AGLC workers vote no to 3 years of wage freezes

Contract negotiations will now go to mediation.

Last week, the Alberta Union of Public Employees published a news release indicating that the majority of its members working for the Alberta Gaming, Liquor, and Cannabis Commission voted against a tentative agreement that the union’s bargaining team had negotiated with the employer.

The ratification vote occurred through a mail-in ballot. After the tentative agreement was reached at the beginning of September, the negotiating team sent out ballots to AGLC workers. Ballots had to be returned filled out to AUPE headquarters by 12 October.

Two days after the deadline, AUPE officials counted the ballots, discovering that an undisclosed majority of those who voted chose to reject the tentative agreement.

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AGLC workers have been without a contract since July 2020, when their previous contract expired.

According to AUPE, their bargaining team had managed to negotiate wage freezes for the first three years of the contract, followed by a 1.25% increase as of next May and 1.5% effect January 2024.

Workers would’ve have been potentially eligible for an extra half a percent in January 2024, provided that Alberta’s GDP averaged 2.7% during 2023.

Clearly, workers felt that that 3 years of wages, including this current year, amidst skyrocketing inflation is unacceptable, and sent the bargaining team back to the negotiation table.

The next step, however, according to AUPE, is informal mediation.

This isn’t the first time AGLC has prolonged negotiations with their workers. Their most recent contract was won after over two years of negotiations, following the previous contract expiring in 2017.

That contract, won while the NDP government were in government, came with two years of wage freezes and a wage reopener in the final year. That wage reopener wasn’t won until 2021, however, but ended up being just a 1% and need an arbitrator to step in to get it.

Had the membership voted in favour of the new proposed agreement, it would’ve have meant 5 years of wage freezes over the last 6 years.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent queer journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news articles, focusing on politics and labour.

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