Labour group wants review

Days after Alberta's labour market was declared tops in North America, 125,000 of its unionized workers are demanding a review of provincial labour legislation they say is weak and unconstitutional.

The Alberta Federation of Labour has sent a letter to Iris Evans, minister of employment, industry and immigration, to review the laws -- two days after the Fraser Institute declared Alberta the labour market champ among the 10 provinces and 50 U.S. states.

AFL president Gil McGowan blasted the study, saying it claims unions are "a drag on economic performance."

"Alberta has a higher rate of unionized workers than every American state and yet we outperform them," he said.

"How does the Fraser Institute explain that?"

McGowan said aspects of Alberta's labour legislation don't conform to recent Supreme Court decisions -- including a recent ruling in B.C. that enshrined the right to collective bargaining -- which spurred the call on Evans for a review.

"We're not asking her to change labour law in the province, we're telling her," said McGowan.

"The most recent decision is something too big and too significant to be ignored."

More than 50 of Alberta's labour leaders discussed the B.C. ruling before the long weekend, saying they would be prepared to take the law to court as a result.

Sections of the laws that could be overturned if challenged include prohibiting agricultural workers from joining unions and bans on secondary picketing, said McGowan.

The Calgary Sun, Page 8, Sun Sept 2 2007
Byline: Katie Schneider

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