Les Steel is stepping down as the President of the Alberta Federation of Labour in order to take a new, Alberta-based position with the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC). He has served as President of Alberta's largest labour organization for three years. Prior to that, he was the full-time Secretary Treasurer of the organization for six years. He had one year left to serve of his current two-year term.
"I had already made it clear to people within the labour movement that I would not be seeking another term as President at the next AFL Convention in 2005," says Steel. "The only change is that I'm leaving the Federation a little earlier than expected."
For the immediate future, Mr. Steel's duties will be carried out by the current Secretary Treasurer, Ms. Kerry Barrett. A decision on how to deal with the vacant position will be made by the Alberta Federation of Labour Executive Council which is meeting in Calgary on May 6, 2004.
"Les made a personal decision to move on to new challenges," says Barrett. "I know he will continue to advance the interests of working people in his new position with the same passion and skill with which he led the labour movement in the past."
Steel was President during turbulent times in the Alberta Labour movement. When he took over, Federation membership was at its lowest level in the previous 30 years because of the defection of the province's largest union, and the organization was in trouble financially.
Under Steel's leadership, there were significant new affiliations - most notably, the United Nurses of Alberta and the Health Sciences Association of Alberta. Membership levels exceeded previous highs and the affiliated unions restored the organization's financial security.
Steel gained the respect of trade unionists across the country during the protests against the G8 summit in Calgary in 2002. He staunchly supported the Alberta teachers during their strike - forging closer ties between the Alberta Teachers Association and the labour movement.
Steel's relationship with the Alberta government was strongly oppositional - with his uncompromising stance on behalf of working people putting him at odds with the government's programs and policies.
For further information contact:
Kerry Barrett, AFL Secretary Treasurer at 780-483-3021 (wk) or 780-720-8945 (cell)