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A Message to Members

from AUPE President Guy Smith

Nov 09, 2021

By Guy Smith, AUPE President

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Fellow members,

I sincerely hope you’re all staying healthy and safe during this preventable fourth wave of COVID-19, and not just physically healthy, but mentally and emotionally too. The dislocation and upheaval of the pandemic has taken its toll on all of us, in all parts of our lives.

We need to ensure that we are gentler and more understanding with each other, within our union, our families, our communities, and our province.

Despite the anxiety and uncertainty that the past 18 months has ushered in, we will get through this, and I hope that whatever lessons we have learned can be applied to building a more compassionate and caring society in the future.

While we can dwell on the challenges of the past, and goodness knows my previous Direct Impact messages have certainly focused on that, let us start looking to the future, both immediate and long-term. Yes, we still have the uncertainty of the pandemic to navigate, and every day, tens of thousands of AUPE members on the front lines are guiding Albertans through this storm; but it is the attacks on our wages, jobs, working conditions, and collective agreements that I want to focus on.

As I have stated before, the government and other employers have exploited the upheaval of the pandemic to try and force reckless concessions at the bargaining table. Cuts, privatization, job losses, wage cuts, and other concessions have always been the agenda of the bosses — an agenda they pursued relentlessly for the past two years. But being the cynical opportunists they are, they weren’t going to let a health crisis go to waste, so they pushed even harder during the pandemic.

I’m going to tell you now, no matter how hard they push, the government and other bosses are not going to get away with it. Your dedication to supporting Albertans across the province is matched only by your tenacity to stand up and fight in negotiations for fair collective agreements that respect you as workers and value the crucial work you do.

You have stayed engaged and informed, provided input and perspective, and in many areas, you were prepared to walk picket lines if necessary.

Your union has respected and applauded your determination. More importantly, your bosses have been forced to take notice.

They’ve been forced to reckon with the plans they won’t get away with. They will not get away with forcing concessions out of you. They will not get away with disrespecting you and the work you do. They will not get away with discrediting and dismantling the public services that have always been there for Albertans, especially during desperate times of need. And you made them see this!

You have shown through your resiliency, tenacity, and compassion that AUPE members will not be pushed around and bullied. Although the struggle continues, please know that as your president, I couldn’t be prouder of you all.

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