"We have discovered that Jonathan Denis, MLA for Calgary Egmont and Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs, is a founding member and director of the Institute for Public Sector Accountability," says Gil McGowan, President of the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL), which represents 140,000 workers.
"The head of this institute last week called for all levels of government in Alberta to re-examine the collective-bargaining process - following the example of several anti-union state governors in the U.S. It is simply unacceptable, un-constructive and unnecessarily provocative for a cabinet minister to be associated with an organization like this - especially when the government is currently at the bargaining table with tens of thousands of its employees."
" Right-wing governments in several states - including Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida, Indiana and Ohio - have declared war on teachers, nurses and other public sector workers who provide valuable services and form the backbone of the American middle class," adds McGowan. "Alberta must not head down this destructive path. These attacks have proved to be immensely unpopular with Americans and have led to mass protests. These polices would be equally unpopular with Albertans."
The AFL has also discovered that the billionaire Koch brothers, who have spent tens of millions of dollars on lobbying and on funding the Tea Party and other extreme right-wing organizations south of the border, have made a move to influence Alberta politics.
"According to documents recently released from the provincial lobbyist registry, Koch Companies, of Wichita, Kansas, has hired a professional lobbyist in Edmonton to push the government on taxation, economic development, and energy and resource issues. The Koch brothers are the drivers behind the attacks on working Americans. We're concerned that they're going to start peddling the same kind of divisive and destructive polices here," says McGowan.
"In light of the minister's connection to a Tea-Party style right-wing think tank and the move by the Koch brothers to influence Alberta politics, we're asking Premier Stelmach to confirm that his government respects public-sector workers, will honour the collective-bargaining process and will not take any actions to remove workers' rights," says McGowan.
"Governments and workers have a long history of successfully collaborating to provide the great services that Albertans value. We need to hear that the Premier and his government are committed to continuing this relationship."
Contact: Gil McGowan, President, Alberta Federation of Labour @ 780-218-9888 (cell)