Guy Smith was first elected as President in 2009. He previously served as a Vice-President from 1993-1999 and 2001-2003. Smith has been an AUPE activist at his worksite, in his Local, on the Executive, and in his community for 30 years.
Smith brings passion and commitment to the role of President and a vision to build AUPE into the strongest, most active and most vibrant union in Alberta.
President Smith has led AUPE through some of its most tumultuous and exciting times, which included significant victories against oppressive governments and employers.
During Smith’s tenure the public image of AUPE as a recognized and credible voice has increased significantly, resulting in AUPE gaining respect as a strong organization that stands up for its members and for the services Albertans rely upon.
Throughout his years as an AUPE activist and leader, Smith has been committed to involving members in decision-making and action when needed. He believes that our struggles are only won through grassroots involvement and mobilization of the rank and file membership.
Smith lives in Edmonton with his partner Sherry and two daughters.
In 2017, Jason was elected to his third term as AUPE’s Executive Secretary-Treasurer. Prior to this he served as a Vice-President for eight years, and for the last twenty years has been an activist, fighting for the social wellbeing of his community with a working background in student funding and student recruitment.
Heistad cannot remember a time when unionism wasn’t a part of his life; his grandpa was an active labour leader whose mentorship still guides his involvement in labour activism today. One particularly memorable AUPE moment was Heistad’s involvement in the movement to keep the Michener Centre for people with developmental disabilities open. It’s those tangible wins that Heistad aims for as much as long-term strategic planning.
Heistad devotes himself to big-picture visions and is currently influencing government to adopt more labour friendly principles, so union values can take hold on a larger scale. Nevertheless, Heistad believes that even top-down changes start with bottom-up ones, and he remains committed to member education and grassroots stewardship.
Heistad lives in Innisfail with his wife and kids.
Mike Dempsey was first elected Vice-President in 2013, but his unionism spans much longer. A career Forest Officer and Environmental Protection Officer with the Alberta Government, he has been an AUPE activist for 35 years.
During that time he served as Secretary, Vice Chair, Chair, and the PE Local 005 representative as well as Vice Chair of the Government Services Bargaining Committee. Dempsey also dedicates himself to member education, using AUPE’s Committee on Political Action as a vehicle for knowledge and engagement, which he believes go hand-in-hand. He demonstrated this when his four years of advocating for greater member pension education resulted in member contribution rates dropping for the first time in over a decade.
Dempsey brings courage, passion and a strong sense of justice to the Executive. He believes a Vice-President needs to be unafraid to speak up – unafraid to mix with senior bureaucrats and politicians – but always with the intention of giving voice to AUPE’s hardworking members.
Dempsey lives in Lac La Biche with his wife Heather. They have two grown children, Jennifer and Chris, who live in British Columbia.
In 2017, Rod Feland was elected Vice-President from Local 038. For more than 30 years, his unionism has paralleled his work as an educational laboratory technologist at NAIT, where he prepares people for careers in environment, fisheries, and parks.
Feland became an active and vocal AUPE member almost as soon as he joined the union. In 1982 he filled the role of Steward followed by many Local positions including Chair and Provincial Executive. Feland currently chairs AUPE’s Environmental Committee.
Dedicated to standing up for his fellow workers, he has also been a bargaining team member and represented members in grievances. In those roles he learned that sometimes all it takes is a few workers standing their ground in the face of inequitable employers to reignite and enliven a whole membership.
Supporting this kind of engagement is key to Feland’s leadership. As representative for the Northwest region, he knows even physical distance and isolation can be overcome by giving members the tools they need to inspire participation and a culture of inclusion among each other.
Feland knows it’s the members who hold the real power to advocate for each other; and he’s here to support them in any way possible.
After a re-election in 2017, Bonnie Gostola entered her second term as Vice-President. In the last 15 years she has also filled Local Chair, Council Representative and various Local and Chapter Executive roles all while working as a Healthcare Aide.
Gostola joined AUPE when it merged with the Canadian Health Care Guild. This shift marked her first foray into direct action, inspired by the workplace injustices affecting her and her fellow workers. Not only did she walk her first picket line shortly after the merge, but she also helped form an alternate Council Representative.
Over time, she took on increasingly active roles in her Chapter and Local, and now motivates other members to do the same. Gostola knows the value of AUPE’s many education courses and bases her own leadership style on consistent messaging and open communication. She believes that with the right foundational knowledge, members can find their identities within their union and unite as unique parts of a strong whole.
Gostola knows the next two years could be some of the most challenging ones AUPE will face, but with a strong focus on bargaining and an unrelenting confidence in the membership, she’s ready for anything to secure fair contracts for workers.
James Hart was elected into his current position as Vice-President in 2017. A proud member of Local 002, working as an Investigator, he has filled many roles over the last 30 years, serving as a Correctional Peace Officer, Sherriff and Sergeant, all while engaging as an AUPE activist.
Hart first joined AUPE as a Local 003 member. When he switched to Local 002, he was ushered into the ranks of Alternate Provincial Executive (PE) then PE representative and treasurer. He believes all AUPE members are experts in their own rights – experts on their Locals, their Chapters, their regions, and their jobs. And as Chair of AUPE’s Occupational Health and Safety committee, he is focused on education and awareness.
As Vice-President, he wants to turn member-empowerment into member-power by motivating workers to channel their expertise into province-wide activism. He knows the best decisions are those that serve the whole union, and only a mobilized membership can make these decisions.
Hart lives in Edmonton, the region he represents, with his wife and daughter, who are both proud members of Local 001.
After serving as Vice-President for five years, Local 045 member Susan Slade was re-elected to the position in 2017 to continue her work as an activist and leader. A Licenced Practical Nurse, Slade cared for Albertans for 18 years before joining AUPE’s Executive Committee.
During that time she filled many union roles, including Local Chair and Provincial Executive. Slade continues to chair both the Women’s and Young Activists’ Committees for her second term. A big proponent of direct action, Slade likes to get to the bottom of issues so they can be tackled head on.
After representing the Calgary and Edmonton regions, she now works with the South region, bringing her listening ear and helping hands to these members’ so their diverse voices can be heard. Slade continues to place three principles at the forefront of her leadership: strength, solidarity and support. She believes these should form the backbone of all relationships within a union.
Susan, with her spouse, Christopher, has an amazing blended family of five children, one granddaughter and two dogs. In her free time she enjoys camping, travelling and spending time with the family.
Karen Weiers was first elected AUPE Vice-President in 2011 and continues to hold this title. A Local 095 member, she has a background in front-line clerical work for Alberta Health and currently works at the Peter Lougheed Centre.
After years of activism, Weiers joined AUPE in 2003 to continue her fight for workers’ rights. Since then, she has held many executive positions in her Chapter, Local and Area Council. She chaired the Anti-Privatization committee, fighting to put people before profit, and currently chairs the Human Rights and Membership Services committees.
Having not come from a union family, Weiers had to find her place in the labour movement, which led her to unionism and the AUPE family in whose principles of equity, respect and solidarity she found kinship. Weiers strives to harness these values into tangible results. Whether organizing new members or arranging letter-writing campaigns, petitions and information pickets, her enduring passion for building relationships by educating and mobilizing activists stands front and centre in her leadership.
Weiers lives in Airdrie where she cares for her elderly mother; she couldn’t do what she does if it weren’t for her strong, supportive family bonds.