Celebrating Labour Day in solidarity with Alberta workers

Labour Day is more than just the last long weekend of summer before the kids head back to school. It is an important day of the year to reflect and celebrate the gains and achievements made on behalf of our workers.

In Alberta, CUPE members have diligently stood together to improve conditions for working Albertans. Today we have higher wages and better benefits, as well as vastly safer and healthier work places. It is every worker’s right to a safe and healthy workplace.

This hasn’t always been the case. These have been hard-fought gains made over years of battle.

But when CUPE raises its collective voice to stand up for workers’ rights and a better life for everyone, it resonates in workplaces and communities across Alberta and Canada. We are the country’s largest labour union, and we are committed to our fight for a fairer and more equal world.

Around the world, a wave of right-wing governments threaten to legislate away the rights of workers, privatize public services and fundamentally redefine how governments serve their people. That threat can be found right here in Alberta in Jason Kenney and his United Conservative Party of Alberta. A provincial election will be held by next spring and CUPE Alberta will do everything it can to re-elect the NDP, whose labour-friendly policies improve conditions for Alberta workers and support a more equal and inclusive society.

Thank you to all CUPE activists, leaders, and staff across Alberta, who fight tirelessly to make our jobs and our communities better. You show up and make a difference.

On behalf of CUPE Alberta, we wish you a very safe and happy Labour Day.

In Solidarity,

Marle Roberts
President, CUPE Alberta


Labour Day celebrations are happening across Alberta on Monday, September 3rd. Here is a list of some of those events:


  • Edmonton District Labour Council barbecue, live entertainment and family activities. 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Giovanni Caboto Park, 95 Street and 109 Ave,


  • Lethbridge District Labour Council barbecue, bouncy castles, face painting and live entertainment, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Kinsmen Park, 1009 – 9th Avenue South.

Medicine Hat

  • Medicine Hat Labour Council barbecue, 11 m. to 1 p.m., Riverside Park, across the street from CityHall (1st Street SE)

Red Deer

  • Red Deer District Labour Council barbecue, live entertainment, Rosie the Clown, crafts and Sidewalk chalk; 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., 51 Street between 49 Avenue and 50 Avenue


  • Calgary District Labour Council barbecue, live music, free food, family event, book give-away. 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Olympic Plaza, 228 8 Ave SE

Fort McMurray

  • Wood Buffalo District Labour Council barbecue and rubber duck race. 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Snye Point Park, Fort McMurray


Protect labour reforms at the bargaining table

Alejandro Pachon | CUPE Research

Over the last year, the Alberta New Democrat government has introduced numerous reforms to the province’s labour legislation.

The reforms have included changes to the Labour Relations Code; the Employment Standards Code; the Occupational Health and Safety Act; and the Workers Compensation Act. The government has overhauled and modernized the legal framework for labour relations in Alberta, after decades of neglect by previous conservative governments.

Many of these changes directly affect the rights and benefits of workers under provincial jurisdiction. For instance, the Fair and Family-Friendly Workplaces Act (June 7, 2017) made 37 changes and 16 additions to the Employment Standards Code. These include an increase in the minimum wage to $15 per hour, improvements to leave eligibility, parental leave and compassionate care leave, as well as new entitlements to leaves for bereavement, domestic violence, critical illness of a child, and long-term illness and injury.

The same act also made 13 changes and 10 additions to the Labour Relations Code, including classifying all continuing care facilities and healthcare laboratories as essential services requiring essential service agreements to ensure continuous operations during potential strikes.

It’s an impressive list of positive changes, and CUPE locals need to integrate these improvements into their collective agreement. The rapid pace of legislative reform means CUPE locals may find themselves with a lengthy list of items to negotiate at the bargaining table.

To the extent possible, locals should try to include all the new standards as part of their collective agreements, with specific language for each of the improvements obtained through legislation.

Backing up legislation with bargaining improvements also helps defend gains if the government changes. In Alberta, members of the United Conservative Party (UCP) have declared their intention to roll back these gains and even push for “right-to-work” legislation. If the improved standards were to be rolled back, clear and specific language in our collective agreements would protect CUPE members from losing newly acquired entitlements and leaves.

Employers, however, may resist the introduction of this language if they believe that a future Conservative government would remove many of the new employer obligations. If a collective agreement does not contain specific language for domestic violence leave, for example, a change in legislation would leave the employer off the hook and would constitute a loss for the workers.

Even in the face of employer resistance, CUPE locals should make every effort to negotiate new standards into their collective agreements in any jurisdiction where gains are realized.

Find out more about how you can bargain new standards into your contracts. Connect with your CUPE staff representatives to create a plan.

The right to know about workplace safety: Take the free e-course on Alberta’s Occupational Health & Safety Act

In light of major revisions to its Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act, the Alberta Government has partnered with the Canadian Centre of Occupational Health and Safety to develop and deliver a free e‑learning course for provincial residents. The revised OHS regulations, which came into effect June 1, include the right of workers to refuse unsafe work, the right to know about potential safety hazards, and the right to participate in safety discussions.

The CUPE Health and Safety Department would like to encourage all members in Alberta to take advantage of this free course, to start learning about the sweeping changes to the legislation, and to support committee co‑chairs and representatives in their roles and responsibilities.

Register for the e‑course today: https://www.ccohs.ca/distributors/alberta/

Get involved in health and safety discussions in your workplace! Contact your local to find out about other training opportunities through CUPE’s Health and Safety Learning Series.

42nd Annual Alberta Weeklong School a Success!

The 42nd Annual Alberta Weeklong School was held at Red Deer College from May 27th to June 1, 2018.  It was a great success with 94 members attending 5 different courses.  This year we ran the Steward Learning Series, Introduction to Human Rights, Bargaining Solidarity, Legal and Legislative and Women Breaking Barriers.  The facilitators were: Vicky O’Dell, Janet Riopel, Matt Lensen, Lisa Mason, Kelly Moist, Aneen Albus, Diane Allen, Jackie Roe and Linda Huebscher with many guests from WCB, ALRB, and Alberta Human Rights Commission. Collette Singh assisted as well.

The BBQ was fantastic!  Minister David Eggen came to bring greetings to the school. There was a 50/50 draw with proceeds going to the Canadian Legacy Veterans Food Drive.  The amount collected this year was over $1600.00.  Great work by the Class Reps to sell that many tickets! Many Locals and CUPE Alberta Division provided swag for our BBQ.  Our thanks go out to Locals 417, 40, 41 and 3550.

As always, we had class reps who were the conduit for all information at the weeklong school.  We thank them for their hard work, Abby Mitchell, Dave Manser, Diana Bredstrand, Doug Laban and Judy Ferre. They were amazing in their commitment to making this the best weeklong school Alberta has every had.

A charity fundraiser ran for the week at the condos where the members stayed. They raised $275.00 that was donated to the Student Association Food Bank.  Jason Cormier presented the funds to the President of CUPE Local 417 Red Deer College at the banquet.

Thank you to all of the Locals who value the Union Education Program and send  members who learn, make life long friends and go out and help other Union members.

Till next year!!!!

National Aboriginal Day. A day to do better.


June 21st is National Aboriginal Day, a day to recognize the contribution and the struggles of our Aboriginal peoples.

Three years ago, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada reported details of the shocking and deeply disturbing history of residential schools.

It would be challenging to find a more shameful chapter in Canadian history than the forced separation of Aboriginal children from their families and the physical and sexual abuse that accompanied it.

Ripped from their homes and communities, Aboriginal children were treated harshly, without love, malnourished, and forced to abandon their language, culture, and way of life.  The Commission used the term ‘Cultural Genocide’ to describe Canada’s Aboriginal policy for over a century. If anything, that term may be too mild.

Today, the challenges Aboriginal communities face continue.  The number of Aboriginal children in foster homes and in the criminal justice system are far out of proportion to their share of the population.  We have made tiny steps, the provincial government is funding $100 million to put clean drinking water into aboriginal communities, and the Premier apologized for the province’s role in the ‘Sixties Scoop’.

But much more work has to be done. CUPE Alberta will always work in partnership with First Nations to do our part to bring healing and reconciliation to all Aboriginal peoples in Canada.

Airport layoffs hurt service, safety: CUPE

The unexpected elimination of seven CUPE positions from the Fort McMurray Airport Authority is a hard hit to the already dwindling service levels at the airport, says the union representing employees of the Airport Authority.

“These cuts follow the elimination of 50 custodian and security positions in 2015”, said Judy Collier, President of CUPE Local 1505.  “The Bargaining Unit has gone from approximately 73 CUPE members to only 12 in just 3 years. With the recent reduction in hours of work and these layoffs, the travellers can expect a further decline in service levels.

Although some management and administration positions were also eliminated, Collier feels additional reductions of the highly paid management positions would have been more beneficial, while leaving service levels intact.

“The cuts are exclusively to the maintenance team, eliminating more than half the workers who maintain the grounds and runways, which includes ensuring safety for incoming and outgoing flights,” said Collier.

“After very tough negotiations to renew the collective agreement, reduction of hours and now this, the mood was extremely somber yesterday.” “Between losing co-workers who are like family; and knowing we can’t do the job as well as we used to, it hurts everyone, not just the members given layoff notices.”

Collier said affected employees have been notified and have received letters detailing their options. CUPE will work with the laid off members to ensure their rights are protected and will continue to advocate against cuts to the public service.

What would Kenney scrap?

The President of CUPE Alberta is calling on UCP leader Jason Kenney to tell Albertans what programs and services he would cut to achieve a balanced budget.

CUPE Alberta President Marle Roberts says you can’t talk about bringing the deficit down in isolation to the programs and people who depend upon public services.

“Which schools would he close? Which hospitals would he blow up? How many nurses, teachers and other public workers would he fire?” asked Roberts.

Roberts said the NDP plan to balance the budget by 2023 is the responsible approach, allowing for a gradual return to surplus in the provincial books.

“It’s a bit rich for Kenney to lecture the province on balanced budgets when his own party ran deficits even when oil was over $100/barrel,” said Roberts.  “It would be laughable if his current proposals were not so scary.”

UCP MLAs frequently talk about reducing spending to “BC levels” which are 20% lower than Alberta. Roberts says a 20% cut to spending would “devastate public services and the people who depend upon them.”

“So I say to Jason Kenney – put your plans in writing. Let us see what stays and what goes.”

“If you want to be Premier, you owe that to Albertans.”

Jason Kenney wants tax dollars to go to private schools – CUPE

Jason Kenney’s education proposals would put tax dollars into the hands of elite private schools instead of public schools that benefit everyone.  That was the message from CUPE Alberta President Marle Roberts today.


On the weekend, delegates to the United Conservative Party voted in favour of motions to increase government funding to private schools.


“Let’s get real. These are schools with tuition well out of range of regular Alberta families,” said Roberts.  “These are not institutions that deserve tax dollars.”


Roberts said spending money on elite schools takes resources away from public schools that serve everyone, not just rich families. In other provinces, where the private school funding has been reduced, it has not shown an increase in students to the public system from the private schools because the rich still pay, they can afford the additional costs.   


“If you can afford tuition of $15,000 per year, you don’t need taxpayer help to keep the tuition from going up to $20,000 or more,” said Roberts. “That money belongs to public schools, to school lunch programs, and to computers, desks and well-trained staff so our children can learn.”


“Jason Kenney wants to make the rich even more privileged. And he wants us to pay for it.”

Kenney’s tax proposals a gift to the rich – CUPE

Jason Kenney’s proposal to bring back a flat tax is a gift to Albertans making high salaries, but it won’t put a dime into the pockets of regular Alberta families, said CUPE Alberta President Marle Roberts today.

On the weekend, delegates to the United Conservative Party voted to return to a flat tax, meaning all Albertans would pay the same rate of tax, regardless of income.

“Jason Kenney wants to give away almost $700 million to people who earn over $300,000 per year,” said Roberts. “Meanwhile giving nothing to regular families except cutbacks to health, education, and other important services.”

“Albertans have been very clear that the richest Albertans need to pay more taxes to pay for the services we all need,” said Roberts. “Jason Kenney is on the side of the rich, we need politicians that look out for the rest of us.”

Conservatives can’t be trusted with health care


CUPE AB President Marle Roberts with Health Minister Sarah Hoffman at the site of Calgary General Hospital, blown up by the Conservative government in 1998. “We can’t let Jason Kenney destroy our health care system,” said Roberts.

Today, CUPE Alberta President Marle Roberts was joined by Health Minister Sarah Hoffman  at the former home of the demolished Calgary General Hospital, to call on Jason Kenney and the United Conservative Party to come clean about what their deep cuts to health care will mean for families in Calgary, and across Alberta.

Calgary General Hospital was demolished by Alberta’s former conservative government in 1998 as part of a risky agenda to cut the health care services Albertans depended on. As the largest hospital in North America to ever be closed, the demolition made Calgary the only large city in Canada without a downtown emergency room, led to severe shortages of hospital bed space for over a decade, and resulted in millions of dollars being spent on private surgeries to meet the demands of a growing city. The destruction of the General, along with the closing of the Grace Hospital in 1996 and the Holy Cross Centre in 1997, left Calgary with 1,800 hospital beds, down from 3,000.

With UCP Leader Jason Kenney proposing 20 per cent cuts to health care to fund tax giveaways for those at the top, with UCP MLA Glenn van Dijken recently calling the badly-needed Calgary Cancer Centre a “fancy box,” the United Conservatives are slated to debate a range of policies related to drastically cutting and privatizing health care.  Given their history, Albertans should be worried about Kenney’s plans for health care.

“The demolition of this hospital was devastating to families, health care workers, and to all Calgarians. Watching the footage of the conservatives literally blowing up a hospital, I worry about what another conservative government would mean for families in Calgary. We can’t let Jason Kenney pay for his tax breaks for the rich with deep cuts to the services we depend on.” – Marle Roberts, President, CUPE Alberta

“The conservatives want to slash health care, fire nurses and bring back the old days of queue jumping for their wealthy donors. Albertans have seen what their cuts mean, and they rejected two-tier, American-style health care. It’s time for Jason Kenney to be honest about his reckless agenda.” – Sarah Hoffman, Minister of Health

The hospital closure was the result of nearly $100 million in cuts to health care funding during the 1990s by the former conservative government, along with firing and laying-off health care workers, and hospital and emergency room closures across the province.

It cost $8.5 million to demolish the Calgary General Hospital.