Labour Bytes: August 2015 – AFL



Poll indicates AFL president would win Edmonton Centre for NDP

Edmonton – Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan would win the riding of Edmonton Centre in the upcoming federal election by 14 points if he is chosen as the NDP candidate, says a poll commissioned by the AFL and conducted by Environics, a nationally respected polling firm.

“The Alberta labour movement needed good information in order to make decisions about our approach to the federal election. So we conducted polls in 16 federal ridings in Alberta. In particular, we were interested to see how our president would fare if he ran in Edmonton Centre,” AFL Secretary Treasurer Siobhan Vipond said. “The president’s work and leadership are important to the Federation, so we didn’t want to have to give up Gil to campaign for months on end if he didn’t have a chance of winning. The good news is that it looks like Gil is in a position to win the riding and to contribute to the election of government that is more aligned to the labour movement’s values and priorities.”

The Environics poll showed that McGowan is supported by 43 per cent of decided voters in Edmonton Centre. The Conservative candidate, former Edmonton Chamber of Commerce president James Cumming, was second with 29 per cent. Liberal candidate Randy Boissonnault was third with 23 per cent.

Environics surveyed 547 eligible voters in Edmonton Centre using Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology between June 25-29, 2015. The survey was weighted by age and gender to reflect the demographic makeup of the electorate and it has a margin of error of +/- 4.2 per cent.

If McGowan is successful in getting the NDP nomination, he will be taking a leave of absence to focus on the campaign. The executive committee of the Alberta Federation of Labour has a solid and stable plan for continuity of leadership in the event of Gil’s election as MP for Edmonton Centre.

Report vindicates Albertans who rallied against Redford’s attack
on public sector pensions

Edmonton – Albertans can add one more item to the long list of things that Alison Redford was wrong about.

This summer, Alberta’s largest pension plan – the Local Authorities Pension Plan (LAPP), which provides pension coverage to nearly 237,612 working and retired Albertans – released figures showing that it is now close to being fully funded.

According to the LAPP’s latest 2014 Audited Financial Statements, the plan now has 93 per cent of the funds necessary to cover its long-term obligations – up dramatically from 85 per cent two years ago.

“Alison Redford tried to score cheap political points by going after the retirement savings of thousands and thousands of Albertans,” said Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan, who led the coalition that rallied to defend Alberta’s public sector pension plans.

At the time, Redford and her Finance Minister, Doug Horner, said the plans were unsustainable. We countered by pointing out that they were just recovering from the global recession of 2008 and that plans were in place to restore the pensions to good health. In short, they screamed ‘panic’ while we counselled patience. What this report shows is that we were right and they were wrong.”

Former premier Jim Prentice eventually backed away from Redford’s attack on public sector pensions in the face of unprecedented public protest and after being presented with evidence from a coalition of unions that the plans were, in fact, well on the way to recovery without cuts to benefits.

“The next time right-wing fear mongers try to panic Albertans into making unjustified concessions and swallowing unnecessary cuts, I hope we all remember how wrong they were when they claimed our pensions were insolvent,” McGowan said.

Alberta to Adopt OHS for Agricultural Workers

Edmonton – The inclusion of agricultural workers in Alberta’s workplace standards is cause for celebration – but advocates for reform cannot rest on their laurels.

Alberta is the only province in Canada that excludes agricultural workers from occupational health and safety laws. But Agriculture Minister Oneil Carlier announced this summer that he would make safety protections for Alberta farm workers a reality.

“We’ve been working toward this for a very long time,” Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said. “But health and safety laws are not the end of the story. Agricultural workers deserve to be treated like every other worker, so their exclusions from WCB, from transportation regulations, and from the right to unionize, must be ended across the board.”

The provincial labour code excludes Agricultural workers from the right to form unions, or to collectively bargain. So when issues arise with the employer, again agricultural workers have little recourse.

“Agricultural work is dangerous work. These workers need the right to stand up for themselves, and to fight for better working conditions,” McGowan said. “Do you think any of these other regulatory issues would have gone unaddressed as long if agricultural workers weren’t denied their legal right to form a union, and to fight for safer workplaces?”

Did you know

  • One in five Canadians does not have a drivers’ license, and could face obstacles to voting because of the Fair Elections Act.

  • By the end of October, voters in Calgary Foothills will have gone to the ballot box four times in a year, including the federal election, the provincial election and two by-elections.
  • Only 39 per cent of eligible voters aged 18 to 25 voted in the last election.

  • Up to 400,000 Canadians used voter ID waivers last election. These voters could be disenfranchised this election.

Urgent Action

Make Sure You Can Vote in the Federal Election

The writ has been dropped on the longest Canadian election in living memory. From now until October 19, candidates and volunteers will be knocking on doors, putting up lawn signs, and fundraising for an election that could reshape the country.

This will be the first election governed by Stephen Harper’s so-called “Fair Elections Act,” which puts up barriers to participation in the election. Under the new rules, there are stricter requirements for what kind of identification you must have before receiving a ballot. These rules are likely to disenfranchise students, Indigenous people, seniors and the homeless.

To make sure you are able to vote on October 19, check the voter identification information here:

Make sure you are registered in the riding in which you intend to vote:

If you are a first-time voter, or a student who lives part of the year in a different riding, make sure to determine which riding is the right one for you to vote in:


  • August 10-14: AFL Kids’ Camp

  • August 17: Rachel Notley will have been Premier of Alberta longer than David Hancock was.

  • August 20: Farm Worker Day

August 10, 2015

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