The Alberta Government and the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees both announced yesterday they’ve signed a tentative agreement on a new collective agreement covering the union’s approximately 23,000 members who work directly for the provincial government.
This is the group of public employees the union accurately calls “front-line government service employees,” right-wing ideological enemies of public services misleadingly dismiss as “bureaucrats,” and many of the rest of know by the old-fashioned-sounding but honourable term “civil servants.”
Whatever you call them, political opponents of Alberta’s NDP government will be straining like hounds to get their teeth into the details of the contract and attack the government with fatuous claims it’s too rich.
That may explain why details of the pact are thin on the ground until after it’s been voted on by affected AUPE members. We know it’s a three-year deal. And we know it took a long time to negotiate – almost a year and a half, AUPE acknowledged in its news release. But for the moment we don’t know much else.
If I were to speculate, though, I’d predict there is no pay increase in either of the first two years – colloquially and rather illogically known in labour relations circles as “zero-per-cent wage increases” – and a “wage reopener” in the final year. A wage reopener, often negotiated by public sector unions in this province, does exactly what it says: it…