it enters negotiations on several collective agreements that will occur over the next couple months.

“We expect to be taken seriously at the bargaining table and to have our demands seriously considered and to have some fruitful bargaining occur,” says Jackson. “And if it doesn’t we’re going to have to look at other ways, and unfortunately one of those other ways could potentially cause a work stoppage.”

The union has more than 95,000 active members that work in health care, education and government, as well as municipalities, private companies and several boards and agencies.

AUPE says the province’s current offer of an increase of seven and a half percent over the next four years is “not enough.” Jackson says the government’s offer only represents an increase in the cost of living for one year.

“After decades of no minimum wage increases, our members make less today than they did 10, 20, 30 years ago,” explains Jackson. “And we used to play fair, we used to say, ‘Sure we’ll do our part,’ but that’s gone.

“We’re done with that rhetoric. It’s time to give us what we deserve. We are the everyday Albertans that keep this province going.”

AUPE will be asking for a 26 per cent increase over three years for all government services workers and a 35 per cent increase over two years for health services workers. The union will be fighting for increased wages for AHS general support workers.

“We have members that work full time for a public sector like Alberta Health Services that are functionally homeless, that live out of their cars and are sleeping on couches because they can’t afford rent and basic necessities, and that is shameful in this province.”

AUPE is hosting more than 50 similar town halls across the province. Tonight members are invited to attend a meeting in Oyen.

“Our members are ready. They’re strong and they’re willing to put their boots to the ground and put their fists in the air and fight for what they deserve,” says Jackson.

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