In a letter sent today to James D. Packer, Executive Chairman of PBL Publishing & Broadcasting Ltd. - the Australian publishing, broadcasting and gambling giant - the Alberta Federation of Labour has asked the Australian billionaire to resolve the seven month old labour dispute at the Palace Casino in Edmonton.
"I have simply asked Mr. Packer to look at this dispute in a cool, dispassionate business way," says AFL President Gil McGowan. "His company has just acquired the Palace Casino along with the other assets of the Gateway Casinos Income Fund, and we are hoping that a fresh approach by the new ownership can break this deadlock."
In the letter, McGowan pointed out just how badly the strike has affected the financial picture at the Palace Casino. "I informed Mr. Packer about the massive $3.5 million drop in revenue from Palace in the fourth quarter - which coincides with the beginning of the strike," notes McGowan. "Operating earnings during the period fell from $2.167 million to a loss of $.582 million - a drop of 126.9%."
"What should be a flagship of his new Canadian holdings is actually a drag on profits because of the strike," says McGowan. "I suggested to Mr. Packer that he could restore good will in Edmonton and make the Palace Casino profitable by encouraging management to reach a fair and equitable settlement with the striking members of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 401."
"I believe that any businessperson as successful Mr. Packer will not let this situation continue to impact his operations," concludes McGowan.
For more information contact:
Gil McGowan, President Bus: (780) 483-3021 Cell: (780) 218-9888
Striking workers at Palace Casino in West Edmonton Mall have won a major victory in arbitration, one that imposes a stinging penalty for flagrant employer misconduct. In an award issued yesterday regarding a grievance filed before the strike began, an arbitrator has awarded monetary damages to UFCW Local 401, and to the individual members at Palace Casino.
The ruling found that an employer ban on the wearing of union pins was discriminatory, and a deprivation of employee rights to freedom of expression and the union's ability to represent its members. The arbitrator therefore awarded $10,000 to the union, $500 to each employee, and a further $1,000 to employees who were confronted in the workplace and ordered to remove their union pins.
The grievance stems from UFCW's campaign to become certified as the union representing workers at Palace Casino, after the employer withdrew an existing voluntary recognition of the union. The fact that a collective agreement was already in place, however, meant that employee rights were already protected by a contract. After hearing argument from both sides, the arbitrator ruled that:
"I find that the company's breach was committed intentionally to prevent employees from exhibiting support for UFCW. I believe that this was done in the hope that it would discourage Union membership and increase the likelihood that the Union's certification bid would fail."
Doug O'Halloran, president of UFCW 401 said: the award provides a big boost to the morale of the striking workers. "We've won an important victory with this grievance, and by sticking together we can win an even bigger one in this strike."
AFL President Gil McGowan agrees. "This ruling shows that employers can't get away with trampling over the Charter rights of their employees, at least not when there's a union in the workplace to defend those rights."
For more information contact:
Gil McGowan Cell: (780) 218-9888
Against the objections of their union, the Alberta Labour Relation Board (LRB) has ruled that striking Palace Casino workers in Edmonton must vote on an employer offer that the union categorized as "illegal, contrary to the scheme of the Code, a product of a failure to bargain in good faith , and incapable of forming a collective agreement."
"This decision once again illustrates why the labour movement has become increasingly frustrated and unhappy with the Alberta Labour Relations Board," says Alberta Federation of Labour President Gil McGowan. "We don't object to free votes on fair offers - but we oppose forced votes on unfair offers. We recognize that such forced votes are unfortunately allowed by the Code, but the Board should have been more attentive to union objections and the impact on striking workers."
"Palace Casino has forced its workers on strike because they refuse to recognize the value of their own workers in Alberta's booming economy," observes McGowan. "After four months on the picket line through bitter weather, it has become clear that the company could not break the spirit of the union members. That's why the company is forcing this vote now."
The problem with this employer tactic, according to McGowan is that it short-circuits the bargaining process. "Rather than negotiate a fair deal with the bargaining team, the employer is trying to go behind their backs and bully workers into an inferior deal," notes McGowan. "When that offer includes things that were deemed improper by the Board, it should not be forced on union members."
The union has also complained that the Board excised the important �back-to-work protocol' from the agreement rather than fixing it. This back-to-work agreement is not only typical of collective agreements after strikes - they are essential to protect union activists from employer reprisals.
The fact that the forced offer includes a signing bonus is another indication of double-dealing, according to McGowan. "Signing bonuses are a cheap attempt to convince workers to act against their own best interests," says McGowan. "If the offer isn't good enough on its own merit, simply waving cash under the noses of people who have been on strike for four months is both underhanded and demeaning.
"The Labour Relations Board shouldn't need to be reminded that it is here to safeguard workers' rights and help create good labour relations. Their mandate doesn't include helping employers sell bad agreements," concludes McGowan.
For more information contact: Gil McGowan Bus: (780) 483-3021 Cell: (780) 218-9888
The labour movement has escalated its efforts to resolve the Palace Casino strike by sending letters to 300 charities who are scheduled to volunteer for casinos at Palace in the coming months. The letter, sent on October 13 from Alberta Federation of Labour President Gil McGowan, asks charities to contact the Minister of Gaming and the casino owners to urge them to settle the dispute quickly. It also asks them to consider canceling their scheduled casino if the strike continues.
"The intransigence of Palace Casino and the government's willful neglect of this issue have put charities in a difficult spot," notes McGowan. "Either they make their volunteers cross a picket line, or they forfeit their coveted casino spot. It is not a great situation. It is in everyone's interest to end this strike quickly."
"Our letter is to acknowledge the difficult spot they are in, and ask them to be a part of resolving the conflict as quickly as possible," says McGowan. "We are asking them to put pressure on the casino owners to come back to the negotiating table. We are also asking them to demand that the government take a more active role in resolving this conflict."
"We want to start a conversation with the charities about why the workers are on strike, and why it is important they respect the picket line."
The letter also outlines options available to charities if they choose to not cross the picket line. It indicates that if they cancel ahead of time, the government will attempt to reschedule the casino as soon as possible. However, if they fail to produce the required number of volunteers at the time of their casino, they risk forfeiting their spot in the rotation.
"The government could assist the charities by guaranteeing that any charity that chooses to cancel their casino due to the strike would be guaranteed a replacement once the dispute is resolved. So far they refuse to do that, which makes them part of the problem," McGowan observes.
McGowan notes that business at the casino is down substantially. "The strike is having a serious effect on the casino's business. They are losing tens of thousands of dollars a day due to lost customers. It is in Palace's financial interest to agree to a fair deal and end this strike. Why they don't is beyond comprehension."
McGowan is hopeful the charities will appreciate the information in the letter and will contact the union to discuss how the workers and the charities can work together to end the strike. "These charities do important work for the community. They are decent people. Hopefully the combined efforts of the workers and these volunteers will bring the government and Palace Casino to their senses."
- 30 -
For More Information
Gil McGowan, AFL President Cell: (780) 218-9888
The Information and Privacy Commissioner today ordered the Alberta Labour Relations Board (LRB) to release approximately 200 records to the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) pertaining to the drafting of the controversial Bill 27, which restructured health care labour relations and stripped health care workers of many rights. The Commissioner also chastised the LRB for "failing" in its duty to assist an applicant under the Freedom of Information Act. (Read Commissioner's Decision)
The AFL has been trying since June, 2003 to access records revealing communications between key officials at the LRB and government officials regarding the drafting of Bill 27. The Commissioner's order is the latest revelation in an ongoing scandal where LRB officials may have breached their role as independent arbiters of labour law by assisting in the drafting of government legislation.
Last November, two memos were accidentally released which revealed significant communication about the content of Bill 27. At the time the Privacy Commissioner and the LRB took the AFL to court to try to get back the documents. The Court denied the request.
"This is a significant victory," says AFL President Gil McGowan. "For three years the LRB has stonewalled and hidden behind a veil of secrecy around Bill 27. We are pleased the Privacy Commissioner recognized the important right to access these documents."
There are two parts to the Commissioner's ruling. First, he ruled the LRB must disclose portions of documents that reveal who was involved in creating, drafting, editing or commenting on legislation, as well as the dates of those communications. Second, he ruled the LRB failed in its legal duties under FOIP by issuing an incomplete response and by delaying the release of other documents.
"We are hopeful that the nature of the documents released - including dates and names - will be enough to finally answer our questions about the LRB's involvement in the creation of Bill 27," says McGowan. "Answers that are long overdue."
Under the terms of the Order, the LRB has 50 days to release the documents to the AFL or to decide to file a judicial review. McGowan hopes that the LRB finally chooses to be transparent. "Many of the documents in question, including some not disclosed today, are in the discretion of the LRB to release voluntarily. The LRB should clear the air in this matter once and for all by releasing all the records in its discretion."
McGowan also called on the LRB to adopt the recommendations of the Sossin Report, released by the AFL in June, as a method to preventing future scandals.
"It is particularly ironic that this order comes down in the middle of the government's Right to Know Week. Clearly as far as the LRB is concerned, the right to know is on a need to know basis." McGowan concluded.
- 30 -
For More Information:
Gil McGowan, AFL President Cell: (780) 218-9888
Jason Foster, AFL Director of Policy Analysis Tel: (780) 483-3021
Backgrounder: Bill 27 and Freedom of Information
September 27, 2006
- In March, 2003 the Government of Alberta introduced and passed Bill 27, the awkwardly-named Labour Relations (Regional Health Authorities Restructuring) Amendment Act, at the request of Health Care employers.
- Bill 27 radically changed the face of Health Care industrial relations in Alberta by:
a) Removing the right to strike from thousands of union members in areas like Community Health, Mental Health and Extended Care;
b) Forcing unions into run-off votes against each other, denying workers in smaller groups the right to choose the union they wanted to represent them;
c) Tearing up dozens of signed collective agreements.
- The implementation of these sweeping changes was made the responsibility of the Alberta Labour Relations Board. In order to function, the Labour Relations Board must function as a neutral umpire in labour relations.
- In June, 2003 the AFL filed a Freedom of Information request with the ALRB, asking for any record of the Board's correspondence with the government, employers, or unions concerning Bill 27. We wanted to try to determine the nature and extent of employer influence on the drafting and implementation of the bill.
- The LRB responded to the request with a one-page refusal, declining to disclose even a single record. In justification, the Board cited three sections of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
- In the fall of 2003, health care unions and the AFL challenged the process in court, alleging that the conduct of the Board gave unions a reason to fear bias in its rulings. This allegation was supported by information from FOIP requests made to other parts of government.
- The court challenge was lost in court of Queen's Bench, and is now proceeding to the Court of Appeals.
- The AFL then proceeded to appeal the Board's decision to the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner.
- In November 2005 the inquiry produced (possibly through an accidental release) several documents that seemed to confirm that the Board played an active part in the creation of Bill 27.
- On September 27, 2006, the Information Commissioner released his decision. Among other issues decided, the Commissioner rejected the ALRB argument that it had the right to withhold any and all records relating to advice given to Cabinet, including even the names of those giving advice and the dates on which it was given. The Commissioner has ordered the Board to "sever" many of the documents, withholding only those portions properly exempted by Section 24 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
- This would mean that the Board has to disclose:
a) The names of those sending and receiving the documents.
b) The dates on which the documents were sent.
c) The subject matter lines in the emails or letters.
- The AFL hopes that the information received as a result of this decision may help to fill in some of the gaps in the Bill 27 story.
- The Commissioner also ruled that the ALRB had failed to meet its duty under FOIPPA, by improperly withholding documents, delaying the release of documents, and by failing to provide information as required by the Act.
- The Federation has called on the ALRB to adopt a set of protocols to prevent future incidences of real or perceived bias on the part of the Board. The protocols in question were drafted by Lorne Sossin, Associate Dean at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, and Charles Smith of York University. Professor Sossin is an acknowledged expert in administrative law.
- The AFL is also asking ALRB Chair Mark Asbell to use the discretion granted him under the FOIPPA to release all the relevant documentation relating to Bill 27.
EDMONTON-The AFL today released a study conducted by Dr. Lorne Sossin, Associate Dean of Law at the University of Toronto, examining the conduct of the Alberta Labour Relations Board in the wake of the Bill 27 controversy. Dr. Sossin's report, called The Independent Board and the Legislative Process (Read the Report here), assesses the actions of LRB officials during and since Bill 27, and compares Alberta to other jurisdictions in Canada.
Sossin's Report has three key findings:
- The undisclosed involvement of the Board Chair in a legislative process is "problematic and damaging".
- Other jurisdictions hold their LRBs to a higher standard than Alberta does.
- The Board failed to ensure proper transparency for its actions, which undermined the integrity of the Board among its stakeholders.
"Dr. Sossin's report articulates very clearly that the Alberta Labour Relations Board failed in a number of serious respects to uphold its obligations for transparency, impartiality and integrity," says AFL President Gil McGowan. "These findings are serious and require immediate attention by the LRB and the Alberta government to address shortcomings identified by Dr. Sossin."
Sossin's report was commissioned by the AFL in March, following the release of memos indicating that senior LRB officials participated in the drafting of Bill 27. Bill 27 was legislation forcing the amalgamation of bargaining units in health care and removing basic legal rights from many health care workers. It is generally considered inappropriate for officials who will be charged with interpreting and enforcing legislation to participate in its creation.
The report has three key recommendations. First, it suggests that if the Alberta government wants the LRB to play a role in drafting legislation, it should say so in the Labour Relations Code. Second, the LRB should develop a protocol to protect the integrity of its proceedings. This protocol should include transparency to all parties when officials participate in legislation, and such officials should recuse themselves from hearing cases related to the legislation in question. Third, no member of the LRB should have a secret role in drafting legislation.
"The recommendations would go some distance to repairing the damaged reputation of the LRB," says McGowan. "We are open to discussing with LRB officials establishing an appropriate protocol to protect the integrity and impartiality of the Board."
The AFL calls upon LRB Chair Mark Asbell to move forward with the recommendations of Dr. Sossin's report. It is also looking for an open process for establishing protocols.
"The Bill 27 scandal has created a crisis in confidence between the labour movement and the LRB. This is an opportunity to begin the work of repairing the damage. But the ball is now in Mr. Asbell's court," McGowan concludes.
- 30 -
For more information call:
Gil McGowan, AFL President @ (780) 218-9888 (cell)
The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), announced today they have a tentative agreement with Finning Canada. The 1,000 workers at Finning in Alberta have been on strike since October 20 to fight against further contracting out of their jobs.
"The new agreement includes language to protect our jobs and discourage the kind of contracting out Finning has been aggressively pursuing the past few years," says IAM Lodge 99 President Bob MacKinnon. "It is a testament to the determination of our members."
"Going into this strike, Finning said it would never agree to limits on contracting out, and after five weeks, they have done just that," says AFL President Gil McGowan. "I think this is due to the creative way the union approached the strike."
"The company probably heard about the labour movement's plans for the strike, including large actions in Fort McMurray, radio ads, a leaflet and other strategies. The labour movement was mobilizing to support the Finning workers, and it played a role in the settlement."
"I'm convinced that what we were calling 'the Dinning Pursuit' was an effective tool," says McGowan. "The union and the labour movement made a decision to show up at every public event that Jim Dinning attended. That kind of pressure made a difference."
The labour movement set up information pickets everytime Jim Dinning made a public appearance. Dinning is a Conservative leadership hopeful, but also sits on Finning's Board of Directors. His position offered a unique opportunity to IAM to place extra pressure on the company.
"The labour movement was ramping up," says McGowan. "Radio ads targeting Dinning were slated to start running next week in Calgary, a leaflet was being distributed and actions were being planned for Fort McMurray and other key sites in the dispute."
The script of the ads was used at the bargaining table, and the union suspects that Finning caught wind of other labour plans, and this prompted them to give in to the union's key demand.
"This victory is an example of what happens when the labour movements stands together. Employers should take note - this is not an employers market anymore." McGowan concludes.
For more information contact:
Gil McGowan, AFL President at 780.915-4599 (cell) or 780.483-3021 (wk) or
Bob MacKinnon, IAM 99 President at 780.483-4103 (wk)
2005 November Speaking Notes AFL First Contract Arbitration Campaign - Support the change that brings workplace peace!
Gil McGowan, President of the Alberta Federation of Labour, November 14, 2005
Good morning and welcome.
My name is Gil McGowan and I'm the president of the Alberta Federation of Labour.
We're here today largely because of a strike that captured public attention not only here in Alberta, but across the country.
It was a strike that shocked us; angered us; and pulled at our heart strings.
It was also a strike that did not have to happen. In fact, it was a strike that would not have happened in almost any other Canadian jurisdiction.
The strike I'm talking about, of course, is the strike that recently came to an end at the Lakeside meatpacking plant in Brooks.
For those of us in the Alberta labour movement, the Lakeside strike was significant because it was about rights that most working people take for granted.
Like the right to go to the bathroom when you need to.
Like the right to see a doctor when you're injured on the job.
Like the right to actually get paid for all the work you do.
But the Lakeside strike was also important because it highlighted a major weakness in our province's system of labour laws.
In particular, the Lakeside strike reminded us of what happens when you have laws with loopholes.
It reminded us of what happens when you have laws that ignore easy-to-predict problems - and laws that don't give people "on the ground" the options they need to deal with problems.
That's why we're here today - to talk about the lessons of Lakeside - and how we can learn from those lessons.
The big lesson that we think needs to be taken from the experience at Brooks is that we need some form of first contract arbitration here in Alberta.
It's commonly known in labour relations circles that first contracts are the most difficult contracts to negotiate - mostly because the two sides haven't built a relationship. They haven't yet found ways to live together and to prosper together. This often leads to hostility and conflict.
Recognizing this problem, most provinces have adopted laws that provide for an independent third party to step in and settle first contract disputes when they've bogged down and have the potential to get dangerous.
The federal labour code makes provisions for first contract arbitration. So do the labour codes in B.C., Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island.
Eighty percent of Canadians live in jurisdictions that have first contract arbitration. Only Alberta, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick don't have it.
The reason so many provinces have chosen to adopt these laws is because they make sense - and because they work.
I think we can all agree that the goal in labour relations should be to settle disputes and reach fair agreements without recourse to nasty strikes. If that's the goal then the record from provinces that have first contract arbitration speaks for itself.
In 2002, the last year for which complete statistics are available, 41 first-contract strikes were avoided in B.C., Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario alone. 41 strikes that could have been ugly like the strike at Lakeside didn't happen because of first contract arbitration.
The really frustrating thing about our Labour Code here in Alberta is that it actually encourages confrontation. Under the Alberta Code, if no collective agreement has been reached 10 months after a union has been certified, an application to decertify that union can be filed. So for employers who want to bust the union, all they have to do is drag their feet in bargaining, wait for the clock to run out, and then push for a decertification vote.
Union members know this - so when they strike for a first agreement, those strikes tend to be even more bitter and acrimonious than usual because they are literally strikes for survival.
First contract arbitration would allow us to avoid this kind of bitterness and conflict. It would promote negotiation and discourage confrontation.
That's what happens in provinces that have first contract laws. Just knowing that an arbitrator could step in and impose a deal, encourages the parties to negotiate. In the 41 cases I mentioned earlier of strikes that had been avoided in other provinces, 31 were actually settled through negotiation after the arbitration process had been started because the parties wanted to avoid an imposed deal.
So the evidence shows that first contract arbitration works and makes good policy sense. But, you know what? It also makes good politics.
Near the end of the Lakeside strike, the AFL and the United Food and Commercial Workers commissioned a large province-wide poll of 800 Albertans.
The results of that poll are in your press kit. What it showed was that 61 percent of Albertans supported the idea of bringing first contract arbitration to Alberta. Even among self-identified Tory voters, more than 60 percent said they either supported or strongly supported the idea.
So when people ask me: can we avoid future Lakesides? I say: you bet we can!
There's a mechanism out there that we know can help us cool temperatures in first agreement disputes. It's been tested and proven in other provinces. And it's supported by the majority of people here in Alberta. First Contract Arbitration is a good idea whose time has come. All that's missing is the political will to put it into practice.
If we had first contract arbitration in Alberta we could have avoided Lakeside.
We could have avoided the $1.8 million tab for policing.
We could have avoided the picket line clashes.
We could have avoided the smash-up derby that almost killed the union president.
We could have avoided the anxiety and financial losses sustained by the ranching community.
We could have avoided splitting the town of Brooks down the middle.
And it's not just about Lakeside. Over the past few years there have been other nasty first contract disputes that also could have been avoided. Like the Shaw Conference Centre Strike in Edmonton. Like the Calgary Herald strike in Calgary.
The bottom line is that our labour law is broken and it needs to be fixed. If we don't seize this opportunity and take advantage of the momentum that's been building behind the idea of bringing first contract arbitration to Alberta, then it's not a question of "if" we're going to see more Lakesides, it's just a question of "when."
That's why the Alberta Federation of Labour is launching this campaign today. It's a campaign that's supported by most of the major unions in the province including, to name just a few: the United Food and Commercial Workers, who represent the workers at Lakeside; the United Nurses of Alberta; the Health Sciences Association of Alberta; the Canadian Autoworkers; the Communication Energy Paperworkers union; the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the Alberta Teachers Association and the Alberta Building Trades.
Starting today, we will be running radio ads across the province urging our provincial government to bring first contract arbitration to Alberta.
We will be distributing leaflets to the public. We will be meeting with groups outside the labour movement and urging them to get on board. We will be talking to the media. We will be lobbying MLAs.
The good news is that we've off to a running start. As most of you know, some members of government are already talking about first contract arbitration.
Lyle Oberg has said it might be a good idea. Premier Klein said it might be a possibility. And just last Thursday I met with Human Resources Minister Mike Cardinal and he gave me his personal commitment that public hearings will be held on the issue.
I've also been given a date in February to appear before the government's standing policy committee on Education and Human Resources to make the case for first contract arbitration.
All of this is encouraging. But, given this government's track record on labour issues, we know we can't simply wait for members of cabinet to do the right thing.
The only reason first contract arbitration is even the table right now is because Lakeside was on the front page almost constantly for more than a month. Politicians move when they feel the heat - and with this campaign we hope to keep the heat on.
In the end, what we're asking for is a relatively small change. We've included excerpts from other provincial labour codes in your press kits - so you can see that this issue can be dealt with in as little as half a page. With the Legislature reconvening tomorrow, I can't think of a better time to fix the problem that has been so dramatically highlighted for us by the strike at Lakeside.
First contract arbitration won't eliminate all strikes. But it will help us avoid some of the worst strike - the ones most likely to spill into the streets and onto the front pages.
It's a small change, but one that - if implemented - could go a long way to promoting workplace peace in the province. And that's a goal we think is worth striving for.
Given the lessons that we've learned from Lakeside, we think the time has come to fix about Alberta's broken labour law. The time has come to support the change that brings workplace peace. The time has come to bring first contract arbitration to Alberta.
In the wake of the bitter Lakeside Packers strike, the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) today launched a new campaign to urge the government to implement first contract arbitration in Alberta [click here for first contract arbitration leaflet and Lakeside Packers leaflet.]
"We want to prevent future Lakesides," says AFL President Gil McGowan. "The best way to prevent ugly strikes over first agreements is to implement some form of first contract arbitration. As we say in our campaign slogan: "It's the change that brings workplace peace - and we're going to do everything we can to bring it here to Alberta."
In other provinces first contract arbitration is used when the two parties are unable to come to an agreement over a first collective agreement. It allows the government to appoint an objective third party to craft a contract that is binding on both parties. It applies only for first contracts, which are commonly acknowledged to be the most difficult contracts to reach.
"If Alberta had first contract arbitration, there would have been no strike at Lakeside," says McGowan. "Unfortunately, it took a bitter strike to reach a resolution that could have been found at a bargaining table. We need to change the law."
The AFL campaign, will consist of the following elements:
- Radio ads which start today on radio stations across Alberta
- A mass-produced leaflet asking Albertans to lobby the government
- A presentation to the Provincial Government's Standing Policy Committee on Education and Employment
- Meetings with Minister Cardinal and other government officials
The AFL also released the results of a poll on first contract arbitration. More than 60% of Albertans support some form of first contract arbitration. Even among conservative party voters more than 60% indicated they support the idea.
"The case is strong. It works in B.C. and Ontario and Manitoba to prevent ugly strikes. Albertans support it and are calling for it," adds McGowan. "The legislature session begins tomorrow - I can't think of a better time to fix a gaping hole in our labour law."
"We have seen this kind of strike too often in Alberta - from the Calgary Herald to the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton and now Lakeside. Clearly something needs to change."
Alberta is one of only three jurisdictions in Canada without first contract arbitration (along with New Brunswick and Nova Scotia). In provinces with the provision, its existence encourages the parties to resolve their disagreements at the bargaining table, and allows for a final course of action to prevent a strike.
"No one liked what we saw at Lakeside, but thankfully it is resolved. Now the government needs to make sure it doesn't happen again."
For more information contact:
Gil McGowan, AFL President at 780.915-4599 (cell) or 780.483-3021 (wk)
AFL president Gil McGowan has written a letter to the RCMP praising them for the approach they took to policing the recent Lakeside Packers strike in Brooks.
In a letter to Superintendent Bob Boyd of the RCMP's Calgary District office, McGowan said that without the neutral, impartial and even-handed approach adopted by the RCMP "a bad situation could easily have gotten worse."
McGowan thanked the RCMP for recognizing and respecting the fact that the strikers had a legitimate, democratic right to be on the picket line. He also commended the Mounties for actively seeking out "best-practice" models for policing labour disputes from other jurisdictions and incorporating them into their policy for Brooks.
"After looking at what happened in Brooks, I would like to strongly encourage you to adopt the RCMP's "Brooks policy" as the formal policy for policing all labour disputes in Alberta," wrote McGowan.
"I would also encourage you to share your experiences with other city and regional police forces in the province. Some of these forces - most notably the Edmonton Police Service - already have thoughtful labour policies in place. But I think everyone could benefit from the lessons that you learned in Brooks."
The Alberta Federation of Labour is Alberta's largest union organization, representing 120,000 workers from 29 different unions.
For more information contact:
Gil McGowan, AFL President at 780.915-4599 (cell) or 780.483-3021 (wk)