AUPE files bad-faith bargaining complaints over contracting out
The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) has filed complaints with the Alberta Labour Relations Board (ALRB) seeking an immediate halt to contracting out of hundreds of jobs at hospital laundry facilities and at the Royal Alberta Museum (RAM) in Edmonton.
Calling the plans to contract out these jobs “outrageous and flagrant” violations of the labour code that governs labour relations in Alberta, the union accuses both employers of bargaining in bad faith and of attempting to intimidate union members who are currently in bargaining for new collective agreements.
The union calls on the labour board to issue orders to the employers to cease and desist from taking any action to contract out these jobs and to cease and desist from laying off employees.
Here’s what happened.
AHS – General Support Services (GSS)
On January 31, an independent arbitrator awarded a one-per-cent wage raise to General Support Services (GSS) members employed by AHS. The government had been seeking a two-per-cent wage cut.
The government’s reaction to this was to immediately threaten to implement “efficiencies” and layoffs. GSS members include hospital laundry workers.
When bargaining opened for a new collective agreement, the employer immediately said it wanted to take that raise away with a one-per-cent wage cut, followed by a three-year freeze.
Earlier this month, AHS said it would issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) to contract out all laundry operations in Alberta outside of Calgary and Edmonton, affecting 54 worksites, and meaning 275 workers could lose their jobs.
Government of Alberta (GOA)
The independent arbitrator also awarded a one-per-cent wage raise to all GOA workers, including those employed in maintenance at the RAM, rather than agree to the government’s request for a two-per-cent pay cut.
Less than two weeks later, the employer told the union that, for all intents and purposes, it had decided to contract out the services provided by dozens of AUPE members at RAM.
AUPE’s claims to the labour board say that the contracting out announcements were “a vindictive reaction by a petulant Government irritated that its unreasonable position had been rebuffed by an arbitrator.”
The actions were bad faith bargaining attempts by the employer to intimidate the bargaining units and bargaining committees into accepting a one-per-cent rollback in year one of the next collective agreements.
Labour laws stipulate that there is a “freeze” period while the employer and union are engaged in bargaining new collective agreements and that these attempts to contract out jobs violate that freeze period.
What we’re seeking
AUPE is asking the labour board to order AHS and the GOA to cease and desist from taking any steps toward contracting out the hospital laundry and RAM jobs and taking any steps to lay off workers.
The bigger picture
AUPE vice-president Susan Slade says: “It has become abundantly clear that we are dealing with a government, and the employers it controls, who have zero respect for the law.
“They violated our collective agreement and our constitutional right to bargain in the arbitration process. Last week, they ripped up the contract they have with physicians, a move being legally challenged by doctors. They have constantly threatened to impose contracts through legislation rather than negotiation.”
Meanwhile, the government has targeted thousands of health-care jobs with moves to hand over hospital lab services, food services, housekeeping and maintenance to corporate control, so companies can profit off of Albertans who are sick and injured. It’s also seeking to cut thousands more jobs in government services and post-secondary education.
“When we are faced with a government that doesn’t believe workers have rights, with a government that doesn’t believe it needs to negotiate, with a government that puts profits ahead of people and services, then we must fight to get what we deserve and we must fight to get what Albertans need – a fair deal that respects workers and citizens,” says Slade.
“The good news is that every day, more Albertans are rising up to join this fight, including teachers, nurses, doctors and Albertans who rely on the vital services we provide.”
AHS – GSS negotiations team
AUPE Resource Staff
Chris Dickson, Lead Negotiator - email@example.com
Jason Rattray, Negotiator – firstname.lastname@example.org
Farid Iskandar, Organizer - email@example.com
Kate Jacobson, Organizer - firstname.lastname@example.org
Alexander Delorme, Communications - email@example.com
GOA – Government Services Bargaining Committee (GSBC)
Rebecca Leblanc - firstname.lastname@example.org
Andrea Waywanko - email@example.com
Dax Lydiard - firstname.lastname@example.org
Steve Eagles - email@example.com
Randy Ramsden - firstname.lastname@example.org
Donna Smith - email@example.com
Angela Pala - firstname.lastname@example.org
Ken Podulsky (GSBC Vice-chair) - email@example.com
AUPE Resource Staff
Dale Perry, Lead Negotiator - firstname.lastname@example.org
Merryn Edwards, Negotiator - email@example.com
Farris Sobhani, Organizer - firstname.lastname@example.org
Madelaine Sommers, Organizer - email@example.com
Terry Inigo-Jones, Communications - firstname.lastname@example.org