No resolution in negotiations between SAIT and AUPE
AUPE negotiators representing 600-plus SAIT support services employees in an ongoing contract dispute are questioning why the institution isn’t willing to accommodate their requests for wage increases in the wake of a more than $18-million budget surplus.
“SAIT doesn’t have a fiscal problem, and that’s what’s really frustrating for us,” said Kevin Davediuk, staff negotiator for the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE).
Despite the challenging economic conditions, SAIT’s 2009/10 annual report boasted a budget surplus of $18.2 million.
This is great news for the institution, but for the support workers who’ve gone without an agreement since June 30 of last year, Davediuk said these facts are perplexing.
Members of AUPE local 039 entered into compulsory arbitration with SAIT’s board of governors after contract negotiations failed in December.
Davediuk said union members are asking for a 0 per cent increases in the first year of a three-year contract, with a two per cent increase in the second and three per cent in the third year to account for inflation.
“SAIT’s a very rich organization,” Davediuk said. “(The budget surplus) is just very curious to see. SAIT’s proposals are putting the best interests of employees last and it shows.”
SAIT spokesperson Heidi Sparks expressed disappointment that the mediation process with AUPE hasn’t resulted in a collective agreement. She said SAIT is experiencing a different financial situation than at the end of the last fiscal year.
“Those (surplus) numbers are a reflection of SAIT’s past economic environment, not a projection for the future,” Sparks said.
“Due to economic hard times, SAIT’s financial environment has changed and there have been cutbacks in every department.”
Sparks said in this fiscal year, there have been no salary or cost of living increases for either management or non-AUPE members.