R&F.ca Labour News Update – December 1, 2014

WSIB rewards bad employers | Canada Post turns a profit | BC Federation of Labour | Black Friday protests | Tembec Strike | Anti-austerity protests in Quebec | OPSEU bargaining | PACCAR’s Ste-Thérèse lockout | Domestic violence at work | Westjet deal rejected |Kinder Morgan protests| Winnipeg muncipal workers| Jobs or the environment?| Quebec muncipal workers strike| Laval TA’s one day strike|

B3gtkWqCEAA_UqWWalmart Is Seeing Its Biggest Black Friday Protests Ever
Mother Jones
November 28, 2014

Black Friday is best known as the day when big-box retailers rake in money, but it has also become a time for some of their employees to demand a share of the proceeds. At Walmart, this year’s Black Friday protests will be the widest-reaching ever, organizers say, with pickets and strikes planned at 1600 stores in 49 states to remind shoppers that the people serving them often can’t afford to feed themselves. “I have to depend on the government mostly,” says Fatmata Jabbie, a 21-year-old single mother of two who earns $8.40 an hour working at a Walmart in Alexandria, Virginia. She makes ends meet with food stamps, subsidized housing, and Medicaid. “Walmart should pay us $15 an hour and let us work full-time hours,” she says. “That would change our lives. That would change our whole path. I wouldn’t be dependent on government too much. I could buy clothes for my kids to wear.”

Large employers are 5 times more likely than small ones to pay minimum wage, says new Ontario report
November 28, 2014

New research prepared by Social Planning Toronto and the Campaign to Raise the Minimum Wage shows that in Ontario, large employers are the biggest culprits in perpetuating a low-wage economy. Data from Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey shows that in 2013, large firms with over 500 workers employed almost 50% of Ontario’s half-million low wage workforce. Large firms increased their hiring of Anchorminimum wage workers by over 190% since 1998. Further, 30% of all Ontario employees in large firms were paid at or below minimum wage, compared to just 5.6% of small firms (less than 100 workers).The full report is available here.

OPSEU workers protest ongoing wage freeze proposal from province
CBC News
November 27, 2014

Public service workers with the Ontario Public Service Employees Union staged a protest in Thunder Bay today after receiving the opening bargaining proposals from the Ontario government. Tom Berube, who works for the Land Registry Office in the city, said he’s worried that the first negotiation proposal calls for a four-year wage freeze. And that’s tough to hear, he said, considering his salary has been frozen since 2012. “They’re trying to make conditions favourable for privatization,” he said. “That’s a little bit terrifying for many of us, because many of us have families and, personally, I’ve had to take a second job because money really isn’t there. There’s an illusion that government workers make horrendous piles of money. That’s not true.”

Tembec on strike
Jennifer Hamilton-McCharles, The Nugget
November 26, 2014

Tembec workers are on strike. After three days of negotiations the union and company couldn’t reach an agreement. The assistance of the Quebec Ministry of Labour and a conciliator didn’t help. “At 5:45 p.m. (Wednesday) Tembec employees went on strike. There was however a physical altercation between security staff hired by the company and some of our employees that were held inside the plant and couldn’t get out,” said Roger Gauthier, president of Unifor Local 233 representing 650 workers at the Temiscaming plant.

Irene Lanzinger chosen as new leader of B.C. Federation of Labour
Yolande Cole, straight.com
November 27, 2014

Irene Lanzinger has been elected the new president of the B.C. Federation of Labour. More than 2,200 delegates cast their ballots today (November 27) for the province’s top union leader. Lanzinger will be the first woman to lead the federation. She replaces outgoing, 15-year president Jim Sinclair. “I am so humbled, so proud to be your voice,” she told delegates at the Vancouver Convention Centre. Lanzinger has been the secretary-treasurer of the federation since 2010. Prior to that, she was the president of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF).Her endorsers for leadership of the B.C. Federation of Labour included UNITE HERE Local 40, the BCTF, and Unifor. Lanzinger won the election with 1,137 votes. Amber Hockin, the other contender for the position of president, secured 1,080 votes.

Domestic Violence at Work
Canadian Labour Congress
November 28, 2014

The Canadian Labour Congress partnered with researchers at the University of Western Ontario and conducted the first ever Canadian survey on domestic violence in the workplace. We did this because there is almost no data on this issue in Canada and we know that women with a history of domestic violence have a more disrupted work history, are consequently on lower personal incomes, have had to change jobs more often, and more often work in casual and part time roles than women without violence experiences.

maxresdefaultKicking the can: Strikers out 14 months against Crown Holdings
Gerard Di Trolio, RankandFile.ca
November 28, 2014

After 14 months off the job and little attention, USW Local 9176 members on strike at Crown Holdings’ factory in Toronto have taken their message to the airwaves as part of the “Take Backs No More” campaign. USW launched a radio ad campaign in mid October encouraging people to buy their beer in bottles and not in aluminium cans which are manufactured at the Crown Holdings plant. “We’re running [the radio ads] during morning drive time when people are stuck in traffic in Toronto,” says USW’s head of Strategic Campaigns Joe Drexler. “We’ve done the demographic research to be able to target beer drinkers.”

Municipal workers stage protests across Quebec, vow to keep fighting
Montreal Gazette
November 26, 2014

“We’ve been mobilizing for eight months now, so for us it was important to show that the movement is stronger than ever,” Marc Ranger said on Wednesday as thousands of municipal workers staged a one-day strike across Quebec. “And the battle won’t stop with the adoption of this unfair legislation,” said Ranger, a spokesperson for the Coalition syndicale pour la libre négociation, which represents more than 65,000 unionized municipal employees. Their ongoing fight includes legal action as soon as Bill 3 is adopted, but they’ll also continue to mobilize, Ranger said. “And the message is that … the administrations that will want to strictly apply this legislation will have to pay the price with the working relationship with the different unions,” he said.

Ste-Thérèse’s PACCAR employees reject offer hours after lockout
Montreal Gazette
November 30, 2014

Employees at PACCAR, a manufacturer of medium- and heavy-duty trucks, said no to the company’s final offer Sunday morning, with 76 per cent of employees voting to reject the deal only hours after being locked out. Management of the Ste-Thérèse facility locked out its 900 employees at midnight Saturday. Negotiations for a new contract had been going on for more than two months between PACCAR and local 728 of Unifor, the employees union.

The ‘Jobs or Environment’ Choice Is ‘False’ Says Mega-Union
Geoff Dembicki, The Tyee
24 Nov, 2014

It’s one of the oldest environmental clichés around: by protecting Mother Nature we destroy the economy. Even though mounting evidence suggests the reverse is true, and that an ecologically sustainable economy is stronger than one that isn’t, the polarizing choice between jobs and the environment still defines most climate change debates. That’s especially the case in Canada, where Prime Minister Stephen Harper has vowed he won’t allow climate action to “destroy jobs and growth.”

WestJet faces bumpy ride as flight attendants vote to reject deal
Vanessa Lu, Toronto Star
November 25, 2014

WestJet Airlines has always prided itself on being a different kind of airline. But the Calgary-based carrier is suddenly facing turbulence as it struggles to reach agreements with flight attendants and pilots amid separate unionization drives. WestJet’s 2,600 flight attendants were allowed to vote for the first time on a proposed agreement that sets out pay and work rules. They rejected it Monday, with 57 per cent voting against the deal. Turnout was high, with 90 per cent of members casting ballots.

OPSEU sending a message to Ontario Premier Wynne about what they think of the government's latest offer
OPSEU sending a message to Ontario Premier Wynne about what they think of the government’s latest offer

Ontario public-service union calls a strike vote
David Reevely, Ottawa Citizen
November 26, 2014

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union, which represents 35,000 direct employees in the Ontario public service, is in bargaining for a new contract with the government and it’s not going fabulously: upon receiving the government’s opening offer, OPSEU called a strike vote. It explains the move to members: Your benefits, wages, job security, and basic contract entitlements are targeted. The employer’s proposals attack the sick and the injured across the Ontario Public Service. Privatization is at the forefront of the employer’s agenda.

Canada Post on track for profitable 2014
Linda Nguyen, Canadian Press
November 26, 2014

Despite more people still choosing email over snail mail, the Canada Post Group of Companies says it’s on track to earn a profit this year despite an earlier forecast for a multimillion-dollar loss. The Crown corporation said it earned $84 million before tax for the first three quarters of the year, driven by its parcels business and higher stamp prices, along with lower employee benefit expenses. In its 2014 corporate plan, it had projected that it would lose $274 million before taxes for the year.

Workplace safety board still rewards dangerous employers
Moira Welsh and David Bruser, Toronto Star
November 24. 2014

A flawed workplace insurance program exposed in 2008 for giving rebates to dangerous employers is still handing out the cash rewards, a new report by the Ontario Federation of Labour has found. The problem was earlier exposed by a 2008 Star investigation that found Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) gave tens of millions of dollars in rebates to companies that had been found guilty of provincial safety violations leading to deaths, amputations and other gruesome injuries. After the Star stories were published, then premier Dalton McGuinty called the rebates an “embarrassment” and the WSIB chair said the problem would be promptly fixed.

Teaching and research assistants on strike at Laval University
November 30, 2014

All 5,000 teaching and research assistants working for Laval University (affiliated with SA²RE, local 10,800) in Quebec City were on strike for 24 hours, Nov. 26. Their main demand is that the employer sit at the table and negotiate! The austerity measures announced by the Liberal government have blocked the bargaining process. These budget cuts mean the University has cancelled all bargaining sessions scheduled throughout the fall.

B.C. Fed rallies for minimum wage hike
Ian Austin, Vancouver Sun
November 27, 2014

On a soggy Canada Place Plaza, the familiar strains of a Santana classic filled the air — with a decidedly partisan chorus. “You’ve got to change your evil ways, Christy,” came the reworked phrase, to the delight of an enthusiastic-but-dripping-wet contingent from the B.C. Federation of Labour convention being held inside. Premier Christy Clark actually raised the minimum wage — to $10.25 an hour — shortly after becoming premier, but her 30-month-old wage hike is now yesterday’s news. Those on hand took up the new slogan — “Fight for $15. It’s Only Fair.”

Income inequality is killing thousands of Canadians every year
Dennis Raphael and Toba Bryant, Toronto Star
November 23, 2014

The crash of an airliner is a tragic disaster that triggers major investigations and quick action to make sure the same problem doesn’t occur again. As a result, these events are, thankfully, extremely rare. Imagine the response, from industry, government and the public, if a plane crashed every day. And yet a recent report by Statistics Canada highlights a preventable cause of death that is having exactly that kind of impact, but which is being largely ignored. The study demonstrates that income inequality is associated with the premature death of 40,000 Canadians a year. That’s equal to 110 Canadians dying prematurely each day. To put that into context, imagine a Bombardier CS-100 jet airplane full of passengers falling out of the sky every day for a year.

Winnipeg’s new mayor must win support of workers
Mike Davidson, Winnipeg Free Press
November 24, 2014

Winnipeg’s new mayor faces some serious challenges. He must balance his election promises with the realities of running a growing and dynamic city. After a decade of dwindling morale, Mayor Brian Bowman presented himself as a leader who will create a new relationship between the city and its employees. This is something city workers are excited about. We are excited to share ideas on what we need in order to do our jobs more efficiently and with pride. During the past number of years, CUPE Local 500 has made it a priority to provide input and advice to city council. We have made presentations on everything from improved snow clearing, better garbage services, increased accountability and how best to allocate operating budget resources. We know the ins-and-outs of our jobs, and we certainly know where improvements can be made.

Kinder Morgan is elephant in room for B.C. Federation of Labour
Derrick O’Keefe and Ethan Cox, Ricochet
November 27, 2014

“Personally, I’m opposed to it,” said Aaron Ekman, candidate for secretary-treasurer of the B.C. Federation of Labour at its Vancouver convention this week. “But there’s no doubt it’s the most controversial issue in the labour movement right now.” If Ekman sounds candid about his position on Kinder Morgan’s proposed Trans Mountain pipeline extension, it’s because he can afford to be. He’s running unopposed for his position. At the top of the ticket his running mate is Amber Hockin, a CUPE activist and Pacific region director of the Canadian Labour Congress. She’s in a tight race for the presidency with Irene Lanzinger, the federation’s current secretary-treasurer and retiring President Jim Sinclair’s hand-picked successor.

Anti Austerity Protest 20141129Thousands take part in anti-austerity protests in Montreal and Quebec City
Montreal Gazette
November 30, 2014

Tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in Montreal and Quebec City on Saturday afternoon to show their staunch opposition to the provincial government’s austerity agenda.
The protest was organized by the Collectif Refusons L’austerité, which includes Quebec’s union movement, student groups, and several civil society groups. Thousands of protesters in Montreal left Place du Canada early Saturday afternoon and headed west along René-Levesque Blvd., up de la Montagne St. to Ste-Catherine St. and then east to the Place des Festivals at Jeanne Mance St. The protest in Quebec City began at the Plains of Abraham and headed to the National Assembly.

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