Justice upholds collective bargaining rights for AUPE employees

Arbitration hearings will now take place on August 7-9

The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) is praising the decision of a Court of Queen’s Bench decision that upholds collective bargaining rights for AUPE workers.

The decision comes after AUPE workers protested the UCP Government’s Bill 9 for weeks — including in Lacombe.

“We fought for the rights of workers and we won. The judge agreed with us that the government cannot arrogantly deny our collective bargaining rights,” said Guy Smith, president of AUPE, which represents 95,000 Alberta workers.

AUPE argued at Court of Queen’s Bench for an injunction on Bill 9, the Public Sector Wage Arbitration Deferral Act, to allow wage arbitration to go ahead as negotiated in good faith by AUPE members and their employers.

Those arbitration hearings will now take place on August 7-9. They affect about 60,000 AUPE members employed by the Government of Alberta and Alberta Health Services (AHS).

“Justice Macklin was very clear that collective bargaining is a right protected by the constitution. Governments cannot attack those rights using legislation and the power of the state,” said Smith.

“The judge said that delaying arbitrations made no sense. His opinion was that the government should already know what state the economy is in without waiting for a blue-ribbon panel to report. It could present whatever information it wanted to the arbitrator, who is an independent, third party in the hearings.

“Justice Macklin also agreed with AUPE that the public has a real interest in ensuring that all parities, including the government, comply with their contractual obligations.

“While we have won this particular battle, we will continue to fight for the rights of our members against the UCP’s Bill 9,” he said.

-With Files from the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees

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