Labour News Update, February 29 2016

Saskatchewan prison food privatization | Covered Bridge strike | Toronto city workers | Management bullying at Best Western | Nanaimo golf club strike | Fired North Bay nurse speaks out | Sick notes in Manitoba | Injured worker welcomes Bill 6 | Vancouver’s black worker history | $16b in tax loopholes for rich

Letters from Saskatchewan Inmates
Denise Leduc,
February 25 2016

Immediately after food services in Saskatchewan’s correctional facilities were privatized and 62 unionized cooks lost their jobs, inmates launched hunger strikes over poor food quality. Ignoring previous warnings about privatization from Saskatchewan Government and General Employees’ Union (SGEU), the premier of Saskatchewan, Brad Wall, replied, “If you really don’t like the prison food, there’s one way to avoid it, and that’s don’t go to prison.”

Toronto’s “final offer” leads to talks breaking down with inside workers
Jennifer Pagliaro and David Rider, Toronto Star
February 28 2016

Toronto City Hall wants the 20,000 inside city workers with CUPE Local 79 to accept a deal that would allow the contracting out of the jobs of those with less than 15 years seniority. Jobs and scheduling is also not resolved. CUPE Local 79 is currently waging a work-to-rule campaign.

Covered Bridge Potato Chips campaign hits the airwaves12716432_1138553639522546_8969178773432993940_o
UFCW Canada
February 25 2016

A new radio ad has hit the airwaves asking consumers not to buy Covered Bridge Potato Chips until a strike by UFCW Canada Local 1288P members ends with a fair first contract. The ads are being broadcast on a number of stations across the region, and across the country on streaming radio.
UFCW Canada Local 1288P members at Covered Bridge were forced out on strike on January 5, because over the past two years the company has said “NO” to paying a fair living wage and recognizing basic workplace rights.

Fired North Bay nurse is cautious in speaking out
KA Smith,
February 24 2016

A nurse fired from the North Bay Regional Health Centre spoke out publicly for the first time today. After Sue McIntyre spoke on a panel in January against hospital violence, the North Bay Regional Health Centre terminated her as registered nurse.

Nanaimo Golf Club workers locked out: An end in sight?
Daniel Tseghay,
February 23 2016

In April of 2015, the Nanaimo Golf Club locked out 24 food and beverage workers after they served a strike notice. The workers, represented by UNITE HERE Local 40, included the chef, bartenders, cooks, servers, dishwashers and janitors.

Manitoba MLA wants bosses to back off on sick notes
Steve Lambert, CBC News
February 23 2016

Some medical groups have already criticized the practice of some employers requiring sick notes for routine illnesses. The Ontario Medical Association said in a 2014 statement that demanding a sick note “has a discouraging effect and forces patients into the doctor’s office when they are sick, which only encourages the spread of germs to those in the waiting room.” The Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association also expressed concern in 2014 that having people go to clinics and medical offices for sick notes ties up a doctor’s time.

Bill 6 changes welcomed by injured farm worker
David Feil, Cochrane Times
February 24 2016

On top of the constant pain and being effectively unemployable, Thomas had found out that there was absolutely no compensation either for her medical expenses or to help her family survive. During the first 14 months, Thomas received no EI because she could not speak for herself (as she was often in too much pain to do more than scream) and ended up being charged for her own antibiotics to deal with the flesh-eating disease. Because there was no coverage, Thomas was sent home with pumps that to apply the antibiotics herself.

Growing tomatoes in the era of free trade10417726_1138400602871183_5526517310797377964_n
John W. Warnock,
February 24 2016

Southwestern Ontario is the historic home of Canadian tomato growers. The bulk of the crop goes to processing, and since 1909 the dominant corporation had been H. J. Heinz, a food giant based in Pittsburgh. But in 2013 the Heinz Corporation was bought by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (26 per cent) and 3G Capital (51 per cent), based in Brazil. It was soon announced that they were planning to close their plant in Leamington. The story has been a snapshot of what has happened to the manufacturing industry in Ontario following the free trade agreements with the United States.

A glimpse of black workers’ history in Vancouver
Daniel Tseghay,
February 26 2016

British Columbia isn’t known for its black population. Only about a single per cent of the greater Vancouver area is populated by black people. Those who’ve been here have been displaced, like the members of Vancouver’s Hogan’s Alley. But black people have been here. And the black experience has also been a labour experience.

Tax Loopholes for rich costing Canada $16 billion each year
Daniel Tencer, Huffington Post
February 24 2016

Closing five tax loopholes that mostly benefit the wealthy would raise nearly $16 billion annually for Canada’s federal and provincial governments, according to a study from a prominent economist.
Toby Sanger says these tax loopholes — which have grown more generous since the late 1990s — have increased inequality and led to greater financial instability.

TD Bank CEO gets 10% pay increase after mass layoffs
Canadian Press
February 23 2016

TD Bank CEO Bharat Masrani was given a 10 per cent pay bump in 2015, a year when the bank laid off staff as part of a company-wide effort to trim costs. Masrani was paid $9 million in total compensation. Last October, TD confirmed reports it was eliminating jobs after a review, but it declined to say how many. There have been reports from various media sources that several hundred employees were let go.

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