Labour Bytes: July 2016

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Defenders of defined-benefit pensions proven right yet again

Edmonton – Alberta’s Local Authorities Pension Plan has hit 97 per cent funding just two years after Conservatives tried to gut it over fears that the plan was unsustainable.

Alberta’s largest pension plan – the Local Authorities Pension Plan (LAPP), which provides pension coverage to almost 250,000 working and retired Albertans – released figures this month showing that it is now close to being fully funded.

According to the LAPP’s latest 2015 Audited Financial Statements, the plan now has 97 per cent of the funds necessary to cover its long-term obligations – up dramatically from 85 per cent three years ago. The Public Sector Pension Plan (PSPP) – which had also been targeted by the Redford government – released an audited annual report in June showing that it was 99 per cent funded.

“The next time right-wing fear mongers try to panic Albertans into making unjustified concessions and swallowing unnecessary cuts, I hope we all remember how wrong they were when they claimed our pensions were insolvent,” McGowan – who led a union coalition that opposed cuts to pension plans – said. “This also makes it abundantly clear that Alberta’s public-sector pensions need to have independent joint governance – like the pension plans in every other province in Canada – so that governments can’t make unilateral decisions that affect workers’ retirement savings.”

Fair  $15 minimum wage will boost economy by almost a billion dollars

Research released by the Alberta Federation of Labour shows that the increased consumer spending that would result from a $15 minimum wage would amount to a $900 million boost to the Alberta economy over three years.

Show your support for increasing the minimum wage by writing a letter to your MLA at the website

“When there are hundreds of thousands of workers who aren’t earning enough to get by, that hamper the economy,” AFL president Gil McGowan said. “The idea that a higher minimum wage would boost the economy, rather than harm it, is not a radical idea. Mainstream economists have been making this argument for years. And it’s borne out by the evidence.”

The AFL research paper used analysis methods from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago applied to data from Statistics Canada’s Labour Force survey for Alberta. Breaking down the number of workers in Alberta by hourly wages, the report examines how much extra money each group would earn in a given week, and how much extra they would be able to spend in the Alberta economy.

“When you look at the meta-analysis of studies done that look at the effect of minimum wage increases on employment, time and time again, you see that none of the catastrophic impacts predicted by low-wage employers have come to pass,” McGowan said.

“The bottom line is that increasing the minimum wage to something close to the living wage is a win-win for both workers and the economy.”

AFL condemns violent hate speech against women in politics

At the organization’s quarterly council meeting, the Alberta Federation of Labour unanimously approved a statement calling for action on the increasingly extreme hate speech that extremists in Alberta are directing against women politicians.

“When toxic rhetoric and behavior like this becomes normalized, it allows extremists to dehumanize women who don’t agree with them on political matters, helps them justify their deranged actions,” the Federation of Labour said in an official statement. “In short, violent speech begets violent acts.”

Over the last several months, women who are provincial cabinet ministers have been targeted for online harassment, threats of violence, misogynist abuse, and even had their images used for target practice. The statement drew parallels between this escalating harassment and the similar hate speech that fueled the murder of British MP Jo Cox last week.

“Many are willing to tolerate and give cover to those who target women with threats of violence. They offer excuses, or try to define misogynistic behaviour as ‘just a joke.’”, the Federation of Labour said. “But these are not jokes, they fuel hate, and hatred often leads to violence.”

The Federation of Labour is asking the RCMP to actively pursue investigations into those who are making statements online that are threatening or imply that violent acts are justified. Additionally, the Federation of Labour is calling on political leaders to stand up to the violent fringe elements in their own parties.              

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  • Canada Post raked in $44 million in profits in the first quarter of 2016. This is usually the slowest quarter.
  • Canada Post has been profitable 20 out of the last 22 years.
  • The most recent year the corporation lost money was when management engineered a work stoppage in 2011.
  • Since 1995, the Crown Corporation has earned more than a billion dollars, which has gone directly into the public purse.


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Show support for

Postal Workers

Canada Post may be heading towards a work stoppage because management has shown little willingness to negotiate fairly or in good faith.

At present, the two sides have agreed to a 30-day negotiating period, but management have repeatedly threatened to lock out workers if their demands for major cuts, and inequality between workers are not met. 

Action: Print and post signs declaring your support for Postal Workers at

Action: Inform your colleagues, friends, and business associates that there is a difference between a strike and a lockout – calling the impending work stoppage a strike blames the workers for a dispute that is not of their creation.



  • August 8-12: Alberta Federation of Labour Kids’ Camp
  • Sept 5: Labour Day Barbecues for the unemployed and underemployed
  • Sept 4: Calgary Pride Parade

July 1, 2016

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