Speakers

Gil McGowan

In 2019, Gil McGowan was re-elected to a record eighth term as president of the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL), Alberta’s largest union advocacy organization, representing more than 175,000 workers in both the public and private sectors.

McGowan, a father of three, has presided over a period of substantial growth for the AFL and has been instrumental in putting many important issues forward for public discussion in Alberta. He has led public discussion and policy changes on resource development, reform of the temporary foreign worker program, climate change and green jobs, a $15 minimum wage, pension reform, reforms to the labour code and employment standards, and reforms to occupational health and safety and WCB legislation.

Gil has been instrumental in coordinating the AFL’s political action campaigns, including the campaign that helped elect Alberta’s first NDP government in May 2015. That same year, Gil was named one of Alberta’s 50 most influential people. In addition to his position with the AFL, Gil also sits on the CLC’s Canadian Council and was Co-Chair of the Energy Diversification Advisory Committee (EDAC), a special committee established by the Alberta government to make recommendation about how to add more value to Alberta’s energy resources. He has recently been appointed to the Federal Just Transition Task Force to support transition strategies for workers and communities affected by the phase out of coal fired electricity across Canada.

Siobhan Vipond

Siobhán Vipond was first elected Secretary Treasurer of the AFL at its 2013 convention. A committed trade unionist, Vipond is a tireless advocate on occupational health and safety, women's equality and the importance of workers' voices at all levels of government and industry. In her pursuit of social justice and workers' rights, Vipond has worked as the long-time coordinator of the AFL/CLC Annual Winter School and director of the AFL Kids' Camp, passing shared values to the next generation. Under her leadership the AFL launched the Fair Start Campaign for Universal Early Childhood Education and Care in Alberta.  

Siobhan is a passionate leader who believes in the power of collective action for the common good. She is a board member for the Alberta Workers’ Health Centre, Public Interest Alberta, the Workers’ Resource Centre and the Aspen Foundation for Labour Education. She served as the Vice Chair on the Premier’s Advisory Committee on the Economy. Siobhan is also a strong advocate for the arts in Edmonton, and serves as a board member and Granting Programs Committee member of the Edmonton Community Foundation.

Prior to joining the AFL, Siobhan worked as a stage and film technician and is a proud member of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), where she served as Vice President and President of IATSE Local 210. She was elected as an officer of the International of the IATSE in 2017. Siobhan is an alumni of the 2015 Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference and the Cornell University Workers Institute’s National Labour Leaders Initiative.

Jane McAlevey

Jane McAlevey is an organizer, author, and scholar. She is currently a Senior Policy Fellow at the University of California at Berkeley’s Labor Center, part of the Institute for Labor & Employment Relations. Her third book, A Collective Bargain: Unions, Organizing, and the Fight for Democracy, argues that despite, if not because of, the withering attacks on working people from the US Supreme Court, conservative state and local governments, and the corporate class, the survival of American democracy depends on rebuilding unions.

Her first book, Raising Expectations (and Raising Hell), published by Verso Press, was named the “most valuable book of 2012” by The Nation Magazine. Her second book, No Shortcuts: Organizing for Powerin the New Gilded Age, published by Oxford University Press, was released late in 2016. From 2010-2015, she earned a Ph.D., followed by a two-year Post Doc at the Harvard University Law School. She is a regular commentator on radio and TV.