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.
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.”
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.
“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.”
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.