R&F’s Labour News Update – January 26, 2015

#BottlesnotCans| Nova Scotia’s Bill 1 | Public sector bargaining in Ontario| Target | Fight for 15 in BC| Montreal pension| GM workplace safety| Southern Railway lockout| Happy Valley-Goose Bay lockout|

Southern Railway lockout
Southern Railway lockout

#BottlesNotCans The Sequel: Photo round-up
January 25, 2015

A second day of #BottlesNotCans info pickets hit Beer Stores and LCBO’s across Ontario this Saturday. Customers at both stores were encouraged to buy bottles, not cans, in support of 124 Steelworkers on strike for 17 months at Crown Holdings against concessions like a 42% pay cut for new hires. The factory is producing beer cans using scabs in an effort to break the workers and their union, Steelworkers Local 9167. The large corporation also wants to keep the scabs at the plant when the strike ends, and fire 75% of the striking workforce.

Ottawa failing to include First Nations in key employment data
Joe Friesen, Globe and Mail
January 23, 2015

The government of Canada doesn’t gather unemployment statistics on First Nations reserves because it says it’s too costly and it’s hard to find people to interview. That means roughly half of this country’s First Nations people don’t show up in unemployment numbers. As a result, Canada knows very little about unemployment in areas where it has made job training and economic development a priority. It also means that the regional unemployment figures that play a role in whether employers can import temporary foreign workers are blind to the reality of First Nations joblessness.

What the Supreme Court RCMP union ruling means for labour
Jason Edwards, RankandFile.ca
January 22, 2015

Last Friday the Supreme Court released its much-anticipated decision in Mounted Police Association of Ontario v Canada (Attorney General) (MPAO). The Court ruled that both the labour relations structure imposed on Mounties and their exclusion from the act governing other federal public-servant labour relations violate Mounties’ freedom of association as per section 2(d) of the Charter. The Court’s pronouncements in this case should be greeted with cautious optimism. While labour, and Mounties in particular, can certainly welcome the Court’s affirmation of their rights, the decision’s reach should not be overstated. In light of the content of the MPAO decision and its relationship to other Supreme Court pronouncements on freedom of association, this is a modest victory for working people.

Economist skewers Saskatchewan’s shift to privatization
Tyler Clarke, Daily Herald
January 22, 2015

A crowd of local health care workers, liquor store employees and correctional centre staff — all of whom risk losing their jobs under the banner of privatization — hung on his every word during a town hall style meeting at the Prince Albert Inn on Wednesday that highlighted the recently-released report. Economist Hugh Grant’s report focused on the privatization of laundry services in Saskatchewan — a shift that will result in the loss of 74 jobs at Prince Albert’s North Sask. Laundry later this year (an end date remains in the air).

Liberals’ zero-means-zero pledge on public wage hikes is getting harder to keep
David Reevely, Ottawa Citizen
January 23, 2015

Premier Kathleen Wynne’s promise to hold the line in bargaining with public-sector workers is getting harder to keep, with talks breaking off with two important unions in just the last week. Pay freezes, or increases that come only if cuts are made somewhere else, are integral to the government’s pledge to balance its budget no later than 2018, reiterated Friday by Finance Minister Charles Sousa. The government got a fairly quick deal on those terms with the union representing public-service supervisors and professional workers earlier this year. Things aren’t going so well with others.

BC takes up the minimum wage fight
Tara Ehrcke, RankandFile.ca
January 21, 2015

Dozens of activists hit the streets in Victoria on January 15th in the new Fight for Fifteen campaign, endorsed by the BC Federation of Labour. Organizers across British Columbia are planning events for the 15th of every month until we see the provincial minimum wage increased to $15/hr: 15 in 2015. BC currently has the ninth lowest minimum wage across Canada, at $10.25/hr. This is below the $13/hr poverty level and only half the living wage in the mid-size and large cities, which ranges from $18 – $20/hr.

GM needs ‘cultural change’ after worker crushed by 2,000-pound table
January 23, 2015

The union representing Oshawa’s General Motors employees says there needs to be a renewed focus on workplace safety in the wake of a 2012 incident that saw a worker crushed by a 2,000-pound lift table. On Jan. 22 the company was fined $160,000 in connection with the 2012 accident.

Top Target Canada managers get big cash payouts as stores close
Sophia Harris, CBC News
January 24, 2015

As Target Canada prepares to shut its doors, key managers will walk away with thousands of dollars of extra cash, but none of its approximately 17,000 front-line workers will be so lucky. Target is not offering any severance. Target, based in the U.S., is closing all of its 133 Canadian stores. Between 21 and 26 of Target Canada’s top senior and operations managers will receive an average of about $30,000 each on top of their final paycheque. That’s equal to eight to 12 weeks’ salary for most of them. Approximately 520 store level managers, about four per Target Canada store, will get an average of around $11,000 each, also based on eight to 12 weeks salary.

Striking Naramata Workers Won’t Go Down Without a Fight
Cassandra Jeffery, Kelowna Now
January 22, 2015

On Wednesday, the United Church’s Naramata Centre announced their permanent closure due to lack of long-term financial stability: as a result of their closure, CUPE will seek renewed discussions with church representatives. “We have had 30 employees on strike and on a picket line at the United Church’s Naramata Centre for over eight months. This dispute has always been about fair treatment of loyal employees and we will seek fair treatment as part of any closure of operations and discussions on the future of the property,” said Tom O’Leary, CUPE National Servicing Representative.

No deal in Happy Valley-Goose Bay lockout
Bonnie Learning and Derek Montague, The Labradorian
January 22, 2015

On the evening of Jan. 21, CUPE Local 2019 were presented with another contract by Town management, in an effort to end the lockout, which began on Jan. 13. But national CUPE representative, Ed White, said the offer was only ‘slightly better’ than the previous one, but not good enough to end the current labour dispute. “There was basically no change, really,” said White on the morning of Jan. 22.

Nova Scotia unions welcome Bill 1 decision
Shay Enxuga, RankandFile.ca
January 20, 2015

Today Arbitrator James Dorsey released his initial decision regarding Bill 1, the Health Authorities Act, and addressed some of issues at the heart of the controversy surrounding the legislation – union representation. Bill 1, introduced by the McNeil Liberals on October 3, 2014, radically restructures health care in Nova Scotia by merging the nine existing district health authorities into one, and merging the 50 previous bargaining units into just four: nurses, healthcare, administrative support, and service support with four collective agreements

ISM laying off 80 employees as firm makes ‘transformation’
Mark Melnychuk, Leader-Post
January 21, 2015

Information Systems Management Canada (ISM) will be laying off 80 employees, just under 10 per cent of its workforce, over the next six months as the company enters a transitional phase. The IT company issued the notice to employees on Tuesday morning. Although it has offices in BC, Alberta and Manitoba, the majority of the employees affected are in Saskatchewan. For the past year the company has been in the process of transforming itself to focus more on business solutions.

Union questions railway safety
Niki Hope, New Westminster Record
January 20, 2015

Locked-out employees of the Southern Railway of B.C. released a video recently showing the company’s managers operating a train with no headlights in thick fog on Annacis Island. The video shows a train rolling at a crossing just off the Annacis Channel bridge with no headlights or front ditch lights on, despite thick fog, after 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 13.“This video raises concern about people with less experience running trains during the lockout,” CUPE Local 7000 president Bill Magri said in a media release. “If this kind of thing keeps happening, someone is going to get hurt.”

Montreal, unions to begin pension negotiations Feb 1
CTV News
January 19, 2015

Montreal and its workers are seeking to negotiate an agreement on new pension plans.
The city claims pension plans are $1.9 billion in deficit. Under Bill 3, cities across Quebec are required to work out new pension plan arrangements in which employees and the city will contribute equally. Bill 3 will force unionized municipal union workers to contribute more to their pension plans, by paying more in the next few years to make up the approximate $4 billion in shortfalls, then setting long-term contribution rates of 50-50 between employees and municipalities.Unions argue their contribution rates have been negotiated in previous contracts and it is unfair to arbitrarily change them.

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