October 2013: Parkland Institute Annual Conference; Superstore Workers Win Vastly Improved Offer After Three-Day Strike; Help Defend Alberta Pensions; AFL Makes Final Argument in Favour o...
Parkland Institute Annual Conference
The Parkland Institute is putting Facts, Fictions, and the Politics of Truth under the microscope at their 17th Annual Conference, Nov. 22-24 at the University of Alberta.
The conference will examine how governments have been increasingly limiting the ability of scientists to speak about their research, and how important research has been defunded.
Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Chris Hedges will be presenting a keynote speech on his latest book Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt. Other speakers will include Arno Kepecky, Katie Gibbs, and internationally syndicated columnist Michael Geist.
For more information, please visit the convention page at http://parklandinstitute.ca/fallconf2013
Superstore Workers Win Vastly Improved Offer After Three-Day Strike
UFCW 401 celebrated a victory in the fight for fair wages after signing a new contract with Loblaws.
More than 8,500 workers returned to work after a three-day strike was resolved with a new collective agreement.
“The new contract is one that the employees can be proud of, and now includes none of the most troubling concessions that were there when they went on strike,” UFCW president Douglas O’Halloran said.
The improvements in the newly ratified deal include wage increases in every year of the Collective Agreement, along with retroactive pay, as well as money for a brand new sick pay plan for part-time workers and significant improvements to the full-time benefits.
“We’re proud of our brothers and sisters at UFCW who stood up to unreasonable employer demands, and won a major victory,” Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said. “Many AFL members from a broad cross section of the labour movement are glad to have stood in solidarity with UFCW. The number of our members – and the number of Albertans – who refused to cross the picket line was inspiring.”
Help Defend Alberta Pensions
On Sept. 16, most Alberta public sector unions received word from the Redford Government that it intends to implement major change to public sector pension plans, including the Local Authorities Pension Plan (LAPP), which includes many of our members.
For now, affected unions are working together to change the government’s mind. The coalition includes the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, Alberta Colleges and Institutes Faculties Association, Canadian Union of Public Employees, Health Sciences Association of Alberta, United Nurses of Alberta and the Alberta Federation of Labour.
Hardworking Alberta workers deserve a decent, predictable and secure retirement income after years of working and contributing to their pension plan. This real retirement security is best and most efficiently provided by a jointly governed defined benefit pension plan. For public-sector workers, the Local Authorities Pension Plan has worked for 50 years and it can continue working into the future without drastic changes so long as workers and employers are given the ability to manage the plan.
The Alberta Federation of Labour urges you to let the government know that you oppose the undermining of Alberta’s public-sector pension plans. Visit the website www.defendalbertapensions.ca to send a letter to Finance Minister Doug Horner.
AFL Makes Final Argument in Favour of Enbridge Line 9 Pipeline
The Alberta Federation of Labour president submitted final arguments to the National Energy Board in favour of the Enbridge Line 9 Project today.
AFL president Gil McGowan said he supports Line 9 because it keeps value-added jobs in Canada, and is good for the people of Alberta and the people of Quebec. Line 9 will expand and reverse the flow of Line 9 and 9B, connecting the Synthetic Crude Oil coming from Alberta's upgraders to refineries in Quebec.
"Line 9 connects Alberta's upgraders, and all the good-paying jobs that go with them, to refineries in Quebec, where thousands of good jobs are also at stake. It provides a market for synthetic crude, and keeps value-added jobs in both our provinces," McGowan said. "Line 9 allows Quebec refineries to stop importing higher-cost crude from Angola, Nigeria, and Algeria, and instead allows them to buy Alberta's upgraded products, which enhances Canadian energy security."
The AFL is a frequent intervener in National Energy Board pipeline proceedings. The Federation has intervened against Keystone, Keystone XL, Southern Lights, Alberta Clipper, and Northern Gateway, on the grounds that these pipelines ship raw bitumen, and therefore value-added jobs, down the pipeline to the United States or China. This is the first time the Federation has intervened in favour of a pipeline project at the National Energy Board.
Download the AFL press release issued Oct 3:“AFL Makes Final Argument in Favour of Enbridge Line 9 Pipeline”: http://www.afl.org/index.php/Press-Release/afl-makes-final-argument-in-favour-of-enbridge-line-9-pipeline.html
Did you know…
- The average LAPP pension is just under $14,958 per year – and only after years of work and pension contributions.
- The LAPP Pension Fund fluctuates in value because of the stock market. It is currently on track to be in surplus within 10 years.
- Almost one in every 10 Albertans has a stake in either the LAPP or the PSPP.
November 1: Alberta NDP Convention in Lethbridge
November 22-24: Parkland Institute Conference in Edmonton
December 10: AFL Open House…in the new Office!
Time: 3:00 PM, Monday, September 16
Place: United Nurses of Alberta
11150 Jasper Avenue, Edmonton (Suite 700 – 7th Floor)
Participants: Elisabeth Ballermann, President, Health Sciences Association of Alberta
Gil McGowan, President, Alberta Federation of Labour
Guy Smith, President, Alberta Union of Provincial Employees
Heather 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
File: G:\Communications\NEWS\AFL\2013\Media Advisory-Union Leaders Respond to Pension Announcement_2013 Sept 16.docx
Leaders of five Alberta public employees' unions and the Alberta Federation of Labour are concerned and disappointed by the sweeping changes to public service pension plans proposed this morning by Finance Minister Doug Horner.
If the changes introduced today are implemented, as Horner indicated he is determined to do, the bottom line is that Alberta public employees will have diminished pensions.
Members of Alberta's public service pension plans would have to work longer to retire, and when they retire their benefits will be reduced.
In addition, their retirement incomes will more rapidly fall behind inflation.
The minister himself has conceded, and pension plan actuaries have confirmed, that the pension plans are currently sustainable. There is no need for major cuts to benefits.
Public service union leaders were encouraged that the minister was willing to discuss shared governance of the plan, but believe that any pension benefit changes should be left to the employee and employer representatives to negotiate after shared governance is put in place.
Despite their unhappiness, the leaders of the Alberta Colleges and Institutes Faculties Association, Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, Canadian Union of Public Employees, Health Sciences Association of Alberta, United Nurses of Alberta and AFL are committed to continued discussions with the government and employers.
Olav Rokne, Communications Director, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780.289.6528 (cell) or via e-mail email@example.com
Edmonton – Expressing their grave concern about the still-unknown contents of the Alberta government’s pension policy announcement tomorrow, the presidents of Alberta’s four largest public service unions and the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) said today that their members’ retirement savings plans are sustainable, affordable, modest and fair.
There is a crisis in retirement savings for middle class Canadians, “but it is not the crisis that has been cooked up by right-wing lobby groups,” said the joint statement by Health Sciences Association of Alberta president Elisabeth Ballermann, Alberta Union of Provincial Employees president Guy Smith, United Nurses of Alberta president Heather Smith and Canadian Union of Public Employees Alberta president Marle Roberts.
“The real crisis is the retirement security disaster faced by tens of thousands, possibly millions, of middle-class taxpayers in Alberta and throughout Canada who don’t have workplace pensions,” said their statement (see attached), read by AFL president Gil McGowan in front of Government House, where Alberta Finance Minister Doug Horner will make his pension announcement tomorrow.
“The solution to the real retirement crisis is staring us in the face,” the four union leaders said. “It is not to attack the retirement savings of working Canadians or to raise the age at which they can retire, but to provide a fair publicly administered pension plan for all.”
The joint statement on pensions emphasized the sustainability of all of Alberta’s current public service pension plans. “As we speak, thanks to the contributions made by plan members, these plans are returning to full funding, where they stood in the 1990s.”
The contributions made by members and employers represent savings from members’ pay, the leaders noted, adding that payouts to members tend to be very modest – the average yearly pension paid to members of the PSPP is currently $12,414 and the average pension paid to members of the LAPP is $14,958.
“These modest retirement incomes constitute the life savings of plan members,” the statement said. “They are a huge benefit to the Alberta economy because most of the retirement income of middle class Albertans is spent right here in our own Alberta communities.”
The leaders expressed their concern that, pushed by aggressive lobbying by right-wing groups, there is a risk the pensions of approximately 300,000 of their members and former members may become a political football for a government that feels the need to re-establish its conservative image to confront the Wildrose Party Opposition.
None of the stakeholder groups representing plan members – who are technically supposed to be equal partners in the plan – have been informed of what Horner intends to announce tomorrow to the public, media and plan participants.
Horner’s stakeholder meeting is scheduled to take place from 9 a.m. to noon, Monday, September 16 at Government House.
Olav Rokne, Communications Director, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780.289.6528 (cell)
or via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org