Project 2012

The following videos were produced as part of “Project 2012” a multi-year project with project initiated by the Alberta Federation of Labour. The project commissioned the production of several videos which which show the diversity of Alberta’s labour history.

Temporary Foreign Workers Canada has always depended on migrant labour, and despite evidence to the contrary, has earned a reputation as a welcoming country, offering hope and opportunity to people all over the world who are willing to provide labour in return for a home. This changed drastically with the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), an innocuous federal program that was expanded beyond recognition to meet a high demand for labour in lower skilled jobs. A range of people from AFL President Gil McGowan through the workers themselves describe the abuses of the program and labour’s efforts to create a better situation.

The Hinton Asbestos Wildcat The Hinton paper mill has asbestos insulation throughout which workers have tried to clean up since the 80’s, but were stalled by the company. Finally over the July 1st weekend in 1997, they shut the plant down because they believed they were in “immanent danger” from the asbestos. Members of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers 855 tell why they took this action and the way in which the harmful removal of the carcinogenic material benefited not only the workers, but the whole community of Hinton.

The Susan Parcels Case Equal rights have always been a major concern for organized Labour. In 1989, Susan Parcels felt she was being discriminated against by her employer in Red Deer because of her pregnancy. She brought forward a legal action supported by the United Nurses of Alberta that demonstrates how the law can be used to improve conditions in the workplace.

John Mitchell’s Coal Branch John Mitchell was born in Luscar, his wife was born in Mountain Park. Both of these towns in the foothills of the Rockies thrived with the coal mining industry during the first half of the 20th century. In the 1950s the mining companies bulldozed them. John Mitchell uses his collection of old photos to describe what was lost with these communities.

The Dandelions Video prepared for the Alberta Federation of Labour centennial in 2012 about the Dandelions, an activist group from the 1980s. This video was produced by the Alberta Labour History Institute for the Alberta Federation of Labour documents the activities of a group of people demanding government action during the economic downturn of the 1980s.

Lakeside Packers: the 2005 Strike The meat packing plant operated by Tyson in Brooks, Alberta is one of the largest in Canada. In the fall of 2005, the company forced a strike over the first contract with the United Food and Commercial Workers. Local 401 staff member Don Crisall was there with his video camera documenting the increasingly violent tactics of the company and the final victory by the union.

The Calgary Labour Temple In 1912, workers in Calgary starting buying shares to build a union hall, which over the years, saw some of the most important events in Alberta’s labour history: the founding of the One Big Union; the drafting of the CCF manifesto; victorious elections of civic politicians in the 1930s; the creation of a public ambulance service in the 60s, etc. People with firsthand experience narrate the history of a building that mirrors the life of labour in Calgary during the 20th century.

Lakeside Packers: the Organizing Drive After a strike in the summer of 1986, the union was de-certified at the meat packing plant in Brooks. This video documents the two decade long struggle of the UFCW to re-organize the plant. It shows how, in the end, the participation of the Sudanese community at the plant turned the tide for the union.