Unifor locals and National Executive Board take steps to defend workers’ rights in Alberta

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Jason Kenney’s Trump-style attacks on worker’s rights has sent shockwaves across the country, as workers across Canada’s various sectors and regions worry about the run-off effects.

On Thursday, July 16, Unifor’s National Executive Board unanimously passed a resolution to organize in opposition to bill 32 and to any attack on workers’ rights in Alberta. The full text of the motion is at the end of this article.

“Where governments attack workers’ rights and their unions, wage cuts, unsafe work environment, and low unionization follow,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Unifor’s elected worker representatives are rightly concerned about Bill 32’s overreach, but also how it will weaken workers’ power to advocate for better, safer jobs.”

At concurrent meetings on July 20, local union leaders from across the province met online to discuss the worst impacts of the proposed legislation, and plan for how Alberta’s workers will directly oppose the law.

On Thursday, July 23, members from across Alberta can participate in an activist seminar about building an opposition to Kenney’s attacks, and defending workers’ rights. All members in Alberta are invited to sign up.

“Kenney’s trying to silence the collective voices of Alberta’s workers, voters, but we will not go quietly. I heard that message loud and clear- Unifor members in Alberta will not stand for this draconian attack on their rights, and theft of their collective power,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor western Regional Director.

Bill 32 includes changes to law that would:

  • impose time-consuming financial reporting requirements for local unions 
  • make union dues for core union advocacy* optional (*as defined by Kenney’s government)
  • reduce secondary picketing rights
  • limit arbitrators’ discretion 
  • lower the legal age of work to 13 years old

Attacks on unions like this are unheard of in Canada. Where laws like this are implemented in Southern U.S. states, workers see wages that are kept artificially low. For more information on Bill 32, visit Unifor’s campaign page to Stop Bill 32: Defend Workers’ rights in Alberta.  

Unifor National Secretary-Treasurer Lana Payne participated in Monday’s organizing meeting, sharing a cogent message about the campaign’s direction, “This is an attack on the very core purpose of unions, to stand up for the rights of working people. Every MLA in the province must hear that workers will not abide by this  attack on their rights. Unifor’s 315,000 members have your back, but it’s up to Alberta’s workers to unite to stop Bill 32 and oppose Bill 1.”

Read the full text of the motion below, and take action today to call your MLA and oppose this bill.

Motion of the National Executive Board:  Defending Workers’ Rights in Alberta

  1. Vigorously and urgently oppose the Government of Alberta’s proposed Bill 32, among other pieces of decidedly anti-worker legislation introduced by the Jason Kenney government;
  2. Coordinate a multi-faceted action campaign to stop the passage of Bill 32 and mitigate its effects on Unifor local unions, Unifor members and all workers in Alberta, in conjunction with a ‘Common Front’ of progressive organizations and allied groups;
  3. Undertake a province-wide membership engagement effort across Unifor bargaining units, using member-to-member engagement, public engagement, and digital communications tools and the full support of Unifor staff, to empower members’ participation in an independent, sustainable and activist labour movement;
  4. Debunk, wherever possible, the false, distorted statements about Unifor policies or practices communicated by Jason Kenney and government officials; and
  5. Explore all available legal options, including a potential Charter challenge, to contest the validity, reasonableness and discriminatory nature of labour law amendments proposed within Bill 32.


  • In preparation for an attack on workers’ rights led by the United Conservative Party in Alberta, delegates to the 2019 Unifor Constitutional Convention resolved to “vigorously oppose changes to Alberta labour laws that undermine the capacity of working people to advance their collective interests.”
  • As feared, through Bill 32, the Kenney government seeks to undermine the rights of workers in Alberta by burdening unions with extraordinary financial reporting rules, restricting their public advocacy for all workers, limiting their freedom of association and their right to protest, among other measures, and is the latest in a series of legislative attacks on progressive policies in the province; and
  • By restraining the political activity of local labour unions, and enabling individuals to ‘free-ride’ on public advocacy efforts (without contributing funds), Jason Kenney and the United Conservative Party are attempting to stifle opposition voices, and further consolidate power to the detriment of all working people.