June 14, 2019 10:00 pm
Updated: June 14, 2019 10:01 pm

Edmonton Public Library backtracks on student minimum wage decision

WATCH ABOVE: The minimum wage will soon be lower for some Albertans and as Vinesh Pratap reports, that is creating scenarios that some employers aren't used to.

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The details came out like a plot twist, something unexpected for Civic Service Union 52 president Lanny Chudyk.

“I was quite disappointed when I originally heard what was being proposed,” Chudyk told Global News.

Earlier this week, the union learned students who work as pages for the Edmonton Public Library would face a pay reduction in line with new provincial minimum wage rules which go into effect June 26.

READ MORE: Alberta bill to overhaul workplace rules passes second reading after marathon debate

Watch below: Some Global News videos about the minimum wage in Alberta.


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According to the union contract, the youth are paid based on minimum wage plus a percentage.

“They (EPL), I guess, felt that they were bound under the collective bargaining agreement, which has some language but doesn’t spell out actual numbers,” Chudyk explained.

But days after learning of the changes, a reversal from EPL; student pages will continue to be paid what they’re earning right now.

The library declined an interview request to explain the reason for the flip-flop, instead choosing to release a statement.

In it, CEO Pilar Martinez indicates: “Thank you for voicing your opinions and asking us to find a solution.”

“Two dollars an hour is a huge amount of money for a youth.”

Edmonton-based human resources consultant Allie Knull said businesses and institutions now have to consider a variety of factors when deciding what to set student wages at — everything from the bottom line to employee retention.

“I see that this is a great opportunity for small business owners and not-for-profits to engage the youth into the workforce, saying, ‘We have the budget to bring on more youth,'” Knull said.

She said she wonders about a possible consequence down the road. For instance, a case where a 17-year-old who turns 18 is in line for an automatic wage increase. Could the situation be seen as a liability?

“Are we looking to age them out or not age them out?” Knull asked. “Does that become another human rights concern because ageism is a human right protection?

“I do applaud the library for stepping up.”

In the case of EPL, the ending for now is a happy one. But the union is paying closer attention going forward.

“I don’t think anybody ever envisioned standards moving backwards,” Chudyk said.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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