R&F Labour News Update – June 15, 2015

Tim Horton’s in Manitoba unionized | London inside workers syill on strike | Winnipeg transit workers reject tentative deal | Striking Halifax Water worker hit by truck| PTSD legislation in Manitoba | Three more unions sign deal with Hudbay | B.C. Automobile Association lockout | WestJet workers look to unionize | Kitimat strike ends | Ottawa CMB sit-in |BCTF sanctuary schools | Hospital cuts in Ontario | Federal Health and Safety inspectors cuts | BCTF strategy|

Portage Avenue Tim Hortons becomes unionized
Winnipeg Free Press, June 11, 2015

A Tim Hortons location on Portage Avenue has become the iconic coffee chain’s first unionized shop in Manitoba. Thirty-five employees at 1146 Portage Ave. in Wolseley have voted to join the Workers United Canada Council effective Wednesday, said Rabia Syed, organizing co-ordinator for the WUCC.
Support among the staff was galvanized last winter, after one employee who had worked there for nearly five years was fired for allegedly talking to a union representative. The union subsequently filed an unfair labour practice against the employer, which was successful. The former employee was reinstated to her job and given $1,500 to cover emotional stress.

Lynda Kitchikeesic speaking with reporters outside her home.
Lynda Kitchikeesic speaking with reporters outside her home.

Interview with Lynda Kitchikeesic: Community Mailbox Resister
RankandFile.ca, June 12, 2015

This is the second occupation of its kind in recent months. In Hamilton, Henry Evans-Tenbrike, a retiree, occupied a community mailbox site for several days. This was part of a wave of local resistance that has delayed Canada Post’s efforts to end home delivery in downtown Hamilton. This time, the person involved is Lynda Kitchikeesic, a 26-year-resident whose modest bungalow is among the few original homes in the Westboro beach area. Unfortunately for Canada Post, Lynda is also a lifelong activist, and a prominent local leader in Idle No More. Though Lynda has faced recent struggles with her health, she remains a proud activist, and is pleased to have CUPW’s support.

WestJet pilots, flight attendants racing to unionize
CBC, June 9, 2015

A group of WestJet flight attendants says it is very close to having enough members to form a union at the airline. The WestJet Professional Flight Attendants Association (WPFAA), which has been working to certify flight attendants at the Calgary-based airline, says momentum is building and it expects to have the union cards it needs “very soon.” However, the WPFAA is racing against a deadline. A week from today, labour law changes in Canada make it more difficult to form a union in a federally regulated industry such as airlines.

Inside Worker Talks Break Down: London strike continues
BlackBurn News, June 10, 2015

Mediated talks between the City of London and CUPE Local 101, representing inside workers, broke down on Tuesday night with each side blaming the other for the impasse. The union says it still hasn’t been told of the specific reasons the city wants concessions such as expanding the workday to possible evening and weekend hours for 9am-5pm employees. Navarroli says CUPE offered to send negotiations to an independent third party for binding arbitration but the city’s negotiators refused.

COPE 378 members have set up a picket line outside the BC Automobile Association Road Assist Contact Centre on Goring Street in Burnaby.
COPE 378 members have set up a picket line outside the BC Automobile Association Road Assist Contact Centre on Goring Street in Burnaby.

Tow truck dispatchers locked out after cap kerfuffle
Burnaby Now, June 9, 2015

The B.C. Automobile Association locked out approximately 70 tow truck dispatchers on Monday, after contract negotiations between the company and the dispatchers’ union fell apart. The members of the Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union Local 378 wore hats to work on Friday in violation of the company’s dress code, as part of their limited job action. Soon after, BCAA served the members with lockout notice, according to the vice-president of Local 378, Heather Lee.

Pearson workers fear good jobs in peril over contract-flipping
Toronto Star, June 11, 2015

Is Pearson Airport becoming the “Walmart of the skies?” As unrest builds over lay-offs and low wages, another 300 airport workers are set to lose their jobs. The culprit, unions say, is a practice known as contract-flipping. Hector Silva, 53, is bracing himself to lose the job he’s held for more than a decade. As a fuel serviceman at Pearson, he is the latest casualty of what critics call contract flipping: when contracts are awarded to different service providers every few years, often resulting in mass job losses.

BCTF’s sanctuary schools policy
RankandFile.ca, June 10, 2015

This would not be the first time workers – in this case teachers and school staff – would decide to do more than protect and advance their own interests but also take a stand on a broader social issue. Because of their direct, and daily, relationship with some of the most vulnerable victims of federal immigration policy – undocumented, or precariously residing, children – teachers have an opportunity to make their workplace sanctuary zones for others. They have an opportunity to bridge the migrant justice and the labour movement. “We’re in the business of education,” Wai underscores. “We’re not border police.”

Union says 34 layoff notices at Niagara Catholic
St. Catharines Standard, June 11, 2015

Educational support staff at Niagara’s English Catholic board have recently received 34 layoff notices, says the union representing them. Karen Infantino, president of Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 1317, says notices were sent to 26 educational assistants, eight child-and-youth workers. There have also been several reduction of hours notifications.

Winnipeg’s transit drivers reject tentative agreement. Members just didn’t trust the city
The Carillon, June 12, 2015

Mistrust of city hall is the underlying reason transit union members narrowly rejected a tentative settlement. John Callahan, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1505, said the tentative agreement rejected by members had relegated many issues involving driver safety and security and working conditions to be resolved through letters of understanding — a process the members no longer trust.

Halifax Water picketer struck by truck
RankandFile.ca, June 11, 2015

On Tuesday an RST truck hit a locked-out Halifax Water worker at the Mill Cove waste water treatment facility in Bedford. RST is an Irving subsidiary. 335 workers, members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, have been walking the picket line to defend their pension plan and wages since May 19. They have been slowing down, but not blocking, cars and trucks going in or out at all ten Halifax Water facilities. Stephen MacRae was legally picketing the Mill Cove facility when the RST truck driver, after initially missing the entrance, turned into the road to the plant, says Dave Dort, president of CUPE Local 227. “He either failed to recognize or just ignored the two people walking the picket line outside the entrance. That’s when he ran into one of those guys,” Dort says.

Three more unions pen three-year deals with Hudbay
The Reminder, June 12, 2015

Three more trade unions have accepted deals from Hudbay as of Friday morning. International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Local 451 had 100 per cent of its membership vote 67 per cent in favour of accepting their offer, which would boost hourly wages by $4 over the next three years. The deal also includes a $500 signing agreement and language improvements to contracts.
International Brotherhood of Carpenters Local 1614 voted 85 per cent in favour of the same deal, with 95 per cent of its membership voting. International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1405 voted 53 per cent in favour of the same deal, with 83 per cent of its members voting.

Workplace survey reveals dismal public works culture in Hamilton
CBC, June 12, 2015

A new survey of the workplace culture in the city’s embattled public works department reveals a dismal workplace of unhappy, disenchanted workers with little faith in their managers and little belief things can improve. The survey follows two scandalous years for city roads and waste collection workers and paints a picture of a workforce where inexperienced people are promoted, morale is low and there is “nothing to preserve” about where they work.

Kitimat’s months-long strike ends with approval of new Collective Agreement
Kitimat Northern Sentinel, June 11, 2015

On June 9, Unifor 2300 and the District of Kitimat announced a tentative Collective Agreement had been reached. Ratification came soon afterwards, with union members supporting the deal the evening following the announcement, and Kitimat Council ratifying the agreement on their end on June 10. The specific details of the agreement were not yet publicly released but we’re told the agreement will be posted for viewing sometime in the coming weeks. The District on their website did say that for this agreement, “in addition to numerous increases to benefits, the agreement includes wage increases of 2.5 percent in 2015, 2.5 percent in 2016 and 3.0 percent in 2017.”

Davis Day Memorial
Davis Day Memorial

Number of federal inspectors cut in half over a decade, groups say
CBC, June 11, 2015

The number of federal health and safety officers across Canada has been nearly cut in half over the last decade, according to the Public Service Alliance of Canada and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. The officers are responsible for monitoring and investigating 10 per cent of the workplaces in Canada, including transportation, aviation and financial industries, as well as the federal government. Numbers provided by PSAC, the largest union representing federal public servants, show staffing levels for federal health and safety officers, who carry out on-site inspections, have dropped from 150 in 2005, to just 80 officers now. “We’re close to a 50 per cent reduction in the number of inspectors,” said Denis St. Jean, a health and safety officer with PSAC.

Manitoba first in country to offer PTSD coverage to all workers
CBC, June 8, 2015

Manitoba is set to introduce first-of-its-kind legislation in Canada for post-traumatic stress disorder coverage.Premier Greg Selinger will make the announcement at noon Monday on the steps of the legislative building. “This legislation is significant because it’s all workers. No other jurisdiction in Canada has legislation that covers all workers,” said John Baert, spokesman for the Manitoba Government and General Employees Union.

Who’s unionized? Demographic shift shows changes in the job market
Rabble.ca, June 12, 2015

Ross also noted that there is unmet demand for unions among young workers. “Most of the research shows that while young workers’ unionization rates are low and [for young men] in decline, they are also the age group most interested in and open to unionization,” Ross explained. “So there is unmet demand for unionization here, largely because the sectors that young people work in are tough to organize, and because the kinds of jobs they are more likely in now — temporary, part-time, contract, in any sector — are also tough to organize.” “So that is a key challenge for unions, to figure out out how to unionize the very people that want to be unionized.”

Are the courts the solution for the BCTF?
RankandFile.ca, June 11, 2015

At recess time on April 30 of this year, many public school teachers around BC pulled out their smartphones to find out whether or not their union, the BC Teachers Federation, had won their court case. Unfortunately, they were disappointed: in a 4-1 decision, the BC Court of Appeal ruled that the province didnot violate teachers’ constitutional rights when it introduced Bill 22 in 2012 — legislation that temporarily prevented teacher bargaining on class size and composition. Teachers were understandably upset, especially since the ruling meant the government was under no legal obligation to restore class size limits and ratios stripped out by Bill 28 in 2002 — legislation that has since been deemed unconstitutional. The BCTF executive has decided to appeal this decision to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Capitalism: from Davis Day to the present day
Socialist.ca, June 12, 2015

June 11 is a little known holiday in the mining towns of Cape Breton. In these towns it is known as Davis Day. Here, there is a history of conflict between miners and the coal company. The coal company enjoyed complete and unquestioned support from the Canadian state and the Prime Minister, MacKenzie King. The local history is rife with revolutionary passion and bloody struggles between miners, steelworkers and capitalist tyranny. The holiday commemorates William Davis, one of three coal miners who the company police shot on June 11, 1925 at New Waterford Lake. Davis died of his wounds.

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