Support the UFCW picket line at Best Western Seven Oaks

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Saskatchewan to unveil plans to expand private liquor

Minister responsible for SLGA to make announcement Wednesday

CBC News Posted: Nov 17, 2015 10:25 AM CTLast Updated: Nov 17, 2015 10:25 AM CT

There are 75 government-owned liquor stores in Saskatchewan. If the government decides to expand private liquor sales, some or all of them could be sold off.

There are 75 government-owned liquor stores in Saskatchewan. If the government decides to expand private liquor sales, some or all of them could be sold off. (Neil Cochrane/CBC)

The Saskatchewan government is about to announce an expanded private system of liquor retailing.

Liquor and Gaming Authority Minister Don McMorris will unveil the government’s plans Wednesday morning, the government said.

There’s no word yet on what kind of expanded private system the province is looking at.

The provincial government owns 75 liquor stores, but there are also private rural franchises, off-sale outlets at hotels, and a small number of private stores in Regina and Saskatoon.

The government has been looking at more private liquor sales for more than a year.

Everything from the status quo to Alberta-style privatization of government-owned stores is on the table.

However, Premier Brad Wall has previously said any proposed sell-off of SLGA stores would be taken to voters in the next election, which is set for April.

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Historic petition demonstrates there is no mandate to privatize

Taken from cupe.ca

19,346 Saskatchewan voters have signed an online and physical petition saying no to privatization. Today the Own It! campaign and the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour (SFL) delivered 17,247 physical petition signatures to the Legislature, calling on the Sask Party government to stop its risky and costly privatization agenda.

“The Sask Party government has outright sold a number of crown corporations, weakened our utility crowns, and has privatized bypasses, hospital laundry services, correctional food services, MRIs, and is even building privatized schools and a privatized prison,” said SFL President Larry Hubich. “The broad support for this petition demonstrates that there is no appetite in Saskatchewan for privatization,” he added.

This petition is one of the largest in Saskatchewan’s history, and shows that Saskatchewan voters are looking for investment into their crowns and public services, not a sell-off to out-of-province corporations.

“This is the last Legislative sitting before next Spring’s provincial election,” said Hubich. “This clearly shows that it doesn’t matter which party wins the upcoming election, no government has a mandate to privatize and take away the benefits of strong crowns and public services,” he added.

In addition to the 17,247 Saskatchewan voters from 447 communities that signed the physical Own It!petition, 2,099 signed the online petition. All of those who signed the petitions are expecting the Sask Party government to stop its privatization schemes and instead invest in Crowns and public services.

The SFL represents over 100,000 working people across the province in 37 affiliated unions.

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Alberta: NDP wins…now let’s organize!

by David Bush and Doug Nesbit

22724_978826155495296_1550540196323378195_nThe NDP victory in Alberta presents a real opportunity for the labour movement and wider working class to make substantial gains. The defeat of the 44-year Tory dynasty gives energy to those fighting for social justice inside and outside the province. However, the election of a majority NDP government by no means ensures those gains will be made.

While the NDP ran an effective campaign, it was circumstance that created the conditions for them to harness what is largely a protest vote. Falling oil prices, an economic crisis in the province, and the blatantly corrupt PC machine did plenty to anger voters. And the 2012 election already showed the PCs were on thin ice. Prentice’s arrogance and blaming Albertans for his own party’s colossal mismanagement of government funds was the last straw.

The Wildrose Party, which could have captured the protest vote, was in deep disarray only last fall when their erstwhile leader opportunistically crossed the floor to rejoin the big blue party machine. This angered many who saw Wildrose as an alternative to the PCs who would still uphold a low-tax, oil-first agenda. All this hardened the Wildrose’s positions, robbed it of its core leadership and left its political apparatus in crisis.

630412Alberta’s NDP, which is to the left of most provincial NDPs, is led by a charismatic leader, Rachel Notley. She cleaned Jim Prentice’s clock during the debate and has been consistently on message. The Alberta NDP has run on a platform of raising the minimum wage to 15 dollars an hour, raising corporate taxes by a small amount (2%), raising taxes on the wealthiest, reviewing the royalty rates from the oil and gas sector, and creating 2,000 new long-term care beds.

The NDP’s platform is far from perfect. It doesn’t have a real plan to deal with the tar sands, and it has only mildly confronted the revenue problem in Alberta. In the late 1980s, the Alberta NDP formed the opposition when it campaigned for labour reform on the back of the heroic Gainers strike against Peter Pocklington. But this time, it hasn’t committed to overhauling Alberta’s horrendous labour relations code. However, to judge the situation upon the NDP’s platform is to miss the point entirely.

Organizing
The point is that there are new possibilities with the NDP in power. The NDP has committed to raising the minimum wage to 15 dollars an hour by 2018. They have done this despite the lack of an organized minimum wage campaign in the province. They are feeding off the Fight For $15 campaign in the United States, which has now spread to Nova Scotia, Ontario and BC. The labour movement must take the lead and begin to push for this on day one. If the facts on the ground are not created by a campaign and a movement, the NDP could backtrack as the business class and media begin to escalate attacks on the NDP government.

The fight for a $15 minimum wage is not only achievable and ripe for organizing, but it also allows the labour movement in the province to build bridges with the broader working class and link this struggle to the fight against the exploitation of migrant workers. The Fight for $15 requires a broad coalition and a reinvigorated and fighting working class.

Police clearing pickets blocking scabs during the 1986 Gainers strike. Employers gave no quarter to workers in the 1980s after the economy got bad.
Police clearing pickets blocking scabs during the 1986 Gainers strike. Employers and their PC pals in government gave no quarter to workers in the 1980s after the economy got bad.

This type of door-to-door, worker-to-worker collective organizing is the best antidote to the coming right-wing backlash, which will likely include an employers’ offensive against labour. When the oil economy bottomed out in the early 1980s, Alberta’s powerful construction unionswere decimated by contracting out schemes, aggressive employer bargaining, and legislation that weakened unions by allowing “double-breasting”. This employer offensive spilled into other sectors, like meatpacking. This is why Albertans turned to the NDP in the 1980s, electing them to opposition from 1986 to 1993.

Corporations and the Media
The media, the bureaucracy and the employers will not simply roll over and give into even the modest demands presented by the NDP. Employers will continue their attacks on unions and the broader working class. They will organize themselves to oppose every piece of legislation and the corporate media will echo right-wing talking points at every turn. Prentice was endorsed by Alberta’s four biggest papers (Journal, Herald and both Suns), and the Globe and Mail. They won’t rest until the NDP is out of power.

The only way to oppose the inevitable right-wing assault is to organize on the ground around some core demands that will build a broad and united working class willing to fight. The Fight for $15 could be one of these. Hoping the NDP can withstand the onslaught is wishful thinking, especially in light of the Ontario and Nova Scotia experiences of one-term NDP governments. Sometimes building a grassroots movement may mean opposing the NDP, pushing it out of its comfort zone. It definitely does not mean trading blind loyalty or silence for vague future promises.
Albertans don’t have to repeat the mistakes and duplicate the experiences of the NDP in Ontario and Nova Scotia where one-term governments were not pushed by movements on the ground, eventually turned rightward and introduced anti-worker legislation, and were then ousted by the some of the country’s most radical anti-labour right-wing governments. A squandered opportunity will be a blow to all workers, inside and outside Alberta. Albertans have a chance to write a different future but it is going to take a lot of sustained, patient and strategic organizing.

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Greetings to the SFL Convention

On Wednesday, October 29, 2014, I was honoured to be able to bring greetings to the 59th SFL Convention in Regina on behalf of the RDLC. The response to my address was overwhelming so below is the script to the speech for those who missed it.

Ken Kubian, President, RDLC

Good morning sisters and brothers. On behalf of treasurer, Carol Mullaney, 1st Vice-President, Darcy Jensen, Secretary, Susan Butson, and our large and diverse Executive who represent over 28,000 unionized workers, I am pleased and proud to bring greetings to this convention. Welcome to our community.

I was born and raised in Regina and have lived here most of my life. Over 100 years ago, my grandparents and great-grandparents left the harsh and crowded conditions of Eastern Europe crossing land and sea to come to Canada. Some of them even crossed the ocean in cattle boats. They made their way across the country to settle in what is now Saskatchewan. They worked small farms and raised large families. My mother’s family farmed next to a reservation and when possible, shared the work and harvest with these new friends. Many others came with them from the old country, leaving friends, family, and oppressive poverty and together they built communities.

The large families resulted in the migration of my parents’ generation into Regina and other larger communities to find jobs. They worked and started families of their own and they built the communities that they settled in. For over 30 years my father worked in construction and helped build the network of power lines that brought electricity to the province. My mother retired from the Regina Health District after 46 years of serving the community.

The Regina & District Labour Council has been part of the community since 1906. Over the years, the Council has had to fight some tremendous battles alongside working sisters and brothers. Like the other 7 councils across the province and over 100 others across the country, the RDLC has come out to support job actions, helped educate workers, fought for equality for all, and worked both with and against politicians to create the best atmosphere for workers in this city and across the province.

But this is not the only work the councils do. As with the generations past, labour councils are community builders, working with many people and groups to create a better life for us all. Over the years, the RDLC has raised thousands of dollars through our participation in the Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. We have also collected for the Regina Food Bank as well as winter clothing for those in need. The executives of the RDLC are involved with a number of community groups and organizations from political constituencies to sitting on local boards.

The heart of our work in the community is our partnership with the United Way Regina. The agreement between the Canadian Labour Congress and the United Way Centraide Canada has encouraged all levels of labour to get involved with not only fundraising but focusing on the root causes of social programs. The RDLC has worked with the United Way Regina for many years, there is a formal agreement in place to help guide the partnership. The Council also appoints 2 representatives of labour to sit on the board of the United Way.

A year ago, the Council re-established our Labour Advisory Committee which includes 3 United Way board members, as well as their Labour Staff Representative and 2 members of the RDLC Board. This has enabled us to not only continue the work we do together but expand on it. For over a decade, we have worked together to put on the Unions of Regina Christmas Dinner. With the help of over 125 volunteers, funding from Regina’s unions, and the generosity of the Delta Hotel, we are able to serve a Christmas celebration to over 1400 people in need.

For as long as I can remember, the Council has participated in the United Way Day of Caring. This gives us the opportunity to do a volunteer project for a United Way agency that they haven’t the time or resources to do.

An issue that the United Way identified is that school children lose their ability to learn while they are off during the summer vacation. This past summer, we were able to participate in the new Summer Success program which works to slow down this process. While the program was quickly developed, it was well received, especially by the students and is well worth continuing and expanding in the future.

Not everything is a great success. An attempt at developing a community garden to provide produce for United Way agencies seemed like a good idea. Unfortunately, the plots we got turned out to be better suited to growing rice than potatoes. It did work out well enough to try again next year but we will need to find plots that aren’t in swamp land.

One of our greatest successes came with our School Supply program developed in conjunction with the United Way Regina. For the last 3 years, we have been able to supply all the students of the Cornwall Alternative School all the items that they need to get through the school year. This past year we were able to send 2 Cornwall students to the SFL Kid’s Camp. We were also able to address the students a few weeks ago, explaining the advantages of unions for workers. We continue to develop and expand the partnership.

Tomorrow night, the Regina & District Labour Council is hosting our biannual fundraiser for the United Way Regina. I invite you all to come out to the Cathedral Village Community Centre because “It’s Time to Hoedown.” Tickets are $20.00 and are available from any of our Executive who will stand and give you a wave or visit the United Way table set up here at the convention.

These are just some of the ways that we at the Regina & District Labour Council work to build our community. We elect politicians that should be working to grow our communities but they have the misguided notion that prosperity comes with handouts to corporations that will create endless McJobs with little thought for the people who have to pay the bills with minimum wage incomes. The prosperity in this province, the real prosperity is not in the resources or the employers that are bribed to come to the province, it is in its people, its workers. People like my parents and their parents; our aboriginal sisters and brothers; the immigrants that come to our province; the workers like you who build the communities that we live in, work in, and grow in. That’s the real prosperity of our city and our province.

I sincerely hope you enjoy your time here in Regina this week and I wish you all a satisfying and enjoyable Convention.

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