R&F Labour News Update – August 3 2015

OFL to launch “Dump Harper” campaign | Stephen Harper has worst economic record of any Prime Minister | Unifor and the NDP at odds over NAFTA | Miniature gardens sprout up where community mail boxes are planned in London | Ottawa cleaners reach tentative deal | Staff cuts affecting food safety | Claims of BC LNG job numbers overstated | Dearness Home support workers talk about being disrespected | Wynne ignores own pledge to cap executive compensation | Jamaican farm workers in Canada won’t have portion of wages withheld | TransAlta deliberately timed outages at Alberta power plants | Freezing hospital budgets is like cutting services | Lessons from laundry privatizations | Ontario school support workers consider strike action | Halifax Water spent $2 million on strike security | Greater vigilance needed to protect NFLD road workers | Fort St. John municipal employee strike enters week two

Ont. union ready to launch ‘Dump Harper’ campaign as soon as election called
Diana Mehta, The Canadian Press
July 31 2015

TORONTO — Canada’s largest provincial labour federation says it is ready to launch its “Dump Harper” campaign as soon as the prime minister calls an election, which is widely expected to happen on Sunday.

The president of the Ontario Federation of Labour said Friday that the move will mirror the “Stop Hudak” campaign against former Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak in the provincial election last year.

Sid Ryan said the union will engage members in what he called “vulnerable” ridings across the province where the races are expected to be close.

6 charts show Stephen Harper has the worst economic record of any Prime Minister since World War IIharper
PressProgress
July 30 2015

It turns out the emperor has no clothes after all.

Although Conservatives like to drone on like robots about how Stephen Harper is a “steady hand on the wheel” of the economy, that myth is increasingly hard to square with reality.

Not only does a recent poll suggest Harper’s reputation as a competent manager of the economy has plummeted, a new analysis shows Harper with the worst economic record of any Canadian Prime Minister since the end of the Second World War.

Unifor, New Democrats at odds over North America Free Trade Agreement
Grace Macaluso, The Windsor Star
July 23 2015

Unifor president Jerry Dias said Thursday “there was no doubt” an NDP government would implement a national auto strategy.

“I know (NDP Leader) Thomas Mulcair understands the importance of the auto sector in Ontario and Canada,” Dias said. “There is no question in my mind that if they form the government there would be a comprehensive national auto strategy.”

Dias was responding to comments Mulcair made Wednesday when asked by The Windsor Star editorial board whether he would implement a national auto strategy if he were to win the next federal election.

London residents stage flowery protest of Canada Post community mailboxes
Diana Mehta, The Canadian Press
July 30 2015

Miniature gardens are sprouting at certain locations in London, Ont., where Canada Post plans to install controversial community mailboxes.

The fenced-in flower beds, which sit atop the concrete pads where mailboxes will stand, are being installed by a group of residents opposed to the Crown corporation’s plan to end door-to-door residential mail delivery.

The group, called Londoners for Door to Door, says the garden boxes are being set up in areas where local residents are unhappy with making the switch to community mailboxes.

Ottawa cleaners reach tentative agreement to avoid strike
CBC News
July 31 2015

The majority of Ottawa’s private-sector cleaners have reached a tentative agreement with their employers avoiding potential rotating walkouts, it was announced Friday.

A strike could have a major impact on the city’s federally owned buildings — close to one-third of cleaners in Ottawa work in government buildings, said Diego Mendez, communications coordinator of SEIU Local 2.

The federal government contracts the cleaning work out to private companies.

Food inspectors’ union concerned staff and budget cuts may impact food safety
The Canadian Press
July 29 2015

TORONTO (CP) — The union representing federal food inspectors says they’re worried budget and staffing cuts may impact food safety in Canada.

Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) spokesman Bob Kingston says there are not enough inspectors working in meat and poultry slaughter facilities in Ontario to make sure companies are adhering to all safety requirements.

Kingston — who heads PSAC’s Agriculture Union — says the problem is particularly worrisome in the Toronto area where a union survey indicates inspector staffing is as much as 39 per cent below what is required by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Premier Clark’s claims of thousands of LNG jobs ‘grossly overstated’ — CCPA report
Vancouver Observer
July 28 2015

Premier Christy Clark may be touting massive job opportunities with the B.C.-based LNG industry, but the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has released a “reality check” report that disputes the numbers.
Clark has stated that the LNG industry as a whole would create 100,000 jobs, with 4,500 jobs in the Petronas-backed Pacific NorthWest LNG project alone.
But using LNG proponents’ own job estimates, the LNG and Employment in BC report reveals that they are substantially lower than government claims, according to CCPA senior economist and author Marc Lee.

Dearness Home Support Staff Sound Off On “Pattern Of Disrespect”
Jacquelyn LeBel, AM980
July 27 2015

Support staff at London’s Dearness Home is fed up with what’s being described as a “pattern of disrespect” by administration.

Unifor Local 302 Vice-president Lisa Tucker says roughly 50 Dearness members came out to support an information picket Monday morning. Another picket is set to go from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday afternoon to bring awareness to what the union believes to be a lack of support and respect.

“There’s been issues with break times, if our members are busy providing care for the residents on the floor and have been late coming down to their breaks, they’ve been told to go back upstairs that they’re not getting their break and they’ve missed their break time. We have filed grievances on this which are still outstanding,” Tucker tells AM980.

Kathleen Wynne discards pledge to cap compensation of public executives: Goar
Carol Goar, The Toronto Star
July 28 2015

Premier Kathleen Wynne had a perfect opportunity to keep a long-standing commitment, set an important precedent and demonstrate her government’s principles. She passed it up.

Last week Ontario Power Generation, wholly owned by the government of Ontario, named its new president and CEO. Jeffrey Lyash was recruited from CB&I Power (Chicago Bridge and Iron), a private energy company with projects throughout the United States and around the world. He will be entitled to $1.55 million in salary and bonuses — the same compensation as departing CEO Tom Mitchell who perennially topped the province’s list of highly paid public employees.

Last week’s announcement flies in the face of Wynne’s 2013 pledge to cap the pay of senior executives in the public sector. It ignores a warning from Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk that “very generous” salaries, perks and pensions at Ontario Power Generation (OPG) are pushing up electricity rates. And it reinforces a culture of entitlement in provincial Crown corporations, hospitals and universities.

Jamaican workers take control of wages
Monte Sonnenberg, Simcoe Reformer
July 28 2015

WALSH – Jamaican farm workers in Norfolk and beyond are celebrating now that their government has abandoned the “draconian practice” of withholding 25 percent of their earnings.

Jamaica recently dropped the long-standing policy in response to labour code changes in Ontario forbidding the practice.

The change is also good news for the local economy. With Jamaica giving its men more control of their wages, more of these dollars will be spent in area stores.

TransAlta timed power outages to hike prices, commission says
Ian Bickis, The Globe and Mail
July 27 2015

TransAlta Corp. deliberately timed outages at power plants in Alberta at peak times in order to drive up electricity prices, the province’s utilities commission said in a ruling Monday.

The Alberta Utilities Commission conducted hearings after the province’s market surveillance administrator alleged that the Calgary-based company manipulated the electricity market by shutting down coal-fired power plants in late 2010 and early 2011 to drive up power costs during periods when demand was high.

“The commission concludes, based upon clear, cogent and convincing evidence that TransAlta could have deferred each of the above described outages to off peak hours but chose instead to take them during peak or super-peak hours so as to maximize the benefit to its own portfolio,” the commission said in its decision.

Freezing hospital budgets is like cutting services: Ontario Coalition of Hospital Unions
CBC News
July 28 2015

A spokesperson for the hospital in Sudbury says it is working on the challenges raised in a report from the Ontario Coalition of Hospital Unions.

The Coalition is releasing stories from patients — many of them elderly — who called their anonymous healthcare hotline last year.

There are stories of people lying in the hall in the emergency department for almost a week. Others deal with people who were sent home with hospital-acquired superbugs, or who were misdiagnosed.

Lessons from laundry privatization: Why freedom of information matters in the era of privatization
Tria Donaldson and Cheryl Stadnichuk, rabble.ca
July 27 2015

Brad Wall is the latest premier to push a privatization agenda that is seeing public accountability and transparency take a back seat to corporate profits.

Everywhere privatization has occurred, public access to the facts and figures around privatization has been a challenge. Here in Saskatchewan, that challenge can been illustrated by the difficulty of getting information about the privatization of hospital laundry.

The cloak of secrecy was dealt a major blow last week when the Saskatchewan Information and Privacy Commissioner recommended the disclosure of a 10-year contract for laundry services between K-Bro Linen Systems and 3sHealth. The Commissioner also recommended that the publicly-funded 3sHealth be brought under legislation as a health care organization and subsequently freedom of information laws.

Ontario school support workers consider strike action
Selena Ross, The Globe and Mail
July 27 2015

The union representing Ontario school support staff signalled on Monday that contract talks are going badly and said it will not rule out strike action in September – a move that could keep many schools closed for health and safety reasons, even if teachers stay on the job.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), whose 55,000 education workers include custodians and tradespeople, requested a conciliator on Monday.

The union would need to ask the conciliator for a “no board report” in order to be in strike position by September. Terri Preston, chair of the bargaining committee for CUPE’s central talks with the Ministry of Education, said the union is not planning to request the report right away, but it hopes to force the province to set more bargaining dates than the two it has scheduled in August.

Halifax Water poured $2 million into strike security
Evan Webster, The Chronicle Herald
July 27 2015

Halifax Water spent about $2 million on security during a recent labour disruption, a freedom of information request has revealed.

The CBC originally filed the request, and The Chronicle Herald received a copy Monday. The document breaks down all the costs associated with the utility’s hiring of AFIMAC Canada, an Ontario firm specializing in strike security.

For the first month of the two-month work stoppage, which began May 19, security workers were paid $724,092 in wages. Security vehicles, lodging and meals cost $81,2409, $65,667 and $32,515, respectively.

Greater vigilance needed to protect road workers, says NAPE president
CBC News
July 27 2015

The head of NAPE says more needs to be done to avoid tragic accidents like the one that claimed a worker’s life two years ago.

Line painter Wayne Wall was struck and killed by a truck on the highway near Flat Bay, on Newfoundland’s west coast, in July 2013 while he was placing road-painting signs.

NAPE president Jerry Earle said the accident points to other safety issues he’s heard about from union members.

City strike rolls into week two
William Stodalka, Alaska Highway News
July 27 2015

The Fort St. John city strike looks less likely to be resolved quickly after the B.C. Government Employees Union refused to return to the negotiating table with the city last week.

But, the union’s lead negotiator, Brent Camilleri, said the union turned down the city’s offer because the city said it could not change its financial mandate and address any wage changes.

Fort St. John city employees went on strike July 20 and have said the strike is over wages. Workers—who have been without a contract since the end of 2014—wanted to compare a potential new contract and its future wages to different cities than what Fort St. John city managers wanted to use.

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