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AUPE Local 52 four-year collective agreement with U of C

By Sophia Lopez, July 25 2022

Alberta Union of Public Employees (AUPE) Local 52 recently officially approved a four-year collective agreement with the University of Calgary until the year 2024.

AUPE Local 52 represents the support staff at the U of C. This agreement is backdated to 2020, but in the next two years support staff can expect to start seeing a pay increase of 1.25 per cent to 1.5 per cent. Employees will also begin to see their benefits fully paid by their employer.

In an interview with the Gauntlet, Justin Huseby, the chair of AUPE Local 52, and Prachi Mishra, the vice chair of AUPE Local 52, discussed what ratifying this agreement ultimately means for the future.

“So in this collective agreement, the increases that we had were on par with many of the other public sector unions across Alberta,” said Mishra. “I think that in order to have a really good relationship between the staff and the employer — which is the university — the collective agreement is just one space to make that improvement. It has to be a really comprehensive and holistic approach.”

Huseby was also a part of the negotiations committee for AUPE Local 52 for this agreement. He explained that while the union understands that inflation and the lack of post secondary funding has contributed to the poor support they’ve received from the university, caretakers continue to be the lowest paid workers on campus.

“There were some other things in the funding agreement we were able to gain,” said Huseby. “But there’s still lots that we are continuing to push for on behalf of our members and particularly with caretaking.”

In a statement from the university, it was explained how the terms in the collective agreement were difficult to make over the span of the pandemic but both negotiating committees worked hard to come to a decision.

“This agreement is consistent with other Alberta post-secondary wage settlements. In addition to salary increases beginning in January 2023, the parties also agreed to several language improvements and other non-monetary enhancements,” read the statement. “Between the pandemic and difficult economic circumstances, this has been a challenging round of negotiations. Both bargaining committees deserve a lot of credit for their hard work and dedication in reaching this tentative agreement.”

While Huseby for the most part agreed with the statement, he still believes that a strong relationship between AUPE Local 52 and the university has not been reached by any means.

“It would absolutely be a mistaken impression for anyone to think that all is well coming out of this despite there being a contract,” he said.

Though AUPE Local 52 and the U of C still have some work to do to create a better relationship in the long run, Mishra is hopeful as protests over the last few months have seemingly worked towards getting some much needed support for caretakers.

“That [support] only came about because caretakers protested,” she said. “That only came about because they were willing to show administration that they were fighting for their rights, that they had something to say, that they needed respect and this mistreatment had gone on for too long.”

More information on the four-year collective agreement can be found on the U of C website.

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