Human Resources and Employment Minister Mike Cardinal has subverted a longstanding agreement with the labour movement by appointing an individual with no connection to labour to the WCB Board to represent workers, says the Alberta Federation of Labour. The AFL has sent a letter to Cardinal demanding an explanation and that the appointment be suspended.
On September 13, Cabinet quietly appointed Richard Mirasty to the WCB Board of Directors to represent the interests of workers. Mr. Mirasty is a lawyer and professor in the University of Alberta's Law Faculty. The WCB Board consists of 9 members, three each representing the interests of employers, labour and the public.
"This is the first time in history, to our knowledge, that a non-labour person has been appointed to represent workers at the WCB," says AFL President Gil McGowan. "It is an unnecessary antagonism of the labour movement.
"It undermines a longstanding protocol with labour in two ways," McGowan notes. "First, we have always been consulted about labour appointments and given the opportunity to put forward nominees. Second, the appointees always have some connection with the labour movement, either as an elected officer or staff representative or other position.
"None of that happened this time. Cardinal made this appointment in secret and by ignoring the traditional process - which has worked very well over the years."
McGowan notes that his concern is not with the abilities of the individual in question. "I do not know Mr. Mirasty. He is probably a very capable person. The problem is that I - and no one else in the labour movement - has any clue who he is.
"We would have no difficulties if Mr. Mirasty was appointed to represent the interests of the public. Our concern is that he has no connection to the labour movement."
The AFL has sent a letter to Minister Cardinal demanding an explanation for his decision to subvert the traditional process. The letter also requests that Mirasty's appointment be suspended until such time as a vacancy occurs amongst public members, and that an appropriate labour representative be selected in the meantime.
"We are worried this sets a very ugly precedent," McGowan concludes. "What's next? Appointing the CEO of Wal-Mart to represent the interests of workers?"
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For More Information:
Gil McGowan, AFL President Tel: (780) 483-3021 Cell: (780) 218-9888