EDMONTON – The Alberta Federation of Labour congratulates Albertans involved in the growing Occupy movements for bringing issues of inequality in our wealthy province to greater public attention.
"Calls for fairness that started in New York very quickly took root in Alberta," says Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL), which represents 145,000 workers. "The work of occupiers in Calgary and Edmonton are a sign that things are changing. These Albertans used peaceful and participatory democratic action to highlight issues that those in power would rather conveniently sweep under the rug."
McGowan contends that while a handful of conservative-minded elites have tried to pass of the occupation sites as unsightly, they were unsuccessful in asking Albertans to turn a blind eye to occupy protests.
"The occupation sites were vibrant reminders of deeper issues of economic inequality in Alberta. What is truly unsightly is the presence of a government that favours its corporate friends over the interests of all Albertans," adds McGowan.
McGowan sited income inequality, increasing child poverty rates, and generous corporate tax cuts amidst funding insecurity faced by the province's education system as indicators of skewed government priorities.
The AFL has continued to call attention to irresponsible provincial programs and earlier this year, demanded provincial accountability for its failed Drilling Stimulus programming. The stimulus gave away $2.9 billion of taxpayer money to pad private profits of oil and gas companies, while depleting our treasury of funds that could have been used to support health care and education.
"Albertans have witnessed great generosity for corporations, and yet working families are being asked to accept austerity. We sit amidst immense wealth, and the labour movement is working hard to make sure that wealth benefits all Albertans."
The AFL has issued ongoing solidarity statements with Albertans participating in the Occupy movement. Deep concern over issues such as income inequality, corporate influence over Alberta's democratic processes, and funding of public services are common ground between supporters of the Occupy movement and Alberta's labour unions.
"These kinds of issues could more easily fly under the radar of mainstream media. As we move forward, they are top-of-mind, thanks to Occupy protesters who braved the elements to get their message of democratic renewal heard. For that, we owe a debt of gratitude to Occupiers not only here in Alberta, but around the world."
"Occupiers' message and voices will continue inspire positive change in this province."-30-
Gil McGowan, AFL president, 780-218-9888 (cell)