Alberta Federation of Labour: 100 Years of Promoting Unity... Will it Last?


January 26, 2012 :: Winston Gereluk
Moderated by Gene Oleskin

Seeking better working conditions, representatives of all Alberta’s trade unions met, along with members of the recently (1909) formed United Farmers of Alberta (UFA), at a founding convention of the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) in Lethbridge on July 14-15, 1912. The convention was chaired by Donald McNabb, a Lethbridge coal miner who had served a brief term as Alberta’s first independent labour MLA (supporting the governing Liberals).

The AFL blossomed early and in 1926, they had several MLA’s elected resulting in many improvements to Alberta labour laws and the Workman’s Compensation Act, making Alberta a leader of such laws in Canada for several decades. Attacks on the Alberta labour movement since the latter part of the 1970’s and particularly through the Ralph Klein years during the 1990’s have arguably made life difficult for unions. The speaker will speculate on how unions can survive in a labour market where collective bargaining is under threat in Alberta and generally throughout North America. Will the many achievements labour has gained over the past 100 years continue to be at risk?

Speaker: Winston Gereluk

Winston Gereluk worked for the Alberta Federation of Labour and the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees in Canada in the areas of research, education and public relations for over 25 years. In 1999, he moved to Athabasca University, where he served as Academic Coordinator for Industrial Relations & Human Resources programs until his retirement in 2009. Winston has represented the international trade union movement at United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development and currently represents them on a Stakeholder Council of the Global Reporting Initiative, which meets in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Gereluk has a Masters Degree in Educational Philosophy and is a member of the Alberta Labour History Institute, Greenpeace and the editorial board of Athabasca University Press. He has written articles and chapters on labour and the environment, industrial relations and sustainable development for a number of periodicals and textbook publishers. Winston currently also serves as Chair of Project 2012 and Coordinator of the Alberta Federation of Labour’s Centennial Celebration.


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