R&F Labour News Update: April 20, 2015

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OSSTF strike | Fight for 15 | Save Canada Post | NS Film Jobs | Fort McMurray airport protest | English Bay fuel spill | Winnipeg city workers | CarePartners strike | Sarnia Unifor strike | GM pensions fight | Toyota moving production | Wheat Board sold| Privatizing Hydro One | Capilano strike ends | CBC job cuts | CanJet layoffs | Protesting hospital cuts | Alberta freezing public sector wages | US Steel pension dispute |

Durham teachers’ strike seen as start of wave of labour unrest
Toronto Star, April 19, 2015

Durham public high school teachers will hit the picket lines on Monday in a protest widely seen as the start of a wave of teacher unrest across the province, with six more boards targeted in the coming weeks and other unions growing increasingly frustrated at the bargaining table.

High school teachers union OSSTF walks away from negotiations
Toronto Star, April 16, 2015

The union representing Ontario’s public high school teachers has walked away from provincial bargaining just days before strikes could be called in a number of boards, saying the offer on the table includes an unpaid day off and a slower move up the salary grid.
In a memo to members, the union said it would return when the government and the school boards’ association “are ready to enter serious discussions” and remove contract strips – or clawbacks – from the table.

Protestors aim to save Nova Scotia film jobs from Liberal's austerity budget
Protestors aim to save Nova Scotia film jobs from Liberal’s austerity budget

Nova Scotia’s film industry rallying for tax credit at legislature
Globe and Mail, April 15, 2015

Members of Nova Scotia’s film and television industry, including actors from Trailer Park Boys, rallied outside the provincial legislature on Wednesday amid chants of “Save our jobs” to protest a proposed cut to a film tax credit. They have been pressing the government to change course on the measures announced last Thursday in the province’s budget, arguing the cut will effectively kill the business and thousands of jobs in the province. The Liberal government, however, says the tax credit is an unaffordable expense that needed to be cut to bring down the provincial deficit.

Hamilton transit union approves 4-year deal
CBC News, April 16, 2015

Hamilton’s transit union has ratified a four-year deal that will see bus drivers receive a seven per cent pay increase over the contract, but cap physiotherapy benefits at $1,500 per year. Members of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 107 voted 86 per cent in favour of ratifying the deal, reached at the deadline to avoid a strike last week, despite concessions in benefits and term length.

Montreal’s blue collar union elects Chantal Racette as its first female president
Montreal Gazette, April 17, 2015

In a statement, the Syndicat canadien de la fonction publique (SCFP-Québec) confirmed that this was the first time a woman has been elected to the position. Racette succeeds Michel Parent as the head of the union. The voter turnout surpassed 3,500 — the strongest turnout for the union vote since 1991. Twenty-five years ago, Racette was one of the first women to operate heavy machinery in Montreal. She has held different positions in the union, including sitting on the negotiation committee during agreements made in 2010 and 2012.

Canadian unions blast clothiers over factory collapse funding shortfall
Canoe.ca, April 17, 2015

Canadian unions called out The Children’s Place, Benetton Group and other clothiers for allegedly paying too little into the fund for the families of the 1,138 Bangladeshi garment workers killed and the thousands injured in the factory collapse there nearly two years ago. The recipients have only received 70% of the payout promised to them because of a US$8.5-million shortfall, officials from The United Steelworkers and the Canadian Labour Congress said Friday morning.

Coast guard union warns oil spills pose greater risk due to cuts
Vancouver Courier, April 13, 2015

Amid criticism about the Canadian Coast Guard’s response to last week’s fuel spill in English Bay, the union representing coast guard workers says imminent cuts to communication centres on Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland could have disastrous consequences for managing future oil spills. The coast guard, the lead agency for managing a fuel spill, plans to close three of five marine communications centres, including the centre in Ucluelet on April 21, the Vancouver centre on May 6 and the Comox station by next year. “That will put delays into the alerting and notification system for pollution incidents,” said Allan Hughes, Comox-based western director of Unifor 2182. “[The federal government] has cut the coast guard so much that services that have traditionally been provided for generations are no longer going to be there for the public to protect their waters,” he said.

Labour leaders angry over Prentice plan to freeze wages
Calgary Herald, April 17, 2015

Waving hand-held mirrors and shouting “shame, shame on you Jim,” hundreds of union members and labour leaders gathered at city hall Thursday protesting Tory leader Jim Prentice’s announcement this week to impose a hiring and wage freeze across the province’s public sector. “He makes these threats without any acknowledgement of the downside. This approach will result in a huge morale problem, an outflow of workers from healthcare and education and an unprecedented confrontation between government and its employees,” said Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour.

Ottawa moves to block release of U.S. Steel settlement deal
Hamilton Spectator, April 17, 2015

The Harper government is moving to keep the lid on the terms of its secret deal to drop a lawsuit against U.S. Steel. Acting for Industry Canada, the federal attorney general has filed legal documents opposing a motion by the city, the United Steelworkers and retirees seeking release of the full text of the 2011 deal. The federal document says nothing about why the government wants to keep terms of the deal from the public. One potential issue may be a government desire to avoid a precedent that would allow the courts to order the release of information private companies want to keep private.

Minimum wage protests held in Ontario and across North America
Global News, April 14, 2015

Protests are being held Wednesday in Ontario as part of a mass demonstration across North America to support the Fight for $15 and Fairness minimum wage campaign. Labour groups are holding rallies at the McDonald’s headquarters on Don Mills Road, the Ontario Ministry of Labour, and the Pearson International Airport. Demonstrations for pay of $15 an hour will also be held in Guelph, Ottawa and Hamilton and more than 200 cities across North America.

City of Winnipeg contract talks with 2 unions face obstacles
CBC News, April 17, 2015

Contract negotiations between the City of Winnipeg and its largest union have broken off, while the union representing transit bus drivers and maintenance workers has rejected the city’s offer. The City of Winnipeg issued a news release late Friday saying members of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1505 have rejected its offer of settlement. According to a notice posted on the union’s website, 91.5 per cent of members voted against accepting the city’s proposal. “Transit officials emphasize that there is presently no indication from the union that job action is imminent,” the city’s news release states in part. The union’s vote results note that “a ‘no’ vote authorizes strike sanctions.”

Toyota’s Ontario workers ‘furious’ over Corolla’s move to Mexico
Windsor Star, April 16, 2015

Toyota workers feel “betrayed” by the company’s decision to move Corolla production from Ontario to Mexico, Unifor president Jerry Dias said Thursday. “The workers are furious, and for good reason,” said Dias, whose union has waged an ongoing organizing drive at the automaker’s plants in Cambridge and Woodstock. “They have done everything asked of them by the company, including staying non-union. I’ve spoken to several of them, and they feel betrayed.”

Stave Lake Quarries charged with criminal negligence in death of Kelsey Anne Kristian
CBC News, April 18, 2015

B.C. firm Stave Lake Quarries and two individuals are facing a rare charge of criminal negligence in the 2007 death of Kelsey Anne Kristian, who was killed on her second day working at a quarry. Kristian, 22, died when she was pinned by a runaway truck at Stave Lake Quarries in Mission. A Ministry of Energy and Mines analysis later concluded the young woman wasn’t provided adequate training or supervision. “We think this is an appropriate response to what was a terrible, tragic accident,” said B.C. Federation of Labour president Irene Lanzinger of the criminal charges laid. “We have long held the view that employers who are negligent and cause the serious injury or death of workers should be criminally prosecuted.” The case is believed to be the first time in B.C. in which a company has been charged criminally in connection with a workplace fatality.

Privatizing Ontario’s Hydro One: Liberal, Tory, same old story
RankandFile.ca, April 14, 2014

If you’re driving your car and the steering wheel comes off in your hands, do you step on the gas or step on the brakes? Hydro rates are out of control in Ontario and with the proposed sale of Hydro One, Kathleen Wynne is stepping on the gas. On April 1, 1999 Ontario Hydro was broken up into five companies. Ontario Hydro and all municipal Hydro’s were changed from non-profit commissions into for–profit corporations. Since that time, despite promises to the contrary, hydro rates have increased over 320 percent, ten times the rate of inflation. Ontarians pay double what people pay in Manitoba and Quebec.

CBC fires more than 200 staff on same day it dumps Jian Ghomeshi report on media
The Straight, April 16, 2015

Even its most ardent fans must be troubled by the way in which management is delivering the latest round of cutbacks. Earlier today, the public broadcaster released a redacted report examining former CBC Radio Q host Jian Ghomeshi’s questionable conduct in the workplace. The CEO, Hubert Lacroix, knew that this would be like catnip to the media. Then on the same day, the corporation has eliminated 241 jobs, according to the Canadian Media Guild. This adds up to nearly 1,400 jobs lost in the past year, the union noted.

Hamilton and Canada Post in a standoff over super mailboxes
CBC News, April 15, 2015

Canada Post and the city of Hamilton appear headed for a legal showdown over installation of super mailboxes as the corporation phases out door-to-door mail delivery. City council voted Wednesday to charge the corporation $200 for every community mailbox it installs in Hamilton — the only Canadian city so far to do so. The amended bylaw also dictates that the corporation work with the city on future mailbox locations. If Canada Post doesn’t comply, the city can issue a fine.

CarePartners nurses strike continues
Norfolk News, April 15, 2015

Linda Tracey stood with a handful of other striking nurses outside the Community Care Access Centre on Victoria Street in Simcoe Tuesday, clutching a blue and white sign that asked passersby to honk in support. Another sign read “Don’t let scabs treat your wounds,” while another chastised management with a claim about patients’ worth.

1297687278076_ORIGINALAirport workers protest planned layoffs
Fort McMurray Today, April 13, 2015

Dozens of airport workers spent Monday afternoon picketing outside the Fort McMurray International Airport, protesting the airport authority’s decision to lay off staff and replace them with a company with a history of using temporary foreign workers. Last week, the Fort McMurray Airport Authority announced they would lay off 23 full-time custodial workers and one part-time worker to reduce operational costs. The airport said contracting custodial services was one possibility they arrived at for cost-cutting measures, while a hiring freeze was another. If the layoffs are approved, the last day of work will be May 31, 2015.

CanJet Airlines to lay off most of its staff, as European routes dropped
CBC News, April 14, 2015

​CanJet Airlines will lay off 47 pilots and 68 permanent and seasonal flight attendants by May, after canceling its European routes, CBC News has learned. The cuts total more than 70 per cent of the charter airline’s flying staff. CanJet currently employs about 62 pilots and 100 flight attendants.

Transit union rejects city’s ‘fair’ labour deal, union president says
CBC News, April 17, 2015

The union representing OC Transpo bus drivers, mechanics and other workers has voted against a contract extension with the city, and the union president says “internal union politics” are partly to blame. It comes after the two parties reached a tentative agreement last week. About 1,780 of 2,336 eligible voters participated, according to an email sent Thursday by Craig Watson, president of ATU Local 279.”

The Case for Increasing the Minimum Wage
CCPA, April 14, 2015

Economist David A Green, a professor and former chair of the Vancouver School of Economics at UBC and an International Fellow at the Institute for Fiscal Studies in London, conducted a thorough review of academic research on the economic impacts of minimum wages, and in this report he concludes that bold increases to the minimum wage make good economic sense.

Capilano University strike ends after both sides agree to mediation
Global News, April 14, 2015

Instructors at Capilano University have agreed to suspend their strike. Both sides have been in negotiations for a new collective agreement since December 2014. Late Monday afternoon they agreed to non-binding mediation. As a result, the union will suspend its strike action. The university will resume operations Tuesday. Exams will begin on Thursday, April 16 and end Friday, April 24.

CUPE upset at proposal to outsource hospital transport jobs
Hamilton Spectator, April 15, 2015

A small in-house transportation service for staff and patients is on the chopping block as St. Joseph’s Healthcare looks for savings to help it trim three per cent from its $600-million annual budget due to belt-tightening by the Ontario government. But the move has raised the ire of CUPE Local 786, which represents the five drivers that drive the 10 minivans — eight are presently operational — every day between St. Joseph’s hospitals on Charlton Avenue East in downtown Hamilton, King Street East in east Hamilton and its new psychiatric facility on West 5th Street on the west Mountain

Scabs & Injunctions: Solidarity needed in Sarnia strike
RankandFile.ca, April 17, 2015

With management and scabs crossing a picket line limited by a court injunction, the 34 striking workers of SGS Canada in Sarnia are facing a tough battle. “There should definitely be some sort of legislation or some kind of criteria where you can’t just fill all our jobs in a couple weeks, basically leaving us out on the picket line starving to death,” exclaims Dean Hart, spokesperson for the striking workers of Unifor Local 627.

‘Cuts don’t heal’: Brockville protest
Recorder and Times, April 13, 2015

Anyone doubting who the real target of a union rally at Brockville General Hospital was on Monday only had to look up. A giant effigy of Premier Kathleen Wynne towered over the crowd of some 70 protesters, its head an extension of a costume worn by one of the participants in the noon-hour rally protesting against cuts to hospital services. Marchers went from BGH’s Garden Street site to the main Charles Street building. “This rally is about keeping our services in our community to keep our community viable,” Martha Peters, president of CUPE Local 5666 at BGH, said. They gathered in front of the former entrance on Ormond Street, on the same day the hospital board approved its 2015-16 budget, chanting “health-care cuts have got to go” and “cuts don’t heal.”

Canada must stop attempts to silence legitimate protest
Canadian Labour Congress, April 13, 2015

Canada’s central labour body is calling on the government to stop trying to shut down legitimate and nonviolent criticism of human rights abuses by Israel. We are very disturbed to see our government attempting to criminalize legitimate and nonviolent dissent. Tactics such as boycotts, divestment and sanctions, for example, can be effective for raising awareness about and discouraging human rights abuses by governments, and must not be characterized as criminal or as inciting hatred towards a people.

Canadian Wheat Board Privatized With Sale To G3 Global Grain Group
Huffington Post, April, 15, 2015

The company that was once Canada’s monopoly wheat marketing board has been sold off to a joint venture controlled by U.S. and Saudi companies. G3 Global Grain Group, as the wheat board’s new owner is known, is owned by food company Bunge Canada, a subsidiary of New York-based Bunge Ltd., and SALIC Canada, a subsidiary of Saudi Agricultural and Livestock Investment Co.

CUPE Slams Leadnow For Encouraging Canadians To ‘Vote Together’
Huffington Post, April 13, 2015

The head of Canada’s largest union is lashing out against an anti-Conservative strategic-voting campaign. In a letter to the non-partisan group Leadnow, Paul Moist, the national president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), said he has supported the group’s “good work” in the past but he is disappointed in their plan to try to elect “so-called progressive candidates who can defeat the conservatives.”

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