Food service workers at SAIT may see their wages cut by 35 per cent by a new proposal from SAIT administration.
The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees goes back to the bargaining table this week to discuss the possible cut. Under their collective agreement, AUPE Local 39, which represents over 600 SAIT employees, renegotiates its contract every two years. Although the contract expired in July, there were many issues to be discussed, including wages.
Food service workers currently make between $9.40 and $11.74. The new proposal sees the pay scale dropping to $5.91, for starting employees, and up to $10.91. This cutback may seem steep, but it is just an initial offer in negotiations.
According to SAIT spokesperson Larry Lalonde, while the proposal is just the starting point for negotiations, it is "fair."
"Discussion belongs between the parties at the bargaining table," said Lalonde, adding both sides agreed not to negotiate through the media.
AUPE union representative Ray Domeij, who is responsible for representing the education components of the union in Calgary, including SAIT and the University of Calgary, did not want to speculate on the possible outcomes of the talks, as the parties are still bargaining. He mentioned the flood of support coming from all over the province, as union members showed their concern for the food service employees.
"People as far away as Edmonton have been calling, asking what they can do," he said.
A potential consequence of the parties' inability to reach an agreement would be the contracting out of food service workers.
"It's still too early to say," said Lalonde, adding that SAIT does not advocate contracting out, and hopes a consensus will be reached before Christmas. "We are confident that we will come to an agreement."
AUPE also represents the U of C's food services workers. As a symbol of solidarity amongst union members, some workers may be seen sporting purple ribbons while attending events on the SAIT campus. Many SAIT employees have also been wearing the ribbon to show their support for the food services workers.