The following is a list of the twenty-two largest private employers in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, based on the number of employees. I restrict this list to private employers since the number of employees across government departments seems to be provincial and not city-based. For example, the number of employees in Alberta Health Services is 123,000, which far exceeds the number of employees for private-based companies. The list also excludes not-for profit companies.
The statistics are based on the following site: Largest Employers in Edmonton
- Stantec: 22,000
- PCL Employees Holdings Ltd.: 16,000
- Bee-Clean Building Maintenance (Gingras Enterprises): 9,500
- Katz Group: 8,000
- Brick Warehouse Corporation: 5,700
- ATB Financial: 5,600
- AutoCanada Inc.: 4,200
- Chemco: 2,500
- EPCOR Utilities: 2,340
- Canadian Western Bank: 2,300
- Lilydale (Sofina Foods Inc.): 2,300
- Services Credit Union Ltd.: 2,200
- Alcanna: 2000
- Lockerbie & Hole Inc.: 2000
- Fountain Tire: 1,600
- Morgan Construction & Environmental Ltd.: 1,500
- Pyramid Corporation (A PTW Company): 1,300
- DynaLIFE: 1,200
- West Edmonton Mall Attractions Inc.: 1,200
- All Weather Windows: 1,000
- IBM Canada Limited: 1,000
- K-Bro Linen Inc.: 1,000
Total Employees: 94,140
Average Employees per Employer: 4,279
The statistics do not reflect in any precise manner the number of employees specifically employed in Edmonton. For example, Stantec employees are spread across the world, but without further dis-aggregation of the statistics, it is impossible to tell how many employees Stantec employees only in Edmonto. Consequently, the total number of employees is skewed as is the average employees per employer.
In any case, what is the power of these employers in Edmonton? In Alberta? In Canada? In the world? Compare your power to its power, whether you are unionized or not? Could it not be concluded that, compared to such employers, you have little power? As a worker? As a unionized worker? As a voter? As a legal subject? All talk about freedom, democracy and the like ignore such realities.
In the movie The Lord of the Rings, Part 2, The Two Towers, King Theoden says: “How did it come to this?” How indeed did it come to the point where individuals have little power and employers have concentrated power?
To be sure, belonging to a union can increase the power of individuals and decrease to a limited extent the power of an employer, but we should not have the illusion that unions somehow balance the power relations. Even if there were a balance of power, since employers’ goal is external to employees, such a balance would not be maintained for very long; employers would revolt and attempt to subordinate workers to their wills.
The social-democratic left have little to say on this score. They talk about “fair contracts,” “decent work,” and the like. They themselves contribute to the power of employers by failing to look beyond such cliches to the reality of the power that employers have as a class over workers at work (whether unionized or not), in “public life” and in the political sphere. Or they talk about such employers “paying their fair share of the taxes.” In such a view, as long as such employers pay a certain percentage of taxes, they have the right to use workers as things (see The Money Circuit of Capital).
Does this situation express the freedom of workers? Or the freedom of employers? Their freedom to dictate to workers what to do, when to do it, how to do it and how much to produce?
What should be done about such a situation? The first thing to be done is to recognize the situation and to discuss its economic social and political implications. The radical left here in Toronto (and probably elsewhere) do not do so. They talk about capitalism this and capitalism that, but they are so vague that no one takes them seriously. Or, alternatively, they are so afraid of upsetting trade unionists that they timidly bring up such questions. Is this what we need–given the situation that workers working for such employers face?