Against the objections of their union, the Alberta Labour Relation Board (LRB) has ruled that striking Palace Casino workers in Edmonton must vote on an employer offer that the union categorized as "illegal, contrary to the scheme of the Code, a product of a failure to bargain in good faith , and incapable of forming a collective agreement."
"This decision once again illustrates why the labour movement has become increasingly frustrated and unhappy with the Alberta Labour Relations Board," says Alberta Federation of Labour President Gil McGowan. "We don't object to free votes on fair offers - but we oppose forced votes on unfair offers. We recognize that such forced votes are unfortunately allowed by the Code, but the Board should have been more attentive to union objections and the impact on striking workers."
"Palace Casino has forced its workers on strike because they refuse to recognize the value of their own workers in Alberta's booming economy," observes McGowan. "After four months on the picket line through bitter weather, it has become clear that the company could not break the spirit of the union members. That's why the company is forcing this vote now."
The problem with this employer tactic, according to McGowan is that it short-circuits the bargaining process. "Rather than negotiate a fair deal with the bargaining team, the employer is trying to go behind their backs and bully workers into an inferior deal," notes McGowan. "When that offer includes things that were deemed improper by the Board, it should not be forced on union members."
The union has also complained that the Board excised the important �back-to-work protocol' from the agreement rather than fixing it. This back-to-work agreement is not only typical of collective agreements after strikes - they are essential to protect union activists from employer reprisals.
The fact that the forced offer includes a signing bonus is another indication of double-dealing, according to McGowan. "Signing bonuses are a cheap attempt to convince workers to act against their own best interests," says McGowan. "If the offer isn't good enough on its own merit, simply waving cash under the noses of people who have been on strike for four months is both underhanded and demeaning.
"The Labour Relations Board shouldn't need to be reminded that it is here to safeguard workers' rights and help create good labour relations. Their mandate doesn't include helping employers sell bad agreements," concludes McGowan.
For more information contact: Gil McGowan Bus: (780) 483-3021 Cell: (780) 218-9888