By Natalie Sit
While contract talks between the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees Local 52–which represents non-academic staff–and the University of Calgary broke down in mid-June 2002, there is the possibility negotiations could begin within two weeks.
University of Calgary Human Resources Director Michael Kozielec and AUPE Chair Dan Tilleman met Tue., Sept. 17, 2002 to discuss possible future meetings again. Negotiations broke down in June because the two parties were at an impasse when the university offered the union a three per cent increase each year over two years.
“The problem is that there is some non-salary items that would have been taken out of the three per cent,” said Tilleman. “In other words, benefits where the costs have gone up due to inflationary pressures. So therefore, on a two-year deal what they were really offering in terms of salary to us was something just marginally over two per cent per annum, which we felt we couldn’t even take to our members for a vote.”
Kozielec acknowledges it is an issue for the union but points to the university’s financial position.
“It’s trying to be somewhat competitive,” said Kozielec. “It’s trying to offer employees something within a very difficult fiscal constraint. This is what the university can afford. I wouldn’t even say afford because it still puts us in a deficit. We recognize employees make a contribution to the success of the university.”
Tilleman discussed the new contracts AUPE unions at the University of Alberta and University of Lethbridge signed over the summer. At these universities, unions received four per cent for three years and in the third year the union can reopen negotiations.
“In both cases they maintained or improved their benefits,” said Tilleman. “So we’re basically saying to the employer, â€˜what’s currently on the table is not acceptable.’ When we last left the table we were asking four per cent in the first year and 4.5 per cent in the last year plus some of these inflationary adjustments on benefits that needed to be addressed.”
Kozielec declined to comment on the other Alberta universities because he was unsure of the negotiation situation.
AUPE represents approximately 2,500 employees at the U of C, ranging from caretaking, food services, librarians, electricians and technologists.