City hall silences waste workers

Administration nixes ad campaign calling on City to enforce bylaws

CALGARY – An advertising campaign critical of Calgary City administration is being silenced for so-called ‘negative connotations to the City of Calgary.’

The union representing Calgary waste collectors was told last Thursday its advertising campaign designed for City buses would not be allowed to proceed.  The union campaign was in response to increased injuries of waste collectors due to handling heavy, toxic, or otherwise dangerous goods.  The union wants the City to enforce existing bylaws requiring residents to dispose of garbage in a safe manner.

The ads feature a picture of a garbage bag full of broken glass and the caption “Would you pick this up?”  The ad also reads, “Waste collectors are not disposable.  Tell the City to enforce its bylaws,” and contains a web address for more information.

In an email explaining the City’s position, a staff person simply said, “We can’t approve these, due to negative connotations to the City of Calgary.”  After being pressed for a more detailed explanation, another email was sent with the message – “As per our comments made earlier, the language and intent of this ad is not acceptable, and has been denied.”

CUPE 37 President Kevin Galley called the City’s reaction unreasonable.

“They don’t like what we have to say, so they are trying to silence us,” said Galley.  “But my members are getting injured and the City has it in its power to do something about it – so we’re not going away quietly.”

Galley said the union pointed out to the City that its action violates a recent court decision saying a BC Transit policy of censoring political advertisements was an infringement of Charter rights to free expression.  The union is consulting with its legal staff and considering action.

Contact: Lou Arab

Communications Representative


Kevin Galley, President



To see a copy of the ad, visit

For more information about CUPE Alberta, visit


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