Labour news update: August 28, 2016

Tolko mill closing | Teamster election | CUPW mediation and strike notice | TFWP inspections ineffective | Reflecting on the Crown strike | Federal Liberals’ unpaid internships  | Why Trudeau is no friend of labour | Ottawa strikes deal with city employees | Big banks rake in huge profits  | Best Western Seven Oaks workers opt out of union | Essex county library workers strike |

Striking library workers invite families to story time
Windsor Star,

Essex County library workers who have been on strike since June have invited families to join them at “storytime” events being held this week in several municipalities.

The workers, who are represented by Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 2974, are entering their third month on strike. All 14 branches of the Essex County Library have been closed since June 25.

The impacted employees want to show their gratitude to the community for all the support they have received during the strike, said Lori Wightman, unit chairwoman for CUPE 2974.

UberEats drivers plan protest against cuts in pay rate per delivery
The Guardian, August 28, 2016

Drivers for Uber’s food delivery service are planning a protest in the latest sign of discontent within the gig economy.

UberEats riders will demonstrate outside the group’s London headquarters on Friday after the company cut the amount it pays per delivery, which some drivers say leaves them at risk of earning less than the minimum wage. They are calling on the company to pay the independently backed London living wage of £9.40 an hour.

The action comes after more than 100 moped riders and cyclists took to the streets to protest against pay changes at rival food courier service Deliveroo, eventually seeing off an attempt to force them to accept new pay terms.

Manitoba can’t do much to save Tolko mill in The Pas, premier says
CBC News, August 24, 2016

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister says there’s not much his government can do to help the 332 people who will lose their jobs when Tolko Industries shuts down its paper mill in The Pas at the end of this year.

tolko-industries-sign-the-pas
Source: CBC News

The province has had discussions with Tolko officials, but ultimately it’s up to the company to make its own decisions, Pallister said Wednesday.

“Certainly we made every effort to have dialogue with the people at Tolko and to do what we could to assist them and their decisions. But their decision ultimately is as was announced, so we have to accept that. It’s their company, after all,” he said.

‘Saddest photo I have ever taken.’ Seniors heartbroken by nursing home separation
CTV News, August 24, 2016

After more than six decades of marriage, an elderly couple in Surrey, B.C. is being forced to live apart because of a lack of space at the same care home. And their family is concerned the couple’s heartbreak is only worsening their failing health.

Wolf and Anita Gottschalk have been married since 1954, rarely spending time apart, says their granddaughter Ashley Bartyik.

“After 62 years together, they’re inseparable. They do everything together,” she says.

Big banks defy expectations with strong profit growth
Toronto Star, August 25, 2016

Canada’s big banks have defied predictions that blustery economic headwinds would finally catch up with Bay Street and blow away some of their profit growth.

Four of Canada’s Big Five banks have reported third-quarter results this week. They have breezed ahead of analysts’ expectations that a low interest rate environment, high consumer debt loads, lower oil prices and generally sluggish economic conditions would limit growth potential.

The Other Big Election
Jacobin, Augsut 25, 2016

With 1.3 million members, the Teamsters are the largest transportation union in North America. As the US economy continues to reshape itself around the sprawling logistics industry, whoever is elected the next Teamster leader will face the daunting task of organizing this vast, nonunion workforce — one that will determine much of the future of the labor movement.

Teamsters will make that decision this October, in an election contest that pits the seventeen-year incumbent general president James P. Hoffa against challenger Fred Zuckerman, the president of the fifteen-thousand-member Teamsters Local 89 in Louisville, Kentucky, and his Teamsters United reform slate.

Canada Post, CUPW agree to mediation after union files strike notice
CBC News, August 25, 2016

Labour Minister MaryAnn Mihychuk said a special mediator will begin working with Canada Post and the union representing the majority of its employees Friday morning in hopes of avoiding a strike.

“Sometimes when negotiations have been going for a long time, like now, they fall into a rut, and sometimes you need to shake things up,” Mihychuk said Thursday evening in Saguenay, Que., the site of the Liberal caucus retreat.

Questions raised over effectiveness of foreign worker program inspections
Globe and Mail, August 22, 2016

A major spike in inspections under the temporary foreign worker program is spurring debate over the effectiveness of these new reviews.

The Globe and Mail reported Monday that federal officials conducted 586 inspections under the program in 2015 and have already held 1,537 as of mid-August. Yet during that time, only two employers – an Ontario farm and a New Brunswick trucking company – have been added to a public blacklist of companies temporarily banned from the program.

Toronto immigration lawyer Stephen Green, who represents large companies that use the program and is past-chair of the citizenship and immigration section of the Canadian Bar Association, said the statistics show that the volume of inspections should be scaled back.

More Powerful Than God – an Ashley Walters documentary
CBC News, August 21, 2016

Crown Metal Packaging is a highly profitable American multinational that makes cans for all the major beer companies. One of its plants, located just north of Toronto, was the site of a painful, protracted strike.

In September, 2013, 120 workers took to the picket line, after Crown demanded pay cuts from its workers and declared that new hires would receive 40 percent less than current employees.

The strike lasted 22 months and in the end, the union made no gains. In fact, anyone who wanted to return to work had no choice but to accept a significant pay cut.

Best Western Seven Oaks employees have opted out of their union
Regina Leader Post, August 19, 2016

Sometimes breaking up is hard to do.

This week, the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board granted the employees at the Best Western Seven Oaks Inn to rescind their membership with the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1400.

The results drew a mixed response from the three parties involved.

Glenn Weir, owner and general manager of the hotel, was happy with the decision.

Norm Neault, president of UFCW 1400, was caught off guard by it all.

Meanwhile, Darren Mayer, the hotel employee who led the charge to break ties with the union, was relieved.

Liberals probe unpaid internships in federal government
CBC News, August 19, 2016

The Liberal government wants to know why a dozen federal departments and agencies do not pay their interns.

The review was ordered by Treasury Board President Scott Brison earlier this year as the government grappled with the politically charged issue of unpaid internships in the federal jurisdiction.

Some of the largest federal departments have interns working for free, including National Defence, Public Safety and Environment Canada, in addition to smaller organizations such as the Canadian Space Agency.

The federal government accepts an estimated 1,000 interns each year and, according to Treasury Board policy, is required to pay them unless they’re part of an academic program, such as a co-op placement, that specifically forbids payment.

City strikes tentative deal with largest union
Ottawa Citizen, August 17, 2016

The city and its largest union have hammered out a proposed collective agreement, avoiding arbitration.

The last contract for about 6,300 inside and outside workers represented by CUPE local 503 expired Dec. 31.

City solicitor Rick O’Connor announced the tentative deal Wednesday after 24 days of bargaining over seven months. The two sides were preparing for arbitration in September.

The city won’t release the terms until council approves the contract next month. Union members must also approve the deal.

Why Trudeau is no friend of labour
Rankandfile.ca, August 25, 2016

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was given a standing ovation at the 2nd Unifor convention in Ottawa yesterday. But not all Unifor members were cheering on the love-in between the Prime Minister and their national union president, Jerry Dias. There are plenty of Canadian workers already fed-up with business-as-usual and inaction during a crisis.Aug.240240

After ten months in power, the Trudeau Liberals are presiding over a series of major crimes and fiascos on the labour front that they could help resolve in favour of hundreds of thousands of workers through decisive action. Instead, major corporations, Harper-appointed wreckers in the public service, and employers are reaping the rewards. Here are six quick reasons why labour has no business holding a Liberal love-in.

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