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Alberta Diary: In one day, the ground shifts in Alberta politics in ways unexpected, sometimes uplifting, sometimes troubling

On March 23, Lewis Cardinal became the first nominated federal NDP candidate in Canada for the expected 2015 election. (Photo by Dave Cournoyer, used with permission.) Yesterday he stepped aside in the face of undisclosed health problems. Below: Wildrose Finance Critic Rob Anderson.

What a strange day it was yesterday, at times uplifting, at times profoundly depressing, and at times just disorienting.

In the morning, Alberta suddenly dropped most aspects of its official homophobia. This less formal kind will continue to longer for a spell, of course, but as an issue for most Albertans it’s done like the family’s (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Alberta Premier Dave Hancock needs to apply his leadership candidates’ rules to secretive cabinet committee

A rare shot of a meeting of the Alberta government’s secretive Public Sector Resource Committee in session. Actual Alberta policymakers may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: Premier Dave Hancock with former premier Alison Redford, back in the day, photo grabbed from Daveberta.ca.

OTTAWA

Is the Redford-Hancock Government’s Public Sector Resource Committee a cabinet committee, or merely a committee made up mostly of cabinet ministers?

This may sound like a technical and wonkish question, but it is actually an important one that needs to be dealt with by Alberta Premier Dave Hancock in his role of temporary custodian of (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Alberta government confused by plan to give ‘non-essential’ workers paid time off at Christmas, New Year’s

The children of unionized Alberta public employees enjoy Christmas at home. Unfortunately, Mom and Dad had to be at work because the jobs they do are essential. Below: One of the great minds of the Alberta government scratches his head as he puzzles out the problem. (Edmonton Sun photo.)

The government of Alberta has “no idea” how many of its 22,000 civil servants will get paid days off at Christmas and New Year’s if the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees accepts its latest offer, a very senior official said yesterday.

The government’s latest contract proposal to the union includes (Read more…)

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: Will Alison Redford fire Thomas Lukaszuk? She needs to, but don’t count on it happening!

Alberta Labour Minister Thomas Lukaszuk, at right with Premier Alison Redford, argues with Deputy Premier Dave Hancock, in white suit and goofy glasses, about whether or not to appeal the court injunction against the use of Bill 46. Finance Minister Doug Horner is on the far left. Actual Alberta cabinet ministers may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below right: Mr. Lukaszuk not exactly as he appears. Below left: Mr. Lukaszuk exactly as he appears.

In any normal business, Alberta Labour Minister Thomas Lukaszuk would be finished.

After the pummelling the government of Premier Alison Redford took on Friday from a (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Valentine’s Day injunction all but massacres Redford Government’s credibility in fight with Alberta Union of Provincial Employees

Alberta Union of Provincial Employees President Guy Smith at the union’s news conference in Edmonton yesterday. Below: Alberta Labour Minister Thomas Lukaszuk.

Mr. Justice Denny Thomas of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench did not merely accept the arguments of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees when he slapped an injunction on the Government of Alberta yesterday, indefinitely suspending a law that could have forced 22,000 civil servants to live with a contract imposed on them by legislative fiat.

He delivered a withering denunciation of what his ruling suggested was the deceptive, dictatorial, and dishonourable way the government of Premier (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Upstairs, downstairs in Alberta explained by Labour Minister Thomas Lukaszuk: ‘We’re dealing with different job descriptions’

Furious Alberta civil service “oranges” protest high-handed Tory “apples” during their illegal st**ke of 1980. Below: Provincial Treasurer Lou Hyndman in 1976; Labour Minister Thomas Lukaszuk, no longer missing in action.

Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose!

After a spell during which he appeared to be missing in action, Alberta Labour Minister Thomas Lukaszuk resurfaced in the news columns Thursday to offer the opinion humongous salaries paid to well-connected Tory retainers in the nosebleed seats of the civil service are a meaningless distraction from the serious business of ensuring we all live within our means.

Given what he (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Oh to be a fly on the cabinet room wall today! Court grants stay on application against AUPE of Bill 46 until Valentine’s Day

Steam vents from the cabinet room at the Alberta Legislature. Actual eruptions of Tory fury may not be exactly as illustrated – and, actually, that’s the Lieutenant Governor’s office. Well, whatever, it’s better than a file shot of the law courts sign! Below: AUPE President Guy Smith.

Who wouldn’t want to be a fly on the wall at today’s meeting of the Redford cabinet when the topic of yesterday’s ruling by Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Denny Thomas on the matter of Bill 46 comes up?

One imagines the air will be pretty blue behind the closed doors of (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: Still hoping for a ‘deal’ with AUPE, Alberta Deputy Premier Dave Hancock has a Seinfeld moment

Deputy Premier Dave Hancock holds forth in the Legislature this morning as a few bored reporters half-heartedly listen. Below: Comedian Jerry Seinfeld, who could have written Mr. Hancock’s script; former Reform Party and now former SIRC chair Chuck Strahl.

With nothing to report in “negotiations” between the government of Alberta and the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees and the prospect of a self-imposed deadline to bring down the Bill-46 hammer next Friday, Deputy Premier Dave Hancock held a media availability in the Legislature yesterday morning.

Actually, it was a Seinfeld availability – you know, an availability about nothing.

Mr. Hancock (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: With free expression under assault in Alberta, where’s ‘free speech advocate’ Ezra Levant?

So-called free-speech advocate and celebrity commentator Ezra Levant. Below: Free-speech opponent Alison Redford, Canada’s answer to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, shown below her; that Voltaire guy; nearly forgotten Tory political strategist Stephen Carter.

Where’s Ezra Levant now that we need him?

Mr. Levant, after all, is frequently billed as Canada’s foremost “free speech advocate,” although mostly by himself and his friends in the headline writing department at the National Pest.

Still, establishing his free-speech-defending cred is an effort the celebrity Sun News Network entertainer seems to take seriously, going so far as to have a whiny website called StandWithEzra.ca (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: Criminal employers are employers too, Alberta government spokesman says, but illegal strikes are still illegal

If feeding your employees to lions is outlawed, then only outlaws would be able to feed their employees to lions! Or is that the other way around? Whatever. In Alberta, we don’t think it would be fair to criminal employers either way. We also don’t think it’s fair not to let Temporary Foreign Workers be fed to lions when Alberta workers like the AUPE member pictured above can be. We’re #BuildingAlberta and, thanks to us, now Stephen Harper is #BuildingCanada too! Isn’t it great? Photo grabbed from the Internet.

Speaking out in defence of the Harper Government, a defiant spokesperson (Read more…)

The Cracked Crystal Ball II: The Assault On Organized Labour In Canada

In Alberta, the Redford Government just passed one of the most offensive and blatant attacks on labour that we have ever seen.  It is uniquely focused on the civil service unions in the province, but that does little to ameliorate the degree of wrong that Bills 45 and 46 represent to Alberta’s workers.

In Saskatchewan, the government recently passed another batch of legislation which very directly attacks organized labour.

Then, in Ottawa, the Harper Government is set to pass its own legislation designed to undermine Canada’s unions. 

All of these laws ultimately are aimed at dismantling the ability of (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: Americanized Labor Policy Is Spreading in Europe – NYTimes.com

Americanized Labor Policy Is Spreading in Europe – NYTimes.com.

While most of the debate over Europe’s response to the financial crisis has focused on the budget austerity enveloping the Continent, the comparatively unheralded erosion of worker protection is likely to have at least as big and lasting an impact on Europe’s social contract.

Filed under: Austerity, Europe, Exploitation, Labour, Neoliberalism Tagged: Collective bargaining, European Union, Labour law, labour relations

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: Hell freezes over in Alberta: Right-wing Wildrose Party sides with unions, sort of, over unconstitutional Tory bills

AUPE President Guy Smith, left, with Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann and Wildrose House Leader Rob Anderson on the steps of the Alberta Legislature last night. Below: Part of the crowd … the pots and pans start to come out.

With blizzard conditions prevailing throughout most of Alberta today, it was still a surprise when the right-wing Wildrose Party issued a news release supporting the province’s largest union and promising if it is elected it will undo much of the damage done by the Redford Government’s unconstitutional Bills 45 and 46.

Talk about the proverbial strange political bedfellows!

There (Read more…)

The Cracked Crystal Ball II: Alberta Bills 45 and 46

Others have spoke very eloquently about the problems with Bills 45 and 46.

What I want to bring to readers’ attention is how the Redford Government is abusing not just legislative procedure, but democracy itself.

It is not unusual for this government to limit debate on bills.  What is unusual is to introduce a motion limiting debate prior to tabling the bill itself.  No MLA should ever have voted in favour of limiting debate on a bill without first having had the chance to vet it.  Yet, that is precisely what has happened here.  In the Hansard from Tuesday, November (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Is it time to take our pots and pans into Alberta’s freezing streets?

More than 1,000 union members and their supporters gathered at the Alberta Legislature last night to continue protests against the Redford Government’s Bill 45, which as well as attacking unions assaults Albertans’ Charter-guaranteed right to free speech. Below: Unexpected speaker Joe Anglin; a red square from Quebec. Make it black, pin it on, leave it there till Redford’s gone!

Is it time to take our pots and pans into Alberta’s freezing streets?

Don’t laugh! This may be Alberta, but there’s a growing consensus across all parts of the political spectrum that the lying liars of the Redford Government have to (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: A serious question for Albertans: Is the Redford Government out of control?

Whose House is it? In Alberta, not yours! Public service union members tried to enter the Alberta Legislature yesterday to protest Bills 45 and 46, and soon found the doors barred. Below: Some more of the 400 or so people who braved the coldest spot in Edmonton for an impromptu rally organized by public service workers yesterday.

Albertans got a first look at the Redford Government’s suspiciously timed public employee “restraint” legislation yesterday – which effectively bans meaningful collective bargaining in the public sector and allows the province to impose agreements by fiat.

Many of them, of course, won’t (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Redford Government set to impose wage freeze on public employees, blowing winning coalition to smithereens

The state of public service labour relations in Alberta, circa some time this afternoon. Premier Alison Redford, in black, is visible standing at right. Below: Alberta civil servants’ likely response to the government’s plan. Actual events in the near future may not appear exactly as illustrated, especially the part with all the gob hats. Below that nonsense: Human Services Minister Dave Hancock.

The Redford Government is expected to introduce legislation later today to impose a three-year wage freeze on public employees like the civil servants and health care workers who saved Premier Alison Redford’s Progressive Conservative Party from all-but-certain destruction (Read more…)

The Cracked Crystal Ball II: Think I’m Joking About Corporate Feudalism?

Perhaps you think that I’m being somewhat Pollyanna about the issue of corporate feudalism and its rise in both Canada and the US.

I’m not kidding.  This is possibly the most serious issue facing Canadian workers in the last 100 years.

Just as the Temporary Foreign Worker program has served to undermine Canadian workers by supplanting them with people willing to work for much less money, the Unpaid Internship undermines students, educational institutions and workers even further. University student Samantha Bokma said she was surprised when her job with Tory MPP Rod Jackson ended suddenly in August — she had (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Labour Day, 2013, in North America: Facing up to improving society for everyone

Striking sanitation workers in Memphis, Tenn., in 1968. Martin Luther King played an active role in their struggle. Below: Striking Fast food workers in New York in 2013; Dr. King addressing the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963; marchers on the National Mall in Washington.

With Labour Day 2013 almost upon them, the New York Times editorial board’s scribblers last week discovered a parallel between the strike by thousands of non-union fast-food workers who walked off the job Thursday in 60 cities across the United States and the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (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…)