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Spotlight on Bargaining: Lethbridge post-secondary

Lethbridge College and the University of Lethbridge are both in bargaining. Members are ready to make life better for staff, students, and the city they love.

Jun 27, 2024

By Andriko Lozowy, Communications Staff

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AUPE members in southern Alberta are harnessing the wind. They won’t be swept away—in fact, they are prepared to plant their roots and stand firm. 

Over 82,000 AUPE members are in bargaining this year, and the non-academic post-secondary staff in Lethbridge are among them. These AUPE members play a vital role in supporting the University of Lethbridge and Lethbridge College, making them integral to the economic and social fabric of the city. 

“Southern Alberta is a beautiful place, and Lethbridge is no exception,” says AUPE Vice-President Curtis Jackson, who represents the southern region of the province. “The members who work at the university and college are so important to the community, including the students who choose to study here.” 

Despite their importance to the University and College, these members are grappling with several workplace issues, much like members in other sectors. 

"AUPE members deserve fair treatment and recognition. We will only accept an offer that meets our needs and expectations."

Susan Roulston, AUPE Local 053 Vice-Chair and Experiential Education Technical Specialist at University of Lethbridge.

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Susan Roulston is a member at the University of Lethbridge who works as an Experiential Education Technical Specialist. She is also the AUPE Local 053 Vice-Chair. 

According to Roulston, the primary concerns for support staff in post-secondary include understaffing, low wages, excessive workloads, job insecurity, limited professional development opportunities, and insufficient resources for supporting students and faculty. 

"AUPE members deserve fair treatment and recognition,” says Roulston. “We will only accept an offer that meets our needs and expectations." 

She emphasizes understaffing and lack of resources as major issues, leading to longer hours and increased stress. Short-staffing and low-resources are all problems our employers can choose to fix; the problem is it can be a struggle convincing them to do so. That’s where bargaining comes in. 

“All this is building up to the action AUPE members may be forced to take to get what we deserve."

AUPE Vice-President Curtis Jackson

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Our petition to support post-secondary bargaining 

But members working in the education sector aren’t just bargaining with their employers: they’re also bargaining with the Government of Alberta. Because the government provides funding to our post-secondary institutions, they think that gives them the right to tell post-secondary employers how to bargain. 

This is similar to how the government directs other employers like Alberta Health Services. The government has taken post-secondary bargaining once step further, however, with the Provincial Bargaining and Compensation Office (PBCO). 

The PBCO enforces the government’s agenda across the province. For example, the PBCO forces our employers to not offer us good wage increases. 

AUPE members are not happy with the government’s interference in bargaining. That’s why they started a petition that demands the government allow us to negotiate with our employers without them getting in the way. All AUPE members working in the education sector are encouraged to sign the petition.

All AUPE members working in the education sector are encouraged to

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More action, more rallies 

Vice-President Jackson says the PBCO petition is another example of how we must take action to support collective bargaining, a strategy adopted by members in all sectors throughout Alberta. 

“We hosted town halls across the province, and now we are hosting rallies across the province,” says Jackson. “All this is building up to the action AUPE members may be forced to take to get what we deserve. From Lethbridge to Medicine Hat to Crowsnest Pass, members in the south are ready to do whatever it takes to win.” 

Members in Lethbridge will show their union pride with a huge rally on July 26. All members, their families, and supporters are invited. 

Time for Action Bargaining Rally 

Friday, July 26, 2024 
11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. 
Lethbridge Provincial Building 
200 5 Ave S, Lethbridge, AB T1J 4L1 

Taking action together, like rallying and wearing red, will help us negotiate better wages, benefits, and job security. Improving our own working conditions benefits all Albertans by improving post-secondary education and contributing to the economy. 

That’s a lesson our employers would do well to learn. 

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