RM Wood Buffalo workers get 9% raise

The workers had been waiting for almost 3 years for a new contract.

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

Settled on 15 August 2023, the new agreement is between the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo and Local 1505 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

These workers—which include over 800 municipal workers—had been working on an old contract that had expired at the end of 2020.

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According to the August 2023 Bargaining Update, these workers will receive a total increase of 9% (well, technically 9.3%, if you account for compound increases) over the 4-year term of their new contract.

Wage increases prior to August 2023 will be retroactive.

Here’s how the increases breaks down per year.

1 Jan 20212.0%
1 Jan 20222.0%
1 Jan 20233.0%
1 Jan 20242.0%

This 2.25% annual increase is an improvement over the old contract, which had an average of 1.33% a year over the course of 3 years.

That being said, keep in mind that the consumer price index in Alberta increased from 144.7 in January 2020 to 160.5 in January 2023. That’s an increase of 10.9%, and that’s not counting what the increase will be this year or next year.

So, if wages increase by 9% but inflation increases by 10.9%, that means that real wages—wages minus inflation—will actually decrease by nearly 2%. And, again, that decrease will be even more given that we still have two more years of inflation left.

The new 4-year contract, which had to go to mediation in March, will affect 830 workers and will expire in December 2024.

The full contract was unavailable by press time, so I was unable to compare more than just the wage increases.

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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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