Labour News Update: May 30, 2016

Why $15 matters | Left behind during maternity leave | Class struggle at Pearson Airport | Voices of Saskatchewan’s precarious workforce | Montreal Old Port Strike | Canada Post negotiations | Precarious work should be illegal | Ford austerity continues | McDonald’s HQ occupation | Seniors still working to make ends meet | Covered Bridge Potato Chips strike ends | Harper anti-strike legislation repealed | Brazil coup | Migrant worker bumped from the house | Mexico’s ghost unions

This week on

Why $15 matters for Ontario’s unions
David Bush
May 27, 2016

In the spring of 2015, a coalition of labour and community groups launched the $15 and Fairness campaign in Ontario. The campaign was shaped in part by the Ontario governments’ Changing Workplaces Review, a full-scale review of both the Employment Standards Act (ESA) and the Labour Relations Act (LRA) announced in February of 2015.

Left behind during maternity leave: Government clawbacks in BC
Daniel Tseghay
May 26, 2016

Gilary Massa worked for the Ryerson Students’ Union in Toronto. When she was laid off in December, she was in the middle of her maternity leave. So she filed a complaint to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, saying they fired her to save money. She’s one of many. Even though Ontario workers are entitled to year-long maternity leave, many are still fired while on it. Often the justification is some kind of restructuring. They weren’t fired, the employer will argue. Their job just no longer exists.

Class Struggle at Pearson Airport13103356_1192346964143213_971796705334603368_n
Tim Heffernan
May 25, 2016

An interview with Sean Smith, Mobilization Co-ordinator with UNIFOR 2002 and a representative of the Toronto Airport Workers Council.

Voices of Saskatchewan’s Precarious Workforce
Denise Leduc
May 24, 2016

In the 1970s a person working full-time making minimum wage would live 10 per cent above the poverty line. Today, that same person would be living approximately 12 per cent below the poverty line. In the past few years the Fight for 15 and discussions around living wages and a guaranteed basic income have been advancing dialogue about workers’ wages and economic fairness.

In other news

Old Port strike shuts Science Centre, Clock Tower Beach
CBC News
May 27, 2016

Unionized employees at Montreal’s Old Port are planning to go on strike this morning, meaning some attractions in the tourist hot spot will be closed for business.

The Port d’Escale Marina, Clock Tower Beach and the Science Centre will be shut indefinitely because of the dispute.

The beach was scheduled to open for the season on Saturday.

Canada Post warns biggest customers to prepare for service disruption
Federal government, large commercial businesses, told to make contingency plans
CBC News
May 27, 2016

Some of Canada Post’s biggest customers, including the federal government, are being told to make contingency plans ahead of a possible contract dispute with workers this summer.

Postal workers defending our postal system in Sydney, Cape Breton
Postal workers defending our postal system in Sydney, Cape Breton

Jon Hamilton, a spokesman for Canada Post, told CBC News that while the corporation is not trying to be “alarmist,” it has decided to inform some key clients about the possible service disruption.

Canada Post and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) have been in contract negotiations since late 2015 to reach a new agreement for about 50,000 workers.

Creating precarious work should be illegal: Ontario Federation of Labour
Craig Pearson
Windsor Star
May 26, 2016

The government should crack down on employers that needlessly create precarious work — part time, contract, temporary — the head of the Ontario Federation of Labour said Wednesday in Windsor.

“We need to stop the precarious jobs,” said OFL president Chris Buckley, the keynote speaker at a Local 444 retiree luncheon at the Caboto Club that attracted 1,500-plus attendees. “We need to address temporary hiring, contract work, contract flipping.

“It should be illegal to do that.”

John Tory extends Rob Ford’s legacy of austerity: Cole
Desmond Cole
Toronto Star
May 26, 2016

Mayor John Tory says we don’t need more people like him in Toronto — elected officials, that is. In response to a staff recommendation for three new councillors to serve our growing city, Tory has repeated that we don’t need any more “politicians.” I rarely hear the mayor referring to himself and his colleagues as “politicians,” and repeating the word so frequently as he has on the issue of new city wards and councillors. Tory says “politician” like it’s a bad thing because, in his small-government mindset, it is.

‘Fight for 15’ protest occupies McDonald’s HQ, sets up camp
May 26, 2016

Thousands of protesters have occupied the McDonald’s headquarters in suburban Chicago, vowing to keep fighting for a $15 per hour minimum wage and union rights until they win. The rally forced a shutdown ahead of a shareholders meeting.

In spite of the rain and nasty weather, activists and fast-food workers have set up camp outside the compound.mcdonaldsoccupation

Canadian seniors still working to make ends meet
CBC Radio
May 25, 2016

Many Canadians over the age of 65 are finding themselves in situations where they have no choice but to work — and the number of people in this group is growing.

As jobs with pension plans become scarcer and as a third of over-65 Canadians without them are left with $1000 in retirement savings, working years are extending into their seventies, eighties and beyond.

Two seniors — Stu, 72 and Sheila, 68 — say they can’t afford to retire. We have withdrawn their last names in order to protect their privacy.

Neither Stu nor Sheila thought they would still be working by this time.

Covered Bridge Potato Chips strike ends after 5 months
N.B. Federation of Labour president Patrick Colford calls the new agreement ‘great victory for all workers’
Daniel McHardie
CBC News
May 25, 2016

The five-month-old strike at Covered Bridge Potato Chips in Hartland has come to an end after unionized workers voted in favour of a deal on Tuesday.

The two sides reached a collective agreement on Friday after negotiations resumed and then workers voted 71 per cent in favour of the deal on Tuesday night.

Liberals to repeal anti-strike legislation that redefined ‘essential service’
John Paul Tasker
CBC News
May 25, 2016

Treasury Board President Scott Brison will repeal changes the Harper government enacted that made it more difficult for federal public servants to strike by expanding the definition of what constitutes an essential service.

“As another important step in rebuilding the relationship with Canada’s public service, we are moving to repeal changes to the public service labour relations regime brought into law by the previous government,” Brison said in a statement Wednesday, noting the legislation will be introduced in the fall.

Canadian organizations condemn Parliamentary coup in Brazil
United Steelworkers
May 24, 2016

We are gravely concerned with the recent events undertaken by sections of Brazil’s right wing opposition parties that have led to the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff. We strongly condemn the parliamentary coup which has been orchestrated against a democratically elected head of state that just 18 months ago was elected by 54 million votes in free, open democratic elections.

On May 12th, Senators voted to suspend President Rousseff by 55 votes to 22 votes. She is accused of illegally manipulating finances yet no evidence has been presented to back the allegations.

I was bumped from speaking to the House. I need to say this: Migrant workers need better rights
Teta Bayan
Globe and Mail
May 24, 2016

Last week, I was supposed to speak to a House of Commons committee on the abuse we migrant workers face – but I couldn’t.

I was able to get time off – which is difficult to do, for most migrant workers – and I showed up for a video-conference link from Toronto. I waited. Before I got my chance, the committee in Ottawa was suspended. I was bumped down a list – and others, who were lower on the list, were given the opportunity to speak. Why? Because the House of Commons was arguing about Prime Minister’s use of force in the House.

I was told the group would resume to hear me but they never returned.

Inside Mexico’s ‘ghost’ unions
Toronto Star6fb58-maquiladoras
May 22, 2016

TIJUANA, MEXICO—Margarita Avalos wasn’t even aware she had a union — until she and her fellow factory workers asked for the pay they were owed.

Suddenly, she says, a union appeared. And they proposed a solution: lock the troublemaking employees in a room without food or water until they agreed to take three months’ unpaid leave.

Last year, men and women like Avalos churned out billions of dollars worth of goods shipped to Canada, with almost 80 per cent destined for Ontario — a trade relationship that has ballooned by more than 700 per cent since the North American Free Trade Agreement was implemented in 1994.

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