EDMONTON - A large demonstration will still be held outside the CFL Dinner Friday night unless a last-minute deal can be reached to end the seven-month-old strike at the Shaw Conference Centre.
"At this point, there is good reason for optimism," says Les Steel, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour. "But the deal is not done yet - and until it is, the rally is still a go."
Negotiations stalled over the past few days as managers at the Centre attempted to set terms for how a ratification vote would be held. But yesterday evening, the Alberta Labour Relations Board (ALRB) ruled that the union has the right to conduct its own vote, without interference from management.
As a result, the union has decided to put a deal, based on a report prepared by mediator Mike Necula, to its members for a vote tonight and tomorrow morning.
"If the members ratify the agreement, the ball will be in EDE's and City Council's court," said Alex Grimaldi, president of the Edmonton and District Labour Council (EDLC).
"If EDE accepts the results of the vote, the deal will be done and there will be no disruptions during Grey Cup weekend. But if they refuse to accept the vote, all bets are off. We hope City Council will use its clout as owner of the Conference Centre to pressure EDE into doing the right thing."
Using a football analogy, Steel said the ball has been moved into easy reach of the end zone - all that's needed is one final push to put six points on the board.
"It's third and goal with ten seconds on the clock," said Steel. "The workers and management have a chance to put this game away and keep the Grey Cup free of disruptions. But it's going to take one last burst of effort and good will. We have to make sure no one drops the ball."
Grimaldi agreed, adding that no one in the labour movement wants to rain on the Grey Cup parade.
"If a deal is reached, we'll turn our protest into a big tail-gate party," he said. "We want to be able to celebrate success for the Eskimos and an end to a bitter strike that has given our city a black eye."
For more information call
Les Steel, AFL President @ 780-499-4135 (cell)
Alex Grimaldi, EDLC President @ 780-940-6797 (cell)