R&F Labour News Update: December 28, 2015

Evictions and repossessions skyrocket in Alberta after oil boom | Ontario Teachers challenge Bill 115 in court| BCGEU wins union drive at River Rock casino| Workers picket NS MLA constituency offices over Bill 148| Quebec public sector strike| Hamilton school board and cooks and custodians reach deal | Indigenous Trades Workers: Forced to trade sovereignty for jobs? | Halifax Chronicle Herald pushes for concessions against unionized staff| Trudeau backs down on pension reform | Unifor steps up with christmas gift for fired CHCH staff| Fighting anti-union sentiment in the CFL | Remembering the Christmas eve scaffolding tragedy| Beating apathy | Workers win court ruling against Navistar| Working conditions in the CHL | Uber for snow removal coming to the maritimes? | Brad aims to privatize liquor stores|

1623725_1100472886663955_7792982695343012719_nEvictions skyrocket and Repo firms work flat out amid oil slump in Alberta
CBC News, December 23, 2015

While the crash in oil prices idles drilling rigs and empties out downtown Calgary offices, Steven Low’s company can barely keep up with the deluge of work. Low is CEO of Consolidated Recovery Group, an agency in Western Canada that works with lenders and the courts to recover bad debts — by repossessing a car or carrying out an eviction, for example. It’s been a busy year for the company and the work has only picked up as the crude doldrums linger, squeezing the finances of the many Albertans who rely on oil and gas to make a living — either directly, or through its economic spinoffs.

Company was seeking permission to appeal pension ruling
Chatham Daily News, December 22, 2015

Former Navistar workers received a legal victory this week, as the Ontario Court of Appeal dismissed a motion from the company seeking permission to appeal a previous ruling concerning the pension plan windup. The appeal related to the July decision of the Ontario Divisional Court upholding the ruling of the Financial Services Tribunal of Ontario. “Obviously that’s wonderful news. At least that piece of it now is behind us,” Unifor spokesperson Bob Chernecki told The Daily News Tuesday. “Workers are waiting and waiting and waiting for what’s rightfully theirs. So it’s frustrating, but it’s done and now the real work begins.”

Teachers unions challenge province in court over collective bargaining rights
Toronto Star, December, 21 2015

The McGuinty government did not violate teachers’ constitutional right to bargain back in 2012 – even though it imposed deals on teachers’ unions – because it had given unions seven months to negotiate a deal and most refused, said lawyers for the Ontario government this week. Nor did the unpopular Bill 115 strip unions of their constitutional right to strike, as unions claim, but rather it prohibited any strike or lockout while any deal they reached was being reviewed by the province – which never happened.

Indigenous Trades Workers: Forced to trade sovereignty for jobs?
RankandFile.ca, December 23, 2015

On December 9th, the Industry Training Authority (ITA) announced a plan to expand the involvement of Indigenous workers in the skilled trades. careers in a variety of ways., This means including Indigenous peoples into the development of programs with the aim of making training for the trade industry more accessible. The ITA works with employers, employees, labour representatives, training providers and government in British Columbia to manage credentials in the trades industry.

993859_1102778209766756_7398315228774029500_nTrudeau government wimps out on Canada Pension Plan reform
Toronto Star, December 23, 2015

Since coming to power, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s new Liberal government has taken strikingly bold positions. It has promised a radically different relationship with Canada’s first nations. It has thumbed its nose at balanced-budget orthodoxy. It has vowed to fight climate change without nettling the provinces and pledged to fight the Islamic State without engaging in combat. It has defied both the polls and its critics to welcome thousands of Syrian refugees. But when it comes to their campaign promise to beef up the Canada Pension Plan, the Trudeau Liberals have wimped out.

N.S. public sector wage legislation to be challenged in court
Chronicle Herald, December 22, 2015

Labour groups are launching a legal challenge to Bill 148. The legislation, passed last week by the majority Liberal government after a week of around-the-clock sittings at Province House, outlines a wage pattern and terms for arbitration that, if proclaimed, would impact 75,000 public-sector employees. The Nova Scotia Federation of Labour, on behalf of affiliates including CUPE Nova Scotia, is launching the challenge. CUPE Nova Scotia president Mike McNeil said the bill infringes on free, collective bargaining. “The jurisprudence in law, particularly out west, supports that,” he said, referring to a recent case in Saskatchewan that said collective bargaining is protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

IATSE Local 63 fighting anti-unionism in the CFL
RankandFile.ca, December 22, 2015

For over a decade, Local 63 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stages Employees (IATSE) has faced anti-union sentiment by some sports and entertainment groups in the city of Winnipeg, according to Barry Haines IATSE International Representative. The latest incident occurred on November 16, three days after IATSE Local 63 had been awarded a commercial contract by the CFL to provide labour during the 2015 Grey Cup Half-Time Show. This contract would have hired up to 100 stagehands during the game.

Hockey’s Puppy Mill
The Walrus, December 2015

These working conditions have made junior hockey a controversial sport for years, with a failed unionization attempt in 2012 and an investigation into child labour practices in Washington State. As he talked with Charney, Berg saw his experiences in a new light. “To compare what players are getting versus what the teams are getting? ” says Berg. “There’s no other way to describe it but exploitative.”

10631285_1180456895317058_5393636823721850912_oUnion members hold Farrell’s feet to fire
Amherst Citizen Record, December 21, 2015

Members of the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union and other unions sent a strong message to Cumberland North Liberal MLA Terry Farrell during a peaceful protest outside his constituency office on Monday. A couple of dozen union members picketed outside the MLA’s Amherst office to express their displeasure with the Liberal government’s legislation that imposes a four-year wage package on 75,000 civil servants across the province.

Fired CHCH workers get $1,000 union gift
Hamilton Spectator, December 22, 2015

Fired television employees in Hamilton will get a special Christmas gift from their national union. Unifor MediaOne, which represents broadcast workers across the country, is giving former CHCH TV employees $1,000 each to ease them through the weeks it will take to process their lost wage and unemployment insurance claims after the Hamilton station’s owner fired 167 full- and part-time news employees and put a subsidiary company into bankruptcy. “We’re going to cut the cheques tonight and do everything we can to get them to our members before Christmas,” said Curtis Britton, the Edmonton-based president of the local.

1914504_1102697929774784_7198105254114694013_nSolidarity Halifax Statement on Bill 148
Solidarity Halifax, December 21, 2015

Solidarity Halifax opposes Bill 148, introduced by the NS Liberal government to impose wage restraint on 75,000 public sector workers. We support free and fair collective bargaining and oppose government attempts to legislate contracts unilaterally.The Liberals are trying to blame teachers, nurses, civil servants and other public sector workers for the so-called financial crisis in the province. It is not the wages of public sector workers that have caused financial problems.

Employees at River Rock Casino vote to join BCGEU
BCGEU, December 23, 2015

Employees at River Rock Casino have voted overwhelmingly to join the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU). Workers there voted 96 per cent in favour of joining the BCGEU. The new certification to be issued by the Labour Relations Board will include 700 workers including dealers, slot attendants, supervisors, guest services, cashiers and the count team.

How the Chronicle Herald is demolishing its newsroom
The Coast, December 21, 2015

It really sucks being a journalist these days. That’s more true than ever at the Chronicle Herald. Beleaguered newsroom staff at the daily paper are facing another blow as management walked away from the conciliation table late last week after asking unionized employees for aggressive cuts. The paper’s latest offer to newsroom staff will not only roll back the current contract, but the size of the union as well. The Herald’s management has told the union it will lay off 30 percent of newsroom staff no matter what deal is signed. It also wants to put non-unionized staff on equal footing with unionized workers, and if union members are locked out, scabs already stand ready to replace them.

Don’t give up on steel industry in Hamilton
Hamilton Spectator, December 21, 2015

There seems to be something happening here in Hamilton that I find particularly troubling although I shouldn’t be surprised as the economic landscape changes with the prospect of a future without Stelco (U.S. Steel). What is it that is troubling me? There seems to be an acknowledgement, at least a thought process, that if we lose these mills we will be OK. I hear every day how our economy has changed here in Hamilton, we are attracting high-tech jobs, and health care is the future. We can remediate the Stelco lands; we will have a brand new harbourfront. While I am supportive of the high-tech jobs and the expanding of our health care facilities and whatever else we can do to attract jobs, it is my view that with the loss of one of the remaining steelmaking facilities in Canada, we will lose who we are, where we come from and what our future could be.

On December 24th, we remember victims of Christmas Eve scaffold tragedy

December 24th marks the sixth anniversary of the Christmas Eve scaffold tragedy, in which four migrant workers were killed and another seriously injured after the scaffold that was supporting them collapsed at a Toronto worksite. The Ottawa-based Swing ’N Scaff, the company that supplied the swing stage involved in the deadly scaffolding collapse, was fined last December for failing to ensure that the platform was in good condition, and Swing ’N Scaff director Patrick Deschamps pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that the platform was in good condition and was designed by a professional engineer.

Beating Apathy
RankandFile.ca, December 24, 2015

Do you ever feel like you’re the only one who cares about the union? Like none of your co-workers will lift a finger to help? Like your workplace is bogged down in “apathy?”
It’s a common gripe. In Labor Notes workshops we often ask union members to make a list of the reasons why people don’t get involved where they work.

1483370_10153153223231854_8798672304381465237_nOn-demand snow removal service launching in Maritimes
CTV News, December 27, 2015

A New Brunswick man wants Atlantic Canadians to give their backs a break from shovelling this winter with a new on-demand snow removal service. Sean Griffith is launching an Uber-like snow removal service in the coming weeks in Moncton and Saint John, N.B., and Halifax, with plans to roll out the business soon after in Fredericton, Truro, N.S., Charlottetown and St. John’s, N.L. Griffith said the idea for Plow Me Out came after last year’s brutal winter in the Maritimes, which saw record breaking snowfall amounts.

Premier Wall eyes liquor store privatization in 2016, but not other Crowns
CBC News, December 22, 2015

Saskatchewan’s premier says the public appetite to privatize government-owned companies does not extend to the telephone company. In a year-end interview with CBC, Premier Brad Wall said a plan to sell 40 government liquor stores is likely as far as the government will go with privatization.

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