Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Boom and Bust

While inflation in Alberta is 6% annually workers just get by whether unionized or those free riders in the Merit shops. Is it any wonder they are asking for more.

In Alberta, 25,000 electricians, pipefitters, millwrights, plumbers and refigeration mechanics in the oilpatch are in intense negotiations for new contracts and another 5,000 could join them on strike by mid-August if talks break down. Electricians recently rejected a four-year deal offering 5%, 6.5%, 6.5% and 6.5%.

The precedent for robust increases was recently set at Sun-cor Energy Inc., where 2,100 unionized won annual gains of 7%, 6% and 6% over three years, plus a $4,000 lump sum payment, up from a previous contract averaging 3.2% per year and no lump sum.

Meanwhile in the booming Alberta construction sector, wage settlements have gravitated toward the 7% to 8% range over the past two years, up from previous gains of 3% to 5%, said Stephen Kushner, president of Merit Contractors Association, representing non-union employers in the province. About 160,000 of the 200,000 construction workers in Alberta are open shop.

"We can all talk about core inflation and the niceties of that, but for the average person in Alberta, the overall inflation rate is 6%," said Douglas Porter, deputy chief economist at BMO Capital Markets.

$63.90 Per Hour

Molsons Strike

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