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.

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

WestJet Cabin Crew union responds to Cabin Crew announcement

CALGARY — Alia Hussain, President of CUPE Local 4070 (WestJet Cabin Crew) issued the following statement about the approval of the Sunwing acquisition by WestJet.

On behalf of the 4,000 Flight Attendants and Cabin Crew Members working for the WestJet group of companies, we are pleased that there is now certainty about the purchase of Sunwing by WestJet.

While we are cautiously optimistic about the growth of WestJet, there remains a number of important unanswered questions. We need to know more about WestJet’s ability to finance this project, and we want to better understand how this will impact the working lives of our members.  We will continue to push WestJet for answers on these questions.

Our members work for, and even celebrate, the successes of the company. But employees need more information to fully understand what the impacts will be.


Premier Danielle Smith produced a cynical, ineffective pre-election budget

Edmonton – “Danielle Smith’s budget pretends to provide help for families, but every penny offered up is taken away the day after the next election,” said CUPE Alberta President Rory Gill.

“Support for big business carries on, but support for power bills, gas bills and other affordability measures are over June 1st, one day after Danielle Smith needs support from voters.”

Gill says that with the chaos in health care, more funding is needed to make up for cuts in previous years. “The amount Smith has offered doesn’t even cover inflation and population growth. This means less health care, more chaos.”

“Cutting $100 million from the drug program is the same kind of cruelty Danielle Smith showed when she blamed cancer victims for their diagnosis. How are they supposed to recover if they can’t pay the bills Premier?”

Gill was particularly upset that the budget offered little for K-12 education, coming up $1.6 billion short of what is needed to hold the line.

“Education workers in this province have not seen a wage increase in eight years,” said Gill. “We can’t expect students to learn when staff are abandoning the field due to poverty-level wages. The average Educational Assistant in Alberta makes less than $28,000 annually.

Gill noted that Danielle Smith has allocated more funding to build private and charter schools than Public, Catholic and Francophone schools combined.

If this is the best Danielle Smith can offer, it’s more clear than ever that we need to Fire the UCP and put Rachel Notley into the Premier’s office. We need a Premier in touch with the real concerns of Albertans.

Unions win pension fight with for-profit health-care corporation

The Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) are encouraged by a Labour Relations Board decision that private companies must abide by existing collective bargaining agreements.

EDMONTON – Alberta health-care workers will keep their pensions even if their jobs are privatized by the government.

The Alberta Labour Relations Board (ALRB) says DynaLIFE, the private company taking over certain public lab services, has an obligation to uphold terms in collective bargaining agreements – including pensions.

“We have successfully defeated an attempt by a for-profit health-care corporation to undermine the benefits of our members and the rights of union workers in Alberta,” said HSAA President Mike Parker. “DynaLIFE knew it had an obligation to keep health-care professionals whole as a part of the sale. It tried to get out of it to make more profit and has now been told it must honour our members’ collective agreement.”

“This is a major victory,” added CUPE Alberta president, Rory Gill. “Everyone deserves a dignified retirement and corporations looking to profit off of the sale of public services cannot do it on the backs of workers and their pensions.”

DynaLIFE argued providing pensions for these 900 workers is “not a fit,” “unsuitable” and “impossible” for a private, for-profit employer. The ALRB was not swayed. HSAA and CUPE are now focused on getting Local Authorities Pension Plan (LAPP) members to accept DynaLIFE. If that doesn’t happen, DynaLIFE must work with us to find a similar, defined pension plan for employees.

“This whole process is an example of the importance of unions in protecting the financial security of members and advocating on their, and all workers’, behalf,” added Parker.

Gill points out it is particularly gross DynaLIFE attempted this when its major shareholder is the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System – a pension provider. “This is a precedent-setting decision and our unions will be working hard to ensure these members and all public sector workers keep their pensions regardless of their employer.”

Parker and Gill agree… the way to avoid harming public sector workers and threatening their financial security is to end failed experiments in privatization.

HSAA and CUPE represent more than 36,000 highly-trained and dedicated health-care professionals in Alberta.


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.