June 16th, 2024

Former NDP government not to blame for bargaining paradigm

By Lethbridge Herald on February 23, 2022.


The Guest Column by Christopher J. Nicol (Lethbridge Herald, 2022-02-19) regarding the “opaque labour relations environment” in post-secondary education (PSE) requires a bit more context. 

Dr. Nicol seems to lay the blame for the new negotiating paradigm between faculty associations and university governors squarely at the feet of the former NDP government albeit aided and abetted by the subsequent introduction of even more restrictive legislation by the current UCP government.

Yes, in 2017, the NDP passed legislation to include PSE, among other sectors, under the Alberta Labour Relations Act thus allowing the PSE sector the right to strike and lockout provisions as part of the collective bargaining process. 

 Prior to that change, the PSE sector was referenced only under the Post-Secondary Learning Act and its employees were forbidden from strike action as part of collective bargaining. 

A form of arbitration known as final offer selection was the only mechanism available to resolve a deadlock. 

 The context Dr. Nicol fails to reference, however, was that the legislation was introduced to align Alberta with a 2015 Supreme Court ruling in favour of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour which had challenged the Government of Saskatchewan on the right of “essential workers” to strike. (Saskatchewan Federation of Labour v. Saskatchewan, 2015 SCC 4 (CanLII), [2015] 1 SCR 245, <https://canlii.ca/t/gg40r&gt;, retrieved on 2022-02-19).

Essentially, this ruling said that the right to strike/lock-out was an essential tool in the collective bargaining process for any worker and that a denial of this right was in violation of Section 2(d) (i.e., freedom of association) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (The Constitution Act, 1982, Schedule B to the Canada Act 1982 (UK), 1982, c 11, <https://canlii.ca/t/ldsx&gt; retrieved on 2022-02-19).

The inclusion of PSE workers in the Alberta Labour Relations Act with the right to strike and lock-out provisions was not plucked out of thin air by the NDP government based on some early 20th century model of labour relations. 

 It was a necessary order of business to align Alberta with the Supreme Court ruling on the rights of workers to use strike action (i.e., the withholding of their labour) as a tool in the process of collective bargaining.

Leona Jacobs


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Doesn’t matter what the law is, the NDP left a 70 billion dollar debt and 20 billion deficit. Times are good now, resource money, but the mess needs to be cleaned up first. Laws don’t seem to matter much these days.

Southern Albertan

Hear, hear Leona! And, we had 40 + years of AB Conservative governments not following Premier Peter Lougheed’s ‘Six Principles’ for resource development: “Behave like an owner, Collect your fair share, Save for a rainy day, Go slow, Add value, and Practice statecraft,” causing Albertans, who owned/own, our oil and gas resources, to be shorted by $100s of billions which should have been deposited in our Heritage Trust Fund, for the good, of all. That this did not happen, has negatively affected Alberta, forever.
The Kenney UCP has proven to not be our savior for saving and not frittering away $billions. Again, no wonder Albertan’s voting intentions appear to be willing to give the AB NDP a majority. Certainly, even UCP constituency associations are more than iffy with regard to Kenney’s bumbling leadership boondoggle.