Bill 32 a direct attack on workers' rights | National Union of Public and General Employees

Bill 32 a direct attack on workers' rights

“While Albertans have been struggling through isolation, illness, and job loss, and the fear and anxiety of the pandemic, the Kenney government has been busy arranging its attack on working people and their unions.”

Ottawa (08 July 2020) — The Kenney government in Alberta has tabled much-dreaded legislation that will severely restrict union activities and worker organizing.

Bill 32, known as the Restoring Balance in Alberta’s Workplaces Act, is, unequivocally, an attack on unions and on democracy in Canada.

Attacking workers during a pandemic is shameful

“First of all, the fact that in the midst of a pandemic and economic recession, the Kenney government is launching an attack on unions is, well, nonsensical,” said Larry Brown, President of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE).

“While Albertans have been struggling through isolation, illness, and job loss, and the fear and anxiety of the pandemic, the Kenney government has been busy arranging its attack on working people and their unions.”

This is while unions, including Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA/NUPGE), have been tirelessly fighting for the health, safety, and well-being of all workers and communities during the pandemic and beyond.

Legislation threatens workers’ rights

The proposed legislation would impose restrictions on the use of union dues. Similar to the rationale of "right-to-work" laws, the act would require members to opt-in to having their union dues put towards political activities. This would make Alberta the only province in the country to force such a requirement, laying a disconcerting precedent.

The legislation would also limit union picketing during strikes or lockouts.

Bill 32 is explicitly anti-worker as well as an affront to democracy. It threatens to take away working people’s ability to come together to fight for issues that matter to them — at the workplace and in their communities.

“This is a cowardly act being disguised in political rhetoric,” said Brown. "Kenney is clearly attempting to muzzle unions and severely limit their ability to participate in public debate."

Bill 32 is not at all about balance

We know that we won’t see similar restrictions imposed on corporations in Alberta.

Despite the claim to be “balancing” power, we know that this legislation would actually serve to further empower corporations, while weakening the voice of working Albertans. In doing so, it threatens to reinforce the pro-corporate, pro-privatization efforts of this government.

Down the road, it is also likely to deteriorate wages and working conditions, and thus public services for Albertans, as Economic Policy Institute reported has been the outcome in right-to-work states in the US.

Working people will not stay silent

But we also know that Alberta’s workers and their unions will fight back against this proposed legislation, as the Alberta Federation of Labour declares.

NUPGE, in solidarity, supports them and stands with them in the face of this harmful and illogical attack on their rights and well-being.


NUPGE

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE

 

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