Nearly 50,000 Albertans participated in work stoppages since 2000

Rachel Notley was responsible for 0.7% of them.

Earlier this month, Collective Bargaining Information Services of Alberta Labour and Immigration released a report outlining all the “legal” work stoppages in the province between 2000 and 2020.

Over the last 20 years (assuming there are no work stoppages during the next two weeks or so remaining of 2020), there were a total of 92 work stoppages. These were split pretty evenly between public and private, as far as the actual number of stoppages.

The public sector work stoppages involved a higher number of workers, but stoppages in the private sector saw more days not worked and more person days not worked.

Support independent journalism

Here’s that information in a table:

Work stoppages started464692
Work stoppages terminated444488
Workers involved18,40630,03748,443
Work days not worked2,5951,3783,973
Person days not worked398,230367,475765,705

And here are what stoppages started looked like over the last 20 years:

We see that Alberta has seen far fewer work stoppages in recent years than it did in the first 13 years or so. In fact, we haven’t seen more than 2 stoppages a year since 2013.

The single highest year was 2002, when Alberta saw 24 work stoppages, 23 of which were public sector. No other year has come close. The second highest year was 2012, but that was only 8.

The premier in 2002 was Ralph Klein, and even though the data shows 23 public sector strikes, they were all teachers at various school districts throughout the province. The ATA had launched a province-wide teachers strike after the province refused to negotiate with the ATA. Over 21,000 teachers participated in the work stoppage.

Actually, speaking of Klein, here are what work stoppages looked like under each premier during this 20-year period. (I left out Dave Hancock and Jim Prentice, as both of them were each in office for just a few months and combined saw only 1 work stoppage.)

Clearly, Klein had the most during his term (and this wasn’t even his full term, just the portion that fell within this reporting period). And each succeeding premier saw fewer total work stoppages.

Even Jason Kenney looks pretty good, eh?

But what if we look at stoppages per year? After all, Kenney’s first term hasn’t finished yet, and the others had varying term lengths, so this may not be the most accurate representation.

Oh. Well, that certainly shows a different story.

Klein is still the highest, but Ed Stelmach drops to third place. Alison Redford actually had the second highest per year stoppage count of the 5 premiers, just barely behind Klein. Klein’s per year count was 6.71, and Redford’s was 6.5

Rachel Notley has the lowest per year count of all the premiers in this chart, coming in at an average of 1.25 strikes per year. Kenney’s is 1.5 at two years into his term.

If we look at average number of workers per year involved in work stoppages per premier, Redford looks even worse:

On average, Redford saw over 5,700 workers go on strike every year she was in power. Compare that to Klein, who saw just under 4,200 per year. Stelmach was significantly lower at about 1,300 per year.

Notley and Kenney are the lowest, by far. Kenney has seen 152 workers involved in stoppages per year on average so far, and Notley saw over twice that many: 338.

Let’s look at average work days not worked for each premier:

This chart doesn’t paint Redford in any better of a light. Per year, she saw the highest number of total work days not worked because of stoppages than any other premier, on average.

Under Redford, work stoppages led to an annual average of 423.7 work days not worked. Stelmach was next highest at 281.24, and Klein was actually in third, at 155.26. Kenney is currently at 111.5 per year on average.

Notley, so far, saw the lowest average number of work days missed per year because of stoppages, at only 62.5, the only premier to not break 100. That’s 85.2% lower than Redford and 44% lower than Kenney.

Finally, here’s person days not worked.

Klein is back on top. He had the most person days not worked (471,065), as well as the highest per year average (67,295). Redford had the third highest total number of person days (104,308) but the second highest average (52,154). Stelamch was second in total (165,224) and third in average (33,044.8).

Kenney and Notley round out the bottom of the list, with Notley being the lowest for both measures. Kenney has seen 10,740 person hours lost in his first year-and-a-half in office, while Notley saw only 9,568 lost during her 4-year term, the only premier to come in under 10,000.

Notley’s per year average was 2,392 person hours not worked. Kenney’s were more than double that at 5,370.

So while Notley wasn’t blemish free during her 4 years in office (she saw 5 work stoppages involving over 300 workers who missed a combined 250 work days), she had the lowest average number of work stoppages per year, the lowest average number of work days missed per year, and the lowest average number of person days missed.

Kenney’s still pretty low, all things considered. However, he’s in the middle of lawsuits with Alberta doctors and the AUPE. Both court challenges are related to collective bargaining. Once these clear, it could affect his numbers.

Unless unions start work actions before that.

Support independent journalism

By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent queer journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news articles, focusing on politics and labour.

Comment on this story

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: