Friday, October 21, 2005

Union Busting Alberta Style

Class War in Alberta

Alberta is awash in class war, not unlike our neighbour B.C where the teachers union is in an 'illegal' walkout forced on them by the Klein-Lite B.C. Liberal Government.

B.C. teachers strike at a stalemate: mediator

Unfortunately the labour movement here has not linked the struggles at Lakeside, Telus, ABS Casino in Calgary and now Finning, together and created a call for a General Strike. Or even a Day of Protest as the BC Fed of Labour would call it. Instead they ask folks to lobby Ralph to settle the dispute.

What do these stories all have in common? Two things. Contracting Out of work and the complicity of the Alberta Government or its political hacks in the companies involved.

Casino Calgary strike day 29

The Alberta government licenses Casino's and gambling in Alberta, and the taxes it makes off gambling are more than they make from oil and gas royalties and taxes combined. The government is addicted to gambling profits, and again this strike is over a first contract, in the home town of the Party of Calgary and its ruler, King Ralph.

Workers walk off job at heavy equipment dealer
Finning Canada, a Caterpillar dealership, is a major service and parts supplier About 900 heavy duty mechanics, technicians and parts people set up picket lines around the company's head office, located in the city's west end, at noon.

In the case of the Finning Strike, Finning has set up secondary plants contracting the work out to them, and their workforce is organized by the fake union CLAC. And my my who sits on the board of Finning if not Jim Dinning the man who would be Premier. Former cabinet minister who brought in the brutal budget cuts in the ninties, Jim retired from cabinet, but is now running an all out for leadership of the PC's when Ralph finally, maybe, real soon, not till 2007, retires. Dinning's handler is none other than Ralph's old pal, Rod Love. Finning supplies all the heavy equipment in Alberta in particular the Tar Sands which is seeing a construction boom. So in order to make even more profits, it is outsourcing its work not unlike those companies it supplies equipment to Flour, Bechtel and Halliburton.

Scuffles, harsh words as voting starts on Telus contract
Faisal Panju says that the main issue of job security doesn't seem to be more entrenched in the tentative agreement than in the working conditions Telus posted in July, which precipitated the labour disruption. The TWU said it was fighting to keep Telus from contracting out jobs to other countries, such as the Philippines.

Telus was once Alberta Government Telephones, until it was privatized in the Ralph Putsch. As Telus it cobbled up Edmonton Telephones, something that AGT had wanted to do for years, thanks to a sell out Mayor and City Council. They promised to keep Telus headquarters in Edmonton, and like the asying about the cheque in the mail, well that lasted about two years until they cobbled up B.C. Tel and moved HQ to Vancouver. Now all the well placed poltical mandarins in both Telus and Ed Tel got cushy jobs while they are screwing their workers. And again it is Alberta and Edmonton in partiuclar that they are looking to....wait for it....outsource/contract out jobs to call centres in the Phillipines. And while we are speaking of the Phillipines it's where NAIT a provincially funded Tech School has contracts to outsource tech education and links to Universities in the Phillipines, so the contracting out goes both ways.

Man arrested after RCMP officer assaulted on picket line
Claude Dupuis, a labour relations professor with Athabasca University in Calgary, says because the plant can't operate at full capacity, the strike is costing Lakeside's parent company, Tyson Foods, a lot of money. But he points out that the Arkansas-based multi-national has deep pockets.In July, labour relations experts had predicted that a strike at the Tyson Foods-owned plant would be lengthy, similar to the last job action at the facility in the 1980s, which killed the union.

In Alberta the government admits that there are no labour laws to protect workers, only a lap dog labour relations board that works for the bosses. Considering that this is the case, the labour movement who has reps on this anti-worker board have yet to take action and remove their reps proving once and for all proving that the LRB is NOT a neutral agency. It appears according to King Ralph that in Alberta if you are not deemed an essential service, without the right to strike and forced binding arbitration, there is nothing the government can do to for you.

If you work in Alberta pay taxes, raise your family, well your shit out of luck if you go on strike for a first contract. Cause Ralph and his pals are more interested in your bosses good fortune and sharing the Alberta Advantage with them than with you.

After giving Tysons millions in funding for its plant operations during the BSE crisis, after supporting the union busting strike in the 1980's, after supporting and funding land grants for the expansion of town development in Brooks, due to the increased number of immigrant workers brought in by Lakeside to operate the plant, there is nothing this government can do. Tysons is counting on the racist redneck culture of Brooks to divide the workers between White Albertans and the immigrants who are people of colour. That's why they brought in immigrant workers, to create a fiscal divide in the plant between the well paid locals versus the underpaid immigrant workers. And they get away with it with the complicity of both the provincial and Federal governments.

Well thats cause our labour laws are all geared for the good of the company not the workers. There is no first contract legislation in Alberta, one of only two provinces in Canada not to have such legislation. And of course their is no legislation against scabs, oh excuse me replacement workers. And no legislation against whipsawing, as Finning has done. In the case of Finning again their outsourcing of work to secondary plants was approved by the LBR.

Yep in Alberta its class war like in B.C. Now if only the labour movement would recognize it, these are not just single isolated battles, these are the battle field writ large across the province....its time for mass action against the bosses and their government.

Two dead, four hurt in collision near strikebound Lakeside Packers in Alberta

Earlier Thursday, two senior Lakeside Packers managers were cited for misconduct by the Alberta Labour Relations Board in the O'Halloran incident.

The board ruled there is direct evidence that Andrew Crocker and Carey Kopp deliberately pursued Mr. O'Halloran near the plant last week.

“Portions of the pursuit were reckless, putting the lives of O'Halloran and other drivers on the road in danger,” said the board ruling.

“The board declares that the employer, Kopp and Crocker engaged in dispute-related misconduct . . . as a result of the careless and dangerous pursuit of O'Halloran.”

Mr. Crocker, the head of security at the plant, and Mr. Kopp, the manager of human resources, must desist from any further conduct related to the strike, said Nancy Schlesinger, vice-chairwoman of the labour board.

She banned the two managers from having any further contact with pickets or union officials. They also must stay at least 200 metres away from the picket line.

Hundreds of Lakeside workers walked off the job to back demands for a first contract.

Hundreds more have shown up every day in school buses and cars willing to go into work.

The plant processes more than 40 per cent of Canada's beef.

When asked about two of its managers being banned from going anywhere near pickets, Gary Mickelson, a spokesman for U.S.-based Tyson Foods, which owns the packing plant, repeated that the company doesn't want anyone to get hurt in the dispute.

He also suggested there are two sides to every story -- including the incident involving Mr. O'Halloran.

“We're still trying to gain a better understanding of what happened,” Mr. Mickelson said.

Mr. Hesse said earlier in the day the ruling had bolstered morale on the picket line. “They feel vindicated,” he said.

Meanwhile, RCMP released the name of a man who allegedly assaulted a Mountie on the picket line Wednesday.

James Achuil Kuol, 35, of Brooks, has been charged with one count of assaulting a peace officer.

Details of the alleged assault, including whether the suspect was a union member or not, were not released.

RCMP have already charged six people, including senior Tyson executives with Lakeside, with dangerous driving and other charges after last Friday's incident.

Mr. O'Halloran also faces charges of mischief and possession of a weapon related to a scuffle on the first day of the strike.

Ken Georgetti, president of the Canadian Labour Congress, was to join union members on the line Friday.

That's great but Ken by himself or even with this executive in tow is NOT the whole membership of the CLC or even its affiliates. Mass mobilization of all unionized workers in this province is needed not tokenism by labour bueraucrats. Yep Tyson's is shaking in its boots with Brother Georgetti on the line. And the AFL still calls on the government to act not on mobilizing its affiliates to take action.

LRB Decision Banning 2 Lakeside Managers from Picket Line, Negotiations Unprecedented

Highlights Tyson's Contempt for Fair Bargaining, Government Needs to Step In, Says AFL

"How can we expect the union to sit down at a table with people who, directly or indirectly, just tried to injure the union president?" asks McGowan. "There is no hope of good faith bargaining from Tyson given this incident."

McGowan renewed the AFL's call for the government to step in to resolve the strike. "How much more evidence do they need that Tyson is not interested in negotiating a resolution? This company has no intention of signing a collective agreement. The government needs to intervene to protect the democratic rights of these workers."

"What does it take for workers to be protected in this province? Do we need to see more illegal acts?" wonders McGowan.

Yes we do brother McGowan, we need mass pickets, and a Day of Action! With the press supporting the Lakeside workers, including the right wing Sun, this strike is a challenge to the Klein government, a challenge we have not seen in the last decade.

It has clear popular support and the labour movement needs to mobilize a mass demonstration against the government and its collusion with union busting businesses, that get taxpayer money, in a province that is booming. Boom or Bust this government beats up on workers while wining and dining the bosses with our tax money.

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