Labour News Update: June 27, 2016

When secret ballots are not democratic | Essex County librarians on strike | A look back at the Coors boycott | Union stiffens position against USSC bidder | Urban Planet CEO apologizes to fired worker | How much do Uber drivers actually make? | Mail delivery threatened by July 2 lockout | Air Canada threatens Bombardier CSeries deal | Cassellholme cuts cause layoffs | Workers at GM Oshawa fear closure | Union closer to first contract for Toyota workers | What CPP expansion means to you
When secret ballots are not democratic: sociologist weighs in on labour law
Mark Hudson, CBC News
June 23, 2016b-c-teachers-vote-on-tentative-deal-sept-18-2014

On June 15 the new Manitoba government introduced Bill 7, the Labour Relations Amendment Act, which aims to eliminate the so-called “card-check” system of union certification currently used in Manitoba. Bill 7 would mandate secret ballot votes as the only means of union certification.

Sounds fair, doesn’t it?

Premier Brian Pallister is banking on Manitobans thinking so. The bill has been pitched as a means to make union certification more democratic — a clearer reflection of the will of workers.

It is, in fact, anything but. It is an assault on unions, plain and simple, and will negatively affect all working Manitobans.

Essex County librarians on strike, picket workplaces
Doug Schmidt, Windsor Star
June 25, 2016

After failing to resolve differences at a “last-ditch mediation” last week, 58 Essex County Library workers hit the pickets Saturday.

“We’re willing to talk, but management is not willing to give — you can’t sit in the room by yourself,” said Lori Wightman, sub-unit chair for CUPE Local 2974.

It means the doors are shut at 14 county library branches. It also means summer reading clubs catering to everyone from babies to seniors — more than 300 planned programs — are now in jeopardy, on the eve of schools closing for the vacation season.

Teamsters Pride At Work: A Look Back At The Coors Boycott
International Brotherhood of Teamsters
June 24, 2016howard

June is Pride Month, a time to honor the fight against prejudice and discrimination experienced by LGBT people. So it’s worth noting that when it comes to labor movement solidarity with gay rights, it all began with the Teamster boycott of Coors beer in the late 1970s.

That’s the way Nancy Wohlforth sees it. She’s the longtime, now-retired Secretary-Treasurer of the Office and Professional Employees and co-founder of Pride At Work, the AFL-CIO’s constituency group for lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender people.

At a book event this month, Wohlforth remembers how LGBT unionists had been marginalized, or worse, by other union members. One example of this was an anti-gay resolution at the 1972 Steelworkers convention that got a standing ovation.

Stelco: Union stiffens position against USSC bidder
Steve Arnold, The Hamilton Spectator
June 23, 2016

A New York hedge fund bidding to merge Stelco and Algoma into a new steel company says it will not pay Algoma’s massive pension shortfall.

For leaders of the United Steelworkers union, that threat has toughened their position against the bid of KPS Capital Partners.

The union, which speaks for 20,000 retirees from U.S. Steel Canada plants in Hamilton and Nanticoke, has promised to veto any potential sale of the company that doesn’t address its key demands to protect pensions, jobs and retirement benefits.

Urban Planet CEO apologizes to woman fired after an allergic reaction
Francois Biber, CBC News
June 23, 2016

A Saskatoon woman who says she was fired from her job after an allergic reaction says the company has apologized, but she’s still waiting to hear from the manager who fired her.

Monday started off like any other workday for Danielle Duperreault. The 18-year-old showed up to her job at Urban Planet in Centre Mall on 8th Street East. During her first break, she says she accidentally ate something she shouldn’t have.

“I called down to someone and said I need a manager upstairs for an emergency,” Duperreault said. “She came up and asked me if I was breaking out and I was — my neck was really itchy, my tongue was on fire.”

Uber Data And Leaked Docs Provide A Look At How Much Uber Drivers Make
Caroline O’Donovan and Jeremy Singer-Vine, BuzzFeed
June 22, 2016

Uber says that its drivers are as much its customers as its passengers are, and that its ride-hail platform is a path to personal freedom and financial independence. In 2013, the company told the Wall Street Journal that the “typical” Uber driver takes in more than $100,000 in annual gross fares. (Uber now disputes this characterization.)

More recently, Uber chief adviser and board member David Plouffe has touted the ride-hail platform as a pathway to a modest, more attainable American dream. But according to leaked internal price modeling data, and Uber’s own calculations provided to BuzzFeed News in response to that leak, drivers in some markets don’t take home much more than service workers at major chains like Walmart when it comes to net pay.

Internal Uber calculations, provided to BuzzFeed News by Uber, based on data spanning more than a million rides and covering thousands of drivers in three major U.S. markets — Denver, Detroit, and Houston — suggest that drivers in each of the three markets overall earned less than an average of $13.25 an hour after expenses.

Mail delivery could stop July 2 with Canada Post lockout
Jonathan Migneault,
June 22, 2016

Canada Post’s mail delivery could be halted on July 2 if the Crown corporation does not reach a tentative agreement with its workers, says the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.

“We’re negotiating seven days a week right now,” Mike Palecek, national president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, told “We’re doing our best to reach a negotiated collective agreement, but we’re not sure Canada Post has that same goal. Every indication is that they’re intending to lock us out in early July.”

In case of a lockout Palecek said all letter mail deliveries would likely cease, and Canadians would need to turn to private sector competitors like FedEx and UPS for parcel deliveries.

Air Canada Inc threatens to walk away from Bombardier Inc CSeries deal if legislation over maintenance isn’t passed
Kristine Owram, Finncial Post
June 22, 2016

Air Canada is threatening to walk away from its plan to buy up to 75 CSeries jets from Bombardier Inc. unless the federal government gives it more flexibility over where it does its maintenance work.

In testimony that appears to contradict the airline’s claims that politics had nothing to do with its decision to order the CSeries, an executive told a Senate committee reviewing changes to the legislation that governs Air Canada that it won’t buy the aircraft unless the government gives it more latitude.

“The point around this is that we are not prepared to make that scope of a financial commitment in an environment of legal uncertainty,” Kevin Howlett, Air Canada’s senior vice-president of government affairs and regional markets, told the Senate’s transport and communications committee this week.

Cassellholme cuts cause layoffs
Ryen Veldhuis, Bay Today
June 20, 2016

Layoffs will be hitting some staff at Cassellholme with a total of ten positions being affected to some degree in an attempt to meet the requirements for mandated pay equity, according to chief executive officer, Jamie Lowery.

“There was a blend of tactics we’ve undertaken to meet our obligations to pay equity,” he said. “Some are reductions to part time, but only a couple were true layoffs. We started looking at internal processes we could save on as well as cuts to overtime before even looking at making cuts to the staff level.”

Lowery said they were required to make cuts to offset the $587,000 in pay equity they were mandated to cover—which he admits was a surprisingly high amount.

Workers at GM Oshawa fear company planning ‘exit strategy’ to close plant
Chris Herhalt, CP24
June 21, 2016

Workers at a large General Motors assembly plant in Oshawa say they fear that without new production announcements from the company, they could be left with few vehicles to build by next summer.

Representatitives from Unifor Local 222 say they suspect production for two of the four models they currently build will be moved to other plants in Canada, the United States, or even China, by summer 2017.

Unifor’s master bargaining committee chairperson for GM, Greg Moffatt said that the Buick Regal sedan and the Chevrolet Equinox SUV will be “built-out” or reach the end of their production cycle before a redesign by next summer.

Union closer to first contract for Toyota workers
Jeff Hicks, Waterloo Region Record
June 20, 2016

CAMBRIDGE — The ongoing drive to unionize Toyota employees in Cambridge and Woodstock is now fixated on maintenance workers.

Unifor says it has signed a majority of 475 Toyota maintenance workers — 325 at two plants in Cambridge and 150 in Woodstock — to union cards.

On Friday, it applied to the Ontario Labour Relations Board, asking for a secret-ballot vote to complete the union certification process.

What CPP expansion means to you
Adam Mayers, The Toronto Star
June 21, 2016

After a decade of trying, Canada’s finance ministers reached a historic consensus Monday to expand the Canada Pension Plan.

The agreement, signed by federal finance minister Bill Morneau and eight of his provincial counterparts, provides for the first substantive change to our national retirement scheme since its creation by Lester B. Pearson in 1965. It also means that Ontario’s go-it-alone scheme, which pushed pension reform onto the national stage, is dead.

Instead, by 2019, all working Canadians will be paying into an expanded CPP in return for a bigger future benefit.

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