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Opposition to Bill 9 continues with information picket at University of Lethbridge

AUPE hosts information picket outside the University of Lethbridge. Global News

Members of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) continued to voice their opposition to Bill 9 in Lethbridge on Friday.

AUPE members and allies banded together outside the University of Lethbridge to host an information picket and to protest the legislation which delays wage arbitration with unions.

“Bill 9 is taking away the fundamental rights of collective bargaining,” said Susan Slade, vice-president of AUPE.

“[The government] arbitrarily went into the legislature and passed a bill that stopped the actual contract that was voted on by both the employer and the members,” she said. “Now, it’s just delaying the wage arbitration that was agreed upon.”
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READ MORE: Judge grants union injunction against UCP government’s public sector wage bill: AUPE

Slade said members of the University of Lethbridge Local 53 and faculty association were also in attendance.

“At some point the government has got to realize that the public sector workers are who runs this province,” Slade said.

“They take care of the people in this province and they (the government) need to stand up and respect those workers. This is our future, we can’t be having cuts, we can’t be having rollbacks and we can’t be working at a level that is unworkable.”

Click to play video 'Legal battle continues over Bill 9 in Alberta' Legal battle continues over Bill 9 in Alberta
Legal battle continues over Bill 9 in Alberta – Jul 29, 2019

The president of the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association, David Kaminski, said implementing the bill is a misuse of power by the new government which affects more than 65,000 people across the province.

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“It’s always a worrying process when governments break open and subvert freely and fairly negotiated collective agreements,” Kaminski said.

“It’s worrying for anyone who may have dealings with the government down the road — if they’re going to behave in a manner where they break contracts just to suit themselves.”

READ MORE: ‘Furious’ health care workers protest Alberta government’s Bill 9 in Calgary

Bill 9 — or the Public Sector Wage Arbitration Deferral Act, imposes a delay on wage talks for unionized workers who took pay freezes in the first years of their contracts but had the right to reopen pay negotiations this year — with arbitration if needed.

Finance Minister Travis Toews and Premier Jason Kenney have said they believe Bill 9 is necessary because they need more time to review the province’s fiscal situation before they sit down to negotiate with unions.