R&F’S LABOUR NEWS UPDATE: JAN. 19, 2015

“Solidarity Forever” turns 100 | RF.ca call for writers & contributors | Safety & the lockout at Southern Railway | Oil revenue crisis in Saskatchewan and Alberta | CUPE 3903 | OPSEU crashes Premier’s levee | Retails shutdown Canadian operations | Deficits and (more) austerity are on the horizone

‘Solidarity Forever’ Written 100 Years Ago, Today
LaborNotes.org, January 17, 2015

On a windblown, gray Chicago day 100 years ago, January 17, 1915, Ralph Chaplin left his home on the South Side for a raucous, poor person’s rally at the city’s famous women’s center, Hull House. He asked a visiting friend he’d met organizing coal miners with Mother Jones to listen to the lyrics of a new tune he had been working on:

Solidarity Forever,
Solidarity Forever,
Solidarity Forever,
For the union makes us strong!

RankandFile.ca is looking for writers and contributors — Please help share the word!
January 16, 2015

Calling all writers and trade unionists!

Rankandfile.ca is looking for writers, contributors, and people willing to help promote our website.

Video shows managers operating train with no lights during foggy, night-time crossing
CUPE, January 15, 2015

BURNABY—A cell phone video shot earlier this week shows a Southern Railway train operated dangerously by managers attempting to replace locked-out employees. The video shows a train rolling through a crossing on Annacis Island with no headlights or front ditchlights on, despite thick fog at the time and with one manager riding on the stairs of the leading locomotive.

Sections 17 and 19 of Canadian Rail Operating Rules – Signals Operations require that headlights and ditch lights be kept on at all times during a crossing.

Southern Railway of B.C. operating under lockout conditions
BC Local News, January 14, 2015

A short line railway company that moves freight around the Lower Mainland is behind picket lines, after it locked out its 126 workers Monday, Jan. 5, following a breakdown in contract talks.

Southern Railway of B.C. (SRY) had served 72-hour lockout notice Dec. 31, after CUPE 7000 members voted 91 per cent to reject a six-year “final offer” of 1.5 per cent a year in the first four years and 1.9 per cent in the final two.

Unifor local that does safety, maintenance for CP Rail votes to strike if needed
Toronto Star, January 13, 2015

One of Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd.’s unions has voted in favour of a strike if the two sides can’t reach agreement on a new contract.

Unifor local 101R has set a strike deadline of 12:01 a.m. on Feb. 15.

Negotiations between the company and the union began in September and the strike vote was held last week.
Unifor says its members voted 97 per cent in favour of going on strike if necessary.

Weekend Video: CUPE 3903 A better York is possible
January 17, 2015

This video introduces students and members of the community to CUPE 3903, which represents contract faculty, graduate assistants and teaching assistants. It is the largest union at York University. Featuring rank-and-file members from all three units, “We are CUPE 3903″ discusses some key bargaining issues and shares a vision for a better York.

Look At All The Retailers Closing Stores In Canada
Huffington Post, January 15, 2015

A list of retailers that have recently closed or are closing shop in Canada.

Mexx Canada to liquidate stores before closing by end of February
CBC News, January 14, 2015

Insolvent fashion retailer Mexx is liquidating its 95 stores in Canada by the end of February.

By the end of this week week, 25 locations and 250 jobs will be gone.

In addition to 1,700 employees at its retail operations, the company has 85 at its head office and distribution centre, which will close in March.

Mexx Canada, a Montreal-based company that operates in eight provinces, filed for bankruptcy protection late last year. It owes creditors $113.4 million, mainly to related companies Mexx Europe and Lifestyle.

I worked at Target; Here’s what I saw
Ottawa Citizen, January 16, 2015

I am sitting here in shock. I got up Thursday morning and heard the stunning news that Target has decided to abandon its stores in Canada and put more than 17,000 workers out on the street. This hit me hard because, until the middle of August, I worked at the Target store in the Hazeldean Mall.

Target closing all 133 stores after whiffing on Canadian market
Metro, January 15, 2015

Less than two years after Target Corp. threw open the doors of its first Canadian stores with grand expectations , the discount retailer is retreating back to the United States in defeat.

The Minneapolis-based company said Thursday it has decided to wind up its money-losing operations in Canada, a move that affects 133 stores and 17,600 employees across most of the country.

Dozens of jobs cut at Lockerby Mine
The Sudbury Star, January 13, 2015

Thirty production and maintenance workers at First Nickel’s Lockerby Mine received layoff notices Monday as a result of company restructuring to reduce costs, increase exploration and extend the life of the project.

The future of ramp development and mining below the 6800 level of the nickel-copper mine has been in doubt for a couple years as nickel prices have fallen, said company president Thomas Boehlert in a news release.

In December, the company decided that deeper development would remain “uneconomic” unless costs could be substantially reduced.

This Is How Public Unions Should Respond When Their Members Screw Up
Phillymag.com, January 18, 2015

Joe Schulle, the president of the Philadelphia Association of Fire Fighters – Local 22, seems like a good guy. He’s a fierce advocate for his union, which represents Philly’s firefighters and paramedics, but he balances that advocacy with the knowledge — which we sometimes forget — that his members aren’t just another special interest group: They’re also public servants.

Mental Health In The Workplace: Jordan’s Journey
Teamsters 362, January 8, 2015

Jordan Madarash, Member of Teamsters Local Union 362, has experienced tragedy in the workplace. Four of his fellow employees were shot by a coworker on June 15, 2012 while performing their duties. Eddie Rejano, Brian Ilesic and Michelle Shegelski, employees of G4S, lost their lives that day. Matthew Schuman was critically injured and faced a long road of rehabilitation ahead. As Jordan and the Teamsters searched for answers and a way to prevent an incident like this from ever happening again, they began to realize that the ripple effects of this tragedy reached far and wide. The underlying issue? Mental health and the stigma that is attached to the issue. How can we change this? How do we make mental health support mandatory in the workplace?

Port Metro Vancouver truckers deliver ultimatum to transportation ministers on deal terms
The Vancouver Sun, January 16, 2015

Port Metro Vancouver container truck drivers have threatened to go on strike as early as Feb. 1 if Transportation Minister Todd Stone does not crack down on alleged non-compliance with the agreement they signed last March to end a 28-day work stoppage.

Representatives of Unifor, the Teamsters and the non-union United Truckers Association met with Stone and federal Transportation Minister Lisa Raitt Thursday to press their case that trucking companies haven’t been paying the rates for container movements between facilities outside of port terminals that were part of the deal brokered by top mediator Vince Ready and Corinn Bell.

Iroquois Falls latest casualty of changing Northern Ontario economy
Toronto Star, January 18, 2015

When the Toronto Blue Jays won the World Series in 1992, The Globe and Mail wanted to celebrate with a blue front page of the sports section. A call was made – to Iroquois Falls.

Overnight, No. 8 paper machine at the Abitibi mill turned out the blue newsprint.

They tell that story with pride today in the town. They talk about the time that Abitibi was the largest pulp and paper company in the world. Iroquois Falls – population 4,500 – was where it all began.

Report urges injury, death coverage for farm workers
Edmonton Journal, January 15, 2015

The vast majority of Albertans injured while working on a farm will get no financial help while they recover and will be forced to pay for their own rehabilitation and training, while families of farm workers who die get nothing, a new report says.

In a 36-page study, the University of Alberta-based Parkland Institute estimates nine out of 10 farm workers in the province are not covered by Workers’ Compensation insurance because provincial laws here don’t make such coverage mandatory.

RCMP officers have right to collective bargaining, Supreme Court rules
CBC News, January 16, 2015

RCMP members have won a long-fought battle for the right to collectively bargain with the government.

In a 6-1 decision, the Supreme Court of Canada has struck down a law that specifically forbade the Mounties from unionizing, saying it violated their charter rights to freedom of association.

The court, however, said forming a traditional union is one option that would restore their collective bargaining rights, but not the only option.

Restoring King
Jacobin Magazine, January 20, 2014

Every year, in January and April, we commemorate the extraordinary career of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. But there is probably no figure in recent American history whose memory is more distorted, whose message more bowdlerized, whose powerful words are more drained of content than King.

Premier Brad Wall says no long-term savings account before debt is gone
CBC News, January 8, 2015

Saskatchewan’s opposition is accusing the Premier of flip-flopping on his promise to create a permanent savings account in Saskatchewan.

Brad Wall told CBC more than a year ago that he could not see how the government “would want to delay any longer” in starting such a fund after receiving a report which he commissioned.

Why Iceland Should Be In The News, But Is Not
Collective Conscious, August 15, 2011

An Italian radio program’s story about Iceland’s on-going revolution is a stunning example of how little our media tells us about the rest of the world. Americans may remember that at the start of the 2008 financial crisis, Iceland literally went bankrupt. The reasons were mentioned only in passing, and since then, this little-known member of the European Union fell back into oblivion.

As one European country after another fails or risks failing, imperiling the Euro, with repercussions for the entire world, the last thing the powers that be want is for Iceland to become an example. Here’s why…

Idea to cut provincial worker wages causes controversy
CTV News, January 16, 2015

Thousands of workers have been laid off in the energy sector over the last few days as a result of plunging oil prices and Alberta’s premier says tough financial decisions need to be made including the possibility of roll backs for government workers who just signed a new contract.
Premier Jim Prentice says he is not ruling out reopening signed contracts with unionized, provincial employees.

“There will be discussions, which have essentially begun, with public sector employees through public sector unions about fiscal constraints, about the challenges that we’re facing, about the need for expenditure reductions and we’ve begun those discussions,” said the Premier.

OPSEU crashes Premier Wynne’s New Year’s levee 
January 12, 2015Whynne

Premier Kathleen Wynne’s SUV had to punch through a throng of Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) members to get to her levee at the Noor Cultural Centre Sunday (January 11).

Union members were demonstrating on behalf of 35,000 OPSEU employees who’re threatening to go on strike in the face of a government proposal to freeze wages for two years and reduce wages of new government employees by 5 per cent.

The government is also proposing that the cost of any salary adjustments for the remainder of a new collective agreement’s term be offset by “savings elsewhere,” namely, cuts to drug benefits. For seasonal employees, health benefits would no longer be covered unless they pay premiums directly to the insurance carrier. Read the Ontario government’s proposals to amend the collective agreement here.

Ottawa to post deficit due to oil drop, tax cuts: TD forecasts
Globe and Mail, January 13, 2015

Updated forecasts by TD Economics project that the Conservative government will be in deficit for two years longer than originally planned due to the sudden drop in oil prices and the impact of tax cuts announced in the fall.

Rather than a $1.9-billion surplus in 2015-16 as outlined in Finance Minister Joe Oliver’s fall fiscal update, TD Economics is projecting a $2.3-billion deficit, followed by a $600-million deficit the following year. The return to surplus would be pushed back to the 2017-18 fiscal year.

The CBC’s Kathy Tomlinson speaks on the record about Amanda Lang
Canadalandshow.com, January 13, 2015

CBC journalist Kathy Tomlinson is a key figure in our reporting into Amanda Lang’s conflicts of interest. Until this point, she has not provided CANADALAND with comment.

Now she has agreed to share her side of the story.

Tomlinson is the investigative reporter who exposed the fact that RBC was abusing the federal government’s temporary foreign worker program (TFWP) by bringing in temporary workers who would eventually take Canadian jobs home with them. In an April 8, 2013 conference call among CBC journalists, her reporting was challenged by Amanda Lang, who unknown to the journalists on the call had done speaking engagements at RBC-sponsored events and was in a relationship with a member of RBC’s Board of Directors.

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