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Alberta Diary: Redford Government resorts to bush-league law breaking as talks with civil servants hit another impasse

Members of the Alberta Government plan their latest strategy to hold the unionized civil service’s approximately 44,000 feet to the fire in negotiations. Actual government officials may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: William Aberhart.

Bargaining with the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees at an impasse again, so the government of Premier Alison Redford has had the bright idea of breaking its own labour laws in desperate hopes of pressurizing AUPE members to push their union into agreeing to the latest employer offer.

This isn’t really the way labour relations are supposed to work in a society of laws, but (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Time to change Alberta Labour Minister’s dual role, and maybe more, to ensure fair and equitable labour relations

Some roles just don’t seem to be a good match for the same person. Here are five examples. Perhaps Alberta Labour Minister Thomas Lukaszuk, below, finds himself in such a position?

Can Thomas Lukaszuk properly fulfill his dual roles as Alberta’s Minister of Labour and chair of the all-but-secret Public Sector Resource Committee of Premier Alison Redford’s cabinet?

On the face of it, it would seem not – but then, perhaps as Mr. Lukaszuk opined in an ill-tempered exchange on Twitter Saturday, your blogger just doesn’t understand the minister’s roles and responsibilities.

Still, layperson that I am, I really (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Alberta government ponders ‘options’ as independent arbitrator overturns firing of jail guards who took part in illegal strike

AUPE Correctional Officers rally at the picket line outside the Edmonton Remand Centre during their illegal strike in June 2013. Below: Arbitrator Andy Sims; former deputy premier Thomas Lukaszuk, as imagined by Sun Media; AUPE President Guy Smith.

An independent arbitrator has overturned the firing of four Correctional Officers who took part in the illegal April 2013 strike that the Redford Government claims prompted its unconstitutional legislative effort to all but ban collective bargaining by their union.

In a bare-bones note announcing the decision sent to the parties late Thursday, respected labour arbitrator Andy Sims replaced the firings with three-month (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Deputy minister testifies officials prepared anti-labour Bill 46 ‘proactively’ long before cabinet asked for it

AUPE President Guy Smith speaks with the media after Friday’s session of the Alberta Labour Relations Board hearing. Below: Deputy Minister of the Executive Council Peter Watson; AUPE lawyer William Rigutto.

It’s probably too much to hope the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees can persuade the Alberta Labour Relations Board the Redford Government had already decided to hammer the union into the ground with legislation while it pretended to negotiate a contract last year.

The union’s argument in a Labour Relations Board hearing last week was that as direct employer of 21,000 civil servants, the government never negotiated in good (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: If the deputy premier wants free speech for Ukraine so badly, why is he attacking it in Alberta?

Alberta Deputy Premier Thomas Lukaszuk in the Rotunda of the Alberta Legislature. Note, in the background at left, Wildrose Opposition Leader Danielle Smith. Below, a recent Twitter message from Mr. Lukaszuk, an inveterate and confrontational Tweeter, who thinks your free speech rights are a matter of LOL and #wink.

Last weekend, Alberta Deputy Premier Thomas Lukaszuk was in Edmonton’s Churchill Square enthusiastically demanding free speech and recognition of other fundamental rights for citizens of Ukraine.

Premier Alison Redford’s second in command told his listeners he recalled being in Kiev in 2004, observing the Orange Revolution: “Never again should there (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Who leaked the Alberta government’s response to AUPE’s Labour Board complaint, and why?

AUPE President Guy Smith in a characteristic pose.

Who leaked the Alberta government’s response to the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees’ unfair labour practices complaint to an Edmonton Journal political reporter, and why?

This is an important question because at the time the leak took place, the government document questioning AUPE President Guy Smith’s personal honesty in harsh and colourful terms was being kept confidential by the Alberta Labour Relations Board.

This was done as a fairly routine part of the board’s effort to effect a settlement of AUPE’s complaint that the Alberta government had broken an agreement it made (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Negotiating with Alberta’s PC government? Better bring witnesses!

Wildcat strike scene, grabbed from AUPE’s website during the strike. Below: AUPE President Guy Smith, Deputy Premier Thomas Lukaszuk.

Advice to anyone who tries to negotiate a deal with Alison Redford, Thomas Lukaszuk or any member or official of their government: take witnesses with you, and make sure you also bring a tape recorder.

You might want to bring a piece of paper, a pen, a Bible and a notary public as well. One-on-one meetings ending in “handshake deals” with these people? I don’t think so!

In what surely is one of the most outrageous Alberta news stories of the (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Deputy Premier Tom Lukaszuk: exactly the wrong man to solve Alberta’s jail crisis

Wildcatting Correctional Officers on the picket line at the Edmonton Remand Centre just before midnight last night, long after the government’s ultimatum ordering them back to work. Below: Trade unionists occupy an Alberta Labour Relations Board boardroom yesterday afternoon in support of the striking guards. Below that: Deputy Premier Thomas Lukaszuk as he appeared during a post-news-conference visit last night to the Edmonton Beerfest.

“You know what a tense, sensitive and dangerous situation like an illegal strike at a prison needs? Thomas Lukaszuk.”

So Tweeted well-known Edmonton New Democrat Lou Arab yesterday, the self-described political geek, Internet junkie, father, (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Has Alberta pioneered an unlegislated ban on collective bargaining?

“Post-secondary collective bargaining,” Alberta style. Advanced Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk and a post-secondary employer negotiator rig the deck, foreground, while a faculty association negotiators ponder what’s just happened. Actual Alberta bargaining teams may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: The real Mr. Lukaszuk, former advanced ed minister Steve Khan.

As is well known, Advanced Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk has sent a letter to the boards of all of Alberta post-secondary institutions instructing them on what their bargaining position and final wage offer must be in negotiations with their faculty associations and staff unions.

The position can be summed up in (Read more…) phrase, now frequently heard on college and university campuses throughout the province, “Zero, zero, zero.”

Oh, wait – and I mean that literally – after three years of nothing you can ask nicely for a 2-per-cent raise. If you’re lucky, and unlike Athabasca University your institution’s . . . → Read More: Alberta Diary: Has Alberta pioneered an unlegislated ban on collective bargaining?

Alberta Diary: Eureka! Labour relations in Alberta explained by, of all things, NHL hockey!

An Alberta Labour Relations Board official suddenly realizes how the world works, and immediately rules in favour of the employer. Application of the law in Alberta may be pretty much exactly as illustrated.

All but forgotten amidst the rejoicing about the tentative end of the National Hockey League lockout reached during the Feast of the Epiphany on Sunday was the truly remarkable epiphany that occurred to the Alberta Labour Relations Board at the beginning of this unusual hockey season.

This is a pity, because while the behaviour of the ALRB is well known and understood to we few who toil

. . . → Read More: Alberta Diary: Eureka! Labour relations in Alberta explained by, of all things, NHL hockey!

Alberta Diary: NHL and NHLPA in labour relations face off: no penalties for Alberta employers caught offside

Members of the NHLPA wait around for their Sui Generis Alberta employers to obey the law. Alberta hockey players may not appear exactly as illustrated – for one thing, they wouldn’t be allowed anywhere near the stove.

Since the regular season of the National Hockey League was supposed to start yesterday, but won’t be starting anytime soon, let’s take this opportunity to pay tribute to the remarkable efforts of the Alberta Labour Relations Board.

The vision of the ALRB is “the fair and equitable application of Alberta’s collective bargaining laws,” and don’t feel you have to take my word for

. . . → Read More: Alberta Diary: NHL and NHLPA in labour relations face off: no penalties for Alberta employers caught offside

Alberta Diary: Strikebreaker issues bizarre condemnation of Tory candidate for management role in strike

A strikebreaker drives across an early morning picket line during the Calgary Herald strike in early 2000. Below: Catharine Ford, Joan Crockatt.

It takes more than a little brass for retired Calgary Herald editor and columnist Catherine Ford to condemn Conservative candidate Joan Crockatt as someone who all but caused the strike at that newspaper in 1999.

In a Globe and Mail article last week that characterized the recently nominated Conservative standard-bearer in the upcoming Calgary-Centre by-election as a “polarizing candidate” – as a case can be made she is – Ms. Ford was quoted assailing Ms. Crockatt as “one

. . . → Read More: Alberta Diary: Strikebreaker issues bizarre condemnation of Tory candidate for management role in strike