The University of Calgary and the Alberta Union of Public Employees reached a tentative settlement Oct. 4, 2002 in their contract dispute. The three-year deal gives the union a four per cent increase per year and is retroactive to April 30, 2002.
"We like certain aspects and some aspects are lacking," said AUPE Chair Dan Tilleman. "There were some pay equity issues we wanted to address but our board wasn't interested in going there. Essentially that's because it would cost them some money. But I like the fact we were able to achieve a four per cent [increase]."
The agreement also improved employee benefits and included athletic coaches into the tentative deal. As well, there is better flexibility in working hours for employees and greater access to health facilities.
"I think it's a really good agreement," said U of C Human Resources Director Michael Kozielec. "I think it was a generous agreement from the standpoint of the university facing some very difficult economic constraints. We really stretched our boundaries to recognize the value of our employees."
Students' Union Vice-President Operations and Finance Robbie
White fears this settlement could affect students in a negative way during tuition consultation with administration.
"The university needs more money to cover this," said White. "It means more money from students."
Tilleman understands that students bear a financial burden because of increasing tuition but justifies the settlement because support staff must make a living and the union should not take a substandard increase.
"We emphasize with students," said Tilleman. "I firmly point the finger at the provincial government. I've lobbied on behalf of support staff and students. Affordability is a big issue and most support staff recognize that."
A spokesperson from the office of the U of C Vice-President Finance and Services could not be reached before press time.
AUPE represents approximately 2,500 employees at the U of C, ranging from caretaking, food services, librarians, electricians and technologists. The union members will vote on the contract Oct. 29, 2002.