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Coal Mining Union Positive on Government Transition Announcement

EDMONTON – The United Steelworkers (USW) says coal workers, their families and communities must come first as the Government of Alberta releases the final recommendations of its Advisory Panel on Coal Communities.

The union, which represents 600 workers at a TransAlta-owned coal mine near Wabamun, is pleased that the government has listened to the voices of workers in developing its transition plan for those affected by the announced phase-out of coal-fired electricity generation.

''Coal workers have more than done their part in supporting the province and building Alberta's wealth. It's important the government be there for them now," says Scott Lunny, Assistant to the Director of USW in Western Canada.

“When society determines a direction like phasing out coal-fired electricity, it is imperative that the costs of such a decision are not borne exclusively by the workers, their families and their communities.”

Items like dedicated funding for relocation and retraining will assist, but Lunny says it's critical that affected workers be first in line for new jobs, through preferential hiring by companies like TransAlta that will continue to be operating in natural gas, renewable energy and other projects in the province.

“We say the best transition for a worker is to continue to have a good, family-supporting job,” he adds.

Equally important to the steps announced by the Alberta government today is the need for the federal government to come to the table to ensure that Employment Insurance can be extended and that top-ups are not clawed-back and don’t impact worker eligibility for EI.

''We are pleased that the Alberta government plan contemplates assistance for workers retiring and for workers who need to retrain to remain employed, but that takes a partner in the Government of Canada. The Trudeau government must do its part to support workers and their families," says Lunny.

The United Steelworkers is Canada’s mining union and is proud to represent coal miners in Alberta and across the country.

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For further information:

Scott Lunny, Assistant to the Director, USW District 3, 604-683-1117, 604-329-5308, slunny@usw.ca

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