R&F Labour News Update: April 13 2015

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Steelworker charity targeted | IOC job cuts | Nova Scotia minimum wage | Pearson Airport protests | Fort McMurray airport privatization | English Bay fuel spill | Yukon hospitals | CarePartners strike | Sarnia Unifor strike | GM pensions fight | Canada’s corporate profits

Revenue Canada targets Steelworkers charity for political activities

Unifor Local 672 on strike
Unifor Local 672 on strike

CBC News, April 12, 2015

A union-backed charity that wants Canadian mining companies held accountable for overseas misdeeds is among the latest to be targeted by the Canada Revenue Agency for political activities.

The Steelworkers Humanity Fund Inc. is still awaiting a verdict from the agency, nine months after an auditor showed up at the Toronto office and hauled away several binders of sensitive material.

The fund, with about $1.3 million in annual revenues, has supported Canadian food banks and provided disaster relief abroad since its founding in 1985.

Union leader says no regrets about rejecting IOC cost-cutting proposals
CBC News, April 10, 2015

The president of the union local that represents about 1,400 workers at the Iron Ore Company of Canada mine in Labrador City says he does not have any regrets about rejecting previous cost-cutting measures proposed by the company.

IOC announced Thursday that it was cutting 150 full-time jobs in mid-June, in an attempt to remain viable in the face of low prices for iron ore.

Who’s watching CSIS? Not Ottawa — and not the media
iPolitics, March 16, 2015

Pssst. Here’s a secret. Ages ago, when I was a Globe and Mail investigative reporter, brass at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service tried to get me fired.

I’d caused a lot of trouble for CSIS by writing lots of front-page stories exposing corruption, incompetence, nepotism, law-breaking, laziness and a near-mutiny inside the intelligence service.

To plug the service-rattling leaks, then-CSIS director Ward Elcock launched what amounted to a service-wide witch hunt to ferret out my sources. (He turned up nothing.)

Weekend Video: Racist roots of right-to-work laws
RankandFile.ca, April 11, 2015

Nation contributor Jane McAlevey says right-to-work legislation has its roots in repressing black workers under Jim Crow, and will harm African Americans who benefit from unions far more than the average white working-class person.

Funding slashed for all safety programs at Transport Canada
Global News, April 1, 2015

The Conservative government is slashing funding for all safety and security programs at Transport Canada, with a significant chunk coming out of safety oversight initiatives, planning documents show.

Workers in Nova Scotia Fight to Raise the Minimum Wage
RankandFile.ca, April 8, 2015

On April 1, minimum wage workers in Nova Scotia got a raise. But unfortunately for Omar Joof, and thousands of other workers, the meagre 20 cent increase still isn’t enough to make ends meet.Pic1

Sitting in a McDonald’s off Lacewood Drive, Joof tells me that he has been working the backshift as a cleaner at the Halifax Shopping Centre for the past six years. When I asked why he prefers working backshift, he explains that it’s because the night shift gives him the opportunity to get another part-time job.

Yukon hospital workers vote to strike if necessary
CBC News, April 9, 2015

Yukon hospital workers have given their union a strike mandate, after talks between the union and the Yukon Hospital Corporation stalled.

The Yukon Employees’ Union (YEU) says strike vote meetings were held last week in Whitehorse, Watson Lake and Dawson City.

While the union did not say how many employees cast ballots, it said turnout at the meetings was “extraordinarily high” and 87 per cent voted in favour of a strike if necessary. No deadline has been set.

Airport workers say no to contracting out
RankandFile.ca, April 10, 2015

On April 8, members of Unifor Local 2002 and supporters gathered at the headquarters of the Greater Toronto Airport Authority (GTAA) to demonstrate against the outsourcing of jobs at Air Canada. The GTAA is demanding that Air Canada contract out services for passengers requiring wheelchair/special assistance. This means the loss of roughly a 150 stop contractingunionized jobs at Air Canada and the conversion of those jobs from well-paid union jobs to low paid precarious work done by non-unionized workers. The move to contract out these jobs has lead to a halt in negotiations between the union and Air Canada.

“How prepared are they?” Former Kits base Coast Guard commander on the slow response to English Bay toxic spill
CKNW, April 9, 2015

CKNW’s Simi Sara got a call from former Kits base commander Fred Moxey, who told us that a special pollution response boat formerly stationed at the now shuttered Kitsilano Coast Guard base is sitting empty with no crew at Sea Island base in Richmond. According to Moxey, only a rubber boat from the Coast Guard responded to the English Bay oil spill last night. Moxey also told us the Osprey formerly stationed at Kits was dismantled and sold off then when the base was closed. Moxey says if Kits Base was still active today crews would have been on scene at the spill in six minutes with the equipment to deal with the situation.

Niagara home care nurses strike
CHCH, April 10, 2015

Some patients receiving publicly-funded home nursing care in Niagara will have to fend for themselves today.

Nurses with the Community Care Access Centres there have gone on strike. Nicole Martin tells us why.

Unifor Local 627 Strike Continues
Blackburn News, April 8, 2015

The strike by 35 members of Unifor Local 672 continues.

The workers have been off the job for two weeks in a dispute with their employer, S. G. S. Canada.

They’re responsible for on and off-loading ships, trucks and rail cars at Imperial Oil and vessels at Suncor.

Steinbach Civic Employees Join CUPE
Chrisd.ca, April 10, 2015

Employees from the City of Steinbach’s public works and solid waste departments are now unionized.

The workers joined the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), which now represents approximately 26 civic employees in Steinbach, in addition to approximately 7,000 municipal workers across Manitoba.

Fort McMurray airport laying off workers in favour of TFWs, union says
CBC News, April 10, 2015

The Fort McMurray airport is laying off all 26 employees of its custodial staff and contracting out the work to a company which employs temporary foreign workers.

The union believes the airport authority intends to cut costs at the recently expanded airport.

CUPE Alberta president Marle Roberts said the company providing the custodial work will hire temporary foreign workers at half the salary.

GUNTER: Third-party election advertising law is ‘absurd’
SUN News, April 9, 2015

It’s not often I agree with Gil McGowan of the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL). In fact, mark this date in your calendars; it may be the one and only time.

But McGowan is right. The provincial law forbidding third-party election advertising is “absurd.”

Our politicians of all political stripes — Wildrose included — take us voters for fools. They think we’re too stupid to decide for ourselves who to vote.

Montreal professors stare down riot cops
Ricochote Media, April 9, 2015

It’s been a tough week for the student movement in Quebec. A fractious congress that resulted in the resignation and firing of the entire executive of the Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante, the largest student federation in the province, led into a week where schools already on strike have struggled to win votes to maintain that strike, and few if any new schools have joined them. Facing a growing consensus that the strike should be postponed until the fall in order to join public sector unions in a common front, striking students are vulnerable.

GM pushing Unifor to ditch defined benefit compensation packages
Globe and Mail, April 9, 2015

General Motors Co. is pressing the union at two of its Ontario factories to give up a long-cherished element of compensation packages – the defined benefit portion of the pension plan the company provides for newly hired employees.

The auto maker is making the push as it discusses with Unifor – the union that represents hourly paid workers – potential investments in new vehicles and products at assembly plants in Oshawa, Ont., and an engine and transmission making facility in St. Catharines, Ont.

Education workers give CUPE a resounding strike mandate in provincial talks
CUPE Communique, April 8, 2015

Results have been tallied in strike votes held across Ontario over the month of March, and education workers have given their union a 93% mandate to take job action if necessary in the current round of provincial negotiations.

“That number says it all,” said Terri Preston, chair of CUPE’s provincial school board bargaining committee, which is negotiating with a council representing employers from Ontario’s English and French public school boards, English and French Catholic school boards (Council of Trustee Associations), and the provincial government. “Our members have communicated clearly their commitment to fighting concessions. They have also said, through the strong mandate they’ve given us, that they are deeply frustrated with the pace and tone of this process so far.”

Corporate profit margins at 27-year high and likely to stay there
CBC News, March 31, 2015

Canadian corporate profit margins were at a 27-year high in the fourth quarter of 2014, helped by a falling loonie and lower labour costs, according to a study by CIBC Economics.

Those margins are equivalent to more 8.2 per cent of sales for non-financial corporations, according to a study from CIBC. While corporate profit margins fluctuate with the economy, historically they have tended to average less than five per cent.

Ugly portraits of PMO staffers, senators and Senate emerge in Duffy trial
Canadian Press, April 7, 2015

The trial of Mike Duffy got underway Tuesday with a series of ugly portraits: the senator himself, the prime minister’s former right-hand man and the much-maligned upper chamber as a whole.

The Crown drew a picture of an allegedly corrupt senator who made personal trips on the public dime, paid acquaintances for questionable contracts and extorted the Prime Minister’s Office to cover his fraudulent living expenses.

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