Alta. Union Celebrates 100 Years

The City of Edmonton is honouring the 100th anniversary of a local union with its very own dedicated week of recognition.

Mayor Stephen Mandel and numerous councillors were on hand at city hall on Monday to declare June 11 to 17 Alberta Federation of Labour Centennial Celebration Week.

"It's to recognize that it's the 100th anniversary, and the contributions they've made to the city and to the workers in the province," said Mandel.

The Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) was first formed by workers and farmers in 1912.

Today, the AFL represents 145,000 workers across the province, comprised of 29 unions from the public and private sector.

"We're very proud of what our organization has been able to accomplish over the last 100 years," said ALF President Gill McGowan.

"Many of the battles that were started by my predecessors that many years ago have been won, frankly."

Initial AFL objectives included ending child labour, setting a minimum wage, establishing occupational health and safety regulations, and hammering out a standard 40-hour work week.

McGowan said that while workers are better off as a result of AFL's work over the past century, both the current federal and provincial governments threaten worker rights.

"The (Stephen) Harper government has used back to work legislation not once, not twice, but five times just in the last year alone. And now they're considering legislation that is going to make it much more difficult for unions to do the job that they need to do on behalf of working people," he said.

McGowan also points to election platform policies from Premier Alison Redford and the Alberta Progressive Conservatives that aim to close "frivolous lawsuit loopholes," and give union members the ability to opt-out of union dues that "fund activities unrelated to collective bargaining and grievance administration."

Other policy points include laws that make it mandatory for the AFL to provide annual financial statements for members to show "how dues were spent in the previous year."

"As we come together today to celebrate 100 years, we also have to remind ourselves that there are battles that still need to be fought in order to protect the right of workers to join together in unions and bargain collectively," said McGowan.

The week of celebration includes a large gathering at Fort Edmonton Park June 16 that includes games for kids, a seniors tea, BBQ buffet dinner and a salute to labour tribute.

Edmonton Sun, Tues June 14 2012

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