If you’re reading this Monday night, the legislature might still be debating Bill 46. Watch live.
On Wednesday November 27th two draconian anti-union bills were unveiled in Alberta Canada with a push to pass them by the end of the week.
The Alberta story immediately reminds the Wisconsinite of Scott Walker’s bomb dropping in several respects. There’s the tight timeline, the attack on public sector workers, the ambush (“shock and awe”), and the protesters huddling in the snow.
Tonight some 300 – 600 Albertans gathered in Edmonton IN A BLIZZARD to protest as their legislators arrived to debate bills that could strip public union arbitration rights (Bill 46) and impose fines of up to $1 million dollars per day in the event of a strike PLUS imposes fines of $500/day on ANY ALBERTAN who encourages a strike (Bill 45).
— Mariam Ibrahim (@mariamdena) December 2, 2013
There are, of course, significant differences between these “bombs” on public workers that even a newbie to Alberta like me can point out.
According to blogger David Climenhaga, the Alberta bills provide a distraction from a newly released and very hot scandal: 145 children died while in foster care in Alberta since 1999 – about 3 times the number Alberta reported to the public. Of the children who passed away, a majority of 69 are “aboriginal” (Canadian lingo).
– Climenhaga’s post – Edmonton Journal article on deaths
Bolstering Climenhaga’s theory is the fact that the man ultimately responsible for Alberta’s foster care services, Dave Hancock, is also the politician who introduced motions to have the anti-union bills fast-tracked.
Another important difference between the Alberta bomb and Walker’s bomb on Wisconsin is money. There is no way for Alberta’s politicians to in seriousness claim Alberta is “broke” a la Scott Walker
(not that it was a reasonable claim for Walker to make either).
Not when articles like “Alberta economy at the top of the pack: BMO report” come out in October and “Alberta shoppers to lead Christmas retail spending growth” come out TODAY.
More on the Bills
“There’s two routes to resolve bargaining issues. One is strike action, whether it’s legal or not. The other is arbitration. And they’ve taken both away” – AUPE (Alberta Union of Provincial Employees) President Guy Smith
According to AUPE, “Bill 45 sets out automatic fines of $1,000,000 per day in the case of an “illegal strike or strike threat.” It also automatically suspends dues paid to the union for three months for the first day of an “illegal strike or strike threat” and an additional month for each additional day or partial day.” Also according to Bill 45, any “person” who suggests that public sector employees strike or threaten to strike could be fined $500 and prosecuted within one year.
Professor of law and history James Muir says that “the new legislation, with its pointed emphasis on stiff fines for advocating an illegal strike, is designed in part to intimidate high-profile, labour-affiliated bloggers, such as Dave Climenhaga and Dave Cournoyer.” – source
Muir’s take on things adds an ominous edge to this exchange between legislator and blogger which I happened upon earlier today:
Bill 46 seems to back AUPE into a corner, forcing it to accept the final offer the gov’t offered to the union a week ago to include wage increases of 0%, 0%, 1% and 1%, with an $875 lump sum increase also added in the second year – unless the parties reach another settlement by January 31 (but what are the odds of that).
Bill 46 also abolishes worker protections outlined in the Public Service Employee Relations Act and it eliminates a plan for arbitration that was scheduled for February. Bill 46 applies only to the current round of bargaining with the AUPE.
CBC censored out the word “fascist” when this man was trying to describe the gov’t of Alberta: Is Bill 45 fascist?
About the $500/day fine threat for encouraging a strike:
Threatening to strike in Alberta? Under Bill 45, that’s a paddlin.
Initial thoughts on Bill 45
A SERIOUS QUESTION FOR ALBERTANS: IS THE REDFORD GOVERNMENT OUT OF CONTROL?
by DAVID CLIMENHAGA on NOVEMBER 28
Adding another fun twist, Alberta’s Tea Party-esque blok The Wildrose has just released a statement that if they can gain an elected majority in 2016, they will reverse and/or amend Bill 45 and 46. Comments on facebook from Albertan locals in response range from “Hell just froze over” to “I can’t stop laughing”.
Paula Simons makes some sense of The Wildrose