A Blast from the Past from Merit Contractors, National Citizens' Coalition

    Notorious Anti-Union Groups Resurrect Old Defeats in
    Response to Union Ad Campaign

    EDMONTON, Jan. 24 /CNW/ - The newspaper ads and media conference hosted
by the Merit Contractor's Association and the National Citizens' Coalition is
simply a matter of "sour grapes" says the Alberta Federation of Labour.
    "These two notoriously anti-union groups are simply trying to put a fresh
coat of paint on old, tired arguments," says AFL President Gil McGowan. "The
reality is the Supreme Court of Canada examined and ruled that unions have a
democratic right to use their members' dues for political purposes."
    "They are simply trying to further their union busting agenda under a
façade of standing up for the little guy."
    In 1991, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that unions have the right to
use members' union dues to fund political campaigns. The ruling was in a
landmark case, launched in 1985 (Lavigne v. OPSEU) where an Ontario teacher,
Francis Lavigne, challenged the right of his union to use his dues for
political activities. Lavigne's challenge was financed by the National
Citizens' Coalition:

        "The appellant's costs were underwritten by a group known as the
        National Citizens' Coalition (referred to as the NCC)" (Supreme Court
        Decision, June 27, 1991).

    A key part of the reasoning by the Supreme Court was the democratic nature
of unions as organizations:

        "Under our labour relations regime all members of the bargaining unit
        have an equal opportunity to participate in choosing who is to
        represent them and to join the ranks of the union or not as they see
        fit. Further, as in our system of representative democracy, members
        of a bargaining unit may also decide to oust their bargaining agent
        if dissatisfied with its performance. Hence, the system of compulsory
        dues check-off is no different in principle from the system of
        taxation in a democracy." (Supreme Court decision, June 27, 1991)

    "Both Merit Contractors and the NCC have a long track record of
anti-union campaigning. That is their democratic right. All we ask is that
they respect our democratic right to participate in the impending provincial
election, as our members have asked us to do," notes McGowan.
    "The arguments they raise are old news. Our members want us to move out
of the fights of the past and deal with Alberta's future. And that is what we
are doing with our ad campaigns," McGowan concludes.

For further information:

For further information: Gil McGowan, AFL President @ (780) 483-3021
(office) or (780) 218-9888 (cell)

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Alberta Federation of Labour

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