AUPE President Guy Smith has issued the following open letter to the media and general public concerning the Hon. Thomas Lukaszuk’s statements in the media regarding a new review of Alberta’s labour laws:
Dear Minister Lukaszuk:
While reading Friday’s newspapers I learned of the review of Alberta’s labour laws which you have undertaken at the urging of the Merit Contractors Association, the Christian Labour Association of Canada, and a handful of other wealthy anti-union organizations and individuals.
I took great interest in your statement that you are “open to being convinced by any or all stakeholders” of the need for changes to Alberta’s labour statutes, specifically because the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees undertook a major effort to do just that in 2007. The union collected 24,000 petition signatures from Albertans in collaboration with other partners in the labour movement calling on the government to make five significant changes to make our labour law more fair:
- First-contract arbitration. The adoption of first-contract binding arbitration to help newly organized workplaces get a union contract without labour disruption.
- Full bargaining rights. Full and fair collective bargaining rights for public employees, including the right to strike.
- One labour law for everyone. This means the elimination of PSERA (the Public Service Employee Relations Act) and the creation of a new Alberta Labour Code for all unionized employees in the province.
- Automatic certification. Certification without the requirement of a vote when more than half the employees in a workplace sign a union card.
- Anti-scab law. Legislation that would make the use of replacement workers during strikes illegal.
These petitions are available as part of the public record, having been tabled in the Legislative Assembly.
It is gravely concerning that this groundswell of grassroots support for fair labour laws which we uncovered in 2007 appears to have been ignored completely. Meanwhile, behind closed doors, a small cadre of anti-union business insiders and major donors to the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party have secured a review of Alberta’s labour legislation in the interest of making our laws more regressive. Your appointment of two lawyers, one with direct connections to the Conservative party and the other well-known for his anti-union beliefs, does nothing but reinforce that view.
On behalf of AUPE, the province’s largest union representing nearly 80,000 Albertans, I would welcome any opportunity to assist you in expanding the scope of your review to give it a semblance of transparency and accountability.
Guy Smith, President
Alberta Union of Provincial Employees
For more information:
Guy Smith, President, Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, 780-930-3311 or 780-265-2294 (cellular)