Firing of Athabasca President ‘politics over education’

Further labour unrest will follow if UCP keeps interfering in the university

EDMONTON – The union representing academic instructors at Athabasca University (AU) is coming to the defence of fired President Peter Scott.

CUPE Local 3911 Co-Chair Ann Reynolds called Scott’s dismissal ‘shocking and disappointing’ and noted that the UCP government move had more to do with rural politics than academic standards.

“The UCP prioritized politics over advanced education by trying to force AU employees to relocate to Athabasca, even though the town doesn’t have room.”

“At the same time the world is moving to remote worksites, the UCP is trying to take away Athabasca University’s greatest advantage, we’ve been delivering online learning for decades.”

Reynolds says the replacement of Scott and members of the AU board will result in more appointments of UCP members and others with little background in running online academic institutions.

“Dr. Scott is an expert in online and open education. He vigorously protested using a university to further the UCP’s political agenda. He was fired without cause while dealing with the death of his wife,” said Reynolds. “This is undue interference in the running of Athabasca University and is a danger to the needed arm’s length relationship with the government of the day.”

Reynolds said CUPE Local 3911 members have always worked from home few if any will move to Athabasca. “Firing Dr. Scott will intensify the problems that exist and will create labour unrest.”

CUPE Local 3911 is the only trade union in Alberta consisting wholly of academic instructors. We are part-time, hired to teach specific courses in our academic fields under the direction of faculty coordinators, with whom we have the same credentials. This arrangement allows Athabasca University the economic flexibility to have a low ratio of faculty to students while still maintaining academic rigour.

“Greedy and hypocritical”

Company owned by a pension plan taking away its own workers’ pension plan

CALGARY – DynaLIFE Labs, a company contracted by the Alberta government to privatize health care services, is trying to take away a pension plan from its employees. The twist? DynaLIFE’s majority shareholder is the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS), a pension plan serving over half a million Canadians.

In 2022, Alberta’s UCP government awarded DynaLIFE the contract to take over Alberta Precision Lab services. Over 1,000 employees were transferred in early December to the private company. Those employees were members of the Alberta based, Local Authorities Pension Plan (LAPP). The employees are represented by CUPE and the Health Sciences Association of Alberta.

DynaLIFE has made an application to the Alberta Labour Relations Board asking that the terms of the collective agreement covering the transferred employees be changed to remove them from their defined benefit pension plan and replace it with an RRSP contribution plan at a much lower value.

This is déjà vu for some of these employees, who lost pension service when the Alberta government privatized lab services to the same company in 1996. After private lab services proved inadequate to serve the public, the government brought the labs back in-house in 2005.

“If Alberta conservatives can’t understand that public health care is better, the least they can do is not mess with the retirements of people who spend their lives caring for Alberta patients,” said CUPE Alberta President Rory Gill. “The fact this is being done a second time, by a company owned by a pension plan, is galling, uncaring, and just greedy.”

Gill is a member of the Sponsor Board of LAPP and says there is nothing preventing DynaLIFE from applying to be an employer with that plan.

CUPE Ontario is a sponsor of OMERS, and over 125,000 CUPE members working for Ontario municipalities, school districts and healthcare facilities are active members of the pension plan.

CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn says he is appalled to hear about a company owned by OMERS booting workers off their pension plan.

“OMERS board members and their CEO will be hearing from CUPE,” said Hahn. “You can’t be a defined benefit pension plan, encouraging employers and unions to come on board, and invest in anti-worker companies.”

“You either believe in providing a decent, dignified retirement to workers, or you do not. And right now, it looks like OMERS and DynaLIFE do not believe that. That’s hypocritical and unjustifiable.”


Alpha House employees achieve first union contract


Early acrimony led to productive negotiations: CUPE

CALGARY – Employees at a Calgary social services agency have a union contract after a hard organizing battle with accusations of unfair labour practices.

Alpha House is a not-for-profit society providing addiction and housing services to people in Calgary and Lethbridge. About 300 employees joined CUPE in the late spring of 2021.

CUPE Alberta President Rory Gill said that after initial battles with Alpha House during the unionization drive, bargaining proceeded respectfully and employees were able to achieve sought-out scheduling changes.

“With a collective agreement in place, these employees now have the schedules they need to have a better work-life balance,” said Gill.

Gill noted that the social services sector is known for low pay, long hours and unrealistically unsafe working environments. “Our new members have an uphill battle making life better for themselves and their clients – but they’ve taken a few important steps in the right direction.”

CUPE is Canada’s largest union with over 715,000 members nationwide.

CUPE Local 70 Gives Back

Lethbridge – CUPE Local 70 delivered $2400 worth of gift cards to organizations in need today, including the Lethbridge Food Bank, Interfaith Food Bank, Lethbridge Soup Kitchen, Salvation Army and Angel Tree Initiative.

“We work in this community, and our members care deeply about folks in the Lethbridge area, that’s why we chose to give back to the most vulnerable in our community this holiday season”, explained, Andrew Chernevych, a spokesperson for CUPE Local 70, which represents municipal workers in the Lethbridge Area.

“We know that more and more people are struggling this year and that inflation for basic necessities like groceries have left families and community members making tough decisions” added Chernevych

“Our Local has a history of taking care of our members and our community and it was no surprise that our members voted to support these organizations. We love the Lethbridge area and want to give back whenever we can.”, added Chernevych.

“We’re happy we could play a small part in helping these organizations support our community,” concluded Chernevych

Merry Christmas: you’re fired

Calgary social services agency fires employee for refusing to work alone with high-risk clients

CALGARY – Trinity Place Foundation has fired a 33-year-old female employee after she told her employer she wasn’t comfortable working alone with 30 high-risk clients. The foundation primarily serves Calgary seniors with housing needs, but also works with Alberta Health Services to provide housing and social services to vulnerable populations including clients with severe mental health issues.

In August, a client at Parkview Village claimed to have been sexually assaulted by another client. At that point, employee Kim Sinnett asked Trinity Place to fill a vacancy at the site. Sinnett worked with 30 high risk clients and 100 other residents and was the only staff person on site while the other position remained vacant.

Sinnett was concerned that all clients had access to her in her office (with no emergency exit), no access to a cell phone when working out of her office, and no emergency or safety plan. After multiple attempts to get Trinity Place to address the safety issues and fill the vacant position, Sinnett contacted the union (CUPE) and asked for help. Sinnett and a CUPE representative met with her manager on December 1st to address the safety issues and ask for a safety plan. Two working days later, Sinnett was given a dismissal letter for ‘falsifying her social work credentials’ in her application for employment.

Sinnett, who has a degree in Community Rehabilitation and a Disability Studies diploma, never claimed to be a social worker, did not provide a social worker license number, and correctly listed her educational credentials on her application.

Being dismissed without cause just before Christmas means Sinnett will receive no severance and is not eligible for Employment Insurance.

“I’m heartbroken,” said Sinnett. “I love my work, I want to keep doing it. I am worried about the clients I worked with. I shouldn’t be fired for wanting a safe workplace.”  CUPE Alberta President Rory Gill said agencies like Trinity Place should treat their workers better.

“Everyone has the right to be safe in their worksite,” said Gill. “One person with 30 high risk clients isn’t a safe situation.”

“Trinity Place’s trumped-up excuses for firing this employee are nonsense. They need to do the right thing and give her back her job.”

CUPE will be filing an occupational health and safety complaint and is considering a further complaint to the Alberta Labour Relations Board for anti-union activity.


CUPE launches legal challenge to Alberta labour rules

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) filed a legal challenge against Alberta legislation they say is designed to tie unions in red tape and limit their freedom to exist.

CUPE Alberta President Rory Gill, one of the plaintiffs in the case, says changes to labour laws passed by the United Conservative Party were ‘a kind of low-level union busting you might see in the southern US or a Central American dictatorship.’

Specifically, CUPE is challenging the provisions of Bill 32, Restoring Balance in Alberta’s Workplaces Act, (2020). The bill mandates that unions operating in Alberta must:

  • Classify all spending as being ‘core’ or ‘non-core’ activities,
  • Collect written consent from all dues-payers on an annual basis to deduct dues for all ‘non-core’ activities, and
  • Instruct employers to not collect the portion of dues allocated for ‘non-core’ activities for any dues payers who have not provided consent to pay.

“The UCP want unions to spend all our time collecting signatures from every dues payer,” said Gill. “Time spent in this exercise is time not bargaining better wages and working conditions, and time not defending members. And in the UCP’s eyes, that’s a good thing.”

Gill says CUPE and other unions operate in a fully democratic manner and pointed out that the government doesn’t practice what it preaches.

“I’d like to not pay taxes for the so-called war room, or the $7 billion wasted on the failed Keystone pipeline, but the UCP doesn’t give anyone the option to opt out of those projects.”

CUPE’s Statement of Claim, filed today at the Court of King’s Bench of Alberta, charges that the legislation contains restrictions on the freedom of association and freedom of speech of CUPE and other unions.

Gill says the legislation is an attempt to stop CUPE from taking public positions on Alberta issues like health care, education funding or job creation.

“Every CUPE local has monthly meetings that any member can attend and ask questions, move motions, and vote on the spending and actions and positions of their union. We are very democratic. But the UCP doesn’t like the political direction CUPE has been given by our members in open votes. So they are trying to use legislation to shut us up.”

CUPE’s submissions note that there are no similar restrictions on union activities in any other province or the federal sector.

“This law blatantly tries to gag expression, it’s an attempt to stop workers from democratically governing themselves. It’s unconstitutional and we intend to prove that in court.

Ontario school strike a victory for all workers



Yesterday was a historic moment that saw CUPE’s 55,000 education members in Ontario, ably and inspirationally represented by their President Laura Walton, achieve a victory that seemed impossible a week ago.


These brave workers, the vast majority of whom are women, put everything on the line to fight for all of us and our rights against a conservative government that was contemptuous of working people and intent on keeping workers poor and powerless.


Their courage and unwavering dedication to the protection of children and the public education system left Doug Ford no choice but to repeal Bill 28 and return to the bargaining table.


This is important. If the conservatives had succeeded in using the constitution’s ‘notwithstanding’ clause to force a contract on CUPE members, free collective bargaining would have been virtually over in Canada. Other provinces, in particular those with conservative governments, would have done the same anytime workers disagreed with an employer’s wage offer. Having defeated Doug Ford’s attempt to quash our rights, other governments will think twice before trying that tactic again.


The victory is momentous, we should be proud of it, and enjoy it. But is not the end of our struggle. In Ontario, our members must now press the conservatives for a fair and decent contract. And in the rest of the country, we need to build on this success.


This recognition is especially important here in Alberta. The rallying slogan of the strike in Ontario was ‘$39,000.00 is Not Enough.’ There is no doubt it isn’t, but it is $12,000 more than the average education worker makes in Alberta. Our K-12 members have not seen a wage increase in eight years.


Instead of addressing this shameful situation in Alberta schools, our premier encourages disunity in our country, offers no relief for inflation and peddles ridiculous and dangerous conspiracy theories. 


We don’t have to put up with this any longer. We know that worker power is real, the people are with us and change is coming.


I promise you I will work with everything I have to make things better for our members and the people of Alberta.


In times of trouble and set back Tommy Douglas’ words; ‘Courage friends; tis not too late to build a better world’ have given me hope. In this time of victory, they are also with me and have never been more true.


Our members, our union and our movement are building that better world right this minute and I am so happy and proud to be with you while we do it. 


All the very best and Solidarity Forever!


Rory Gill

President, CUPE Alberta



CUPE Alberta thanks Ontario education workers

This is Laura Walton, head spokeswoman for CUPE Ontario education workers.

She’s a hero.

Laura Walton and 55,000 education workers won a battle that will have a positive impact on workers for generations.

It’s not too much to say they saved our right to bargain and our right to strike.

We are so proud and so thankful that Laura is part of CUPE!