Edmonton – The Redford wage freeze breaks promises and breaks laws.
The legislation, which the government tabled on Wednesday, will ignore the bargaining rights of hundreds of thousands of Albertans and impose a wage freeze. This is a government tactic that has been repeatedly struck down by the Supreme Court of Canada.
"Alison Redford was elected on a promise that she wouldn't attack public sector workers. She's broken that promise and almost every other election promise she made just 18 months ago," Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said. "We will see her in court and we will see her at the ballot box."
Bills 45 and 46 will take away the right of unions to consult their own membership about possible labour action. Additionally, punitive measures can be taken against a whole union for the actions – or even words – of a single member.
The wage freeze will mean that workers wages will fall behind inflation. Over the course of three years, this will mean an effective drop in wages by about six per cent. The government of Alberta forecasts the province's real GDP to expand by 3.3 per cent this year and 3.5% next year. If the economy is growing, we should be able to treat public-sector workers fairly.
Repeatedly over the past decade, the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that Workers have a constitutional right to make collective representations and to have their collective representations considered in good faith.
"We are simply asking the government to not break the law," McGowan said. "It's one thing for governments to obtain a wage freeze through negotiations with unions and workers, it's another thing to impose those freezes without negotiation. Such legislation is unfair, unnecessarily provocative and almost certainly unconstitutional."
The government has suggested that the wage freeze is being imposed because of the cost of the devastating floods in Calgary and High River last spring and summer.
"They're paying for the flood damage on the backs of the people who cleaned up the mess," McGowan said. "We lauded these people as heroes just a few weeks ago. And now, Alison Redford is picking their pockets."
For more information on these bills and on collective bargaining download the AFL factsheets:
Gil McGowan, President, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780-218-9888 (cell)
File: G:\Communications\NEWS\AFL\2013\2013-50_Alberta Government breaks promises – and laws – with wage freeze legislation _2013Nov28.docx
Action Request: Stop The Wage Freeze Rally
When: Wednesday, November 27, 2013 at 2:30 p.m.
Where: Legislative Assembly of Alberta 10800 - 97 Avenue NW, Edmonton
The Government of Alberta has announced they will table anti-worker legislation this afternoon at 3:00 p.m. Although the details of the legislation have been withheld from the public, it is expected to undermine collective bargaining by imposing a wage freeze on public sector employees, and to introduce extreme and punitive fines for wildcat strikes.
This rally will feature workers and elected representatives from across the union movement.
Please show up and fight for your right to collective bargaining.
For more information, please contact Olav Rokne, AFL Communications Director at 780-289-6528 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.
4 of 6 fact sheets issued
2 of 6 fact sheets issued
Superstore will face boycott if workers are not offered fair deal
Edmonton – Union leaders representing more than 250,000 Alberta workers urged Loblaws CEO Galen Weston Jr. to present a reasonable offer to the 8,500 UFCW workers at the province's Superstores.
In letters sent to Mr. Weston, the presidents of the Alberta Federation of Labour, United Nurses of Alberta, Health Sciences Association of Alberta, the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, UNIFOR and the Canadian Union of Public Employees, stated unequivocally their support for the members of United Food and Commercial Workers.
"In the event of a strike, we will communicate our concerns about your company's labour relations practices to our members and actively encourage them to not shop at Superstore until a fair agreement has been reached," AFL president Gil McGowan said. "In an economy as vibrant as Alberta's, there is simply no excuse to shortchange the employees whose efforts make your business thrive."
At a press availability at 1:30 p.m. today outside the Superstore at 4821 Calgary Trail N.W., Edmonton, representatives of the largest unions in the province noted that the Loblaws Corporation has enjoyed a banner year, has spent billions on growing their retail empire, but are being stingy with staff.
"My guess is that you and your senior management team have concluded that, order to maintain your market share and afford moves like your recent purchase of the Shoppers chain, you have no choice but to engage in the race to the bottom being led by companies like Walmart," McGowan noted.
After negotiations between United Food and Commercial Workers locals in Alberta and Saskatchewan reached an impasse in September, more than 8,500 members of the union voted 97 per cent to approve strike action. The members were near unanimous in their rejection of Loblaws' last offer, which involved wage cuts of up to 40 per cent, on top of reductions in hours.
If there is no agreement reached by midnight on Oct. 6, workers at Superstores all over the prairie provinces will walk out.
"We understand that the retail market is competitive, but it is also profitable – especially here in booming Alberta," McGowan said. "Instead of joining the pack in a race to the bottom, you can stand out from the pack by being a good employer and a better corporate citizen."
The press conference was attended by Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan, representing 160.000 workers; Alberta Union of Provincial Employees president Guy Smith, representing 83,000 workers; United Nurses of Alberta vice president Jane Sustrik, representing 23,000 workers; Health Sciences Association of Alberta president Elisabeth Ballermann, representing 24,000 workers; and Canadian Union of Public Employees president Marle Roberts, representing 30,000 workers.
Olav Rokne, Communications Director, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780.289.6528 (cell) or via e-mail email@example.com
Join concerned members of UNA Local 301 at the U of A Hospital on July 24 at 11:30 a.m. Affiliates are encouraged to bring your flags and banners and wear white in solidarity with UNA's Wear White Wednesday Campaign.
WHEN: Wednesday, July 24, 2013 from 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
WHERE: University of Alberta Hospital
122 Street and 84 Avenue (112 Street Sidewalk), Edmonton
United Nurses of Alberta (UNA Local 301) RNs and RPNs at the University of Alberta Hospital (U of A), will be conducting an information walkabout at the U of A Hospital to protest nursing cuts and to inform the public about the detrimental affects of AHS's 'workforce transformation' on patient care. Across the province, nursing positions are disappearing as Alberta Health Services (AHS) implements staffing cuts under the banner of "Workforce Transformation" and the "Clinical Workforce Strategic Plan." AHS is also combining these cuts with offensive bargaining proposals in contract negotiations with nurses. For more information visit http://nursesmakethedifference.squarespace.com/
SPECIFIC CONCERNS AT THE U OF A HOSPITAL
The new workforce transformation collaborative model is being demoed at the University of Alberta Hospital (as well as the Royal Alexandra Hospital) involving one surgical and one medicine unit at each site. Overall there were 23 RNs laid off between the four units. Changes being proposed for the U of A Hospital for the fall include decreased numbers of RNs.
For example, for the surgical units:
Days - decreasing by two RNs
Early evenings - decreasing by two RNs
Late evenings - decreasing by one RN
Nights – decrease one LPN
This is of great concern for members of UNA 301. Their patients are sick and often very unstable. This is an acute care hospital and expert nursing care is needed to ensure patient safety.
Ishani Weera, AFL Organizing and Outreach Director at 780-483-3021 or via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Marie-Therese Mageau, UNA 301 at 780-407-7453
June 2013: Free Workshop FOIP; Boycott i-Hotel and Edm Hotel & Conv. Centre; Act now on Bill C-377; Bill C-525: Another Tory attempt to undermine unions; Supreme Court sides with workers ...
Free Workshop on Access to Information on Friday, June 28
The Alberta Federation of Labour will host a "Lunch and Learn" workshop covering the basics of Alberta's Freedom of Information legislation. This workshop, the first in a series, is an opportunity for our members, affiliates, and allies to learn about a subject that is of interest to the labour movement.
This workshop will cover the basics of FOIP in Alberta, including:
- How to navigate the FOIP request system
- Why sometimes it's important to get information the government would rather keep secret
- How to word a request to save time and money
- How to follow up with further requests or judicial review.
When: Friday, June 28 from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.
Where: AFL Meeting Hall (10654 – 101 Street Edmonton)
See poster for more details.
Due to flooding in Calgary, all protest events related to the federal Conservative Convention have been postponed until the convention can be rescheduled.
Boycott i-Hotel and Edmonton Hotel and Convention Centre in support of UFCW 401
United Food and Commercial Workers Local 401 started an organizing drive in March to unionize the i-Hotel in Red Deer, Alberta, which was formerly the Holiday Inn on 67th Street.
During the process owner Amin Suleman was made aware of union activity and interfered with the organizing efforts of Local 401.
3 members have been harassed, intimidated, and terminated for expressing their legal right to join a union. The ALRB issued a consent order that UFCW 401 supports and the employer refuses to honour.
UFCW 401 needs your help. They are asking all labour organizations to help them in the fight against a ruthless employer. Please support UFCW 401 by boycotting this employer until an agreement can be reached between the union and employer. UFCW 401 does not want to cripple business and wants people to advise reservations why they are pulling their business. This employer operates two hotels in Alberta.
i-Hotel at 6500 – 67 Street, Red Deer, AB
Edmonton Hotel and Convention Centre at 4520 – 76th Avenue, Edmonton.
Click here for letter from UFCW 401 to the AFL.
For more information please contact Director of Organizing, Chris O'Halloran at email@example.com
Bill C-377 – Send a message to the Senate
The Senate will be debating C-377 this week. There is a real chance to expose the bill as transparently anti-union, and potentially to amend or defeat it.
The bill has been pilloried by almost everyone who attended the hearings held by the Senate banking committee.
The CLC and other labour organizations are asking for maximum lobbying (calls to your regional senators, etc.). To find the right phone # or e-mail, please go here.
Below is a commentary by Jim Stanford, CAW Researcher (speaker at our convention) on the Senate's deliberations.
Every member that is able to voice their opposition to this bill could make a difference. PLEASE SEND A MESSAGE TO ALL SENATORS, WRITE YOUR MP AND CC ALL MEMBERS OF THE SENATE COMMITTEE.
The Alberta CUPE website allows you to send a message to all senators.
Please visit http://cupe.ca/unions/urges-senate-block-anti-union-bill
They're running an online action on an issue that I think will concern you. It takes two minutes and you can make a difference. Other websites:
Bill C-525: Another Conservative attempt to undermine unions
The Harper government is again turning to its backbenchers to make laws designed to weaken unions. Bill C-525, if passed, will interfere in labour relations and the established rights of workers to join and remain in a union.
Currently, workers in federally regulated industries are recognized as a bargaining agent if they can show that they represent the majority of workers. Bill C-525 will require the union to prove that 50% of all employees – not just those that vote – want to remain in a union. If that doesn't happen, the unit will be decertified. This opens the door to all sorts of employer interference, such as anti-union propaganda and threats to shutdown workplaces, in efforts to suppress votes to get rid of unions.
Bill C-525 will apply to federally regulated unions, but make no mistake that this is another Harper Conservative attempt to weaken unions. If this Bill passes, we'll likely see more brazen attacks. Together, we can send a message to Harper and stop Bill C-525.
For a summary on Bill C-525 read the CUPE release and backgrounder.
View Bill C-525.
Please sign and promote the NDP petition
Supreme Court sides with workers right to privacyOn June 14, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that a mandatory random alcohol testing policy imposed by Irving Pulp and Paper at a Saint John, N.B., Kraft mill in 2006 was unreasonable.
The case, which stems from a grievance filed by Communications Energy and Paperworkers (CEP) Local 30 in New Brunswick, has implications to similar cases in Alberta's oil sands. The ruling is a major victory in the fight against random and arbitrary privacy violations through drug and alcohol testing.
"This decision is in line with years of jurisprudence, makes sense, and is in the interest of Canadians. Employers can't arbitrarily introduce a random drug or alcohol testing regime by declaring a workplace "dangerous" without proving that there's a problem," Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said. "There's a direct parallel between this case and what's happening at Suncor: there's no evidence that there's a problem and the employer can't simply impose their will on the worker and strip them of their privacy without proving there's one."
In 15 years before the policy was imposed, there were eight instances in which a worker was found to be under the influence of alcohol and none involved an accident or injury. During the 22 months the policy was in effect, no one tested positive.
"The expected safety gains to the employer in this case were found by the board to range 'from uncertain ... to minimal at best' while the impact on employee privacy was found to be much more severe," Justice Rosalie Abella wrote for the majority. For more information see June 14 release
AFL wraps up its case against job-sucking Northern Gateway pipelineThe Alberta Federation of Labour made its final arguments to the Northern Gateway Pipeline hearings on Tuesday, June 18 in Terrace, B.C. The Federation made the case that the Pipeline is not in the best interests of Canadians.
The pipeline, if approved, will ship some of our country's best potential jobs down the pipeline to China. In its presentation to the National Energy Board, the AFL showed that it makes economic sense to upgrade bitumen in Alberta – or at least in Canada – rather than exporting it raw to foreign markets.
"The proponents of this project have compared the pipeline to the CPR and called it an important piece of Canadian infrastructure. But the Northern Gateway Pipeline is a piece of Chinese infrastructure, not Canadian infrastructure," Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said. "The ownership structure of the pipeline shows that the project will benefit China's state-owned oil companies, shipping good-paying oil sands jobs to Asia." For more information see June 17 release with links to a backgrounder and AFL final arguments
Did you know...
- the Northern Gateway pipeline will create only 228 permanent jobs in Canada
- During construction of the pipeline, the project will temporarily create 1,500 construction jobs
- At least 26,000 Canadian jobs would be created if we upgraded/refined the bitumen destined for China here at home.
June 28: Alberta Federation of Labour "Lunch & Learn", 12:30 -2:30 PM
July 1: Canada Day
Aug 5: Civic Holiday
Aug 5-9: AFL Kids' Camp
Aug 24: EDLC "Big Splash Open" Golf Tournament
Aug 31: EDLC Labour Day BBQ
Aug 31: Sept 2: Founding UNIFOR Convention
Sept 2: Labour Day
Sept 8: World Literacy Day
Sept 17-18: AFL Executive Committee/Council
Legislating contract undermines collective bargaining
Edmonton – Legislation to impose a four-year contract on teachers is bad news for workers all over Alberta says the province's largest labour organization.
School boards throughout the province had been given an arbitrary deadline of 3 p.m. yesterday to ratify a deal that had been struck between the province and the Alberta Teachers' Association (ATA), the union that represents the 40,000 teachers in the province. When two bargaining units and several school boards rejected the deal, the government responded with legislation that would force them to take the pay freeze.
"By bringing forward this legislation, they're basically saying that it didn't matter what any of those union locals and school boards said or did," Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said. "Teachers basically didn't have a choice in whether or not to accept this contract – either they accepted it, or they would have it forced on them."
On Monday, the government announced it was tabling legislation based on a deal that had been reached between the Alberta Teachers' Association and the province. Although the deal had been ratified by 60 of Alberta's 62 school boards, one of the hold-outs was the province's largest board, the Calgary Board of Education.
"This government is taking a top-down, full-throttle, my-way-or-the-highway approach to their dealings with workers," McGowan said. "This is the same bullying approach they've taken with prison workers, and the same bullying approach they're taking with post-secondary education."
The legislation imposes a wage freeze for the first three years of the contract, and a two per cent raise in the fourth year. The legislation also includes provisions that will attempt to tackle excessive teacher hours and classroom conditions.
"Legislating the contract shows that the Redford government wasn't negotiating in good faith in the first place," McGowan said. "This decision has undermined their ability to be taken seriously at the bargaining table. Who is going to trust that they won't just resort to bargaining by fiat?"
Olav Rokne, AFL Communications Director at 780-289-6528 (cell) or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.