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CUPE 3911 Statement: Alberta Government & AU Dispute over Athabasca-based Employees

Posted in General

Our employer and the Alberta Government are in a standoff. The AB government demands that Athabasca University increase the number of Athabasca-based employees by 500 people, while President Peter Scott refuses to do so because this goes counter to the university’s goal of a near-virtual workplace. Advanced Education Minister Nicolaides threatens that the university stands to lose its $3.4 million monthly provincial grant unless AU agrees to their demand by the end of August.

CUPE 3911 is following this issue closely. We know any decisions taken will have a major impact on our employment as academic staff who provide crucial services to the University and its student.

Students also face growing financial pressures with increased student fees and drastically reduced student funding from the AB government. The result of decreased funding and increased student fees could very likely impact our members’ workloads, since fewer students means less work.

Members of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees and the Athabasca University Faculty Association are very impacted by any changes to where they have to live in order to be employed at AU. We agree completely with AUFA’s closing words in a recent blog post:

“All faculty and staff have a stake in this situation and will be impacted by any decisions made by the university administration and Board of Governors. We implore the university to consult—openly and meaningfully—with faculty and staff about the response to the government’s directive, including a genuine role for collegial governance bodies.”

CUPE is currently in collective bargaining with AU and the current dispute between the University and its major funder may well have implications for AU finances, job security issues, even what can and cannot be said during bargaining. We will be as transparent as possible to inform our members about progress in bargaining and actions by AU and the AB government.

We are meeting with the other unions at AU this week and informing our colleagues across the post-secondary sector about the situation AU faces. We encourage our members to follow this developing story (and we will continue sending updates by email and post to the CUPE3911 website), to watch for the announcement of special meetings at AU where the issue will be discussed, and in the meantime, to voice your opinions and suggestions to CUPE 3911.

Write directly to the co-chairs at

Link here to the CUPE 3911 Summer 2022 Members’ Priorities Survey

Link here to David Climenhaga’s analysis of the controversy at AU.