Custodial and other support staff at the Calgary Board of Education have negotiated a 7.75% wage increase over the course of this school year. The 800 workers, members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 40 (CUPE 40) ratified the deal on Saturday.
CUPE 40 President Clay Gordon says the deal is better than the provincial government’s initial wage offer of 2.75%. Workers will get a 5% wage increase retroactive to the beginning of the school year, and a further 2.75% upon ratification.
The average support staff wage in Alberta is just $34,300 per year.
“After eight years without a wage increase, it’s still not enough,” said Gordon. “But it’s what we could get, and we will be back to the negotiating table when this deal expires in August. So we will be asking for more to make up for lost time.”
Gordon said his members deserve credit for making ‘a lot of noise’ about how unhappy they were with their low wages. “We had purple shirt days, rallies, demonstrations, letters and other ways to make the government understand we need to keep up with inflation, not fall further behind.”
CUPE Alberta President Rory Gill says this is the third group of CUPE workers to negotiate wage increases that are better than the provincial offer. Gill says there are 28 other school districts still in negotiations with CUPE – and that he expects others to follow the trends set by CUPE 40 in Calgary.
“The only way the UCP can avoid school strikes is to recognize that workers can’t go eight years without wage increases. Inflation is high and they need to value the work of taking care of students.”
Yesterday the Alberta government chose to make some of the most vulnerable people in our society even less safe.
Trans youth are five times more likely than others to self-harm or be harmed by others. Instead of offering support, which can sometimes save lives, our Premier has told them that if they suffer abuse they can file a complaint — after the fact.
Trans people are people. They are friends, neighbours, and co-workers. They deserve love, support, and above all – safety. Shame on Danielle Smith for taking that away.
CUPE members who work with students every day will continue to fight for the dignity, protection and safety of trans youth. Even as the government pushes in the opposite direction.
Over 400 educational assistants, clerical staff, therapists and technicians employed by the Parkland School Division have voted overwhelmingly to join the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). In an Alberta Labour Relations Board vote counted today, employees voted 97.8% to leave their independent association and join Canada’s largest union. There was an 80% turnout.
Parkland School Division includes 23 schools west of Edmonton in Stony Plain, Spruce Grove and surrounding areas.
CUPE Alberta President Rory Gill welcomed the new members, saying they chose CUPE for the benefits of being part of a larger organization.
“School board workers have a lot of challenges ahead,” said Gill. “Most have not had a wage increase in eight years. The average wage for an Educational Assistant is just $26,400. Employees at Parkland believe we are all stronger together, and their votes reflect that.”
“K-12 support staff are greatly undervalued in Alberta. These are the people who educate our kids – they deserve financial security and CUPE will work hard to make sure that happens.”
CUPE represents 11,500 K-12 employees in Alberta.
CUPE Alberta would like to recognize members at the upcoming CUPE AB Division Convention who have contributed in the following areas:
CUPE Alberta Equality Award
CUPE Locals in Alberta are invited to submit nominations for the CUPE Alberta Equality Award. The Equality Award recognizes a CUPE member whose work on equality issues has made a difference in Alberta.
To nominate a member please complete and submit the application by January 15, 2024.
CUPE Alberta Health & Safety Award
CUPE Locals in Alberta are invited to submit nominations for the CUPE Alberta Health and Safety Award. The Health and Safety Award recognizes a CUPE member who has made a significant contribution in the area of health and safety in Alberta.
To nominate a member please complete and submit the application by
January 15, 2024.
Workers at Buffalo Trail Schools smash UCP wage guidelines
EDMONTON – After eight years without wage increases, the 230-support staff at Buffalo Trail School Division have ratified a contract with wage increases well above the provincial government ‘mandate’ of 2.75% over three years.
Employees, members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, negotiated ‘market adjustments’ of $3 per hour for almost all employees, as well as almost 6% wage increases in the second year of the contract. Many workers will receive wage increases of above 20% over the life of the contract, with some getting increases as high as 25%.
CUPE members voted 85% in favor of the contract.
Employee Joyce Baker gave credit to CUPE members who spoke out loudly when the school division tried to bargain a lesser deal.
“Our members wore purple shirts to protest the poverty level wages, they told us loudly and clearly they would not accept the UCP mandate,” said Baker. “Their work and determination spoke volumes and the school district had to listen.”
CUPE Alberta President Rory Gill said his union is facing similar battles at almost 30 other school districts around the province. He said school board workers are fed up with poverty level wages, but see this settlement as a sign of things to come.
“When workers fight back, we can and do win good settlements,” said Gill. “Even when fighting government’s that want to restrict wage increases to less than inflation – we can win. We just did.”
Gill said the average educational worker in Alberta makes $34,300 per year. The wages for educational assistants are even lower at $26,388 per year (about $20.58 per hour). Inflation has moved this wage to just below the Alberta poverty line of $26,550.
Per student funding in Alberta is lower than every other province in Canada. The number of students per educator is higher in Alberta than every other province.
Contact: Lou Arab
CHESTERMERE – After seventeen months of bargaining, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and the City of Chestermere have reached a settlement for a first contract covering 130 employees.
The negotiations have been drawn out and difficult, with CUPE charging the City with unfair labour practices for dragging negotiations backwards and promoting efforts to decertify the union.
CUPE local 37 President Matt Sjogren gave credit to a mediator for bringing the negotiations to a close.
“We needed an outsider to give the employer a shake, explain to them they were bound by law to try and reach a deal,” said Sjogren. “Thankfully, we now have a deal we can take to our members.”
Sjogren said the union won’t release details of the contract until it’s been voted upon by members. That process is expected to be completed by the end of the month. The union will be recommending acceptance.
“What’s important now is that we turn down the drama and get back to serving the people of Chestermere.”
Inspired by the story of residential school survivor Phyllis Jack Webstad, people across Canada have commemorated September 30 as Orange Shirt Day for nearly a decade.
As a young girl, Phyllis was given a new orange shirt by her grandmother before being taken to a B.C. residential school. The shirt was confiscated and destroyed by her teacher on the first day of class. The destruction of Phyllis’s shirt has come to symbolize the colonial goal of residential schools to assimilate Indigenous peoples.
In 2021, the federal government passed legislation to mark September 30 as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The implementation of this new federal holiday is an important part of the reconciliation process that has been called for by Indigenous peoples and by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.
The ongoing recovery of unmarked graves sites near the locations of former residential schools has been a grim reminder of their legacy. CUPE continues to stand with Indigenous communities as they grieve these unjust losses within their communities.
Johnathan Dyer, CUPE 391 Vice President and National Indigenous Council Co-Chair, shared his thoughts on the holiday:
“September 30 is an opportunity to remember the children who never made it home from the residential schools, whether that was physically or spiritually. During my lifetime we have seen these institutions close their doors for good, people refusing to accept what happened and finally these atrocities coming to light for the wider public. When the first 215 children were revealed to the general public through ground penetration software, I had a co-worker state that they never knew children died in these schools. This is why we need days like September 30 to remind us all of the cost the country currently known as Canada came with, and to remember the children who returned to the ancestors too early.”
September 30 is now a statutory holiday for workers in federally-regulated sectors. CUPE has prepared a guide to help members outside the federal sector bargain the new holiday into their collective agreements. The guide is provided to locals as part of CUPE’s commitment to support reconciliation and justice for all Indigenous peoples. What CUPE locals and members can do:
- Download CUPE’s new guide on bargaining language for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to find out how you can observe the holiday and support reconciliation efforts.
- Order an Orange Shirt Day t-shirt through the official supplier. Part of the proceeds will go to the Orange Shirt Society.
- Show your support on social media. Share a photo of yourself wearing an orange shirt using the hashtag #OrangeShirtDay. Tag CUPE on Facebook @cupescfp, Twitter @cupenat and Instagram @cupe_scfp.
- Download our guide to reconciliation for CUPE locals and consider how you and your local can support the calls to action.
- Invite an Indigenous speaker to your next virtual meeting to talk about truth and reconciliation.
- Learn more by taking CUPE’s Indigenous awareness workshop and human rights courses.
CALGARY – The Alberta government report supporting the idea of breaking up the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) is “another bad idea from a Premier known for bad ideas,” according to CUPE Alberta President Rory Gill.
Gill said the report was ‘pure fiction’ when claiming Alberta could pull over half of the assets of the CPP into an Alberta only plan. The union leader said that if you used the same formula with all the other provinces, you’d take all of the assets out of CPP multiple times over.
“This is an attack on the retirement security of all Albertans, and all Canadians,” said Gill. “It’s bad math that shouldn’t be used to divide Canadians.”
“Danielle Smith is the same Premier who said tobacco was good for you, who blamed cancer patients for their diagnosis, and who treats public health officials as a danger to society,” said Gill. “Now she is promoting another poorly researched, foolish idea that will destroy people’s retirement incomes.”
Gill said the CPP is larger, more successful, and less risky than an Alberta based plan. CPP has been in place for over half a century and is well-established plan, said Gill. “In fact, the CP’s 10-year returns have been significantly higher than AIMCO’s – the Alberta Government’s investment management corporation.”
“I urge Albertans to reject this shell game that Danielle Smith is selling. It’s going to create major damage to everyone’s retirement income.”