R&F Labour News Update – October 19, 2015

Has this been the truthiest election in Canadian history? Just maybe | Royal West Academy teachers hold ‘mark-in’ downtown Montreal | Cuts in steelworker benefit payments reverberate across city | Conservative Cheryl Gallant’s claim she’ll save Canada Post raises ire of postal workers | Caterpillar to close Ontario locomotive office, sets layoffs | Canadian Supply Management: A legacy of organized farmer action | TPP deal contains some exemptions on temporary foreign workers | Advance poll workers decry ‘absolutely terrible’ work conditions | Workers looking for hope, but federal leaders offering little | ETFO refutes Sandals’ claim that union put contract talks on hold | Liberals Say No Free Vote On Trans-Pacific Partnership | PS unions look to swing close Ottawa ridings from Tories, to dump ‘entire arsenal out of the cannon’

Has this been the truthiest election in Canadian history? Just maybe.
Nora Loreto, rabble.ca
October 16, 2015

Photo courtesy rabble.ca
Photo courtesy rabble.ca

The problem with a Fact Check column is that your writing is tied to the truths and the lies spread around by political parties. When choosing where to hitch one’s wagon, a politician’s lies is probably the worst option. Sure, you’ll travel around the word (so says Mark Twain, or something), but the ride will be frustrating and sad.

Distorting the meaning of words is an art, and Monday’s election will reward the candidate who managed paint the most magnificent landscapes with the filthiest paints.

Royal West Academy teachers hold ‘mark-in’ downtown Montreal
CBC News
October 17, 2015

Quebec teachers say they’re tired of not being recognized for all the work they do outside of the classroom, and today they drew attention to their cause by marking papers in downtown Montreal.

Teachers from the Royal West Academy participated in the “mark-in” outside Complexe Desjardins.

“We already work more than 32 hours a week and this is just to show the invisible work teachers do,” said James Dufault, an English and drama teacher at Royal West.

Cuts in steelworker benefit payments reverberate across city
Mark McNeil, The Hamilton Spectator
October 16, 2015

The sudden elimination of health benefits to U.S. Steel Canada retirees last Friday has sent shivers of fear through the community and is expected to have spinoff costs to the local economy.

The steel maker had been spending $3.6 million per month on prescription drugs, dental care, vision care and other health benefits for its 20,600 eligible recipients.

That was until the judge at restructuring hearings in Toronto agreed to a company request to be spared those expenses as well as municipal taxes and some top-up payments to pensions.

Conservative Cheryl Gallant’s claim she’ll save Canada Post raises ire of postal workers
Susana Mas, CBC News
October 15, 2015

A curious election ad placed in a local newspaper by Conservative candidate Cheryl Gallant has raised the ire of postal workers, who say it contains “a series of falsehoods,” not to mention their union’s logo.

Gallant, who voted with her party to defeat an NDP motion to maintain door-to-door delivery, calls on voters in the Ontario riding of Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke to re-elect her as the “only” way to save Canada Post.

Caterpillar to close Ontario locomotive office, sets layoffs
Eric Atkins, The Globe and Mail
October 15, 2015

Ontario’s industrial heartland is losing more skilled jobs as Illinois-based Caterpillar Inc. cuts costs and closes its Electro-Motive Diesel rail locomotive office in London, Ont.

Caterpillar said about 50 people at the Wellington Road site have been given layoff notices and the office will close by Dec. 31. The staff includes locomotive testers, design engineers and production planners who were spared the axe when Caterpillar closed the nearby locomotive factory in 2012 and fired hundreds.

Canadian Supply Management: A legacy of organized farmer action
Christopher Kelly-Bisson, The Leveller
October 14, 2015

Images of cows and tractors on Parliament Hill may make a lot of people question how milk has suddenly become such a hot election issue. Supply management seems to have popped out of nowhere but it is an issue that has lingered quietly beneath the surface of the Canadian political dialogue for decades.

Farmers first organized in the 1930s under the Canadian Dairy Farmers Federation, which quickly gained tremendous lobbying power over the Federal Government. The globalization of commodity milk markets in the 1950s created price instability that led Canadian farmers to pressure the government to establish the Canadian Dairy Commission.

Canada’s supply management system for dairy was first established in 1970 under the National Milk Marketing Plan coupled with a new substantial regime of tariffs on imported dairy products.

TPP deal contains some exemptions on temporary foreign workers
Bill Curry, The Globe and Mail
October 15, 2015

The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal is reviving the debate over temporary foreign workers because side agreements would exempt international companies in Canada from requirements to offer jobs to Canadians first.

The Globe and Mail has confirmed that the deal, like Canada’s existing trade pacts, contains provisions that would make it easier for companies from TPP countries to bring temporary foreign workers to their operations in Canada. Employers from some of those countries would also be exempt from a wage floor Ottawa established in 2014 to ensure foreign workers on intracompany transfers are paid the prevailing wage for their occupation.

Advance poll workers decry ‘absolutely terrible’ work conditions
CBC News
October 15, 2015

A couple of Elections Canada temporary workers are calling on the agency to overhaul its labour standards after describing their working conditions during advance polls in Toronto as “awful” and “intolerable.”

“It was absolutely terrible,” said Kathy Friedman, who worked at a polling station in the University-Rosedale riding.

Workers say they were not allowed to take meal or washroom breaks during the four days of advance polling. There are also complaints that polls in Toronto were understaffed, and even ran out of ballots.

Workers looking for hope, but federal leaders offering little
Sara Mojtehedzadeh, The Toronto Star
October 13, 2015

Sipho Kwaku has been helping people into jobs for over a decade. Nowadays, though, he feels lucky to land someone a $15-an-hour gig.

“People are looking for opportunities,” says the head of WoodGreen Community Service’s employment programs. “What are they seeing right now? They’re seeing part-time. No benefits. There isn’t a lot of hope amongst the folks we see walking through our doors.”

Despite that reality, the conversation in this federal election campaign is still struggling to keep up, experts say.

ETFO refutes Sandals’ claim that union put contract talks on hold
Cody Wilson, CP24.com
October 10, 2015

In a a statement released Saturday, ETFO President Sam Hammond said the union did not, however, suspend talks today.

“ETFO was prepared to bargain today if OPSBA and the government could develop a revised proposal addressing our concerns. Although we waited all day, they were not able to do that,” Hammond continued.

Liberals Say No Free Vote On Trans-Pacific Partnership
Althia Raj and Ryan Maloney
October 7, 2015trudeau

OTTAWA — Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau will not allow his MPs a free vote on the massive Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.

Asked about it Wednesday morning, Trudeau was cautious with his answer.

“We’re a long way from that,” he told reporters.

PS unions look to swing close Ottawa ridings from Tories, to dump ‘entire arsenal out of the cannon’
Mark Burgess, The Hill Times
October 12, 2015

Federal public sector unions are working to get out their vote on and before Oct. 19, hoping to use their large numbers in certain Ottawa-area ridings to swing the vote away from the Conservatives.

The unions, embroiled in a years-long fight with the Conservative government over cuts to the bureaucracy and contentious bargaining over its sick leave regime, have been raising awareness among members since before the writ was dropped in August.

With one week until election day, Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) president Debi Daviau said she and her members are “dumping the entire arsenal out of the cannon” in the lead-up to Oct. 19.

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