The Bargaining Team for the Alberta Union of Public Employees (AUPE) Local 53 announced on September 14 that it has applied for mediation in its negotiations for the renewal of its (expired) Collective Agreement with the University (see also their Sept. 12 announcement).
The request came after negotiations broke down on Sept. 7, AUPE reports, “when the university submitted a number of unsatisfactory proposals.” This followed what the union describes as a “year of intense bargaining” and the presentation of a “comprehensive package” by AUPE to the administration on August 20 and 21.
The primary issues at stake include
- Adjusting maternity wage top-ups to accommodate new legislation,
- Age discrimination in the application of sick leave for AUPE members over the age of 65,
- Lack of significant movement on medical benefits,
- Lack of movement on pay.
AUPE stated that “The University indicated that they had no interest in dealing with other Union monetary proposals such as vacation improvements.”
The AUPE bargaining team argues that this lack of progress on monetary issues in light of the surplus represents “an insult to the hard working front line staff as the University was able to allocate funds to improve the working terms for its Administrative Professional Officers.”
“This is unacceptable,” the union continued. “You deserve a collective agreement that reflects the importance of the work you do.”
This impasse was reached, AUPE reported to its members, despite the fact that the University administration has accumulated a surplus of $206 million. “Our research shows the University certainly has the ability compensate you fairly, and your bargaining team is committed to making sure that happens.”
AUPE applied for mediation under Section 20 of the Public Sector Employee Relations Acts (PSERA), which draws on Divisions 11-13 of the Labour Relations Code (PSERA applies to public employees not covered by the Post Secondary Learning Act, include Staff at the U of L). Under the Code as incorporated into PSERA, informal mediation may be requested by either party at any time (Section 64). Under Section 65, either party may also request formal mediation in an attempt to resolve impasse before either party resorts to job action. Mediation under Section 65 is required before a vote can be held on lockout/strike.
Under Section 65, the mediator has 14 days from the date of his/her appointment to hear representations, mediate the dispute, and encourage the parties to reach settlement. At the end of the 14 days, the mediator may propose terms of settlement for the parties to accept or reject, or indicate that no proposal is being made. A 14 day cooling off period is required after mediation before any further action can be taken.
We will continue to work with our friends and colleagues in the AUPE bargaining unit and show solidarity as they progress through a difficult bargaining year.