In the wake of the bitter Lakeside Packers strike, the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) today launched a new campaign to urge the government to implement first contract arbitration in Alberta [click here for first contract arbitration leaflet and Lakeside Packers leaflet.]
"We want to prevent future Lakesides," says AFL President Gil McGowan. "The best way to prevent ugly strikes over first agreements is to implement some form of first contract arbitration. As we say in our campaign slogan: "It's the change that brings workplace peace - and we're going to do everything we can to bring it here to Alberta."
In other provinces first contract arbitration is used when the two parties are unable to come to an agreement over a first collective agreement. It allows the government to appoint an objective third party to craft a contract that is binding on both parties. It applies only for first contracts, which are commonly acknowledged to be the most difficult contracts to reach.
"If Alberta had first contract arbitration, there would have been no strike at Lakeside," says McGowan. "Unfortunately, it took a bitter strike to reach a resolution that could have been found at a bargaining table. We need to change the law."
The AFL campaign, will consist of the following elements:
- Radio ads which start today on radio stations across Alberta
- A mass-produced leaflet asking Albertans to lobby the government
- A presentation to the Provincial Government's Standing Policy Committee on Education and Employment
- Meetings with Minister Cardinal and other government officials
The AFL also released the results of a poll on first contract arbitration. More than 60% of Albertans support some form of first contract arbitration. Even among conservative party voters more than 60% indicated they support the idea.
"The case is strong. It works in B.C. and Ontario and Manitoba to prevent ugly strikes. Albertans support it and are calling for it," adds McGowan. "The legislature session begins tomorrow - I can't think of a better time to fix a gaping hole in our labour law."
"We have seen this kind of strike too often in Alberta - from the Calgary Herald to the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton and now Lakeside. Clearly something needs to change."
Alberta is one of only three jurisdictions in Canada without first contract arbitration (along with New Brunswick and Nova Scotia). In provinces with the provision, its existence encourages the parties to resolve their disagreements at the bargaining table, and allows for a final course of action to prevent a strike.
"No one liked what we saw at Lakeside, but thankfully it is resolved. Now the government needs to make sure it doesn't happen again."
For more information contact:
Gil McGowan, AFL President at 780.915-4599 (cell) or 780.483-3021 (wk)