Kerry Barrett, President of the Alberta Federation of Labour, February 2005
Good afternoon. My name is Kerry Barrett and I'm here to bring greetings on behalf of the Alberta Federation of Labour's Executive Council.
The Federation represents about 120,000 members from many different unions in this province.
At one time or another, we've all suffered the frustration and anger that comes from dealing with a stubborn employer.
So, we understand what you're going through right now - and we want to assure you that both as unions and as individuals, we are prepared to anything and everything we can to help you get a fair collective agreement.
The struggle that you're having with Telus is one that is going on in many sectors of the economy.
On one side, we have a company that is worth billions - and is the dominant player in its industry in western Canada. On the other had, we have you, the workers, who have made the company strong.
The mangers of Telus have made big mistakes, they've made bad investments and they've consistently focused on short-term self-interest over the real long-term best interests of the company.
But who gets the blame for managements' failures? And who has to pay the price, in terms of lay-offs, pay cuts, reduced benefits? It's not the guys on top, it's not people like Darren Entwhistle.
Instead, it's people like you, the people who actually do the work.
That's what this dispute is really about. And it's the same kind of dispute we in the labour movement are dealing with in so many sectors.
The good news is that you've been taking action. You've stood up for a fair and equitable deal for all Telus employees & and you've won a few rounds at the CIRB.
Obviously, the company's latest tactics are frustrating. If they put half as much effort into negotiating as they put into fighting there our employees, a deal would have been reached long ago.
But that's the way too many managers approach labour relations these days. They dig their heels in, they try to divide people they try to starve us out. It's all part of the play book.
But you know? Even in this hostile climate, unions like yours can win. Other unions and other workers have faced down tactics like this and still emerged with good agreements. I am confident that you will do the same.
In conclusion I'd just like to say two things. First, our federation's convention is coming up here in Edmonton in May.
I'm looking forward to seeing many of you there and celebrating what I'm confident will eventually be a victory for you and TWU.
Second, and more importantly, I want to make sure you know that - whatever happens - they rest of the labour movement is behind you.
The locations and the employers' names may be different, but we're all in the same boat, facing the same challenges. Whatever we can do to help, we'll be there for you.
Good luck with your fight. And thank you for this opportunity to talk to you today. Solidarity!