July 14th, 2024

AUPE rally raises member spirits in preparation for bargaining

By ANNA SMITH Local Journalism Initiative on July 11, 2024.

AUPE members walk down the sidewalk outside the Hospital as part of the rally. News Photo: Anna Smith.

asmith@medicinehatnews.com

Members of the city’s AUPE chapter gathered with signs and flags outside of the Medicine Hat Regional Hospital on Wednesday, despite the heat.

They were joined by fellow union members from other organizations, including UNA, said Curtis Jackson, AUPE vice-president for the South region of the province.

He explained that the purpose of the rallies was to bolster the spirits of their members throughout the province, as over 82,000 members are currently in bargaining.

“We held over 54 town halls in the month of June across Alberta. These rallies are the follow up, and they are the natural progression from the town halls,” said Jackson. The AUPE may have a long stint at the negotiating table in the near future, making encouragement and solidarity among members a must.

“Right now we have offers on the negotiating tables that don’t even begin to cover the cost of inflation, or cost of living increases,” said Jackson. “The employers are essentially asking our members to take less than the cost of living adjustments.”

Jackson said that they had good momentum pre-pandemic, and are looking forward to getting their members out in the public eye and meeting again to restore morale and get them excited for the work being done.

In front of the hospital, Jackson was pleased to talk about the current situation for their healthcare workers, who are seeking increased wages that they feel will still be proper raises when accounting for the rate of inflation in the province.

Jackson hopes that the rally will also help reaffirm the union’s commitment to the community at large.

“Right now, there’s some rhetoric out there too, that is trying to divide people, and pit people against public workers or really against workers in general, but the reality is, public sector workers and unionized workers and, and even non union workers in Medicine Hat, keep their money in the community,” said Jackson.

When workers are paid a wage that matches the cost of living, they are more likely to spend time in local restaurants or local businesses, said Jackson who added that everything invested into public workers goes back into the community.

“We are your friends, your family and your neighbours, and we’re here to support you,” said Jackson. “We support you every day in the work that we do, and we love supporting you. We love this community and we look forward to continuing to support you in the future.”

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