Labour news update: March 21, 2016

Uber in Ottawa | US Steal in the couts | Mulcair and labour | Temporary Foreign Worker exemptions | Racism and the job search | BCTF at 100 | OAS at age 65 | Manitoba domestic violence leave | Alberta’s new labour legislation | The federal budget for unions | Covered Bridge strike | EI benefits fight | CHCH bankruptcy | Working at Amazon

Uber stops pickups at Ottawa International Airport
Andrew Foote, CBC News
March 18 2016

Uber has stopped picking passengers up at the Ottawa International Airport after a request from the airport authority.

The ride-hailing service where people request and pay for transportation from registered drivers through their smartphones has been operating widely, but illegally at the airport and across much of the city since it launched in Ottawa in October 2014.

U.S. steelworkers take pension claims to Appeal Court
Steve Arnold, The Hamilton Spectator 12605466_1124937844217459_2349256839304869529_o-300x219
March 18 2016

TORONTO — The hopes of 20,000 local pensioners are now hanging on how an Ontario Court of Appeal panel settles a classic legal question: Is something not permitted unless it is specifically allowed by law?

At stake is an effort by retirees from Stelco/U.S. Steel Canada to push their claim for pension top-ups ahead of debt claims by the company’s U.S. parent.

It all hinges on whether the appeals court upholds or overturns a decision by the judge overseeing U.S. Steel Canada’s restructuring under creditor protection.

Mulcair loses support of labour group ahead of leadership vote
Richard Madan, CTV News
March 17 2016

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair has lost the support of an Ontario labour group ahead of a critical leadership review next month.

The 30 members of Niagara Regional Labour Council passed a motion ‘to not support Tom Mulcair during his upcoming leadership review” next month in Edmonton.

“We feel, that under Thomas Mulcair, we’ve got the most right-wing leadership the NDP has had,” said Bruce Allan, vice president of the Council.

Ottawa allows seasonal exemption to temporary foreign worker rules
Bill Curry, The Globe and Mail
March 16 2016

The Liberal government has quietly approved changes aimed at helping Atlantic Canadian seafood processors that will allow them to bring in unlimited numbers of low-skilled temporary foreign workers to fill seasonal jobs this year.

Ottawa approved the foreign-worker exemption in response to lobbying from Atlantic seafood processors and Liberal MPs, who warned that recent restrictions to the temporary foreign worker program were hampering business. New Brunswick Fisheries Minister Rick Doucet recently said the labour shortage in his province is so bad that some lobster processing plants have had to throw lobsters in the trash.

Jobseekers resort to ‘resumé whitening’ to get a foot in the door, study shows
Nicholas Keung, The Toronto Star
March 17 2016

It’s a disturbing practice called “resumé whitening” and involves deleting telltale signs of race or ethnicity from a CV in the hopes of landing a job.

And it happens more often than you’d think.

According to a two-year study led by University of Toronto researchers, as many as 40 per cent of minority jobseekers “whiten” their resumés by adopting Anglicized names and downplaying experience with racial groups to bypass biased screeners and just get their foot in the door.

Cheers to BC’s Teachers, for 100 Years of Wealth Creation
Jim Sinclair, TheTyee.ca
March 16 2016

Thank you so much for the opportunity to be here today. It is truly an honour for me.

They’re all here — in this room today. All crammed in here with you.

George Lister is here, with the other delegates to the very first annual general meeting of the first teacher’s federation in Canada in 1917.

Mary Ellen Smith, the first woman elected to office in British Columbia in 1918 — and a teacher — is here. She ran on a platform of rights for women and children.

Justin Trudeau says OAS eligibility age to return to 65 in 1st Liberal budget
Kathleen Harris, CBC News
March 17 2016

Next week’s budget will lay the groundwork for long-term economic growth by investing in “unsexy” but much-needed infrastructure projects, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today.

During a town hall with Bloomberg TV in New York, Trudeau also confirmed that Tuesday’s federal spending plan will reverse the eligibility for Old Age Security to 65 from 67.

Manitoba passes law to offer victims of domestic violence leave from work
Zosia Bielski, The Globe and Mail
March 15 2016

With only the clothes on her back, Michelle Gawronsky’s mother, Kathy, piled five of her young children in the family car and fled to a women’s shelter in Winnipeg. Her husband had been physically, mentally and emotionally abusive throughout their marriage, and on that morning in 1988, she’d had enough.

In the panic of escaping, Kathy, a teaching assistant, had the foresight to phone her boss to ask permission for a few days off, so she could file a restraining order and find somewhere safe to live with her kids. “They wouldn’t do it,” her daughter, Michelle, said, recalling the school’s stone-cold response. “They said she had 48 hours to return to work or they would consider her terminated. And that’s what happened.”

New legislation strikes balance between public safety, workers’ right to strike: Alberta labour minister
Keith Gerein, Edmonton Journal
March 16 2016

New legislation introduced Tuesday in the legislature will force unions and employers to have an “essential services agreement” in place before proceeding to collective bargaining.

Such pacts will determine which workers are needed to maintain vital services, and therefore must stay on the job during a strike or lockout. In the case of nurses, for example, the agreement would likely detail how many employees are required to keep basic hospital and emergency services running.

The proposed legislation will also ban the use of replacement workers for groups covered by an essential services agreement.

Top 10 things Canadian unions want to see in the federal budget
Canadian Labour Congress
March 14 2016

Early next week, the federal Liberal government will table their first budget. This is an historic opportunity for our government to respond to the jobs crisis, while also beginning to repair services and programs that Canadians rely on.

Working Canadians and their families are facing a precarious economic picture, but Canada is well-positioned to turn things around. Last October, the Liberals were elected precisely because they recognized this picture and promised to be bold in addressing it.

Covered Bridge employees eager to get back to work as strike hits Day 70
CTV News
March 15 2016 cbpc-300x207

A group of striking workers in western New Brunswick say they want to go back to work, but they’re waiting on the company to accept an invitation to head back to the negotiating table.

Fifteen people employed at Covered Bridge Potato Chips in Hartland, N.B. have been off the job for 70 days, demanding more seniority and better pay.

“I guess we’re out here hoping that he will come to the table and give us a fair contract,” says worker Betty Demerchant.

Liberals haven’t moved to end legal fight for EI sick benefits
Ben Spurr, The Toronto Star
March 15 2016

More than five months after promising to “immediately end” Ottawa’s legal battle against women who were allegedly denied EI sick benefits while on maternity leave, the federal Liberals have yet to act.

Newly released figures show that since 2012, the government has spent $2.2 million fighting a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of thousands of mothers who may have been denied employment insurance payments after they fell ill.

CHCH bankruptcy: Channel Zero and its web of companies trigger federal investigation
Natalie Paddon, The Hamilton Spectator
March 15 2016

The restructuring of CHCH-TV’s news operations in December has shed light on a complicated web of companies that has drawn the ire of Canada’s broadcasting regulator and led to a federal labour department investigation.

A Spectator investigation has found at least 17 companies associated with Channel Zero, its owners, its television channels and its Hamilton properties.

Miserable, watched workers rebel in small ways
Heather Mallick, The Toronto Star
March 14 2016

For anyone not entirely in love with their job, life could be worse. You could work at a U.S. Amazon warehouse, where, Bloomberg Businessweek reports, workers line up to enter each morning to see wall-mounted TVs announce individual firings or arrests for theft and other offences.

Yes, it’s a shaming ritual served up as a warning.

The workers aren’t identified by name but it’s still creepy. Black silhouettes, Bloomberg reports, “are stamped with the word ‘terminated’ and accompanied by details such as when they stole, what they stole, how much it was worth, and how they got caught — changing an outbound package’s address, for example, or stuffing merchandise in their socks.”

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