The Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL), which represents 145,000 workers across the province, made a clear declaration of support for the Occupy Calgary and Occupy Edmonton movements today. The protest actions are set to begin on Saturday in Edmonton's Winston Churchill Square and Calgary's Banker's Hall.
Unfair economic strategies that punish working families and recent attacks on the rights of Canadian workers to strike and collectively bargain are key factors in their support. A statement released by the Federation read:
"The Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) believes in fairness for working families and all Albertans. As a result, we support the Occupy Edmonton and Occupy Calgary movements in their call for democratic and peaceful intervention into an economic system that has been failing to address the concerns and meet the needs of working people locally, nationally, and on a global scale."
AFL president Gil McGowan said the Federation's support of a movement that has spread to financial centres across North America is grounded in concerns that are specific to Alberta. "It doesn't add up," he said. "You have an affluent few in this province who are rewarded with billions of dollars of our public funds through generous giveaways, and at the same time there doesn't seem to be enough stable funding for our children's classrooms from year to year. How is that fair?"
Government attacks on workers are also top of mind for labour leaders. Alongside other provincial counterparts across Canada, the AFL is speaking up against the recent spate of unprecedented anti-union legislative maneuvering by governments. "Canada's workers have fought for historic victories that benefit everyone, like paid maternity leave. When you suddenly have a government that wants to take away the right of working people to negotiate fair conditions from their employers, you're going to see people stand up for what's right."
McGowan also adds that struggles faced by working families are not only unfair but unacceptable in such a wealthy province. "We can no longer ignore the obvious. Corporate wealth generated from our resources isn't reaching Alberta's families. We support the Occupy movements because they offer a sign of hope that things can change."
MEDIA CONTACT: Gil McGowan, AFL president, 780-218-9888 (cell)