Shaw strike is costing Edmonton millions in lost convention business

EDMONTON - The labour dispute at the Shaw Conference Centre has already resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars in convention business - and if it drags on that figure could easily run into the millions.

That's the message delivered by major unions at a news conference in Edmonton this morning.

"The people who run the Conference Centre have been telling City Council that the strike has had no economic impact," says Les Steel, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour.

"But nothing could be further from the truth. Unions have been canceling major events at the Conference Centre since the strike began in May. And, the amount of lost business is substantial."

At the news conference, it was revealed that several major unions - including the Alberta Teachers Association, the United Nurses of Alberta, the Carpenters Union and the Communications, Energy & Paperworkers Union - have already decided to divert more than $800,000 of business away from the Shaw.

The amount of potential revenue lost to other businesses in the downtown area was estimated at more than $10 million.

"Huge amounts of business are being lost - not only to the Convention Centre, but also to businesses in the downtown area," says Steel. "What we're trying to demonstrate is that there will be a big price to pay if this strike is allowed to drag on."

Steel says the labour movement would be happy to lift its boycott on the Shaw Centre - as soon as a fair settlement is reached with the striking workers.

"Boycotting the Shaw is not something we want to do," he says. "We'd love to do business with the Shaw - but that's not going to happen until they start treating their workers with respect. And it's not going to happen until the workers get the protection they deserve in the form of a fair and reasonable collective agreement."

Steel says the strike could be ended quickly and business returned to normal if EDE and the City would simply agree to submit the dispute to independent, third-party arbitration.

"Today we are announcing the amount of money that the union movement is diverting away from the Shaw, but we could just as easily be talking about the millions of dollars that would go into the conference centre if a fair settlement was in place. It's just a matter of political will."

For more information contact::

Les Steel, AFL President  @ 780-499-4135

Gil McGowan, AFL Communications @ 780-483-3021

**Backgrounder Attached**




The ATA holds three major conventions in Edmonton each year, often at the Shaw Conference Centre. The Greater Edmonton convention attracts 8,500 teachers. The North Central convention draws 5,800 teachers. And the East Central convention is attended by 1,400 teachers.

The ATA says all of these conventions may be moved from the downtown area if the Shaw strike is not resolved fairly.

Taken together, these conventions account for between $350,000 - $400,000 in revenue for the Conference Centre each year. But the implications for businesses in the downtown core are even more significant.

The ATA estimates that the Great Edmonton convention generates about $800,000 in business for downtown hotels, restaurants, shops and other businesses. The North Central convention brings in about $1.74 million and the East Central about $150,000.

ATA Totals

Revenue lost to Conference Centre:     $350,000-400,000
Revenue lost to Downtown Businesses:   $2.7 million
(Hotels, restaurants, transportation etc.)

II. United Nurses of Alberta (UNA)

UNA had signed agreements with the Shaw Conference Centre for their 2003 and 2004 Annual General Meetings. As a result of the strike, UNA has cancelled those bookings.

UNA's AGMs are two-day events that attract 400-500 nurses from around the province. In 1999, UNA spend $16,500 on their AGM at the Shaw. Assuming that prices haven't change significantly, the cancellation of the 2003 and 2004 bookings will cost the Shaw $33,000.

UNA has also decided to hold its one-day 2003 Negotiation Reporting Meeting (450 delegates) elsewhere. That's a loss of another $5,000 - $6,000 to the Shaw.

Assuming that delegates to UNA meetings spend $150 a day (hotel, food, transportation, shopping etc.) the total loss of revenue to the downtown businesses would be more than half a million dollars - just on these three events.

UNA Totals

Revenue lost to Conference Centre:     $38,000+
Revenue lost to Downtown Businesses:   $515,000 (approx.)
(Hotels, restaurants, transportation etc.)


The Edmonton local of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters will soon be holding a large function to celebrate its 100th anniversary. This gala, which is expected to attract more than 1,000 people, was originally scheduled to be held at the Shaw Conference Centre. But as a result of the strike, the location has been changed.

The Carpenters say they would have spent $150,000 at the Convention Centre. That money is now being spent at the University of Alberta's Butterdome.

The Carpenters also say the Convention Centre has now been taken out of the running for any of the union's upcoming international conventions. These five-day events typically attract 3,500 delegates from across Canada and the United States.

Assuming that delegates spend $150 a day on hotels, food, transportation etc., the amount of revenue lost to downtown businesses is about $2.6 million. Losses to the Convention Centre itself would probably been in excess of $200,000.

Carpenter Totals

Revenue lost to Conference Centre:     $350,000+
Revenue lost to Downtown Businesses:   $2.6 million (approx.)
(Hotels, restaurants, transportation etc.)


Edmonton was being considered for CEP's national convention in the Fall of 2004. However, as a result of the strike, the convention will be held elsewhere. CEP national conventions attract 1,400 delegates, 1,000 spouses, guests and observers over a six-day period. CEP estimates they would have paid at least $100,000 to the Shaw Conference Centre itself. Loss in economic spin-off to the Edmonton economy is estimated at more than four million dollars.

CEP also decided to hold its Western Regional Conference for the of Fall 2003 in another city. This conference attracts 500 delegates, 300 spouses and children and 100 staff, guests and observers.

CEP estimates that its decision to move this conference from Edmonton represents a loss of about $30,000 in direct lost revenue to the Conference Centre - and about $1,000,000 in economic spin-off for Edmonton businesses.

CEP Totals

Revenue lost to Conference Centre:     $130,000+
Revenue lost to Edmonton Businesses:   $5.0 million (approx.)
(Hotels, restaurants, transportation etc.)

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