Calling Alberta the "Dubai of the North" is insulting to the Arab city, says the provincial employment and immigration minister.
Thomas Lukazsuk is reacting to a comment made by the boss of the Alberta Federation of Labour, who said employers in the province are choosing to hire cheap imported labour over locals, a trend seen in many Arab cities.
"Would that make me a blue-eyed sheik then?" Lukazsuk said tongue in cheek.
"A comment like this is very insulting to Dubai," he said, noting there are many people in Alberta from that city.
Gil McGowan, president of the labour group, said Lukazsuk got it backwards because Dubai, a city in United Arab Emirates is known for building its economy on the backs of imported cheap labour.
"We're becoming the Dubai or Saudi Arabia of the North, not only because we have oil, but because we're abandoning real immigration in favour of using an exploitative guest worker program to fill our most menial and undesirable jobs," he said.
"We've joined a global underground railway trading in human misery.
"It's a shameful transformation and a betrayal of Canadian values and our traditional approach to immigration," said McGowan.
New figures from the federal government show that the number of approved applications for employers wanting to bring imported workers into Alberta soared by 37% between 2009 and 2010, rising by 11,655 to a total of 42,885.
McGowan said no other province comes close to Alberta in terms of the per capita usage of the federal government's Temporary Foreign Workers program.
Lukazsuk said employers are not choosing to bring imported workers because they're cheap labour, but there's simply a staggering lack of people to take the jobs.
"Even if we are 100 per cent successful in putting all Canadians to work we still would be short," said the minister.
"We will be relying on foreign workers, but what we really need are permanent foreign workers," said Lukazsuk, who has been critical of the federal program.
The minister said it costs more to employers to bring foreigners than it is to hire locals because the wage required to pay either is the same and there's extra expenses incurred for flying them here and finding accommodation.
While McGowan recognizes there are labour rules regulating wages, but insisted vulnerable imported workers tend to take lower pay, keep quiet in spite of abuses and not assert their rights for fear of losing jobs.
Lukazsuk said his department has established offices in Calgary and Edmonton to look after those issues and some abusive employers have been prosecuted.
Calgary Sun, Thurs July 28 2011 Byline: Renato Gandia
Testing ineffective and invades privacy, says labour federation boss
Alberta labour advocates say random drug testing in the oilpatch isn't the answer to making workers safer.
Criticism of the tests followed the announcement Wednesday that three major oil companies will begin random drug screening of workers as part of an industry pilot project this fall.
Oil giants Suncor Energy, Total E&P Canada and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. have all signed onto the Drug and Alcohol Risk Reduction Pilot Project, set to begin this fall.
While most oil companies already use some form of screening, DARRPP hopes to prove that random testing will significantly deter substance abuse in the workplace.
But according to some labour experts, random tests are not necessarily the best method for determining impairment.
"Drug tests, particularly pee tests, typically test for the presence of residue of previous or prior substance use, but that doesn't necessarily mean you are presently impaired," said the Athabasca University professor.
"And if it is not an effective way to determine present impairment, then what purpose does it serve other than to invade the privacy of employees?"
Alberta Federation of Labour boss Gil McGowan said he worries the measures are too heavy-handed.
"It's rare for workers to be under the influence of intoxicants in the workplace," said McGowan.
"This kind of testing is a gross overreaction. By their very nature, random tests are designed to sweep thousands of innocent workers into the net in the hopes of finding one or two under the influence."
But one of the top occupational drug testing services in the country says the new measures aren't all that drastic.
"This is certainly not anything new and drug and alcohol testing is very frequently done before anybody can get on site," said Peter Deines of Cannamm Occupational Testing Services.
Workers are tested routinely before accessing the site, whenever an employer has reasonable cause to be suspicious of substance abuse, and after any incidents, says Deines.
He said testing is not meant to be a 'witch hunt' and that all tests allow for a small amount of drugs in an individual's system to account for passive, or "indirect" exposure, such as second hand marijuana smoke.
"It's not a witch hunt. It's to determine the safety risk," he said.
News of the pilot project spread quickly in Alberta's bitumen capital.
A Fort McMurray DJ who posted a fake ad online offering tricks to cheat on drug tests said he's 'shocked' by the number of response the ad received.
Chris Byrne said the ad was viewed more than 50 times and that he received a dozen e-mail responses in under a day.
"I just wanted to see what the reaction would be," said the Rock 97.9 radio announcer. "I was shocked over the number of people who sent me an e-mail."
Byrne said responses to the ad ranged from curiosity over what was being offered to the logistics of how to obtain a "clean" urine sample.
But he added that most McMurrayites seem comfortable with the idea of random testing.
"People on site know that any incident that happens, they have to go for a drug test," said Byrne.
"I was kind of surprised at the number of people that weren't taking offence to the drug testing but were saying 'yeah this should be done'," said Byrne. "It was more like, 'let's try to make it safer'."
Calgary Herald, Fri Jun 22 2012 Byline: Meghan Potkins
Billionaire Tea Party financiers to lobby Alberta government: Koch Industries owned by billionaire brothers who fund Tea Party, climate change denial
Edmonton - An American energy conglomerate owned by two powerful billionaire brothers who help fund the Tea Party and climate change denial movements in the U.S. has registered to lobby the Alberta government.
Alberta's lobbyist registry shows that on March 15, Koch Industries signed up to lobby the province on energy and resource development policy issues, as well as taxation and economic development.
The company is run by Charles and David Koch, two of the richest men in the world.
Koch Industries spokeswoman Melissa Cohlmia did not respond to interview requests Wednesday but released a one-sentence statement.
"Koch companies want to add value by providing quality services and products our customers desire and value in a way that is compliant with all laws and regulations," she wrote.
She did not say what the company hopes to achieve by lobbying the government.
The registry shows the company's lobbying activities started March 3, and there is no fixed end date.
The federal lobbyist registry has no record of Koch Industries.
Calgary-based lobbyist David Keto of Global Public Affairs has been hired to arrange meetings and conduct grassroots and informal communications on behalf of the company.
Keto was executive assistant to cabinet minister David Coutts for two years ending in 2003. His company biography says he most recently worked in Alberta Finance as the project manager for the Alberta royalty review secretariat.
The extent of Koch Industries' holdings in Alberta is not known.
The company website says subsidiary Flint Hills Resources is among Canada's largest crude oil purchasers, shippers and exporters. The company operates a crude oil terminal in Hardisty, 200 kilometres southeast of Edmonton. It also has offices in Calgary.
Flint Hills' Pine Bend Refinery in Minnesota was specifically designed to process Alberta's bitumen. Some reports suggest that refinery processes 325,000 barrels of crude oil a day and that 260,000 of those barrels come from Alberta. Cohlmia did not respond to a request to confirm those numbers.
Forbes magazine says Koch Industries is the second-largest private corporation in the United States with interests in pipelines, refineries and a host of other businesses.
The magazine's ranks Charles and David Koch at 24th in the list of the world's richest people, with an estimated net worth of $17.5 billion.
The company came to public attention in 2010 when New Yorker investigative reporter Jane Mayer published an article titled Covert Operations, in which she characterized the brothers as "primary underwriters of hard-line libertarian politics in America."
The brothers help fund the Tea Party organization, a right-wing political movement in the United States.
Mayer reviewed tax records that showed the pair poured more than a $100 million into dozens of "seemingly independent organizations," which Mayer says amount to the "subsidization of a pro-corporate movements."
"Many of the organizations funded by the Kochs employ specialists who write position papers that are subsequently quoted by politicians and pundits," Mayer wrote.
In 2010, a University of Massachusetts research institute named Koch Industries one of the top 10 air polluters in the United States.
The same year, Greenpeace reported that foundations controlled by Koch Industries contributed nearly $25 million to organizations that oppose clean energy and climate policy. The environmental advocates called the company "a financial kingpin of climate science denial."
Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan worries the company's lobbying efforts will undermine the province's relationship with unions.
The New York Times has reported the Koch brothers were among the largest contributors to Wisconsin Senator Scott Walker's campaign. After weeks of rancorous protests, Walker on March 11 signed into law a bill that limits bargaining rights for most government workers in that state.
"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 policies here," McGowan said.
Premier Ed Stelmach said the province has good relationships with unions and has no plans to change its practices.
"We have the least days of labour disruption in this province. We are doing quite well, we have a good working relationship," he said. "Why would we change?"
Calgary Herald, Thurs Mar 24 2011Byline: Karen Kleiss
There was a telling exchange during Gov. Scott Walker's appearance Thursday before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
The governor had gone to Washington to take a star turn before former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was scheduled to fly into Wisconsin and defend the Walker Way: stripping Wisconsin public employees of basic rights in the workplace, rendering public employee and teacher unions dysfunctional, undermining democracy at the school district and municipal level, and restructuring state government to limit access to health care and sell off public properties in no-bid deals with campaign donors.
The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is chaired by a rigid conservative ideologue, Congressman Darrell Issa, R-Calif. And Issa, like the other Republicans on the panel, has something in common with Walker: He is a major recipient of campaign contributions and political support from groups associated with the billionaire Koch brothers. So the governor's appearance was supposed to be a typical D.C. insider gathering, where Walker's political allies would toss the governor softball questions and let him ruminate on the joys, er, the "necessity" of cutting funding for public services and education.
But it did not turn out that way. Walker was paired on the panel with Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, who has maintained good relations with public employee and teacher unions while renegotiating contracts and addressing budget shortfalls. Shumlin's presence exposed Walker as an outlier who has caused unnecessary divisions and inflicted unnecessary pain on Wisconsin workers, farmers, communities and schools.
Walker tried his best to peddle the fantasy that his general attack on state, county and municipal employees and teachers, and his specific attempt to silence them in the workplace by stripping them of most collective bargaining rights, was needed to balance the state budget.
But then Congressman Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, asked the million-dollar question, or, to be more precise, the $137 million budget repair bill question.
"Your proposal would require unions to hold annual votes to continue representing their own members. Can you please explain to me and members of this committee how much money this provision saves for your state budget?" asked Kucinich.
Walker tried to avoid the question.
Kucinich pressed him. "Did you answer the questions?" the congressman asked. "How much money does it save, Governor?"
A reluctant Walker finally responded: "It doesn't save any."
That is the takeaway line from Walker's trip to Washington.
Busting unions is a political ploy, not a fiscal necessity. Walker has divided Wisconsin, thrown our Legislature and our communities into disarray, and caused what many legal observers believe to be the most serious constitutional crisis in the modern history of the state. And for what?
Not to save money.
Not to get Wisconsin's finances in order.
But to play politics with people's lives.
When the time comes to hold this governor to account, much will be said on all sides. But the most powerful condemnation of Walker's false claim that he needed to bust unions in order to balance the budget has come from the governor's own lips.
"How much money does it save, Governor?"
"It doesn't save any."
The Cap Times, Apr 17 2011
Re: "It's time for unions to re-evaluate needs of workers and adapt accordingly; Attitude overhaul necessary to regain their much-needed place in society," by Colin McComb, Ideas, Sept. 12.
It's time for the truth about unions in Alberta. Unfortunately, we got nothing like that from Colin McComb's opinion piece.
McComb failed to identify his background as a former representative for the Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC). Why?
Many readers understand that the CLAC is not a real union. Perhaps including his former association with that organization would shatter his arguments for how unions should change. He says unions should not be involved in politics, but fails to point out he has a background in political marketing and campaigning.
McComb has a problem with democratically run unions making donations to political parties, but he has nothing to say about donations from corporations, whose spending far outweighs that by the labour movement.
He implies that unions love to strike, but the truth is that unions rarely strike. No worker wants to live on meagre strike pay instead of collecting a real wage. Striking is a weapon of last resort - but to surrender that weapon will leave workers powerless to defend themselves from bad employers who slash their wages or raid employee pension funds.
McComb paints an outrageous picture of union leaders as Marxists plotting an uprising. This is so out of touch with the labour movement it makes you wonder if he has delusions he is Joseph McCarthy, trapped in a 1950s witch hunt for Reds under his bed. McComb would have us go back to an era when workers had to bow down to employers, instead of being treated with the respect every person deserves.
A flip through a few contracts CLAC has negotiated on behalf of workers is evidence of this: employers being able to lay you off with no notice; no CLAC representative needing to be present for disciplinary meetings with a worker; employers and the CLAC being able to change anything in a collective bargaining agreement to be competitive.
One clause in a CLAC contract sums up their approach to dealing with employers: "In the event that consultation fails to resolve a matter of contention, the union agrees that the decisive word resides with management, unless specifically abridged, deleted or modified by this agreement."
That's CLAC-style labour relations. Some employers seek out the CLAC because they know it will mean they can pay lower wages, offer fewer benefits and impose lower standards on workplace safety.
If workers want real representation, and to ensure fairness in their workplace and a fair return for their labour, they need a real union.
Real unions have no trouble debating their role in Alberta. We do have a problem when those who argue against us do so from behind a smokescreen of omissions.
Douglas O' Halloran, president, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 401
Edmonton Journal, Letters to the Editor, Tues Sept 27 2011
All six unions whose members sought recertification under Gov. Scott Walker's controversial new collective bargaining law won those elections by wide margins, state officials reported Wednesday.
The voting demonstrates that the union members remain strong and united, Dian Palmer, president of SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin said in a statement.
"Nurses and health care professionals understand that a collective voice is not just about wages and benefits — this is about quality care for all Wisconsinites," Palmer said. "Scott Walker has united the labor movement. As a union we will move forward, and as a union we will succeed."
Under the new state law that removed most public employee collective bargaining rights, bargaining units need to win the backing of 51 percent of their bargaining unit members in order to have limited ability to bargain for cost-of-living wage increases.
The election result "means that we will be issuing a demand to begin bargaining," said Nancy Wettersten, vice president of Wisconsin State Attorney's Association. "It is very gratifying to the leadership of the union to have such a strong show of support and confidence."
Peter Davis, general counsel for the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission, reported these results:
• The 261-member bargaining unit for the Wisconsin State Attorney's Association voted 217-6 for the union.
• The 1,033-member Service Employees International Union Healthcare Wisconsin won 658-23.
• The Association of State Prosecutors voted 289-7 for certification. It had 368 eligible members.
• The State Professional Education and Information Council voted 523-12 out of 655 members.
• Wisconsin State Building Trades Negotiating Committee voted 320-11 out of 434 members.
• The state Professional Employees in Research, Statistics and Analysis unit voted 42-0 for the union. There were 57 eligible voters.
The voting took place via telephone over the last two weeks.
The vast majority of state employee union members chose not to seek certification, saying the rules were unfair, the cost too high, and the payoff too small, since a certified union would be able to bargain only for limited wage increases, not benefits or working conditions.
Voting for teachers unions begins later this month. Municipal unions vote early next year.
Wisconsin State Journal, Wed Nov 16 2011
The Left should remember what the Right has known for years
How ironic that the Right seems more aware than the Left of the crucial importance of unions to progressive politics. In the past, when conservatives were less aggressive, this didn't matter so much. Now, in the age of Stephen Harper and the Tea Party, the stakes are much higher.
In the USA and here in Canada under Harper (and, of course, under Brad Wall in former social democratic homeland Saskatchewan), new laws are sapping the strength and even the existence of unions, too often with little public outcry.
In Parliament, a bill is due for debate and possibly a vote this fall that could cripple unions of all sizes with expensive and nosy paperwork. National Post columnist John Ivison, no fan of the labour movement, wrote that Bill C-377 (Public Financial Disclosure for Labour Organizations) "could shatter the union business model forever."
More worrisome still are recent threats by Parliamentary Secretary Pierre Poilevre to punish the Public Service Alliance of Canada for supporting the Parti-Québecois in Quebec's provincial election by ending automatic union membership in federal workplaces under what's known as the "Rand Formula." Although the majority of workplaces are provincially regulated, this could mark the beginning of the end of Rand and drastically weaken federal public service unions.
Regardless of whether we belong to unions or work in organized sectors, these moves threaten all Canadians, yet, to date, public response has been muted. Why are these moves such a threat?Labour is at the centre of all progressive politics
"Labour is at the centre of all progressive politics," Alberta Federation of Labour President Gil McGowan reminded in an interview following SGN's weekend conference on labour's image. "Labour is powerful. That's the reason they've targeted us, they've put the bullseye on us because they recognize we have power at the bargaining table, we have power in our communities, we have political power, and that power can be used against them. They want to undermine that power. They want to take apart civil society so they can change Canada."
Rand has been the National Citizen's Coalition's target since it was formed, under Harper and other CEOs. Conservative activists recognized then as now that unions have a regular source of income through member dues, unlike any other progressive organizations. And unions use their influence and theie money to support and promote a range of progressive causes and activists. SGNews is one of a long list of progressive projects supported very significantly by the labour movement.
Without public services, public service workers, union members, Rand, and dues — and a great many progressive projects, and the advocates who work for them, are at risk.
Since the 1980s under Reagan, US Republicans have worked to "de-fund the Left," going after advocacy groups, university student councils, progressive lawyers and legal clinics, charities, and, of course, unions.
The Harperites understand the importance of this directive better than any conservatives in Canada before them. When they had a minority government, they worked systematically to eliminate funding for any of the issues they don't like, such as feminism, environment, and social justice. Now they have a majority, they are gunning for big game — unions — and only widespread public outrage can stop them.
At SGN's workshop, speakers from the world of advertising discussed the art and science of branding and images and showed how unions could apply their knowledge through careful research and by focussing their creative efforts . The group heard that over the years, the union image has been steadily corroded by attacks that often go unanswered from right-wing interests.
"We're facing a government that's more like the Tea Party Right," said McGowan. They have a political plan, they have a communications plan, and they're targeting us. If we're going to be successful in fighting back, we have to have conversations like we had today... We have an obligation to get our act together, protect the labour movement, and also, in doing so, protect broader civil society," McGowan told us.
Conference participant David Climenhaga, of the United Nurses of Alberta (UNA), has similar concerns. "We need to respond instantly to the barrage of anti-union propoganda that we're hearing from organizations that have been set up and intelligently run in order to attack not just unions but progressive policies and the rights of working people," he told Straight Goods News. "All the time, we cede the room to them by letting them make powerful statements that are simply based on unsound research, politically motivated research, and that are in many cases outright false. They become the truth because we don't bother speaking back to them."
As a result of the constant barrage, union support has slipped and needs to be bolstered. Janice Peterson, another workshop participant from the United Nurses of Alberta (UNA), told Straight Goods News unions need to face some troubling realities. "Not only do we have a problem with public image, but we also have a huge problem with our own members. We not only have to sell ourselves to the public, we have to sell ourselves to our own members."
It's not too late for the labour movement to rebuild its image, was the message of speaker after speaker at SGN's workshop. Doing so, however, will require hard work, open minds, a lot of listening and research, and making key people in every organization responsible for a focus on improving the reputation and image of their union and unions in general.
"I loved Terry O'Reilly's presentation on rebuilding our message and repositioning ourselves," Francine Filion, of the Canadian Teachers' Federation said. "It can be done. There is a solution."
There has to be a solution, because without strong unions, every progressive cause will be hobbled.
Straight Goods News, Monday Sept 24 2012Byline: Isa Theilheimer
More than 1,000 Wisconsin firefighters, nurses, farmers and community members marched through Madison today to the Capitol Square to protest Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) extreme and anti-middle class budget.
The march came as the activists in the tent city “Walkerville” entered their third day of protest against the Walker budget that slashes funding for education actions, health care, seniors’ programs and critical services like first responder.
During today’s march, protesters engaged in civil disobedience and blocked streets around the Capitol Square. According to news reports, some arrests were made. Damon Terrell was one of those arrested and as fellow protesters cheered and thanked him for his action, he said:
This is nothing to be thanked for; this just has to be done sometimes.
Marchers carried signs calling upon lawmakers to focus on Wisconsin working families and not the wealthy and large corporation that Walker’s budget favors.
Recall elections for six Republican state senators who voted for Walker’s bill that eliminates the collective bargaining rights of public employees are just a month away. Working families across the state are mobilized to hold them accountable for their assault on workers’ rights and support of walker’s budget.
Follow the events in Madison via Twitter with the hashtags #wiunion and #notmywi and stop back here for updates.
afl-cio news blog, Mon Jun 6 2011
This was a banner year in the right-wing media's campaign to belittle working Americans. In the early part of the year, media conservatives promoted anti-union laws in Wisconsin and Ohio, transitioned to attacking the National Labor Relations Board, and spent the entirety of the year demonizing union workers, low-income Americans, and the unemployed.
Right-Wing Media React To WI Protests Over Collective Bargaining: Insults, False Attacks, Misinformation
Media Conservatives Set Sights On National Labor Relations Board: "Just Get Rid Of The Thing"
Right-Wing Media Viciously Denigrate Union Workers, The Poor, And The Unemployed
Right-Wing Media React To WI Protests Over Collective Bargaining: Insults, False Attacks, Misinformation
Fox & Friends Falsely Claimed "Violent" WI Protesters "Attack[ed]" Grothman
Kilmeade: Protesters Got "Restless And, Dare I Say, Violent." On the March 3 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade introduced a segment on a Republican Wisconsin lawmaker, Sen. Glenn Grothman, being heckled by a chanting crowd of protesters by falsely claiming the protesters were "getting restless and, dare I say, violent." Co-host Steve Doocy claimed that, "If you put yourself in [Grothman's] shoes...it's absolutely scary." Doocy later claimed, "When you look at that and all the incivility there, you realize that to these people, elections have no consequence, mean nothing." During the segment, the on-screen graphics repeatedly referred to the "angry" protesters as "violent" or "attack[ing]" Grothman. From Fox & Friends:
Kilmeade: "A Mob Of Protesters Ambush A Republican State Senator In Wisconsin." Teasing an upcoming segment with Grothman, Kilmeade claimed "a mob of protesters ambush[ed]" Grothman "who wants to go to work." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/3/11, via Media Matters]
Kilmeade Again Claims Grothman Was "Ambushed By A Mob Of Protesters." Later in the show, Kilmeade again teased Grothman's segment by claiming he was "ambushed by a mob of protesters." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/3/11, via Media Matters]
Doocy, Grothman Continue To Portray Protesters As Violent. Later on Fox & Friends, Doocy introduced a segment with Grothman by claiming he was "chased by a mob of protesters outside the capitol building." Doocy first asked Grothman, "Where was your security?" and later, "Were you scared?" Later in the segment, Doocy claimed, "There is a double standard. If Republicans surrounded a democrat lawmaker and did stuff like this, do you think it would be a big story?" Doocy ended the interview by asking Grothman if he is "going to have security if [he] need[s] it" and telling Grothman to "stay safe." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/3/11, via Media Matters]
In Fact, There Was No Evidence Of Violence On The Video
Twelve-Minute Long Video Shows No Violence Occurred. The video, which was shot by Wisconsin area photographer Phil Ejercito, show that Grothman was heckled by protesters, but no violence occurred. In fact, at one point during the video, a protester can be heard to shout "don't touch him" and at another, the protesters chanted "peace" and "peaceful." [YouTube, 03/01/11]
Grothman Himself Claimed "He Didn't Think He Was Ever In Any Real Danger." The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that, Grothman "told the [Cap Times] he didn't think he was ever in any real danger." From the Journal Sentinel:
Grothman downplayed the situation and told the paper he didn't think he was ever in any real danger.
"I really think if I had had to, I could have walked through the crowd and it would have been okay," he told the Cap Times. "They're loud, they'll give you the finger, and they yell at you, but I really think deep down inside they're just mostly college kids having fun, just like they're having fun sleeping with their girfriends on air mattresses. That's the guts of that crowd." [Journal Sentinel, 03/02/11]
Grothman Called Protesters "Good People" And Noted That He Was Not Scared. During his interview on Fox & Friends, Doocy asked Grothman if he was scared by the protesters. Grothman responded "Not really, because I think most people are basically good people. I mean, they've been running around the capitol for over a week now, chanting, blowing their horns, pounding their drums." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 03/03/11]
Photographer Slammed Fox's Coverage As "Establish[ing] A Fictional Narrative"
Photographer Phil Ejercito: I condemn the use of my work to distort the truth about the spirited but non-violent protests here in Madison. In a statement to Media Matters, Phil Ejercito, the local photographer who shot the footage of Sen. Grothman being heckled by the crowd, said he "condemn[ed] the use of my work to distort the truth about the spirited but non-violent protests here in Madison," calling it a "a genuinely dangerous narrative that Fox News is helping to create." From Ejercito's statement to Media Matters:
It sickens me to see the truth so willfully distorted. In deciding to release this video, I considered how it would be used, but I (perhaps naively) believed that the facts in the video would speak for itself - the people of Wisconsin are angry, Senator Grothman got a well-deserved ribbing, the Walker administration's lockdown of the Capitol is misguided, and Representative Hulsey acted honorably. It is simply astounding that the same faction of the right-wing that would claim that torture in Abu Ghraib was "fraternity hazing" would equate heckling as a "violent attack."
Let there be no ambiguity: I condemn the use of my work to distort the truth about the spirited but non-violent protests here in Madison. I believe that this is a genuinely dangerous narrative that Fox News is helping to create... I am deeply disturbed to consider that my work is being misused to establish a fictional narrative of violence by the working families of Wisconsin, and I encourage people to watch the entire clip on YouTube for themselves to understand the full context and decide for themselves what truthfully took place. [Media Matters, 03/04/11]
Fox Repeatedly Concealed Key Details About Guests Criticizing Wisconsin Protesters
Fox Bills GOP Senate Candidate, Local GOP Officeholder As Concerned Parents. Fox News hosted Dave Westlake and Amber Hahn, who were both identified as "Wisconsin parent[s]." Fox did not disclose that Westlake was a 2010 Republican Senate candidate and Han was the treasurer for the Columbia County, Wisconsin, Republican Party. [Media Matters, 3/1/11]
Fox Suggests CEO Of Multinational Company Represents "Small Businesses." Fox hosted Gary Reynolds, CEO of GMR Marketing to criticize protesters for "attacking small businesses who supported and support Governor Scott Walker," in the words of Fox co-host Brian Kilmeade. However, GMR Marketing says it has 24 offices in 12 countries and that it is "the world's largest engagement marketing agency." The company lists Sony, Microsoft, Bank of America and Visa among its clients. [Media Matters, 3/1/11]
Fox News Forced To Air "Fox Lies" Protests
Protesters Shout "Fox Lies" During Live Report From WI Capitol. On the February 18 edition of Your World, protesters chanted "Fox lies" during correspondent Jeff Flock's live report on the labor protests from the Wisconsin Capitol building. During the segment, guest host Chris Cotter stated, "Well, I'll tell you, Jeff, those folks protesting Fox -- I'm wondering if they would prefer a state-run television network providing all the coverage." [Fox News, Your World, 2/18/11]
Protesters Chant "Tell The Truth" During Live Segment From Madison, WI. On the February 21 edition of The Fox Report, labor protesters chanted "tell the truth" throughout correspondent Mike Tobin's live report on the protests from Madison, WI. [Fox News, The Fox Report, 2/21/11]
Protesters Interrupt Live Fox Interview With Chants Of "Tell The Truth." On the February 21 edition of Your World, labor protesters in Madison interrupted guest host Stuart Varney's live interview with Brett Healy of the conservative MacIver Institute. Varney later interviewed Healy via telephone while footage of a protester holding a sign saying, "Fox News will lie about this," aired:
Fox Falsely Claimed WI Gov. Walker Is "Actually Doing What He Campaigned On"
Gingrich: Walker Is "Actually Doing What He Campaigned On." During the February 24 edition of On the Record, Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich said:
VAN SUSTEREN: Is Wisconsin's Governor Scott Walker doing right thing or not? His budget plan is rattling unions and sent Democrats running across state lines to Illinois as protesters continue to swarm Madison and seize the state capitol building. Now, everyone is asking, Did the governor make the right move? Many states across America are broke. So should other states follow the Wisconsin governor's lead, or try something else?
Former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich joins us. He and his wife, Callista, are authors of the new book "Ronald Reagan: Rendezvous With Destiny."
Good evening, Mr. Speaker. And I know you've written an op-ed piece in support of Governor Walker. But I'm just curious. What should he be doing tonight? Because tomorrow's supposedly a drop-dead date on this bonding, and the Democrats say they're not coming home.
NEWT GINGRICH (R-GA), FMR. SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE, FOX CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think he should do whatever he has to technically to pay for the bonding and blame the Democrats for the carnage that that's going to cause. They are forcing this crisis. You got to make sure they own the responsibility.
But you have to put Scott Walker in context. After having been elected three times as county executive of the largest government in the state, Milwaukee County, he campaigned for a year-and-a-half on a very clear program. Nothing he's doing is new. Everything he's doing was in his platform. It's what the people voted on.
The amazing thing is the Republicans gained seats in the senate, gained seats in the house. There are no new elected freshmen Democrats. The governor himself won decisively. And the Democrats, having lost the argument with the people -- this is not Republican-Democrat. The people of Wisconsin elected a 60 percent Republican majority in the house, a virtually 60 percent Republican majority in the senate and a Republican governor. And the governor's now executing -- this seems to be a shock to Democrats. He's actually doing what he campaigned on.
The contrast with President Obama breaking his word this week is startling. I mean, Scott Walker is doing what he said he would do. [Fox News, On the Record, 2/24/11, accessed via Nexis]
Doocy: "The Governor Ran On The Platform That He Was Going To Address Collective Bargaining." On Fox & Friends, Doocy claimed that "to [the Wisconsin protesters], elections have no consequence. Mean nothing. Keep in mind, in that state, the governor ran on the platform that he was going to address collective bargaining and all the other stuff and that's what he did. And yet, look at what's happening there right now." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/3/11, via Media Matters]
Doocy Again Falsely Claims Walker "Made It Very Clear" That Collective Bargaining Was "One Of the Things He Was Going To Address." Later on Fox & Friends, during an interview with Grothman, Doocy claimed that "all these people with the signs, the horns, the whistles, apparently they weren't paying attention to the fact that there was an election this past November and the message in the fact that Scott Walker became the governor, he had made it very clear, this is one of the things he was going to address. Collective bargaining. And the unions." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/3/11, via Media Matters]
Asman: Walker "Did Announce When He Was Running For Governor This Is What He Was Going To Do." During the February 25 edition of America's Nightly Scoreboard, host David Asman said:
ASMAN: The bill strips most public sector unions of collective bargain or at least some of their collective bargaining privileges. Democrats and their supporters yelling "Shame" as you can hear after the vote as Republicans walked out. Now Democrats are investigating whether the vote was legal. The bill goes to the Senate where Democrats have gone AWOL. So how is all of this going to get resolved, Lee?
LEE HAWKINS, "WALL STREET JOURNAL": I don't know, but I think this is indicative of what we're going to see in the future. He's from that young new faction of the Republican base that's been dying to have this ideological debate with the unions probably since he was a teenager watching Ronald Reagan on television.
And he campaigned on the deficit issue. So basically he's actually following through on what he campaigned on, and what he is going to happen as we're going to see a fierce debate on this and many others.
ASMAN: I'm glad you brought that up because he did announce when he was running for governor this is what he was going to do. No surprises. And Mitch Daniels did the same thing in Indiana. [Fox Business, America's Nightly Scoreboard, 2/25/11, accessed via Nexis]
PolitiFact: Walker Did Not Campaign On Proposal To "Sharply Curb Collective Bargaining Rights"
PolitiFact: Walker Did Not "'Campaign On' His Union Bargaining Plan." On February 22, PolitiFact Wisconsin gave a "false" rating to the claim that Walker campaigned on the proposal to sharply curtail collective bargaining rights:
In the turbulent wake of his controversial plan to sharply curtail collective bargaining rights, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has faced criticism that he gave no warning of such a dramatic plan during the long 2010 governor's race.
Walker has forcefully challenged that contention, most bluntly at a Feb. 21, 2011 news conference. A reporter asked if the move to limit union power was payback for pro-union moves made by Democrats in the past.
"It's not a tit for tat," Walker responded. "The simple matter is I campaigned on this all throughout the election. Anybody who says they are shocked on this has been asleep for the past two years."
Let's sum up our research.
Walker contends he clearly "campaigned on" his union bargaining plan.
But Walker, who offered many specific proposals during the campaign, did not go public with even the bare-bones of his multi-faceted plans to sharply curb collective bargaining rights. He could not point to any statements where he did. We could find none either.
While Walker often talked about employees paying more for pensions and health care, in his budget-repair bill he connected it to collective bargaining changes that were far different from his campaign rhetoric in terms of how far his plan goes and the way it would be accomplished.
We rate his statement False. [PolitiFact Wisconsin, 2/22/11]
Fox Apologized For Reversing Results Of Poll: "61 Percent" Of Americans Were NOT "In Favor Of Taking [Bargaining Rights] Away"
Kilmeade: According To USA Today/Gallup Poll, "61 Percent In Favor Of Taking [Bargaining Rights] Away." On the February 23 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade discussed the results of a recent USA Today/Gallup poll to falsely claim that "61 percent" of those polled are "in favor of taking [collective bargaining rights] away." From the broadcast:
KILMEADE: Wow. But is President Obama out of step with history? Joining us now to debate it, knock it around just a little bit, Democratic strategist Robert Zimmerman and Jim Glassman, Director of the Bush Center and author of the book Safety Net. First things first, Robert, do you think the president is taking a big risk here?
ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Not at all. I think he's showing respect for history and respect for our history of supporting the rights and safety of workers, but more than that, he's speaking for the mainstream of our country and the main stream of Republican governors that are not siding with Governor Walker in his efforts to overturn right to work -- collective bargaining.
KILMEADE: I think Gallup, a relatively mainstream poll, has a differing view. And here is the question that was posed, should you take away--will you favor or are you in disfavor of taking away collective bargaining when it comes to salaries for government workers? Sixty-one percent in favor of taking it away. Thirty-three percent oppose. Six percent up in the air. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 2/23/11]
A graphic claiming that "61 percent" responded "favor" to the question "Collective bargaining -- take it away: favor or oppose?" was aired on-screen during the segment:
Fox Issued An On-Air Correction For Reversing The Results Of The Poll. Kilmeade issued a correction during the final minute of Fox & Friends -- 44 minutes after the error -- saying: "I want to correct a poll that we did about 22 minutes ago from Gallup. Sixty-one percent oppose taking collective bargaining away from those people in Wisconsin; 33 percent in favor. I had it reversed. I apologize." In fact, the poll asked if people would oppose a similar law in their own states. This graphic accompanied the apology:
USA Today/Gallup Poll Found "61% Would Oppose A Law Similar To [The] Proposal In Wisconsin"
USA Today/Gallup: "61% Would Oppose A Law In Their State Similar To [The] Proposal In Wisconsin." In the poll conducted on February 21, USA Today and Gallup found that 61 percent of those polled would oppose a law similar to the one Gov. Walker is proposing in Wisconsin. From the article accompanying the poll results (emphasis added):
Americans strongly oppose laws taking away the collective bargaining power of public employee unions, according to a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll. The poll found 61% would oppose a law in their state similar to such a proposal in Wisconsin, compared with 33% who would favor such a law.
Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Republican legislators in Wisconsin have proposed cutting union rights for most state government workers and making them pay more for benefits. Ohio, New Jersey, Indiana, Iowa and other states with Republican governors are considering similar laws. [USA Today, 2/22/11]
MediaMatters, Tues Dec 20 2011
The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO communications team, Jim Deegan and Karen Gownley, sent us this report.
Some 5,000 private- and public-sector union workers came together in Harrisburg, Pa., yesterday to rally for a responsible budget. Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Richard Bloomingdale called it an incredible event because it
"wasn't just about public sector workers—this was about ALL working men and women in our state. Today they all came together and demanded that the budget not be balanced on the backs of working families.
Gov. Tom Corbett's recent budget proposal slashes millions from public education and other vital public services. Meanwhile, big corporations like Marcellus Shale gas drillers, pay little or no taxes to the state. As Pennsylvania AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Frank Snyder put it:
The corporate loopholes must be closed. It is time corporations pay their fair share.
The rally was sponsored by the CLEAR Coalition, which is made up of labor organizations across the state, and represents more than 1.1 million people. AFSCME Council 13 Executive Director David Fillman emceed the event, in which workers from SEIU, UFCW, PSEA and others spoke about their experiences.
AFL-CIO Now Blog, Wed May 4 2011
Imagine one day you woke up and there were no sanitation workers to pick up the pile of stuff in your trash. No letter carriers or postal workers to move your mail. No teachers in the classrooms, no firefighters to stop your neighbor's house—or yours—from burning to the ground.
Such is the scenario being created by many Republican lawmakers in the states who are destroying collective bargaining rights for public employees and decimating our ability to attain good middle-class jobs.
Sam Gilberg, an 18-year-old songwriter with a band, One Track Mind, thinks about the plight of workers and has created a video depicting this bleak scenario, with the hope that it will stir people to action. Watch it.
AFL-CIO Now Blog, Tues May 3 2011 Byline: Tula Connell
Abuse of foreign workers must be stopped, says labour group: Alberta government action needed in light of new criminal charges, says AFL
News of criminal charges being laid in relation to welders and machinists from Poland and Ukraine working in Alberta is more evidence of widespread violation of employment laws and the abuse of foreign workers, says the province's largest labour group.
"It has been clear for some time that the processes used to bring foreign workers to Alberta aren't working," says Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour, which represents 145,000 workers. "Foreign workers are vulnerable because they fear deportation and are not always aware of their rights. The Alberta government must not stand idly by while workers are being abused, and while laws are being violated."
Charges laid by the RCMP today allege that foreign workers were told they faced fines of $25,000 and deportation if they breached their contracts, and that up to nine workers had to share three-bedroom apartments. They were allegedly told they could work legally after six months and bring their families to Canada.
The workers were also allegedly contracted out to several northern Alberta businesses which were charged a much higher hourly rate for the services of each foreign worker than was paid to the workers. It is alleged that the recruiters profited by more than $1,000,000 from April 2006 to September 2006 by sub-contracting the foreign workers to various companies.
Last year, the NDP revealed government documents that showed 74 per cent of Alberta businesses hiring temporary foreign workers that were subject to inspection had violated the labour code.
"The brokers who bring in foreign workers must be subject to far more monitoring and inspection by the Employment and Immigration ministry. There must also be a much greater willingness to prosecute brokers and employers who violate the province's labour code. Sadly, there are very few prosecutions because, it seems, this government lacks the will power to take action against violators," says McGowan.
"The TFW program in particular is rife with abuse. Workers are charged thousands of dollars in illegal fees, often live in homes owned by employers or agencies who charge outrageous rents, are told to work long hours while being denied fair rates of pay - but are afraid to complain because their employer can lay them off and have them deported."
- 30 -
CONTACT: Gil McGowan, AFL president, is in Calgary and will be available for interviews until 3 p.m. He can be reached at780-218-9888.
Organized labour is accusing the Harper government of "Americanizing" collective bargaining.
The accusation came Tuesday during a noon hour rally outside Canada Post's downtown plant in Edmonton. It saw a couple hundred people from across the union spectrum support locked out postal workers. The unions are upset at what they describe as "heavy-handedness" in negotiations.
What's got them going is the government's back-to-work legislation which imposes lower wages than Canada Post's last offer when the rotating strikes began.
"The arbitrator that's going to be appointed is going to be looking at the final offer of Canada Post, the final offer of the union (and) he or she will pick one, and that's what's going to make up the collective agreement for the next four years," said Bev Ray, the Edmonton local president for the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW), whose members have been locked out since last Thursday.
Gil McGowan with the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) says, to have a wage roll back in legislation language is unprecedented.
"In this case, the government, I would argue," he said, "this is an American style approach."
Ray says, with the legislation now tabled for a couple of days, the hope is in the interim, talks will resume.
Labour Minister Lisa Raitt says the settlement is in line with other federal unions.
iNews880am, Tues Jun 21 2011
A common pattern of union-busting in Turkey conducted against the BWI-affiliated Wood Workers' Union (AĞAÇ-İŞ) in Ankara. AĞAÇ-İŞ is affiliated with Confederation of Turkish Trade Unions (TÜRK-İŞ) at the national level. AĞAÇ-İŞ members have been pressured to rescind their membership and forced to join a different trade union preferred by the management. The BWI is calling for action by Turkey's new Minister of Labour and Social Security, Faruk Çelik to respect workers' rights.
In March, 2011 a group of workers at YATAŞ Furniture Company in Hasanoğlan, Ankara came to AĞAÇ-İŞ saying that they want to change their union. Workers expressed that there is no Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) in place even though they are members of a textile union, Öz İplik-İş affiliated with HAK-İŞ, a confederation close to the government. According to the workers' testimony, in 2001 the textile union registered YATAŞ workers as members with the support of the management against the Trade Union Act no. 2821 and Collective Bargaining, Strike and Lockout Act no. 2822. Ironically, the Ministry of Labour had sent a letter to union upon request saying the union cannot organize YATAŞ due to business line restriction in the same year. However, union dues have been deducted and shown at workers' payrolls.
Before registering YATAŞ workers, AĞAÇ-İŞ had applied to the Ministry of Labour requesting an investigation if there is a CBA at the workplace and if so which union. Ministry investigations confirm that the YATAS workplace in Ankara operates in the wood sector and there is no CBA in place. However, the same employer has another workplace in Kayseri operating in the textile sector and Oz Iplik Is trade union has a CBA in place at that workplace.
AĞAÇ-İŞ has started organizing activities at YATAŞ and registered about 100 members despite the very hostile employer. Yet the employer was hostile only to AĞAÇ-İŞ members. After finding out about the organizing drive, 3 members have been fired due to union activities. Workers have been pressured to rescind their membership in AĞAÇ-İŞ and to instead join a HAK-İŞ affiliated wood workers' union preferred by management while AĞAÇ-İŞ organizing drive was on the way.
On August 11, the production was stopped at the.workplace and workers were taken to a notary public collectively by buses for registering with Öz Ağaç İş, another affiliated union with HAK-İŞ. They were promised wage increase and threatened by the employer with layoffs if they do not register.
What has been done to AĞAÇ-İŞ members and YATAŞ workers are obviously a violation of ILO conventions no 87 and no 98. Workers' basic human and trade union rights should be respected. Workers are free to choose their own unions. What has been done to YATAŞ workers are also a violation of the Turkish Constitution article 51, Trade Union Act 2821 article 22 and 31.
In previous years, another BWI-affiliated Forestry Workers' Union (Orman-İş), TÜRK-İŞ affiliated Municipality Workers' Unions (Belediye-İş) and Food Workers' Union (Tek Gıda-İş) members had been also pressured by HAK-İŞ to rescind their membership.
The BWI calls upon Turkish Government to respect basic human and trade union rights. What has been done to AĞAÇ-İŞ workers clearly contravenes the national legislation as well as the ILO conventions ratified by Turkey. The BWI urges Turkish Government to ensure that workers of Turkey are allowed to exercise their democratic rights to freedom of association without any interference.
BWINT.ORG, Aug 24 2011
Alberta Federation of Labour to call for inquiry in light of growing evidence of fraud
Edmonton – A list of fast-tracked temporary foreign worker applications shows that scandals at Royal Bank and HD Mining are just the tip of the iceberg.
The document, which the Alberta Federation of Labour will release at a press conference on Tuesday, April 9, lists all approved TFW applications in the first eight months of the new Accelerated Labour Market Opinion (ALMO) process. Thousands of ALMO guest worker permits – which are supposed to be reserved for highly-skilled employment – have been granted to fast-food restaurants, convenience stores and gas stations.
"You look down this list, and it's McDonalds, Tim Hortons, A&W, Subway sandwiches. Are we supposed to believe that these are 'high-skill' employment opportunities?" Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said. "These permits are being used to replace Canadian workers with people who will have reduced bargaining power."
What: Alberta Federation of Labour to release list of Temporary Foreign Worker program "high-skilled" employer list
Where: Crowne Plaza Chateau Lacombe HotelRiver Valley Room, Lobby Level10111 Bellamy Hill Rd NW, Edmonton
When: 1:30 PM, Tuesday, April 9
Who: Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan
Olav Rokne, AFL Communications Director at 780-289-6528 (cell) or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For immediate release
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
AFL decries further watering-down of checks and balances of Temporary Foreign Worker Program
Canadians should get first crack at high-paying jobs
EDMONTON - The Alberta Federation of Labour is deeply concerned about the Harper government’s further watering down of checks and balances of the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program.
“Canadians should get first crack at these jobs. But the Harper government is more interested in the bottom line of their friends in the non-union construction sector,” says Nancy Furlong, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alberta Federation of Labour, representing 150,000 Alberta workers.
Furlong made these comments in light of Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announcing his intent to expand an Alberta pilot project that allows employers to recruit foreign workers without attempting to fill the positions with Canadians first. Kenney is also allowing employers to hire TFWs without having to report anything about where they are working. There will also be fewer safeguards against abuses, despite the fact that the previous TFW rules, even with their weak safeguards, has been found to be ripe with worker rip-offs, poor working conditions, and unscrupulous recruiters charging TFWs illegal fees.
“Foreign workers are supposed to receive comparable wages and working conditions as Canadians, but there are no real mechanisms in place to ensure this happens. Once the foreign workers are in the province, they work at the whim of their employer,” says Furlong noting that a 2010 Government of Alberta report found that 74% of employers who hired workers under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program had violated the Employment Standards Act regarding pay rates and record keeping.
“Under this program, employers don’t have to show that they’ve made any attempts to fill these jobs with Canadians first. Kenney's latest move makes the Temporary Foreign Worker program an employer's first choice, not last resort.
"The result is employers can use these workers in ways that Canadians might not tolerate,” says Furlong. “Once a foreign worker is brought in under this program, they can be moved around willy-nilly at the behest of the employer or employers who brought them in.”
The AFL is repeating the call to expand permanent immigration in order to address shortages that may exist in Alberta in select trades. The Alberta Federation of Labour has long held the position that the TFW program should be scrapped in favour of an immigration policy that brings in new Canadians in order to build our economy in a sustainable way.
“This is not about a labour shortage, it's a low-wage strategy. This is mostly designed to give companies access to a big pool of non-union construction labour that is desperate for work.”
For more information:
· Nancy Furlong, Secretary Treasurer, Alberta Federation of Labour (780) 720-8945
TC:lmr*cope458 G:\Communications\NEWS\AFL\2012\2012-27 TFW
Letter in response to "Hooray for C-377"
In response to Lorne Gunter's column on Saturday, Dec. 15
Unions are some of the most democratic and accountable organizations in Canada. Union Members have a right to know how their dues are spent – and they do, through annual reports, conventions, and audits. It should be noted that union leadership is elected by the membership and accountable to that membership.
Bill C-377 isn't about transparency – Canadian unions are already transparent. C-377 is a political bill that will divert union resources to fulfilling arcane accounting measures, and will mean they are less able to represent workers and Canadians.
Public policy should be used to promote and enhance the public good, not as a tool to punish, intimidate or weaken individuals or groups that don't agree with the government. Unfortunately, that's exactly what Bill C-377 does.
Gil McGowan, PresidentAlberta Federation of LabourSent to the Edmonton Sun on Monday, Dec. 17 2012
Union leaders oppose bill that targets indigenous rights
Edmonton - The Alberta Federation of Labour is urging Canadians to be Idle No More in opposing Bill C-45.
On the morning of Friday, Dec. 21, union representatives marched with First Nations leaders and Albertans from all walks of life in Edmonton at an “Idle No More” rally against the Harper Government, which has pushed through a wide-ranging bill that undermines First Nations’ treaty rights.
“Environmentalists, unions, churches, charities, women's groups, and now First Nations - all have been affected by systematic dismantling of anyone who stands opposed to a right-wing agenda,” AFL president Gil McGowan said. “It is time to draw a line. It is time, in fact, for us all to be Idle No More.”
Bill C-45 brings changes to the Indian Act that will fast-track the process for aboriginals to surrender their reserve lands by lowering the threshold of community consent needed to hand over territory.
“The Alberta labour movement stands in solidarity with the struggles given voice by Idle No More. In our province, we extend the offer of solidarity and support to those who are speaking out for a better life, better health care, better education, better housing, and an end to racism and inequality.”
Similar rallies have been organized all over Canada, including a main mass rally in Ottawa. Idle No More has involved round-dances in shopping malls in Saskatchewan and Edmonton, roadblocks on Northern Alberta highways, and a high-profile hunger strike on Parliament Hill. Its pictures, and messages have gone viral on social media, including thousands of messages on twitter with the hashtag #idlenomore.
“Canadians are frustrated with a lack of consultation,” McGowan said. “And it’s inspiring to see so many people voicing their solidarity with a grassroots movement that brings together people from all walks of life. Over the past five years, the Harper government has voiced platitudes about First Nations, while cutting funding, abandoning claim negotiations, ignoring a crisis of missing and murdered aboriginal women, and undermining the environmental laws that protect the land and water resources that vital to many Indigenous communities. Canadians are saying that they will not allow their government to remain idle about these issues. ”
MEDIA CONTACTS:Gil McGowan, President, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780-218-9888 (cell)Olav Rokne, AFL Communications Director at 780-289-6528 (cell) or via email email@example.com.