RankandFile.ca Weekly Labour Update – July 21, 2014

BC Teachers’ Strike | Federal Sick Leave | Thunder Bay Bombardier strike | Ontario Works | CLC | #BoycottIKEA | Sawmill Explosion Investigation | First Responders and Suicide |

Workers at the Bombardier Thunder Bay rail facility on strike
Workers at the Bombardier Thunder Bay rail facility on strike

Why the stakes are high at Bombardier’s strike-bound Thunder Bay plant
Dana Flavelle, Toronto Star
July 18, 2014

The Thunder Bay plant that builds streetcars, subway cars and GO train coaches for the Toronto region has never been busier. With $3 billion worth of orders in hand, the facility owned by Canada’s Bombardier Inc. had ramped up production, nearly doubling employment at the plant to 1,300 people since 2010. And with a new Ontario government committed to spending $29 billion for public transit, highways, roads, and bridges over the next 10 years, demand for the kind of light rail vehicles Bombardier makes seems destined to increase. So, why is Bombardier Inc. willing to endure a strike to wring concessions from nearly 900 unionized workers at the Thunder Bay plant where the vehicles are made?

Union takes a stand for future young aerospace workers
Joie Warnock, The Province
July 15, 2014

Skilled workers off the job at Cascade Aerospace in Abbotsford will tell you — probably right down to the last person — that they don’t want to be on strike. Striking isn’t fun or profitable for anyone. So why are more than 400 skilled technicians on a 24-hour picket line? The answer might surprise you. Picket lines have been up at Cascade Aerospace since June 4 over the proposed cuts to the health benefits, pension contributions and vacation time of future hires.

Ontario Works is a failing system
Mike Bryck, RankandFile.ca
July 17, 2014

For the last 4 years of my life I have been a cog in a broken system. I have been scared to speak too much about it because I worry about professional ramifications. I am tired, sick and tired, of staying quiet so I won’t be doing that anymore. First off, I am not complaining, my job is good, my pay is fair, and my benefits are above average. I get a fair amount of vacation time and have a Union to fight for improvements to all of these things. My employer is good to my co-workers and I for the most part and its for all these reasons that I have kept quiet.

Federal civil servants’ sick leave costs taxpayers almost nothing extra
Terry Pedwell, CTV
July 16, 2014

It costs taxpayers almost nothing extra to pay sick leave to federal civil servants, says a new report from the Parliamentary Budget Office. The findings are ammunition for public-sector unions in their battle with the Treasury Board over proposed changes to government sick-leave policies.

CUPW calls for Immediate Ceasefire, Respect for International Law and UN Resolutions: The Canadian Government Should Promote Peace Not War
July 16, 2014

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers has never shied away from pointing out global injustices and violations of human rights, and working in solidarity with organizations working for justice and peace. That is why CUPW is joining the call for an immediate ceasefire in Israel and Palestine and an end to the massacre of innocent civilians. To date, 194 Palestinians have been killed and 1,390 wounded during Israel’s military offensive in Gaza, 80% of which have been civilians, including dozens of women and children, according to the United Nations.

Powerful, influential, transformative: How one woman’s campaign team transformed the CLC
Meg Borthwick, Rabble.ca
July 18, 2014

The powerful roles women play in the labour movement go too often unreported. Perhaps nowhere has this been more evident than in coverage of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) convention held in Montreal in May of this year. Although the CLC has previously had a female national president, with the election of Shirley Carr in 1986, and has had gender parity in its executive body well before most non-labour entities, the stereotype of a macho labour movement has persisted. In reality, that image has been changing dramatically as labour reflects the diversity of its members and the workforce overall.

Dismissals decades behind the times
Leader Post Editorial
July 16, 2014

In unenlightened workplaces of decades past, pregnancy signalled the end of a career for some women. Hard-working employees who’d been highly valued by their bosses until the moment they announced, “I’m having a baby” too often found themselves suddenly let go – out of a job at the very time extra income would be needed. Worse, their career prospects often never recovered. Though the reasons given for dismissing pregnant workers were sometimes vague, they usually boiled down to an unspoken reluctance to deal with disruption to the workplace. It was often easier to hire someone else – sometimes a man – than deal with the hassle of modifying the job or finding and training a maternity leave replacement. For decades it has been illegal for employers to discriminate against workers who are pregnant. Coupled with more enlightened societal attitudes to this issue, one might think such discrimination had long been eradicated from the workplace.

#BoycottIKEA pickets strike again
July, 15, 2014

On July 12, three separate info pickets hit IKEA stores in Ottawa, Toronto, and Burlington in solidarity with the locked out workers of IKEA Richmond. It was the second round of info pickets in less than a month. Over 300 members of Teamsters Local 213 have been locked out for over 14 months because they are resisting concessions on wages and benefits. Several weeks ago, dozens of the members signed a petition calling for info pickets and a boycott of IKEA.

WorkSafeBC’s Ongoing Failures Demand Public Inquiry on Sawmill Explosions
United Steelworkers
July 15, 2014

The WorkSafeBC Review and Action Plan released today by the B.C. government fails to restore confidence in the agency’s ability to keep workers safe, says the United Steelworkers (USW).
“In the aftermath of the horrific explosions in Burns Lake and Prince George and WorkSafeBC’s botched investigations, it is abundantly clear the agency’s problems run deep and are engrained in a culture of secrecy. Unfortunately, nothing in this report fixes these problems,” says USW Western Canada Director Stephen Hunt.

13 first responders have killed themselves in the past ten weeks
James Armstrong and Laura Zilke, Global News
July 16, 2014

UPDATED: 13 first responders have now killed themselves over the last ten weeks.
-In the past 10 weeks, 11 Canadians whose job it is to confront the most violent, traumatic situations have reportedly killed themselves. Seven of these first responders – four police officers, two paramedics and one federal corrections staff member – were in Ontario, according to the Tema Conter Memorial Trust, an organization that promotes mental-health awareness among Canada’s first responders. “It’s a national tragedy, if you ask me,” said Vince Savoia, a former paramedic and founder of the Tema Conter trust. “What angers me most is some organizations truly believe that if the suicide does not occur at work then it’s obviously not job-related.”

BC Teachers Strike
Lisa Descary, RankandFile.ca
July 16, 2014

It’s July in Greater Vancouver. Birds are singing, the sun is shining, and BC public school teachers like me are signing up for picket line shifts. Yes, that’s right: I am walking the picket line in July, a time when my school is not even in session. And I don’t even teach summer school. How did this happen? Despite the claims of the government and commentators in the media, this is not because BC teachers suddenly dug in their heels. This conflict has been brewing for a long time.

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