R&F’s Labour News Update – May 18, 2015

Loblaws strike vote | Stop Harper protests | Halifax Water  | Ontario’s ESA review  | Montreal teachers | TFWs | Ontario teachers | Winnipeg transit workers | Remembering the IKEA lockout | Halifax Shipyard’s walkout | Bombardier layoffs | PSAC Convention | CP Rail | Ontario’s PSWs | Save Canada Post |

Union members votes 97% in favour of strike action at Loblaws in Ontario
CTV News, May 15, 2015

The United Food and Commercial Workers union says its members working at Loblaw Companies Ltd. in Ontario have voted 97 per cent in favour of strike action.
The strike votes at locals 175 and 633 took place after the union broke off talks on May 5. The two UFCW locals represent 28,000 grocery workers employed at Loblaws Great Food and Superstore, Zehrs, Zehrs Great Food and Superstore, and Fortinos.

Nischawayasihk Personal Care Home nurses striking for better wages in Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation at Nelson House.   Photograph By Manitoba Nurses Union
Nischawayasihk Personal Care Home nurses striking for better wages in Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation at Nelson House. Photograph By Manitoba Nurses Union

Low pay causes Nelson House nurses to hit the picket line
Thompson Citizen, May 15, 2015

Five nurses who work for the Nischawayasihk Personal Care Home in Nisichwayasihk Cree Nation at Nelson House went on strike May 11. Sandi Mowat, president of the Manitoba Nurses Union, says the strike is because of wages, saying these community nurses are being paid less than other nurses in Manitoba. “Our proposal was to have an agreement that would bring them up to the same pay scale as the other nurses in Manitoba.”

A cause worth fighting for: Remembering the IKEA lockout
RankandFile.ca, May 13, 2015

We learned things that were eye-opening, heart -warming, inspiring and, at times, extremely disillusioning. We met new friends from outside our bubble and connected with people we had known for years. We had our share of births, deaths, illnesses and a wedding or two. I could be bitter and angry and resentful for the lost time spent focusing on what I (and in some cases ‘we’) believed was a cause worth fighting for and people worth standing up with. But those feelings, valid as they may be, serve little purpose. What is amazing, however, is the solidarity that was experienced both within our group and from people we had never known before. Those are the memories that I will always treasure.

Montreal teachers take to the streets over education cuts
Global News, May 15, 2015

Hundreds of teachers from the Lester B. Pearson School Board pounded the pavement Friday afternoon. They’re protesting government plans to reform public education. Teachers say the government is trying to impose new conditions the union considers unfair. Among them, more work hours for the same pay; a cut in resources for students with special needs; and increasing class sizes.

Halifax Water increases revenue while short-changing workers
Halifax Media Co-op, May 11, 2015

Bargaining has broken down between Halifax Water and 330 CUPE members in two different locals. These workers manage infrastructure that is essential to daily life across the Halifax Regional Municipality: our water. More than 90% of these workers have voted in favour of strike action to back their demands. Halifax Water is proposing both a reduction to the pension plan that would reduce the incomes of pensioners as well as a wage increase that is well below the level of inflation (essentially a pay cut). Faced with a double reduction in both their pension plan and wages, it is not a stand that these workers are taking lightly.

Protecting Education from Schooling
RankandFile.ca, May 12, 2015

Austerity in the schools is not only an economic agenda, it is political. Its aim is to increase pressure on educators to accept the values of productivity that rule in the private sector economy. In order to impose those values– the production of the most graduates with those skills and those skills only that labour markets are willing to hire, for the least cost—rights to control our own labour have to be undermined. Since we are all facing a common problem, we need to start to work out common solutions.

Winnipeg transit workers to City: Fix it, fund it, make it fair
RankandFile.ca, May 15, 2015

On May 12 at noon members of ATU 1505, the union that represents Winnipeg public transit workers, held a rally at city hall calling on the city to give them a fair deal. ATU 1505 has been in a contract dispute with the city since the union members rejected the city’s offer in mid-April by 91.5 percent. Starting on April 27th transit workers were refusing overtime causing delays in services

Canada Post’s ‘super’ mailboxes spur growing backlash
CBC News, May 15, 2015

The backlash against Canada Post is growing, with four mayors in the greater Montreal area joining the legal battle against the Crown corporation’s decision to phase out urban home mail delivery by 2018. Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre says he and the mayors of Laval, Longueil and Westmount are frustrated with the “cavalier” approach of Canada Post to complaints about community mailboxes since the plan was announced in December 2013. They’ll be joining a union lawsuit before the Federal Court aimed at overturning the post office’s decision to replace door-to-door delivery with so-called “superboxes.”

CP Rail training more office workers to operate trains in case of strike
CBC, May 14, 2015

Canadian Pacific Railway will continue to use some of its office staff to drive trains, as negotiations with the Teamsters union drag on. The company and union are currently in federal government ordered arbitration, following a two-day strike in February. “We are asking everyone who is physically able to become a qualified conductor and engineer,” said CEO Hunter Harrison, after the company’s annual general meeting in Calgary on Thursday. The company is allowed to use office staff when there is a shortage of professional unionized workers to ensure the trains continue operating. The Teamsters Rail Conference had warned in early February that CP was training more and more office workers in case of strike.

For public education, class size matters
RankandFile.ca, May 15, 2015

Last Friday, in my hometown of Ottawa, I walked an information picket organized by District 25 of the Ontario Secondary Schools Teachers Federation (OSSTF). What I saw and heard confirmed the stakes involved in defending (and improving) public education.

Public consultations announced for labour law Review in Ontario
Workers’ Action Centre, May 14, 2015

The Ontario government has announced the dates and locations of the first public consultations being undertaken for its review of labour laws, the Changing Workplaces Review (CWR).To register to make a presentation at the consultations, email CWR.SpecialAdvisors@ontario.ca or call 1-888-868-5844. These public consultations are an important opportunity for the government to hear from workers, unions, and community organizations across the province about how the Employment Standards Act and Labour Relations Act need to be updated and strengthened in order to better protect workers.

Tensions reach ‘boiling point’ at Halifax Shipyard, results in demonstration
Metro, May 11, 2015

Over 100 workers at the Irving Shipyard stood together in a demonstration Monday as one union representative said tensions have reached “a boiling point.” During lunchtime on Monday, vice-president of Unifor Marine Workers Federation (MWF) Local 1, David Ladouceur, said about 150 people rallied outside the Irving offices to protest his suspension which had been handed down that morning.

Bombardier eliminates 1,750 jobs
CBC News, May 14 2015

Bombardier says it’s cutting 1,750 jobs, including 1,000 positions at the company’s facility in Montreal, as the company contends with a softer market for its business jets. The move will affect up to 480 positions in Toronto and up to 280 in Belfast, the company said Thursday in a release.

Ontario Labour Board could force teachers back to work by week’s end
Globe and Mail, May 12, 2015

Troubles with Ontario’s new two-tier bargaining system in education have reached a boiling point this week, with the Ontario Labour Relations Board to decide in the next few days if striking teachers have subverted the process. Three school boards whose high school teachers are striking have asked the labour board to declare the strikes unlawful, saying teachers walked out over issues that are not up for discussion with the boards.

PSAC convention: Getting ready to take on Harper
RankandFile.ca, May 14, 2015

The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) held its Triennial Convention between April 26 and May 2, 2015. The ultimate governing body of the PSAC, comprised of 17 components, dozens of Directly Chartered Locals (DCLs), seven regions, and roughly 180,000 members, ended with a shift to the left, and a war cry from National President Robyn Benson to stop Stephen Harper in the next federal election.

Community Living Thunder Bay workers could strike soon
TBNewswatch.com, May 12, 2015

More than 300 developmental services workers could be on the picket lines next week. Members of OPSEU Local 740, who serve as frontline workers for Community Living Thunder Bay, will be in a legal strike position as of midnight on May 21. Erin Rice, president of OPSEU Local 740 and chair of the negotiating team, said the 325 workers are ready to walk off the jobs if a deal has not been reached. “We are prepared to go out as of 12:01 a.m.,” she said on Tuesday.

Complex rules stymie efforts to boost home-care workers’ wages in Ontario
Globe and Mail, May 11, 2015

It was one of the showpiece promises that Ontario’s Liberals made before their government fell last year: A $4-an-hour wage hike for the personal support workers who are critical to the government’s plans to shift health care out of expensive hospitals and into the home. More than a year and an election victory later, the PSW “wage enhancement” program is beset by so many complexities that the government has delayed indefinitely the second phase of the pay hike – a $1.50-an-hour raise that was due April 1 – while it works to mop up the problems on the ground, a Globe and Mail investigation has found.

Protesters gather before the arrival of Prime Minister Stephen Harper outside the Cobequid Educational Centre in Truro on Thursday. (ADRIEN VECZAN / Staff)
Protesters gather before the arrival of Prime Minister Stephen Harper outside the Cobequid Educational Centre in Truro on Thursday. (ADRIEN VECZAN / Staff)

Hundreds of protestors crash Harper’s visit to Truro, Nova Scotia
CatCountry995.ca, May 15, 2015

It was packed both inside and outside CEC in Truro Thursday night as the Prime Minister attended a rally and riding event for Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley MP Scott Armstrong. Hundreds of protestors lined the street in front of the high school chanting against Stephen Harper. The group included members of CUPE Nova Scotia, Unifor, the Public Service Alliance of Canada, Teamsters Canada, and CUPW. PSAC was also handing out anti-Conservative leaflets with the message “We Are All Affected”.

Protestors rally against Harper in Windsor
Blackburn New, May 12, 2015

Outside of the meeting, it was a very different story as dozens of protesters gathered from various unions. Unifor Local 200 chairperson DJ Lacey says he’s frustrated with the Harper government. “We just gave $500-million to a company, Volkswagen, to produce vehicles and put investment into its plants when the government just turned down $800-million to bring 1,000 jobs to Windsor,” Lacey says. Even though Stephen Harper is here to discuss auto manufacturing, Lacey says that’s not enough. “Obviously it’s an election ploy. Where has he been for the last six years? He hasn’t been down here to announce anything like that,” he says.

SEIU-West workers return today: Members accept 4.5 per cent over two years
Estevan Mercury, May 13, 2015

The striking employees of the South East Cornerstone Public School Division will be back at their respective jobs this morning (Wednesday). The employees, members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU-West) voted in favour of accepting Cornerstone’s latest offer that gives them a 4.5 per cent wage increase over two years. The 260 striking members had rejected a previous four per cent offer over the same time period with 58 per cent voting against that proposal.

Ontario employers cashing in on temporary workers
Toronto Star, May 10, 2015

For more than five years, 61-year-old Angel Reyes has woken up five days a week at 3 a.m. and braced himself for eight hours of hauling garbage at a Toronto recycling plant. The university-educated refugee is the longest-serving worker on the floor, hired through a temp agency more than half a decade ago. Half a decade and, technically, still a temp. Half a decade earning minimum wage, never having seen a raise. Half a decade, and still paid less per hour than his permanent colleagues for doing the same job. Half a decade, and still no benefits. Half a decade, and still no obligation for his employer to hire him permanently.

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