Labour News Update: May 2, 2016

CUPW wins court decision | Day of Mourning | PSAC urges rejection of government offer | Alberta and Fight for $15 | Library workers possible strike | Vice Canada unionizing | OSSTF Northern Districts’ one day strike | CUPW headed for a lockout? | N.L. Liberal government to close half all libraries and bring book tax | Liberals want to recycle assets | Migrant caregivers: An invisible workforce | Chronicle Herald strike | N.L. public sector negotiations heat up | N.L. protests austerity | Goodwin’s Way: An interview with director Neil Vokey | Violence against healthcare workers |

13103356_1192346964143213_971796705334603368_nAngry demonstration at Confederation Building over Liberal budget
The Telegram, April 28

The hundreds of people on the steps of Confederation Building this morning wanted the politicians inside to know they were angry. The protest was the latest demonstration of public anger of the Liberal government’s budget, released two weeks ago, which raises taxes, lays off workers, and runs a $1.8 billion deficit.

Immigrant workers rally for better pay at Ontario Food Terminal
CBC News, April 22

A group of predominantly immigrant workers who help unload produce and have set up a picket line outside Toronto’s main food distribution facility are simply trying to receive the same compensation many of their more established counterparts receive, says their union representative. These newcomers, many of whom are Tibetan, show up to work in the wee hours of the morning, with the first shift arriving at the Ontario Food Terminal at 1 a.m., working inconsistent hours with lower wages than their counterparts, said Teamsters Local 419 representative Ken Dean.

National Day of Mourning: Unions urge us to mourn the dead and fight for the living, April 28

Alberta NDP’s $15 minimum wage: An empty promise?, April 27

Now, more than ever, Alberta’s low-wage workers need an organization that is based on a rank-and-file mobilization model that identifies the workplace and society at large as points of struggle. A major weakness of the Alberta campaign is that it lacks organizational leadership.

Workers across Canada and around the world today stand united in the fight for better health and safety in the workplace.The National Day of Mourning, also recognized as International Workers’ Memorial Day, is commemorated on April 28 each year, and is dedicated to those killed and injured due to unsafe work practices.

Vice Canada staff set to unionise days after UK employees snubbed
The Guardian, April 30

Staff working for the media company Vice in Canada are on the brink of achieving union recognition and a “better life” for digital workers, days after management rejected and highly criticised a push by employees in the UK. Trade union the Canadian Media Guild says that a “strong majority” of employees has signed up for unionisation and will now officially push ahead with representing Vice staff.

Toronto library workers say they’re heading for strike
Toronto Star, April 27

More than 2,000 library workers will strike Monday, shutting Toronto’s 100 branches, unless the city gets serious about negotiating a new contract, their union says. With a strike or lockout possible starting midnight Sunday, Maureen O’Reilly, president of CUPE Local 4948, told reporters Wednesday she is “extremely concerned about the state of negotiations.”

11148747_10155429190275462_4538884855673709834_nTaxation union will ask members to reject government’s offer
Ottawa Citizen, April 29

The Liberal government is facing a showdown with employees at Canada’s tax agency over a controversial contract offer that would take away severance pay and force them to accept the same yet-to-be-negotiated raises as all other public servants will receive. The Union of Taxation Employees (UTE), which has been negotiating with the government for more than four years, decided this week to take the government’s offer to its members for a vote. The union will urge the 29,000 members working at Canada Revenue Agency to reject the offer, which will set the union on the path to a possible strike.

One-day-a-week strike follows lack of contracts for Ontario teachers
Globe and Mail, April 25

High school teachers at a small Northwestern Ontario school board are ramping up their job action by staging one-day-a-week strikes – and the head of the provincial union didn’t rule out that others could follow. Teachers at the Rainy River District School Board, based in Fort Frances, Ont., have been without a contract since the fall of 2014 and will start striking this week. The dispute between the school board and the local district of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation is one of about 280 cases, out of 473, across the province where a local collective agreement has not been reached, despite the perception of labour peace in education.

Canada Post lockout this summer?
News Talk 1010, April 24

A labour dispute could affect the way you receive mail in the coming months. Mike Palecek, National President of CUPW, told NEWSTALK 1010 host Mark Towhey that it appears Canada Post is headed towards a lockout, as early as this July. Palecek accuses management of insisting on major cuts to pensions and benefits, while the two sides are engaged in negotiations at the bargaining table. The union head says Canada Post remains a profitable Crown Corperation, largely because of parcel service stemming from a booming online shopping trade.

Liberals may sell off public assets to help bankroll infrastructure
Ipolitics, April 24

The federal government has identified a potential source of cash to help pay for Canada’s mounting infrastructure costs — and it could involve leasing or selling stakes in major public assets such as highways, rail lines, and ports. A line tucked into last month’s federal budget reveals the Liberals are considering making public assets available to non-government investors, like public pension funds. The sentence mentions “asset recycling,” a system designed to raise money to help governments bankroll improvements to existing public infrastructure and, possibly, to build new projects.

‘Widespread’ workplace abuse persists for Chinese restaurant workers
Toronto Star, April 25

Chinese workers in Greater Toronto restaurants face “widespread and persistent” workplace abuse, including being routinely denied minimum wage, overtime pay and vacation pay, according to a new report.
The report to be released Monday finds that some 43 per cent of Chinese workers earned less than the minimum wage, currently set at $11.25. Over half of the respondents reported working more than 40 hours a week, but only 11 per cent of those eligible for overtime pay said they received it.

Migrant Caregivers: An Invisible Workforce, April 26

In January of 2014, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) launched a pilot initiative called Project Guardian which would search for and detain migrant caregivers in British Columbia and the Yukon who work under the table, without a work permit.

More than half of N.L. libraries closing in wake of budget cuts
CBC News, April 27

The library board in Newfoundland and Labrador announced sweeping changes to its services Wednesday, adopting a regional library model which will see 54 branches close in the next two years. Budget 2016 has also been criticized for bringing in a 10 per cent book tax, which makes Newfoundland and Labrador the only province in Canada to tax books.

Journalism and Democracy in the Chronicle-Herald Strike
Behind the Numbers, April 26

The strike at the Halifax Chronicle-Herald (hereafter CH) is dragging into its 14th week. Events over the past couple of weeks show how the strike is important, and not just for those directly involved. It shows how labour disputes are often as much about struggles over whose expertise within, and authority over, the work process is recognized, as they are about pocketbook issues like wages and pensions. And it shows the importance of responsible journalism for a functional democracy.

Liberals hire big guns for labour talks
CBC News, April 30

The Newfoundland and Labrador government has brought in some high-profile reinforcements as it prepares for tough talks with public sector unions. These moves send a clear signal that the government is bracing for difficult negotiations with its major unions. “They’re coming after us for concessions” is how one labour insider reacted to the news of the hires.

Goodwin’s Way: An interview with director Neil Vokey, April 29

On May 1st, Vancouver’s Rio Theatre will premier a documentary, Goodwin’s Way about Albert “Ginger” Goodwin, an early-20th century labour organizer. It’s a story of workers organizing BC’s coal mines and resisting the war effort, and Goodwin’s untimely death for leading both.

Workplace violence against health-care workers under-reported, largely ignored
CBC News, April 27

Violence against workers in health-care settings like hospitals, nursing homes and psychiatric environments is an under-reported, ubiquitous and persistent problem, says an article published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine. What’s worse, the article says, it’s a problem that’s been tolerated and largely ignored.

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