Labour News Update: 11 March 2013

Some of subjects in these week’s labour news update:

  • Saskatchewan labour legislation
  • Porter Airlines strike
  • Study: Employment precarity and household well-being
  • Labour Force Survey: February 2013
  • Austerity in Ontario universities
  • Precarious employment in GTA
  • Racial wealth gap triples since Reagan era

Reflections on Reform: The Future of Saskatchewan Labour Legislation

On March 2, 2013, academics, labour leaders, government officials and policy makers, and business representatives discussed the ongoing reforms to Saskatchewan’s labour laws. The conference was hosted by the College of Law at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. Rank and member, Andrew Stevens, participated in the “Reform in Context” panel.

For a full agenda of the conference participants, check out the College of Law website.

Protest at Billy Bishop airport delays passengers

March 11 – A protest at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport delayed passengers for close to two hours after demonstrators stopped ferry service Sunday night.

Close to 40 striking Porter airline employees boarded the ferry just after 8 p.m., stopping it from transporting passengers to and from the airport.

Police were called to disperse the demonstrators.

Ferry serviced resumed just after 10 p.m.

It is not yet known in which department the protesting Porter employees work.

In January, members of the Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union, who fuel the Porter planes, went on strike.



Porter Airlines: The Little Strike that Could

By Sean Smith

On Saturday, 26 January 2013 tens of thousands of teachers and supporters rallied outside the Liberal leadership convention at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto in opposition to their Bill 115 which stripped Ontario teachers’ collective bargaining rights. Every corporate media outlet covered this story. By all accounts the rally was a huge, peaceful success.

In spite of all the fury of the speeches, word is now coming out that the Teacher Unions’ leadership quietly gave tens of thousands of dollars of Union funds to several of the same candidates the workers outside were protesting. Although the perceived ‘progressive,’ Kathleen Wynne, won the leadership, it is a hollow victory as there is no commitment to undo this repugnant Bill’s purpose. Nor is there any new impetus to change, since some union leaders have once again demonstrated a willingness to bankroll neoliberal politicians no matter what they do to their members.

Meanwhile a few kilometres away from this piece of political theatre, a direct challenge to the neoliberal agenda was occurring. With no media cameras rolling, dozens of police moved with force to suppress the actions of an Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) Flying Squad who were there in solidarity with 22 striking ‘fuelers’ of Porter Airlines at Toronto Island Airport represented by COPE Local 343.

Although COPE’s Ontario Director was assaulted by Toronto Police, no media coverage was devoted to this story. Whereas entire forests have been destroyed for articles about the high profile attacks against workers’ rights to collectively bargain, no trees have been used explaining why the strike at Porter, and others, have happened with complete government indifference. What’s the difference between these two struggles? What is the significance of the strike at Porter? Most importantly, how can activists participate in these struggles to develop new capacities of resistance to the neoliberal assault on workers’ rights?

To read more, The Bullet

Labour productivity, hourly compensation and unit labour cost, fourth quarter 2012

Labour productivity of Canadian businesses edged up 0.1% in the fourth quarter, after declining the previous two quarters.

Business output and hours worked to produce that output remained at almost the same levels as in the previous quarter.

Real gross domestic product (GDP) of businesses was unchanged in the fourth quarter, after rising 0.1% the previous quarter. The output of goods-producing businesses grew 0.1% in the fourth quarter, while that of service-producing businesses was unchanged.

Hours worked in the business sector, which increased in the first three quarters of 2012, showed little change in the fourth quarter (-0.1%). Hours worked in the service sector declined 0.1%, while hours worked in the goods-producing sector were unchanged.

Overall, there was little change in the productivity of both goods-producing businesses and service-producing businesses in the fourth quarter.

Statistics Canada

Report: “It’s more than poverty: Employment precarity and household well-being”

The report is published by PEPSO (Poverty and Employment Precarity in Southern Ontario), McMaster University, and United Way (Toronto).

Find the report on-line, PEPSO

Labour Force Survey, February 2013

Employment rose by 51,000 in February, following a slight decline the previous month. This increase was spread between full- and part-time work. The unemployment rate remained at 7.0% as more people participated in the labour force.

Statistics Canada

Austerity and Ontario’s Universities

Check out the recorded lecture at LeftStreamed

Half of Toronto-area workers have fallen into ‘precarious employment’: study

In just a few short decades Canada’s labour market has changed dramatically. The widely held belief that employment leads to economic security and social well-being has become out-of-step with an increasing number of people in today’s work force.

Research released Saturday by McMaster University and United Way Toronto provides new insights into just how much the labour market in Southern Ontario has changed. Barely half of people working in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton areas have permanent, full-time jobs that provide benefits and stability. Everyone else is working in situations that are part-time, vulnerable or insecure in some way. This includes a growing number of temporary, contract and on-call positions. Jobs without benefits. Jobs with uncertain futures. This significant rise in precarious employment is a serious threat – not only to the collective prosperity of the region, but also to the social fabric of communities.

To read more, The Globe and Mail

Racial Wealth Gap Tripled Since Reagan Era As Whites Increased Large Lead Over Blacks: Study

The wealth gap between blacks and whites has ballooned since the middle of the Reagan administration, nearly tripling between 1984 and 2009, according to a new Brandeis University study.

The study, released Wednesday, found that the median white household held a net worth of $265,000 by 2009, eight times more than the median black household’s net worth of just $28,500. That division will continue to haunt black Americans for years to come, according to Tatjana Meschede, a co-author of the study.

“The gap presents an opportunity denied for many African American households and assures racial economic inequality for the next generation,” Meschede said in a statement.
The study, which followed 1,700 households between 1984 and 2009, attributed the growing racial wealth gap to a variety of disparities:

Homeownership: White households are 28 percent more likely to own their home than black households, according to the study.

Income: The average white person’s income was $29,401 per year in 2011, while the average black person’s income was just $18,357, according to the Census Bureau.

Unemployment: The black unemployment rate was 13.8 percent in January, while the white unemployment rate was only 7 percent, according to the Labor Department.

To continue reading, Huffington Post

February Jobs Report: U.S. Economy Adds 236,000 Jobs; Unemployment Rate Down To 7.7

Despite constant budget fights in Washington, the U.S. economy managed one of the best months for job gains in the past year in February, driving the unemployment rate to its lowest level in more than four years.

But the job market would be even better, and the unemployment rate even lower, had not the government spent most of the recovery cutting spending and jobs. And though Wall Street may cheer February’s jobs report, the pain of government cutbacks looks to get worse as the year goes on.

U.S. employers added 236,000 jobs to non-farm payrolls in February, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday, up from 119,000 in January. That was the best payroll growth since 247,000 jobs last November and the second-best month for job growth of the past 12 months.
The unemployment rate dropped to 7.7 percent from 7.9 percent in January, with 12 million people looking for work. That is the lowest unemployment rate since December 2008, when the rate was 7.3 percent.

“The recovery is gathering momentum,” Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics, wrote in a note.

To continue reading, Huffington Post

Household Wealth Regains $16 Trillion Lost During Recession, Nears Peak

WASHINGTON — It took 5 1/2 years.

Surging stock prices and steady home-price increases have finally allowed Americans to regain the $16 trillion in wealth they lost to the Great Recession. The gains are helping support the economy and could lead to further spending and growth.

The recovered wealth – most of it from higher stock prices – has been flowing mainly to richer Americans. By contrast, middle class wealth is mostly in the form of home equity, which has risen much less.

Household wealth amounted to $66.1 trillion at the end of 2012, the Federal Reserve said Thursday. That was $1.2 trillion more than three months earlier and 98 percent of the pre-recession peak.

Further increases in stock and home prices this year mean that Americans’ net worth has since topped the pre-recession peak of $67.4 trillion, private economists say. Wealth had bottomed at $51.4 trillion in early 2009.

“It’s all but certain that we surpassed that peak in the first quarter,” said Aaron Smith, senior economist at Moody’s Analytics.

Household wealth, or net worth, reflects the value of assets like homes, stocks and bank accounts minus debts like mortgages and credit cards. National home prices have extended their gains this year. And the Standard & Poor’s 500 index, a broad gauge of the stock market, has surged 8 percent so far this year.

To continue reading, Huffington Post

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