Women in Alberta much better off in unions

Inequality among Alberta's non-unionized women at "shocking" levels – McGowan

Edmonton – Unions are the best cure for the unfair pay gap that exists between men and women working in Alberta, according to new figures released today by the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) (click here for Backgrounder).

"Alberta has the highest levels of wage inequality in Canada, but unions provide the most equal workplaces for women in our province," says McGowan, president of the AFL, which represents 145,000 workers.

"Today, on International Women's Day, it is disappointing to see the unfair treatment endured by Alberta women workers. However, it is clear that unions in Alberta are successfully leading the fight for equality."

The union advantage is particularly stark for young women, aged 15-24. Young women in Alberta, without union coverage, have seen their wages stalled at $12/hour since 2009. But unionized young women earn a median $17.84/hour.

Unionized women's wages are higher than non-union women in all age groups, says McGowan. The presence of a union means a smaller pay gap between women and men in all age categories.

The AFL also revealed Alberta's stunning pay gap. Alberta women working full-year, full-time earn only 68 per cent of the amount men earn. Canada-wide, women earn 79 per cent of what men earn. The recession did not change the pay gap for Alberta women, which remains at the level most other provinces were at in the 1970s.

"Alberta women face higher levels of income inequality because our province lags behind the rest of Canada – and most of the industrialized world – in policies that allow women to balance family obligations with the workplace, such as investments in child care," says McGowan. "Alberta has among the worst family leave policies in Canada and low employment standards compared to other jurisdictions."

Alberta is also the only province in Canada without some kind of voice in the Legislature for women. All other Canadian provinces and territories, as well as the federal government, have either a ministry responsible for the status of women, an advisory council on the status of women, or some combination of these institutions.

McGowan repeated the Alberta Federation of Labour's call for Premier Redford to establish a Minister for the Status of Women.


MEDIA CONTACT: Gil McGowan, AFL president, 780-218-9888

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