May 2011: AFL convention; lineup of star speakers at CLC convention; battle for workplace safety continues; workers warned about delayed retirement

AFL Convention a success: Read all about it!

  • About 400 delegates and guests attended the AFL convention in Calgary for a packed schedule of events that included:
    • A moving ceremony to mourn workers killed and injured on the job;
    • A parade at Calgary International Airport in support of CAW workers negotiating a new contract;
    • A rousing speech from the secretary treasurer of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO that prompted affiliates to donate more than $50,000 to the group's Defence Fund;
    • An inspiring talk on how to organize campaigns by Harvard University Prof. Marshall Ganz, presented via Skype;
    • A picnic in Eau Claire park to support a drive by workers to keep Calgary's parks public; and
    • A rally before the federal election to remind voters of Harper's Broken Promises.

Lineup of star speakers at CLC convention

  • Jack Layton, leader of the NDP and now head of Canada's Official Opposition, thrilled delegates at the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) convention in Vancouver. He called for a united front in the drive to push for improving the Canada Pension Plan. AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka brought a message of thanks for Canada's labour movement. "You were at our side in Wisconsin, in Indiana and Ohio when we called. You kept your promise of solidarity." Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) – the first woman to lead an international labour organization –came with a message of praise and encouragement. "You, your unions and your Canadian Labour Congress are a bright spot in a world where unions and workers are under attack." 

Battle for workplace safety continues

  • New figures revealed that the number of Alberta workers killed on the job last year soared by 24 per cent to 136. The AFL continues to pressure the Alberta government to take real action to improve workplace safety, calling for a range of measures including posting the full safety records of employers online, rather than the meaningless statistics now provided; increasing the province's dismal record for prosecuting employers whose unsafe worksites cause injury and death (the prosecution rate for workplace fatalities is 2.8 per cent); giving inspectors the power to issue tickets for violations during inspections; and introducing mandatory worksite health-and-safety committees that include workers. For release on murder trial worksite ...; for blitzes release ...; for forklifts release ...; Day of Mourning release ...

Workers warned about delayed retirement

  • An Alberta government plan - revealed by Employment and Immigration Minster Thomas Lukaszuk - to encourage workers to delay retirement to deal with a looming labour shortage raised concerns in the labour movement. "If he's talking about forcing people to work past retirement age against their choice, then he's going to have a war on his hands," said AFL president Gil McGowan. "Working Albertans won't take kindly to having their retirement dreams undermined or taken away." For AFL press release ... and for government release ...

Urgent Action

  • Your help still needed at Gate Gourmet picket line - It's been a month since about 60 workers were locked out at Gate Gourmet's facility at Edmonton International Airport. The workers had been seeking only moderate increases – barely enough to keep pace with the rising cost of living and the soaring cost of gas needed to get to and from the worksite – but were given a final offer of a three-year wage freeze and a threat to close the facility. Join them on the picket line at Airport Road. For more info ...


  • May 17: International Day against Homophobia
  • May 21: International Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development
  • May 25: Multi-cultural Luncheon (CUPE 1158), 10410 – 111 Ave., Edmonton
  • May 30: World No-Tobacco Day
  • June 4: International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression
  • June 5: World Environment Day
  • June 11: Edmonton Pride Parade
  • June 20: World Refugee Day
  • June 21: National Aboriginal Day (click here for Edmonton events)
  • June 27/28: AFL Standing Committees' Orientation and Meeting

Did You Know ...

  • In 2008, there were 8.91 deaths per 100,000 workers in Alberta, compared to the national average of 7.14.
  • In 1991, Alberta spent $11.14 per worker on health and safety programs. In 2009, it spent $10.13 per worker.
  • In 2009, 620,000 Albertans (22 per cent of workforce) was employed in the top four most dangerous industries, compared to 341,000 workers (15 per cent of the workforce) in 1991.
  • Between 2006 and 2009, there were 142 fatalities directly on worksite, but only four convictions – that's a 2.8-per-cent conviction rate.

For more ...

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