Labour Bytes: October 2015

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Majority of Edmontonians want Harper gone

Edmonton –  The Alberta Federation of Labour has conducted riding-by-riding polling in key battlegrounds throughout Alberta – most of which were in Edmonton. The polling showed that, while a significant majority of people in those ridings want to turf the current government, the Conservatives may eke out wins.

“When we look at the second choice of voters, it is clear there is an “anyone-but-conservative” sentiment. Combined, the NDP and the Liberals represent most of the vote in Edmonton ridings. The vast majority of NDP supporters would rather elect a Liberal than a Conservative. And the vast majority of Liberal supporters would rather elect a New Democrat than a Conservative,” AFL acting president Siobhán Vipond said. “But despite this, we’re on track to see Conservatives winning almost every riding in the city outside of Edmonton Strathcona, which has a popular NDP incumbent, and Edmonton Griesbach, where polling shows NDP candidate Janis Irwin has a commanding lead.”

The telephone poll using Interactive Voice Response (IVR), commissioned by the Alberta Federation of Labour and conducted by Environics Research from Sept. 15-18, asked a variety of questions to a weighted sample of 500 or more residents of each riding.

Unreliable data used to approve TFWP applications

Edmonton – The Alberta Federation of Labour uncovered evidence that thousands of businesses were allowed to undercut wages because bad data was used to approve Temporary Foreign Worker Program applications.  

In order to be approved to hire workers through the TFWP, businesses must first prove that they are paying wages that are appropriate to their local labour market. Documents recently obtained by the AFL under a Freedom of Information request list prevailing wage rates in regions across the country in 11 different occupations from 2009-2014. They show that permits were issued based on data that was at times eight years out of date, from diverse and non-comparable data sources. 

“The decision to let a business bring in a temporary foreign worker is a decision to let them pass over any Canadian who might want that job. It’s a decision that can harm careers, can hurt families, and can wreck lives,” Alberta Federation of Labour secretary treasurer and acting president Siobhán Vipond said. “If you’re making a decision with those kinds of real-world consequences, you need to base your decision on good information. It’s clear from these documents that approvals have been made on badly outdated information at best, and complete nonsense at worst.”

“When businesses are allowed to make an end run around the labour market, it undermines the rights of all workers,” Vipond said.

AFL leader joins Premier's Council on the Economy

Edmonton –  AFL acting president and secretary treasurer Siobhan Vipond will be the vice-chair of the Premier’s Advisory Committee on the Economy.

The 10-member committee will provide independent, expert advice to the Premier and to the government to grow and diversify Alberta’s economy. It includes members from industry, academia, the non-profit sector, and labour.

“Labour is vital to a balanced conversation on Alberta’s economy,” Vipond said. “The committee’s work on economic diversification will be essential to building a prosperous province that will be better able to weather the boom-and-bust cycle of the energy sector.”

Long overdue minimum wage increase comes into effect

Edmonton –  As of October 1, Alberta’s lowest-paid workers are getting $11.20 an hour, instead of $10.20. The minimum wage increase, announced by Rachel Notley shortly after her election as Alberta’s first NDP premier, is part of a plan to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour over the course of three years.

“This increase to the minimum wage won’t make the sky fall. It won’t cause businesses to grind to a halt. What it will do is just one thing: it will make life better for Alberta’s lowest-paid workers,” Alberta Federation of Labour Secretary Treasurer and Acting President Siobhán Vipond said. “The dire warnings of affluent business owners about negative economic impacts have no basis in fact – nobody’s going to go out of business because they aren’t allowed to keep workers on starvation wages.”

There is a considerable and growing body of evidence showing that the negative economic effects of minimum wage increases are negligible, while the impact of lower-income people having more money in their pockets is quite considerable. The evidence ranges from a classic 1990 study by researchers David Card and Alan Krueger; a 2010 examination of fast food restaurants; to the 2014 British Low Pay Commission, which concluded “minimum wages boost workers’ pay, but don’t harm employment.”

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  • Last year, the number of workers in Alberta who were earning minimum wage increased from 26,600 to 38,600.
  • In the last Canadian election, only 61.4% of eligible voters cast a ballot.
  • In 2011, Stephen Harper was elected to a majority with only 39.6% of the votes cast. 

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Vote on October 19

 On October 19, voters will go to the polls for what might be the closest election in Canadian history.

 On the table are longstanding goals of the labour movement – national affordable child care, broad-based retirement security, the establishment of universal drug coverage, and lifting thousands of workers out of poverty through a national minimum wage.

To earn this kind of transformative change, we have to vote for it on October 19.

Remind your friends to make sure they are registered to vote. Remind everyone you know that they need to bring ID with them to vote. And most of all, remind them to cast a ballot on October 19.

Where: Find your polling location using this link: http://www.elections.ca/Scripts/vis/FindED?L=e&QID=-1&PAGEID=20

When: Polls are open from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on October 19. 

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  • October 19:  Election Day
  • November 20-22:  Parkland Institute Conference “What’s Left”
  • December 6:  National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women

 

October 15, 2015
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