Future Summit report lacks future vision, says AUPE president

Alberta Union of Provincial Employees news release, 30 May 2001

EDMONTON—Albertans will not be impressed with the report of the so-called Future Summit and its calls to de-unionize Alberta and impose a sales tax, says the president of Alberta's largest union.

If this is the kind of thing the report's authors believe Albertans want, they are badly out of step with their fellow citizens, said Alberta Union of Provincial Employees President Dan MacLennan of the report, which was released earlier today.

One need look no further than their recommendation that Alberta adopt a sales tax to see how far they've wandered from what Albertans think, MacLennan said.

Setting aside the fact that their call to ‘de-unionize Alberta’ borders on the unconstitutional, their suggestion that the province adopt so-called right-to-work legislation is nothing more than a call for an assault on all Albertans, especially the middle class. It would do nothing but set off a race to the bottom for most Albertans.

So-called right-to-work laws in the southern U.S. offer nothing more than a right to work for less, he added. This isn't a ‘bold step,’ as the report would have you believe, it's old-fashioned union bashing.

No evidence or argument is provided to back up this dubious idea, he observed.

MacLennan noted that the places most likely to try right-to-work anti-union legislation are the most backward, economically fragile, environmentally damaged, southern U.S. states. If you want to reduce the wages paid to middle-class Albertans, cut the number of people in joint-contribution pension plans, weaken workplace health and safety rules and ultimately reduce tax revenues, this would be the way to do it, he said.

MacLennan said it is ironic this suggestion is introduced in a sentence that also calls for balanced labour policies.

Alberta has the weakest, most biased labour legislation in Canada now, he said. Balanced labour policies do need to be introduced here, but they should emphasize health and safety, fairness and the right to organize—not the opposite.

It's interesting that on the same page of the report is the acknowledgement that ‘there are greater disparities of financial wealth than at any time over the last century.’ One good way to help reduce this inequality, as the report says we should, would be to encourage and strengthen unions.

MacLennan questioned the methodology that was used to create the report—a brief series forums involving like-minded people, a few stage-managed consultations and the opportunity for people with the leisure and technology to fill out workbooks.

Forums give the appearance of consultation, but the process is somewhat manipulative undemocratic, MacLennan said.

The report is wordy and full of platitudes and buzzwords. Where there are specific recommendations, they are seldom backed by evidence, he concluded. Albertans will rightfully question the use of their tax money to produce this result.

For more information, contact:
Dan MacLennan, President, AUPE, 780-930-3301 or 780-910-8392 (cellular phone)
David Climenhaga, Communications Director, AUPE, 780-930-3311 or 780-7171-2943 (cellular phone)