R&F Labour News Update: March 23, 2015

UNBC strike ends | Confronting bully bosses at Tim Horton’s| Community Mailbox thefts on the rise | Possible strike for London civil workers | Striking academic workers protest | Glace Bay daycare strike ends | Repeal of Alberta’s Bill 45 | Ontario’s Hydro One privatization | Possible transit strike in Hamilton| What can we learn from Sweden’s retail sector?| US Steel pension fight| Rail car safety slow to be implemented| Workers picket pearson airport|Meatpacking workers on strike in Quebec| UofT TAs reject tentative agreement

London civic workers flex contract muscle
London Free Press
March 20, 2015

Inside workers at London city hall have voted to go on strike as they seek a new contract. The nearly 800 workers voted 91% to hit the bricks if they don’t get a deal with the city, acting mayor Paul Hubert said Friday. The existing contract expired Dec. 31. Talks had run since January but broke down earlier this month.

Strike continues at University of Toronto as TAs reject deal
CTV News
March 23, 2015

The strike continues at the University of Toronto as workers voted to reject a tentative contract offer on Monday morning. Striking teaching assistants and other members of Unit 1 of Local 3902 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees narrowly voted to continue the strike. Final tallies had the votes at 1101 to 992 to continue the strike. The contract had offered a raise to the annual funding package PhD and Masters students receive for their work from $15,000 to $17,500.

Bill 45 to be repealed in Alberta
CTV News
March 19, 2015

Premier Jim Prentice announced Thursday that the provincial government would repeal Bill 45.
Prentice made the announcement at a press conference held Thursday at Government House, following a meeting with public sector union leaders. According to a press release, Prentice notified union leaders about plans for the piece of legislation during the meeting. The Public Sector Services Continuation Act, Bill 45, contained illegal strike provisions, including increased penalties for illegal public sector strikes.

CAUGmuiUgAAS2MsStriking Glace Bay daycare workers ratify new contract
Halifax Media Co-op
March 20,2015

After a four-day strike the workers of Town Daycare in Glace Bay are going back to work. This afternoon the 15 members of Unifor Local 4600 voted in favour of a new contract that gives them a 1 percent pay increase. The contract’s duration is short. It will expire at the end of this year, and meanwhile union and management will work collaboratively to improve the difficult financial situation that the Glace Bay daycare centre is in.

UNBC faculty strike comes to an end
Global News
March 19, 2015

The two-week faculty strike at the University of Northern British Columbia has been suspended. The university has applied for a mediator under section 55 of the Labour Relations Board. It means strike action must immediately come to an end, but the faculty association can resume strike action if the process fails.

Roll up the boss to win
RankandFile.ca
March 19, 2015

Less than a month ago, several workers at four Tim Hortons stores in Winnipeg began talking union. Management quickly learned of the union activities and, following a captive audience meeting, fired one of the women workers in touch with organizers from Workers United. The union responded by launching an online petition campaign and within days, forced Tim Hortons to reinstate the fired worker.

In announcing the victory, Workers United released the transcript of the captive audience meeting, recorded by one of the workers. The transcript reveals blatant intimidation and illegal threats by the franchise owner directed at the workers, before ultimately firing the one worker.

Hamilton transit union moves closer to strike
CBC News
March 18, 2015

Hamilton’s transit union has made a request with the Ministry of Labour that would legally allow its members to go on strike next month, three months before thousands flock to the city for the Pan Am Games. Amalgamated Transit Union Local 107 made application to the ministry for a no board report on Wednesday, which essentially puts the union in a legal lockout or strike position as of the first week of April. The move puts pressure on a city that hopes to present its best image when it hosts the soccer games for the 2015 Pan Am Games in July.

Calgary oil company Nexen lays off 400 workers
CBC News
March 17, 2015

Nexen Energy ULC, the Calgary-based company acquired by China’s CNOOC Ltd. more than two years ago, says it’s cutting 400 jobs. It says 340 of those will be in North America and the rest are with its U.K. North Sea operations. The majority of the job losses will be in the head office in Calgary.

Striking academic workers rally in downtown Toronto
Striking academic workers rally in downtown Toronto

Striking TAs rally downtown for more education funding
CTV News
March 21, 2015

Hundreds of people rallied at Yonge-Dundas Square on Saturday, before marching up Yonge Street and Spadina Avenue toward Queen’s Park, to demand more funding for universities.
The rally, which started at 1 p.m., was jointly organized by CUPE 3903 at York University and CUPE 3902 at the University of Toronto, whose teaching assistants and other members have been on strike for weeks. Nancy Ghuman, a graduate assistant in the Master of Environmental Studies program at York University, said she attended the rally to draw attention to “the commodification of our education.”

New rail-car standards coming too slow, agency says
Globe and Mail
March 17, 2015

Canada’s transportation watchdog is questioning a federal proposal to phase in tougher tank-car standards over the next 10 years, saying a recent spate of fiery derailments is evidence that faster action will be needed. The Transportation Safety Board made the comments in a progress report on its investigation into a crude-oil train accident earlier this month in Northern Ontario. The TSB is investigating the derailment of a Canadian National train near Gogama, Ont., on March 7, which spilled crude oil into a nearby river and sparked a massive fire that burned for more than three days.

U.S. Steel Canada workers to appeal pension case
Globe and Mail
March 22, 2015

Salaried employees and retirees of U.S. Steel Canada Inc. have won the right to try to overturn a court decision that they argue will have an impact on where their pension plans would rank if the plans are wound up as part of the steel maker’s restructuring.

The employees and retirees, who are among the stakeholder groups affected by U.S. Steel Canada’s bankruptcy protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act, asked the Ontario Court of Appeal to let them intervene in another CCAA case involving Grant Forest Products Inc.

What Canada Can Learn From Sweden’s Unionized Retail Workers
Huffington Post
March 18, 2015

When Toys “R” Us arrived in Sweden in 1995 armed with a translation of its U.S. employee handbook, it underestimated the Swedes’ fierce commitment to the quality of their working lives. The solidarity among Swedish workers was powerful enough to accomplish a feat that may seem inconceivable in Canadian retail; they brought the global conglomerate to its knees.

The company refused to sign a standardized collective agreement, the heart of employee-employer relations for more than 25,000 companies across all sectors of the Swedish economy. The decision affected only 150 employees, but it resulted in a three-month long strike by the retail-store employees union that snowballed into an all-out boycott.

Olymel’s workers in the Beauce reject company’s final offer
Montreal Gazette
March 20, 2015

A total of 91.2 per cent of unionized employees of Olymel’s Vallée-Jonction meat-packing plant in the Beauce rejected the company’s final offer on Thursday.
At a union meeting 841 members voted by secret ballot, and decided to reject the final offer even if the company is threatening to cut back production or even close the plant.

“The members still have full confidence in the union executive and the bargaining committee, and the union hopes to get back at the bargaining table as soon as possible,” said union president Martin Maurice.

Postal workers union sounds alarm on thefts from community mailboxes
The Province
March 19, 2015

The union representing Abbotsford postal workers says theft from community mailboxes has gone “through the roof” in recent weeks, as Canada Post plans to go forward with phasing out door-to-door service for many residents. Abbotsford and Chilliwack will be among the first B.C. cities to lose the service, with 12,000 households in each community being switched to community mailboxes in 2015, said Canada Post spokesman Jon Hamilton.

Workers’ unions could own stakes in Hydro One privatization
Globe and Mail
March 20, 2015

Ontario’s two main power workers’ unions could end up owning a slice of a partially privatized Hydro One, The Globe and Mail has learned. The idea, which took shape in talks between the provincial government and the unions in recent weeks, would see the Power Workers’ Union and the Society of Energy Professionals each receive a small percentage of the Crown corporation’s stock, likely under 5 per cent combined, sources familiar with the discussions said.

Canadian Labour must change its South African alliances
RankandFile.ca
March 20, 2015

On Aug. 16, 2012, the South African Police Force (SAPF) gunned down a group of striking miners. Following the first hail of bullets, they hunted down the remaining workers in commando fashion, shooting many in the back. In total, 34 were killed and scores of others injured in what’s been dubbed the Marikana massacre.

It is understandable if most Canadians felt very distant from this tragedy and therefore swept it aside as one more piece of horrible news that we can do nothing about. The reality, however, is that Canadian mining companies had much to gain from the South African government taking more assertive action in settling the strike.

Pearson airport staff stage picket at Terminal 3 over layoffs
Global News
March 20, 2015

More than 260 Toronto Pearson Airport employees who service passengers with special needs are holding an “information picket” at Terminal 3 on Friday to protest planned layoffs. Unifor, the union representing the workers, says they are objecting a move by the Greater Toronto Airport Autority (GTAA) to change service providers while not guaranteeing employment to current staff.

Public service unions protest ‘invasive’ security screening
CBC News
March 16, 2015

The union representing professional public employees has filed a policy grievance after credit checks were added to standard mandatory security screening for public servants. All federal departments and agencies have until October 2017 to implement the requirements of the new standard on security screening, which came into effect in October 2014, for new and current public servants, the Treasury Board confirmed.

1297676901730_ORIGINALOPSEU workers stand united
The Simcoe Reformer
March 18, 2015

A number of CarePartners employees held an information picket at the Community Care Access Centre on Victoria St. Wednesday. The workers, represented by Local 294 of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), say they’ve been attempting to bargain a first contract for the past 20 months with no success. Back in December, workers voted 94% in favour of strike action if they are unable to reach a settlement on a first contract. Recently, the worker’s strike deadline was extended to April 10. The union represents 140 full and part time workers at CarePartners in both Niagara and Norfolk County. The employees tend to patients with a variety of health issues.

Public high schools teachers’ union threatens possible job action by end of school year
TB News Watch
March 15, 2015

Teachers at four city high schools could be on strike by the end of the school year. That was a threat made by Ontario Secondary Schools Teachers’ Federation president Paul Elliott at the union’s annual general assembly on Saturday, where he said high schools teachers at a number of school boards could walk off the job by the end of April. The union has filed notice for conciliation against seven Ontario boards, including the Lakehead District School Board. That is an early step towards the union putting itself in a legal strike position.

Ontario’s workplace safety board tries to muzzle online commenter
Windsor Star
March 17, 2015

The security manager of Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board has gone to court trying to censor a disgruntled claims applicant from saying nasty things about him on Facebook. The posts appeared on a Facebook page called “WSIB Kills People.” Many members who post on the page believe WSIB causes people to kill themselves through poor treatment and benefits payments that lead to financial ruin and mental despa

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