R&F Labour News Update – October 5, 2015

Aerospace union says forget the Niqab debate | Harper’s record on federal public sector workers | Ottawa taxi drivers fight | Contract flipping in York region | Public sector unions in Quebec massive demo against austerity | U.S. Steel talks continue | TPP bad for auto and dairy | Ontario education support workers job action | Quebec teachers job action | Minimum wage increase | Abbotsford nurses fighting for their jobs |

12009596_902726086441090_4050355532984060964_nQuebec union ‘disgusted’ by focus on niqab
CBC News, October 1, 2015

The union official representing thousands of aerospace workers in Quebec is adding his voice to those who want the federal election to be about something other than the niqab. David Chartrand. the provincial coordinator for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, told CBC Montreal’s Daybreak the campaign should focus on things that really matter — such as job creation.

Fact-checking the Prime Minister
CAPE, October 2, 2015

Yesterday, the Conservative Party of Canada released an open letter, from Prime Minister Stephen Harper to public servants, in which the Conservative Party Leader claims to correct some of the “misleading statements” being made by the federal public service unions. However, since this political party has a habit of putting its ideology ahead of the facts, it only makes sense to take a closer look at those facts the Conservatives claim are wrong.

Taxi drivers deserve to work
Ottawa West News, October 1, 2015

The city’s taxi drivers find themselves in a tough spot. Uber has created a price challenge for current licensed taxi drivers. Uber operators have no taxi licence, iffy insurance rules and choose to do part-time, sporadic work aimed at peak periods of demand. The licensed drivers who used to serve the airport – and are now locked out – face added fees that the airport authority has washed their hands of and which airport fleet drivers must pay. The fees arrive without the ability to pass on some of their extra costs to customers. Driving a licensed cab is a full-time job, one that often supports a family. In some cases the long hours help to pay off the debt incurred by buying a taxi licence plate – plates that Uber drivers do not have to have. No taxi passenger should begrudge that part of a taxi fare that goes to a taxpaying, hard-working driver.

Contract flipping leaves York transit employees feeling like ‘temporary workforce’
Toronto Star, October 1, 2015

Every time a contract flips, the entire workforce is terminated. They must reapply for their old jobs, sometimes at lower wages or with fewer hours. Or, as in the case of Kathy Breen, they are simply let go. At York Region Transit, a total of three contracts have flipped in the past five years — resulting in numerous job losses and constant insecurity, according to employees and unions.

Harvesting a Movement: BC’s Migrant Farm Workers
RankandFile.ca, September 30, 2015

In the orchards of the Okanagan, Mexican and Jamaican farm workers plant and prune. Some, mainly women, are in the packing houses. Many of these migrants handle pesticides with little to no training and without proper protective gear for spraying. “They often complain of getting sick from the chemicals, getting rashes on their hands, and infections in their eyes,” says Amy Cohen, an organizer with Radical Action with Migrants in Agriculture (RAMA), a non-profit based in the Okanagan. They’re working long, hard hours – usually six or seven days a week – and often labouring weeks on end without a break during the harvest.

Domestic violence affects workplaces, too
Globe and Mail, September 30, 2015

The Canadian findings, presented in a report titled Can Work Be Safe When Home Isn’t?, revealed that a third of respondents reported experiencing domestic violence, while 35 per cent believed a co-worker was experiencing domestic violence. More than half of people who had experienced domestic violence said at least one abusive act had occurred at or near their workplace (most common were abusive calls or texts and stalking). The economic cost has already been estimated by a 2012 Department of Justice report at $78-million annually in lost time, productivity and health-care costs.

12140934_1048676621843568_5315622300843883895_oTens of thousands of public-sector workers demonstrate against austerity, wage freezes
Montreal Gazette, October 4, 2015

Members of the common front sought to draw attention not only to the government’s austerity measures, but to protest against Treasury Board president Martin Coiteaux’s proposed public-sector wage freeze for the next two years, followed by annual one-per-cent raises until 2019. The common front — comprising five workers’ federations — is seeking salary hikes of 13.5 per cent over three years. Two of the federations — the Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ) and the Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN) — already have strike mandates.

Can Autoworkers Save the Climate?
Jacobin, October 2, 2015

Transport, and primarily road transport, is one of the main contributors to CO2 emissions that threaten to push the globe over extremely dangerous thresholds. Dependent on oil for 95 percent of its fuel, road transport accounts for 27 percent of global CO2 emissions and 13 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, and those shares are rapidly increasing.

Ontario warns TPP would hurt auto, dairy industries
Globe and Mail, October 1, 2015

The Ontario government is voicing concern about the direction of major Pacific Rim trade negotiations taking place in Atlanta, saying it’s worried that a negotiated deal would hurt its auto and dairy industry. The Wynne government’s intervention comes as the 12 countries including Canada trying to finalize a Trans-Pacific Partnership deal are preparing for the possibility of staying an extra day to clinch an agreement in principle.

Former Ottawa bar workers threaten to sue jail hostel
Metro, September 29, 2015

The former workers deny quitting and feel their rights were violated. They have retained lawyer Daniel Tucker-Simmons with Avant Law LLP, an Ottawa-based firm that specializes in labour law.
The law firm sent a letter to Hostelling International-Canada executive director Alistair McLean, saying the former workers are willing to settle the matter out of court. They are seeking a group sum of $17,662 in compensation for lost wages and tips from HI-Canada.

Provincially owned telecom firm sold at loss of almost $61 million
Toronto Star, October 1, 2015

The Liberal government is under fire for selling off a provincially owned telecommunications company at a $61 million loss. Even so Northern Development Minister Michael Gravelle says it was a “necessary decision” and a good deal for taxpayers. Ontera, which provides local and long distance telephone, data and Internet service throughout northeastern Ontario, was sold to Bell Aliant for $6.3 million — less than the $6.5 million the province paid consultants, lawyers and others advising the government on the sale.

Gingrich Woodcraft settles with Unifor in northern Ontario
CBC News, October 1, 2015

A furniture maker in the Fort Frances, Ont., area, that laid off all of its employees in August citing religious reasons, has reached a settlement with Unifor, the union representing 25 workers at the plant. At a Thursday morning hearing with the Ontario Labour Relations Board, the company agreed that closing the plant and permanently laying off all of its employees because they chose to be represented by a trade union violated the Labour Relations Act. Gingrich Woodcraft said in an earlier statement that, as Christian business owners, their personal beliefs do not allow them freedom to work with a labour union.

Abbotsford seniors’ facility fires its nursing staff, plans to contract out service
Vancouver Sun, October 1, 2015

The B.C. Nurses’ Union said 60 nurses will lose their jobs, including casual staff. On Wednesday, about 200 nurses protested outside Menno Hospital. Baillie said there are 11 full-time nurses and 18 part-time nurses who work at the hospital and all can apply to the contracting agency for a nursing position with the hospital. Although she didn’t know what their wages would be reduced by under the contract, she said the move will allow the hospital to balance its budget within three years. B.C. Nurses’ Union president Gayle Duteil said she doubts many of the nurses will want to apply for their jobs after the way they have been treated.

Fiat Chrysler Workers Appear to Reject Contract Proposal
New York Times, September 30, 2015

Hourly workers at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles appear to have soundly rejected a proposed new union contract that set no limit on the number of lower-paid workers and that contained no mechanism to move them up to top-wage status. While a few plants had yet to complete voting as of Wednesday, unofficial tallies indicate that a majority of the company’s 36,000 factory workers had already rejected the new four-year deal. In some cases, it was a lopsided vote. At the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant in Michigan, for example, 72 percent of workers voted no, according to photos of the final tally posted to social media.

Senior wins battle against Canada Post
CTV News, September 29, 2015
An Edmonton senior has won his battle against Canada Post over the location of a community mailbox.
For the past ten days, 76-year-old Kenneth Pudetz has been on guard at the edge of his property in Mill Woods, refusing to allow Canada Post to install a community mailbox. He covered the hole that had been dug for the job.

Support workers in Ontario schools launch second phase of work to rule campaign
CP24, September 29, 2015

Custodians, educational assistants, early childhood educators and other support workers in Ontario’s public schools started a new heightened phase of job action Tuesday after negotiations over the weekend failed to produce a deal. The new work to rule order instructs school custodians not to clean hallways or replace lights, tells library technicians not to attend training or train volunteers and says clerical workers should not handle any money or attend meetings outside paid time. All classifications of workers are being asked to wear a “work to rule” wristband and display materials notifying others of the work to rule campaign. They’re also asked not to run errands or complete non-specific tasks from each school’s principal.

Steelworkers: Talks with U.S. Steel continue ahead of court hearing
CBC News, September 30, 2015

The union that represents most employees of U.S. Steel Canada says that mediated talks with the company are continuing behind closed doors, ahead of a public court hearing that’s expected to be held next week. Leaders of United Steelworkers locals in Hamilton and Nanticoke, Ont., say in a statement that the parties cannot provide details of what has been discussed during five days of talks in Toronto.

Teacher strike Wednesday means day off for 275,000 students in Quebec
Montreal Gazette, September 30, 2015

Francophone teachers say they also want work schedules reorganized so they can spend more time with students with difficulties and less time on committees or monitoring students in the hallway. “We want to put our energy in the classroom helping the students,” said Sylvain Mallette, president of the Fédération autonome de l’enseignement (FAE), “Some teachers want to give two periods of tutoring every nine days, but the principal tells them they can only offer one because she needs the teacher to monitor the hallway at lunch or sit on a committee.” Thousands of striking teachers will march from Square Victoria to Dorchester Square in downtown Montreal starting at noon. They will also picket outside some schools before the march. The strike will also affect some schools in Vaudreuil-Dorion, the lower Laurentians, Granby and the Outaouais.

12074666_1061162273928350_8312812471506807500_nTory budget surplus came at cost to public safety
Toronto Star, September 28, 2015

The Harper government is touting its $1.9-billion surplus for 2014-15 as an indication of sound fiscal management. But to get there it made major cuts to vital public services, which in some cases compromised public safety. Starving the rail regulatory budget is a case in point. The government cut the rail safety division budget by 20 per cent between 2010 and 2014. It froze the transportation of dangerous goods (TDG) budget at a pitifully low $14 million and dismantled its team of professional engineers with unique expertise in this field.

25¢ minimum wage adjustment is important milestone – but workers still need $15 minimum wage
Fightfor15andfainrness, October 1, 2015

“The fact we have a legislated cost of living adjustment is a testament to the pressure brought to bear on our provincial government by union and non-union workers across Ontario,” says Sid Ryan, president of the Ontario Federation of Labour. “It means that minimum wage earnings will not fall as far behind as they have in the past when the minimum wage could be frozen for years at a time.”

The Conservatives Are Betraying Canadian Jobs
Huffington Post, October 3, 2015

This will be the first generation of Canadians in our history to be worse off than their parents. That blunt fact is the new reality of our country, where seven per cent of workers are officially jobless (and much more if hidden unemployment is included) and youth unemployment stands at over 13 per cent. And that reality is a direct result of the policies and actions of this Conservative government and the Mulroney government that came before it.

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