Labour News Update: April 4 2016

Union wants post offices to offer banking services | How much are Toronto’s librarians worth? | Fatigue on the rails | MPs get bigger pay hikes than public sector workers | CUPE Saskatchewan opposes private CT scans | Film tax credit changes in NS slashes incomes | Trudeau government reigniting TFW issue | Teachers using more sick days | Why the Chicago teachers’ strike is unique | Morneau rejects independent EI fund | Austerity in Iqaluit | Lakehead Labour Centre demolition signals change | New Brunswick opposition and stakeholders up in opposition over omnibus bill targeting arbitration

Post offices should double as banks: union leaders
Elizabeth Thompson, iPolitics
April 2 2016

Canada Post’s mandate should be expanded to add postal banking and environmentally friendly measures like charging stations for electric cars, says the head of the union that represents thousands of workers at the Crown corporation.

Mike Palecek, national president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, said postal banking exists around the world and “is urgently needed” in Canada.

How Much Are Toronto’s Librarians Worth?
Tannara Yelland, Torontoist
March 30 2016

The Toronto Public Library is, as union president Maureen O’Reilly will be the first to tell you, the most-used urban library system in North America. It receives more than 19 million visitors each year and, according to a study on its economic impact [PDF], brings in $5.63 in revenue for every $1 spent. Despite that, the Toronto Public Library Workers’ Union (TPLW), Local 4948, has been in constant campaign mode since its split from CUPE Local 416 in 2009.

Fatigue on the rails: a trainman’s nightmare
Claude Adams, Global News
April 1 2016

Chuck, a locomotive engineer, says he hasn’t had a good night’s sleep in more than 20 years. Chuck isn’t his real name, and the 20 years is probably an exaggeration. But his fatigue is very real. I can hear it in his voice. He’s tired, angry, impatient, and very anxious to talk about his chronic fatigue — something he blames on the unpredictable schedules of his work. And the hazard he says this represents to the Canadian public.

MPs, senators get pay hike as Canadians struggle with stagnant wages, rising unemployment
Jason Fekete, Ottawa Citizen
March 31 2016

OTTAWA – Members of Parliament and senators will get a $3,000 increase Friday in their base salary, while cabinet ministers and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will receive a larger raise – at a time when Canadians are struggling with stagnant wages and rising unemployment.

The wage hike of 1.8 per cent for MPs and 2.1 per cent for senators is about four times what the federal government has offered public sector unions and executives in the federal public service.

CUPE joins opposition to government plans for private, user-pay CT scans brad
CUPE Saskatchewan
March 30 2016

The Canadian Union of Public Employees, representing 30,000 workers in Saskatchewan, stands with the Canadian Health Coalition, Canadian Doctors for Medicare, and the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses in opposing the Saskatchewan Party’s recently announced plans to expand privatization of diagnostic imaging from MRIs to CT scans.

“We know that Saskatchewan people – like all Canadians – cherish public health care as one of the great social advances of the 20th century. Yet the current Saskatchewan government appears determined to incrementally dismantle our public health care system and replace it with a for-profit, two-tier system,” says CUPE Saskatchewan President Tom Graham.

Film tax credit changes slash incomes for production staff in Nova Scotia
David Irish, CBC News
March 31 2016

The Atlantic division of the Director’s Guild of Canada (DGC) is blaming major changes made to Nova Scotia’s film industry in the last year as reasons why its members have seen their salaries and working days cut in half.

On Wednesday, the national organization representing creative personnel and production staff announced, overall, its Nova Scotia members made $2.8 million less in 2015 compared to the previous year:

2014: $5,888,330 over 12,312 working days
2015: $3,110,880 over 6,509 working days.

Trudeau government tiptoes back into temporary foreign workers morass: Walkom
Thomas Walkom, The Toronto Star
March 30 2016

Trudeau’s Liberals are tiptoeing back into the minefield that is Canada’s temporary foreign workers program.

They are doing so carefully. This month’s decision to relax the rules for seasonal industries wishing to hire cheap foreign labour was not publicly announced.

Instead, the information — that such industries will be able to hire unlimited numbers of temporary foreign workers for up to 180 days a year — seeped out through the media.

Teachers taking more sick days because they can’t be banked: Sandals wynne
Keith Leslie, The Canadian Press
March 30 2016

TORONTO — Education Minister Liz Sandals says it looks like Ontario teachers are taking more sick days because they lost the right to bank them and take a cash payout on retirement.
“There’s no reason to believe that they’re actually sicker than they were two years ago,” Sandals said with a chuckle as she entered a cabinet meeting Wednesday.
“It would appear that there is a relationship between the belief that you lost something and taking more sick days.”

The Chicago Teachers’ Strike Is Unlike Any Other in Recent Memory
Micah Uetricht, Vice News
April 1 2016

Chicago Teachers Union vice president Jesse Sharkey has probably thought long and hard about whether it’s a good idea for his union to go on strike Friday; the risks are high. But in hearing him talk about it last week, you couldn’t tell.

“We are going to strike over things that judges might consider illegal, but we consider moral and right,” he said at a public-sector union conference in New York. “There might be judges that disagree with us…” He shrugged. “But we disagree with them.”

The Chicago Teachers Union will be striking for the second time in the past four years on Friday. But this isn’t your average strike — it’s rife with political demands that go beyond typical union demands, it looks a lot like the type of strike that European or Latin Americans workers often engage in but that is very rare in the US, and it may be illegal.

Bill Morneau rejects making employment insurance fund independent
The Canadian Press
March 24 2016

The Liberals have no plans to make Canada’s employment insurance fund independent of the federal government, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said Thursday.

“I think the current system works,” he said in a round-table interview with The Canadian Press.

Morneau said new measures to help the unemployed are included in his recently tabled budget.

City of Iqaluit’s austerity pitch enrages union
Nunatsiaq News
March 30 2016

The union that represents workers at the cash-poor City of Iqaluit will not buy into their employer’s tight-fisted plan to eliminate its deficit, the Public Service Alliance of Canada said March 29 in a statement.

To that end, at a rally set for 10 a.m., March 30 at Iqaluit City Hall, union officials were to have burned a letter the city attached to employee pay stubs this week.

Lakehead Labour Centre demolition signals change in organized labour: advocate
Matt Prokopchuk, CBC News
March 30 2016

A long-time labour advocate in Thunder Bay says the demolition of the Lakehead Labour Centre has him thinking about the state and future of organized labour in the area.

The home for many union offices, labour groups and meeting spaces was torn down earlier this week to make way for a new commercial development and — according to a sign on the property — a Beer Store.

Thunder Bay and District Injured Workers Support Group treasurer Steve Mantis told CBC News the community atmosphere at the centre fostered co-operation, by allowing people to meet and talk either formally or informally.

Opposition, stakeholders want brakes put on New Brunswick omnibus bill
Jeremy Keefe, Global News
March 30 2016

A 78-page bill proposing several legislation changes has resulted in an uproar against the provincial government.

The omnibus bill announced on Tuesday contains an amendment to arbitration procedures, which working groups fear will take all the power and place it directly in employers hands, effectively neutralizing their bargaining ability.

“We would hope that there would be a halt put to this part of the legislation,” says Glenn Sullivan, president of the Atlantic Provinces Professional Fire Fighters Association.

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