Unions Speak Out Against Bill 32

Alberta Federation of Labour

In a press conference on July 29, hours after the passage of Bill 32 by the Alberta legislature, the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) announced that 26 unions plus the AFL will be launching a Charter Challenge to the constitutionality of Bill 32. AFL President Gil McGowan denounced Bill 32’s attacks on workers and unions and pledged an all out mobilization against it. 

The AFL had already launched a Defend Worker Rights Campaign to mobilize workers to speak out against Bill 32. Since the legislation was introduced the AFL has been providing information on its website to explain its features. In its most recent post on July 24, the six major attacks on workers' rights contained in the legislation are elaborated:

- the averaging of overtime over 52 weeks so as to virtually eliminate overtime pay;
- the end of minimum standards in the Employment Standards Code;
- defunding unions;
- the intimidation of workers whose employers will be informed of their decision to contribute or not contribute their union dues to support "political action";
- the crushing of freedom of expression by rendering picketing ineffective;
- and, government intrusion into the affairs of private citizens and groups.

The article quotes AFL President Gil McGowan:

"Imagine if a left-leaning government introduced a law giving themselves power over the internal affairs of the Chamber of Commerce or the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. There would be a justifiable outcry and legitimate claims of government overreach. But somehow this is deemed acceptable if the targets are workers and labour unions. The UCP's double standard speaks volumes about what they're really trying to accomplish with Bill 32. This isn't about freedom or choice. And it's certainly not about restoring balance. As constitutional lawyer Colin Feasby wrote in a recent analysis of Bill 32 for the University of Calgary's Faculty of Law blog, Bill 32 is a 'paradigmatic example' of legislative power being used to ‘silence or impair the efficacy of political opponents.' In other words, it's about shutting up people the government doesn't agree with."

In the AFL's July 7 statement launching its opposition to Bill 32, McGowan stated:

"What this bill is really about is tipping the scales of power in favour of the UCP, their corporate friends and their wealthy donors -- at the expense of everyone else.

"It's about shutting down the ability of ordinary working Albertans to pool their money and advocate on issues that matter to them.

"And it's about weakening the bargaining power of workers, both in the workplace and on the political stage." [...]

"The UCP's new labour law will weaken the bargaining power of Alberta workers, by dropping the floor of rights for non-union workers and by tying the hands of unionized workers. And, in the process, it will set off a race-to-the-bottom, in terms of wages and workplace rights."[...]

"Why is Premier Kenney so intent on attacking workers and unions? It's because he knows we will fight him and his destructive, ideological agenda. Alberta unions have been leading the fight against the UCP's cuts to education and health care.

"We've been advocating for safer workplaces and more secure pensions. We've been calling for public Pharmacare, affordable child care and a plan to deal with the global move away from fossil fuels. We've also been arguing that going back to 'normal' after COVID-19 is not good enough. We know that, as a province, we can and should do better."

This article was published in

Number 51 - July 30, 2020

Article Link:
Unions Speak Out Against Bill 32: Alberta Federation of Labour


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