After some “challenging” bargaining, members of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees voted Monday in favour of a proposed mediated settlement regarding a new collective agreement with the provincial government.
The two sides reached a settlement in mid-October after months of mediation.
AUPE represents about 95,000 workers in the province, including 22,000 who work in government services such as corrections, sheriffs, trades workers, conservation workers, social services, as well as administrative and support service workers.
The settlement was reached on Oct. 13 after about 20 months of negotiations.
Approximately 46 per cent of eligible AUPE members cast ballots. Of those, 91 per cent voted in favour, the union said Monday.
“This round of bargaining has been the most challenging we have faced for many years,” AUPE president Guy Smith said.
“While these negotiations proceeded, our members have worked through a deadly global pandemic while continuing to provide vital services to Albertans. We appreciate the determination our members displayed to support each other and their negotiating team,” Smith added.
“They stood strongly opposed to the proposed employer concessions and to secure a collective agreement that respects them and the services they provide.”
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The agreement will expire on March 31, 2024.
According to the AUPE, it includes:
- employment security for permanent staff staying in effect until Dec. 31, 2022
- a 1.25 per cent salary increase effective Jan. 1, 2023
- a minimum 1.5 per cent salary increase with potential for an additional 0.5 per cent increase based on economic factors effective Sept. 1, 2023
- an eight per cent salary increase for employees performing duties as part of the Rural Alberta Provincial Integrated Defence response force as a result of significant expansion of policing duties, responsibilities and risks. The 8 per cent increase will be retroactive to April 1, 2021, and remain in place as long as RAPID exists
The union said the government withdrew concessions it had been seeking, including:
- a four per cent salary rollback
- the elimination of employment security
- a significant reduction in shift differential pay
- a significant reduction in weekend premium pay
- the elimination of the paid Christmas closure days
- added benefit plan costs for employees
- reductions in overtime pay
- reductions in health spending account provisions
Alberta’s minister of finance said he was pleased AUPE members voted to accept the mediator’s recommendation.
“This four-year agreement comes after months of dedicated negotiations between the government of Alberta and the union. Full details of the ratified deal will be made available in the coming days,” Travis Toews said.
“I want to thank AUPE leadership for helping us achieve labour stability for the public service.
“This agreement recognizes the province’s long-term economic outlook and offers members compensation increases in the third and fourth year of the contract.”
Toews said this deal accomplishes the government’s goal of bringing spending in line with other provinces.
“I am hopeful that other public sector unions will look to this successful process, and that bargaining will proceed constructively across the broader public sector,” Toews said.
“The government respects the hard work and dedication of Alberta’s public service employees and their contribution to our province.”