Alberta is poised to pass two new Acts that will affect members of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE), and possibly some of my colleagues on campus, so I’ve been watching the news and editorials with interest.
Bill 46 enables the government to set employment terms for the AUPE while Bill 45 increases fines for unions involved in illegal work stoppages. Some articles I’ve read suggest that Bill 45 will make it illegal for public sector unions to even talk about going on stri… ahem, that is to say, unions could not use the word used to describe that moment in bowling when all the pins go down at once.
I’m sure you’ll have your own opinion about those laws, but I’d thought it’s worth noting that not once in 23 years of work in Alberta’s post-secondary system have I actually heard anyone mention that “moment in bowling when all the pins go down at once.” In contrast I worked two years in another province and found myself providing essential campus services when people there went off the job to support another group of provincial employees.
Whatever happens with the two bills, my guess is that the 165 or so college employees within the AUPE won’t find their future conversations too limited. They’re a dedicated group of people who mostly seem to talk about how they can best support students.
Jobs within the AUPE touch just about every aspect of campus operations. You’ll find people in the Vera Bracken Library who support access to information and resources for students and faculty. And don’t just think about “books” when you envision the library. They also support learning with digital assets and technology.
Other people whose jobs are within AUPE classifications provide just about all the front line services where students go to learn about the college, get help, or find the services they need to succeed. When I send a last minute copy job to the duplicating centre I know I can rely on the people there to do their best.
The words and images on the website and our many publications come from people within union classifications. Chemistry labs are ready to go on time because of the work of support staff, and tools are available for apprentices and faculty. The lights and sounds in the theatre rise and fall under the control of support staff. Invoices get processed and paid. Even the temporary employment of people who pose to be sketched by developing artists falls within this realm.
I consider myself fortunate to work with great people at Medicine Hat College and that certainly includes the AUPE. Their impact on campus is positive and significant.
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