On March 10, 11 and 12 your AHS-GSS bargaining committee met in Red Deer to review the results of the bargaining survey that was sent to members in early February. Your committee thanks those who participated.
The survey revealed an overwhelming 96.7 per cent voted in favour of your bargaining committee’s approach to bargaining for a fair, market driven increase that keeps your wages competitive and in line with the government of Alberta’s prediction that Alberta Average Weekly Earnings will rise by 3.5 per cent each year for the next three years.
In February, the province received a $1.03 billion transfer from the federal government to help fund Alberta’s health-care system. Front-line staff should expect both an expansion of services for Albertans and cost of living increases to be addressed in bargaining in order to have a stable health-care system.
In addition to salaries, here are the other top five concerns outlined in the survey:
- Pension plans (potential reductions)
- Health benefits
- Reclassification (changes to your job)
- Flex spending account
It’s important to note that bullying in the workplace was in the top five concerns. It’s evident that a culture of bullying and top-down management style exists in the way Alberta Health Services operates and that’s concerning. This issue will be seriously addressed in our negotiations with the employer.
The survey also revealed that the majority of members enjoy their job and their coworkers, but feel support from AHS management is lacking.
Your concerns have been heard and these results will help guide your committee in bargaining for your next collective agreement.
Important message from AUPE President Guy Smith on Bill 46, the Public Service Salary Restraint Act:
I’ve heard that the PC government’s Bill 46 is still a major point of concern for AHS-GSS members. I understand completely why the legislation has raised alarm and I’d like to address this.
AUPE filed for an injunction immediately after Bill 46 – which would impose a wage freeze and remove government services members’ right to arbitration – became law in December. AUPE challenged the law as a violation of members’ fundamental right to freedom of association under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
On Feb. 14, Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Denny Thomas granted an injunction against Bill 46, agreeing with the union’s argument that the bill violates members’ rights and was an example of bargaining in bad faith.
I’m pleased to say the injunction allows AUPE to renew the arbitration process Bill 46 stripped away. Arbitration dates have been reserved for Aug. 5 to 8. The government is appealing this injunction and the appeal is scheduled for April 28.
Through this bill, the government has shown its indifference for free collective bargaining rights and that hasn’t sat well with Albertans, union members or not.
At this point, the government would be foolish to attempt to legislate another settlement on other front-line workers like you. However, they have shown a total lack of understanding and strong determination to impose their political will.
If they do try to impose legislation again, your union will commit all efforts to fight it as we have against Bill 46.
Remember, health care is the number one concern among Albertans. The important work you do every day to make and keep Albertans healthy is a valuable service that you should be proud you provide. No matter your position with Alberta Health Services, you keep Alberta’s health-care system running.
Your participation in these negotiations is key to negotiating a fair agreement for you and your coworkers.
Your bargaining committee:
Your bargaining committee is committed to keeping you informed throughout the entire bargaining process.
Please do not hesitate to contact a member of your committee with any questions, comments or concerns you may have.
AUPE Staff Negotiator