Edmonton - The Alberta Federation of Labour selected 37-year old Gil McGowan as its new President today. McGowan won the Presidency unopposed. His election as President marks a generational shift in leadership for Alberta's labour movement. The AFL is holding its 44th Constitutional Convention in Edmonton this weekend.
"I am honoured to have earned the confidence of the AFL's affiliate unions," said McGowan. "We need to re-energize this movement and get worker's issues back on the agenda again in this province."
"The Alberta Tories are on notice. As of today, they can expect a new kind of labour movement in this province," says McGowan. "Be warned Ralph, the watchdog is back on duty!"
"My goal as President is to make the labour movement politically relevant again. I will increase our profile and step up our actions against anti-union employers and the government that slavishly serves their interests," says McGowan.
McGowan says his first priority will be to mobilize workers around the growing issues in Fort McMurray. "In an attempt to avoid paying fair wages and providing decent working conditions, oil sands contractors are turning to 'company unions' and telling tall tales about labour shortages. My plan is to head to Fort McMurray in the coming days and tell both those employers and the government that the labour movement is prepared to fight."
McGowan comes to the Presidency after 10 years as Director of Communications of the AFL. He is also an active member of the Strathcona Community league, leading many of the community's efforts related to development on Whyte Avenue. He is a member of the Communications Energy and Paperworkers Union.
Also Sunday, the AFL re-elected Kerry Barrett as Secretary-Treasurer. Barrett defeated Shona Stewart from CUPW for the position. Barrett, also 37, has served 4 years as Secretary-Treasurer, and the last year as interim President.
"The job of AFL is to tackle politics for the labour movement. It will be my goal to make sure that the Tories stand up and pay attention to the concerns of workers," concludes McGowan.
The AFL is Alberta's largest and oldest central labour body, representing 115,000 workers and their families.
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