What’s Going on with Alberta’s Labour Movement?

The Alberta Federation of Labour held its 52nd Constitutional Convention over May 13-15 2021. In a somewhat rare development, two candidates vied for the Presidency of the AFL: challenger Susan Cake, and incumbent Gil McGowan. Cole Rockarts, union organizer and writer for rankandfile.ca, joins Team Advantage to discuss what happened at convention, and how Alberta’s labour movement is organizing in response to Jason Kenney’s UCP government. Follow Cole on Twitter @colerockarts.

Get Mad about This Awful Pandemic Response

This last year of the pandemic has been awful— and our governments made things worse. Team Advantage convenes to list the ways in which workers have been taken for a ride. Featuring hits you know and love, like “essential workers,” “hero pay,” “government communications,” COVID-ZERO, public trust, corporate subsidies, “sick days,” and thinking about strategies we can take to change our world for the better.

Nuking the Oilsands: Project Cauldron (featuring Bigfoot)

Have you ever considered using nuclear explosions for fun and profit? Team Advantage explores a strange collision of two worlds: the children’s movie Bigfoot Family, which recently roused the ire of Jason Kenney’s War Room, and a 1950’s plot to use nuclear explosions to mine Alberta’s oil sands. Project Cauldron, later renamed Project Oilsand was a real, genuine plan to nuke Alberta’s oilsands that almost happened.

Starting a Party? The Origins of the CCF

What went into starting the CCF— the precursor to today’s NDP? What was the working-class and socialist response to the deep depression and government inaction of the 1930s? How did prior struggles and experiences contribute to the formation of this new party, and how did they envision changing the world? Nashwa Khan of Habibti Please joins Team Advantage to discuss this fascinating historical moment. Follow Nashwa and HP @habibtiblease.

Against Corporate Feminism: Less Lean In, More Lenin

We live in a sexist, patriarchal, and capitalist society— but is the solution to these problems simply to diversify the administration of sexist, patriarchal capitalism? Will more women in corporate leadership help abolish gendered oppression? Team Advantage convenes to discuss the growth of corporate feminism, explore its weaknesses, and consider how socialist feminism might present a more tenable solution.

Further reading:
How the socialist behind paid child care and parental leave was erased from women’s history – Kristen R. Ghodsee
Book Review: Me, Not You: The Trouble with Mainstream Feminism by Alison Phipps
Being-in-the-Room Privilege: Elite Capture and Epistemic Deference – Olúfémi O. Táíwò
Frontlined and Sidelined: What’s next for women and the economy? – Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
‘Lean In’ Has Been Discredited For Good – Mari Uyehara
A.K. 47 – 47 Selections from the Works of Alexandra Kollontai

Alberta’s War on Rats

The global rat population features a strange Alberta-shaped rat-free zone. What’s behind Alberta’s rat-free jurisdiction? What economic and political forces shaped this policy, and how does Alberta’s rat-free status contribute to its self-image as uniquely different from other regions of Canada? What are the consequences of this kind of ecosystem management, and who stands to benefit from it?

Further reading:
McTavish, Lianne, and Jingjing Zheng. “Rats in Alberta: looking at pest-control posters from the 1950s.” Canadian Historical Review 92.3 (2011): 515-546.

Our cold open is sampled from STORYHIVE’s Oh, Rats!. Images from Alberta’s anti-rat publications follow the break.

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Canada’s National Energy Program, 1980-1985

As oil and gas producers practically beg, plead, and bribe the Canadian government into building and planning pipelines, Team Advantage asks: whatever happened to the National Energy Program? Yes, that NEP: conceived of by Pierre Elliott Trudeau, the bane of Alberta’s oil industry, that endless source of western alienation, the biggest power grab in history— what was it really about?

Journalist Taylor C. Noakes joins Team Advantage to discuss the genesis and legacy of the NEP, while pondering the state of the fossil fuel industry today. Could it be that some sort of economic planning could have resolved the problems we encounter today?

Follow Taylor @TaylorNoakes and read his CBC piece, It’s time to reconsider the NEP.

Universal Basic Income: Utopian, or Not Bold Enough?

Team Advantage convenes to discuss Universal Basic Income. Why is it, and why has it gained such popularity over the last few years? What’s so appealing about the proposal, and how does this appeal relate to left-wing politics and strategy more generally? What might be the benefits and drawbacks of such a program? What kind of social and political forces would be needed to mobilize for a program of this kind?

Further reading:
Dan Darrah in Canadian Dimension
Paris Marx in Tribune
Daniel Zamora in Jacobin
The Problem with Work: Feminism, Marxism, Antiwork Politics, and Postwork Imaginaries by Kathi Weeks
Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work by Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams

Workers Fighting and Winning in Post-Secondary Education

Can workers fight a university administration dead-set on busting the union? The Athabasca University Faculty Association did exactly that— and won. AUFA President Dave Powell and AUFA Chair of Membership Engagement Committee Rhiannon Rutherford join Team Advantage to explain how organizing and engaging union membership helped stave off an effort by university administration to cripple the union.

Read more at http://aufa.ca/archive and follow them on twitter @AUFacultyAssoc.