Labour News Update: 17 February 2014

In this week’s update:

  • Job action at Mount Allison University
  • Bill C-525
  • Negotiations in Canada: 2013-2014
  • UAW defeat @ VW
  • Labatt workers reach agreement

Labour News Across Canada

Workers rafity new collective agreement at Labatt to end eleven month strike

February 10, 2014

St. John’s (10 Feb. 2014) — Striking workers at the Labatt plant in St. John’s, Newfoundland have voted to accept a new collective agreement, ending an eleven month strike. The workers are members of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees (NAPE/NUPGE).

Workers have been on strike for eleven months after company proposed major concessions during bargaining

According to NAPE President Carol Furlong, the union and the employer, with assistance of a conciliation officer, have dedicated the past two months to finding a settlement to the ongoing dispute.

“It was a difficult round of bargaining as was evident by the job action taken by the 45 employees,” said Furlong. “Ultimately, both parties were successful in finding resolutions to many complex issues during this round of collective bargaining.”

The new collective agreement will expire March 2020. The workers will be heading back to work as early as Tuesday of next week.

NUPGE takes HSAA case to the International Labour Organization

NUPGE, February 14, 2014

“Alberta will now lead the way in Canada as being the worst offender for violating international labour standards that it has committed to uphold and promote.”

Ottawa (14 Feb. 2014) – Two labour laws passed recently by the Alberta government of Alison Redford are the subject of a formal complaint being lodged today by the 340,000-member National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) with the International Labour Organization (ILO).

The ILO complaint concerns Bill 45, the Public Sector Services Continuation Act and Bill 46, the Public Service Salary Restraint Act.  Both laws were passed in the Alberta legislature in December 2013 with little debate and no prior notice or consultation with unions affected by the legislation.  The complaint is being laid on behalf of NUPGE’s Alberta Component, the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA/NUPGE).

Staff cut proposal draws union fury

By Randy Richmond, London Free Press, February 12, 2014

A last-minute decision to consider cutting city staff to resolve budget woes has surprised the union representing outside workers.

And the move is another sign politicians have lost control over financial planning as key votes on big-ticket items loom, a veteran councillor says.

Possible staff level cuts are “brand new news to me. Nobody has said anything to me about whether or not they’re looking at cutting staff or making changes,” Alastair Bruff, president of CUPE Local 107 representing outside city workers, said Wednesday.

“That’s a huge shock to us that there’s going to be cuts to our staff.”

TFW Sunshine list needed to protect Canadian workers

Alberta Federation of Labour, February 12, 2014

Edmonton – In the wake of a series of scandals that have seen Canadians losing their jobs to exploited and underpaid workers from overseas — most recently 65 workers at Imperial Oil’s Kearl Lake oilsands site — the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) is calling for a sunshine list to expose abuses of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).

“Canadians deserve transparency, especially when there are clear examples of Canadians losing good jobs because of this Program,” Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said. “However, even as Canadians have been outraged by the latest example of Canadians losing their jobs because of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, the government has made moves to make sure future abuses of the program never come to light.”

Conservatives Continue to Push Union Busting Bill C-525 through House of Commons

John Hanrahan, The Confederation of Canadian Unions, February 12, 2014

The federal Conservatives under Prime Minister Stephen Harper are determined to support corporations in creating a low wage economy and reducing the standard of living of the middle class.

Take Bill-525, for example. The Conservatives’ contempt for middle class Canadians has never been more evident than it is with piece of legislation. This unfair and undemocratic bill has one objective and one objective only: to turn Canada into a low wage economy by attacking the rights of workers to join a union and to make it easier for employers to intimidate workers and engage in illegal union busting.

EI “Taxes” to Float Surplus

Blacklock’s Reporter, February 11, 2014

Cabinet promises to balance its budget  for the first time in seven years in 2015 on higher tax revenues, including billions in surplus Employment Insurance premiums and a $685 million-a year increase in tobacco levies.


The Canadian Taxpayers Federation noted the treasury will also reap billions more in Employment Insurance overpayments in its deficit-elimination plan, averaging almost $5 billion a year in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

“They’re over-taxing Canadians $14 billion over three years,” said Gregory Thomas, federal director. “That’s $14 billion more in EI taxes than they will pay in benefits.”

Cuts Open Contract Talks

By Kaven Baker-Voakes, Blacklock’s Reporter, February 11, 2014

New budget cuts to retired federal employees’ benefits on the eve of contract talks are rated “disgraceful” by the Public Service Alliance of Canada. The union representing 180,000 workers expressed dismay over provisions that will see retirees pay twice the cost of health benefits and face new restrictions on eligibility.

“It’s a blatant attack on pensioners,” said Chris Aylward, national executive vice president; “This is a race to the bottom.”

Workplace Bulletin: Collective bargaining monthly update for December 2013

Labour Program, Government of Canada, February 2014

Settlements Reached

  • In December, 17 agreements were ratified, covering a total of 43,960 employees. Fifteen of these agreements were concluded through bargaining: 11 through direct bargaining, three involved bargaining after a work stoppage, and one was settled through post-conciliation bargaining. The remaining two agreements were settled through a conciliation and mediation.

  • Six agreements, covering 29,930 employees, were concluded in the public sector. A total of 11 private sector agreements were ratified for 14,030 employees across several industries.

  • There were five agreements concluded in the federal jurisdiction, three in the private sector (2,010 employees) and two in the public sector (10,630 employees).

  • The highest concentration of employees who ratified their agreement was in the education, health, and social services industry (37.8%).

Key Negotiations (2014)

Labour Program, Government of Canada

The Labour Program updates, at the end of each month, a monthly listing of current and upcoming key negotiations for collective bargaining agreements. These contracts cover negotiations of 500 or more employees.

Unifor chooses Resolute Forest Products to lead sector negotiations

Unifor, February 7, 2014

Unifor, Canada’s largest union in the forestry sector, kicked off preparations for the 2014 pulp and paper pattern bargaining in Eastern Canada at its Industry Bargaining Conference this week in Montreal.

“This round of bargaining is about making progress for workers after the recession that battered the forestry and the entire manufacturing sector,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias.  “The industry has returned to profitability – we’ll be asking employers to acknowledge the sacrifices and contributions of workers during the crisis, including helping to take some companies out of CCAA protection.”

Renaud Gagné, assistant to the Unifor Quebec director said the union’s priorities in bargaining will be economic improvements, including benefits and job security enhancements.

Mount Allison University Strike

Breaking news: The strike is concluded

Mount Allison Faculty Association, February 16, 2014

MtA administration falsely declares an end to the strike

Mount Allison Faculty Association, February 13, 2014

Education at the heart of Mount Allison strike

Dave Thomas, February 5, 2014MAFA

Professors, librarians, and archivists at Mount Allison University have been on strike for 10 days

A labour dispute between Mount Allison University and the Mount Allison Faculty Association (MAFA) has culminated in a faculty strike. The strike is the result of fundamentally divergent visions of education at the institution.

Representing roughly 154 full-time and 54 part-time academic faculty, librarians, and archivists, MAFA is committed to defending the working conditions of its members, which can also be understood as the learning conditions for students. MAFA’s contract expired on July 1, 2013, and bargaining with the employer began three days later.

New Brunswick names mediator in bid to end Mount Allison University strike

The Canadian Press, February 10, 2014

FREDERICTON — The New Brunswick government is directing both sides in a strike at Mount Allison University to resume collective bargaining with the help of a special mediator.

Toronto-based lawyer Larry Steinberg will meet with the two sides Wednesday and Thursday in an effort to resolve the strike at the school in Sackville, which began Jan. 27.

As special mediator, Steinberg has the authority to summon witnesses, require them to give evidence under oath and produce documents.

Sackville businesses feel impact of Mount A faculty strike

CBC News, February 12, 2014

Many businesses in Sackville are feeling the effects of a strike by Mount Allison University faculty that is now into its third week.

Dale Fleming is seeing profits in his Jack’s Pizza shop drop by 50 per cent since the strike started on Jan. 27.

“First couple of days of the strike it was a little bit more busy,” said Fleming. “I think the kids had a little bit of money.

Mount Allison University students demand an end to faculty strike

CTV Atlantic, February 12, 2014

Students at Mount Allison University say they have each lost more than $1,300 in tuition since faculty hit the picket lines last month, and they want their money back.

Students expressed their anger as they marched through the university campus in Sackville, N.B. on Wednesday in protest of the faculty strike, which began Jan. 27.

“Trying to do homework in the library, but not being very productive because you don’t really have anything that drives you,” says student Freya Sturm.

UAW Defeat at Volkswagen

Workers at the Volkswagen auto assembly factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee have voted 712 to 626 against joining the United Automobile Workers. Below are two reports from the New York Times and a report from the Detroit Free Press.

The Free Press writer explains, “At Volkswagen, workers who began working for the company when the Chattanooga plant opened in 2011 make about $20 per hour. That’s essentially the same pay workers who were hired by General Motors, Ford or Chrysler after 2009 make per hour after three years.”
Volkswagen Vote is Defeat for Labor in South
By Steven Greenhouse, NYT, Feb. 14, 2014
UAW faced tough sell with satisfied Volkswagen workers

By Brent Snavely, Detroit Free Press Business, Feb 16, 2014

Volkswagen Workers United (Facebook page)

On Feb 12-14, Volkswagen workers in Chattanooga, TN, have an historic opportunity—to vote, freely and fairly, on whether to form a union at our plant.

Will VW’s Tennessee workers say yes to the UAW? Let’s hope so.

By Scott Martelle, LA Times, February 13, 2014

Thursday is the second of three days of a union-organizing vote at Volkswagen’s Tennessee auto assembly plant, and it’s being tracked like a congressional special election. Is it a bellwether for the state of modern labor? Or is it a one-off that says nothing of significance beyond the confines of the VW factory floor?

It’s a bit of both. The vote has attracted an extraordinary amount of outside interest and pressure, including misleading public billboards, bizarre claims on local talk-radio stations and a general frothing from the anti-union right that worker-management cooperation is the first step toward Stalinism. The organizing vote also seems to have brought out the worst in some Republican state politicians, who have threatened future financial help for VW projects if the United Auto Workers wins the election. As my colleague Jon Healey wrote Wednesday, that is an inappropriate threat.

All eyes on Chattanooga: VW’s workers are deciding the future of unions in the South

By Lydia Depillis, Washington Post, February 13, 2013

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Employees at the Volkswagen auto plant here will vote Friday on whether to join the United Auto Workers union, marking the end of a fevered battle between national conservative groups and labor leaders over the future of the right-to-work South.

If a majority of Volkswagen’s 1,570 hourly workers vote yes, it would mark the first time in nearly three decades of trying that the UAW has successfully organized a plant for a foreign brand in the United States. This time, the union has a powerful ally: Volkswagen itself, which is hoping the union will collaborate in a German-style “works council” and help manage plant operations.





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