EDMONTON - The Alberta Federation of Labour is formally lifting a union-led viewer boycott of A-Channel as workers at the station head back to their jobs today after a grueling five month strike.
"We are tremendously happy with the support that Edmontonians showed for the strikers during this long and often bitter dispute," says AFL president Les Steel.
"But now that a fair agreement has been reached, we want to send the message that the best way to continue supporting the workers is to tune into A-Channel and watch the programs they produce."
A-Channel workers in Edmonton walked off the job on September 17, 2003 after negotiations towards a first contract broke down. After months of tension between the workers and Craig Media, A-Channel's parent company, an agreement was finally reached in mid February.
"It took a long time, but the workers eventually got almost everything they were looking for, including reasonable raises and a pay grid that recognizes experience," says Steel.
"But the real key to winning this strike was the support the workers received from rank-and-file union members and members of the broader community. We asked Edmontonians to stop watching A-Channel during the strike - and viewership for the station dropped by half. We're convinced that this was what really paved the way for a settlement."
In addition to the union-led viewer boycott, Steel says the labour movement demonstrated solidarity with the striking workers by raising about $40,000 for the strikers and their families during the Christmas season and another $15,000 at a special fund-raiser last Friday night.
The money raised at last week's fundraiser will go to a handful of strikers who lost their jobs permanently as a result of a management decision to transfer some tasks to its station in Calgary.
"Obviously, we're saddened that not all of the strikers are going back to work - and we're doing what we can for those workers," says Steel. "But, at the end of the day, this is really a hopeful, even inspiring story. It sends the message that, if they stand together, workers and members of the community can derail the agendas of even the largest corporations."
For more information call:
Les Steel, AFL President @ 780-483-3021 (wk) 780-499-4135 (cell)
Gil McGowan, AFL Communications @ 780-483-3021 (wk) 780-910-1137 (cell)