R&F Labour News Update: March 9, 2015

Lakeland Mills Inquest | Halifax Herald lockout | Alberta budget cuts | University strikes in context | Peterborough healthcare workers | assaults on BC healthcare workers | FIFA’s crimes | Nova Scotia tourism cuts | job quality declines

March 5: Locked Out Southern Railway workers picketing CP Rail yards in Port Coquitlam to fight strikebreaking
March 5: Locked Out Southern Railway workers picketing CP Rail yards in Port Coquitlam to fight strikebreaking
From Popsicles to Pledge Cards: Our members want to be engaged but they’re not sure how
Tiffany Balducci
President, CUPE 960

Unions know how to negotiate contracts with unfair and greedy employers, but how do they engage their own members? In order to remain relevant in 2015 and beyond, the labour movement must connect meaningfully with their rank-and-file members and build a new social contract with them, all while educating the public.A social contract is usually an implicit consensus among the members of an organization or between the rank-and-file and the elected officials defining and limiting the terms of engagement, and these terms have changed over time in the labour movement.


Austerity Strangles Ontario: The TA Strike in Context
Dave Bush and Doug Nesbitt

Toronto is in the midst of an unprecedented strike by over 10,000 Teaching Assistants and contract faculty at York University and the University of Toronto: the country’s two largest universities. Only blocks away from the University of Toronto picket lines, the Liberal government in Queen’s Park has been waging a war against the Ontario Public Service (OPS), represented by OPSEU, raising the prospect of the first OPS strike since 2002.

When “the man” is a Union: Reflections and Responsibilities in the Ranks of Labour
Sheetal Rawal

My job was precarious, as were the jobs of six of my colleagues. We worked on an ongoing Pay Equity project for a trade union Local that represents about 7,000 mostly female administrative and technical staff at the University of Toronto. Our backgrounds were rooted in social justice movements: feminist, labour, anti-war, queer rights, anti-racist, and on. So, of course, we unionized. Not only out of principle, but to rationalize a workplace in which, until then, employment relationships were arbitrary. As an example, four people from the same family—who were close friends with the President of nine years, and who is now the current Vice President—were brought on to work at the Local without open calls or a transparent hiring process.

running matesJohn Williamson apologizes for ‘offensive’ comment on temporary workers program
CBC News
March 8, 2015

A Conservative MP has apologized for using “offensive and inappropriate language” related to Canada’s temporary foreign workers program. Media outlet iPolitics is reporting that New Brunswick MP John Williamson told delegates at a conference in Ottawa that it makes no sense to pay “whities” to stay home while companies bring in “brown people” as temporary foreign workers.

Nurses laid off as Peter Lougheed loses some surgical beds
Matt McClure, Calgary Herald
March 6, 2015

The province’s health authority is laying off 23 nurses at a Calgary hospital as it converts an entire ward of surgical beds to sub-acute spaces that will house patients awaiting placement in a nursing home. Officials at Alberta Health Services say this month’s changes at the Peter Lougheed Centre are expected to save $500,000 a year, but they insist it will not result in any reduction in the number of procedures performed at the northeast facility’s operating rooms.

Equipment not up to code, Lakeland inquest told
The Prince George Citizen
March 6, 2015

The explosion that destroyed the Lakeland Mills sawmill originated in a spot where equipment not rated for use in a high sawdust area was operating, a coroner’s inquest into the disaster heard Friday. B.C. Safety Authority engineer Jeff Coleman was on the stand to present findings from that organization’s investigation into the April 23, 2012 disaster that killed two employees and injured 21 others, some severely.

Peterborough Health Unit workers rally at Leal’s office
Jessica Nyznik, Peterborough Examiner
March 6, 2015

Unionized public health workers rallied outside Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Minister and Peterborough MPP Jeff Leal’s constituency office Friday, urging greater provincial funding for the region’s public health services. The two unions, Canadian Union of Public Employee (CUPE) Local 4170 and the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA), have been without a contract since Oct. 1. CUPE Local 4170 represents 53 Peterborough County-City Health Unit workers such as secretaries, health inspectors and dental assistants, while ONA represents 32 health unit nurses. The unions were offered a 0.5% wage increase, but rejected the deal.

Locked out Herald workers reach tentative agreement
Robert Devet, Halifax Media Coop
March 6, 2015

Locked out ChronicleHerald pressroom workers will vote on a tentative deal reached between the Halifax Typographical Union (HTU) and the owners of the newspaper. “It’s lousy deal, it is a horrible deal,” Martin O’Hanlon, president of CWA Canada, the HTU’s parent union, tells the Halifax Media Co-op.

FIFA’s real crime with Qatar 2022 is ignoring the workers’ plight
Sam Wallace, The Independent
March 6, 2015

The BBC Newsnight team investigating the 1.5 million migrants employed in Qatar on building World Cup 2022 infrastructure were hustled out of the squalid workers’ accommodation outside Doha by angry security men in the time-honoured fashion in December. But not before they had made some disturbing connections between the dreadful conditions workers had to live in and one big British construction company in particular.

Job market quality in decline with lower wages, higher self-employment
Tavia Grant, Bill Curry and David Kennedy, The Globe and Mail
March 5, 2015

The Canadian economy continues to create jobs at a fairly steady pace, but questions are mounting over the quality of those new positions. Several reports have concluded that the country’s job market is not as strong as it looks and now a study from Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce paints an even worse picture. According to the bank’s analysis, job quality has fallen to its lowest level in more than two decades. A CIBC index that measures 25 years worth of data on part-time versus full-time work, paid versus self-employment and compensation trends, has fallen to its lowest level on record.

Nova Scotia’s cuts to tourism and parks represent a major step backwards
NUPGE
March 4, 2015

Nova Scotia’s provincial government plans to switch campgrounds to “self-service” registration arrangements at the expense of local economies. The Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU/NUPGE) is upset with the recently announced plans by the McNeil government to close two Visitor Information Centres (VICs) in Pictou and Digby, and to switch seven campgrounds to so-called self service registration arrangements.

Nurse attacks: are bruises and black eyes the new face of B.C. health care?
Natalie Clancy, CBC
March 3, 2015

$75,000 for failing to protect workers from violence, is the latest in a string of assaults on B.C. nurses and doctors that many say should be tackled differently. “It is a blatant lack of compliance, that’s a big part of the problem,” said David Durning, Senior Labour Relations Officer with the Health Sciences Association of B.C.

Jim Prentice’s channelling of Ralph Klein has Alberta public-sector workers mulling wildcat strikes
Jen Gerson, The National Post
March 3, 2015

The budget is still weeks away, but public-sector workers are already contemplating wildcat strikes as Alberta Premier Jim Prentice begins to seed the ground for spending cuts. Mr. Prentice toured Calgary and Edmonton this week offering a candid assessment of the province’s fiscal situation in a $50-per-barrel environment: In short, he said, Alberta can no longer afford to pay the highest wages in the country for doctors, teachers and nurses.

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