Labour talks continue between Alberta’s largest union and the University of Lethbridge and on Wednesday, the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees announced a new development in the negotiations involving support staff.
“We are going into mediation with the employer,” said AUPE vice-president Susan Slade.
Mediation is the latest step in contract negotiations that have been going on for about a year-and-a-half, according to Slade.
On Wednesday, AUPE members gathered outside the U of L for a rally ahead of mediation.
Roughly 500 AUPE members are part of Local 053, the union representing University of Lethbridge support staff.
“The support staff is clerical, administrative, assistants, custodians, security — anybody in the university besides faculty,” Slade said.
The AUPE said it’s asking for improvements to job classifications, flex spending accounts, working hours for security staff and a wage increase.
“This employer has a $206-million surplus as of last year, so there is no reason why they can’t have a little bit of money towards the wage increases for the staff,” Slade said.
However, a statement on the university’s website said the surplus funds that the union referred to is already earmarked for other expenses.
“This figure unfortunately does not reflect funds that are available for ongoing operating expenses of the university such as salary and benefits for continuing staff members,” the statement said. “The number cited refers to the net assets of the university and includes restricted funds such as endowment funds that are used mostly in support of student scholarships and bursaries and are legally required to be maintained in perpetuity, investment in capital which is the value of university-owned capital and not cash, and other restricted funds.”
Both the university and the AUPE said they are working towards an agreement. The current collective agreement expired on June 30, 2017.
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