Labour News Update: July 25, 2016

The labour movement and the housing crisis | Interview with Lyn Jones | Canada Post negotiations | Chronicle Herald strike | Canada Post review | Phoenix pay system mess affects 80,000 | WSIB routinely cutting off injured workers | Mississauga library strike ends | Essex country library strike continues | GM rakes in profits as it threatens Oshawa | TPP bad Canada’s auto industry | Striking Wilfrid Laurier University workers ratify new deal | EI not being expanded | Southeast Ontario Peer Support Workers Fighting for $15 | Gender transitioning at work carries ‘high level of risk | Ontario to help Stelco retirees with drug bills | Boycott Driscolls berries | Chinese Wal-Mart workers strike | B.C. Nurses’ Union support staff on strike following lockout


The labour movement and the housing crisis: long-separated struggles, July 22, 2016

The traditional focus on the workplace clearly doesn’t help workers, and the working class in expensive cities like Metro Vancouver. A union can increase wages, ensure job security, and empower workers in their shops, but that won’t protect anybody from being the victim of gentrification and ballooning rents. Connecting these struggles will take a lot more effort.

“A Labour of Liberation”: An interview with author Baijayanta Mukhopadhyay, Part 1, July 21, 2016

Baijayanta Mukhopadhyay’s Labour of Liberation explores the forms of labour – from the cognitive to the emotional, from the physical to the administrative – that go into contemporary healthcare, tracing the lineage of the hierarchies that have developed in alliance or complicity with state and capital. Through analysing the repercussions of these relationships on the care of the sick, the book questions the role of coercion and extraction in health work, and poses an argument for a more liberatory future for caregiving labour.

I can’t see this injustice continue: An interview with Lynn Jones, July 20, 2016

Lynn Jones has been fighting injustice in Nova Scotia for a long time. As an African Nova Scotian living in Nova Scotia, a province with its share of racism, and with fearless civil rights activist Burnley ‘Rocky’ Jones’ as an older brother and role model, it is hard to see how it could have been otherwise. Much of her activism has been within unions. Jones became active in her Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) local, and from there she moved onto the provincial and national stage. Podcast Episode #1: Canada Post negotiations and the future of the post office, July 19, 2016’s West Coast correspondent Daniel Tseghay interviews Megan Whitfield, President of Canadian Union of Postal Workers Local 626 in Toronto as well as Jennifer Savage, President of CUPW Local 846 in Vancouver about the CUPW strike vote an bargaining. Daniel also interviews Dru Oja Jay of Friends of Public Services about ideas to transform Canada Post from postal banking and using it to fight climate change

In other news

13616218_10157057671830548_72808597_oChronicle Herald journalists enter sixth month of strike
CBC News, July 23, 2016

After six months, the Chronicle Herald unionized employees and management still haven’t settled a dispute over contract changes. Unionized employees of the Chronicle Herald newsroom began the strike on Jan. 23. The administration of the daily newspaper is standing firm on its demands, instead hiring temporary workers to replace the strikers. Striking editor Laurent Le Pierrès said, “We are afraid that the more the conflict lasts, the more we will be forgotten.”

Canada Post door-to-door mail delivery consultations to attract ‘lineups’
CBC News, July 22, 2016

MPs are expecting a high turnout when they begin consulting Canadians on the future of Canada Post, including door-to-door mail delivery, starting this fall. The parliamentary committee tasked with hearing from Canadians on what it is they want from their national postal system issued a notice late Thursday cautioning members of the public that “lineups are to be expected.”

Phoenix pay system mess affects 80,000, government officials say
CBC News, July 18, 2016

Federal officials have apologized to more than 80,000 employees who have had problems with their pay, and promised to work around the clock to fix the failed system. Marie Lemay, deputy minister for Public Services and Procurement, revealed the scope of employees affected by problems with the new system, called Phoenix, during a news conference today. She called the situation “completely unacceptable.”

McNeil’s entourage rakes in dough while average folks fall behind
Local Xpress, July 22, 2016

A recent poll conducted in the wake of the international Panama Papers tax evasion scandal showed that an overwhelming majority of Canadians believe there are actually two sets of rules in our world — one for rich people, and one for everybody else. Well, there are definitely two rule books being followed here in Nova Scotia: one if you’re just an average working-class Nova Scotian, and another if you happen to be in Premier Stephen McNeil’s inner circle.

Injured workers routinely cut off WSIB by improper rulings
Toronto Star, July 21, 2016

The board’s own independent appeals tribunal is systematically rejecting decisions to slash benefits based on alleged pre-existing conditions, a Star analysis has found. Since 2012, about 80 per cent of injured workers’ appeals on that issue have been successful, according to a tally of tribunal rulings. “It’s depressing in the extreme to witness a major institution like the board operating in a manner that puts the administration of justice into disrepute and being allowed to get away with it,” said Ron Ellis, a noted legal expert who served as the first chair of the board’s independent tribunal from 1985 to 1997.

Mississauga library workers, city announce deal
Toronto Star, July 21, 2016

The city of Mississauga and CUPE Local 1989, a union representing the city’s public library staffers, have reached a tentative deal. Union members have been on strike since July 4, mainly over managerial pay increases and precarious employment. Since then, all 18 of Mississauga’s public library branches have been shuttered.

Unifor calls GM’s Q2 profit ‘overwhelming’
Windsor Star, July 21, 2016

The union representing hourly workers at General Motors’ Oshawa Assembly Plant called the automaker’s record second-quarter profit “overwhelming.” Greg Moffatt, chairperson of Unifor’s GM master bargaining committee for the upcoming Detroit Three contract talks, said Thursday it’s clear the automaker has “recovered significantly.”

US Steel Canada: Ontario to help Stelco retirees with drug bills
Hamilton Spectator, July 20, 2016

Stelco retirees struggling with the loss of health benefits are getting a second helping hand from the Ontario government. On Tuesday Finance Minister Charles Sousa announced a $2.6-million transition fund to help 20,000 U.S. Steel Canada retirees in Hamilton and Nanticoke. It follows a $3-million fund established in January after U.S.S.C. won court approval to suspend payment of retiree benefits along with pension top-ups and municipal property taxes.

Unpaid Parks Canada staff getting so desperate they’re borrowing money from parents
CBC News, July 19, 2016

A new payroll system introduced by the federal government earlier this year has been so riddled with problems that it’s forcing some Parks Canada staff to borrow money from their parents. “I can’t afford to pay gas, I can’t afford to pay my insurance. I can’t afford rent or food,” said Scott Munro, who works at the Lake Louise campground in Banff National Park.

Japanese anti-TPP protest. Via Flush the TPP
Japanese anti-TPP protest. Via Flush the TPP
TPP likely to hurt Canada’s auto sector, study says
Globe and Mail, July 19, 2016

The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal will have negative consequences for the auto sector in Canada, an analysis of the automotive measures in the agreement says. Those provisions will cause reductions in vehicle production and employment, the study said. It was written for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives by John Holmes, professor emeritus of geography at Queen’s University in Kingston, and Jeffrey Carey, a research fellow in the Automotive Policy Research Centre at McMaster University in Hamilton.

Southeast Ontario Peer Support Workers Fighting for $15
The Intelligencer, July 20, 2016

Peer support workers are continuing their fight for a living wage and Canada’s Healthcare Union is publicly supporting that battle. In a press release issued last week, SEIU Healthcare stated the union is standing behind 30 part-time Peer Support Workers, who are asking their employer, Peer Support South East Ontario, to pay them “at least a poverty-level wage.” As former clients who are now helping new clients navigate their way through the mental health system, these workers are the lowest paid in the province, subsisting on below poverty wages of $13.24 per hour, states the release. Most peer support workers work fewer than 27 hours per week. Most recently, their employer has refused to increase their wage to $15.00 per hour

Essex Council Calling For An End To Library Strike
AM800, July 19, 2016

CUPE library workers were out in full force at Essex Council. Library staff have been on strike for over three weeks now after talks at the bargaining table failed Friday. Essex Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche is the Chair of the Library Board. He says he would like to see the library operational again and is hoping to resolve the strike as soon as possible. Meloche says it is refreshing to see a demand for the library to open again. Essex Council passed a motion and officially asked both parties to return to negotiations as soon as possible.

CUPE Local 926 approves tentative agreement for striking Wilfrid Laurier University workers
CBC News, July 18, 2016

The union for 110 striking custodial staff, groundskeepers and tradespeople at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo has approved a new contract. A tentative agreement had been reached with the school on Friday. It will be put to Laurier’s Board of Governors for ratification later this week.

Families will have to fundraise for P3 school playgrounds
Regina Leader Post,

Some of Saskatchewan’s new joint-use schools will open without playgrounds in September 2017. Using a $635 million public-private partnership (P3), the province is building 18 schools across the province, eight of which will be contained in four joint-use facilities to be shared by public and Catholic students in Saskatoon’s Evergreen, Rosewood, Stonebridge and Hampton Village neighbourhoods. However, the schools, which have been praised as 21st century learning spaces, have no funding for playgrounds.

Gender transitioning at work carries ‘high level of risk
CBC News, July 18, 2016

When Cory Annett decided to make her gender transition public at Nova Scotia Power, she worried how her employer would react. “The first concern is, if I come out, am I still going to have a job?” Annett said recently. Annett had worked at Nova Scotia Power for nearly three years, but she was a contract employee. “They could have decided that my contract was no longer viable, that I was no longer needed in my position and let me go,” said Annett, “On the basis of being trans, but under the guise of something else.”

CUPW demands release of Canada Post’s Postal Banking Study
CUPW, July 19, 2016

We too are aware that Canada Post needs to adjust its business model to ensure the long-term viability of our public postal service. However, postal workers and management have two different visions of how this should be done. While we have put forward a vision of a sustainable, green post office and proposed new services that could bring in revenue, management has offered nothing but cuts to services for the public and attacks against our members. For two years, we have requested an uncensored copy of Canada Post’s postal banking work. We have raised this issue in writing, in public, at Canada Post’s annual public meetings, with members of parliament, with the media, with municipalities and every other avenue available to us. Still, silence from Canada Post.

B.C. Nurses’ Union support staff on strike following lockout
CBC News, July 22, 2016

The union representing administrative employees who work for the B.C. Nurses’ Union says their employer isn’t treating its staff with the same generosity it demands from its employers. The BCNU locked out employees — members of the union Moveup — on Friday morning. The union claims that the BCNU wants to slash the employees’ sick, medical appointment and family responsibility leave. That lockout ended at 10 a.m., Friday when Moveup members voted to strike outside the union’s Burnaby office

U.S. and Chinese labor groups collaborated before China Wal-Mart strikes
Reuters, July 18, 2016

OUR Walmart, the American worker group, has taken the unusual step of collaborating with a group of Chinese Wal-Mart workers trying to fight work schedule changes and low wages. OUR Walmart and the Wal-Mart Chinese Workers Association (WCWA) discussed strategy for recent strikes in China on a Skype call last month using a translator, both groups told Reuters.

The workers who pick your summer berries are asking you not to buy them
PRI, July 18, 2016

Beneath the sweetness of these berries, though, lies a bitter labor dispute that has been roiling for years at Driscoll’s, the world’s largest distributor of berries — the ones you find at Costco, Target, Whole Foods and host of other grocery stories. The conflict came to a head last week in Washington state, when farmworkers and their families marched alongside hundreds of supporters on a usually sleepy country road about an hour north of Seattle. With bullhorns, musical instruments, honking cars and chanting — “Wage theft is not OK, Sakuma has to pay” — the loud procession made its way to the family-owned Sakuma Brothers berry farm and packaging plant.

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