In a letter faxed to Human Resources and Employment Minster Mike Cardinal today, the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) has proposed a fast and fair way to resolve the dispute at Lakeside Packers in Brooks, Alberta.
"We have provided the Minister with a blueprint for a fast, fair settlement of the dispute," says AFL President Gil McGowan. "Our proposal is simple. The Minister has in his hands the settlement suggested by impartial Disputes Inquiry Board Chair John Moreau. He has the last offer by the employer, Tyson Foods, Ltd of Arkansas. Now he need only appoint an arbitrator to conduct a final-offer selection and create a binding collective agreement."
In final-offer selection, the arbitrator simply picks the most fair and reasonable of the two opposing positions on each outstanding issue and writes that position into a new collective agreement.
"If the government is willing to act on our suggestion, this dispute could be fairly and peacefully resolved in a matter of days," says McGowan. "The union, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 401, has already indicated that it is willing to abide by this resolution process. The alternative is an increasingly bitter dispute with a company which has already shown that it is willing to provoke violence on the picket lines by trying to bus strikebreakers through picketers."
McGowan has experienced the picket-line tensions at Lakeside personally. He and the entire Executive Council of the Alberta Federation of Labour have moved their quarterly meeting to Brooks for this week.
"Other provinces have banned the use of strikebreakers specifically to put an end to violent confrontations on picket lines," concludes McGowan. "In the absence of that, and in the best interests of both the Alberta beef producers and packing house workers for a quick, fair settlement, I urge Mr. Cardinal to act immediately."
For more information contact:
Gil McGowan, AFL President at 780.915-4599 (cell)