April 30, 2014 - No. 50
Build the Independent
Politics of the Working Class!
Call to Alberta Workers:
"All Out for May First --
International Day of Working Class Solidarity!"
the Rights of Workers! Defend the
Rights of All!
Gather at the Legislature
down Jasper Ave.
Rally at Grant Notley Park at workers' memorial, 116
League, 10326 - 118 St. Donation requested.
firstname.lastname@example.org or 780-474-4747
1 -- 5:00 pm
Gather at Memorial Park, corner of
4 St. and 12
Potluck and get together follows, Central Memorial Park Library, 1221-
2 St. SW,
Askin, 403 283 7054; Grant Neufeld, email@example.com;
For May Day actions cross Canada:
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
Independent Politics of the
• Call to Alberta Workers: "All Out for
May First --
International Day of Working Class Solidarity!"
• Resistance Continues as
Workers Defend Their Right to Security in Retirement
• In the Alberta Legislature
Trafficking in All Its Forms! Jason Kenney Has Got to Go!
• End the Temporary Foreign
Workers Program Now! - Peggy Askin
• Research by Alberta Federation of
Labour Shows Temporary Foreign Workers Program Intended to
Drive Down Wages
Privatization of Public Services and Social Programs!
• No to Plans to Privatize Hospital Labs!
• Keep Edmonton Hospital
Labs Public! - Peggy Morton
Build the Independent Politics of the
Call to Alberta Workers:
"All Out for May First -- International Day of
Working Class Solidarity"
Workers in Alberta are organizing to celebrate May First
International Day of Working Class Solidarity. Actions are being
organized in both Edmonton and Calgary.
May First is a day for the working class internationally
its independent political demands and fight for its rights, the rights
of all and the people's empowerment. Here at home, the Battle for
Alberta is on!
Workers and their allies refused to be silenced
and intimidated by
the anti-worker, anti-social measures of the federal and provincial
have responded with actions and words saying Canadians will never stand
for the use of force and violence by the state in place of peaceful
negotiations to solve problems.
These nation-wreckers in government must be deprived of their power to
deprive the people of their rights!
All out to make May Day a time to step up the organized
The Alberta government must be forced to withdraw its anti-worker Bills
45 and 46 and stop its attacks on public and private sector pensions,
stop blocking the expansion of the Canada Pension Plan and abandon its
illegitimate austerity agenda.
May Day is also an occasion to highlight the fight
low wage agenda, and the growing momentum to put an end to worker
trafficking and boot the worker trafficking Harper/Kenney dictatorship
out of office. The pending Ft. McMurray-Athabasca by-election will be
an opportunity for workers
to send a message to Harper as to what they think of his low wage
agenda and abuse of vulnerable workers. Whenever the by-election is
called, workers should discuss what course of action will best serve to
affirm their demands, rights and political empowerment within the
circumstances, despite the blocks imposed
by the cartel-party system.
The working class of Alberta is a modern social force
of representing itself politically with its own thinking and outlook
determined to bring into being a new direction in economic and
political affairs. The time is now to build the organizations capable
of analyzing the situation so as to overcome
the subjective and objective blocks to empowerment and bring the
workers' strength of numbers to bear to change the situation. The times
are calling on workers to organize for the new on every front. The
times are calling for the people's empowerment!
All Out for May Day!
Alberta Workers Continue Defence of Their Right to
Security in Retirement
at Misericordia Hospital to Defend Pensions, Edmonton, April 22, 2014.
Resistance to the Alberta government's assault on public
pensions continued during the week of April 22. Workers at the
Misericordia Hospital in Edmonton organized a lively noon-hour picket
on April 22 to send a message to the government: Hands Off Our
Pensions! Workers expressed their determination
to defend the right of all to pensions.
The picket was hosted by Canadian Union of Public
2111. They were joined by members of the Health Sciences Association of
Alberta, the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees and Unifor. Others
joining the picket were Canadian Labour Congress Secretary-Treasurer
Hassan Yussuf; Edmonton
and District Labour Council President Bruce Fafard and representatives
of member unions; members of the Seniors Action Liaison Team; retired
workers and NDP MLA David Eggen.
The action was organized to maximize the participation
care workers, who take a half-hour lunch in shifts between 11:00 am and
1:00 pm. Lunch was provided on the line with a steady stream of workers
coming in as others returned to work. More than 150 workers came out
for the April 22 picket,
militantly holding high union flags and picket signs and shouting
slogans. Picketers got a great reception from passing motorists with
many honking their horns to show support. Short speeches took place at
noon. Lots of discussion took place on the line concerning the
legislation the Alberta PC government has introduced
and what steps to take to intensify the resistance. Workers made plans
to take part in the May Day rally and march, where they will raise also
the demand to Defend the Pensions We Have -- Fight for Pensions
On April 23, public sector workers joined union leaders
Legislature galleries as Bills 9 and 10 that attack public sector
pensions were debated. The Legislature is presently adjourned for
constituency week. The Labour Coalition on Pensions and various unions
are once again calling on everyone to use this
week to call, visit or write their MLAs to demand that they not support
the bills. MLAs report an unprecedented number of people have already
called them on this basis. Information about the campaign to oppose
Bills 9 and 10 can be found at www.truthaboutalbertapensions.ca.
In the Alberta Legislature
Debate continued in the Legislature on Bill 9, the Public
and Bill 10, the Employment Pension (Private Sector) Plans
Amendment Act, 2014 during a three-day sitting April
22-24. Bill 9 failed to pass second reading as the
opposition parties spoke against it, with debate going long into
the night. Rachel Notley, NDP MLA for Edmonton Strathcona presented the
first of many amendments expected on the bill. The amendment called for
the bill not to be given second reading and instead be sent back to
committee so that consultation
with the unions could take place.
Gil McGowan, President of the Alberta Federation
of Labour; Guy Smith, President of the Alberta Union of Provincial
Employees; Heather Smith, President of the United Nurses of Alberta;
Marle Roberts, President of the Canadian Union of Public
Employees-Alberta Division gave a joint press conference
on April 23 in the Legislature lobby. They called on the government to
withdraw Bill 9 and stop its attack on public sector pensions. Once
again the unions exposed the failure of the government to provide any
evidence to back up its claim that forcing workers to work longer for
reduced pension benefits will stabilize
the plans. They strongly opposed the PCs' move to strengthen executive
dictate over the plans. The union leaders were then joined by public
sector workers and their allies in the galleries to make their
Alberta New Democrat leader Brian Mason released a
statement saying, "I am very proud of the work that NDP MLAs and other
opposition members have done to delay this unfair pension legislation.
Now is the time to redouble our efforts to build pressure on this
government to withdraw this bill.
"This bill attacks the retirement security of
hundreds of thousands of Albertans. We encourage government MLAs to
join the opposition to force the government to withdraw this bill
completely. The NDP opposition will continue to stand up for the
retirement security of Albertans, and we will continue to work
with others to prevent this bill from being passed."
Wildrose MLAs were all over the map in explaining
their positions on Bill 9. Wildrose Party Leader Danielle Smith opposed
the bill as another use of arbitrary executive powers suggesting that
attacking pensions by extracting some sort of agreement would be
better. Another MLA said that the government should "lead
by example," eliminate "waste" in government and reduce its own
salaries and pensions. This, he said would put the government in a
better position to negotiate pension cuts. Wildrose MLA Rob Anderson
recanted his previous pension rants when he claimed defined benefit
pensions were responsible for economic
crises and all the ills of the world and said he had experienced an
epiphany, realizing that stripping the next generation of workers of
defined benefit pensions may not be the way to go.
Bill 10, which allows retroactive conversion of
defined benefit pensions to a type of savings plan called target
pensions, passed second reading April 22 with all the opposition
parties voting against the bill. Target savings plans are now also the
darling of the Harperites in their desperation to find something
to oppose strengthening the Canada Pension Plan as a legitimate defined
benefit plan for all Canadians.
MLAs return to the Legislature from their
constituency week break during the week of May 5. Bills must pass
second reading followed by debate in Committee of the Whole and a third
reading. They must then receive Royal Assent and be proclaimed into law
by the Cabinet.
Abolish Worker Trafficking in All Its
Forms! Jason Kenney Has Got to Go!
End the Temporary Foreign Workers Program Now!
Canadian and temporary foreign workers continue to come
expose the fast food giants, other mainly foreign monopolies as well as
smaller Canadian companies for
their assaults on workers' rights through the government's Temporary
Foreign Workers Program (TFWP). Jason Kenney, the Harper government's
Minister of Unemployment
and Social Underdevelopment, has stepped in to feign concern and do
damage control, ordering a temporary moratorium on the food services
sector's access to the TFWP. The Harper government hopes to stem the
growing demand to permanently shut down the TFWP as part of the overall
demand to abolish worker
Kenney's announcement came after workers across
the country exposed
how the food service monopolies and other employers were using the TFWP
to violate workers' rights and increase job insecurity, poverty, and
unemployment. Young workers in BC spoke publicly about receiving
reduced hours or not being
hired by fast food chains due to the widespread use of the TFWP to fill
positions. Workers in Saskatchewan spoke of being fired after as many
as 28 years on the job and replaced with workers trafficked through the
Workers trafficked from Belize to work in Edmonton have
about how McDonald's Canada treats them like slaves. McDonald's not
only fails to deliver on the promises made to lure the workers to
Alberta, but deducts almost half their take-home pay as rent, charging
$600 a month more than the actual
cost of the suite. Other similar exposures confirm this is a widespread
practice of the large food service chains.
Minister Kenney is now trying to disinform Canadians
problem with the TFWP is abuse by rogue employers not complying with
the program's rules. This covers up that the government's aim for the
TWFP from the get go is to ensure a cheap pool of labour for the
monopolies and to undermine the working
conditions and rights of all workers. Thus Kenney tries to portray
himself as a saviour of mistreated workers in order to save the
anti-social anti-human global trafficking of workers and Harper's low
wage agenda. He pontificated on April 24, saying, "Abuse of the
Temporary Foreign Worker Program will not be
However, any headway Kenney had hoped to make was
quickly dashed by
the leak of an exchange McDonald's Canada CEO John Betts had with
franchise operators. Betts' big concern is the negative publicity and
possible loss of profits from not being able to use trafficked workers
and keep wages low in the
food services sector. He puts his faith in the ability of Minister
Kenney to ride out the storm and save the TFWP for McDonald's and
others. Betts says, "This has been an attack on our brand. This has
been an attack on our system. This is an attack on our people. It's
bullshit OK! I used those words when I described
my conversation with the minister last week. He gets it." Lavishing
praise on Kenney, Betts says he is "incredibly impressed" with the
Minister, adding, "He really knows his stuff. And I'll say he knows his
stuff from a business person's perspective."
Betts became animated during the conversation, showing
for workers' rights and making light of his company's abuse of workers
saying, "The fact of the matter is we are a big bad company, corporate,
you know, bad company, and these poor maligned employees are who they
are. Yes, they are
disenfranchised. Some of them don't work for us anymore. But in the
scheme of things, it doesn't matter."
Canadian and temporary foreign workers
alike know that abuse of
rights is an integral part of the normal operations of the TWFP and
that the Harper government's worker trafficking operation is integral
to its low wage agenda.
Alberta Federation of Labour President Gil McGowan
stated that the
situation has "only gotten worse since Jason Kenney took over
Employment and Social Development Canada.... Ultimately, he's the one
responsible for these permits. If ministerial responsibility means
anything, Jason Kenney has to resign."
By speaking out against the Harper government and its
workers and temporary foreign workers alike are taking a stand for the
rights of all. The program must be shut down at once with all temporary
foreign workers given permanent residence status.
The Harper dictatorship must not be allowed to use a
phony audit to
declare that it has eliminated the bad apples and now it is business as
usual. Worker trafficking must be ended once and for all as a relic of
medievalism similar to the evils of the slave trade. The TFWP must be
abolished and replaced with
a modern immigration policy that serves nation-building and the public
interest, that upholds the rights of all.
Shut Down the Temporary Foreign Workers
Research by Alberta Federation of Labour Shows
Temporary Foreign Workers Program
Intended to Drive Down Wages
Research conducted by the Alberta Federation of
Labour (AFL) confirms that Employment and Social Development Canada
routinely issues Labour Market Opinions (LMOs) to employers allowing
them to bring in temporary foreign workers at less
prevailing regional wage rate as established by Service
Canada. Data released by the AFL on April 25 show that 224 unlawful
issued in Alberta in 2012-2013 by Minister Kenney's department, each of
which allows many temporary foreign workers to be hired.
"In 2012-13, unlawful permits were found for
hotels, gas stations, truck stops, casinos, ski lift operations,
convenience stores, greenhouses, industrial farming operations,
feedlots, nurseries and various occupations in restaurants," the AFL
states. Other AFL research reveals that in 2012, 239 LMOs were issued
to hire workers at minimum wage. This included 140 food services
establishments, including both large monopoly-controlled chains as well
as smaller establishments, 75 employers in the agricultural sector,
including greenhouses, nurseries, sod and tree farms and 24
A 2011 report by the Alberta government revealed
that according to the government's own records, close to 75 per cent of
all employers hiring temporary foreign workers in the province violated
labour laws. The most common illegal practice was failure to pay
premiums for working on statutory holidays and
overtime. After three years, not one Alberta employer has been put on
the Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP) blacklist announced that
The AFL research corroborates the fact that
corporations use the TFWP to drive down wages and benefits, and
exploit foreign workers with lower wages, less benefits and denial of
rights. Not only are temporary foreign workers hired at lower than
prevailing rates and illegally denied wages required under
labour standards, but the prevailing wage rates are pushed down by the
use of temporary foreign workers. If employers could not access this
program, they would be forced to offer higher wages to attract workers.
Thus the real impact of this low wage agenda is much greater than what
is revealed by comparing the
wages offered to temporary foreign workers and the prevailing regional
This underscores how the owners of capital impose
their private interests through their domination of state institutions.
It shows that the Harper, Alberta and other governments on behalf of
the monopolies are the biggest human traffickers of workers. Their aim
is to expand the labour market globally to drive
down wages, benefits and working conditions, and weaken the
defence organizations of the Canadian working class. It must not pass!
the Temporary Foreign Workers Program!
Stop the Privatization of
Public Services and Social Programs!
No to Plans to Privatize Hospital Labs!
Health Services (AHS) has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a
privatized superlab in Edmonton. This is an offer the global monopolies
cannot refuse because profits of medical laboratories are guaranteed by
government funding. The RFP specifies that the successful bidder will
both the land and the building of the superlab. The public
treasury will repay the winning bidder with interest in addition to the
direct profit from operating the enterprise. If the 15-year contract is
not renewed, the company is guaranteed that the land and equipment will
be bought back.
The RFP guarantees profits
called a "fair and
reasonable return" yet actually suggests 8 per cent as a proposed
minimum return on investment with potential for much more. This is far
higher than today's returns on investments that carry no risk. A number
of mechanisms are added into the proposal that allow
the bidder to increase profits even further.
Profits in excess of 8 per
cent, at least on
paper, would be shared 50/50 with AHS. In reality,
global monopolies are past masters at shifting profits to the parent
company from their Alberta entities so as to retain this added-value as
private profit. Also, within six months of entering the contract,
the winning bidder can petition AHS to revise the deal.
The reality of these pay-the-rich schemes reveals
an economic system in crisis and in need of a new direction. The
private monopolies refuse to risk their capital without the state
guaranteeing the success of the investment. Instead of the public
benefitting from the public guarantee, private interests transfer value
into their own pockets and often right out of the Alberta economy.
No public money should guarantee private
investments under any circumstance. All forms of use of public funds
for narrow private interests should be outlawed. In fact, the value
generated within social programs and public services should stay within
the public domain both to enhance the program or service
or for investment in other public enterprise.
The RFP for a new Edmonton superlab
should be stopped at once. The proposed lab should be part
of the Alberta Health Services public delivery of health care and
should be publicly financed, publicly constructed and publicly
operated, staffed and managed. The value reproduced and
produced in the public lab should remain in the public domain and not
be stolen by narrow private interests.
Keep Edmonton Hospital Labs Public!
Alberta Health Services (AHS) has announced that
four global monopolies have submitted bids for the $3-billion contract
for a new privatized superlab in Edmonton. Hospital labs are now under
public control, but the out-of-hospital labs are owned and controlled
by DynaLife, one of the four bidders for the superlab
contract. DynaLife is a corporate entity of Borealis Investments and
the Laboratory Corporation of America (LabCorp).
All hospital labs except
the lab at the University
of Alberta Hospital were privatized and handed over to Dynalife (then
DKML) in 1997. The Capital Health Authority quietly reversed this
disastrous decision and brought the hospital labs back under its
control and ownership.
The out-of-hospital labs'
contract with Dynalife
is now set to expire, providing the opportunity to establish public
control over the entire lab system, which serves Edmonton and the
surrounding area. Instead of doing so, AHS is now deciding which global
monopoly will take control of the superlab. AHS dismisses
entirely the fact that it is handing over the profits and control of
lab testing in Edmonton to a foreign monopoly and the harm this does to
the health care system, the lab workers, and the local and Canadian
"It was less about the nationality of the company
and more about the scope and significance of the project," AHS
spokeswoman Colleen Turner said April 25. AHS claims that it is engaged
in what it calls a "fair and robust evaluation" of the bids, despite
the fact that it refused to even consider keeping the labs
public. AHS knows full well that the Request for Proposals as designed
will result in handing over profits and control of all Edmonton health
care lab facilities to a foreign monopoly. This shows once again that
the public authority has been hijacked completely by private interests.
Just who will be seizing control of this valuable
public asset and necessary feature of the public health care system? In
2008, LabCorp posted a gross income of $5.7 billion and declared profit
of $2.257 billion. LabCorp was found to have billed U.S. Medicare
$187 million for unnecessary blood tests and was
caught making $49.5 million in false claims to California state
medicare, as reported in the Alberta
Hansard, October 30, 2013.
Also bidding on the contract are Mayo Medical
Laboratories, Quest Diagnostics and Sonic Healthcare. Mayo and Quest
are U.S.-based, while Sonic is headquartered in Australia.
Sonic Healthcare's rapid expansion shows the
extent to which putting labs in private monopoly hands drains value
away from the health care system, community and Canada and into the
coffers of private monopolies. Sonic employs
26,000 people in eight countries. It does not presently
operate in Canada. Sonic was a failing mining company when it purchased
Douglass Laboratories Pty Ltd in 1987. Since the 1990s, when private
interests began to gobble up the Australian health care system, Sonic
has grown from a company whose shares were almost worthless to a
corporation with annual revenue
of close to $3.5 billion, net profits of $335 million and a 12.1 per
cent return on equity. This wealth in private hands all comes from the
value produced by lab workers, and seized by the owners of Sonic and
unavailable for public use. Similar to the proposed deal in Edmonton,
its profits are guaranteed by the state.
Quest operates in
the U.S., Britain, Ireland, Mexico and India with an annual gross
income of $7.4 billion in 2012. According to a lawsuit filed in U.S.
federal court in September 2013, Quest billed Medicaid as much as
$10.42 for an automated complete blood count, the most
common blood test routinely ordered, while it charged private corporate
clients as little as $1.42 for the same test. In its statement of
defence, Quest responded that there was nothing illegal in charging
Medicaid and Medicare substantially higher rates than those charged to
This shows how important plunder of the public
treasury and pay-the-rich schemes are to these monopolies. Faced with
permanent crises and a falling rate of profit on invested capital, they
are ever more desperate to seize control of public services and plunder
the public treasury. As well, their contracts with
governments and public authorities involving millions or billions of
dollars are impervious to public scrutiny, on the grounds that they
involve confidential private corporate information.
The examples from the U.S. show how these
contracts to deliver public services are the most profitable aspect of
the lab monopolies' business and allow them to seize even more value
created by the lab workers and professionals. This value is claimed by
the owners of the private monopoly and mostly lost to
the community, the sector where it is produced and to the national
economy when transferred abroad to the parent company. If lab services
were all owned and delivered publicly, the value workers produce could
be re-invested in health services. Such public investments in
social programs and public services
add immense value to the economy and act as an antidote to crises.
With privatization, not only is the value lost to
the public interest, but as can be seen from the example of Quest
Diagnostic Inc., the pay-the-rich schemes provide a higher rate of
guaranteed profit through straight plunder of the state treasury. This
further reduces the resources available for health care and other
essential social programs.
When value is used to pay the rich, public
enterprise is starved of the resources and control needed to sustain
and develop itself. The people's struggle to control the basic sectors
of the socialized economy is central to nation-building, which includes
a dynamic and growing public sector that generates revenue
for the public treasury. The battle against the privatization of lab
services and other aspects of health care is integral to the fight for
new arrangements and a new direction for the economy.
Lab services and diagnostic imaging are a fast
growing feature of health care, as developments in science and
technology make more accurate and earlier diagnosis possible with
non-invasive or less invasive procedures. This has also transformed the
landscape, with large U.S. and other monopolies exerting their
domination and control of science and technology for their narrow
private interests. The need for public ownership and control of all
aspects of health services, integrated and working closely with
well-funded public universities, is essential to a modern society and
Keep Hospital Labs Public!