Alberta is Unstacking the Deck with Updated Workplace Laws

EDMONTON, ALBERTA–(Marketwired – May 24, 2017) – This afternoon the Alberta Government tabled Bill 17:the Fair and Family-friendly Workplaces Act which includes a number of amendments to both the decades old Labour Relations Code and Employment Standards Code.

“Generations of right-wing governments in Alberta stacked the deck against working people in our province, leaving us with one-sided workplace rules that favoured employers at the expense of employees,” said McGowan. “30 years without change was too long, today’s legislation was more than overdue. It will bring Alberta’s workplace legislation in to the 21st century and bring us another step closer to the Canadian mainstream.”

The Fair and Family-Friendly Workplaces Act will reform the union certification process, strengthen the right to collectively bargain, improve enforcement of our Employment Standards Code with a ticketing system, and guarantee job protected leaves for workers who are sick, caring for a family member or fleeing domestic violence.

“Today, the NDP government has taken steps towards unstacking the deck by announcing meaningful workplace law reform,” said Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour. “Bill 17 will give working Albertans an updated Employment Standards Code with some real teeth for enforcement, and a Labour Relations Code that further allows people to exercise their constitutional right to join unions and bargain collectively.”

The new union certification process borrows from the Manitoba Labour Code, which uses a hybrid of card check and ballot votes. Under the Manitoba model, a union that demonstrates it has 65 per cent support from the bargaining unit will be certified. Should the union demonstrate lower levels of support but still higher than 40 per cent, the decision will be resolved by a vote. This model will better protect workers from employer intimidation during certification drives, although not as effectively as a more straight-forward card check system.

“We are happy that the government has acknowledged that the current system for union certification is flawed and tips the scale against workers who try right to join a union,” said McGowan. “While this legislation doesn’t bring in a more democratic model of automatic card check certification at a 50% threshold, it does implement a hybrid model that allows for automatic certification in some instances.”

“While this legislation makes many positive changes to Alberta’s workplace legislation, we are disappointed that the government didn’t put a stop to employers in the construction sector using shell companies to shirk their responsibilities under legally binding agreements with their workers; a practice commonly referred to as ‘double-breasting’.”

Media Contact:

Gil McGowan will be available for comment in the rotunda of the legislature after the legislation is tabled this afternoon, or by phone at 780-218-9888.

Contact Information:
Alberta Federation of Labour
Chris Gallaway
Director of Government Relations

MEDIA ADVISORY: CUPE National President Mark Hancock to join striking Toronto Zoo workers’ picket lines tomorrow morning

TORONTO, ONTARIO–(Marketwired – May 24, 2017) – As the strike between the Toronto Zoo and Local 1600 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE 1600) enters its third week, Mark Hancock, CUPE’s National President, will join strikers tomorrow on their picket lines.

Hancock will arrive on the picket lines tomorrow, May 25, at approximately 9:00 a.m., and remain there until approximately 11:30 a.m. He will be joined by other CUPE leadership and community allies.

Media wishing to interview Mark Hancock or CUPE 1600 President Christine McKenzie are encouraged to contact Kevin Wilson, CUPE Communications. He can be reached via mobile at 416-821-6641.

WHO: CUPE National President Mark Hancock
WHEN: Thursday, May 25, 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
WHERE: CUPE 1600 picket line outside Toronto Zoo’s main entrance
(Meadowvale Drive, just north of Sheppard Avenue)
WHY: Picket line visit by CUPE National President Mark Hancock, labour and community allies

CUPE 1600 represents more than 400 zookeepers, horticulturists, trades people, administrative and public relations staff, concession and ride operators at Canada’s largest zoo. The members of CUPE 1600 began strike action on May 11.

Contact Information:
Kevin Wilson
CUPE Communications

NAFTA serves corporations: Civil Society will hold their own discussions in Mexico City May 26-28th

MONTREAL, QUEBEC and OTTAWA, ONTARIO and TORONTO, ONTARIO–(Marketwired – May 24, 2017) – While Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland undertakes private NAFTA renegotiation meetings in Mexico City, civil society will also hold their own discussions in the same city from May 26-28th.

Networks from Canada and Quebec, representing labour unions; Indigenous, farmers, and migrant groups; environmentalists; women’s organizations; international solidarity groups; student movements; and human rights organizations will join their American and Mexican counterparts at the historic Antiguo Palacio de Escuela de Medicina in Mexico City.

“Since the implementation of NAFTA, we have witnessed an unprecedented increase in profits, and economic inequality in Canada – it’s time for alternatives to the current neoliberal free trade model,” said Raul Burbano, Program Director of Common Frontiers.

“The economic, social and environmental impacts of NAFTA have been devastating to people in all three countries, including an increase in poverty and inequality, the weakening of labour rights while corporate rights have been strengthened, and the erosion of environmental protections,” said Nadia Ibrahim of the Trade Justice Network.

“For 30 years, NAFTA has been a backroom deal for those at the top. So far, the pattern has repeated itself, with the Canadian government enlisting the support of corporate Canada and former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. Yet, NAFTA affects not only our jobs but the planet,” explained Sujata Dey, Trade Campaigner from the Council of Canadians.

The renegotiation process has to be transparent and participatory and any NAFTA replacement must ensure respect for human rights, improve peoples’ lives and livelihoods, and protect the environment in all three countries,” said Ronald Cameron, coordinator of the Réseau québécois sur l’intégration continentale.

A paradigm shift from the current global economic model is imperative in order to mitigate the threats of economic and environmental disaster.

Participating organizations from Canada and Québec:

  • Association pour la Taxation des Transactions pour l’Aide aux Citoyens (ATTAC-Québec)
  • BC Teachers’ Federation
  • Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Canadian Labour Congress
  • Canadian Union of Public Employees,
  • Centre international de solidarité ouvrière (CISO)
  • Common Frontiers
  • Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN)
  • Council of Canadians
  • Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec (FTQ)
  • Fédération nationale des enseignantes et des enseignants du Québec (FNEEQ-CSN)
  • Justicia for Migrant Workers
  • National Farmers’ Union
  • Office of Romeo Saganash, Member of Parliament
  • Public Service Alliance of Canada
  • Réseau québécois sur l’intégration continentale (RQIC)
  • Trade Justice Network
  • Unifor
  • United Steelworkers of Canada
Contact Information:
Sujata Dey
Council of Canadians
613-796-7724 (ENG, FR)

Raul Burbano
Common Frontiers
416-522-8615 (ENG, ESP)

Nadia Ibrahim
Trade Justice Network
204-803-8133 (ENG)

Ronald Cameron
Reseau quebecois sur l’integration continentale (RQIC)
514-217-0264 (FR, ENG)