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Union takes part in Alberta oils ands information tour

Attempt at overcoming polarization

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

EDMONTON, Alberta - The Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC) accompanied three Alberta government ministers on a tour to Ontario communities recently to help explain the economic and social benefits of developing the controversial Alberta oil sands. The tour was undertaken to address concerns over environmental issues and the efforts being made to minimize any negative impact on the environment.

Although the CLAC is a small union, it has become a major player in the oil sands industry through its willingness to innovate labour practices which, for example, includes its accommodation of non-union tradesmen.

Wayne Prins, CLAC's Fort McMurray, Alberta director, accompanied the Alberta cabinet delegation on the information tour.

The union has over 6,000 members working in the Fort McMurray and Cold Lake oil sands regions, and has a unique, first hand perspective on the impact of the oilsands development on Canadian workers and the economy. Ongoing improvements in procedures and standards have regularly been obscured by polarized arguments between industry and advocacy groups, which the delegation aimed to overcome.

The CLAC was founded by Dutch Reformed Christian immigrants in the early 1950s, notably in the Sarnia, Ontario area, then home to oil refineries and petro-chemical plants. CLAC's pioneers had earlier opposed compulsory memberships in Nazi organizations in the Netherlands during the country's World War II German occupation. The union continues to oppose compulsory affiliation and closed shop practices.