Rachel Notley under fire after ex union negotiator hired to bargain with unions

By , on March 9, 2016

Edmonton Strathcona MLA Rachel Notley (Photo courtesy of Notley's Facebook page)
Edmonton Strathcona MLA Rachel Notley (Photo courtesy of Notley’s Facebook page)

EDMONTON—Premier Rachel Notley is being criticized for hiring a former senior negotiator with Alberta’s largest public-sector union.

Wildrose finance critic Derek Fildebrandt says hiring Kevin Davediuk will be bad news for taxpayers given the NDP’s traditional ties with unions.

“The government has hired one of AUPE’s chief negotiators to now negotiate for taxpayers back against AUPE,” Fildebrandt said Wednesday.

“This is little better than hiring the fox to guard the hen house.”

Up until Monday, Davediuk worked for the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, which represents thousands of workers in a wide variety of government jobs.

Finance Minister Joe Ceci said Davediuk was picked because he was the best person for the job and has a distinguished career working for unions and for employers.

“He certainly has a breadth of experience,” said Ceci.

“Having the best people at the table is in the best interests of all of us, in terms of ensuring we don’t pay more (than needed), “

Ceci said Davediuk will bow out of some negotiations with the AUPE.

“There are parts of the negotiations that he’s done in the past that he probably can’t be involved with, but there’s a lot of work we need to do and many union (negotiations) that are coming up over the next few years in particular that need to be settled,” he said.

Notley’s government faces difficult bargaining with all of its public sector unions, including AUPE, nurses, teachers and doctors and other specialists as low oil prices have seen government revenues plunge.

The government is predicting this year’s budget will include a $10-billion deficit and the government is facing calls to either freeze or roll back public sector salaries.