Labour News Update – 18 February 2013

Former Toronto police union leader Craig Bromell heads new union in construction industry

Bromell, who is married and the father of four children, left the force after 26 years of service. He hosted a radio show for four years and then was executive producer of the television cop series The Bridge before becoming a consultant for the Christian Labour Association of Canada for several months until last year.

Bromell said he enjoyed the notoriety as a tough police union leader, but his only interest was improving the personal lives and working conditions of officers. It’s the same goal in his current venture for construction workers, he noted.

David Fairey on the history of the Trade Union Research Bureau

A special event was held at the Vancouver and District Labour Council last week to commemorate the history and contributions of the Trade Union Research Bureau. After 75 years of professional, high-quality and passionate service to the labour movement (on everything from costing collective agreements to managing pension plan databases to conceiving and executing issue-based political campaigns), TURB has now concluded its operations. David Fairey, who was its last director, will continue to provide consulting services to unions in B.C. and elsewhere from his new office in Burnaby (Labour Consulting Services, He has prepared a very interesting and important summary of TURB’s history, which I present below as a guest blog entry.

Long-term unemployment a blight despite solid gains since recession

Canada’s labour market has largely healed from the recession, but long-term unemployment remains a blight.

The number of workers out of a job for six months or longer remains stubbornly high, according to Statistics Canada data compiled for The Globe and Mail.

More than one-quarter of a million Canadians were unemployed for 27 weeks or longer last year, almost double the levels of five years ago. The average duration of unemployment was 20.2 weeks in 2012, its second-highest in 13 years.

Understanding inequality and what to do about it

Presentation to the All Party Anti-Poverty Caucus, House of Commons, Ottawa, February 12, 2013

Obama’s labour pains: Minimum wage debate flares up

It’s a plan that may have little chance of passing a divided Congress and would have a limited impact on the U.S. economy, but President Barack Obama’s proposal to raise his country’s minimum wage to $9 (U.S.) from $7.25 has reignited a debate that has divided economists for decades.

Mr. Obama characterized the plan, unveiled in Tuesday’s State of the Union address, as a way to ensure that 15 million American workers make a living wage. “If you work full time, you shouldn’t be in poverty,” he said Wednesday at an auto parts plant in North Carolina owned by Canadian firm Linamar Corp.

HD Mining chief makes his case for hiring temporary foreign workers

In a downtown office, Penggui Yan is sketching on a white board, using pictures to illustrate mining techniques and back his claim that he needs to hire Chinese workers to determine whether the Murray River project near Tumbler Ridge can be a viable mine.

The proposed project would use a technique known as longwall mining, which extracts coal in long seams rather than the so-called room-and-pillar model used in existing coal mines in Canada. To make the method work, you need employees that understand the equipment, methods and dangers – including potentially explosive gases – of working in such an environment, Mr. Yan insists.

 Days of high union wages ‘gone,’ labour lawyer says

Two men who normally only meet behind closed doors were front and centre at the University of Windsor Monday.

A prominent management labour lawyer George King and the CAW’s president Ken Lewenza squared off in a debate about the future of Ontario’s manufacturing industry.

King said it may be too late to save and create manufacturing jobs. He said the union’s short-term focus during last year’s contract negotiations with the Detroit Three may have negotiated Canada out of future, long-term investment.

“I think there’s a potential for that, Ken can talk about the monies being spent [by companies] but the bottom line is [that] there’s big investment going in Detroit, big investment going in Kansas City,” King said.


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