Mackenzie County workers win 8% wage increase

This comes after 4 years of wage freezes.

Last week, municipal workers employed with Mackenzie County voted in favour of a new tentative collective agreement, their union said in a statement on Monday.

According to another statement released earlier this month, negotiations between the employer and the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees lasted only two days.

The previous 4-year collective agreement expired at the end of December 2022. The new four-year agreement will include a 2% wage increase every year of the agreement, for a total of 8% during the term of the agreement.

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  • 1 January 2023: 2% (retroactive)
  • 1 January 2024: 2%
  • 1 January 2025: 2%
  • 1 January 2026: 2%

The new collective agreement will also see increases to some health benefits. For example, vision care will increase to $600 from $300 every two years. As well, orthodontic coverage will increase to $5,000 lifetime from $2,500.

Prior to this new agreement, unionized workers employed by Mackenzie County had a health spending account worth up to $500 a year. Under the new agreement, this health spending account will be converted to a flexible spending account and increased to $1,500 per year. 

There were some changes to short-term disability as well. previously, it was paid at 66.67% of the worker’s wages, if they had to go on short-term disability. Now it will be in-house and paid at 90% of worker wages. Plus, workers will no longer pay premiums for this benefit.

To make this possible however, workers who take a leave of absence (other than a general leave of absence) will be responsible for 50% of the benefits premiums after 3 months. have gone by.

Standby premiums will also increase under the new agreement. When a worker is designated to be immediately available to return to work during a period when not on regular duty, they’ll be compensated 440 per day on weekdays and $50 on weekends, up from $30 and $40, respectively. Paid holiday standby premiums remain at $50 per day.

Anyone having to work in Zama City will be paid an additional $4 an hour, up from $3, but that additional amount is available only for those who stay overnight in Zama City.

Compassionate care leave will be increased from 6 weeks to 27 weeks.

This new agreement will also apply to workers who are summer students, something that wasn’t the case on the previous one. As well, temporary workers will have their term increase from 4 months to 6 months under the agreement.

Finally, all workers will now be scheduled for 8:30–4:30 Monday through Friday in the new agreement. Under the previous agreement, this shift specifically applied to just administrative workers; public works, agricultural field, and enforcement services full-time workers were scheduled for 40 hours a week, but they could be outside the 8:30–4:30 shift.

Under the previous agreement, Mackenzie County workers saw 4 consecutive years of wage freezes.

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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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