EDMONTON – After a full day of discussion yesterday among members of the AUPE bargaining teams representing direct employees of the government of Alberta, consensus has been reached on a process that has the potential to kick-start stalled negotiations with the government.

Talks between the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees and the province have been at an impasse since Jan. 20, but the union bargaining representatives believe the process they have come up with will allow the negotiations to move forward, said union President Guy Smith.

“If the government continues to refuse to negotiate a fair agreement acceptable to all parties, as it has to date, then we will continue to engage our members further to consider other options to resolve this impasse,” Smith said.

The 10-member General Service Bargaining Committee met throughout the day yesterday with members of the nine separate bargaining committees from each of the locals that represent the approximately 22,000 direct employees of the Alberta government.

Smith said AUPE proposes meeting with the government’s negotiating team to tackle groups of issues under general headings, including:

  • Workload
  • Job security
  • Benefits
  • Pay
  • Workplace benefits such as grievance procedures

“The local bargaining committees endorsed the plan by the GSBC to establish if the government is prepared to continue negotiating on this basis,” Smith said.

“If they are, we can use the negotiating process to reach an agreement,” he said. “If they are not, AUPE will meet members to engage them to consider other options needed to resolve the impasse.”

Arrangements will continue for local bargaining committee and GSBC members to meet with rank and file AUPE members throughout the province at town hall meetings, the dates and locations of which will be determined.

On Jan. 20, after 23 days of bargaining, the union and employer reached an impasse, with the GSBC concluding at that time that any further talks would be unproductive. Yesterday’s meeting was planned at that time.

Since the current round of bargaining began in August, agreement in principle has been reached only on a small number of routine contract articles, while the employer has resisted meaningful change in a large range of topics of serious concern to AUPE members.

While AUPE broke off talks on Jan. 20 in order to meet and formulate an appropriate response, the hope of the bargaining committees is that this new approach to negotiations will encourage the government to search for compromises that could result in an agreement satisfactory to all parties.

The agreement between AUPE and the Alberta government is the largest and most complex collective agreement in the province. It is made up of a master agreement covering all government employees and nine subsidiary agreements affecting employees in each of the nine occupational areas represented by the locals.

The previous three-year agreement expired Aug. 31, 2010, but will continue to be in effect until a new agreement is reached.

AUPE, the GSBC and all nine local bargaining committees are committed to keeping members informed on the progress of these negotiations.