Alberta Federation of Labour

Alberta Federation of Labour

May 24, 2017 17:11 ET

Alberta is Unstacking the Deck with Updated Workplace Laws

New Legislation shows NDP government is focused on making life better for workers and their families

EDMONTON, ALBERTA--(Marketwired - May 24, 2017) - This afternoon the Alberta Government tabled Bill 17: the Fair and Family-friendly Workplaces Act which includes a number of amendments to both the decades old Labour Relations Code and Employment Standards Code.

"Generations of right-wing governments in Alberta stacked the deck against working people in our province, leaving us with one-sided workplace rules that favoured employers at the expense of employees," said McGowan. "30 years without change was too long, today's legislation was more than overdue. It will bring Alberta's workplace legislation in to the 21st century and bring us another step closer to the Canadian mainstream."

The Fair and Family-Friendly Workplaces Act will reform the union certification process, strengthen the right to collectively bargain, improve enforcement of our Employment Standards Code with a ticketing system, and guarantee job protected leaves for workers who are sick, caring for a family member or fleeing domestic violence.

"Today, the NDP government has taken steps towards unstacking the deck by announcing meaningful workplace law reform," said Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour. "Bill 17 will give working Albertans an updated Employment Standards Code with some real teeth for enforcement, and a Labour Relations Code that further allows people to exercise their constitutional right to join unions and bargain collectively."

The new union certification process borrows from the Manitoba Labour Code, which uses a hybrid of card check and ballot votes. Under the Manitoba model, a union that demonstrates it has 65 per cent support from the bargaining unit will be certified. Should the union demonstrate lower levels of support but still higher than 40 per cent, the decision will be resolved by a vote. This model will better protect workers from employer intimidation during certification drives, although not as effectively as a more straight-forward card check system.

"We are happy that the government has acknowledged that the current system for union certification is flawed and tips the scale against workers who try right to join a union," said McGowan. "While this legislation doesn't bring in a more democratic model of automatic card check certification at a 50% threshold, it does implement a hybrid model that allows for automatic certification in some instances."

"While this legislation makes many positive changes to Alberta's workplace legislation, we are disappointed that the government didn't put a stop to employers in the construction sector using shell companies to shirk their responsibilities under legally binding agreements with their workers; a practice commonly referred to as 'double-breasting'."

Media Contact:

Gil McGowan will be available for comment in the rotunda of the legislature after the legislation is tabled this afternoon, or by phone at 780-218-9888.

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