Campaign aims to stop a race-to-the-bottom in terms of wages, bargaining power and workplace rights
EDMONTON - The Alberta Federation of Labour has launched a campaign aimed at rallying public opposition to a bill from the Kenney government, expected to be introduced next week, which they say will dramatically reduce the bargaining power and legal protections currently enjoyed by working Albertans and, in the process, set off a race-to-the-bottom, in terms of wages and workplace rights.
“Did Albertans vote to have their wages reduced or to have their workplace rights and protections curtailed?” asks AFL president, Gil McGowan.
“Did they vote to import US-style anti-worker laws to Canada – the kind of laws that have tipped the scales of power grossly in favour of big corporations, while putting the American middle class on life support? Of course, they didn’t. But that’s exactly what they’re going to get next week when the Premier Jason Kenney and his Labour Minister table their long-anticipated bill attacking worker rights.”
McGowan says the AFL’s “Defend Worker Rights” campaign is designed to do three things. First, it explains what the UCP’s looming labour bill is really about (as opposed to what the Premier will say it’s about). Second, it points out whose side the Premier and the UCP are really on (if you’re a working person, it’s not yours). And, third, it encourages working Albertans to push back, before it’s too late.
To help Albertans understand what’s at stake, the AFL has created a webpage entitled “Why should Albertans care about the UCP’s attack on worker rights?”
They have also produced a campaign action page along with a number of shareable videos, including a video explaining the importance of worker bargaining power; a video explaining that the UCP is just trying to silence their critics; a video pointing out the UCP is only putting restrictions on unions, not corporations; and a video arguing that the UCP is trying to make Alberta a beachhead for US-style anti-worker laws that would Americanize the Canadian labour market at the expense of Alberta workers and which would fly in the face of Canadian norms.
“Earlier this week, despite all the evidence to the contrary, the UCP doubled-down on their argument that corporate tax cuts are a silver bullet that will resuscitate our provincial economy,” says McGowan. “Next week, they will pair this absurd argument about trickle-down economics with the equally absurd argument that weakening worker bargaining power and suppressing wages is also good for the economy.”
“If the COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated anything, it’s that ordinary working people are the real engines of our economy,” concluded McGowan. “It’s their work that drives production and their spending that drives consumption. Any plan that ignores this basic fact, and instead focuses on coddling corporations while crushing workers, will weaken our provincial economy, not strengthen it. That’s why we need to push back against the UCP ill-conceived and dangerous attacks on worker rights. For the sake of our standard of living; our economy; and even our democracy, we simply can’t allow these bad seeds to take root here in Alberta.”
Director of Communications, AFL