R&F Labour News Update – July 13 2015

Alberta farm workers to be included in health and safety legislation | Tentative deal in Crown Holdings strike | Workers and Halifax Water reach tentative deal | City of London and CUPE 101 resume negotiations | New Brunswick unemployment rate soars to 10.8% | Canada Post changes could hurt Tories | Dominion Diamond and union disagree over end to charter flights | Unions will challenge Bill C-377 in election and courts | Corporate tax cuts not working | Medical pot growers battle to unionize | Loblaws strike over | $10 per day child care is feasible | Justicia for Migrant Workers wants to be heard as Ontario reviews labour laws | Unionized Southwestern Ontario paramedics picket in Wyoming

After 10 years of asking, farm workers to be included in health and safety legislation
Alex McCuaig, Medicine Hat News
July 11 2015

After a decade of pushing for Alberta to adopt stricter regulations to protect agricultural sector employees, the Bow Island-based founder of the Farmworkers Union of Alberta is getting ready to reap the benefit of the seeds he has sown.

Eric Musekamp, president of the Farmworkers Union of Alberta, is welcoming Agricultural Minister Oneil Carlier’s announcement this week that the government will be working to include ag-sector workers in provincial health and safety legislation.

United Steelworkers, Crown Holdings reach deal to end strike
CBC News
July 9 2015

Activists across Ontario leafleting in support of striking Crown workers at Beer Store locations.
Activists across Ontario leafleting in support of striking Crown workers at Beer Store locations.

After a 22-month strike left members of the United Steelworkers union pounding the pavement, officials said Thursday they had finally reached a tentative agreement with can maker Crown Holdings.

“I commend the members of Steelworkers Local 9176 and their negotiating committee for the incredible solidarity and character they exhibited throughout this prolonged struggle,” said Marty Warren, the union’s Ontario director.

About 125 workers at Crown Holdings’ Toronto location have been on strike since September 2013, when they walked off the job due primarily to disagreements over a two-tier wage system the company wanted to introduce, according to the USW and workers at the plant.

Tentative deal in Halifax Water labour dispute
Halifax Chronicle Herald
July 12 2015

Halifax Water and its unionized workers reached a tentative deal to end their eight-week labour dispute late Saturday night.

The Presidents of Canadian Union of Public Employees locals 1431 and 227 announced the possible agreement in a news release shortly before midnight.

“We will not release details publicly until we present them to our members,” CUPE local 227 President Dave Dort said. “But we will be recommending this agreement to our members. We firmly believe that this is the best deal we could achieve.”

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CUPE Local 101 and allies in front of London City Hall

City of London and CUPE 101 resume bargaining talks
CTV London
July 12 2015

The city of London and the union representing 750 striking inside workers are heading back to the bargaining table Sunday.

The city contacted the provincial mediator in an effort to get talks back on track with CUPE 101 this weekend, and both sides agreed to meet.

There is currently a media balckout and no details will be released until after Sunday’s meeting.

New Brunswick’s jobless rate soars to 10.8%
Daniel McHardie, CBC News
July 10 2015

New Brunswick’s jobless rate soared to 10.8 per cent in June, a one-month increase of 1.2 percentage points, according to Statistics Canada.

The economy shed 3,500 jobs last month, according to the monthly labour force report.

Of those job losses, 2,500 were full-time and 1,000 were part-time.

Canada Post changes could deliver election surprise to Tories: Delacourt
Susan Delacourt, The Toronto Star
July 11 2015scp

It used to be that when someone said “the cheque’s in the mail,” this was widely understood as an avoidance tactic.

This summer, with the Conservative government sending out enhanced family benefit cheques to millions of Canadian parents, the phrase can now be more currently described as a pre-election strategy.

But it’s starting to look like the Conservatives got the cheque-in-the-mail strategy only half-right. The cheques do exist. In case anyone doubted it, Employment Minister Pierre Poilievre recently posted a picture of himself beside the machine churning out the cheques destined for voters’ homes this month.

The mail, though, is a whole other issue. In fact, the mail is becoming an increasingly touchy subject for the government this summer, as the winding-down of door-to-door postal service is hitting home in many areas of the country.

Dominion Diamond, union at odds over ending Edmonton charter flights
Guy Quenneville, CBC News
July 10 2015

Contract renewal talks between the owner of the Ekati diamond mine and one of the N.W.T.’s biggest union locals are not going well, with one party asking the Canada Industrial Relations Board to get involved.

Dominion Diamond Corporation and Local 3050 of the Union of Northern Workers (UNW) have been negotiating a new collective agreement since August 2014. The local represents nearly 500 employees at the Ekati mine.

While neither the UNW nor Dominion Diamond would comment, updates given to Local 3050 by its bargaining team over the past nine months suggest one of the issues is Dominion’s decision to cancel the charter flight that transported employees, for free, between Edmonton and Yellowknife.

Unions will challenge Bill C-377 first in the election, then in the courts
Ella Bedard, rabble.ca
July 10 2015

It took an unusual procedure to pass the anti-union bill, C-377.

Conservative Senators voted against their own speaker in order to force a vote on the bill before the Senate began its summer recess. Early last week, as its last bit of business before the break, the Senate voted 35-22 to pass the bill, but unions say the fight is far from over.

In fact, the bill’s passage will only add more fuel to the fire, as the labour movement continues to ramp up its Stop Harper campaigns for the upcoming federal election.

Corporate Tax Cuts, Lost Revenues and Lagging Business Investment
Andrew Jackson, Broadbent Institute
July 11 2015

Corporate tax cuts have been central to the Harper government’s economic agenda. The result has been a huge loss of public revenues for negligible economic gain, suggesting that we need a major policy rethink.

The general federal corporate income tax (CIT) rate has been cut by one third from 22.1% in 2006 to 15% today. According to the Parliamentary Budget Office, the annual cost is $12 billion of reduced tax revenues.

The CIT now contributes just 13.4% of all federal revenues, down from 17.2% in 2007-08. Corporate tax cuts during a time of deficits have been paid for through cuts to public services and an increase in public debt.

The case for a much lower CIT rate was that higher after tax profits would boost business investment. But that has turned out to be a mirage.

Medical pot growers battle to unionize
Sara Mojtehedzadeh, The Toronto Star
July 9 2015

In a world of increasingly precarious work, it seems grow-ops are no exception.

Low wages and erratic schedules have workers at a Markham-based medical marijuana producer seeking union protection, in what could be a precedent-setting fight for better work conditions in the burgeoning industry.

But the battle is becoming increasingly acrimonious, as the union seeking to represent workers alleges their employer has waged a campaign of intimidation.

According to a new claim filed to the Ontario Labour Relations Board and obtained by the Star, medical cannabis producer MedReleaf, which is currently licensed by Health Canada, “engaged in very serious misconduct” to undermine a vote to unionize held in early June.

Loblaws strike over, employees back to work today
The Canadian Press
July 10 2015

The union that represents some 13,600 workers at 69 Loblaw-owned grocery stores in Ontario says they have averted a strike after members voted to accept a six-year contract that takes effect immediately.

Local 1000A of United Food and Commercial Workers Canada says its 12,000 members ratified an amended contract negotiated with Loblaw after an earlier tentative deal was rejected.

It says members at 60 Loblaws Great Food and Superstore grocery stores and two Joe Fresh clothing stores will receive wage increases and protection of defined benefit pension plans, though further details weren’t disclosed.

Child care for $10 a day feasible in Canada
Tara Carman, The Vancouver Sun
July 9 2015

Introducing universal $10-a-day child care would grow the province’s economy by $3.9 billion and generate $1.3 billion in government revenue once fully phased in, according to a report released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Implementing the plan — which advocates say would create enough child care spaces for all families who need it, as well as improve affordability and the quality of early childhood education in B.C. — would cost $1.5 billion over 10 years, researchers at the University of B.C.’s Human Early Learning Partnership have estimated.

However, Victoria and Ottawa could expect to recover 86 cents on every dollar invested if both levels of government participated, said Iglika Ivanova, a senior economist at CCPA who authored the report, Solving BC’s Affordability Crisis in Child Care. This means the net investment would be $202 million.

Justicia for Migrant Workers wants to be heard as Ontario reviews labour laws
CBC News
July 7 2015

Ontario’s Ministry of Labour is reviewing the provinces’ labour laws, and a local advocacy group for migrant workers want their voices to be heard in the process, particularly those working in southwestern Ontario.

Windsor plays host Tuesday to two provincial advisors, looking for interviews from workers, unions and legal clinics about what they want changed in the current employment standards and labour relations acts.

“We want to highlight the issues that migrant workers face in Ontario, and what farm workers face while growing our food and taking care of our children,” said Tzazna Miranda Leal, a spokesperson for advocacy group Justicia for Migrant Workers.

Unionized Southwestern Ontario paramedics picket in Wyoming
Barbara Simpson, Sarnia Observer
July 8 2015

Southwestern Ontario paramedics are rallying together to call for greater resources for colleagues dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder.

More than 40 unionized paramedics from Sarnia-Lambton and Chatham-Kent protested outside the County of Lambton administration building in Wyoming Wednesday to raise awareness about the province-wide hot-button topic.

“On a day-to-day basis, paramedics are exposed to a lot of different incidents,” local union steward Chris Stolte said Wednesday. “You may go from a home childbirth to an hour later going to someone who has passed away at home and having to tell the patient’s wife of 50 years, ‘I’m sorry, but there’s nothing we can do for that individual.’

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