2005 March Speech Rally in Support of Finning Workers

Kerry Barrett, President of the Alberta Federation of Labour, March 2005

We're here today because you're company - that company right there - is turning its back on you.

Some of you have already been laid off. Others have an axe hanging over your heads.

But, in either case, something important is being lost here.

What's being lost are not just thrown-way jobs. We're not talking about McJobs.

These are family-sustaining jobs.

These are jobs that put money into your pockets, but also put money into the broader Edmonton economy.

These are the kind of jobs that form the backbone communities like Edmonton.

And why are your jobs being cut?

Why are you - in some cases, after being with the company for more than 20 or 25 years - why are you now being discarded like post-it notes?

Is it because customers no longer want your services?

Is it because the economy has gone south?

Is it because your company is losing money?

As we all know, none of those things are the case.

Just this morning, I opened the paper, and in the business section there was an article saying that Finning racked up a profit of $20 million in the last quarter.

That's $20 million in just the last three months.

This is not a company that's struggling. This is not a company that can't afford to do well by its employees.

Instead, what we have here is a company that has made a conscious decision to turn its back on it own long-time workforce.

For the sake of squeezing out of few more cents of profit per share, they're leaving you out on the curb.

As you know, your work isn't being eliminated. And it's not being shipped overseas. It's staying right here in the Edmonton region.

Basically, they're closing you down and opening up across the street.

The big question is why. Is it really about efficiency, as the company says? Or is this really about breaking your union?

From our perspective, what's going on here is indefensible.

And you know what is just as big a crime?

The labour laws here in Alberta are so weak that Finning just might be able to get away with it.

That's why the AFL is here today.

We're here to help you shine a public spotlight on the bad corporate citizenship being shown by Finning.

And we're here to show that the Alberta government - by paving the way for this kind of thing - is actually an accomplice.

In conclusion, what I want all of you to know is that the AFL and the rest of the labour movement are behind you in this fight.

We all have a stake - because if Finning is able to get away with this kind of union-busting - then no working people in this province are safe.

That's why we're here for you today and that's why we'll continue being with you as you continue your fight.

Good luck and thank you.


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