I would like to apologize for not being able to make my presentation in person. I would also like to express my gratitude for the opportunity to provide my thoughts by email. Thank you.
As President of CSU 52, I would like to begin by representing the views of our membership. We have a very diverse membership that cover all types of work in the City, an organization where some of our members have the highest paid classifications and conversely the lowest paid classifications. Our membership have not had a wage increase since the end of 2018, almost four years now. The bottom half of our wage grids are significantly behind those of Calgary and a number of other comparable cities. Our members, along with all City unionized employees, are a vital part of the city's infrastructure that we discuss on a regular basis. However, CSU 52 members appear to be a forgotten or overlooked part of that very necessary infrastructure.
The City’s own budget documents now point to the problem of retaining and attracting new staff. We see that the City has an operating surplus from 2022 that appears to somewhat come from budgeting for full-time employees (FTEs) and then leaving those positions vacant for lengthy periods of time, thereby creating savings presented as surplus. Over the last budget cycle, we believe that there has been an elimination of about 551 FTEs along with a number that were retained and budgeted for but not actually staffed. How many of these lost FTEs are unionized and how many are management? While this might seem to be a way to create savings, this is a practice that has actually created tremendous physical and mental stress loads on our front line staff. It has created a significant increase in short term and long term sick instances and workplace safety issues. A tired, overworked, stressed employee can very easily become a safety risk. In some areas such as Edmonton Police Service Communications, this practice of understaffing could, and we believe has, created public safety issues.
Our membership has become very disheartened when they are left to do more with less while watching a management structure that continues to expand as front line positions disappear. The recent City Employee’s satisfaction survey certainly doesn’t present a positive view of the organization.
Just a couple of observations regarding the current budget process and conversation. One, we can not continue the practice of doing more with less, our front line workers are at the breaking point. We need to recognize that as our geographical footprint expands and our population continues to grow, almost doubling since early 2000s, the need to add staff and equipment to service the public is an expense that we cannot continue to defer. We continue with this mantra of more with less, moving some staff to new locations and expecting the staff remaining in the older locations to pick up the slack, and staffing new locations with a lesser number than would ordinarily be needed. Police, Fire, Transit and DATS are a few examples of organizations that have not kept up with the expansion of the City and its population.
Just a few thoughts and once again good luck in the process, I know what a thankless job it can be.