R&F’s Labour News Update – December 22, 2014

Scumbag award| Canadians’ opinion of the TFWP| Vancouver metro truck drivers| RTW expands in the U.S.| Merit Contractors in Nova Scotia| Municipal workers| Wealth inequality in Canada| Damaged community mailboxes| Eaton’s strike| Labour supports BDS in Sudbury

Scumbag of the year: Call for nominations

In the comment section below, let us know who you think are the year’s worst bosses, scumbag politicians and right-wing hacks. There are plenty of scumbags around the world, so we’re going to limit it to Canada.

RankandFile.ca will compile a Top Ten list and select a winner for 2014.

Submissions: leave a comment below by December 22 for consideration.

Canadians think employers abuse temporary foreign worker program: survey
Ottawa Citizen
December 14, 2014

Nearly seven in 10 Canadians think employers regularly abuse the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, a government-sponsored survey shows.

Despite that, more than half support the controversial program, according to the Harris/Decima survey of 1,984 Canadians, commissioned by Employment and Social Development Canada.

The $95,000 survey, conducted last May, found that 57 per cent of Canadians strongly or somewhat support the temporary foreign workers program. Just 32 per cent say they are opposed.

Asked if some employers abuse the program by not doing enough to recruit Canadians, 68 per cent said yes and just 19 per cent said no.

Container truck drivers say new pay rates could lead to another Port of Metro Vancouver shutdown
Vancouver Sun
December 16, 2014

Pay rates for Port Metro Vancouver container truck drivers proposed by the province fall short of resolving issues around undercutting and low levels of compensation, according to groups that represent drivers.

“This is not even 75 per cent of what was agreed, if we just (look at) the rates,” said Manny Dhillon, a spokesman for the United Truckers Association, the group that represents about 1,300 non-unionized drivers at the port.

Pay rates were a key issue in the dispute that saw some 2,000 union and non-union drivers who serve port container terminals walk off the job for 28 days in February and March. The rate structure released by the Ministry of Transportation Monday is aimed at “providing fair wages” for drivers based on the agreement that was negotiated at the end of March to end the dispute.

The worst community postal box contest

To protest the first anniversary of the announcement of Canada Post to end home delivery, we launched a small photo contest of community postal boxes. You can submit a photo to the email address info@isupport-boulerice.org or vote for your favorite community box.

Anti-union bill shows Conservative disregard for evidence, democratic institutions
Broadbent Institute
December 17, 2014

Canadians like their labour law the way they like their touques – sturdy and designed to protect.

As a result, Canadian lawmakers have a long history of consulting with labour and business before tinkering with existing law. This ensures predictability for employers and workers, and has been a hallmark of the Canadian system. A system that is internationally regarded as effective, fair, and most importantly, stable.

Bill C-525, passed by the Senate on Tuesday, throws that tradition under the bus.

Here’s why:

A solution in search of a problem Bill C-525 takes the current one-step process of certifying a union in the federal sector, and makes it a two-step process. It also increases the burden on the Board responsible for overseeing certifications, de-certifications, and complaints.

BCGEU Native Courtworkers reach tentative agreement
December 17, 2014

The B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union announced today that their native courtworker members have reached a tentative agreement with the Native Courtworker and Counselling Association of British Columbia.

The tentative agreement provides wage parity for native courtworkers with other public service workers doing similar work, effective Jan. 1, 2015. Until now, salary levels for comparable jobs in the Aboriginal services sector started at about $10,000 higher than for native courtworkers.

The agreement also provides a 1 per cent wage increase to all bargaining unit members, effective April 21, 2015. If ratified, the agreement is scheduled to expire on March 31, 2016.

Contracted snow clearing costs ten times more than in house: CUPE
CUPE Press Release
December 18, 2014

The President of the union representing most Alberta municipal workers reacted to news that Calgary taxpayers paid ten times more for snow clearing on bike paths than they would if the work had been done by city employees.

Reports indicate that clearing the snow using a private contractor cost $726.14 per centimeter of snowfall. Snow clearing done by Calgary City staff cost $72.65 per centimetre.

Teachers try to control anger over wage offers
Montreal Gazette
December 16, 2014

Quebec’s teachers are up in arms, arguing the very future of the public school system is being put in jeopardy as a result of Quebec’s latest public sector contract offers.

One day after the common front of 541,000 public sector workers blasted the Couillard wage freeze offer saying it is a slap in the face and an insult, individuals unions got their own look at the offers.

The two largest francophone federations representing Quebec’s 100,000 teachers were among the first to get the bad news.

Wealth Inequality in Canada
Broadbent Institute
December 16, 2014

Santa’s real workshop: the town in China that makes the world’s Christmas decorations

The Guardian
December 19, 2014

There’s red on the ceiling and red on the floor, red dripping from the window sills and red globules splattered across the walls. It looks like the artist Anish Kapoor has been let loose with his wax cannon again. But this, in fact, is what the making of Christmas looks like; this is the very heart of the real Santa’s workshop – thousands of miles from the North Pole, in the Chinese city of Yiwu.

Our yuletide myth-making might like to imagine that Christmas is made by rosy-cheeked elves hammering away in a snow-bound log cabin somewhere in the Arctic Circle. But it’s not. The likelihood is that most of those baubles, tinsel and flashing LED lights you’ve draped liberally around your house came from Yiwu, 300km south of Shanghai – where there’s not a (real) pine tree nor (natural) snowflake in sight.

Des Tim Hortons syndiqués à Sept-Îles
Le Journal de Montreal
December 22, 2014

La demande a été logée auprès de la Commission des relations du travail le 15 décembre. Une centaine d’employés sont visés. Il s’agirait d’une première pour la chaîne. En 2003, les travailleurs d’un Tim Hortons de Longueuil avaient entrepris des démarches, mais à ce jour, la succursale n’est pas syndiquée. Plusieurs éléments motiveraient les travailleurs à s’affilier à une organisation syndicale. « Il y a le temps des caisses. Les employés, par exemple, comptaient leurs caisses sur leur temps. Ils finissaient leur quart de travail et devaient faire ça après de façon bénévole. Il y a des irritants : il y a du monde qui travaille là depuis longtemps, longtemps, et ils n’ont pas nécessairement d’avantages comparativement à un étudiant qui vient juste de rentrer. Le remboursement de leur propre poche quand la caisse ne balance pas, également », a fait valoir Dominic Lemieux, coordonnateur des Métallos sur la Côte-Nord.

McMaster to partner with top Israeli universities
Daily News
December 19, 2014

McMaster is joining its U15 counterparts on a week-long trip to Israel to expand and explore research and academic cooperation with some of Israel’s top research universities.

Peter Mascher, McMaster’s associate vice-president, International Affairs is among the delegates taking part in the trip organized by the U15 Group of Canadian Research Universities and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA).

Merit Contractors Association attacks Nova Scotia’s construction unions
December 18, 2014

Last week, industry lobbyists launched the latest salvo against workers’ rights in Nova Scotia, which in the past year has seen the Liberal government dramatically attack collective bargaining rights and the right to strike for healthcare workers. The provincial arm of the Merit Association, a nation-wide wage-depression lobbying group, released its campaign to get unions out of the construction industry.

Community mailbox parcel compartments pried open in Dartmouth
The Chronicle Herald
December 20, 2014

Someone is lacking in the Christmas spirit department.

Halifax Regional Police are investigating after the parcel compartments of several community mailboxes were broken open in Dartmouth. One of the mailboxes was at the intersection of Freshwater Trail and Lindenwood Terrace, while the other was farther down Freshwater Trail. A total of three cabinets were pried open.

Police don’t know when the damage took place and it hasn’t been determined if anything was taken. Canada Post has been contacted to make the necessary repairs and to see if anything was in the boxes.

Canada’s Unifor and CN Rail fail to reach labor agreement
December 18, 2014

Unifor, Canada’s largest private sector workers’ union, said it was unable to reach agreement with Canadian National Railway Co after months of negotiations.

Unifor, which has five collective agreements with CN Rail, had opened talks in September on contracts for about 5,000 workers across the country.

“There was some progress made over the week, but there have been several stumbling blocks on non-economic issues that prevent the talks from going forward,” Unifor said in a statement.

The Irish rebellion over water
New York Times
December 19, 2014

In the west of Ireland, they say that if you can see the mountain, it’s going to rain. And if you can’t see the mountain? It’s raining.

Ireland may have its troubles, but drought isn’t one of them. Which may be why proposed charges for household water have brought tens of thousands into the streets in protests that have deeply unnerved the political order.

Study: New facts on pension coverage in Canada, 2012
Statistics Canada

In 2012, one-third of employed women and one-quarter of employed men aged 25 to 54 were covered by a defined benefit (DB) pension plan. Women had higher coverage rates mostly because they were more likely than men to be employed in sectors with higher rates of pension coverage.

These sectors included educational services, health care and social assistance, and public administration, which, in 2012, employed 42% of women and 17% of men.

The finding is part of a new study that sheds light on the relationship between the type of pension coverage and the individual characteristics of employed people. It is based on recently released data from the Longitudinal and International Study of Adults.

Are Cities the Next Front in the Right’s War on Labor?
The Nation
December 3, 2014

On August 28, a klatch of high-level representatives of some of the most anti-union groups in the country gathered on a stage at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, DC. They had come together, on the eve of Labor Day, to discuss a new scheme for dismantling workers’ rights: turning one of the most potent weapons in the anti-labor arsenal—so-called right-to-work laws (RTW)—on cities and counties.UFCW shop

“The possibilities of rolling out a local RTW [campaign] in a non-RTW state deserves a full-court press by those of us who care about free market economics and allowing communities to make the best decisions for their people,” declared Jon Russell, a baby-faced partisan of the right who was sandwiched between Andrew Kloster of the Heritage Foundation and Patrick Gleason of Americans for Tax Reform. Flanking them were James Sherk, also of the Heritage Foundation, and William Messenger, the attorney from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation who argued Harris v. Quinn last year before the Supreme Court.

Injured migrants fear being reported to CBSA by hospitals
Vancouver Sun
December 17, 2014

People without legal status in Canada are increasingly afraid to go to hospitals for fear of being reported to the Canada Border Services Agency, a community health group claims.

Such people are staying away from emergency rooms because there have been several instances of the billing departments of hospitals passing on information to immigration authorities, said Byron Cruz of the group Sanctuary Health.

“As a result of that, we are dealing with very scary situations. Like we have a guy … a machine cut his nose and he didn’t go to hospital. He was bleeding, we had to see him out(side) of the hospital …. We had to glue the skin because we couldn’t do the stitches,” Cruz said, explaining that stitches are inadvisable more than 12 hours after the initial wound.

Here We Come A-Picketing! Christmas Carols, Class Conflict, and the Eaton’s Strike, 1984-85
Active History
December 18, 2014

By mid-December, the holiday shopping season is usually in full swing for Canadian retailers. Thirty years ago, however, several Eaton’s department stores in southern Ontario were experiencing a different type of holiday hustle and bustle: Eaton’s workers were on strike.Eatons-Picketline

Hoping that unionization would improve their wages and working conditions, many of the department stores’ mostly female workers had joined the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU); but management’s refusal to negotiate left them with few options but to withdraw their labour power. On 30 November 1984 RWDSU members at six Eaton’s locations went on strike. In doing so, they embarked on a significant struggle to win a collective agreement in a sector known for poor pay and precarity, all while enduring one of the coldest winters in Canadian history.

Sudbury and District Labour Council Supports BDS Campaign in Solidarity with Palestine
Sudbury Media Coop
December 17, 2014

Sudbury’s local Palestine Solidarity Working Group extends its congratulations to the Sudbury District Labour Council (SDLC) for passing a motion on November 27, 2014, in favour of the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign in support of Palestinian rights.

The Sudbury District Labour Council, an affiliate of the CLC, passed a motion which reads: “The Executive Board recommends the Sudbury and District Labour Council support the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement.” In addition to this motion stating support for the principles of BDS, the SDLC supported five specific actions (see below) in keeping with Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign. The motion will be in effect until the State of Israel complies with international law.

Centennial College revamps pay for part-time instructors
The Toronto Star
December 17, 2014

The Scarborough community college now pays all non-full-time faculty by the hour — just the hours they stand in front of a class — and has scrapped daily or weekly rates for heavier-load “sessional” staff that covered some marking and preparation time, said RM Kennedy, vice-president of the Ontario Public Service Employees’ Union at Centennial, which represents some of the faculty.

“Basing it on an hourly rate has caused a lot of distress. A teacher who taught five courses now has to teach seven to make the same money,” said Kennedy, warning “it could affect the quality of work they do. Now they’re only paid for their hours in front of the class, but with the amount of essays, there’s no possible way you can mark in that time.”

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