LRB Decision is "Victory for Free Expression" says AFL

Yesterday's decision by the Labour Relations Board (LRB) to strike down the section of the Labour Relations Code banning secondary picketing is an important victory for workers and for freedom of expression, says the Alberta Federation of Labour. The AFL was commenting on the ruling released that deems section 82 of the Labour Relations Code as contravening the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and therefore inoperative.

The LRB decision affects the ongoing strike between Brewers Distributers Limited (BDL) and CAW Local 285 members. The union was asking for permission to picket the MTE Logistix warehouse, which is contracted to distribute all Molson and Labatt beer. Originally, the LRB had denied workers the right to secondary picket at the warehouse. They are now allowed to picket the location.

"This is a watershed decision," says AFL President Audrey Cormack. "The Labour Relations Board has, for once, stood up for workers' right to picket."

"We have said for years that Alberta's ban on secondary picketing is too broad and infringes on the right to free expression. And today we have been confirmed by the Board."

The LRB decided that section 82 is "overbroad" and "goes beyond the protection of bystanders to the conflict and erects an absolute prohibition on expression through picketing..." It says this sweeping ban is not justified under the Charter of Rights. It goes on to say the section shields "ally employers" from the consequences of participating in a labour dispute.

"In Alberta, employers have an unfair advantage because the law shields them from playing fair," says Cormack. "BDL and other employers have used the law to unfairly avoid bargaining in good faith with workers. Maybe this decision will mark a new trend to more fairness."

Cormack called on the government to accept the decision and not appeal to the courts. "They should acknowledge this decision and re-write section 82 so it complies with the Charter."

"When the striking CAW members start picketing the MTE warehouse, I'll be with them. It is a hard-won victory that I hope will help them get a good settlement."

For further information contact:

Audrey Cormack, President     @     483-3021 wk/ 499-6530 cell/ 428-9367 hm

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