The Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) accused the Minister of Labour today of misleading the public in his announcement of the Labour Relations Board (LRB) appointments.
In his announcement yesterday of 17 appointments to the LRB, the Minister suggested that a selection committee brought names forward for nomination. However, one of the appointments did not come from the committee and was added later by the Minister himself.
From outside the committee list, the Minister appointed a very controversial figure, Mr. Stephen Kushner. Kushner is a central figure in the "Merit Shop" group of construction companies, who were set up in the 1980s specifically to avoid unionized workers of the construction industry.
"Stephen Kushner is wholly unfit to serve on the Labour Relations Board. He is utterly unacceptable to the labour movement," says Audrey Cormack, President of the AFL and member of the selection committee. "His bias is well-known and so deeply entrenched that it raises serious questions about his ability to serve in good faith on a bi-partite Board."
"Had Stephen Kushner's name come forward as a recommendation, I would have removed myself from the committee in protest," adds Cormack. "The Minister has misled Albertans about who put his name forward."
The LRB hears matters related to unionized workplaces and the collective bargaining process. "Someone with such an anti-union reputation should not be in a position of making decisions about unionized workplaces," says Cormack.
In his release, the Minister crowed that "for the first time in our history, appointments to the LRB have been made after a public competitive process". The release states that a selection committee made up of labour, business and government representatives "reviewed applications, conducted interviews and made recommendations to the Minister of Labour". Mr. Kushner was not recommended from this process.
Until this year, employers and labour provided names to the government to serve as their representatives on the Board. The new selection committee ended this tradition.
"I consider the Minister's actions a betrayal of the process and a blatant attempt to antagonize workers in Alberta," Cormack expresses. "He is attempting to legitimize Kushner's appointment by falsely hiding behind a supposedly open, transparent selection process."
"Kushner was never considered seriously or for any length of time by the committee," adds Cormack. "His obvious and historical bias made him an unacceptable candidate."
Cormack demands that the Minister rescind Stephen Kushner's appointment and select another employer representative from the list of committee recommendations.
For further information, contact:
Audrey M. Cormack, AFL President 499-6530 (cell) / 483-3021 (wk) / 428-9367 (hm)
Gil McGowan, AFL Communications Director 483-3021 (wk)