AFL Announces New Environment Policy for 21st Century

To mark this year's Earth Day, the Alberta Federation of Labour is announcing a new Environment Policy for Alberta's labour movement. The policy is intended to guide unions in making decisions about Alberta's environment.

The policy was ratified at the AFL's biennial convention in Calgary last week. The policy paper passed with resounding support from delegates.

"The labour movement is looking forward. We know that environmental change must happen, and we need to be a constructive part of the discussion," says Audrey Cormack, AFL President.

The policy outlines a distinctly labour perspective on environmental issues. "We must end the false jobs vs. environment debate and turn it into a jobs and environment discussion," says Cormack.

Among other initiatives, the policy paper calls for a new type of decision-making process for environmental issues, one that includes government, business and labour working as equals. The key, says the policy, is to look at the long term and make decisions well in advance of economic change.

"Working people pay the highest price when the wrong decisions are made. We pay with our jobs and with the environment in our communities," highlights Cormack. "We need to be a part of the decisions that get made to ensure we can create a healthy environment and good jobs."

Over the years, the AFL has done its part in promoting environmental awareness and encouraging members to become more environmentally sensitive in their activities. It will become even more active in the future to ensure the voice of working people is heard.

Other highlights from the policy include calling for a "just transition" fund to help workers displaced by environmental change and demanding increased government enforcement of environmental laws and regulations. It also calls on the AFL to encourage unions to "bargain for the environment".

"The message for Albertans is clear. All of us have to take a leadership role in protecting the environment. The labour movement has heard the message," concludes Cormack.


For more information call:

Audrey Cormack, President      @ 499-6530 (cell) / 428-9367 (hm)

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AFL wraps up successful convention

CALGARY - Unions in Alberta are prepared to face the challenges of the 21st century, said Audrey Cormack president of the Alberta Federation of Labour as the AFL wrapped up its biennial convention in Calgary today.

"In the dog-eat-dog global economy of the next century, workers here in Alberta and around the world are going to need unions more than ever," said Cormack.

"Protecting the interests of working people from attacks by conservative governments and unscrupulous business people has never been easy. But based on the energy and commitment that was demonstrated at our convention this week, I'm convinced that unions in Alberta are up to the challenge."

More than 350 union members representing dozens of unions from across the province attended the AFL convention - which is the last of the 20th century.

Over the course of the four-day gathering, convention delegates dealt with a wide range of issues - everything from workplace health and safety to funding for schools and from basic worker rights to privatization in the health care system.

Among other things, the AFL committed itself to continue its fight against government cutbacks and the spread of private, for-profit hospitals. Delegates also pledged to support workers currently on strike against Dynamic Furniture in Calgary; Georgia Pacific in Edmonton; and Bell Canada in Ontario and Quebec.

Delegates also passed a strongly worded resolution condemning the Saskatchewan government for attempting to legislate striking nurses back to work.

The convention concluded this afternoon with elections in which Cormack and AFL Secretary-Treasurer Les Steel were each acclaimed for another term. Delegates also debated and passed a statement of workers� rights and principles.

"The Alberta labour movement is strong and united," said Cormack. "We are ready, willing and able to do what we do best - and that's to fight for the interests of working people."

For more information call:

 Audrey Cormack, AFL President:    (780) 499-6530 (cell)
 Gil McGowan, AFL Communications:   (780) 910-1137 (cell)

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AFL Convention Wraps up Tomorrow

CALGARY - The biennial convention of the Alberta Federation of Labour wraps up in Calgary tomorrow afternoon.

Elections for Executive Officers and members of the AFL Executive Council will take place at 11:00 a.m. Closing ceremonies will begin at 12:30 p.m. and the convention will adjourn at 1:00 p.m.

The AFL convention is being held at the Calgary Westin Hotel, located at 320 - 4th Avenue, SW in Calgary.

Reporters are asked to register at the convention office. No one will be allowed on the convention floor without proper credentials.

For more information call:

 Audrey Cormack, AFL President:    (780) 499-6530 (cell)

 Gil McGowan, AFL Communications:   (780) 910-1137

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Unions more important than ever, says report

CALGARY - In the turbulent workplace of the 1990s, workers in Alberta need the kind of protection that unions provide more than ever.

That was the central message of a research report released today at the Alberta Federation of Labour's biennial convention, being held this week in Calgary.

The report - called Now More Than Ever - examines the challenges and opportunities facing the Alberta labour movement as it prepares to enter the 21st century.

"Some of our critics argue that unions are relics of the past and that we have been rendered obsolete by the so-called global economy," said AFL president Audrey Cormack. "But what this report shows is that Albertans still want and need unions. In fact, in the dog-eat-dog labour market of the 21st century, workers will probably need unions more than ever."

Highlights of the AFL report include the following:

  • Despite declining union membership south of the border, union membership in Canada has remained stable and strong. One in four Alberta workers are currently covered by union-negotiated contracts.
  • Union membership in Alberta climbed from 253,000 in 1997 to 286,5000 in 1998. That represents an annual increase of six percent.
  • Many non-union workers want to join unions. A recent survey of Alberta high school and university graduates shows that about 30 percent would join a union if they had the chance. Another 40 percent would be at least open to the idea. These findings are consistent with other surveys conducted in Alberta and across the country.
  • The average wage for workers paid by hour in Alberta is 11 percent lower today than in 1983, once inflation is taken into account. At the same time, the gap between the wages earned by men and women is wider in Alberta than any other province. This suggests that many Alberta workers could benefit from union representation.
  • Union members get paid more than non-union workers. On average union workers earn $18/hr versus an average of only $14/hr for non-union workers. This translates into a union wage advantage of about 30 percent. Union members are also more likely to have "non-wage" benefits like pensions, dental plans and paid sick leave. Eighty-two percent of union members have a pension versus only 33 percent of non-union workers.
  • Despite criticisms from the business community, studies show that unions can actually improve the productivity of firms. Some of Alberta's most prominent and profitable firms have highly unionized workforces. For example: Suncor, Imperial Oil (refineries), Petro-Canada (refineries), Telus, Luscar, Weldwood, Safeway, Celanese and Sherritt.

"This is a good news report," says Cormack. "It shows that unions still have an important role to play in Alberta. We face many challenges as we head into the next century. But based on the findings of this report, I'm confident that the labour movement will be around for a long time to come. And I'm confident that we will continue our proud tradition of fighting for improved conditions in the workplace and in the broader community."


For more information call:

Gil McGowan, AFL Communications: (403) 508-5129 (office) or (780) 910-1137 (cell)

Audrey Cormack, AFL President:   (780) 499-6530 (cell)

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Convention Delegates join picket line outside Dynamic Furniture

CALGARY - Hundreds of delegates attending the Alberta Federation of Labour's biennial convention in Calgary will be joining striking workers on the picket line outside Dynamic Furniture (5300 - 6th Avenue, SE) today at 4:00 p.m.

Workers at Dynamic Furniture have been on strike for nearly a year in an effort to win a first contract. "These workers have been terribly mistreated by their employer," says AFL president Audrey Cormack. "We felt it was important to show support for them in their struggle."


For more information call:

Audrey Cormack, AFL President:    (780) 499-6530 (cell)

Gil McGowan, AFL Communications:   (780) 910-1137 (cell)

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Delegates to explore the role of unions in protecting Medicare

CALGARY - The Alberta Federation of Labour's biennial convention continues in Calgary tomorrow.

Highlights from the convention agenda for Saturday, April 18 include the following:

  • A panel of labour leaders will discuss the role that workers and unions can play in protecting Canada's system of public health care. The panel will be made up of: Dianne Wyntjes, Alberta Director of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE); Pauline Worsfold, Vice President of the United Nurses of Alberta (UNA); Kathleen Connor, President of the National Federation of Nurses Unions (NFNU), and Dianne Mair, Provincial Executive Board Member of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE). The panel discussion will start at 10:00 a.m. and continue until 11:15 a.m.
  • Barbara Sarria Aparicio, Secretary Treasurer of the Cuban national communications union, will discussion the concerns of workers in Latin America. Ms. Aparicio will address the convention at 2:45 p.m.

The AFL convention is being held at the Calgary Westin Hotel, which is located at 320-4th Ave. S.W. in Calgary.

All speeches and presentations will be made in the hotel's main ballroom unless otherwise stated. Reporters are asked to report to the convention registration office before preceding to the hall. No one will be allowed on the convention floor without the proper credentials.

For more information call:

Gil McGowan, AFL Communications:  (403) 508-5129 (office) or (780) 910-1137 (cell)

Audrey Cormack, AFL President:   (780) 499-6530 (cell)

 

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Our Children's Alberta: Fighting for Jobs and the Environment (1999)

Environment Policy Paper presented at 2nd Biennial Convention (April 15 - 18, 1999)

The range of environmental issues needing attention is extensive, too extensive for a single policy paper. This paper does not suggest AFL positions on specific environmental issues, such as pollution or water quality. Instead, it sets a broad focus for the AFL perspective on environmental issues, and establishes a plan for future action.

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"State of the unions" report will cap busy day at AFL convention

CALGARY - Delegates to the Alberta Federation of Labour's biennial convention will be kept busy all day tomorrow with a number of important guest speakers and special events.

Highlights of the agenda for Friday, April 16 include the following:

  • Nycole Turmel, national executive vice president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada will talk about her union's fight for pay equity in the federal public service. Turmel will address the convention at 10:30 a.m.
  • A rally will be held outside the McDougall Building in downtown Calgary between 11:45 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. The purpose of the rally is to draw attention to union concerns with both the provincial and federal governments. Speakers at the rally will include: Turmel, AFL president Audrey Cormack and New Democrat MLA Raj Pannu.
  • Professor Elaine Bernard, director of the Trade Union Program at Harvard University, will discuss the challenges and opportunities facing unions in the 21st century. Professor Bernard will address the convention at 2:30 p.m.
  • The AFL will release a report on the state of the labour movement in Alberta. The report - entitled 'Now More Than Ever' - will describe the current strength of unions in Alberta and identify challenges facing the provincial labour movement in the 21st century. The report will be presented to convention delegates at 3:15 p.m. Cormack will be available to answer questions from the media regarding the report at 3:45 in the Greenfield Room (second floor).
  • Pam Barrett, leader of the Alberta New Democrats, will talk about economic and political concerns her party shares with the labour movement. Barrett will speak at 4:15 p.m.
  • The AFL's biennial convention is being held in the Calgary Westin Hotel, located at 320-4th Ave., S.W., Calgary. Unless otherwise specified, all convention speeches and presentations will take place in the hotel's main ballroom. Reporters are asked to check in at the convention registration desk. No one will be allowed on the convention floor without proper credentials.

For more information call:

Gil McGowan, AFL Communications:  (403) 508-5129 (office) or (780) 910-1137 (cell)

Audrey Cormack, AFL President:   (780) 499-6530 (cell)

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AFL convention begins tomorrow in Calgary

CALGARY - Two prominent union leaders will be featured speakers as the Alberta Federation of Labour kicks off its biennial convention tomorrow in Calgary.

Several hundred union members and activists from across the province will be in the audience to hear addresses from AFL president Audrey Cormack and Bob White, the well-known president of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC).

This will be White's last major public address in Alberta as CLC president. After two successful terms, White is scheduled to step down from his post at the CLC's convention in May.

Both Cormack and White will talk about the challenges facing working people as we near the beginning of the 21st century. Cormack will focus on the situation in Alberta, while White will talk about concerns and developments at the national and international levels.

"This will be our last convention of the 20th century," says Cormack. "It's a great opportunity for us to look back on all that unions have accomplished in Canada over the past 100 years. It's also a good time to make plans for building an even stronger labour movement for the future."

 What:  Alberta Federation of Labour, Biennial Convention (April 15-18)
Where:  Westin Hotel, 320-4th Ave S.W., Calgary
Highlights: Opening Ceremonies and "Procession of Banners", Thursday, 10 a.m.
  Opening Address, Audrey Cormack, AFL President, Thursday,10:30 a.m.
  Special Address, Bob White, CLC President, Thursday, 2:30 p.m.

All speakers will be heard in the Westin's main ballroom. Reporters are asked to check in at the convention registration desk. No one will be allowed on the convention floor without proper credentials.


For more information call:

Gil McGowan, AFL Communications: (403) 508-5129 (office) or (780) 910-1137 (cell)
Audrey Cormack, AFL President:   (780) 499-6530 (cell)

 

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Unions prepare to set a course for the 21st century

CALGARY - Hundreds of union members and activists from across the province will gather in Calgary next week to set a course for the Alberta labour movement as it prepares to enter the 21st century.

The Alberta Federation of Labour will hold its biennial convention in Calgary starting Thursday, April 15 and continuing until Sunday, April 18. The convention will take place at the Calgary Westin Hotel, located at 320 - 4th Ave S.W.

"This will be our last convention of the 20th century," says AFL president Audrey Cormack. "It will be an opportunity for unions to look back on their many accomplishments and make plans for an even brighter future."

More than 400 union members from about 30 different public and private sector unions are expected to attend the convention. These delegates will debate a wide range of policy resolutions and hear from a number of important guest speakers. Highlights include the following:

  • AFL President Audrey Cormack will give her "President's Address" on Thursday, April 15 at 10:30 a.m. Cormack will discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the labour movement in Alberta today.
  • Bob White, president of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), will address the convention Thursday at 2:30 p.m. This will be one of White's last major speeches as president of the CLC - he is scheduled to step down as leader at the CLC's convention in May.
  • On Thursday at 4:30 p.m. Joe Maloney, Canadian director of the AFL-CIO, Building Trades and Construction department, will bring greetings from the building trades.
  • Nycole Turmel, executive director of the Public Service Alliance of Canada will talk about her union's fight for pay equity in the federal public service. She will address the convention on Friday, April 16 at 10:30 a.m.
  • A rally to highlight union concerns with the provincial and federal governments will be held outside the McDougall Building in downtown Calgary over the lunch hour on Friday, April 16. Speakers will include Cormack, Turmel and New Democrat MLA Raj Pannu.
  • Professor Elaine Bernard, director of the Trade Union Program at Harvard University, will discuss prospects and challenges for unions in the 21st century. Professor Bernard will address the convention at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, April 16.
  • The AFL will release a report on the state of the labour movement in Alberta. The report will describe current union strength and identify challenges facing unions as they prepare to enter the 21st century. The report will be presented to convention delegates at 3:15 p.m. on Friday, April 16
  • Pam Barrett, Leader of the Alberta New Democrats, will talk about economic and political concerns her party shares with the labour movement. Barrett will speak Friday at 4:15 p.m.
  • A panel of labour leaders - including Terry Mutton, CUPE division president; Pauline Worsfold, vice-president of the United Nurses of Alberta (UNA); and Kathleen Connor, president of the National Federation of Nurses Unions (NFNU) - will address the convention on Saturday morning at 10 a.m. The panel will discuss challenges to Medicare in Alberta and at the national level. They will also discuss the role workers and unions can play in protecting Canada's public health care system.
  • Elections for executive officers and members of the Executive Council will take place Sunday, April 18 at 11 a.m.

In addition to hearing from speakers and participating in the events listed above, delegates to the AFL convention will also discuss numerous resolutions and a major policy paper on unions and the environment.

See attached agenda for more details about the convention schedule.


For more information call:

Gil McGowan, AFL Communications: (780) 483-3021 (work) or (403) 910-1137 (cell)

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