True labour solidarity means addressing the economic exclusion of racialized and Aboriginal workers. This Saturday as part of our commemoration of the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racism let us reflect on the words of Indigenous activist Lila Watson who said, “If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. If you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”
The International Day for the Elimination of Racism is an important opportunity to reflect on an understanding of racism as something that goes beyond individual acts of intolerance. It’s an opportunity to focus on what the labour movement can do to continue to fight institutional and systemic oppressions faced by workers of colour and Aboriginal workers. These systemic forms of racism can be found in Federal legislation like Bill C-51. Stephen Harper’s so-called Anti-Terrorism legislation is not only an attack on everyone’s democratic rights but also criminalizes Aboriginal activism and promotes Islamophobia, all in the name of security and freedom.
Within the labour movement we have a duty to be vigilant in our fight against racism as a barrier to equality and solidarity. In Alberta alone, visible minorities and Aboriginal Canadians make up 24.6 per cent of our population. There is a tendency for these groups to be disproportionately concentrated in low-wage and non-union jobs with poor or no protections and benefits.
What this tells us is that racism has a very real impact on people’s economic reality. As the Canadian Labour Congress points out, in 2011 the unemployment rate for visible minority workers in Canada was 9.9 per cent compared to 7.3 per cent for non-racialized workers. Aboriginal workers in Canada earn an average of $19,000 compared to $33,000 for other Canadians. These disparities make clear that while the labour movement has made strides in strengthening human rights and addressing discrimination in the workplace, our work must continue.
The Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC) will consider withdrawing from the world's largest trade union confederation and joining another organization, when the union gathers this week for two separate conferences in Vancouver and Burnaby.
"We will be discussing our membership in the International Trade Union Confederation (UTIC) at our annual convention this year," said CLAC executive director Dick Heinen.
"The World Organization of Workers' Congress is a response to our suspension from the ITUC. It's an international affiliation of labour unions that shares our values and we feel more comfortable dealing with."
CLAC is holding its national stewards conference and national union convention on Sept. 12-14 at the Hyatt Regency in Vancouver.
The event will also provide CLAC with an opportunity to celebrate its 60th anniversary.
In addition to this conference and convention in Vancouver, CLAC is also the Canadian host for the World Organization of Workers' (WOW) Congress being held concurrently at the Executive Inn in Burnaby.
At the request of the Canadian Labour Council (CLC), CLAC's membership in the ITUC was suspended in September 2011.
CLC President Ken Georgetti has accused CLAC of publishing policies and being involved in activities that undermine the conditions of workers in Canada and hinder the organizing activities of CLC affiliated unions.
In response, Heinen said the request by the CLC to suspend CLAC's membership in the ITUC was based on a number of false allegations.
"Georgetti orchestrated an anti-CLAC drive to have us expelled and he came up with a bunch of allegations at a kangaroo court, where a decision had already been made," he said.
"We have not had a reasonable hearing with the general council or the executive of the ITUC. They did not read our defence and they haven't acknowledged whether or not there is a process for reexamination of the decision. "
Heinen said the allegations being made by Georgetti are similar to what the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) is saying on their website, TheTruthAboutCLAC.ca.
For example, the AFL claims CLAC is a company union, which accepts invitations by employers to enter into voluntary recognition agreements.
The result is the negotiation of collective agreements that are inferior compared to those obtained by traditional unions and undermines their organizing efforts.
According to Heinen, the truth is that CLAC probably has a higher percentage of certification than any union in the building trades.
"I think within the minds of the ideological trade unions to be a company union is a bad thing," he said.
"We think it is okay to co-operate with a company to grow the business,' he said.
"This is recognition of a legitimate partnership with employers, which is also the stated goal of the Alberta Building Trades."
Heinen said CLAC is an alternative to the adversarial relationship of traditional trade unions with employers.
For this reason, CLAC has a more co-operative approach to labour-management relations.
He said Georgetti is in a clear conflict of interest because he sits as vice-president on the ITUC's executive board.
The ITUC was formed in 2006 in a merger between the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions with the World Confederation of Labour (WCL).
As a member of the WCL, CLAC automatically became a member of the ITUC.
"We decided to join, even though we were hesitant with the ideology of the ITUC," said Heinen.
"We believe in a partnership approach and the ITUC is too militant. The group of unions that decided not to join the ITUC formed WOW."
CLAC is experiencing fierce competition from traditional trade unions as it expands in BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan.
"CLAC has been involved in the construction industry since the old days of the union and we have certainly had an important presence, especially with specific crafts in the 1960s and 1970s," said Heinen.
"We currently have about 50 per cent of our business in construction and we intend to grow that side."
Established on Feb. 20, 1952 by Dutch immigrants, CLAC is based on the European model of Christian labour unions, which stress the principles of social justice and charity as taught in the Bible.
WOW is the new name of the former World Federation of Clerical Workers (WFCW) founded in September 1921 in Luxemburg.
WOW was founded as a Social Christian trade union and finds inspiration in the spiritual belief that man and universe were created by God.
The ITUC is the world's largest labour union confederation representing 175 million workers in 155 countries.
Journal of Commerce, Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Byline: Richard Gilbert
The workers were in the Atlantic province after SNC-Lavalin awarded a contract to Balzac, Alta.-based Integral Energy Service to work on a natural gas storage tank at a liquid natural gas (LNG) receiving and regassification terminal in Saint John.
About 125 employees were sent to Saint John on a three month contract.
On Sept 14, after only a few days on the job, hundreds of angry protesters began to gather outside their hotel to demonstrate against the hiring of out of province workers.
"What happened is SNC-Lavalin hired some subcontractors and some of them are CLAC (Christian Labour Association of Canada) signatory companies," said CLAC director of public relations Alex Pannu.
"Out of that group of workers, who are supposedly from Alberta, quite a few are from Atlantic Canada, but previously worked in Alberta."
Canaport LNG Ltd., which is a partnership between Irving Oil and Repsol, made it clear that they aren't directly responsible for the labour unrest.
"The labour issue is directly between our contractor SNC-SNAM (a partnership between SNC-Lavalin and Italian-based Snamprojetty) and the local tradespeople," said Canaport LNG spokesperson Francisco Garcia-Tobar.
"It is an unfortunate situation and our primary focus is the completion of the construction of the Canaport LNG terminal."
It remains up to the union and the main contractor to find a resolution.
"At the outset of the Canaport LNG project, labour unions signed an agreement which allowed 25 per cent of the labour force to be non-unionized," said Gillian MacCormack spokesperson for SNC-Lavalin Inc.
"SNC-Lavalin is well within the terms of this agreement. To date, over 90 per cent of the labour force at Canaport LNG has been unionized."
About 1,600 workers were employed on the project during the peak of construction.
"These protests are not about keeping Albertans out of New Brunswick," said Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour. "They are about stopping CLAC from getting a toehold in a province, where they are not recognized as a legitimate trade union."
Despite this claim, Pannu denied that CLAC is planning to move into New Brunswick.
"We have our hands full, especially with our work right now in Saskatchewan," he said. "If we have increased our presence in Atlantic Canada, it is because our members have asked us to come there."
According to Pannu, the building trades are spinning the whole thing about local workers not being employed and turning it into an attack on CLAC.
"The issue is SNC-Lavalin decided to subcontract to an Alberta-based company that sent out their workers," he said. "If the protestors have an issue, they need to sit down with the contractor and the union leaders, instead of holding their fellow workers hostage."
Garcia-Tobar said Canport LNG has encouraged SNC-Lavalin to use local construction companies as much as reasonably possible for the last four years.
"To achieve this goal, site construction was divided into smaller packages to give local contractors an opportunity to bid," he said. "As the project wraps up, with the completion of the third LNG tank, smaller packages such as the one at the origin of the current protests, were put to tender giving ample opportunity for competitive bids."
The protests lasted for about four days and took place each morning and afternoon. Despite a 24-hour injunction issued on Sept. 16, about 350 protesters showed up at the hotel the next morning.
Police didn't intervene.
On Sept. 17, the protesters were given a court order to stay at least 100 metres away from the hotel and were advised to stop preventing guests from going to work.Protesters cheered when a bus full of workers, fearing for their safety, left the hotel.
The judge also granted a temporary injunction to SNC-Lavalin, ordering protesters to stay away from the entrance to Canaport LNG, as well as hotels and motels in Saint John, Moncton and Fredericton.
Initially, the worker's whereabouts was unknown, but it now appears they went back to Alberta until things cool down.
Integral Energy is planning to have their staff return to New Brunswick to finish the job.
Representatives of the New Brunswick Federation of Labour, the New Brunswick Building Trades Council, the Electrical Contractors Association of New Brunswick and the St John Construction Association were contacted for this story but refused to comment.
Journal of Commerce, Tues Sept 22 2009
Byline: Richard Gilbert
That's the message about 100 Alberta tradesmen got from furious locals in St. John, N.B., this week, who have been staging angry demonstrations against out-of-province workers.
It's gotten so bad that at least one of the local subcontractors, Calgary's Integral Energy Service, is bringing their employees back home to Alberta today until things cool down.
They arrived in the Maritimes hoping to spend three months building the massive Canaport liquid natural gas operation on the Bay of Fundy, but instead became political footballs tossed between out-of-work locals and the project's contractor, SNC Lavalin.
Edson's Alex Scott, 22, said when the crews arrived at the hotel that was to be their home for the next few months, they were greeted by hundreds of protesters screaming and carrying signs with slogans like "New Brunswick Jobs For New Brunswick Workers!!!" and shouting "Whose streets? Our streets!"
Scott said the crowd was so menacing that the Albertans were afraid for their safety.
"We felt trapped," he said.
"Things are only going to get worse before they get better," Toni Edgett, one of the protesters, said today as he prepared to head out for an evening of xenophobic demonstrations. "We got lotsa manpower."
Edgett, who has a job as a pipefitter, had earlier told the St. John media that "these guys are coming from out West and taking our jobs while our guys are collecting unemployment and sitting on welfare. They're evil. They want to take everything they can get their hands on and they don't care who they hurt in the meantime."
Today, the protesters were slapped with a court injunction forbidding them to come within 500 metres of the Hotel Courtenay Bay, where the Albertans and other out-of-province workers had been staying.
The St. John Police Force's riot squad was reportedly on stand-by.
"It certainly is escalating," said St. John East Liberal MLA Roly MacIntyre, in whose riding are both the hotel and the project.
MacIntyre, the former provincial labour minister, is mystified by the situation because out-of-province workers are nothing new in New Brunswick. Besides, he says, there are far more New Brunswickers working in Alberta than there are Albertans down east.
But what's unique in the Canaport case, he said, is that local tradespeople are being laid off and replaced with out-of-province workers.
"SNC Lavalin is really shaking the tree here," he said. "Legally, there's nothing the provincial government can do right now. There's an underlying issue here, but nobody has said what it is."
The head of the Alberta Federation of Labour thinks he knows what's at the root of the protesters' anger.
Some of the Albertan workers are members of the Christian Labour Association of Canada, which groups like the federation argue isn't a legitimate union.
"If this is a protest against CLAC, it puts an entirely different complexion on the protest," he said. "CLAC is an employer-designed, union-avoiding strategy."
He said CLAC negotiates "sweetheart agreements" with employers so legitimate unions are shut out of their worksites.
CLAC spokesman Alex Pannu said it is legitimate, but he agreed that they're being targeted.
"I don't necessarily believe that these are just a bunch of unorganized workers that coalesced at 5:30 a.m. and had a bunch of signs made up attacking our union, including the very same wording that they've used in other anti-CLAC campaigns."
But, he added, "the issue is the contractor, SNC Lavalin, decided to subcontract. And it so happens that the subcontractor brought some workers in from Alberta. It's unfortunate that some local workers weren't hired, but that's not the issue of the guys in that hotel. They're just there to do a job."
Edmonton Sun, Thurs Sept 17 2009
Byline: Andrew Hanon
Representatives from some of Alberta's construction unions say the case of Chinese temporary foreign workers having their paycheques siphoned by their employer reveals huge flaws with the federal government program that need to be addressed by a public enquiry.
Two temporary foreign workers were killed and four others injured in April 2007, when the roof of the massive storage tank they were building collapsed at the Horizon oilsands project north of Fort McMurray.
After talking to the dead men's widows, the Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC) uncovered serious issues relating to the payments received by the temporary foreign workers on the project.
"We went to great lengths to make sure there was a Canadian bank account for all of these workers," said Wayne Prins, CLAC representative.
"We did continual checks that the payroll was processed and the correct amount of money was deposited in the accounts.
"We monitored the situation closely and spoke to people to confirm this was happening. We had every indication it was happening."
CLAC found out after the deaths that the Chinese workers on the project were not receiving their full salaries.
"We had concerns that they did not have access to their full accounts," said Prins.
"The employer had access to their accounts and what was being collected was less than what was being paid."
A story in the Edmonton Journal last week reported that the widows of the dead men said the wages their husbands were making were about 12 per cent of what they should have been paid.
One welder's widow said he made about $600 per month.
"We have not been able to confirm what was actually being collected by the craft workers on this project," said Prins."
CLAC is continuing its efforts to see what has happened to these personal accounts."
Canadian Natural Resources Ltd (CNRL) runs the construction site at the Horizon oilsands project.
According to Prins, CNRL hired Sinopec Shanghai Engineering Company (SSEC) to build the storage tanks. SSEC is the Canadian arm of Sinopec, which is a Chinese state-owned enterprise.
SSEC had signing authority on all of the workers' bank accounts.
The correct amount was paid into each employee's Bank of Montreal account, but disappeared before it reached families in China.
In the case of a welder, the regular pay should have been about $8,000 to $10,000 a month.
The Alberta Federation of Labour said that CNRL and CLAC made huge mistakes in their rush to bring the Chinese workers into Alberta.
"The first mistake was allowing the Chinese government to have direct access to these workers. CNRL had a responsibility to make sure they weren't exploited," said Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour.
"And, CLAC failed in its responsibility to these workers. No mainstream union would have permitted an arrangement like allowing an employer to have signing authority on worker bank accounts," he said.
The CLAC argues the AFL comments are not surprising given the fact that the two unions are competing for members.
"It is not surprising that Gil McGowan and other unions respond in this way, because they are in competition with us and we have a different approach to labour relations," said Prins.
Daily Commerce News and Construction Record, Fri July 4 2008
Byline: Richard Gilbert
Horizon faces test if oilsands strike; Project On Schedule; Questions Remain Whether Canadian Natural Immune
CALGARY - A controversial labour strategy used by Canadian Natural Resource Ltd. to build its oilsands mega-project could be put to the test later this month if 30,000-plus unionized construction workers in Alberta decide to go on strike.
The Calgary-based company said yesterday the first phase of its $7-billion Horizon project, at which the workforce has peaked at 7,000, is 75% complete and virtually on budget and schedule as it approaches a startup date some time in next year's third quarter.
Questions remain, however, about whether Horizon is really insulated from a looming job action that appears to be gaining momentum among seven unionized building trades in Alberta.
The provincial government granted the project a rarely used status in 2004 under its labour code called Division 8, which Canadian Natural president Steve Laut said yesterday makes it illegal for employees at the site to strike, just as it would be illegal for Canadian Natural to lock workers out.
The status also let Canadian Natural negotiate a blanket agreement with a single union -- the Christian Labour Association of Canada, which Alberta unions see as pro-business -- that binds workers on the site, including those from other Alberta-based unions, for the duration of construction.
Six unions last year challenged the decision to grant that special status but there has been no final ruling, creating a state of limbo that could put some unionized workers at Horizon in a quandary, should a strike be called.
They won't know if it is legal or illegal to walk off the job, even as fellow union members not working at Horizon take job action across the province.
Such a scenario would quickly lead to picket lines forming at the gates of Horizon, so those workers won't have to make a choice, said Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour.
"If Canadian Natural wants to tell investors it's protected from a strike, then the company is dreaming in technicolour," Mr. McGowan said. "The question around Division 8 hasn't been answered by the labour relations board and if that state remains and a strike occurs, there's a good chance you'll see picket lines at the Horizon gates."
Mr. Laut would not say exactly how many workers at the Horizon site fall within one of the unions threatening job action, but labour leaders estimate the total could run as high as 1,000.
Mr. Laut said the number is much smaller.
Support for a strike among construction trades that are critical to all oilsands projects -- and to major construction projects across the province -- is snowballing, said Barry Salmon, spokesman for a group of five building construction trades that last month overwhelmingly voted in favour of walking off the job.
The group, which includes about 6,000 electricians and another 19,000 boilermakers, millwrights, plumbers and refrigeration mechanics, has been without a contract since May.
Alberta's 7,000 unionized labourers and 6,500 carpenters have also now received permission to hold a strike vote, which will occur on Aug. 15, Mr. Salmon said.
Workers are looking for wage hikes and for protection from the rising cost of living in Alberta, hoping for a two-year contract rather than a four-year deal. Electricians last Friday turned down a contract for a wage hike of 24% between 2007 and 2011.
Talks with the associations that negotiate on behalf of independent contractors were to occur this week but were pushed back, angering several of the unions, Mr. Salmon said. "The earliest a 72-hour strike notice could be served would be Aug. 20, because we're waiting for the boilermakers to re-do their vote because of an internal technical issue with the way the first vote [on July 4] took place," he said.
Canadian Natural reported lower profits in the second quarter but lifted its production outlook for the remainder of the year.
Net income in the quarter fell to $841-million, from $1.04-billion last year, when earnings were inflated by a $438-million gain on tax changes.
National Post, Page FP1, Fri Aug 3 2007
Byline: Jon Harding
EDMONTON-Documents recently filed with the Court of Queen's Bench in Edmonton show that the provincial cabinet used its power to over-ride existing labour law in a bid to help a major oil sands developer avoid having to operate under the provisions of duly negotiated construction agreements.
"What the documents reveal is a disturbing pattern of collusion between CNRL, the government and CLAC," says McGowan. "CNRL hatched the plan, the government paved the way and CLAC allowed themselves to be used as a pawn - all in an effort to reduce the paycheques of skilled construction workers and deny them the right to join or belong to unions of their own choice."
The documents also show that the developer - Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. of Calgary - believes the special deal it got from the government will allow it to bar its workers from joining or switching unions for the tens years it expects will be needed to build the $10.8 billion Horizon mine and heavy-oil up-grader near Fort McMurray.
"This is not just a case of an employer engaging in hard bargaining," says Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta's largest union organization, the Alberta Federation of Labour. "It's a case of the government outright breaking its own rules in an effort to help a large energy company pick the pockets of thousands of Alberta trades people. And in the process, they're attempting to unilaterally strip people of their democratic right to join a union."
"It's shocking that a company would dream up this kind of scheme. But what's even more shocking is that the government would allow itself to become a willing accomplice. It makes you ask: whose interests is the government really looking out for - big oil or ordinary citizens?"
Last May, the provincial cabinet approved an application from CNRL to grant the Horizon project special designation under Division 8 of the Alberta Labour Code. This meant CNRL could, by signing an agreement with the Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC), avoid the master agreements negotiated between building trades unions and the provincial construction owners association.
Shortly after special designation had been granted, CNRL signed a labour agreement for the Horizon project with the Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC). The CLAC agreement - which workers have never been given an opportunity to vote on - includes weakened provisions on things like overtime which will substantially reduce the potential earnings of tradespeople. The agreement explicitly purports to modify Building Trades agreements.
"The court documents make it clear that, right from the beginning, CNRL's intention was to sign a deal with CLAC that would over-write the agreements negotiated by the traditional building trades unions," says McGowan. "But the only way they could do that was to get the government to step in and change the rules. Unfortunately, that's exactly what the government did. CNRL wanted a sweetheart deal with CLAC and the government helped them get it."
Late last year, a group of traditional building trades unions applied for a judicial review of the cabinet's decision to grant special status for the Horizon project. It is as part of that court review that the current package of documents has been made public. The documents - included in what is called the government's official "return" or response to the court - includes letters between CNRL and the government; the official application from CNRL for special designation under Division 8; and various briefing notes to the cabinet and the provincial Minister of Human Resources. Hearing dates for the case have been set for late May. (Copies of the documents can be obtained from the AFL office).
In the meantime, McGowan is urging the government to voluntarily revisit its decision on the Horizon project - in the name of fairness and in the hopes of promoting labour peace.
"These revelations are explosive - and they have the potential to severely disrupt the labour relations climate in Alberta," says McGowan. "Our members want to get on with the job of building this province and strengthening the provincial economy. But we simply can't stand idly by and let big oil companies get away with these kinds of deliberately provocative actions."
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For more information contact:
Gil McGowan, AFL President at 780.483-3021 or 780.915-4599 (cell)
NOTE: Copies of the court documents can be obtained by phoning the AFL at 483-3021
EDMONTON-Documents released by the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) and Alberta Building Trades Council (ABTC) show that Canadian Natural Resources Limited (CNRL), the lead partner in the Horizon oil sands development, is planning to use temporary foreign workers from China for part of its project. CNRL is also pressuring the workers to join the Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC), a union at odds with the rest of the labour movement for its employer-friendly tactics.
CNRL is tendering its "tank farm" work, and there remain only two competitors - both Chinese contractors who intend to use primarily Chinese workers. Importing foreign workers for general construction work is normally not allowed under Canadian rules. CNRL is attempting to get around the prohibition by using a rarely used, specialized exclusion for "warranty work". In addition, CNRL, in minutes of a clarification meeting with one of the bidders, indicated "CNRL highly recommend HQCEC [the Chinese company] join the CLAC labour group."
"CNRL continues its efforts to intentionally undermine the wages and working conditions of workers in the oil sands," says Alberta Federation of Labour President Gil McGowan. "Their attempt to bend rules to allow heavy use of temporary foreign workers from China, and then try to force them to join CLAC, is just the latest in their provocative moves."
McGowan notes that CNRL is the company behind the controversial decision by the Alberta government to invoke Division 8 - which excludes the project from most of the labour relations rules in construction and allows the company to work with only one union. CNRL set up the project with CLAC, widely seen as an employer-friendly union.
"There are Canadian workers available to do the work that CNRL wants done," says Paul Walzack, Executive Director of the Alberta Building Trades Council. "We can provide the workers CNRL needs, but CNRL has decided that they want to push down wages and working conditions on this project by taking advantage of Chinese workers."
"We fail to see the necessity of this move, other than an attempt to prevent workers from receiving their fair share, and their right to choose their own union," says Walzack.
"Suggesting to a contractor which union their workers should join is bordering on illegal," says McGowan. "Employers are supposed to stay neutral on workers� decision whether to join a union, or which union they join."
Both McGowan and Walzak are calling on the provincial and federal governments to prohibit CNRL from importing Chinese workers for this project. Both also suggest that there are enough unionized boilermakes and pipefitters to complete this job with Canadian workers.
"CNRL is demonstrating its blatant lack of regard for its workers, and for the province of Alberta. All in the name of greed." McGowan concludes.
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For more information contact:
Gil McGowan, AFL President at 780.483-3021 or 780.915-4599 (cell)
Paul Walzack, ABTC Executive Director at 780.421-9400 or 780.405-6147 (cell)
Three Issues Intertwine to Create Powderkeg in Fort McMurray
In recent weeks, Albertans' TV screens and newspapers have flickered with trades workers rallying, marching and protesting against "foreign workers" in the oilsands. One woman walked from Fort McMurray to Edmonton to highlight the problem. The stories never garner the front page, but the issue doesn't seem to be fading away either.
Quite understandably, most Albertans are probably scratching their heads wondering what all the fuss is about? Is this just a group of privileged unionists using xenophobia to keep out newcomers? Or is this a case of employers finding new ways to undercut their wage costs? How is a citizen to make sense of it all?
This is a complex issue that has become oversimplified. As a result, the real issues are being drowned out by a cacophony of charged rhetoric. It is time to take a step back and look at what is really involved.
It is really three issues that intertwine to create a labour relations powderkeg in Fort McMurray.
By Jason Foster
Kerry Barrett, President of the Alberta Federation of Labour, March 2005
We're here today because you're company - that company right there - is turning its back on you.
Some of you have already been laid off. Others have an axe hanging over your heads.
But, in either case, something important is being lost here.
What's being lost are not just thrown-way jobs. We're not talking about McJobs.
These are family-sustaining jobs.
These are jobs that put money into your pockets, but also put money into the broader Edmonton economy.
These are the kind of jobs that form the backbone communities like Edmonton.
And why are your jobs being cut?
Why are you - in some cases, after being with the company for more than 20 or 25 years - why are you now being discarded like post-it notes?
Is it because customers no longer want your services?
Is it because the economy has gone south?
Is it because your company is losing money?
As we all know, none of those things are the case.
Just this morning, I opened the paper, and in the business section there was an article saying that Finning racked up a profit of $20 million in the last quarter.
That's $20 million in just the last three months.
This is not a company that's struggling. This is not a company that can't afford to do well by its employees.
Instead, what we have here is a company that has made a conscious decision to turn its back on it own long-time workforce.
For the sake of squeezing out of few more cents of profit per share, they're leaving you out on the curb.
As you know, your work isn't being eliminated. And it's not being shipped overseas. It's staying right here in the Edmonton region.
Basically, they're closing you down and opening up across the street.
The big question is why. Is it really about efficiency, as the company says? Or is this really about breaking your union?
From our perspective, what's going on here is indefensible.
And you know what is just as big a crime?
The labour laws here in Alberta are so weak that Finning just might be able to get away with it.
That's why the AFL is here today.
We're here to help you shine a public spotlight on the bad corporate citizenship being shown by Finning.
And we're here to show that the Alberta government - by paving the way for this kind of thing - is actually an accomplice.
In conclusion, what I want all of you to know is that the AFL and the rest of the labour movement are behind you in this fight.
We all have a stake - because if Finning is able to get away with this kind of union-busting - then no working people in this province are safe.
That's why we're here for you today and that's why we'll continue being with you as you continue your fight.
Good luck and thank you.