Labour News Update: November 28, 2016

Bargaining between government and Nova Scotia teachers breaks down | Blue Water Bridge strike | University of Manitoba strike ends | Trudeau’s privatization schemes | Lockout at Atlantic Minerals operation | Teamsters United from the U.S. to Canada | Private health insurance in Canada deemed inefficient | WSIB ignoring workplace chronic mental stress | Kelowna transit strike | TPP is dead | Confrontation at Regina hotel was wrong, but union wins nothing | BCNU Employees Accept Contract, Strike Ends | Ombudsman asked to probe WSIB treatment of mentally ill | Union demands Postmedia executives return $2.3M in bonuses | Fraser Institute lying about healthcare wait times | Fight for $15 mass strike November 29 | WestJet pilots reject deal that would introduce more long-haul flights, higher hourly pay | Autoworkers: Concessions and resistance | Toronto Mayor John Tory at war on public services | Coalition of Black Trade Unionists | Teachers in northern First Nation walk off jobs, demand first wage hike in 20 years |

From RankandFile.ca

Teamsters United from the U.S. to Canada
Rankandfile.ca, November 21

There is a deep divide our union, but it has nothing to do with Americans vs Canadians. The divide is between the Hoffa-Hall officials who side with employers and impose concessions and Teamsters who are fighting back to win good defeat givebacks, protect their pensions, benefits and union standards, and to end corruption in our union. In TDU, we know which side we’re on and we are proud to back Teamsters United.

WSIB ignoring workplace chronic mental stress
RankandFile.ca, November 22

The WSIB does not accept any mental stress conditions that emerge over time. A worker who develops a psychological disorder after witnessing a traumatic event, such as a co-worker dying in a construction accident, would be entitled to benefits, while a worker who develops the same disorder after enduring years of harassment at work would not. This is different from how Ontario’s compensation law and policy treats physical injuries. Whether your physical injury is caused by a single event (like a broken limb), or emerges over time (like a repetitive strain injury), Ontario workers are entitled to compensation.

R&F Podcast Episode 7 – Mark Brown of CBTU
RankandFile.ca, November 23

Rankandfile.ca West Coast Correspondent Daniel Tseghay speaks to Mark Brown of the Ontario chapter of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists about the history of the organizations and its ongoing struggles of combating anti-Black racism in the workplace, the trade union movement, and beyond.

Autoworkers: Concessions and resistance
RankandFile.ca, November 24

The narrow 55 percent acceptance of the new contract by Ford Canada employees, brought to end the third round of bargaining by the union representing autoworkers (UNIFOR) and GM, Chrysler and Ford. Despite the automakers making massive profits the pattern set by the union leadership, while containing small gains and bonuses, included many concessions and setbacks for not just autoworkers by all workers in Canada and Quebec. Furthermore it maintained previous concessions made at the height of the financial collapse.

In Other News

Nova Scotia teachers, union and students weigh in on contract dispute
CBC News, November 27

The Nova Scotia Parents for Teachers group is hosting a public forum on issues related to the contract dispute between the provincial government and teachers. Sunday afternoon about two dozen people concerned about the possibility of job action gathered at Saint Mary’s University. Parents, teachers, students and representatives from the teachers union answered questions about the contract issues. Friday talks between the two sides broke off, with the Nova Scotia Teachers Union saying it expects job action by Dec. 5. Teachers are in a legal strike position as of Dec. 3, making Dec. 5 the first day of school that could be affected.

Union demands Postmedia executives return $2.3M in bonuses
Toronto Star, November 24

Unions representing Canadian journalists want five Postmedia executives to reject bonuses totalling $2.275 million as the struggling newspaper chain continues staff reductions. The company awarded Postmedia president and CEO Paul Godfrey $900,000, CFO Doug Lamb $450,000, COO Andrew MacLeod $425,000, legal and general counsel Jeffrey Haar $300,000, and National Post president Gordon Fisher $200,000, according to financial documents filed Wednesday.

pimicikamak-teachersTeachers in northern First Nation walk off jobs, demand first wage hike in 20 years
CBC News, November 23

Students in Pimicikamak have not been in class since Monday because teachers in the northern community, formerly known as Cross Lake, are picketing for what would be their first salary increase in 20 years. “We did have several meetings before that and we gave a heads-up to chief and council that this is what we were going to do,” spokesperson Allan Ross said. “The main issue is that the teachers in Cross Lake have been underpaid for 20 years. The last time they got an adequate raise was in 1996.”

U of M strike: Classes back on after 3-week walkout ends with new deal
CBC News, November 22

University of Manitoba students head back to class this morning after three weeks spent waiting for faculty and administration to sort out a new contract. “It’s very exciting to be going back to work,” U of M bioethics Prof. Arthur Schafer said. “I think it was a very important set of issues and we’ve achieved most, though not all, of the objectives we had. Definitely worth it.” Classes will go later in December and exams will be written in January, but the fall session will be completed, Schafer said.

Confrontation at Regina hotel was wrong, but union wins nothing
CBC News, November 24

A confrontation involving union members and the Best Western Seven Oaks Inn in Regina has been deemed an unfair labour practice. But the favourable ruling — for the union — comes after workers decertified. The altercation, which was recorded and published online, took place in February when unionized staff at the hotel were on strike.

BCNU Employees Accept Contract, Strike Ends
MoveUp, November 24

Striking BC Nurses’ Union employees have voted to accept a mediated agreement and end job action. MoveUP, the Movement of United Professionals represents the approximately 60 BCNU employees. The strike began in July and stretched out over 126 days. MoveUP’s members were fighting against cuts to their sick, medical and family leave. In addition to defending those rights, MoveUP’s members secured wage increases, a better process for employees with small children to request a reduced work week and the option for post-retirement benefits.

Day 12 of lockout at Atlantic Minerals operation, with no end in sight
CBC News, November 23

Truck drivers and heavy equipment operators are into their second week of a lockout at Atlantic Minerals Limited at the Lower Cove site, on Newfoundland’s Port au Port Peninsula. Many on the picket line are worried about the lack of a paycheque so close to Christmas. A lockout means the workers are not eligible for the Employment Assistance program, and workers are frustrated they will only get a small strike payout from the union. “This is going to be extremely unfortunate because the strike pay, whatever that is going to be, is probably not what they would normally get with the EI program,” said Cape St. George Mayor Peter Fenwick.

Transit union says gun pulled on striking Kelowna bus driver
CBC News, November 21

The union representing striking transit workers in the Central Okanagan says a man pulled a gun on a striking bus driver outside Kelowna’s Orchard Park Mall Monday morning. Police now say the weapon was a pellet gun. The incident was reported to have happened just after 10 a.m. PT Monday as transit workers picketed at a mall bus stop. Bus drivers said the man screamed at the picketers to get back to work. He then allegedly pulled out the weapon, pointed it at a driver and sped away on a bike. No one was injured. “It’s unbelievable. I’m still processing this,” said Scott Lovell, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1722.

Personal Support workers seeking fairness on day one of strike
BayToday, November 21

The 44 personal support workers at the North Bay Motherhouse on Main Street West hit the picket lines today. SEIU Union officials say the key points are contract language and wages. The workers here have been working without a contract since 2015. “There’s some contract language and still some outstanding issues on wages,” stated Joe Buote, an SEIU Service Manager based out of Richmond Hill. “They are looking for basically a standard that is owed there. It’s not above and beyond and standards that have been set in kind of the like work in the province but it’s not 2 percent.”

Private health insurance in Canada deemed inefficient
CBC News, November 24

Private health insurance should be better regulated in Canada, say researchers who found the gap between premiums and payouts in claims reached $6.8 billion in 2011. About 60 per cent of Canadians are covered by private health insurance for health-care services such as prescription drugs, health-care economists say. Most are insured through their employers, with for-profit firms dominating the industry, said study author Michael Law of the Centre for Health Services and Policy Research at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

bzynm8qcaampfysConservative MP Kellie Leitch calls for CBC to be dismantled
Toronto Star, November 24

Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch is proposing to sell the CBC, saying she doesn’t believe the broadcaster should be “propped up by taxpayers.” “What I’m proposing is that it either be subject to an asset sale or an IPO, whichever will salvage the best value for Canadians with the intention being we get the best value for money for taxpayers,” said Leitch (Simcoe-Grey) on Thursday.

Fraser Institute’s wait-time survey: Does it still count if most doctors ignored it?
CBC News, November 25

There is another source of data about wait times in Canada. Since 2006, the Canadian Institute for Health Information has used provincial data to track wait times in five priority areas: cancer, heart surgery, joint replacement, sight restoration and diagnostic imaging. The 2016 report, released in March, concluded that: “Wait times for urgent procedures were at or approaching benchmark targets.” It found mixed results for some elective procedures, but overall painted a much brighter wait-time picture for Canadians.

Teachers rally in Lower Sackville
NS Advocate, November 25

About 150 teachers rallied at Sackville-Beaverbank MLA Stephen Gough’s constituency office on Sackville Drive this afternoon. It was one of 15 or so rallies reportedly occurring this afternoon in the province. he teachers, all members of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union (NSTU), have lost confidence in a government that has ignored their demands for better working conditions, more money for education at a classroom level, and a fair contract. Talks between the government and the union are ongoing. The union will be in a legal strike position on December 3rd.

Manitoba premier may be eyeing more than a wage freeze
CBC News, November 27

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister has been walking a fine line in the last week — saying he intends to bring in legislation next spring to control public-sector wage growth, but also refusing to release any details until he consults labour leaders.

WestJet pilots reject deal that would introduce more long-haul flights, higher hourly pay
Financial Post, November 21

Pilots at WestJet Airlines Ltd. have rejected an agreement that would have allowed the airline to expand its fleet of wide-body aircraft and offer more long-haul flights. “We are disappointed in the outcome of the vote and will be meeting with the WestJet Pilots’ Association over the coming weeks to determine next steps,” WestJet spokeswoman Lauren Stewart said in an email.

Tory set to announce tolls on the DVP and Gardiner
Toronto Star, November 23

Toronto Mayor John Tory is set to endorse a controversial introduction of road tolls on the Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway to raise $300 million a year for his cash-starved government, the Star has learned. Tory is expected to make the daring declaration in a luncheon speech shortly after the Thursday release of city staff reports recommending highway tolling, along with other so-called revenue tools including a new tax on hotel stays. The reports will also make clear, sources say, that a yearlong push to privatize Toronto Hydro is dead.

Toronto Mayor John Tory wants to ‘test the market’ on garbage pickup east of Yonge
CBC News, November 21

Toronto Mayor John Tory says he wants to “test the market” on the cost of garbage pickup east of Yonge Street to see if the city can find savings over a recently signed contract with trash collectors represented by CUPE Local 416. “The best service at the lowest possible cost, that is what we’re seeking,” said Tory on Monday at a news conference held on a taxpayer’s driveway in Scarborough. Toronto’s trash collection was privatized west of Yonge Street in 2012. Tory, who was elected in 2014, ran on a campaign to privatize garbage curbside pickup in the city’s east end.

Justin Trudeau’s giant corporate giveaway
The Guardian, November 22

While prime minister Justin Trudeau flogged our public assets last week, he had a soothing message: rest assured, we’ll be well-served by the private sector. Bankers and billionaires lined up to sound a note of confidence. “I think it’s unprecedented,” exclaimed Canada’s top business lobbyist John Manley. “A once-in-a-generation opportunity,” enthused Trudeau’s economic advisory council. These corporate figures are rubbing their hands because Trudeau is about to put one of our great crises in their hands: the need for historic investment in the country’s infrastructure, for so long the domain of the state.

Chrystia Freeland says TPP deal dead unless US remains on board
Global News, November 22

Canada’s trade minister says the rise of “ugly” partisan politics and anti-globalization forces together pose a threat to the world not seen since the Great Depression. Chrystia Freeland offered up that scathing analysis in her testimony today before the Senate trade committee. It came one day after Donald Trump‘s renewed vow to pull the United States out of the controversial 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership. Earlier today, Freeland said the TPP can’t go ahead without the U.S.

nov_29_rsvp_01_fb-2-1038x576Fight for $15 set for a nationwide strike and protest on November 29
Fightfor15, November 22

Newly-elected politicians and newly-empowered corporate special interests are pushing an extremist agenda to move the country to the right — That’s why we’re taking to the streets on November 29th — our four-year-old Fight for $15 will not back down! Any efforts to block wage increases, gut workers’ rights or healthcare, deport immigrants, or support racism or racist policies, will be met with UNRELENTING OPPOSITION. We are going to hit hard — pushing our most disruptive protests yet on Nov. 29. We’re expanding our movement to nearly 20 airports serving 2 million passengers a day, and risking arrest via mass civil disobedience in front of McDonald’s restaurants from Detroit to Denver.

A Million in South Korea’s Streets
Jacobin, November 23

On November 12, roughly one million people went out on the streets to demand the resignation of the conservative South Korean president, Park Geun-hye, in what many have called the largest demonstration in the county’s nearly seventy-year history. The day began with the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions’ (KCTU) rally in front of Seoul city hall, later joining up with college students, farmers, and other groups’ rallies.

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