July 30, 2020 - No. 51

Strengthening the Arbitrary Powers of the State
to Attack Workers' Rights

The Anti-Social, Anti-Worker and
Anti-National Direction of the
Alberta Government

• Condemn the Alberta Government's Anti-Worker Bill 32!  - Peggy Morton
When Democracy Is Self-Serving It Is No Longer Worthy of the
- George Allen

Unions Speak Out Against Bill 32
Alberta Federation of Labour
United Nurses of Alberta
Alberta Union of Public Employees
Health Sciences Association of Alberta

For Your Information
• Changes to the Alberta Labour Relations Code

Strengthening the Arbitrary Powers of the State to Attack Workers' Rights

The Anti-Social, Anti-Worker and Anti-National Direction of the Alberta Government

The Alberta Federation of Labour and many individual unions are mobilizing their members to oppose Bill 32 and stand up for the collective rights of workers and against the blatant interference in their affairs by the Kenney government.

Workers' Forum calls on all workers to join these mobilizations, demand that Bill 32 be repealed and stop all anti-democratic measures based on pushing an anti-social, anti-worker and anti-national agenda.

The Kenney Alberta government is looking for undisputed power to pay the rich and pursue integration into the U.S. Empire and its war machine. That is the direction it has given for the oil industry in line with the demands of Big Oil. Billions of dollars in public funds are being paid to the rich to build pipelines to the south to feed the military beast as well as to finance debts and deficits while investments in social programs are decreased, health care is privatized, the oil barons are let off the hook for their orphaned and abandoned oil wells, all in the name of economic recovery. The government which serves narrow private interests and their pundits in the media, think tanks and academic institutions, come up with endless versions of tired old schemes in the name of "economic recovery" and to support the "foundational industries," which need, in fact, a new direction and aim.

To prevent any positive change, this government is strengthening the arbitrary powers of the executive to silence the voice of the workers and others and to block their organized struggle in defence of their rights and for an Alberta whose direction and future they can discuss and participate in setting.

The Kenney government and the rich oligarchs it serves treat Alberta as if it is their private property to do with as they wish. Their project, with its anti-social, anti-worker and anti-national aims, can never serve the province or people of Alberta. Their provocative methods which misuse the democratic institutions to achieve and justify what cannot be justified can never serve the province and people of Alberta.

Alberta workers and workers across Canada have shown and continue to show during the pandemic that workers are the essential human factor for production, progress and the well-being of the people. Workers are not subservient to that social force Kenney refers to as the "job creators." That social force represents the obstacle, the roadblock to solving society's problems, because that social force is consumed by its narrow private aim to profit off the natural resources and the work of working people which transforms those resources into useful products.

Workers are the creators of the social wealth that society and the people depend on for their living and well-being. They know they must uphold the public interest if their own individual interest is to hold any meaning. This is why the definition of what constitutes the public interest and who gets to define it is at the heart of the opposition to the anti-democratic measures the government is taking.

The Kenney government is espousing the tired old neo-liberal mantra of the Mike Harris government in Ontario and the Harper federal government. We are told: workers must support the drive of the "job creators" for greater profits and greater control over all sectors of the economy because something will "trickle down" in terms of jobs, wages and security.

Nothing is going to trickle down but more instability, misery and impunity. The recurring crises show that this ruling elite is a spent force with nothing to offer. They cannot solve problems because the solving of problems would interfere with their private interests, privilege and power. They are unable to think outside the realm of imposing their backward ideas on the people. Enough!

The actions of the Kenney government and the governments of Ontario and Quebec during this pandemic and crisis are a clear message to Alberta workers and others across Canada and Quebec that they can expect no solution from those who do not share weal and woe with them.

Let us uphold the dignity of labour by building the workers' opposition to the anti-democratic methods being used by governments at all levels to further narrow private interests. Undermining workers' unions must not pass!

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Condemn the Alberta Government's
Anti-Worker Bill 32!

The Kenney government in Alberta tabled Bill 32, the Restoring Balance in Alberta's Workplaces Act, 2020 on July 7. The bill passed second reading on July 23, and, in an all night marathon sitting that ended the current legislative session, the bill was passed on the morning of July 29 and will become law after receiving Royal Assent. 

Bill 32 makes significant amendments to the Employment Standards Code and the Labour Relations Code in ways that trample workers' rights. The government has launched this attack on workers under the hoax of supporting economic recovery, restoring balance in the workplace, and getting Albertans back to work. In fact, the aim is to consolidate the power and privilege of the rich within an old normal of recurring economic crises, devastating insecurity of employment and a state-organized bias favouring employers over workers within the social relation at the workplace.

The bill features an anti-worker aim to lower the working and living conditions of all Alberta workers both unionized and not. It openly favours private profit of the few to the detriment of the workers who produce all value through their work. For example, the bill shamelessly amends the Employment Standards Code to allow employers to eliminate most overtime pay for non-union workers by averaging worked hours over 52 weeks!

The bill also greatly widens arbitrary powers of the Director of Employment Standards or the Minister of Labour to grant exemptions or variances to the Employment Standards Code, giving employers the ability to trample on workers' rights with impunity. An exemption removes the obligation of employers to meet the minimum criteria in the Code when they make requests for exemptions or variances, and allows such exemptions to be renewed indefinitely.

These retrogressive changes contained in the bill are backed by a direct attack on workers and their right to defend themselves and society collectively through their defence organizations. Bill 32 seeks to cripple workers and their unions so as to drive down the living and working conditions of working people generally.

The government claims individual workers need "freedom of choice" with regard to their own organizations and that government dictate through Bill 32 will give them that "freedom." In this regard, the bill takes aim at the right of workers and their unions to decide their own affairs. The government vows to stamp out workers' and their unions' "political activities and other causes," which the ruling elite in power do not like.

The legislation gives the Kenney government the authority to determine that the only "legitimate" activity of unions is "collective bargaining and representation of members" and nothing else. Even this is a farce as workers know full well how the Kenney government neither respects nor defends collective bargaining. This can be seen in practice in its absolute refusal to negotiate with public sector workers, as well as its legislated attacks on them.

The Kenney government's aim is all rights for employers and no rights for employees!

The legislation directly interferes in the affairs of unions and the decisions their members may take collectively. It requires individual workers to declare that a portion of their dues can be used for "political activities," otherwise the union is deprived of that portion of their dues. The government has the audacity to give itself the right to decide what activities of a union are "political" or not and how it spends its money. The government is dictating to workers and their unions how to conduct their affairs and manage their own money. 

No Mr. Kenney, workers and their unions are independent organizations. You are not a member of a workers' union and if one of your government members were a member in good standing of a union then they would have the right to discuss and decide the direction of their union and how it spends its money according to the rules and regulations of the union.

Bill 32 increases government interference in the affairs of Alberta workers and their unions. Its purpose is to paralyze the unions in order to stop the organized working class from opposing the government's anti-social agenda and from putting forward their own pro-social solutions to problems facing the working people of Alberta and their economy. The Alberta working class, both unionized and non-union workers, will never accept such attacks on the rights of workers and of all Albertans to organize and speak their minds against a government agenda that is anti-social and anti-worker and to fight for the right to set a pro-social direction for the economy.

In anticipation of the passing of Bill 32 the Alberta Federation of Labour announced on July 27 that "a large coalition of Alberta unions will launch a legal challenge to Jason Kenney's draconian new labour bill on the grounds that it violates key democratic rights enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms." The Federation organized a press conference on July 29 to denounce the legislation and the gamut of the Kenney government's anti-social measures imposed on Alberta and reminded the Premier that Albertans in their thousands -- youth, seniors, workers, women -- have already joined in mass actions against the government's attacks. Alberta Federation of Labour President Gil McGowan reported that so far 26 unions and the AFL have agreed to participate in the Charter challenge to Bill 32. He quoted the bible in his message to Kenney: "You have sown the wind, now you will reap the whirlwind."

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When Democracy Is Self-Serving
It Is No Longer Worthy of the Name

Alberta workers have noted that no legislation allows "individual Albertans" to withhold a portion of their taxes if they do not support government actions which they may deem not to be "legitimate" government activities or which they may oppose. The anti-worker vitriol of the Kenney government is such that it claims the right to prohibit any discussion in the society that does not follow its reactionary party line. Those who oppose the Kenney party line and suggest another direction for the economy that would be better than the insecurity of a resource-based crisis-ridden one are made persona non grata.

Jason Copping, Kenney's Minister of Labour and Immigration confessed on July 8, during second reading of Bill 132 in the legislature, that the state will attack any organization that opposes his party's line on resource development as the only direction for the economy. Copping said:

"Our government also made a commitment in our platform to protect workers from being forced to fund political activities and causes without explicit opt-in approval. Bill 32 delivers on that promise. Some national unions have used their workers' dues to actively campaign against Albertans, their jobs, and our foundational industries. For example, Unifor launched a lawsuit against the Northern Gateway pipeline despite representing oil sands workers in northern Alberta. Mr. Speaker, we support individual workers' rights, and we are following through with our campaign promise to protect workers, restore balance, and strengthen democracy. Now, Bill 32 does not change the ability to campaign for causes; it simply confirms that a worker's explicit approval is required if they choose to support political activities with their union dues. This does not change the status quo for how unions collect their core union dues in order to represent their members."

Copping supposedly supports individual rights but not if those rights are expressed in a workers' collective. A collective of workers is a relation among individuals and between individuals and their collective. The individuals in the collective have the right to work out this relation without interference. Is this not an expression of democracy in action? The government's legislative attack on workers and their unions is an attack on their democratic right to fashion their own collectives without interference.

Copping confesses that his government does not agree with Unifor so it will use its legislative powers to attack unions, and not just Unifor but all unions, unless of course they side with the government and its direction for the province and economy.

The government attack on workers' rights is not happening in a vacuum. The government has its sword out for all who may be critical of its direction. The Kenney government recently passed the Critical Infrastructure Defence Act, which criminalizes people that the government declares have blocked, damaged or entered without reason any "essential infrastructure" such as pipelines, rail lines, highways, oil sites, electrical lines, or "any other thing prescribed by the regulations." These people can face hefty fines and jail sentences. The explicit target of that legislation is environmental activists, Indigenous nations, local communities and anyone else who expresses opposition to projects they consider are in violation of their rights and against the public interest.

With Bill 32, workers and their unions are the targets of increased state interference in their affairs. The law will interfere with the collection of union dues and dictate how the union’s money is used. Copping confesses that the government wants to stop discussion and prevent unions from waging campaigns they may deem to be in the workers' and public interest. This includes those defending their rights and those demanding a stop to paying the rich and for increased investments in social programs. Others under the gun may want legislative protections for workers' health and safety and guarantees of security for injured and unemployed workers; many want to see the affirmation of hereditary and treaty rights of Indigenous peoples and the humanization of the social and natural environment. The Kenney government considers all of this objectionable and a violation of the rights and privileges of the rich that his government upholds.

Workers' campaigns are often adopted by workers participating in union conventions and meetings. Copping says each "worker's explicit approval is required if they choose to support" the union and its campaigns or not. Without workers' individual "explicit approval" the union will be starved of part of its members' dues. Does the Kenney/Copping duo have the "explicit approval" of individual Albertans for its campaigns and actions?

The world is far more complicated than what Kenney or Copping would admit. The world is not pro this and con that. The world needs more collectives that think for themselves and decide on how to spend their money without state interference and what direction the economy and country need to defend the people from recurring crises and to open a path forward.

No to State Interference in Workers' Organizations!

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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."

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United Nurses of Alberta

In a press release entitled "UCP Bill 32 aimed at undermining unions' ability to advocate for members" issued on July 7, 2020, the United Nurses of Alberta (UNA) says:

"A UCP government bill introduced today is aimed at undermining the ability of unions to advocate on behalf of their members on issues like the privatization of health care, the creation of a national pharmacare program, and the protection of pensions.

"Bill 32, the Restoring Balance in the Workplace Act, is an attempt to make it difficult for nurses in Alberta to advocate on public interest issues that improve conditions for their members, their patients, and their communities in and out of the workplace.

"'The UCP is clearly trying to limit the ability of nurses and their union to stand up against a government that would privatize health care and jeopardize their retirement security,' said United Nurses of Alberta President Heather Smith.

"Bill 32 would make Alberta the only jurisdiction in Canada to require union members to opt-in to having a portion of their dues go to 'political activities.'

"'UNA members set their union's priorities and actions and elect representatives to carry out those directions,' said Smith. ‘Bill 32 creates an unnecessary administrative burden for unions and interferes in a democratic process that is determined by our members,'"[...]

"For more than four decades, UNA has advocated for a robust publicly funded and publicly delivered health care system. Given that Premier Jason Kenney has introduced sweeping changes to increase health care privatization in Bill 30, it is no surprise that his government wants to silence those who know the system best: Alberta's nurses.

"UNA will be taking time to thoroughly examine Bill 32 and its impact on UNA members. Further updates will be posted at una.ca."

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Alberta Union of Public Employees

The Alberta Union of Public Employees (AUPE) issued a press release, "Clamping down on union dues while accepting donations from the rich," on July 7, 2020. It says in part:

"Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) members are dropping the mask on Bill 32, which AUPE Secretary-Treasurer Jason Heistad says is just another UCP attack on working people's ability to build people power and fight for all Albertans disguised as 'employee choice.'"[...]

"Fighting for equality in the workplace; for better occupational health and safety (OHS) standards that keep us and our families safe; for stronger social services; for adequate, affordable housing; for equal and fair access to free health care: all of this is a social issue, and it's at the heart of our everyday mobilizing and collective bargaining."[...]

"The UCP want us to think this bill is about individual choice. It's really about dismantling our collective power, which is our political power. And that's clearly what this government fears most."

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Health Sciences Association of Alberta

Regarding Bills 30 and 32, the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSSA) President, Mike Parker, issued the following statement "Kenney launches his attack on health care and working Albertans" on July 9:

"This week, Jason Kenney's government tabled two of the most damaging pieces of legislation to health care and health-care workers that we have seen in decades.

"He's finally come clean with his ideological plan to destroy public health care and Albertans are counting on us, just like they've done time and time again, to defend public health care. We've been successful in fights like this in the past and, with your help, we can stand in his way once again.

"The Kenney government has tabled Bill 30: Health Statutes Amendment Act, 2020 and Bill 32: Restoring Balance in Alberta's Workplace Act. We have been expecting these attacks.

"Bill 30 speeds health care towards American-styled privatization during a pandemic. It would see public dollars go to profits rather than patient care. The flow of public dollars out of our province to national and multinational health corporations would come at a time when we can least afford it, and it would begin the decline of the public health-care system that Albertans have relied on for more than half a century.

"Bill 32 is an attack on working Albertans and the unions that represent them and advocate on their behalf. It is clearly unconstitutional based on past Supreme Court rulings, but that will tie us up in legal battles for years. We will have those fights to be sure, but we need to act now, together, to push back at the local level.

"This bill is full of simply incorrect innuendo. It suggests our finances are hidden to you. As any of you who went through our Special Report can see, our finances and audited financial statements are available to any member who wishes to review them and they have been annually for as long as I have been a member.

"It then suggests that we spend a vast amount of our dues on political activities and other causes. This is simply incorrect ... our members have told us repeatedly (we poll on this regularly) that you want us to remain politically active on issues that matter to us. So, when a government does something that aligns with our values and positions, we will praise them for it. And when a party or a government promises attacks on us, and then follows through, you better believe we're going to have something to say.

"As for how much of our dues is spent on this? Well, we'd be hard pressed to buy a specialty coffee from Starbucks every pay period with the savings from not paying that portion.

"And right there you can see the value of all of us working together. There is no way any single one of us could have the same clout or ability to get into the media on our own. But our membership of 27,000 trusted health care professionals standing together is a force that makes Albertans notice what we have to say.

"That's what scares Jason Kenney and other right-wing politicians. Our message stands up for public health care. We stand up for regular, hard-working people rather than rich executives. Albertans see themselves more like us than they do like Kenney's cohort. That interrupts their path to profits and that's why they will do whatever they can to silence us.

"They will try to say it's about 'choice,' which always means it's about privatization. They will try to say it's about 'accountability,' which means it's about dividing us. They will say it's about unions that are no longer needed. I say, we need unions now more than ever because who else is going to stand up to these bullies who use the cover of a pandemic to sneak in dangerous legislation?

"So, I urge you to stand together with me and fight."

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For Your Information

Changes to the Alberta Labour Relations Code

Workers' Forum provides below some of the major changes to the Alberta Labour Relations Code contained in Bill 32. 

Union Dues Deduction, Opt-In Requirements

This provision is intended to make it as difficult as possible for a union and its members to set their own agenda according to their needs and in response to unfolding events. It blocks initiatives from the union's elected representatives and members alike, on the basis that all activities must conform to a pre-determined amount or percentage of union dues. This amount is to be set at a time and frequency as yet unknown and subject to arbitrary changes at any time. Government interference in how union dues are collected and used attacks the integrity, independence and collective rights of workers.

 The Kenney government is erecting a minefield that unions must cross in order to pursue any activities other than collective bargaining and "representing the interests of the members," which the legislation appears to restrict to grievances and arbitration. The red tape and requirements to do otherwise are massive.

First a union must produce a budget that determines percentages of membership dues to be used for "political activities and causes" and for "collective bargaining and representation of members' interests." No definition of what those terms mean is provided. Activities that require "election" by each member are to be defined in government regulations. Each member of the union has to provide a written election authorizing the union to collect dues on their behalf for "political activities and causes." This election can be changed at any time.

Dues cannot be collected until a union has complied with the requirement to state the amount or percentage of dues to be allocated to "political activities or causes" or other not yet specified activities. In addition, every worker covered by the collective agreement has to make a written "election" whether to contribute or not to funding designated for political activities and causes.

The union must keep the employer informed of all authorizations and revocations with the employer accordingly responsible for adjusting the collection of dues. Unnamed parties can launch complaints to the collection of dues. The legislation is silent as to who can launch such complaints. In response to a complaint, the bill gives the Alberta Labour Relations Board wide powers to change the amounts allocated for political activities and causes and even suspend the collection of dues altogether.

With this bill, the Kenney government attacks the right of workers to participate in political affairs through their own collectives, to develop their own independent working class politics, to manage their own affairs according to rules, methods and forms they themselves work out and organize without interference from their employers and governments, and to act in defence of the rights of all.

The arbitrary powers the bill confers through regulation-making are vast. Regulations can be introduced to determine what activities are included in "political activities and causes," when and how often unions can make changes to their dues structure or amount, and the proportion of dues allocated for "political activities and causes." These amendments apply to all existing labour legislation in Alberta, including the Police Officers Collective Bargaining Act, the Public Education Collective Bargaining Act and the Public Service Employee Relations Act. Academic staff associations, graduate student associations and postdoctoral fellow associations are not included at present, but the Act provides that they may be included in the future.


Picketing is already severely restricted in existing legislation, regulations and the use of court-imposed injunctions intended to make it ineffective. Bill 32 adds new restrictions including, "Obstructing or impeding a person who wishes to cross a picket line from crossing the picket line is a wrongful act."

Even stopping someone to provide information about the purpose of the picket and to ask people to respect the picket line would now appear to be illegal. Another new provision states that when an employer moves work to "employer allies" no picketing of that employer ally can take place without approval of the Alberta Labour Relations Board (ALRB).

Bill 32 provides the government with a pretext to invoke Bill 1, the Critical Infrastructure Defence Act which became law on June 17. Bill 1 makes it an offence to "without lawful right, justification or excuse, wilfully obstruct, interrupt or interfere with the construction, use, maintenance or operation of essential infrastructure." The bill imposes heavy penalties not only for committing the offence prescribed under the act but for counselling people to commit the offence.

Certification Without a Vote

The UCP has previously passed legislation requiring a vote for union certification even when a clear majority of workers have signed cards. The Labour Relations Board has the power to certify a union without a vote in the case of clear misconduct of an employer, for example firing workers who were identified as leaders in the organizing drive. This power is now further limited. Instead of certifying the union, the Board must order a new vote and certify "only if no other remedy or remedies would be sufficient to counteract the effects of the prohibited practices."

First Contract Arbitration

Under existing law, the ALRB may order first contract arbitration when an employer refuses to bargain in good faith, or has engaged in unfair labour practices such as firing or intimidating workers. First contract arbitration is still included in the new Code, but made meaningless by the conditions imposed. Unfair labour practices by the employer cannot be considered. So long as the employer formally recognizes the union and agrees to meet, it can present any demands it wants, make no effort to negotiate, and can harass, intimidate and even fire workers without invoking first contract arbitration. In other words, the employer can engage in unfair labour practices with impunity.

Closing the Open Period

Current labour law provides for an "open period" during which workers can decide to change unions. This is a two-month period at the end of a two-year collective agreement, or the 11th and 12th month of subsequent years in multi-year agreements. Bill 32 now permits unions and employers to negotiate a new collective agreement prior to the open period. Once the new agreement is signed, no application can be made by another union. This process can be repeated endlessly. The union must supposedly inform employees that agreeing to the collective agreement will mean they cannot change unions. This clause could be more properly called the "company union clause" because its aim is to allow the Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC) and employer-overlords to cook up backroom sweetheart deals and block union members from having any opportunity to challenge CLAC and change unions.

The ALRB found in the Firestone/Flint decision in 2011 that the practice of hastily signing a new collective agreement before the open period, a practice which is carried out only by CLAC, violated workers' rights to change their union. Bill 32 overturns this decision.

Mediation and Post-Secondary Binding Arbitration

Bill 32 makes all provisions in academic staff collective agreements to resolve negotiations by binding arbitration null and void including ongoing arbitrations as of July 7, 2020.

Before a strike vote or lockout occurs, the bill demands two levels of mediation with "enhanced mediation" added before a strike vote can take place.

Suspension of Union Dues

Bill 32 reverses changes made by the NDP government to remove language in the Labour Code that said the ALRB could order suspension of union dues in the case of an "illegal" strike. The ALRB may now order suspension of dues for up to 6 months in the case of what it determines is an "illegal" strike. The Board may direct employers to collect the union dues during an illegal lockout for up to 6 months.

Financial Statements

The law requires unions to provide financial statements "to each member" in writing. This measure is not about the rights of members to information. Far from it, the law deprives the workers of their right to decide. It will supersede the requirements of union constitutions and any regulations members have agreed to follow. By demanding that financial information be produced in writing to each member, the ability of the employer to gain access to this information is greatly enhanced, which is clearly the motive. For example, if a union is contemplating strike action it would normally not make public the status of its strike fund. Private employers are under no such demand to provide financial statements to their workers.

Construction Unions

Bill 32 makes several changes to the operations of construction unions in Alberta and to the rules governing major construction projects. Workers' Forum is studying these changes and will report on them in future issues of the paper.

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