Recent changes at the Local Authorities Pension Plan have put at risk the pension benefits of 125,000 Alberta municipal, health care and education workers - including rights to early retirement, cost of living allowances and workers' ability to retire when their age and years of service add up to 85.
On November 15, 2007 the provincial Government arbitrarily changed the decision making rules at the Board of the Local Authorities Pension Plan (LAPP).
The new rules break a long-standing agreement which required union approval for all significant changes to the policies or governance of the Plan - opening the door for decisions which are against the interests of working people.
The old rules, established after unions agreed to help bail out the plan's unfunded liability in the early 1990's, required a two-thirds majority and a quorum of eight members of the board, which had to include four employer representatives and four employee representatives. Now only a simple majority is required and there need not be a single labour representative present.
Ironically, the new rules were passed using the requirements of the new rules rather than those of the existing rules.
The Labour Coalition on Pensions has purchased full-page advertisements which will appear January 22nd in Alberta daily newspapers. These ads call on members and pensioners to telephone their MLAs and Premier Ed Stelmach to overturn the changes. The coalition has registered a website - www.savemypension.ca - where detailed information on the situation is available.
The Coalition also commenced legal action to overturn the changes in governance rules for the LAPP Board on December 19, 2007.
The coalition is made up of the Alberta Federation of Labour, the Alberta Colleges and Institutes Faculty Association, the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, the Amalgamated Transit Union, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Health Sciences Association of Alberta and United Nurses of Alberta. It represents approximately 125,000 members of the $15-billion LAPP.
With a spring election imminent, now is the time to put pressure on the government to reverse this blatantly anti- worker anti-labour decision before any real damage is done to pensions. If union activists can put just a little extra pressure on Ed Stelmach and the government over the next few weeks, we may be able to force the government to act.
We are asking each Local to get its core of union activists to phone Premier Ed Stelmach and their own MLA (Alberta MLAs) over the next few weeks. (To find out who your MLA is, go to http://alberta.ca/home/mla_contacts.cfm.) Tell them to restore the requirement for labour approval for decisions at the LAPP Board.
Please let the Federation know what the response was like if you phone the Premier and your MLA.
Check out website at www.savemypension.ca for more information about the campaign, and for MLA contact information.Read more
Since the release of the Royalty Review Panel's report and final report (click here): big oil companies have been making threats about the "economic disaster" that will ensue in Alberta if the Stelmach government adopts recommendations to increase energy royalties.
Companies like Encana, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., Exxon and Petro-Canada have all threatened to slash investment and lay-off thousands of workers if any changes are made to Alberta's now infamous penny-on-the-dollar oilsands royalty regime.
The AFL has been working on this issue for a long time and we know that these are empty threats. We need to stand firm and not be intimidated by Big Oil's scare tactics.
During the Klein years, the energy industry grew accustomed to getting its way and paying royalties which both the government's own expert royalty review panel and the provincial auditor general now describe as ridiculously low by international standards.
What that means is that ordinary Albertans - as owners of our province's energy resources - have been losing out on literally billions of dollars in revenue every year for almost a decade.
Instead of being available to pay for education, health care, infrastructure and other important public services, this money has been used to line the pockets of corporate investors and managers.
So the question isn't really "can we afford to increase royalties?" The real question is "can we afford not to?"
The bottom line is that, even if the proposed royalty reforms are implemented, oil companies will continue to invest heavily in Alberta - because it will still be one of the best places in the world for them to make money and because, frankly, they have nowhere else to go.
What you can do:
Contact your MLAs and the Premier. Tell them that working Albertans don't buy Big Oil's scare tactics - and neither should the government. Tell them that the royalty panel's recommendations should not be watered down and that, in fact, the government should go further. You can use this sample letter or write your own.
Learn more about the issue: See the Alberta Federation of Labour's presentation to the Royalty Review Panel. The Parkland Institute published a report, "Selling Alberta Short" on 17 October 2006 - both the report and the summary point out that the Royalty Review Panel's recommendations don't go far enough in helping Albertans get a fair share of resource revenues in this province.To see the report, summary and accomanying news release, go to the Parkland website. The Pembina Institute published a Resource Royalty Primer at the beginning of October - click here to read it.