September 9, 2017
Fort McMurray—One of the most important unions in Alberta’s Oilsands celebrated its 50th anniversary last night with a celebratory dinner at its community union hall.
“When you think about labour leadership on the energy and climate change files, you think Local 707A,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President.
Local 707A represents over 4,000 workers at Suncor’s extraction facilities in northern Alberta. For many years the local has been a leading voice in provincial and national discussions about just transitions for energy workers and green jobs.
Current 707A President Ken Smith joined Dias and other leaders at the 2015 United Nations Conference on Climate Change (“COP21”) in Paris. Unifor’s delegation was part of 35 Canadian trade unionists coordinated by the Canadian Labour Congress and the International Trade Union Congress (ITUC).
“My union has long rejected the false choice between jobs and the environment,” said Smith. “Oil workers know that there are no jobs on a dead planet, so we are as invested as anyone in finding solutions that help Canada meet ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets and create good jobs in communities across the country.”
More recently Local 707A has been resisting Suncor’s efforts to shed good jobs in favour of driverless trucks, something Smith sees as a betrayal of the social license that all extraction companies must maintain.
“Royalties and good jobs are what Albertans get in exchange for giving over our oil to energy companies,” said Smith. “Suncor should tread lightly if it thinks it can unilaterally re-write this social contract by cutting out the good jobs that sustain my community.”
Unifor is the country’s largest union in the private sector, representing more than 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy, including over 12,000 members including offshore platforms in Newfoundland and Labrador, Suncor in Alberta’s Oilsands, energy crown corporations in Saskatchewan, and refineries in several provinces.