R & F Labour News Update – November 16, 2015

Quebec’s public sector strike | Locked out Ottawa cabbies occupy employer offices | Nipissing Faculty strike | Sudbury Rona lockout  | Simcoe County teachers work-to-rule | ONTC lockout | Halifax Herald pulls out of contract talks | Essar Steel Algoma Inc seeks bankruptcy protection | NSGEU tentative deal | Toronto janitors protest property moguls | Fight for 15 protests rock the United States | 6 reasons why the TPP is a problem | Protest against Ontario Liberals hospital cuts |

Quebec public sector strikes: Walkouts in 9 regions
CBC News, November 13, 2015

The walkouts were planned in case negotiations with the Quebec government remained at an impasse. Last week, Quebec labour unions rejected the provincial government’s latest offer in contract negotiations, deeming it unacceptable. The province is offering a three per cent salary hike spread out over five years. Public sectors workers are asking for 13 per cent. “Three per cent over five years doesn’t even cover the costs of living,” said Lucie Chabot, the president of the CSQ. Public sector workers have been without a collective agreement since April.

Locked out Ottawa cabbies protest Conventry Connections
Locked out Ottawa cabbies protest Conventry Connections

Locked out Ottawa cabbies occupy Coventry Connections
Ottawa Citizens, November 14, 2015

The three-month airport taxi dispute took a violent turn on Friday when protesters with a national union stormed the Coventry Connections headquarters, pushed employees in the dispatch centre and shut down the company’s operations for several hours. Busloads of members from Unifor, the union representing Ottawa’s taxi drivers, were brought in from other cities for the demonstration that trashed the company’s office at 455 Coventry Rd. on a day that the company’s owner said he had planned to continue negotiations. Patni said the unexpected attack on the building shut down the company’s dispatch system, leaving 15 fleets across Ontario flying blind for several hours.

Locked out ONTC workers
Locked out ONTC workers

Unifor occupies ONTC repair facility
The Nugget, November 14, 2015

Workers, members of Unifor Unit 12, set up pickets at the Wallace Road facility Saturday morning, then several moved in when the lock-out came into effect at 8 a.m. Behe said the work done at the Ontario Northland shops refurbishing train cars from across the country is “Ontario Northland’s biggest settling point. It’s quality work Ontario Northland puts out.” the workers were initially locked out Wednesday after talks between Unit 12 and the Crown agency broke down. The Canada Industrial Relations Board later ruled Ontario Northland had unlawfully locked out the employees during a 72-hour lockout notice period. Employees returned to work for the 8 a.m. shift Friday, but the company then locked them out at 8 a.m. Saturday.

Picket lines go up at New Sudbury hardware store, 14 workers locked out
CBC News, November 12, 2015

Workers at a Sudbury hardware store are walking the picket line instead of helping customers Thursday.
The 14 employees at the Rona on Barrydowne Road were locked out as of this morning and picketed in the cold rain outside of the closed store, under the watchful eye of security guards. Chris Fuller, the regional director for United Food and Commercial Workers Local 175, said the company notified him last night that it was ending contract talks and locking out the workers.

Nipissing ‘manufacturing’ a crisis
The Nugget, November 13, 2015

The Nipissing University Faculty Association (NUFA) is accusing the university of “manufacturing a budget crisis” to justify closing the school’s Muskoka campus. Nipissing announced the campus closure on June 5, ending the university’s presence in Bracebridge after 19 years. The closure will affect significant programming at the university and was made without any consultation, NUFA charges. “Decisions about academic programs should be made by the experts in academics and that’s the faculty” says NUFA president Susan Srigley. “The Muskoka campus closure is an example of what happens when administrators and accountants make decisions about universities without consultation and without checking their facts. People lose their jobs, students lose opportunities and communities suffer.”

Halifax Herald pulls out of contract talks with newsroom staff
Halifax Media Co-op, November 13, 2015
After a mere three and a half day of face to face bargaining the Halifax Herald Ltd. pulled out of talks with its newsroom staff. The employer has filed a letter with the minister of Labour asking for the appointment of a conciliator. 63 unionized reporters, photographers, editorial writers, editors, columnists, page technicians, library and support staff in Halifax and bureaus across the province are affected.

Trenton Rally Calls for ‘no more cuts’ to healthcare
The Intelligencer/Trentonian, November 13, 2015

The cold front that blew into the region Friday is nothing like the cold shoulder that hundreds of people gave the provincial government. More than 600 health care workers and residents were at Friday’s rally in Trenton’s Centennial Park protesting cuts to health care. Bus loads of unionized health care workers from across central and eastern Ontario descended on the park to attend the first in a series of four Ontario Health Coalition rallies being held across the province.

Civil servants with NSGEU reach tentative deal with N.S. government
CBC News, November 13, 2015

The province and the union representing roughly 7,600 civil servants have hammered out a tentative new collective agreement. But it’s not a deal the union wanted, said Joan Jessome, president of the Nova Government and General Employees Union. She says the bargaining committee felt pressured by the possibility the government would impose a contract. “There was no bargaining. This is not collective bargaining in no way shape or form,” Jessome said Friday. The deal is for four years, she said. It includes a wage freeze for the first two years and a total three per cent bump in pay over the last two.

150 Corrections Officers picketing outside Lindsay Jail
Vanmeer Free Press, November 13, 2015

About 150 Corrections Officers and other staff at the Central East Correctional Centre held an information picket outside the jail this morning. Some unified members came in on their days off to support the picket line and bargaining team. The Union says the Liberal government is not listening to concerns raised by the bargaining unit and with it’s track record of broken promises they aren’t optimistic a deal can be reached.

Simcoe County secondary school teachers begin work-to-rule action
Simoce.ca, November 12, 2015

Simcoe County secondary school teachers begin an administrative work-to-rule today to put “a little bit of pressure” on the Simcoe County District School Board, said local teachers’ bargaining unit president Karen Littlewood. he board and Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) District 17 were in negotiation meetings Wednesday, but an agreement was not reached. “We had some fundamental differences of opinion on matters that we’re discussing and we’re really not seeing any movement,” Littlewood said Thursday morning.

Nipissing Faculty strike
Nipissing Faculty strike

Kingston cabbies blockade taxi commission office against Uber
The Whig, November 12, 2015

Kingston’s taxi commission office was the site of a blockade by about a dozen cabs and drivers Thursday morning protesting in advance of the 3 p.m. Kingston launch of the Uber ride-sharing service. “So what we’re trying to do is stop this from happening, just like every other municipality,” said George Corkey, an owner-operator with City Taxi and organizer of the event. “It seems like the City of Kingston are waiting on the fence to see what happens and we want to kick it in the butt now before it gets any worse.”

Ontario Works staff stage protest to mark 1 year of flawed computer system
CBC News, November 10, 2015

People who handle social assistance cases in Hamilton will wear red on Thursday to mark the one-year anniversary of a flawed computer system they say is still causing grief for them and their clients. Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program workers will have a “code red day” to recognize the Social Assistance Management System (SAMS), which turns a year old on Nov. 12.

Toronto janitors take on property moguls
RankandFile.ca, November 11, 2015

A couple of dozen janitors and their supporters protested outside the corporate headquarters of Dream Office REIT, one of Canada’s largest estate companies, in downtown Toronto on Tuesday. The lunchtime rally was organized by the Service Employees International Union Local 2 in an effort to shed light on the company’s poor labour record. The companies that Dream REIT have chosen to contract out its cleaning services to have been accused of numerous labour violations such as not retaining when a contract was flipped because workers wanted to join a union, paying below the minimum wage and not paying proper severance and termination pay.

North Bay rally at hospital to protest cuts
Bay Today, November 9, 2015

The protest is in advance of a major demonstration promised by the Ontario Healthcare Coalition to be held Nov. 30 in North Bay. Shawn Shank, president of CUPE local 139 said, “4,150 North Bay citizens participated in a town hall held October 22 held to discuss the cutbacks at the hospital, 83% had experience of personal or familial use of NBHRC services in the last year and 52% found problems with accessing care or with the quality of care. This is a very good indicator that despite heroic efforts by NBRHC staff, the public feels the impact sharply of the ongoing cuts to the hospital.”

Liberals no longer promising to reopen Veterans Affairs office in Sydney
Chronicle Herald, November 12, 2015

The Liberal government is already changing its tune on a campaign promise to reopen nine Veterans Affairs Canada offices closed by the Harper government, including one in Sydney. The party’s “Real Change” platform document explicitly states a Liberal government would “restore access to the support that veterans are due (and) reopen the nine Veterans Affairs service offices closed by Stephen Harper,” a promise Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reiterated during a campaign stop in Halifax in September. But Wednesday, new Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr wouldn’t say where or how many offices would open.

What will we strike for? Ontario Public Service ‘No’ campaign
Socialist.ca, November, 13, 2015

After almost a year of bargaining, 34,000 OPSEU members who work directly for the government of Ontario ratified two contacts in October—but not without controversy. The deals include the “central” collective agreement covering all OPSEU members working in the Ontario Public Service (OPS) and the agreement setting out wages and hours of work for almost 28,000 members in the “unified” bargaining unit. The 6,000 OPSEU members in the OPS correctional unit, who voted strongly against the central agreement, but have not reached a separate wages and hours agreement, could still go on strike.

Bloody-Minded Blood Services
LabourStart, November 14, 2015

Employees of Canadian Blood Services (CBS) in Charlottetown began their strike on Labour Day. The strikers are the folks who collect from donors the blood, platelets and plasma used in our health care system. Just possibly the blood you or a friend or a relative has needed in the past. Or will need in the future.

After the Trudeau honeymoon, labour faces its biggest challenge in decades
Rabble.ca, November 10, 2015

Labour needs to seize the opportunity and fight for all the changes it believes workers need. The leadership can’t meet the Liberals behind closed doors, lobby quietly and expect to force enough policy change. Labour leaders need to leverage the strength of the grassroots membership and use the progressive optimism that launched Trudeau into power, to make real gains for workers.

Some former Leamington Heinz workers not getting pensions
CTV News, November 13, 2015

It has been more than 17 months since Heinz closed its Leamington factory. But now CTV News has learned that some pensions aren’t being paid out to the unionized workers who are eligible to enter retirement.
It’s a pension that covers more than 600 former Heinz employees. Heinz has two different pension plans. According to the Financial Services Commission of Ontario, one plan, the one covering salaried workers for about 100 former employees, has been paid out and is now closed.
But FSCO says the other one, for unionized workers, is in a deficit and the payments can’t be paid out. It’s a new blow to employees, in what’s been a difficult year.

Essar Steel Algoma, Canada’s 2nd Largest Steel Producer, To Seek Bankruptcy Protection
Huffington Post, November 9, 2015

Steel producer Essar Steel Algoma Inc. says it will seek bankruptcy protection as it deals with a continued slump in the price of steel. The company has filed requests with Canadian and U.S. courts as it seeks to restructure its long-term debt, and has raised US$200 million from a group of investors led by Deutsche Bank to fund ongoing operations. Essar Steel Algoma is the second biggest steel producer in Canada and the largest employer in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., with close to 3,000 employees. The company is a subsidiary of India-based global conglomerate Essar Steel.

Alarm bells are ringing about the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Here are 6 reasons why
Press Progress, November 9, 2015

Now that the full text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership is finally out, experts and civil society groups are ringing alarm bells about some parts of the mega trade deal that don’t seem quite as advertised. It boils down to one key question: are Canada’s best interests being served? Copyright expert Blayne Haggart says the TPP is less a “free-trade agreement” than it is “a new global economic framework, driven primarily by U.S. interests and U.S. power.”

United Steelworkers to file complaints with the Ontario Labour Relations Board
NorthLife.ca, November 9, 2015

The United Steelworkers allege a company called Payment Services Corp. (PSC) fired two employees in Northern Ontario after they joined the union.Steelworkers representative Brad James said the union plans to file labour practice complaints against the company through the Ontario Labour Relations Board. “The (Ontario Labour Relations Act) guarantees the rights of employees to support and participate in union activities free from discrimination and coercion,” James said. “We’ll defend these folks as vigorously as we can.”

CPP expansion may not be quick, and it may not be what you expect
Toronto Star, November 11, 2015

Expectations are high that new federal finance minister Bill Morneau will soon get down to the business of expanding the Canada Pension Plan.
As the country’s second-most powerful politician, the rookie MP for Toronto Centre and former CEO of pension and benefits consultant Morneau Shepell has been given the task of fixing Canada’s “retirement crisis”.
But CPP expansion will probably not come quickly, and it may not be what popular wisdom expects it to be. It may be a more targeted, modest expansion of the national plan aimed at the few, not the many. Not everyone needs it, so the changes may be more like the structure of the coming Ontario Retirement Pension Plan.

The Fruits of Unpaid Labour
Guts Magazine, November 10, 2015

In one crucial respect, however, the organic movement is failing its commitment to creating a more resilient food system: its regressive approach to labour. The instances of unwaged labour on small organic farms are much higher than on conventional farms: one study found that, in Ontario, 65 percent of workers on small-to-medium scale ecological farms* are non-waged (making less than minimum wage), while the provincial average for the entire agriculture sector is 4 percent. That means that if you’re buying organic in Ontario (and the rest of the country), it’s a safe assumption that some of the people who grew your food were not paid for their work.

Fast Food Strikes Hit Cities Throughout The United States
Huffington Post, November 10, 2015

Nearly three years after launching its first worker strike, the Fight for 15 was reaping the fruits of its labor on Tuesday. The union-backed campaign aimed at boosting the minimum wage held what organizers described as its largest mass demonstration yet, with fast-food and other service-sector workers taking part in strikes and protests in scores of cities around the country. Some of these protests were no doubt small, but others, in cities like New York, San Francisco and Pittsburgh, had huge turnouts.

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