The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) filed for mediation with the University of Lethbridge on Sept. 14.
“The university has shown itself unwilling to negotiate the issues that matter to our members,” said Susan Slade, AUPE vice-president. “There are approximately 500 AUPE members working the front lines at the University of Lethbridge, and they deserve a contract that reflects the value of their work.”
Following a year of bargaining, negotiations broke down on Sept. 7 when the university submitted a number of unsatisfactory proposals, said the union.
The current contract includes a wage top-up for workers who take maternity leave and have been employed for more than 12 months. However, new legislation allows workers to take maternity leave after 90 days of employment. The university is refusing to make the maternity wage top-up available for workers who go on leave before the 12 months, said AUPE.
Additionally, workers at the university have been fighting for changes regarding sick leave, as workers over 65 are only permitted 22 sick days before they are forced to draw from their pension, said the union.
“Right now, we feel the best way to get (a fair deal) is with the assistance of a mediator,” said Slade.
The university also refused wage increases, according to AUPE.
“The university accumulated a budgetary surplus of nearly $206 million in 2017, so why are they trying to nickel-and-dime their staff?” said Slade.
AUPE is Alberta’s largest union, representing more than 93,000 workers province-wide. About 11,000 members work in the education sector.
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