Drumheller municipal workers win 8.5% wage increase

Their new contract also brings changes to long service benefits and personal leave.

In the July 2023 Bargaining Update released earlier this month, Alberta’s jobs, economy, and northern development ministry indicated that a new collective agreement for workers in Drumheller had been reached.

Settled on 4 July 2023, the new agreement is between the Town of Drumheller & District Seniors Foundation and Local 4604 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents about 40 workers employed by the town.

These workers—which include those working at the Badlands Community Facility, aquatic staff, and support staff—had been working on an old contract that had expired at the end of 2022.

According to the July 2023 Bargaining Update, these workers will receive a total increase of 8.5% over the 3-year term of their new contract. Here’s how it breaks down per year.

1 January 20233.0%
1 January 20242.5%
1 January 20252.5%

Under the previous contract, the probationary period for new workers was 6 months, and the Town of Drumheller had the option of extending that probation by another 3 months for full-time workers or 500 hours for part-time, as long as they provided “proper and sufficient reasons in writing” to that worker. The new contract now also requires that the employer send a copy of that reasoning to the union no later than 5 months into the probationary period.

Under the new contract, workers who have been employed over two decades will see an improvement in their annual vacation time, with increases accruing earlier.

Vacation lengthLength of service
Length of service
3 weeks1 year1 year
4 weeks7 years5 years
5 weeks15 years10 years
6 weeks25 years21 years

The new contract did not add the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation to the list of paid holidays, which is something that many new contracts have included over the last two years.

Under the new contract, workers who are permanent full-time will have their annual sick leave allotment topped by 10 days, to a maximum of 86 days in total. Under the previous contract, the top-up was only 8 days.

Under the previous contract, workers qualified for a long service bonus after they had been working for the town for 10 years. They would be credited the equivalent of 20 working days, which would then be paid out once the worker retired, resigned, or was permanently laid off. Plus, every year the worker remained employed continuously with the town, they’d be credited an additional 2 days.

Under the new contract, the long service bonus is $500 once the worker hits 10 years of continuous employment and paid out with that year.

The additional credits of subsequent years has been replaced with bonuses on just the 15th, 20th, 25th, 20th, 35th, 40th, and 45th anniversaries of continuous service. And that bonus is time off with pay, equivalent to 1 work week (or 5 days), rather than a cash payout at retirement, resignment, or layoff.

As well, anyone who had accrued long service credits were to receive a payout equivalent to those credits.

Bereavement leave has increased under the new contract, from 3 consecutive working days to 4 consecutive working days.

Personal leave, under the previous contract, was stipulated in this clause

18.04 Any employee who qualifies for income protection leave as per Article 15.07 may be allowed 5 days of leave per year with pay. Any granting of a request for such leave will be at the discretion of the Employer, in accordance with the Employer’s policy.

The new contract changed it to 3 days of personal leave each year for permanent workers.

As well, personal leave days now have to be related to the “health and wellbeing” of the worker or to help the worker “meet their family responsibilities in relation to a family member”. They can only be taken in half-day increments, and any unused days won’t roll over into the new year, nor will they be paid out.

There were no changes to shift premiums.

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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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