Growing Opposition to the Anti-Social
Offensive in Alberta
Workers Express a Resounding No! to Bill 9 and the Dictate of the Kenney Government
Picket organized by AUPE Local 95, July 3, 2019, at Foothills Hospital
Information pickets continue to be organized across
Alberta to oppose anti-worker Bill 9, the Public
Act. Public sector workers demand the
government adhere to the provisions in their legally negotiated
collective agreements covering 180,000 union members. The contracts
required arbitration on a wage-re-opener to take place by June 30. In
with the signed agreements negotiated in good faith with public sector
unions and without the consent of the workers involved, the government
has arbitrarily denied the arbitration to occur by the scheduled date.
Workers expressed their militant stand in defence of
their rights in a massive turnout of more than 1,000 workers at an
information picket organized by Local 95, Alberta Union of Provincial
Employees (AUPE). Held during lunch hour on July 3 at Foothills
Hospital in Calgary, hospital workers represented by AUPE, the United
Alberta and the Health Sciences Association of Alberta came together on
the picket line. Active and retired workers from other sectors also
enthusiastically joined in. Together they expressed their stand through
chants and messages on their placards: Yes to Good Faith Negotiations!
No to Dictate! Defend our Public Services! As one united force of
the working class they declared that an attack on the right of public
sector workers to a say on their wages and conditions of work is an
attack on all workers and the social conditions of all Albertans. The
Kenney government's dictate against workers and the social conditions
of all is not
acceptable and the people do not consent.
Calgary, July 3, 2019
Members of Local 95 worked long and hard to organize the
picket and mobilize support to guarantee a successful turnout and a
resounding success it was. AUPE organized buses to bring workers from
hospitals all across the city to the picket. Many workers facing
difficulty arranging time off from work showed determination to join
Hundreds of workers emerged out of Foothills Hospital on their lunch
hour to join their voices with others in defence of their rights. Local
95 distributed pizza to ensure no one missed their lunch. The streets
outside Foothills Hospital rang out with chants against Bill 9, for
and for the rights of all to health care and other social programs.
Successful pickets were also held in Tofield on June 28,
Lamont on July 2, and Leduc Hospital on July 9, as well as in numerous
other cities and towns.
Picket at Le Duc hospital, July 9, 2019.
During the picket at Foothills Hospital, Guy Smith AUPE
President led off the speeches saying in part, "We have been
disrespected by the government of Alberta. You have had your legal
rights taken away by the power of a government that thinks it can use
the power of the state to crush workers. We are here to tell them you
crush the will of the people; you will never crush the strength of
workers in solidarity. You cannot use the legislative power of the
state to take away collective bargaining agreements that are negotiated
in good faith and legally binding. Do we really want to see an Alberta
where the government can just rip up the deal?"
Smith's question was met with a resounding No!
"In Alberta a deal is a
deal, and any government that
tries to rip that out of our hands, we will have to take action and we
are doing it today folks. We are not the only ones holding pickets.
They are taking place across the province. This is just the beginning.
When we leave today, go back to your worksites and talk to your fellow
them we all need to stand together in solidarity against this
aggressive bully of a government."
Sandra Azocar, Executive Director of Friends of
Medicare, and a former Vice-President of AUPE said, "The reason we are
here is because we believe that your conditions of work are care
conditions. If you are not resourced, if you are not staffed, if you
are not given the opportunity to do the work that you do on behalf of
Albertans day in
and day out, then it doesn't work for every single one of us. [...] We
will stand by you until this violation of your rights is fixed. This
government has the responsibility to provide care. I have not seen this
much energy since 2012 when the hospitals were surrounded by workers
because you had been told that you were a dime a dozen. We showed
them back then that dime-a-dozen people can shut down hospitals. This
government needs to be told very clearly that they need to arbitrate,
that they need to negotiate at the table, and not legislate. Thank you
so much for standing up for Albertans. Thank you so much for standing
up for public health and public services and I promise that we will
be behind you all the way."
Karen Craik, Provincial Secretary Treasurer of the
United Nurses of Alberta said, "Rights belong to all Albertans, not
just the rich corporate Albertans. The government has said that they
are going to wait for the Blue Ribbon Panel to come out to determine
what our wages are worth. We provide care to all Albertans. Even
teachers are affected
by this legislation. It is all public sector workers, that are under
attack here and the government says it is just a slight delay because
they need to know what our finances are. But they did not stop cutting
the taxes for huge corporations and did not have to wait for the Blue
Ribbon Panel results to come in before they made that decision. So they
are giving a tax cut to corporations and cutting us. Albertans should
not stand for that because every Albertan who gets cut in the public
sector means a cut to the services for the average Albertan. I just
want to say, Jason Kenney, we are all Albertans, you cannot cut public
services because you will cut the care for all Albertans."
Laurel Jackson, a provincial executive member of the
Health Sciences Association of Alberta, congratulated AUPE for
organizing the picket and said she was overwhelmed by the turnout.
Speaking of the Klein government years, she stated with great
conviction, "I lived
through the 1990s and I will not do that again."
Bonnie Gostola, an AUPE
the health care sector thanked all the unions for joining together and
for "making sure that our voices are heard and that they matter.
Everybody's voice matters here. We are glad and proud of all our
members that came out today in support and solidarity for everything
that we do every
day for Albertans. It doesn't matter if you are a nurse or a teacher,
an electrician or a plumber, when you provide a service to Albertans,
we matter. When our collective bargaining rights are threatened, we are
all under threat, and Albertans are all under threat. That is
unacceptable. They are going after our fundamental, constitutional
bargain in good faith, and this is the time that we need to fight back
and show this government that everything we do, every public service is
important to every Albertan."
David Choy, Chair of AUPE Local 95, gave heartfelt
thanks to everyone who came out to join together to make the picket
such a success saying, "We have sent a clear message today, we have
shown that we are paying attention, that we can organize; but the
government needs to hold up their end of the bargain.
"We need to be asking ourselves, what is next? We need
to be prepared to protect our collective bargaining rights. Please
inform everyone of what you have seen; visit the AUPE website; use any
of the social media platforms available; by standing side by side we
cause them to take notice, to pause and think twice. Solidarity forever
After the speeches, the picket continued for well over
an hour, growing in numbers as workers from every department of the
hospital joined their fellow health care workers from across the city
demonstrating their determined No!
to Bill 9 and all government attacks
on workers' rights and the social conditions of the people.
Tofield, June 28, 2019.
Vegreville, June 27, 2019.