Labour News Update: October 31, 2016

Joint Statement on the Criminalization of Journalist Justin Brake | Vegreville case processing centre relocated | Second KFC/Taco Bell unionizes | The Problem with CETA | CUPE: Library Board must focus on ending strike | Union, Thunder Bay remain divided in talks | Sask. government introduces law to define ‘privatize’ | Travellers will pay the price if Canada’s airports are sold | Kincardine Sobey’s unionizes | GoodLife eliminating 285 jobs | Halifax outside workers get new 2-year contract | Catchy job titles hide grim reality for millennials | Vale fined $1M after deadly rock-crusher incident in Sudbury | Belgium Agrees to Back EU-Canada Trade Pact | WSIB slashes injured paramedic’s compensation | How do you solve a problem like precarious work? | Premier McNeil’s history with labour unions

Joint Statement on the Criminalization of Journalist Justin Brake
Briarpatch Magazine
October 26, 2016

On Monday, October 24, 2016, the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador issued a court order to evict 22 Indigenous and settler Labradorian land protectors from the Muskrat Falls site and arrest them if they didn’t comply. Among those listed was Justin Brake, a journalist and editor for The Independent. (The full list of people named in the court order is here.)

Nova Scotia paramedics push for swifter action on air ambulance search
Susan Bradley, CBC News
October 28, 2016

Nova Scotia continues to search for a new air ambulance that meets Transport Canada specifications, but a replacement is still months away, Health Minister Leo Glavine says.

“No tender has been issued for a new LifeFlight,” he said, adding he could not predict when that might happen.

Vegreville case processing centre relocated, 280 jobs impacted: town
Global News
October 27, 2016

The Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Case Processing Centre (CPC) in Vegreville, which employs roughly five per cent of the community, will be shut down and relocated to Edmonton.

Town Manager Cliff Craig said the announcement came as a shock. According to the local MP, the centre employs about 280 people.

Second KFC/Taco Bell unionizes
Winnipeg Sun
October 28, 2016

A second Winnipeg KFC/Taco Bell location has received union certification.

The fast-food restaurant located at 3651 Portage Ave. has been certified with Workers United Canada Council, the second KFC/Taco Bell in the city to be unionized since September.

The Problem with CETA
Leo Panitch, Jacobinceta
October 29, 2016

Canada’s trade minister Chrystia Freeland’s sense of amour propre was clearly dented last week when the latest talks to salvage the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the European Union and Canada appeared to fall apart in face of the refusal of the Belgian regional parliament in Wallonia to accede to the Belgian government’s support for it. The story is by no means over, but it would be quite wrong to think that what really threw this spanner in the works was that the European Union was incapable of reaching an agreement, as she put it, “even with a country with European values such as Canada, even with a country as nice and patient as Canada.”

CUPE 2974 reminds Essex County Library Chair the Library Board is the employer that needs to focus on bargaining to resolve library strike
CUPE Ontario
October 28, 2016

Following remarks by Essex County Library Chair that bargaining will only resume with the striking Essex County Library workers after Essex County wraps up its bargaining with the County’s own employees, CUPE 2974 is reminding the Chair that the striking library workers are employed by the Essex Library Board, not the county, and the library has a workforce made up of mostly part-time workers. CUPE has made ten moves since the strike began on June 25 to break the impasse, but the Library Board has not moved on the core issues, even stating recently they would await the outcome of bargaining with a different employer, and different set of employees.

Union, city remain divided in labour talks
Jeff Labine, The Chronicle-Journal
October 25, 2016

The City of Thunder Bay and the union representing hundreds of municipal employees have reached an impasse at the negotiation table over key issues, which neither side is willing to disclose publicly.

Dozens of Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 87 members rallied outside of city hall on Monday after negotiations with the city ended with no deal. The union represents more than 700 inside and outside workers, which ranges from employees in the revenue department, Victoriaville Centre, roads and animal services.

Sask. government introduces law to define ‘privatize’
Stefani Langenegger, CBC News
October 26, 2016

The government of Saskatchewan has introduced a new law to define the word “privatize”.

It says the changes will clarify the meaning of the term when it comes to the province’s Crown corporations.

Travellers will pay the price if Canada’s airports are sold
Mark Laroche and Craig Richmond
October 24, 2016

In the 1990s, the federal government privatized Canada’s major airports, creating airport authorities that were mandated to operate as not-for-profit self-sustaining businesses benefiting their local communities through economic development, tourism and investment.

Since then, airport authorities have invested almost $20-billion in our national airports. Canada is now recognized as having the best aviation infrastructure and most efficiently run airports in the world and winning awards in design, innovation, safety and customer service. And, under the current model, we do it without government funding. In fact, our airports contribute more than $1-billion a year in rent and other fees to the government.

Successful Unifor vote sees 100 Sobeys Kincardine employees unionize
Kincardine News
October 26, 2016

More than 100 Sobeys workers in Kincardine have voted to join Unifor, Canada’s largest union in the private sector.

The announcement was made by Unifor in a media release Oct. 26, 2016 that the new bargaining unit includes full-time and part-time workers, as well as students.

Workers at the supermarket are one of only two groups of unionized store employees under the Sobeys banner in the province of Ontario, according to the union.

GoodLife: London-based fitness chain eliminating 60 head office jobs and 225 at clubs
Hank Daniszewski, The London Free Press
October 28, 2016

The sleek new headquarters of GoodLife Fitness include a coffee bar, employee fitness centre and meeting rooms named for Jimmy Buffett songs.

The company’s website boasts of its status as one of the country’s 50 best managed companies and 50 most engaged workplaces.

David Patchell-Evans — who built GoodLife from a single gym in 1979 to Canada’s biggest fitness chain — said in an interview last month that “Canadian values” are the secret to the company’s success.

“Our company is run with Canadian values — caring is the No. 1 criteria — that’s not the criteria of our (American) competitors. They run like (Donald) Trump.”

But with the paint barely dry on its new west London headquarters, GoodLife is cutting 60 jobs at its head office and 225 positions at clubs across Canada.

Halifax outside workers get new 2-year contract
Sherri Borden Colley, CBC News
October 26, 2016

Halifax municipal council has approved a new two-year contract for more than 300 outside workers.

Council voted on the contract Wednesday, after an in-camera meeting.

Unit 1 of the Halifax Civic Workers — Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 108 — represents workers who take care of parks, snowplowing, sidewalks, sports fields, arenas and rinks.

Gig economy? Side hustle? Catchy job titles hide grim reality for millennials
Jen Zoratti, Winnipeg Free Press
October 26, 2016

Side hustle, gig economy, job hopping.

I’ve been hearing those buzzwords a lot lately, in almost always positive contexts. They have such a fun energy, don’t they? So cool. So glamorous. So millennial. We’re all such creative free-spirits, flitting from job to job like the unique butterflies we are, all out there hustling to achieve our goals.

I know many people of my generation — people born from 1981 to 2000 — who prefer to do their own thing as opposed to work for the Man, or whatever millennials call the Man. Or they legitimately prefer to work contract to contract. Or they move around a lot.

Vale fined $1M after deadly rock-crusher incident in Sudbury
The Canadian Press
October 26, 2016

Vale Canada Limited has been fined $1 million after a worker at its plant near Sudbury, Ont. was killed and another was injured while trying to clear a jam in a rock-crushing machine.

The mining company pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that gravity-stored energy was dissipated or contained while work was being done on the crusher, and to failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to a worker on a safe procedure to remove a broken piece of machinery from the crusher.

Belgium Agrees to Back EU-Canada Trade Pact
Ian Wishart, Bloomberg
October 27, 2016

Belgium reached a deal with the country’s southern region of Wallonia to approve a trade agreement between the European Union and Canada, ending a deadlock that delayed the accord’s signature.

The agreement is an “important step for EU and Canada,” Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said in a post on Twitter on Thursday, adding that the nation’s regions will be able to formally approve the pact by the end of Friday.

WSIB slashes injured Pakenham paramedic’s compensation
Laurie Fagan, CBC News
October 26, 2016

Dan O’Connor sits in his living room in Pakenham, Ont., trying to find the words to describe the excruciating pain that racks his body.

He hardly needs to. His agony is plain to see.

O’Connor, 54, winces as he shifts his weight in the chair, trying in vain to find a comfortable position. The pain makes it difficult to sit for more than 15 minutes at a time, even with his legs elevated.

How do you solve a problem like precarious work?
Angella MacEwen, Progressive Economics Forum
October 25, 2016

Finance Minister Bill Morneau has taken quite a bit of heat for his tone deaf comments about the reality of precarious work, specifically saying that we should just “get used to job churn”. His policy prescription, an improved social safety net, is actually a valid part of the solution. But must we accept that the precarious will always be with us? That is, what can government actually do to address precarious work?

First of all, has the Finance Minister accurately understood the issue? There is a great deal of hubbub about precarious work, can it be reduced to simply “job churn”?

Premier Stephen McNeil’s history with labour unions
Jean Laroche, CBC News
October 26, 2016

Since coming into power in 2013, Premier Stephen McNeil has had more than one showdown with public sector unions in Nova Scotia.

In a throne speech in 2014, McNeil took aim at public sector labour costs, warning that the salaries of civil service workers could not be sustained given Nova Scotia’s financial pressures.

McNeil said wage increases have exceeded the province’s ability to pay in recent years and are adding to the mounting debt.

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