EDMONTON - A large demonstration will still be held outside the CFL Dinner Friday night unless a last-minute deal can be reached to end the seven-month-old strike at the Shaw Conference Centre.
"At this point, there is good reason for optimism," says Les Steel, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour. "But the deal is not done yet - and until it is, the rally is still a go."
Negotiations stalled over the past few days as managers at the Centre attempted to set terms for how a ratification vote would be held. But yesterday evening, the Alberta Labour Relations Board (ALRB) ruled that the union has the right to conduct its own vote, without interference from management.
As a result, the union has decided to put a deal, based on a report prepared by mediator Mike Necula, to its members for a vote tonight and tomorrow morning.
"If the members ratify the agreement, the ball will be in EDE's and City Council's court," said Alex Grimaldi, president of the Edmonton and District Labour Council (EDLC).
"If EDE accepts the results of the vote, the deal will be done and there will be no disruptions during Grey Cup weekend. But if they refuse to accept the vote, all bets are off. We hope City Council will use its clout as owner of the Conference Centre to pressure EDE into doing the right thing."
Using a football analogy, Steel said the ball has been moved into easy reach of the end zone - all that's needed is one final push to put six points on the board.
"It's third and goal with ten seconds on the clock," said Steel. "The workers and management have a chance to put this game away and keep the Grey Cup free of disruptions. But it's going to take one last burst of effort and good will. We have to make sure no one drops the ball."
Grimaldi agreed, adding that no one in the labour movement wants to rain on the Grey Cup parade.
"If a deal is reached, we'll turn our protest into a big tail-gate party," he said. "We want to be able to celebrate success for the Eskimos and an end to a bitter strike that has given our city a black eye."
For more information call
Les Steel, AFL President @ 780-499-4135 (cell)
Alex Grimaldi, EDLC President @ 780-940-6797 (cell)
EDMONTON - Hopes of a Grey Cup weekend free from disruptions and labour unrest are "disappearing fast" as a result of yet more examples of bad faith bargaining by management at the Shaw Conference Centre.
Last Friday, it looked like a deal had finally been reached to end the bitter six-month strike at the city-owned convention facility. But over the week-end, it became clear that managers at Economic Development Edmonton (EDE) are still more interested in busting the union than reaching a fair settlement with striking workers.
"We don't think it was a coincidence that EDE was sounding so hopeful and conciliatory on Friday morning," says AFL president Les Steel. "City Council was meeting to discuss the strike, with the possibility of intervening with binding arbitration. But Council backed-off when EDE convinced them that a deal was imminent. As it turned out, there was no deal - and EDE knew it. It's yet another example of EDE attempting to manipulate Council."
Steel says that after Council was convinced to stay out of the dispute, EDE returned to its hard-line approach to bargaining.
"At the time, there were only two items left on the table - the back-to-work agreement and the process for ratification," said Steel. "In most labour disputes, these are mere formalities. But in this case, EDE put forward demands that were so outrageous that it was obvious the workers couldn't accept. So far in this strike, EDE has been found guilty of bargaining in bad faith four times. This proves that they're still playing the same game."
Alex Grimaldi, president of the Edmonton and District Labour Council (EDLC), says the back-to-work agreement proposed by management doesn't guarantee that strikers will get their jobs back. And it even calls for a letter of resignation from a striker who was ordered reinstated by the Labour Relations Board. At the same time, EDE is trying to dictate how the ratification vote should be structured.
"Under the law, unions have the right to run their own votes with supervision from the Labour Relations Board, if necessary," says Grimaldi. "But EDE says they want to run the show, presumably in order to continue their campaign against the union."
Grimaldi says EDE is trying to portray itself as a defender of democracy - but their proposed vote would be no more democratic that the votes held in "tin-pot dictatorships were supporters of the ruling party are bused to voting stations and opponents are excluded."
"It's obvious they want to influence the vote, defeat the contract and set up a vote on decertification," agrees Steel. "That's why the workers can't accept these terms. And it's why - if nothing changes - there will probably be demonstrations at the Shaw Conference Centre during the Grey Cup. It's not what most union supporters would like to be doing - they'd rather be watching the game. But EDE is leaving us with no choice."
Both Steel and Grimaldi say that the only way to avoid demonstrations and disruptions during the Grey Cup is for City Council to finally realize that they're being "strung along" by EDE - and submit the dispute to binding arbitration.
For more information call:
Les Steel, AFL President 780-499-4135 (cell)
Alex Grimaldi, EDLC President 780-940-6797 (cell)
OTTAWA - The president of the Alberta Federation of Labour, along with several other prominent labour leaders from across the country, will attend a special two-and-a-half hour meeting with federal Environment Minister David Anderson later today.
At the meeting, Steel will demand the creation of a substantial transition fund to help workers who may be displaced as a result of the Kyoto Accord.
"We're on record as supporting Kyoto. It's the right thing to do for our environment," says Steel. "But, at the same time, we can't forget about the thousands of workers who may lose their jobs. If we're going to go ahead with Kyoto, mechanisms have to be put in place to help workers and communities make the transition to a greener economy."
Steel says that millions of jobs will be created over the next decade in Canada, whether the Kyoto Accord is ratified or not. But, he says there is no doubt that Kyoto will result in employment reductions in at least a few sectors.
"The solution to this shift in jobs is not to forego action on climate change," says Steel.
"The real answer is to ensure that those who do lose their jobs are given options to find new employment, particularly in related sectors that are expected to experience growth. That's the message we'll be delivering to the Minister tomorrow: Kyoto, yes, but don't leave workers behind."
The meeting with Anderson will take place today between noon and 2:30 p.m. Alberta time. Steel will be available to answer questions from reporters after 2:45 p.m. Alberta time.
For more information call:
Les Steel, AFL President @ (780) 499-4135
Gil McGowan, AFL Communications @ (780) 483-3021 or (780) 910-1137 (cell)
Saturday, October 26th, Saturday, October 26th, 2002
12:00 noon 12:00 noon
The Bay The Bay
Kingsway Garden Mall Downtown Stephen Avenue Malll
1st level main entrance to Bay 8 Avenue & 1 Street, SW
south side by transit centre
The Human Rights and International Solidarity Committee of the Alberta Federation of Labour will be leafleting "The Bay" and Zellers stores in Edmonton and Calgary this Saturday, starting at 12:00 noon. The protestors will be trying to persuade the Hudson's Bay Company to work with unions and suppliers to eliminate sweatshop working conditions.
Currently the Hudson's Bay Company has contracts with three factories in the southern African country of Lesotho which produces clothing under the Zellers brand name. However, HBC has indicated that it was cutting and running from at least one of the factories rather than working with the factory management and the Lesotho garment workers' union to help eliminate sweatshop abuses. This is the same factory that recently signed an agreement with the union to make improvements in working conditions.
"We need to send a message to the Hudson's Bay Company to be responsible corporate citizens and stay in Lesotho and be part of the solution to end sweatshop abuses," says HR&IS Committee Chairperson, Ramon Antipan.
For More Information:
Ramon Antipan, Chair, AFL's Human Rights
& International Solidarity Committee @ 780-423-9000 (wk) 780-475-6856(hm)
WHEN: Thursday, October 17, 2002 at 1:30 p.m.
WHERE: The Inn of 7th, Courtyard Room
10001 - 107 Street Edmonton
The Alberta Federation of Labour, Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Unions, Canadian Labour Congress, as well as a number of NGOs and environmental groups will be meeting this morning to discuss the Kyoto Protocol.
Representatives from these groups will be available at 1:30 p.m. to encapsulate discussions from the morning session and respond to questions from the media.
For More Information:
Les Steel, AFL President @ 780-499-4135 (cell) or 780-483-3021 (work)
EDMONTON - The labour dispute at the Shaw Conference Centre has already resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars in convention business - and if it drags on that figure could easily run into the millions.
That's the message delivered by major unions at a news conference in Edmonton this morning.
"The people who run the Conference Centre have been telling City Council that the strike has had no economic impact," says Les Steel, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour.
"But nothing could be further from the truth. Unions have been canceling major events at the Conference Centre since the strike began in May. And, the amount of lost business is substantial."
At the news conference, it was revealed that several major unions - including the Alberta Teachers Association, the United Nurses of Alberta, the Carpenters Union and the Communications, Energy & Paperworkers Union - have already decided to divert more than $800,000 of business away from the Shaw.
The amount of potential revenue lost to other businesses in the downtown area was estimated at more than $10 million.
"Huge amounts of business are being lost - not only to the Convention Centre, but also to businesses in the downtown area," says Steel. "What we're trying to demonstrate is that there will be a big price to pay if this strike is allowed to drag on."
Steel says the labour movement would be happy to lift its boycott on the Shaw Centre - as soon as a fair settlement is reached with the striking workers.
"Boycotting the Shaw is not something we want to do," he says. "We'd love to do business with the Shaw - but that's not going to happen until they start treating their workers with respect. And it's not going to happen until the workers get the protection they deserve in the form of a fair and reasonable collective agreement."
Steel says the strike could be ended quickly and business returned to normal if EDE and the City would simply agree to submit the dispute to independent, third-party arbitration.
"Today we are announcing the amount of money that the union movement is diverting away from the Shaw, but we could just as easily be talking about the millions of dollars that would go into the conference centre if a fair settlement was in place. It's just a matter of political will."
For more information contact::
Les Steel, AFL President @ 780-499-4135
Gil McGowan, AFL Communications @ 780-483-3021
ECONOMIC IMPACT OF
SHAW CONFERENCE CENTRE BOYCOTT
I. ALBERTA TEACHERS' ASSOCIATION (ATA)
The ATA holds three major conventions in Edmonton each year, often at the Shaw Conference Centre. The Greater Edmonton convention attracts 8,500 teachers. The North Central convention draws 5,800 teachers. And the East Central convention is attended by 1,400 teachers.
The ATA says all of these conventions may be moved from the downtown area if the Shaw strike is not resolved fairly.
Taken together, these conventions account for between $350,000 - $400,000 in revenue for the Conference Centre each year. But the implications for businesses in the downtown core are even more significant.
The ATA estimates that the Great Edmonton convention generates about $800,000 in business for downtown hotels, restaurants, shops and other businesses. The North Central convention brings in about $1.74 million and the East Central about $150,000.
Revenue lost to Conference Centre: $350,000-400,000
Revenue lost to Downtown Businesses: $2.7 million
(Hotels, restaurants, transportation etc.)
II. United Nurses of Alberta (UNA)
UNA had signed agreements with the Shaw Conference Centre for their 2003 and 2004 Annual General Meetings. As a result of the strike, UNA has cancelled those bookings.
UNA's AGMs are two-day events that attract 400-500 nurses from around the province. In 1999, UNA spend $16,500 on their AGM at the Shaw. Assuming that prices haven't change significantly, the cancellation of the 2003 and 2004 bookings will cost the Shaw $33,000.
UNA has also decided to hold its one-day 2003 Negotiation Reporting Meeting (450 delegates) elsewhere. That's a loss of another $5,000 - $6,000 to the Shaw.
Assuming that delegates to UNA meetings spend $150 a day (hotel, food, transportation, shopping etc.) the total loss of revenue to the downtown businesses would be more than half a million dollars - just on these three events.
Revenue lost to Conference Centre: $38,000+
Revenue lost to Downtown Businesses: $515,000 (approx.)
(Hotels, restaurants, transportation etc.)
III. UNITED BROTHERHOOD OF CARPENTERS (UBCJA)
The Edmonton local of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters will soon be holding a large function to celebrate its 100th anniversary. This gala, which is expected to attract more than 1,000 people, was originally scheduled to be held at the Shaw Conference Centre. But as a result of the strike, the location has been changed.
The Carpenters say they would have spent $150,000 at the Convention Centre. That money is now being spent at the University of Alberta's Butterdome.
The Carpenters also say the Convention Centre has now been taken out of the running for any of the union's upcoming international conventions. These five-day events typically attract 3,500 delegates from across Canada and the United States.
Assuming that delegates spend $150 a day on hotels, food, transportation etc., the amount of revenue lost to downtown businesses is about $2.6 million. Losses to the Convention Centre itself would probably been in excess of $200,000.
Revenue lost to Conference Centre: $350,000+
Revenue lost to Downtown Businesses: $2.6 million (approx.)
(Hotels, restaurants, transportation etc.)
IV. COMMUNICATIONS, ENERGY & PAPERWORKERS UNION (CEP)
Edmonton was being considered for CEP's national convention in the Fall of 2004. However, as a result of the strike, the convention will be held elsewhere. CEP national conventions attract 1,400 delegates, 1,000 spouses, guests and observers over a six-day period. CEP estimates they would have paid at least $100,000 to the Shaw Conference Centre itself. Loss in economic spin-off to the Edmonton economy is estimated at more than four million dollars.
CEP also decided to hold its Western Regional Conference for the of Fall 2003 in another city. This conference attracts 500 delegates, 300 spouses and children and 100 staff, guests and observers.
CEP estimates that its decision to move this conference from Edmonton represents a loss of about $30,000 in direct lost revenue to the Conference Centre - and about $1,000,000 in economic spin-off for Edmonton businesses.
Revenue lost to Conference Centre: $130,000+
Revenue lost to Edmonton Businesses: $5.0 million (approx.)
(Hotels, restaurants, transportation etc.)
EDMONTON - As people around the world look back on last year's terrorist attacks in the United States, a Chilean activist is urging Canadians not to forget the horror of the "other September 11."
Viviana Diaz, President of the Association of the Relatives of the Disappeared in Chile, is on a cross-Canada speaking tour aimed at reminding people of the military coup that took place in her country on September 11, 1973.
During that coup, terrorists bombed the Chilean Parliament buildings, assassinated the elected president, Salvador Allende, and toppled Allende's popular government. Thousands of people were killed on that day and in the 17 years of military dictatorship that followed. Thousands of others "disappeared" and remain unaccounted for today.
WHAT: News Conference to Discuss the "Other September 11"
WHO: Association of the Relatives of the Disappeared in Chile
WHEN: 11:30 am, Tuesday, September 24
WHERE: CUPE 474 Boardroom, 10989-124 Street, Edmonton
As part of her visit to Edmonton, Diaz will meet with many of the hundreds of Chileans who settled in Edmonton after fleeing or being exiled from their homeland. She will also hold a news conference on Tuesday, September 24 to review the history of the "other September 11" and give an update on efforts to uncover what really happened to the "disappeared."
"Americans often talk about September 11 as an attack on freedom and democracy," says Ramon Antipan, an activist from Edmonton's Chilean community. "But September 11, 1973 was even more devastating to the people of Chile. It robbed them of their freedom and it destroyed their democratic system - which, at the time, was the oldest and most stable democracy in South America."
In addition to her news conference, Diaz will participate in a special reception and seminar at the Stanley Milner Library Theatre at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, September 24. Her visit to Edmonton is co-sponsored by the Chilean-Canadian Community of Edmonton, the Stanley Milner Library, the University of Alberta's International Association and the Alberta Federation of Labour.
For more information call:
AFL Communications @ 780-483-3021
The Alberta Federation of Labour is marking 2002 World Literacy Day (September 8th) by releasing a new video on literacy to labour councils and unions across the province.
"Our new production is designed to bring the many workplace and labour issues around literacy to the attention of union members and union leaders," said AFL Secretary Treasurer Kerry Barrett. "It is intended to encourage our affiliates and regional labour councils to set up literacy programs."
The 15 minute video was created by local videographer Don Bouzek with the assistance of the AFL, its literacy committee, and affiliated unions and members of the AFL. Financial support for the project was provided by the National Literacy Secretariat of Human Resources Development Canada.
"We use the video - which is designed for viewing at local union meetings - to get several important messages out," said Barrett. "First, that literacy is not just about reading and writing - literacy also encompasses number skills and computer skills and basic communications skills that are becoming more and more critical at work, at home and in our communities."
"Then", said Barrett, "we show people some successful literacy programs that they can easily adapt for use in their union local and their workplace."
"I am proud that the labour movement is taking some concrete steps to tackle literacy problems," concluded Barrett, "and I am confident that this project will produce real benefits to working people in Alberta."
Copies of the AFL Literacy Video are available to the media upon request.
For more information, contact:
Kerry Barrett, Secretary Treasurer @ 780-483-3021 (wk) / 780-720-8945 (cell)
The Alberta Labour Relations Board is jeopardizing its fundamental need to be seen to be neutral on labour relations conflicts by its continued insistence upon assessing punitive damages against the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE), the Alberta Federation of Labour says today. The Board yesterday rejected AUPE's appeal of the two-month suspension of dues ordered by the Board following a strike in the health care sector in May 2000.
"The Labour Relations Board has crossed a boundary with this ruling," charges Alberta Federation of Labour President Les Steel. "Prior to this, the Board - like other such bodies in Canada - has restricted its rulings to efforts to restore or 'make whole' damages arising from violations of labour law," said Steel. "But now, long after normal relations have resumed between the effected parties, the Board has chosen to issue punitive damages against the union."
"We have never seen punitive damages issued to employers for willful, and permanently damaging actions against workers," said Steel. "For example, there have been no punitive actions taken against the Economic Development Edmonton for its disgraceful conduct during the ongoing Shaw Conference Centre Strike."
"By taking this unusual and ill-considered action against a union while at the same time refusing to take punitive actions against offending employers, the ALRB is showing itself not to be an impartial umpire in labour relations" said Steel.
"This decision undermines the Board's function in labour relations while at the same time sending a very bad message to unions, workers and employers in Alberta," concluded Steel.
For more Information, contact:
Les Steel, President @ 780-483-3021 (wk) / 780-499-4135 (cell)
Alberta Federation of Labour officers, Les Steel, President and Kerry Barrett, Secretary Treasurer are available for annual Labour Day comments this weekend.
Les and Kerry will both be attending the Edmonton & District Labour Council's barbeque for the unemployed and underemployed on Monday, September 2nd, 2002.
Feel free to contact them anytime this weekend for a "labour" perspective this Labour Day.
Les Steel President @ 499-4135 (cell)
- or -
Kerry Barrett Secretary Treasurer @ 720-8945 (cell)