Unions prepare to set a course for the 21st century

CALGARY - Hundreds of union members and activists from across the province will gather in Calgary next week to set a course for the Alberta labour movement as it prepares to enter the 21st century.

The Alberta Federation of Labour will hold its biennial convention in Calgary starting Thursday, April 15 and continuing until Sunday, April 18. The convention will take place at the Calgary Westin Hotel, located at 320 - 4th Ave S.W.

"This will be our last convention of the 20th century," says AFL president Audrey Cormack. "It will be an opportunity for unions to look back on their many accomplishments and make plans for an even brighter future."

More than 400 union members from about 30 different public and private sector unions are expected to attend the convention. These delegates will debate a wide range of policy resolutions and hear from a number of important guest speakers. Highlights include the following:

  • AFL President Audrey Cormack will give her "President's Address" on Thursday, April 15 at 10:30 a.m. Cormack will discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the labour movement in Alberta today.
  • Bob White, president of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), will address the convention Thursday at 2:30 p.m. This will be one of White's last major speeches as president of the CLC - he is scheduled to step down as leader at the CLC's convention in May.
  • On Thursday at 4:30 p.m. Joe Maloney, Canadian director of the AFL-CIO, Building Trades and Construction department, will bring greetings from the building trades.
  • Nycole Turmel, executive director of the Public Service Alliance of Canada will talk about her union's fight for pay equity in the federal public service. She will address the convention on Friday, April 16 at 10:30 a.m.
  • A rally to highlight union concerns with the provincial and federal governments will be held outside the McDougall Building in downtown Calgary over the lunch hour on Friday, April 16. Speakers will include Cormack, Turmel and New Democrat MLA Raj Pannu.
  • Professor Elaine Bernard, director of the Trade Union Program at Harvard University, will discuss prospects and challenges for unions in the 21st century. Professor Bernard will address the convention at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, April 16.
  • The AFL will release a report on the state of the labour movement in Alberta. The report will describe current union strength and identify challenges facing unions as they prepare to enter the 21st century. The report will be presented to convention delegates at 3:15 p.m. on Friday, April 16
  • Pam Barrett, Leader of the Alberta New Democrats, will talk about economic and political concerns her party shares with the labour movement. Barrett will speak Friday at 4:15 p.m.
  • A panel of labour leaders - including Terry Mutton, CUPE division president; Pauline Worsfold, vice-president of the United Nurses of Alberta (UNA); and Kathleen Connor, president of the National Federation of Nurses Unions (NFNU) - will address the convention on Saturday morning at 10 a.m. The panel will discuss challenges to Medicare in Alberta and at the national level. They will also discuss the role workers and unions can play in protecting Canada's public health care system.
  • Elections for executive officers and members of the Executive Council will take place Sunday, April 18 at 11 a.m.

In addition to hearing from speakers and participating in the events listed above, delegates to the AFL convention will also discuss numerous resolutions and a major policy paper on unions and the environment.

See attached agenda for more details about the convention schedule.

For more information call:

Gil McGowan, AFL Communications: (780) 483-3021 (work) or (403) 910-1137 (cell)

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