Time: 3:00 PM, Monday, September 16
Place: United Nurses of Alberta
11150 Jasper Avenue, Edmonton (Suite 700 – 7th Floor)
Elisabeth Ballermann, President, Health Sciences Association of Alberta
Gil McGowan, President, Alberta Federation of Labour
Guy Smith, President, Alberta Union of Provincial EmployeesHeather Smith, President, United Nurses of Alberta
Marle Roberts, President, Canadian Union of Public Employees-Alberta
Olav Rokne, AFL Communications Director at 780-289-6528 (cell) or via email email@example.com.
August 2013: Labour Day Celebrations; UNIFOR founding convention to re-invigorate labour activism; Alberta’s minimum wage increased, still worst in Canada; Investigations find employers...
Join us for Labour Day Celebrations
District Labour Councils all over the province will be hosting Labour Day Barbecues for the unemployed and underemployed. These volunteer-run events help the labour community connect with our local communities.
Medicine Hat and District Labour Council BBQ
Monday, September 2, 2013, 11:30 am to 2:00 pm
Riverside Park, 1st Street and 6th Avenue NE, Medicine Hat, AB
Edmonton and District Labour Council BBQ
Saturday, August 31, 2013, 11:30 am to 3:30 pm
Giovanni Cabato Park, 95 Street and 109 Ave, Edmonton, AB
Calgary and District Labour Council BBQ
Monday, September 2, 2013, 11:00 am to 2:00 pm
Calgary Olympic Plaza, 228 – 8 Ave SE, Calgary, AB
Lethbridge and District Labour Council event
Monday, September 2, 2013, 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Research Station Park , 5403 – 1 Avenue S, Lethbridge, AB
Wood Buffalo and District Labour Council event
Monday, September 2, 2013, 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm
Howard Pew Park, Tolen Drive, Fort McMurray, AB
UNIFOR founding convention to re-invigorate labour activism
This Labour Day weekend, thousands of elected CAW and CEP delegates, along with staff and special guests will descend on Toronto to take part in the founding convention of Unifor, Canada's newest union.
Unifor represents the largest coming together of two labour organizations in Canadian history. With more than 300,000 members in workplaces across the country, Unifor will be a force championing the rights of all working people.
Can't attend in person? You can watch history unfold online!
Unifor's founding convention will be live streamed at http://www.newunionconvention.ca/
Alberta’s minimum wage increased, still worst in Canada
As of September 1, the minimum wage will be increased from $9.75 to $9.95, but Alberta’s lowest-income earners will still be the worst-paid in Canada.
The minimum wage for liquor servers will remain the same at $9.05. Alberta’s minimum wage increases automatically each year under a formula that links the minimum wage to the cost of living.
“A terrible wage that keeps up with inflation will remain a terrible wage,” Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said. “How can it be that the richest province is the stingiest? Alberta has a booming economy, a high cost of living, but even with this increase, we have the lowest minimum wage in the country?”
If a minimum wage worker puts in 35 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, they’ll earn $18,109 a year before taxes. That’s significantly less than the Low-Income Cut-Off (LICO), the official poverty line that Statistics Canada defines as $23,298. A rate of $14.05 without benefits, or $12.08 with benefits, would be required for someone working full-time at minimum wage to get beyond that poverty line.
Download the AFL press release on Alberta’s Minimum Wage: http://www.afl.org/index.php/Press-Release/albertas-minimum-wage-remains-worst-in-canada.html
Download the AFL backgrounder on Alberta’s Minimum Wage: http://www.afl.org/https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/afl/pages/206/attachments/original/1377615004/Backgrounder_Minimum%20Wage%202013_2013August27.pdf?1377615004
Investigations find employers skimming from TFW paycheques
Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs) face a greater risk of being the victims of payroll fraud.
Information obtained by the Alberta Federation of Labour shows that employers are likelier to violate the Employment Standards Code when they’re dealing with TFWs. Of investigations launched because of a complaint by a TFW, 47 per cent found the employer had contravened the Code. By comparison, the figure was 33 per cent when the complaint came from a Canadian worker.
“Workers brought in under the Temporary Foreign Worker program are less likely to know their workplace rights, are more likely to have language barriers, and are beholden to their employer for their ability to stay in Canada,” Alberta Federation of Labour Secretary Treasurer Siobhan Vipond said. “It seems clear that some predatory employers know these workers are vulnerable, and they’re exploiting that vulnerability. It’s disgraceful.”
The figures, which were collected from April 2012 – March 2013, were the result of investigations that were started because of a worker complaint. The province investigated only 218 complaints despite there being 68,319 TFWs in Alberta at that time.
Read the whole story at: http://www.afl.org/index.php/Press-Release/temporary-foreign-workers-shortchanged.html
Did you know…
- Of the 30,000 Albertans working for minimum wage, 35.9 per cent were aged 30 or older.
- More than 37 per cent of minimum wage earners have been at the same minimum wage job for more than a year, while 13.9 per cent had been at the same job for more than five years.
- More than 300,000 working Albertans, or 13.5 per cent of the total employed population in the province, lost 7.5 million hours of work because of the flooding in June.
- In the last 12 months, 243 employers in Alberta have been given the green light to bring in Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs) while paying them minimum wage.
August 31: EDLC Labour Day BBQ
September 1: Calgary Pride Parade
September 2: CDLC Labour Day BBQ
October 30 – November 1: Saskatchewan Federation of Labour Convention
June 2013: Free Workshop FOIP; Boycott i-Hotel and Edm Hotel & Conv. Centre; Act now on Bill C-377; Bill C-525: Another Tory attempt to undermine unions; Supreme Court sides with workers ...
Free Workshop on Access to Information on Friday, June 28
The Alberta Federation of Labour will host a "Lunch and Learn" workshop covering the basics of Alberta's Freedom of Information legislation. This workshop, the first in a series, is an opportunity for our members, affiliates, and allies to learn about a subject that is of interest to the labour movement.
This workshop will cover the basics of FOIP in Alberta, including:
- How to navigate the FOIP request system
- Why sometimes it's important to get information the government would rather keep secret
- How to word a request to save time and money
- How to follow up with further requests or judicial review.
When: Friday, June 28 from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.
Where: AFL Meeting Hall (10654 – 101 Street Edmonton)
See poster for more details.
Due to flooding in Calgary, all protest events related to the federal Conservative Convention have been postponed until the convention can be rescheduled.
Boycott i-Hotel and Edmonton Hotel and Convention Centre in support of UFCW 401
United Food and Commercial Workers Local 401 started an organizing drive in March to unionize the i-Hotel in Red Deer, Alberta, which was formerly the Holiday Inn on 67th Street.
During the process owner Amin Suleman was made aware of union activity and interfered with the organizing efforts of Local 401.
3 members have been harassed, intimidated, and terminated for expressing their legal right to join a union. The ALRB issued a consent order that UFCW 401 supports and the employer refuses to honour.
UFCW 401 needs your help. They are asking all labour organizations to help them in the fight against a ruthless employer. Please support UFCW 401 by boycotting this employer until an agreement can be reached between the union and employer. UFCW 401 does not want to cripple business and wants people to advise reservations why they are pulling their business. This employer operates two hotels in Alberta.
i-Hotel at 6500 – 67 Street, Red Deer, AB
Edmonton Hotel and Convention Centre at 4520 – 76th Avenue, Edmonton.
Click here for letter from UFCW 401 to the AFL.
For more information please contact Director of Organizing, Chris O'Halloran at firstname.lastname@example.org
Bill C-377 – Send a message to the Senate
The Senate will be debating C-377 this week. There is a real chance to expose the bill as transparently anti-union, and potentially to amend or defeat it.
The bill has been pilloried by almost everyone who attended the hearings held by the Senate banking committee.
The CLC and other labour organizations are asking for maximum lobbying (calls to your regional senators, etc.). To find the right phone # or e-mail, please go here.
Below is a commentary by Jim Stanford, CAW Researcher (speaker at our convention) on the Senate's deliberations.
Every member that is able to voice their opposition to this bill could make a difference. PLEASE SEND A MESSAGE TO ALL SENATORS, WRITE YOUR MP AND CC ALL MEMBERS OF THE SENATE COMMITTEE.
The Alberta CUPE website allows you to send a message to all senators.
Please visit http://cupe.ca/unions/urges-senate-block-anti-union-bill
They're running an online action on an issue that I think will concern you. It takes two minutes and you can make a difference. Other websites:
Bill C-525: Another Conservative attempt to undermine unions
The Harper government is again turning to its backbenchers to make laws designed to weaken unions. Bill C-525, if passed, will interfere in labour relations and the established rights of workers to join and remain in a union.
Currently, workers in federally regulated industries are recognized as a bargaining agent if they can show that they represent the majority of workers. Bill C-525 will require the union to prove that 50% of all employees – not just those that vote – want to remain in a union. If that doesn't happen, the unit will be decertified. This opens the door to all sorts of employer interference, such as anti-union propaganda and threats to shutdown workplaces, in efforts to suppress votes to get rid of unions.
Bill C-525 will apply to federally regulated unions, but make no mistake that this is another Harper Conservative attempt to weaken unions. If this Bill passes, we'll likely see more brazen attacks. Together, we can send a message to Harper and stop Bill C-525.
For a summary on Bill C-525 read the CUPE release and backgrounder.
View Bill C-525.
Please sign and promote the NDP petition
Supreme Court sides with workers right to privacyOn June 14, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that a mandatory random alcohol testing policy imposed by Irving Pulp and Paper at a Saint John, N.B., Kraft mill in 2006 was unreasonable.
The case, which stems from a grievance filed by Communications Energy and Paperworkers (CEP) Local 30 in New Brunswick, has implications to similar cases in Alberta's oil sands. The ruling is a major victory in the fight against random and arbitrary privacy violations through drug and alcohol testing.
"This decision is in line with years of jurisprudence, makes sense, and is in the interest of Canadians. Employers can't arbitrarily introduce a random drug or alcohol testing regime by declaring a workplace "dangerous" without proving that there's a problem," Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said. "There's a direct parallel between this case and what's happening at Suncor: there's no evidence that there's a problem and the employer can't simply impose their will on the worker and strip them of their privacy without proving there's one."
In 15 years before the policy was imposed, there were eight instances in which a worker was found to be under the influence of alcohol and none involved an accident or injury. During the 22 months the policy was in effect, no one tested positive.
"The expected safety gains to the employer in this case were found by the board to range 'from uncertain ... to minimal at best' while the impact on employee privacy was found to be much more severe," Justice Rosalie Abella wrote for the majority. For more information see June 14 release
AFL wraps up its case against job-sucking Northern Gateway pipelineThe Alberta Federation of Labour made its final arguments to the Northern Gateway Pipeline hearings on Tuesday, June 18 in Terrace, B.C. The Federation made the case that the Pipeline is not in the best interests of Canadians.
The pipeline, if approved, will ship some of our country's best potential jobs down the pipeline to China. In its presentation to the National Energy Board, the AFL showed that it makes economic sense to upgrade bitumen in Alberta – or at least in Canada – rather than exporting it raw to foreign markets.
"The proponents of this project have compared the pipeline to the CPR and called it an important piece of Canadian infrastructure. But the Northern Gateway Pipeline is a piece of Chinese infrastructure, not Canadian infrastructure," Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said. "The ownership structure of the pipeline shows that the project will benefit China's state-owned oil companies, shipping good-paying oil sands jobs to Asia." For more information see June 17 release with links to a backgrounder and AFL final arguments
Did you know...
- the Northern Gateway pipeline will create only 228 permanent jobs in Canada
- During construction of the pipeline, the project will temporarily create 1,500 construction jobs
- At least 26,000 Canadian jobs would be created if we upgraded/refined the bitumen destined for China here at home.
June 28: Alberta Federation of Labour "Lunch & Learn", 12:30 -2:30 PM
July 1: Canada Day
Aug 5: Civic Holiday
Aug 5-9: AFL Kids' Camp
Aug 24: EDLC "Big Splash Open" Golf Tournament
Aug 31: EDLC Labour Day BBQ
Aug 31: Sept 2: Founding UNIFOR Convention
Sept 2: Labour Day
Sept 8: World Literacy Day
Sept 17-18: AFL Executive Committee/Council
May 2013: Alberta embracing The Better Way Campaign; 19th Annual Kids' Camp; AFL wins battle in fight against exploitation of Temporary Foreign Workers; Convention videos online at AFL Yo...
Urgent Action: Alberta embracing The Better Way Campaign
Since April 1, moviegoers all over Alberta have been getting a message on the Better Way Alberta campaign. The message, in which Albertans are "thanked" for giving away their oil and gas so cheaply, has been shown before every movie on 188 screens.
The Better Way Alberta campaign is a collaboration between the AFL and several member unions including HSAA, UNA and CUPE. Advertising, media and our website www.betterwayalberta.com all make the case for sensible budgeting that puts the best interest of people first, and includes research showing that royalties and taxes may need to be increased.
Check out the Better Way Alberta ad
Action Item: 19th Annual Kids' Camp
The AFL Kids' Camp is a five-day event that combines summer fun with educational activities.
The camp, which has been running for 19 years, has become a popular event on the AFL calendar. In 2013, the camp will be themed around the history of labour in Canada.
The camp is open to children of trade unionists belonging to unions affiliated to the Alberta Federation of Labour. Learning is combined with recreational activities such as canoeing, wall climbing, hiking, mine tour, rappelling, group challenges, crafts and swimming.
When: August 5 – 9, 2013
Where: Goldeye Centre near Nordegg on Goldeye Lake
Ages: 8 to 15 years
Forms package to be completed and mailed/faxed to the AFL offices by June 14, 2013
AFL wins battle in fight against exploitation of Temporary Foreign Workers
Recently announced changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker program are a victory for Canadian labour rights.
The Federal government has eliminated the pay differential for TFWs, and indefinitely suspended the fast-track ALMO process for bringing in workers.
Although there is a lot of work left to be done in preventing employers from exploiting people coming to Canada for work, the Alberta Federation of Labour is proud that it has played a key role in bringing to light the ways in which the TFW program is being used to exploit workers and drive down wages.
"Exploitation is fundamentally unCanadian, that's why t this program doesn't sit well with Canadians," AFL president Gil McGowan said. "I'm proud of the work the AFL has done in investigating the TFW program, and proud as a Canadian that the public in this country won't stand for how this program is being used."
The AFL released the latest in a series of reports on the Temporary Foreign Worker program recently, showing that workers are being brought in regardless of prevailing economic conditions. During the recession, Alberta lost tens of thousands of jobs. Yet, employers brought in tens of thousands of Temporary Foreign Workers. In 2011, the economy recovered and began creating jobs. But there was a Temporary Foreign Worker present in Alberta for three of every four jobs created.
Convention videos online at AFL Youtube channelIf you missed it the first time, you can watch highlights from Alberta Federation of Labour's 48th constitutional convention on the internet.
For the first time, the proceedings have been made available to watch at the federation's youtube channel (youtube.com/ABFedLabour). Talks by speakers such as Allan Gregg, Jim Stanford, and Armine Yalnizyan have already been watched by hundreds of AFL affiliates and allies from as far away as California.
More than 7,000 people have already watched the videos, which were produced with the assistance of United Nurses videographer Jeremy Rittwage and the team from Listen Louder Productions. Videos that feature convention delegates being interviewed about what their unions mean to them are generating upwards of 300.
"There was a focused effort to make this convention relevant to people who couldn't be there in person," AFL president Gil McGowan said. "I'm proud to say that we accomplished that. The feedback from the videos has been extremely positive."
AFL offers solidarity to prison workers in struggle for workplace safetyThe Alberta Federation of Labour has raised concerns about the province's handling of a four-day wildcat strike by unionized employees of Alberta's prison system. The four-day strike was sparked by the government's refusal to address health and safety concerns at the new Remand Centre in Edmonton.
After the strike, the government has imposed fines of $450,000, and has sought to suspend the collection of union dues to the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees. Although the AUPE is not affiliated with the AFL, the government's draconian response has raised concern in the broader labour movement about the treatment workers can expect from the provincial Tories.
"Every crisis presents opportunities and this situation is no different. The government could have addressed the workers' legitimate safety concerns in a timely and balanced manner. This would have improved the important relationship between a government and these workers," AFL president Gil McGowan said. "But that opportunity has been squandered by threats, intimidation and now specter of punitive measures against the union. As a result, labour relations are worse now than they were before the strike."
BLOCK the PARTYAlbertans are standing together for a BLOCK (the) PARTY rally from 12-2 p.m. on May 25th to create a block against the policies and recent budget cuts that negatively impact families, the most vulnerable, and all sectors in Alberta.
The rally will be held at 45th Avenue between Gateway Boulevard and Calgary Trail S, just north of the Radisson Hotel, where the Conservative Party will be holding their policy convention.
Come together with other Albertans by the busloads and help us remind our leaders that there is a Better Way!
Did you know ...
• In 2007, Alberta's Royalty Review panel ruled that the province's rate of 58% for natural gas was too low. Today, the rate is 34%.
• Royalty giveaways since 2009 have cost Albertans at least $4.7 billion.
• Three of every four new jobs created in Alberta since 2010 have been filled by workers brought in under the Temporary Foreign Worker program.
• May 22: Shooting the Messenger: The Need for Effective Whistleblower Protection in Alberta, (Parkland) – 7:00 PM Telus Centre, Room 134 U of A (87th Avenue)
• May 23-26: Canadian Association of Labour Media conference (calm.ca/conference)
• June 10-11: AFL Executive Council Retreat (Calgary)
• June 12: AFL Executive Council (Calgary)
• June 14: Deadline to register for AFL Kids Camp
Earlier this week, news broke that RBC plans to hire 45 temporary foreign workers through iGate, an IT contractor, to fill positions of employees who say that, in fact, they're training their own replacements.
RBC denies this, saying that no one will lose their jobs and that the Canadian employees will be moved to other departments.
In Alberta alone, 4,000 companies have been given approval to hire temporary foreign workers. Canada-wide, there are 338,000 temporary foreign workers.
Postmedia News walks you through the controversy:
WHAT IS A TEMPORARY FOREIGN WORKER?
Immigration Canada defines a temporary foreign worker as "workers (who) enter Canada to work temporarily in jobs that help Canadian employers address skill shortages."
Temporary foreign workers would, in principle, fill jobs such as carpenters, fruit pickers or managers in communication. These are areas that Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) says are suffering skills shortages.
WHAT DID RBC DO THAT CAUSED CONTROVERSY?
The reason for the temporary foreign worker program is so that companies can go outside of Canada when there is a clear absence of Canadians to fill the positions.
In this case, critics say they were being brought in to replace positions that were already filled. The fact that several jobs will themselves eventually move offshore – outsourcing – further clouds the issue.
It is unclear whether or not any rules were broken. HRSDC has launched an official probe into the hiring.
WHY WOULD A COMPANY PREFER FOREIGN WORKERS?
Briefly, it's about wages. "You can actually pay these temporary foreign workers 15-per-cent less, you don't have to pay for a lot of the other benefits, and the employer has a power balance that gets even more skewed because the workers are so much more vulnerable than residents," argues Jinny Sims, the federal NDP's immigration critic.
WHAT ARE THE ARGUMENTS FOR HAVING TEMPORARY FOREIGN WORKERS?
Under the true guidelines of the program, temporary foreign workers are seen as an aid to the economy.
"If, for instance, you run a cherry orchard, apparently it's very difficult to get Canadians to come and pick the cherries in the orchard," said Michael Hart, professor of international affairs at Carleton University in Ottawa. "You can hire temporary workers from Mexico to do that."
"The biggest reason to support it is if there are particular shortages, this is a quick and dirty way to address those needs," added Sharry Aiken, law professor at Queen's University in Kingston, Ont. "When there are very clear needs for the workers, there can be quite dramatic consequences if those jobs aren't filled."
William Watson, economics professor at McGill University in Montreal, said that "it's fair game for Canadian firms to play by the rules if that can cut their costs."
WHAT ARE THE ARGUMENTS AGAINST USING TEMPORARY FOREIGN WORKERS?
Some wonder if these workers are really necessary. Aren't they taking up jobs that Canadians can do?
"You can argue, if you are, say, a member of a labour union, that the guy who needs cherry-pickers from Mexico, if he paid a higher wage then Canadians would be willing to pick cherries," said Hart.
"Necessity is an interesting moral question. Economically, at the price that you have to pay in order to sell your cherries, you can't afford to pay $20 an hour."
"Particularly in cases where these are not temporary labour shortages – these are permanent labour shortages – why are we using a temporary foreign worker program to address what is in fact a permanent or chronic labour shortage?" said Aiken.
"It's more equitable if the workers are brought in with the view of becoming permanent residents."
WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT?
The Alberta Federation of Labour is starting an inquiry into how 4,000 companies in that province received permission to hire temporary foreign workers. That's in addition to the HRSDC probe.
Changes will probably come to the temporary foreign workers program, but it won't go away.
Vancouver Sun, Wednesday, Apr 10 2013
Byline: Karl Kofmel, Postmedia News
April 2013: Join us at the AFL's 9th Biennial Convention, Unions Stand up for Majority of Albertans, STRIKE! The Musical, Solidarity with Post-Secondary Education
Unions Stand Up for Majority of Albertans
In the lead up to Alberta’s 2013 budget, Alberta’s public sector unions worked together to advance the interests of the majority of Albertans.
The Alberta Federation of Labour, Canadian Union of Public Employees, Alberta Teachers’ Association, Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, United Nurses of Alberta and the Health Sciences Association of Alberta presented a united front against austerity policies and draconian cuts.
Polling, conducted by Environics in advance of the provincial budget showed that more than 70 per cent of Albertans reject public service cuts. More than three quarters of those polled agreed that there should be an increase on taxes for wealthy Albertans and for corporations. The majority of Albertans believe that the province should be investing more in health care, education and other services.
“Albertans aren’t as conservative as Alison Redford seems to believe,” AFL president Gil McGowan said. “She needs to listen better. Not to the radical tea party Tories, but to the majority of Albertans who are quietly progressive, and who want this province to be healthy and prosperous.”
STRIKE! The Musical
The Alberta Federation of Labour is proud to be bringing STRIKE! The Musical to Edmonton for its Alberta premiere.
This award-winning theatrical production, which tells the story of the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike, will be at the Timms Centre for the Performing Arts April 24 – April 28.
“When I saw Strike! three years ago in Winnipeg, I knew we needed to bring it to Alberta,” AFL president Gil McGowan said. “The 100th anniversary of the AFL was the perfect opportunity to organize this production. It’s an important story about the history of Canadian labour, and it’s one that inspires pride in the activism and work that our member unions do.”
For more information or to order tickets, please visit www.strikemusical.com
Solidarity with Post-Secondary Education
More than 500 students, workers, educators and activists marched on the legislature on March 15.
The rally, which was organized by the Coalition for Action on Post-Secondary Education, was protesting the massive cuts the Alberta Government imposed on universities and colleges throughout the province. The University of Alberta faces a 7.2 per cent cut.
Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan spoke at the rally, noting that the province’s economy depends on having a quality education system.
Join us at the AFL’s 9th Biennial Convention
More than 500 labour activists, leaders and delegates will gather at the Shaw Conference Centre in downtown Edmonton from April 25 – 28 for the Alberta Federation of Labour’s 9th Biennial Convention.
The convention, which has the theme “Unions Stand on Guard for Thee,” will examine how the labour movement has helped create, and protect the prosperous, inclusive society of which Canadians are rightfully proud.
Coming from all corners of Alberta, delegates will celebrate the achievements of unions, hear from dozens of speakers, and help chart the direction of our further growth.
Registration starts Wednesday, April 24 and continues on Thursday, April 25.
2013 AFL Convention runs Thursday, April 25, 2013 - Sunday, April 28, 2013.
Convention Committees meet Wednesday, April 24.
AFL Council meets Tuesday, April 23.
Convention venue is the Shaw Conference Centre
Convention hotel is the Crowne Plaza Chateau Lacombe
Location: Shaw Conference Centre, Edmonton
Contact: Maureen Werlin at email@example.com or 780-483-3021
April 28 – International Day of Mourning for Dead and Injured Workers
May 1 – May Day March
May 3 – Deadline to register for Summer Labour School
June 14 - Deadline to register AFL Kids Camp
Did you know ...
After production and development costs are factored in, Alberta only collects 54 per cent of the the excess profit from heavy oil production. By comparison, Norway collects 80 per cent, Russia collects 73 per cent and Angola collects 71 per cent.
- Once ravaged by debt and war, higher oil royalties have helped Angola turn a budget deficit of 8.6 per cent of GDP in 2009 into a surplus of 12 per cent of GDP in 2012.
- Alberta has the highest pay gap in Canada. Alberta women working full year and full time earn a median 68 per cent of what men earn. The pay gap is reduced for women in unions – to about 85 per cent of what men earn.
- According to Environics polling conducted in February, 77 per cent of Albertans support increased taxes on corporations and those making more than $200,000.
November 2012: Help us defeat Bill C-377, TFW program under the microscope, AFL and UFCW lead the charge for food safety
Temporary Foreign Worker program under the microscopeThe Alberta Federation of Labour will be paying close attention to the Federal review of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program that was announced on November 8, 2012.
The program will be reviewed due to criticism over the approval of a deceitful application that allowed a northeast B.C. coal project to hire 200 Chinese nationals for jobs that could have been filled locally. The AFL has concerns that the review will be used as a smokescreen to hide deeper problems, and called for meaningful participation from labour activists and from the public at large.
If they want to find the source of the problems with the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, the Harper Conservatives just need to look in the mirror," AFL president Gil McGowan said. "They created this monster by removing any checks and balances from the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, and by rubberstamping every application."
For more information see Nov 9 AFL release and backgrounder.
AFL and UFCW lead the charge for food safety
- The Alberta Federation of Labour and United Food and Commercial Workers are calling on Premier Alison Redford to stand up for the province's beef industry by conducting an independent public inquiry.
In a public letter sent to the Premier on Thursday, October 18, AFL president Gil McGowan and UFCW Local 401 president Doug O'Halloran explained the reasons a public inquiry into the causes of the E.Coli outbreak at the Lakeside plant in Brooks would be in the best interest of consumers, the cattle industry and of Albertans.
Read the whole story: Oct 18 AFL Release
Help us defeat Bill C-377
- The Alberta Federation of Labour is calling on all of our affiliates and members to help quash the anti-union Bill C-377.
This private-members bill is not about transparency; it is an effort on the part of the Harper Government to undermine the ability of unions to act as an effective voice for working people. The bill is designed to increase costs to unions and divert resources from collective bargaining and servicing towards accounting and bureaucracy.
"This is a political bill. In the same way that they have cut funding to environmental groups and women's groups, they are trying to weaken and muzzle a strong progressive voice," Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said. "We have an obligation to act together to protect the labour movement, and in doing so, protect broader civil society."
To join the fight, contact your Member of Parliament: CLICK HERE
Download the AFL Submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance on Bill C-377: CLICK HERE
November 23-25: Parkland Institute's 16th Annual Fall Conference: Petro, Power and Politics
November 24: International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women
December 4: AFL Open House
December 7: Deadline to register for 2013 AFL/CLC Winter School
Did you know ...
- In 2010, 74 per cent of employers with workers under the TFW Program were found to be in violation of the Alberta Labour Code.
- There are currently more than 60,000 Temporary Foreign Workers in Alberta, giving the province the biggest TFW population in Canada as a proportion of the labour force.
- More than 50,000 additional TFW applications from Alberta employers were approved in 2011.
- Between 2002 and 2008, the number of TFWs present in Canada rose by 148 per cent, from 101,259 to 251,235.
August 2012: Two-tier minimum wage; AFL 100 years Labour Day; AB govt no longer reports farm fatalities; Harper's low-wage agenda; Bogus labour-shortage figures; Billions lost in royaliti...
Two-Tier Minimum Wage
- lberta's poorly written two-tier minimum wage system is open to abuse by employers who are taking advantage of these laws to rip off the lowest-paid workers in Alberta. West End Swiss Chalet is one example. For more information see Aug 31 AFL release and backgrounder
AFL's 100 Years
- sure to have a look at our insert in the Edmonton Journal on Friday, August 31, 2012 – a special Labour Day message from Gil McGowan and a 10 page special on the past and present struggles of workers in Alberta.
Government trying to erase agricultural workers by no longer reporting farm fatalities
- The Alberta government's decision to stop reporting farm fatalities is an attempt to move the issue to the back burner and off the public radar. Farm workers are already left unprotected under health and safety regulations. For more information see Aug 20 AFL release.
Government documents reveal source of Harper's low-wage agenda
- nternal federal government documents show the source of Harper's low-wage agenda. Last year, a select group of CEOs and other business leaders were invited by the federal Conservatives to an annual closed-doors conference where they urged the Tories to adopt measures to reduce the pay of Canadian workers, limit union power by enacting U.S.-style right-to-work legislation, and allow two-tier health care. For more information...
AFL shows government using bogus labour-shortage figures
- The government is using bizarre calculations to show a catastrophic "labour shortage" even though their own figures show a labour surplus for every year until 2021. The AFL revealed that the government's own figures show the supply of labour exceeding the demand for labour – a labour surplus – well into the future. For more information see July 25 AFL release and backgrounder
New Study shows billions in lost royalty revenue after Northern Gateway
- he Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) and Parkland Institute released a study showing Albertans will let billions slip through their fingers if the Northern Gateway Pipeline is approved and constructed. If Alberta met royalty targets in place when Lougheed was Premier, the province would have $1 trillion in the Heritage Fund by 2039. For more information... see Aug 9 AFL release and backgrounder
Statement from Gil McGowan on the proposed takeover of Nexen by the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC)
- Does it matter who owns the oil sands? You bet it does!" explains AFL president Gil McGowan. "If foreign governments are allowed to expand in Alberta through companies like China National, they'll develop the oil sands in their own best interest, not in the best interest of Canadians." For more information...July 24 AFL release
UFCW 1118 workers on strike for fair wages and working conditions
- FCW 1118 sisters and brothers at Lilydale Foods' North Edmonton shop are on strike for wages comparable to those in other Lilydale plants. The employer refuses to pay wages on par with other Lilydale plants despite the fact that these workers work harder by handling larger and heavier poultry. The employer has cut the number of workers on the floor, meaning those left on the floor have to work harder while their wages have remained the same. Workers are also asking for a guaranteed minimum number of hours per week. There are about 200 workers on strike in shifts of about 75. Support these workers on the picket line at 127 Avenue and 76 Street in Edmonton. Pickets will be going in shifts between Monday and Friday, 6:00 AM and 6:30 PM.
September2:Calgary Pride Parade
September 3: EDLC Labour Day BBQ
September 3: Labour Day
September 5: Official Opening Historical Display, Alberta Provincial Museum
September 7: AFL Education Committee
September 8: World Literacy Day
September 10: AFL Women's Committee
September 11: AFL WOCAW Committee
October 1: AFL Pride and Solidarity Committee
October 2-3: AFL Executive Council
October 8: Thanksgiving
October 14-17: CEP National Convention
October 17: National Day for the Eradication of Poverty
October 18: Persons Day
November 23-25: Parkland Fall Conference
January 14-19, 2013: AFL Weeklong School
June 2012: Party of the Century; Harper attacks workers' wages; AB government low-wage agenda; oil-sands debate
Thousands of union supporters to gather for Centennial celebration
- More than 3,000 supporters of the labour movement will converge on Fort Edmonton Park tomorrow (Saturday, June 16) to celebrate 100 years of union victories in Alberta. "Much of what makes this province a great place to work, to live and to raise our families has been brought to us by union members," says Gil McGowan, president of the AFL, which celebrates its centennial this year. For more about the day, click here. Click here to see the lineup of events.
Harper government launches attacks on workers' wages
- A number of federal government initiatives revealed the Harper government has embarked on a campaign to drive down wages in Canada. These include new rules that would make it easier for employers to hire temporary foreign workers and to pay them 15 per cent less than the prevailing wage rate in the area. For more information ... The federal Tories will also change Employment Insurance rules to force Canadians to accept low-wage jobs - for more information ...
Alberta government's low-wage agenda continues
- The federal Tory government is not alone in its low-wage policies. Despite announcing a raise in the province's minimum wage, the Alberta government kept its rate as the second lowest in Canada, despite the wealth in the province and the high cost of living here. To make matters worse, in a blatant case of spin-doctoring, the Alberta Tories tried to make the small raise look better than it really was. For more information ...
AFL president praises Mulcair for igniting oil-sands debate
- While right-wing media went into attack mode against federal NDP Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair after he talked about the dangers posed to the Canadian economy by an overheated oil-sands industry, the AFL came to his defence. AFL president Gil McGowan said Mulcair should be thanked for igniting a long-overdue debate about the appropriate pace of development in the oil sands. "The oil sands are crucially important to the economy. That's why we can't afford to get it wrong. And we are getting it wrong," says McGowan. The wild-west pace of development in the oil sands is driving up the Canadian dollar, creating a labour shortage, driving up costs for business, and creating an unbalanced economy. Government failure to capture appropriate royalties makes the situation worse. For more information ...
$5 tickets for Party of the Century still available!- After 100 years of fighting for workers' rights, tomorrow (Saturday, June 16) we party, party, party! Thanks to generosity of our affiliated unions and the City of Edmonton, there are still some tickets available at the greatly reduced price of only $5. That's right – only $5 per person for a while day of fun at Fort Edmonton Park, from the parade in the morning, musical performances by award-winning singers and musicians throughout the day, kids' games, crafts and the AFL's undelegated convention. Tickets are available at the park. Free shuttle buses are also available.
June 21: National Aboriginal Day
July 1: Canada Day
July 2: International Day of Co-operatives
July 10: World Population Day
July 18: Nelson Mandela International Day
August 6-10: AFL Kids' Camp
August 6: Civic Day
August 8: International Day of the World's Indigenous People
August 11: International Youth Day
Did you know ...
Top 10 Ways a Wild West pace of oil-sands development hurts Alberta workers, families and the economy.
- The Three Stooges problem: When everybody rushes to get through a door at the same time, they all get stuck. That's what's happening with the oil sands.
- Cost escalation: A recent report showed oil-sands construction projects went over budget by an average of 100 per cent, but most of that increase was not due to rising wages, but to the rising cost of steel and productivity losses.
- Temporary foreign workers: New rules allowing employers to pay TFWs 15 per cent less than the prevailing wage in the area will drive down wages for all workers. Relying too heavily on TFWs will mean we are squandering the opportunity to train a whole generation of skilled Canadian tradespeople.
- Remaking labour relations: Non-union employers are exploiting the oil-sands situation to push for changes to rules governing labour that include repealing the Fair Wages Act, changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker program, changes to Employment Insurance and using back-to-work legislation to undermine collective bargaining.
- Shipping good jobs down the pipeline: We upgrade only 60 per cent of our raw bitumen in Alberta, but that level is set to fall to less than 50 per cent in the next few years. This means that the good, value-added upgrading jobs are being shipped down the pipeline to other jurisdictions, instead of being kept here.
- Manufacturing jobs take yet another beating: Cost escalation means more manufacturing for the oil sands will be "off-shored," meaning more good jobs lost in Alberta. Imperial Oil has already tried it at its Kearl Lake project and several big construction firms have already been approached by manufacturing outfits in Mexico.
- Albertans are being fleeced on royalties: Royalties are paid after energy companies pay their costs. So if costs are going up, it means that royalties will go down.
- The Wild Wes stampede to the oil sands hurts other sectors of the economy: The high Canadian dollar hurts Alberta manufacturers, as well as those in Ontario and Quebec. According to Alberta Finance's Monthly Economic Review, we lost 18,000 jobs in the manufacturing sector in the last year.
- We are an international embarrassment: If we allow the Wild West pace of development to continue, we will continue to be an international laughingstock on our environmental commitments. The only way to get serious about climate change, environmental monitoring, and enforcement is to appropriately pace development.
- We are failing the rest of the country: There are only three ways ordinary Canadians get their share of our collectively owned resource wealth jobs, wages and royalties. But as a result of the current model for development, increasing numbers of the short-term jobs are going to guest workers and more and more of the long-term jobs are going down the pipeline. Wages are being suppressed and royalties are being given away – all because the government doesn't want to take a leadership role in managing the pace of development.
February 21 2012: Beyond Acute Care Conference; Better Way Alberta; Budget 2012; farm workers; HSAA information pickets
Last chance to see Ralph Nader and Maude Barlow at Beyond Acute Care Conference
- You have only until tomorrow afternoon (Wednesday, Feb. 22) to register for the Beyond Acute Care: Covering Seniors and the Disabled with the Medicare Umbrella. This is an important event affecting all Albertans, bringing in experts from around the world and across Canada, including world-renowned consumer advocate Ralph Nader and Maude Barlow, of the Council of Canadians. For information on the conference and to register, click here; want to find out what the conference is all about? Watch this great animated video here.
For information about the speakers at the Beyond Acute Care conference, click here ...
Great video ad shows there is a Better Way for Alberta
- It just doesn't add up! Alberta is one of the wealthiest jurisdictions on Earth, but can't seem to find enough money to adequately fund the public services that Albertans want, including health care and education. The reason? Our tax and royalty system is broken and wealthy individuals and corporations aren't paying their fair share. But there is a Better Way. Watch the great video ad for Better Way Alberta. Here the cheeky radio ads, follow the campaign on Twitter and like the Facebook page at www.BetterWayAlberta.ca. For more information ...
Tax and royalty giveaways continue in Alberta's Budget 2012
- The first budget from Conservative Premier Alison Redford showed that little has changed in the government's attitude to the oil industry and wealthy corporations. There was no sign of an end to billions of dollars in tax and royalty giveaways and no honest conversation with Albertans on how to fix the province's broken revenue system. For more information ...
Alberta government must act now to prevent farm-worker tragedy
- A transportation tragedy on the scale that killed 11 farm workers in Ontario in early February is looming in Alberta unless the government acts now to prevent it, says the AFL. It called on the Conservatives to close the legal loopholes that allow farm workers to be transported in the back of open trucks and in other dangerous vehicles now - not to wait until there's a tragic accident in this province. For more information ...
Join HSAA members on information pickets - HSAA will be holding information pickets tomorrow (Wednesday, Feb. 22)from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Bargaining with AHS broke down after 10 months when they finally tabled a monetary package that included an "offer" of 0, 0 and Cost of Living and failed to address the issues brought forward by the HSAA membership. Please show you support by joining them at the following locations:
- Edmonton: University of Alberta Hospital - 112th Street entrance
- Edmonton: Royal Alexandra Hospital - Kingsway Avenue
- Edmonton: Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital - 111th Avenue
- Calgary: Foothills Medical Centre - Main Entrance on 29th St. NW
- Calgary: Peter Lougheed Centre - 36th St. NE
- Red Deer: Red Deer Regional Hospital - 50A Ave
- Medicine Hat: Medicine Hat Regional Hospital - 5 St. SW
- Fort McMurray: Northern Lights Regional Health Centre - Hospital Street
- Grand Prairie: Queen Elizabeth II Hospital - 105 Ave
HSAA President Elisabeth Ballermann will be addressing the media from the University of Alberta Hospital picket.
For further information, visit http://www.hsaa.ca/home
- Attend the Calgary launch of Kevin Taft's Follow the Money - Ever wonder why Alberta's so rich, but our schools and hospitals seem to be so poor? MLA Kevin Taft has the answer in his new book, Follow the Money, and accompanying video documentary by award-winning producer Tom Radford. Join us for the Calgary launch of Follow the Money at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 23, at Memorial Park Library, 1221 2 Street S.W., Calgary. For details ... To view a clip from the documentary, click here ... For more information on the book ...
- February 24-25: Beyond Acute Care conference with Ralph Nader and Maude Barlow
- February 24-26: EDLC Annual Labour School
- March 8: International Women's Day
- March 21: International Day for Elimination of Racial Discrimination
- March 21-23: CUPE Alberta 62nd Annual Convention
- March 22: World Water Day
- April 3: International Day for Mine Awareness
- April 6: World Health Day
- April 21: Earth Day
- April 27: International Day of Mourning for workers who have been killed, suffer disease or injury as a result of work.