Labour News Update: February 1, 2016

RF.ca is hiring! | Bills C-377 and C-525 repealed | Chronicle Herald proposal could lead to the destruction of the union | Ontario watchdog urged to look WSIB | Edmonton police clear cabbies from city hall as city legalizes Uber  | Steelworkers and allies rally against attack on jobs and pensions  | How service with a smile takes a toll on women | Toronto cabbies threaten to strike during NBA all-star weekend | Canadian automotive sector hollowing out despite record sales | Ontario’s hospital cuts | Flint water crisis | CUPW negotiations | BC government lied about impacts of paltry minimum wage  |

steel2RankandFile.ca job posting: Writer/Organizer (East Coast)

RankandFile.ca is hiring an East Coast Writer/Organizer for a six-month position. The new hire will work closely with our editorial team to both produce new content for the website and develop new contacts, writers, and readers. The new hire will also be expected to produce at least 2 original news stories a month, participate in monthly writers’ meetings, solicit stories from local activists and signup readers to our weekly email list.

Good sense prevails: Government moves to repeal C-377 and C-525
Canadian Labour Congress, January 28, 2016

Canadian unions are pleased that the federal government has tabled legislation to repeal controversial bills C-377 and C-525.

These bills were designed to weaken unions by forcing redundant and unreasonable financial reporting, and by making it more difficult for Canadians in federally-regulated workplaces to join a union, respectively.

“This proves what we’ve been saying all along: that these bills were nothing more than an attempt to undermine unions’ ability to do important work like protecting jobs, promoting health and safety in the workplace, and advocating on behalf of all Canadian workers,” said CLC president Hassan Yussuff.

Tories threaten to block Liberal efforts to repeal controversial union laws
CBC News, January 28, 2016

The new Liberal government is set to reverse controversial labour laws passed by Stephen Harper’s Conservatives in the last Parliament, but the Tories are already signalling they could use their majority in the Senate to block passage of the legislation.

A bill was introduced in the House of Commons Thursday that would reverse changes to the laws that were made under Bill C-377, which requires unions to disclose how they spend members’ dues, as well as Bill C-525, which makes it harder for unions to organize in federally regulated workplaces.

The Chronicle Herald proposed contract could remove union, legal experts say
CBC News, January 29, 2016

The labour contract proposed by management of the Chronicle Herald contains language that could be used to kill the union at Canada’s oldest independently owned newspaper, legal experts say.

The paper’s 61 newsroom staff walked off the job nearly a week ago. The Halifax Typographical Union has said the paper refused to budge on its contract proposal, despite wage cuts and other concessions proposed by workers.

CBC News has obtained a copy of the management’s offer, sent to union members on Dec. 30.

Time For CPC to Come Clean About Finances and Mail Volumes
CUPW, January 28, 2016

Negotiations Bulletin No. 5

Recently the CUPW Negotiating Committee made a presentation to CPC on the Union’s perspectives concerning the financial situation of Canada Post. The Union told CPC that we have no confidence in the public statements that have been issued by CPC in recent years concerning the Corporation’s financial situation.

Since accurate information is necessary for the negotiations process we followed up the presentation by making a formal information request to the Corporation…

Hospital hiring freeze, but no layoffs to full-time staff, says union
London Free Press, January 28, 2016

London’s largest hospital is replacing its cleaning staff with lower-paid contract workers, a shift one health advocacy group warns will lead to more patient infections and deaths.

The move, to be phased in over seven years, will save the London Health Sciences Centre $1.9 million a year, said Phil Hunt, the hospital’s director of business development and environmental and support services.

But the cost to patients could be much higher, said Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition, an advocacy group calling for more provincial hospital funding.

Ontario watchdog urged to investigate WSIB
Toronto Star, January 29, 2016

Citing “systematic disregard” for professional medical assessments of injured workers, advocates have asked Ontario’s government watchdog to launch an investigation into the province’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.

The 200-page submission made Friday to the provincial ombudsman by health professionals, workers, lawyers and labour groups blasts WSIB for ignoring the medical advice provided by doctors treating injured workers, in favour of so-called “paper doctors” who have not met patients directly.

The resulting claw-backs in medical benefits are having a “devastating effect,” the submission says, leaving workers with severe physical and mental problems stranded in poverty.

How ‘Service With a Smile’ Takes a Toll on Women
The Atlantic, January 26, 2016

Discussions of gender inequality in the workplace often focus on the more visible manifestations of the imbalances between men and women: wage inequality, the motherhood penalty, or the lack of paid leave. These are all important issues that, if fixed, would help women. More difficult to pinpoint and address, however, are the ways that what sociologists call “emotional labor” also reinforces workplace gender inequality.

A key feature of the modern economy—and a way work has deviated from what it was in the past—is that the outputs of many jobs have become invisible. In her seminal book The Managed Heart, the sociologist Arlie Hochschild describes how the transition from a manufacturing-based economy to a service-based economy has brought on the commodification of emotions. Hochschild’s argument is that in service jobs, workers do not produce tangible commodities like they did in manufacturing positions. Rather, they are required to provide “good service.” The ways that this phrase becomes defined and mandated means that organizations expect workers to create and sell emotional states in themselves and in others. This introduces a host of questions, like who “owns” emotions when organizations can require workers to feel happy, pleasant, and congenial in order to earn their paycheck?

Stelco’s takeover by U.S. Steel no net benefit for Canada
Toronto Star, January 29, 2016

It’s hard to imagine a sorrier corporate saga than U.S. Steel’s disastrous foray into Canada.
I refer, of course, to the 2007 takeover of Stelco, just one of a spree of foreign takeovers that substantially contributed to a diminishment of Ontario’s profile on the world economic stage. (Think Falconbridge, Inco, Rio Algom.)

At the height of the foreign takeover mania, the federal government of the day offered repeated assurances that the Investment Canada Act provided all the protections necessary to ensure such transactions would be of “net benefit” to Canada.

Ten things they won’t tell you about tragedy. But I will.
Michael Moore

News of the poisoned water crisis in Flint has reached a wide audience around the world. The basics are now known: the Republican governor, Rick Snyder, nullified the free elections in Flint, deposed the mayor and city council, then appointed his own man to run the city. To save money, they decided to unhook the people of Flint from their fresh water drinking source, Lake Huron, and instead, make the public drink from the toxic Flint River. When the governor’s office discovered just how toxic the water was, they decided to keep quiet about it and covered up the extent of the damage being done to Flint’s residents, most notably the lead affecting the children, causing irreversible and permanent brain damage. Citizen activists uncovered these actions, and the governor now faces growing cries to resign or be arrested.

Hamilton MPs question Liberals’ commitment to home mail delivery promise
Hamilton Community News

Canada Post has halted the demise of home delivery, as the Liberals promised during the federal election, but nothing has been said in the past three months about restoration of service to those who lost it over the past two years.

“The verbiage that was used, they created an expectation that they would turn back the process and none of this has happened,” said David Sweet, MP for Flamborough-Glanbrook.

Police empty council chambers after taxi drivers protesting Uber leave their seats chanting ‘shame’
Calgary Herald, January 25, 2016

Lines of uniformed police banned frustrated cab drivers and everyone but registered media from council chambers Tuesday before council held the most contentious votes on Uber’s continuing role in Edmonton.

Once this bylaw passes, both taxis and Uber drivers will be allowed to charged as low as $3.25 for any pre-arranged trip, even for a ride to the airport.

Debating to the sound of cab drivers chanting behind the closed doors, council voted down a motion that would have forced the current regulated fares on the California-based upstart. But Mayor Don Iveson said the bylaw can be changed quickly if Uber moves to drop fares so low, they threaten to destroy taxi companies through predatory pricing.

Toronto taxis threaten protest on NBA All-Star weekend
BlogTO, January 27, 2016

The last taxi protest in December blocked off some Toronto streets for hours. And the next one might cause even more disruption on local roadways because it could happen on February 12, the first day of the NBA All-Star weekend.

According to CityNews, Toronto’s taxi drivers will mull over staging another protest if City Council doesn’t seek an injunction to shut down UberX next week.

As CityNews reports today, representatives from all of the taxi associations in and around Toronto will meet on February 7 to decide what to do next.

Canadian automotive sector hollowing out, despite record sales
Toronto Star, January 27, 2016

There were record auto sales in Canada in 2015, but the industry itself shrank, according to industry analysts.

About 2.3 million cars and light trucks were built in Canada last year, a 5.5 per cent reduction from the previous year, according to a report from BMO Financial Group.

Part of the problem in 2015 was lines out of service as automakers retooled – but going forward auto output looks set to flatten or shrink further as production of cars to moves to lower-cost centres and Canadian plants build more trucks and cross-over vehicles.

FOI reveals province knew mistakes made with B.C.’s new minimum wage
The Georgia Straight, January 27, 2016

When the provincial government implemented a 20-cent increase to the minimum wage last September, it knew the new rate of $10.45 would keep B.C.’s lowest earners near or at the very bottom of the country.

Civil servants sent emails alerting colleagues to this situation, documents obtained via a freedom-of-information request reveal.

And yet no action was taken to revise the increase to a point where B.C.’s minimum wage would rank higher than among the lowest in Canada.

Star Wars: Episode VIII among films facing delays as lighting technicans threaten revolt
The Independent, January 29, 2016

Blockbuster films shooting in Britain, including the new Star Wars movie, could be hit by delays after lighting technicians threatened to revolt over pay.

The technicians are furious after failing to receive a pay rise for four years and have threatened to quit, which would delay nine major productions currently shooting in the UK.

After talks broke down between the lighting technicians’ union representatives at Bectu and the employers’ body Pact, producers from the nine films affected stepped in and scheduled a last ditch meeting to halt an exodus.

U.S. Steel acted as owners: opponents
The Hamilton Spectator, January 28, 2016

Union and provincial government lawyers have taken their final swings at undermining U.S. Steel’s claim for more than $2.2 billion in debt from the former Stelco.steel4

The eight-day trial to decide if those claims are really debt or a thinly disguised play by the company to recover the cost of buying Stelco, ended Wednesday with Justice Herman Wilton-Siegel reserving his decision, but promising a quick turnaround.

Hamilton demonstrations
Rankandfile.ca
Thousands rallied in Hamilton yesterday to protect 20,000 steelworkers jobs, to tell the government and courts to not allow foreign multinational companies to rob workers’ pensions and benefits and to unseal the U.S. Steel secret deal.

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