Union representing City of Chestermere workers to hold community meet & greets

Photo credit: City of Chestermere

CHESTERMERE — The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 37, which represents City of Chestermere employees, is hosting meet and greets for the community tomorrow and Friday, August 11. Elected leaders and staff of the union will be present to speak with the workers, community members, and local media about the importance of the services they provide, along with facts about the union.

“City of Chestermere employees voted last year to join the union to give them a voice in their workplace that will be heard and respected,” said CUPE Alberta Division President Rory Gill. “These are the workers you see clearing the snow and repairing the roads, collecting the garbage and recycling, keeping the city parks maintained, and enforcing community safety among many other city services. These workers are the union, and we are proud to represent them and support them.”

Meet and greet locations:

  • City Hall (105 Marina Rd, Chestermere) at 7:30 a.m.
  • Fire Station (156 E Chestermere Dr, Chestermere) at 7:00 a.m.
  • Public Works (281107 Township Rd 243, Chestermere) at 7:00 a.m.

Calgary school support staff negotiate a 7.75% wage increase

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.”

 

Over 400 Parkland school employees join CUPE

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 reaches deal with City of Chestermere

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.”

Breaking up the Canada Pension Plan “Another bad idea from a Premier known for bad ideas”

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.”

Wages for educational assistants go down, drop below poverty line

CALGARY – The average wage for Albertans working as educational assistants (EAs) in the province’s school districts has dropped below the poverty line.

Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) President Rory Gill, Alberta Division, says the drop is reflective of a government underfunding education, and the fact education workers have not had a wage increase in eight years.

According to provincial government stats, published on their own website, the average wage for an educational assistant has dropped from $27,500 per year in 2022 to $26,400 in 2023. The hourly rate of pay has dropped from $22.40 to $20.58.

The federal government defines low income as any income that falls below 50% of the median income of a geographic area. That puts the Alberta poverty line at $26,550, slightly higher than the average salary for educational assistants.

The government website also indicates that the number of EA positions in Alberta schools has dropped from 16,800 to 14,600.

Educational assistants work in classrooms with special needs students and allow teachers to focus on instruction, while EAs implement programming.

Gill says school districts have been cutting hours to address funding shortfalls, and school instruction is taking a hit. Gill says many school districts are having trouble recruiting and retaining staff.

“Educational funding isn’t matching enrollment,” said Gill. “Add to that the fact that most educational workers have not seen a cost-of-living increase in over eight years, and you have school support workers living below the poverty line.”

“At a time of record inflation, educational assistants are losing income. That’s the UCP legacy so far.”

“Educational workers are bargaining right now, and the government is offering almost nothing. The people who educate and care for kids deserve a living wage. The Smith government has to act.”

ACTION ALERT: CUPE members, other education workers, parents and public are wearing purple on Wednesday September 20th to show our concern about the low wages and low funding in Alberta schools. Join us.

#paintABpurple day of action for education support workers

 

CUPE’s Alberta Education Employees Committee (AEEC) has been hard at work planning events and actions for the fall in support of education support workers across the province. They deserve to be paid fair wages that reflect their enormous contribution to kids’ learning and to the public good. Amid the skyrocketing cost of living, Support staff earn an average salary of $34,300. Some jobs, like Educational Assistants, make even less ($26,400). Education workers have not had a wage increase in eight years.

On Wednesday, September 20, we are going to #paintABpurple! We are asking all Albertans to wear purple that day in solidarity with education support workers, and we need you to help make it a big success.

We encourage everyone to post pictures on social media that day using the hashtag #paintABpurple to show their support for education support workers being paid fair wages. AEEC is also planning to engage the media that day to send the message that $34,300 is not enough for education supporter workers or anyone.

Please mark September 20 in your calendar and stay tuned for further updates on how you can show solidarity with education support workers as they demand to be paid a living wage. Your support for this day of action is critical — we’re stronger when we stand together.

:meaa/COPE 491

Paying southern Alberta DynaLIFE drivers fairly would help fix staffing shortages

Media Release issued:

Short staffing of drivers for DynaLIFE in southern Alberta is being driven, at least in part, by low wages compared to their northern Alberta counterparts. The southern Alberta drivers, represented by CUPE Local 8, were in bargaining today with their employer and highlighted the disparity, which ranges from a 13% gap at the bottom of the pay scale to a 19% gap at the top. The drivers have been in the current round of bargaining for more than two years.

“Short staffing of essential positions like this is a risk to the public,” said Kelly Spence, President of CUPE Local 8. “These are the drivers in southern Alberta who are transporting lab samples that are saving people’s lives every day. But when workers aren’t compensated fairly, positions are difficult to fill, and the system is strained.”

Spence also highlighted the importance of maintaining pensions for the DynaLIFE drivers, who are part of the Local Authorities Pension Plan (LAPP).

“It’s imperative that pensions for all workers are maintained and strengthened, whether we’re talking about workplace pensions or about the broader issue of protecting the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) for all Albertans,” said Spence. “The aim for governments and employers alike should be to make retirement better for Alberta workers, not worse.”

CUPE offers solidarity to those affected by wildfires

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) offers our support and solidarity to those affected by the wildfires in Alberta. Over 29,000 Albertans have been forced to evacuate their homes over the last week.

“CUPE is deeply concerned for the families in the evacuated communities,” said Rory Gill, CUPE Alberta President. “We stand in full support of the first responders and emergency personnel who are keeping Albertans safe around the clock through this difficult and traumatic time.”

CUPE represents over 40,000 members in Alberta, including locals in the Town of Edson, Drayton Valley, Grande Prairie, and elsewhere that have been forced to leave their homes. CUPE is urging all of its members in these areas to adhere to evacuation orders.

CUPE members working with Associated Ambulance in Drayton Valley and Breton have been on the ground supporting and relocating patients in hospitals affected by the fires to safer communities.

This is already the worst wildfire season Alberta has experienced since the devastating Fort McMurray fire in 2016. Right now, Alberta needs a leader who has experience in keeping people safe and who is committed to addressing the environmental challenges that make these devastating wildfires possible.

Updates on the situation and information for people affected by the wildfires and evacuation are available at www.alberta.ca/emergency.aspx

CUPE Alberta to hold convention in Fort McMurray next week

Media Advisory March 14, 2022

EDMONTON – The Alberta Division of Canada’s largest union will hold its annual convention in Fort McMurray March 22-24 at the Quality Inn (424 Gregoire Dr.)

This will mark the first in-person convention CUPE Alberta has held since 2019. Subsequent conventions were held online due to the COVID pandemic.

CUPE Alberta President Rory Gill said he expects the 200 delegates to discuss the crisis state of Alberta’s health care system, bargaining in the K12 sector, and the upcoming provincial election.

“Alberta has suffered hard times since electing the UCP in 2019,” said Gill. “Doctors are leaving, Emergency Room wait times have grown dangerously long, and ambulance services are in crisis mode.”

“In schools, support staff have not seen a wage increase in eight years and they are starting to leave.”

“Danielle Smith and the UCP have made all of these problems worse,” said Gill. “We need to fire the UCP and start fixing these problems with a new government.”

CUPE represents 715,000 members across Canada and 40,000 members in Alberta. Alberta members include workers in the municipal, education, post-secondary, health care, social services and airline sectors.

Convention highlights

Wednesday, March 22

11:05     Address by Rory Gill CUPE Alberta President
13:45     Address by Mark Hancock, CUPE National President

Thursday, March 23

13:30     Address by Gil McGowan, President of the AB Federation of Labour

Friday, March 24

10:40     Address by Christina Grey, Alberta NDP labour critic