RankandFile.ca Weekly Labour Update – June 30 2014

Cowessess first to have on-reserve union
Kerry Benjoe, Leader-Post
June 27, 2014

On Wednesday, the Saskatchewan Government Employees’ Union (SGEU) announced that Cowessess’ 10 health workers have voted to join the union. It now holds the distinction of being the first First Nation in the province to be represented by a union.sgeu

Quebec unionized Wal-Mart workers win Supreme Court victory
CBC News
June 27, 2014

The Supreme Court of Canada has sided with the union representing former Wal-Mart employees who claimed the company violated Quebec labour law when it abruptly closed its store in Jonquière, Que., not long after the workers voted to unionize.

In a 5-2 decision delivered Friday morning, the court ruled that the 190 employees who were terminated when the store was closed are entitled to compensation.

British Columbia teachers’ strike – Let’s keep our eyes on the prize
Tara Ehrcke, RankandFile.ca
June 28, 2014

Two weeks into a full scale strike and teachers in BC are holding the line. In fact, the resolve at the pickets is stronger than ever. Teachers know that after 12 years, we cannot return to a contract that doesn’t address class size and class composition–meaning also teachers’ working conditions.

Kenney defends ‘top-to-bottom overhaul’ of temporary foreign worker program
Marlene Leung, CTVNews.ca
June 22, 2014

Employment Minister Jason Kenney is defending the federal government’s changes to the temporary foreign worker program, noting that the “top-to-bottom” overhaul will force businesses to use market mechanisms, like raising wages, to address labour shortages.

Kenney said that while the proposed changes to the program will undoubtedly make it more difficult for some businesses in tight labour markets to fill job vacancies, employers must try harder to hire Canadians first.

Revealed: What happened the night of the oil train disaster in Lac Mégantic, Quebec that killed 47 people
Roger Annis, Rabble.ca
June 24, 2014

Details of the events leading to last July’s oil train disaster in Lac Mégantic, Quebec have been made public for the first time. They reinforce an existing portrait of the accident as a perfect storm of corporate malfeasance.

Union wants Halifax to push envelope in response to Canada Post cuts
Stephanie Taylor, Halifax Media Co-Op
June 25, 2014

The doors of Halifax’s city hall may have been locked to members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers on Tuesday, but their message still made it in. More than 100 people gathered on the Grand Parade in front of City Hall to protest Mayor Mike Savage’s decision not to let the union address Halifax Regional Council about Canada Post’s cuts to door-to-door delivery.

H.J. Heinz Co. Leamington: 1909-2014
CBC News
June 27, 2014

H.J. Heinz Co. will cease to operate its Leamington, Ont., plant on Friday, putting hundreds of people out of work and ending the partnership that has lasted more than a century between the company and community. Before the Great Depression, before colour photos or the world wars, there was the H.J. Heinz Co. in Leamington.

Durham Region inside workers striking against concessions
David Bush, Rankandfile.ca
June 26, 2014

Despite heavy rain well over 200 people rallied in Whitby in support of the striking Durham inside workers yesterday. The rally was organized by CUPE Ontario to show solidarity for the 1600 CUPE 1764 members who have been on strike since last Thursday. Over the weekend the inside workers rejected the latest offer from the Durham region.

About 50 underperforming Sobeys stores to close, mostly in Western Canada
The Canadian Press, CTV News
June 26, 2014

Sobeys’ parent company Empire Co. will close about 50 underperforming grocery stores as it tries to squeeze savings from its operations after the multi-billion acquisition of Safeway Canada last summer.

About 60 per cent of the affected Sobeys locations are in Western Canada, said the Nova Scotia-based company as it released sharply lower quarterly results on Thursday.

Ontario’s workers’ compensation system is under attack
Odoardo Di Santo, Toronto Star
June 27, 2014

I had the great privilege to serve as chair of what is now called the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) in the early 1990s. As an immigrant from Italy and then a member of Ontario’s Provincial Parliament, I had observed firsthand the difficult circumstances of injured workers and the important role of the board in helping them get back on their feet.

NDP chooses two candidates for federal election
The Leader-Post
June 27, 2014

Before most of the province’s federal incumbents have declared their intention to run, the NDP has already nominated two candidates for the 2015 election. Weir, an economist who worked in the trade union movement, won the nomination over former federal NDP candidate and lawyer Noah Evanchuk.

Brazilian Workers Buck Union Officials to Strike
Claudia Costa, Labor Notes
June 23, 2014

The World Cup is in full swing, and official propaganda from President Dilma Roussef’s administration portrays Brazil as a wonderland. But Brazilians have been exposing the truth in a full year of demonstrations, protests, and strikes.

The massive public spending on the World Cup has thrown into contrast the poor pay, high fares, and starved public services Brazilians endure. And the construction has driven up housing costs and displaced poor workers.

CFLR updates Backgrounder on current Charter challenges against labour laws

The Canadian Foundation for Labour Rights (CFLR) has issued a new edition of its publication Backgrounder: Summary of current Charter challenges and their impact on union security in Canada. The publication provides a summary of cases before the courts that challenge labour laws on the basis that they violate Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Payroll employment, earnings and hours, April 2014

Average weekly earnings of non-farm payroll employees were $932 in April, up 0.5% from the previous month. Compared with 12 months earlier, weekly earnings rose 3.3%.

Measuring Liberal austerity: A detailed analysis of budget 2014
Alex Hunsberger, Socialist Worker
June 24, 2014

The defeat of the Tim Hudak-led Ontario Progressive-Conservative (PC) Party in the June 12 Ontario general election was indeed remarkable. Though facing a scandal-plagued Liberal government, the PCs were unable to take advantage of the Liberals’ weaknesses and end their decade in exile from the government benches.

Broadbent Institute reviews Unions Matter: Advancing Democracy, Economic Equality and Social Justice

The Broadbent Institute has posted a review of the Canadian Foundation for Labour Rights’ (CFLR) recently released book, Unions Matter: Advancing Democracy, Economic Equality and Social Justice. The review, written by Andrew Jackson, senior policy advisor with the Broadbent Institute, congratulates the CFLR on how the book “sets out the strong case that labour rights promote the cause of democracy, equality, and social justice. It provides the labour movement and human rights activists with the tools they need to defend and expand labour rights, and deserves to be widely read and used.”

Peoples Social Forum: Ottawa, August 21-24

Roger Rashi, Coordinator of the PSF and Dylan Penner discuss the plans for the forum including plans for marches, opportunities for groups to propose workshops, and plans for convergence assemblies to address common goals and strategies.

For more information, visit the peoplessocialforum.org website.

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