Edmonton libraries could be shut down as early as February 12 due to a strike or lockout. Most inside city of Edmonton workers including 911 operators, recreation centre workers and civilian police workers could be off the job as early as February 15.
Nearly 700 members of Civic Service Union 52 who work at the Edmonton Public Library are holding a strike vote that runs from Feb. 6 to Feb. 8. Over 5100 CSU 52 members who work for the city of Edmonton are holding a strike vote that runs from Feb 9 until Feb. 12.
If city of Edmonton workers strike or are locked out several important city services would be disrupted—or potentially even closed down. This includes libraries; Edmonton’s libraries were visited nearly 3.5 million times in 2022 and are among the few free, publicly accessible third spaces in the city..
Recreation centres are another popular city of Edmonton amenity that could be disrupted by this labour dispute. City of Edmonton recreation centres saw 3.36 million visits in the first six months of 2023.
Edmonton’s municipal workers took zeroes in their contract negotiations in 2018 and 2019. At this point, these workers haven’t seen a pay increase in five going on six years. According to the Bank of Canada, inflation has risen by 18.67 per cent in that time.
While city workers took zeroes in 2018 and 2019, Edmonton gave the police a 3 per cent total increase in compensation. And while the city was offering three per cent over three years to city for workers from 2020 to 2023, Edmonton cops got a seven per cent increase in their wages in their 2020 to 2023 contract.
What the other municipal workers are being offered in negotiations today isn’t even close to the generous packages the police have received. Library workers are being offered a three per cent increase over three years. That’s zero per cent in 20/21, 1 per cent in 21/22 and two per cent in 22/23. The larger city of Edmonton bargaining unit got the same offer but with another two years tacked on with 2 per cent and 2.25 per cent increases in years four and five. And that sends a message as to what other unions can expect in their next contract: not much.
Strikes are not easy for workers and their families. You don’t know when you’re going to get your next paycheque, the literal thing you need to live. But when a city worker looks at five years of zero pay increases, while inflation goes up more than 18 per cent at the same time, it’s no surprise that they’re looking to fight.
There is a right and wrong side to this dispute and the editorial position of the Progress Report is that we stand with these workers.
The mayor and city council have made a lot of mistakes on a lot of files in recent months, but allowing an incompetent administration to bumble their way into an extended disruption of services city-wide would be truly unforgivable.
If city of Edmonton workers do go on strike or are locked out, libraries and recreation centres seem to be likely spots for a picket line, though CSU 52 hasn’t yet laid out their strike strategy. If it comes to that, make a sign, pick up some coffee or something for the strikers, and hit the line. Libraries have always been a great place to learn new things and meet new people, but a picket line’s even better.
The Progress Report will be following this situation closely. Watch your inbox and our Twitter feed for updates. But we’ll be walking the line, too, if pickets go up. Hope to see you there.
The ANDP are picking a new leader. What coverage would you like to see?
The leadership race for Alberta’s official opposition offers a chance for the party to change, to grow and to make the changes necessary to win an election. In the 2022 UCP leadership race nearly 85,000 voted. And the party claimed to have sold more than 123,000 memberships. The last ANDP leadership race was in 2014 and only 3589 votes were cast.
Now I don’t expect the ANDP to crest those UCP leadership race numbers, those people were voting for a new premier but the ANDP need to to have a leadership race that sells a lot of memberships, energizes the party and brings new ideas and new approaches forward.
And this will be the first time that the ANDP will be doing mass politics as a membership drive, not as an election. And that is a key difference. Selling memberships to regular people is harder work and brings different expectations. And thousands, hopefully tens of thousands of new members brings new volunteers and new energy into a party that is not exactly used to having to listen to its grassroots.
Ultimately this election is going to be about picking the leader who can win seats outside of Edmonton and Calgary. Winning the leadership of the official opposition is a bit of poisoned chalice—it only means years of hard work afterwards. And even then you still might lose.
Given it’s importance though we do want to cover the ANDP leadership race extensively and we want to ask you how we should do it. Click here to take our poll.
Progress Report staff writer Jeremy Appel has a new book out called Kenneyism: Jason Kenney’s Pursuit of Power. The official book launch is in Edmonton at the Aviary on Feb. 6th and he’s got another Edmonton event on Feb. 11 at Audreys. Jeremy will be in Calgary on Feb. 13 at Mount Royal University. He’ll in Lethbridge on Feb. 15 and in Red Deer on Feb. 20
Danielle Smith has promised to reveal new “parental rights” policy this week. Here’s an op-ed explaining why the fake concept of “parental rights” puts vulnerable children at risk. And here’s an example, a religious fundamentalist pro forced-birth group is asking its supporters to email Danielle Smith to “include abortion in her parental rights bill.”
Multiple press freedom organizations and even Amnesty International have lined up to demand that charges against Indigenous journalist Brandi Morin be dropped.
- A former family doctor, who was barred from practicing medicine after having a sexual relationship with a patient, has recast herself as an addictions counsellor. This has renewed calls for the province to actually regulate addictions counselling and bring in a professional college.
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