The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) in Lacombe and all over the province recently held information pickets in order to show their disgust with the UCP Government’s Bill 9.
“Our members are angrier than I have seen for many years over the attack on their basic rights and their work that the government launched with Bill 9, the Public Sector Wage Arbitration Deferral Act,” said Guy Smith, president of AUPE.
“This information picket was organized by front-line workers themselves. They are furious and it’s easy to see why. Not only does Bill 9 break a legally binding contract with the employer, not only is it a violation of our charter rights, but it’s an insult to the vital work they do every day on behalf of Albertans.”
Karen Weirs, vice president for the Alberta Union for Provincial Employees, who was present in Lacombe for the picket said the bill has taken away the constitutional rights of their members.
“We negotiated in good faith a collective bargaining contract that gave us two years of zero raises and this final year was supposed to be a wage reopener. That has been taken away with Bill 9,” she said
“Our concern with this is bill is that not only does it take away our constitutional right to have a wage reopener, but also what happens next? What happens next and who does it happen to?”
Bill 9 affects over 70,000 of AUPE’s 95,000 members, according to Weirs, and she said their members are angry.
“This doesn’t just affect public service workers. This could very well affect everybody and anybody,” she said. “If they come after a contact — a legally binding contract on public contract on public services — who is next? It doesn’t mean it will end with public.
“If they can take away a contract with a bill — what is the next bill they will create for a contract they don’t like.”
AUPE has filed a statement of claim at Court of Queen’s Bench based on two key issues: That Bill 9 goes against the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and therefore should not go into effect; and for a court injunction to allow wage arbitration to go ahead as negotiated in good faith by AUPE members and their employers. The court hearing for the injunction is scheduled July 29.
“One of the main points we want to stress is that this is a constitutional, fundamental right we have as union members and we have bargained in good faith,” Weirs said. “The faith that has been returned to us is anything but good
“We deserve dignity, we deserve respect and we are not seeing that from this government.”