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More strikes possible as unions launch campaign to 'Stand up to Kenney'

Last Updated Oct 28, 2020 at 1:26 pm MST

President of the Alberta Federation of Labour Gil McGowan speaks in Edmonton on Oct. 28, 2020 for the launch of the "Stand up to Kenney" campaign. (CREDIT: @Abfedlabour, Twitter)

EDMONTON (660 NEWS) – Alberta could see more strikes in the near future as unions are teaming up for a campaign against the provincial government.

The Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) has launched a website called Stand Up To Kenney, where people are encouraged to sign a pledge and protest action done by the UCP government.

It comes after hundreds of hospital workers with the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) held a series of wildcat strikes on Monday.

The workers left their jobs in protest to the 11,000 positions being cut by Alberta Health Services (AHS) in favour of private companies.

AFL president Gil McGowan was joined by leaders with the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and the United Nurses of Alberta (UNA) to announce the campaign on Wednesday.

“It’s not Kenney against unions or Kenney against the NDP,” McGowan said. “It’s Kenney against health care, Kenney against education, Kenney against parks, AISH and the environment, and it’s even Kenney against the responsible response to COVID. In short, the Kenney government has launched a war on Alberta.”

He added this latest campaign could result in one day, general strikes across the province in response to disputes with doctors, teachers and public employees.

The decision to strike is a last resort according to Heather Smith with the UNA and they’re not taking those decisions lightly.

“That’s the problem, Jason Kenney is leaving us and many, many of our fellow Albertans with no choice but to fight back. As unions, we don’t have the power of the government or their corporate backers, but we have people.”

According to the website, mass protest action won’t begin until it can be done safely in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The AFL is urging as many Albertans as they can to sign to pledge and “not let Jason Kenney transform our province in the image of Trump’s America.”

“At their recent (UCP) annual general meeting, they passed a resolution to bring in full-blown, American-style right-to-work laws to further crush workers rights and worker bargaining power,” president of CUPE Alberta, Rory Gill said.

“These are the laws that have suppressed the wages and reduced the standard of living for working Americans and they put the American middle class on life support.”

The UCP has not responded to this campaign, but did take to Twitter on Wednesday, continuing to denounce the AFL’s call to boycott businesses that support the party.

The tweet said that “McGowan and the AFL are continuing a deranged campaign to bankrupt Alberta small businesses in the middle of pandemic.”

The party also called out Opposition NDP Leader Rachel Notley for siding with union leaders over Alberta workers.