Labour News Update: April 25, 2016

MPs Hurry ‘Outsourcing’ Act
Blacklock’s reporter, April 21, 2016

Parliament last night on a 165 to 131 vote approved in principle a cabinet bill waiving Air Canada’s liability for illegally transferring maintenance work out of the country. The Commons Liberal majority forced the Second Reading vote after cutting short debate. Cabinet denied rushing the bill to clear the way for new subsidies for Air Canada supplier Bombardier Inc.

“Will it at least admit this legislation is being proposed and rushed to benefit Bombardier?” said Conservative MP Earl Dreeshen (Red Deer-Mountain View, Alta.). “The answer is no, it has nothing to do with that,” replied Transport Minister Marc Garneau.

Bill C-10 An Act To Amend The Air Canada Public Participation Act rewrites the 1988 law that required the airline to operate maintenance shops in Winnipeg, Mississauga and Montréal as a condition of privatization. Amendments allow Air Canada to ship most work to the U.S. or overseas. The bill was introduced March 24 after Air Canada agreed to purchase new aircraft from Bombardier, which seeks $1.3 billion in federal grants.

Strike at Ontario Food Terminal slows trucks
680 News, April 21, 2016

A strike by members of the Teamsters Union Local 419 slowed trucks at the Ontario Food Terminal on Thursday morning.

Picketers near The Queensway and Park Lawn Road were only letting drivers in at every other light.

The job action began around 1 a.m.

Commuter safety is in doubt with UberX: Cole
Toronto Star, April 20, 2016

If you use UberX in Toronto without a second thought to your safety, you simply haven’t been paying attention. A recent accident involving a driver of the upstart taxi service is helping to illustrate a risk that many in the taxi and insurance industries have been warning us about. Last month, an UberX driver and three passengers were involved in a serious crash. We now know that the driver was using a rental car. Rental companies do not allow customers to drive folks around for money, and they can deny the insurance claims of those who violate their rules.

Migrant Workers and the Trans-Pacific Partnership
CCPA, April 21, 2016

This study investigates the TPP’s chapter on “temporary entry for business persons” to understand its potential consequences for Canadian immigration policy and the Canadian labour market. It examines the general provisions that apply to all TPP countries as well as Canada’s specific commitments for different categories of workers under the TPP.

The study finds that the TPP will give more leeway to employers to hire migrant workers and transfer employees across borders—even in industries and regions where unemployment is high and domestic workers are available—without offering mobility rights to workers themselves. Although the short-term impact on the Canadian labour market will likely be small, the potential long-term impact of the TPP’s temporary entry provisions is significant. Like other aspects of the TPP, these provisions override Canada’s existing immigration policy and cannot be changed by a future government.

Seven things you can do to prepare for a labour dispute
CUPW, April 21, 2016

Nobody wants to go there. But unfortunately we may have to.

Canada Post is demanding major concessions from us and they are refusing to consider our proposals. Deepak Chopra wants major cuts to our pension, benefits and working conditions that we simply cannot accept. Canada Post has applied for conciliation, which means that they want to force matters to a head. So if things don’t get better at the bargaining table, we could find ourselves locked out by the employer as early as July.

Here are seven things you can do to prepare yourself.

Beware of Basic Income
Rankandfile.ca, April 22, 2016

Wouldn’t it be great to get a cheque every month just for being you? This is the sweet, fuzzy vision the Ontario and federal Liberals, are counting on to sell their latest idea, a basic income. Just this year, the Ontario government laid the groundwork for a pilot project to test the idea. Any actual large-scale program is far off into the future, however, and that’s a good thing. We need to take a hard look at the idea, especially in Liberal clothing.

Support Fairness at Covered Bridge Potato Chips!

The folks who work at the COVERED BRIDGE POTATO CHIPS factory in Hartland, New Brunswick are on strike. They were forced out on strike because for the past two years, the people who own COVERED BRIDGE have said “NO” to paying a fair living wage and recognizing some basic workplace rights.

So we’re asking for your help to get the company back to bargaining a fair first contract.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a bad deal for Canada.
Canadian Labour Congress

Watch the CLC’s video on the TPP on-line.

Rio Tinto smelter conditions in Kitimat under fire from union
Toronto Star, April 21, 2016

Employees at the Rio Tinto smelter in Kitimat are speaking out against the working conditions at the aluminum-producing facility.

A petition penned by their union, Unifor, says amenities as basic as bathrooms and clean places to eat are inadequate — or non-existent — and mandatory overtime has workers fatigued, putting them in danger.

Rio Tinto spokesperson Kevin Dobbin told Radio West he was “surprised” by the petition.

Rio Tinto work conditions in Kitimat unsafe and unsanitary, union says
Globe and Mail, April 21, 2016

A $4.8-billion (U.S.) aluminum smelter expansion project, hailed as one of the largest private-sector investments in British Columbia in many years, began production last June in Kitimat. But the union representing 800 workers at the Rio Tinto Alcan Inc. plant say the owners cut corners in the rush to get the the modernization project online, resulting in a workplace that is both dangerous and unsanitary.

Unifor Local 2301 president Sean O’Driscoll said he has asked provincial workplace safety inspectors to look into his members’ concerns that the facility shortchanged workers on washrooms and safe areas to cool down from the smelter’s potrooms.

Work safely
Windsor Star, April 19, 2016

Through the 1970s, Tom Dunn went to work at Bendix Automotive in Windsor to provide for his family. He spent 40-plus hours a week in an environment where the ‘nuisance dust’ that darkened overhead lights and exterior windows was in fact asbestos particles circulating through the air.

Instead of securing his family’s future, Dunn was handed a death sentence.

In 1981, he died at age 35, mere months after Bendix officials closed the plant, leaving behind his wife and their two young daughters.

New payroll system leaving thousands of public servants in the lurch, says PSAC
CBC News, April 21, 2016

A union representing tens of thousands of federal public servants is urging the government to delay rolling out the second phase of its new automated pay system called Phoenix.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada says thousands of its members included in the first phase of the project aren’t getting paid enough — or at all.

“They’re simply not getting paid. They’re not getting paid on time. They’re not getting paid accurately,” said Chris Aylward, vice-president of the union.

Is U.S. Fed chair Janet Yellen creating a zombie economy?
CBC News, April 29, 2015

Zombies are popular in TV, books and film. Now it seems that economics is imitating art.

A new theory says that instead of stimulating the economy and getting the world back on track, bargain basement interest rates and handouts to investors in the form of lower taxes may be causing the opposite effect, creating a worldwide plague of walking undead companies.

Canada Post wants labour disruption, union says
Toronto Star, April 5, 2016

The union representing postal workers is accusing Canada Post of trying to provoke a labour dispute this summer.

That’s because Canada Post filed notices of dispute on Monday with the minister of labour, requesting conciliation help in negotiations — a move which essentially starts the clock on a countdown to a strike or lockout.

“This is completely unprecedented. It is usually done when talks have broken down, and the parties are far apart,” said Mike Palecek, national president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.

Crown Royal Workers and Company End Strike
UFCW, April 23, 2016

The UFCW Local 832 members working at the Diageo plant in Gimli Manitoba, mutually agreed to end the strike by 56 per cent and have the outstanding issues dealt with by an arbitrator. Outstanding issues still to be decided by an arbitrator are wages, pension, vacation, benefits and sick time. This speeds up the alternative dispute resolution process that would kick in on day 61 of the strike. Workers will start to come back to work on April 25 and an arbitrator will be selected within ten days and will hear submissions from both sides within thirty days. Details of the agreement will be provided once the arbitrator has ruled their decision.

Little changed on anniversary of Bangladesh factory collapse: Wells
Toronto Star, April 22, 2016

The timing seems off.

Could it be that just three years have passed since the Rana Plaza disaster? Yet Sunday marks this “anniversary,” a word that sounds celebratory and thus inappropriate.

It seems longer ago that we were struck numb by images of the collapsed Bangladesh garment factory, illegally stacked floor upon floor until it fell in a blast, taking the lives of more than 1,100 workers who had been eking out penny wages as cutters and sewers.

What has changed?

Doctors protest to push province
Toronto Star, April 23, 2016

Ontario doctors — many dressed in scrubs and lab coats — gathered Saturday along with family, patients and supporters to rally at Queen’s Park and march through downtown Toronto streets in protest of health care and fee cuts.docprotest2.jpg.size.xxlarge.letterbox

It is hardly rare for a group to gather on a weekend afternoon on the south lawn of the Ontario legislature in protest, but to see doctors — general practitioners and specialists alike, toting placards, chanting and marching, some wearing scrubs — was something to behold. Not since the 1980s have physicians gathered there in protest.

Don Smallman, 44, an ophthalmologist from Kingston who brought his young daughters to the protest, told the Star he made the trip because he was “frustrated and disappointed by the continuing cuts to health care services for the last four years, and I’m fed up and I want to see some changes to our health care system to allow for appropriate funding.”

Nenshi calls Uber ‘dicks,’ and says sex offenders can pass screening process
CBC News, April 22, 2016

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi might be regretting his choice of words after video has emerged of him slamming the ride-hailing service Uber while on a business trip in Boston recently.

“Uber, there is no polite way of saying this, has a brilliant business model and are dicks,” Nenshi said in a Periscope video obtained by Calgary media.

In the video, he is using a U.S. ride-hailing service called Lyft and speaking candidly with the driver, who also drives for Uber. It appears as though he isn’t aware he is being recorded.

Man dies in luggage cart rollover at Toronto’s Pearson Airport
CBC News, April 23, 2016

An employee at Toronto Pearson International Airport died Friday night after the luggage cart he was driving rolled over and ejected the man onto the tarmac, Peel police say.

The victim was Ian Henry Pervez, 24, according to his family. Tributes began pouring in for him online, one calling him “a gem and a great son” in his church community.

​Police have not yet released Pervez’s name, but confirmed he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Stéphane Dion urged to protect Honduran villagers from Canadian mining company
CBC News, April 20, 2016

A Canadian human rights delegation urged Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion’s office Wednesday to come to the aid of Honduran villagers they say are being exploited by a Canadian mining company.

The group — including First Nations women leaders, the organization MiningWatch Canada, lawyers and activists — visited Honduras this past week and want to draw attention to the plight of villagers in Azacualpa.

The group says in a brief presented to Dion’s office that the operations of Toronto-based Aura Minerals are affecting the health of villagers by exposing them to cyanide leaching and from its open-pit gold mine.

Polling shows support for library workers as bargaining deadline draws near
Marketwired, April 22, 2016

Library workers today released public opinion research showing strong public support for more full-time jobs and fair wages in Toronto’s libraries.

The survey of Toronto residents was conducted by Viewpoints Research on behalf of the Toronto Public Library Workers Union – Local 4948 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees. The workers are in contract negotiations with the Toronto Public Library Board with a possible lockout/strike deadline of 12:01 a.m., May 2.

“We have too many people who have dedicated over a decade of service to the public library that are still stuck in part-time jobs, cobbling together hours at different branches to make ends meet,” said Maureen O’Reilly, President of Local 4948. “It is clear that the public supports a change to more full-time jobs and believes it will benefit the service they receive, so all we need now is a willing partner at the bargaining table.”

Dealing with ‘Freeloaders’
Labor Notes, April 18, 2016

With more than half the states in the U.S. now open shop, anti-union forces are aiming at their next target: exclusive representation.

Take my home state of Tennessee, where until recently I was an organizer for the teachers union. A 2011 law bars the union from being the exclusive representative of school employees.

That means, while non-members still benefit from union contracts, the union has no obligation to represent them on the job. It also means that, besides fighting the boss, the union has to fight a rival—an employer-friendly “yellow union” headed by a privatization advocate.

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