Labour News Update: March 6 2017

A plot to raid the ATU? | Former OPSEU president dies | Conciliator requested by government in NAPE, CUPE contract talks | Ironworkers’ union throws support behind Christy Clark | Sexism rampant in Silicon Valley | Canadian Hearing Society pushes workers to take strike action | A Cure for Hydro Bill Headaches | Ministry of Labour lays charges in Claridge construction site death | Nearly 800 teachers apply for spots on classroom improvement committee | Sault Ste. Marie Essar Steel workers give 98% strike mandate | Federal government employees on P.E.I. protest broken payroll system | Peterborough coalition offers hope to General Electric retiree | Workers at Jamieson Labs in Windsor ratify new deal | Ontario to give public high-school teachers $25-million | B.C. announces plan to hike minimum wage

“Who’s the big white shark?” A plot to raid the ATU?
David Bush and Gerard Di Trolio, Rankandfile.ca
March 3 2017

On Wednesday of this week RankandFile.ca obtained a recording of a conversation between two executive board members at ATU Local 113, Tony Barbosa and John DiNino, occurring before the trusteeship. Both DiNino, who recorded the call, and Barbosa have confirmed the authenticity of the recording.

In this conversation recorded on January 31, we get a glimpse of what was going on behind the scenes at Local 113 just prior to ATU International trusteeship.

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Fred Upshaw

Former OPSEU President Fred Upshaw dies at 81
OPSEU
March 2, 2017

A legendary trade unionist has died. Fred Upshaw passed away peacefully March 1 at his home in Oshawa. He was 81.

Upshaw was the first Black person to lead a major Canadian trade union, serving as President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) from 1990 to 1995.

“I had the privilege of serving on the Executive Board under Fred’s leadership and considered him a great friend,” said Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of OPSEU. “He was a mentor to literally hundreds of OPSEU activists, including me.

Bargaining bypass: Conciliator requested by government in NAPE, CUPE contract talks
Marilyn Boone, CBC News
March 2, 2017

What is expected to be a tough round of bargaining with Newfoundland and Labrador public servants took a turn Thursday, with news that a conciliation board has been requested for seven groups.

“We were completely blindsided by this move,” said Jerry Earle, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees.

Ironworkers’ union throws support behind Christy Clark ahead of election
CBC News
March 2, 2017

A B.C. construction union has thrown its support behind Premier Christy Clark ahead of the coming B.C. election campaign, saying her government’s job plan is better than the NDP’s.

Ironworkers’ International business manager Doug Parton says the NDP’s opposition to major projects that include the Site C dam, George Massey bridge and proposed LNG projects hurt the job prospects for the union’s 1,800 members in B.C.

Startup workers see sexual harassment on ‘breathtaking’ scale in Silicon Valley
Sam Levin, The Guardian
March 1, 2017

Haana was so repulsed by what happened to her, she covered up her mirror so she wouldn’t have to look at herself. The Silicon Valley tech worker said that after drinks with startup colleagues last year, a male executive at her company put his hand up her shirt and groped her while they walked down the street.

“I felt disgusted for months after that,” said Haana, who requested that the Guardian not include her full name or identify the small tech startup where she used to do marketing. “It affects me on a level that I wish it didn’t.”

Canadian Hearing Society pushes workers to take strike action
CUPE
March 5, 2017

After being presented with multiple options for negotiating a settlement that would address their stated concerns, the Canadian Hearing Society (CHS) has rejected all offers for settlement, leaving the union with no choice but to commence strike action on Monday morning.

“We are actually quite shocked,” said Barbara Wilker-Frey, CUPE National Representative, “we listened to the employer’s concerns and gave several options that worked for our members and which also addressed CHS’s concerns. Conversely the employer tabled a partially conceived proposal that strips the health and benefit plan and leaves significant questions unanswered on the eve of a strike deadline. At this point we question their motives and if there was any commitment at all to reach a settlement in the past three days of bargaining.”

A Cure for Hydro Bill Headaches
Sheila Block and David Macdonald, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
March 2, 2017

As it is currently configured, Ontario’s HST rebate on hydro bills is a poorly designed program.

CCPA senior economists Sheila Block and David Macdonald tested a fairer alternative to the current HST rebate program that would direct the greatest benefits to low- and middle-income households.

Ministry of Labour lays charges in Claridge construction site death
Judy Trinh, CBC News
March 2, 2017

The Ontario Ministry of Labour has laid charges in the death of Olivier Bruneau, 25, who was killed nearly a year ago after a giant chunk of ice broke off the wall of a construction pit and struck him.

Provincial investigators have charged developer Claridge Homes, Bellai Brothers Construction Ltd., as well as two supervisors.

The corporations and their supervisors — Michael Lwow from Claridge and Leo Simard of Bellai Brothers — are accused of failing to ensure the health and safety of workers and failing to employ proper safety measures and procedures.

Nearly 800 teachers apply for spots on classroom improvement committee
Francis Campbell, Local Xpress
March 1, 2017

Nearly 800 teachers have applied for a seat on the Council to Improve Classroom Conditions but the Nova Scotia Teachers Union harbours a number of concerns about the council and its effectiveness.

“I hope (the council) will do some good but when you look at how it is starting and how quickly this process is taking place, I think for something to be done well, it has to be done well from the beginning,” said Liette Doucet, president of the union that represents the province’s 9,300 public school teachers.

Sault Ste. Marie Essar Steel workers give 98% strike mandate
CBC News
March 1, 2017

Production workers represented by the United Steelworkers at Essar Steel Algoma in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. have voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action.

Employees voted 98 per cent in favour of a strike, should a new collective bargaining agreement between the union and the company not be reached.

Federal government employees on P.E.I. protest broken payroll system
Dave Stewart, The Guardian
March 1, 2017

Two of the unions with Veterans Affairs Canada in Charlottetown are demonstrating their frustration with the Phoenix pay system.

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Unions representing employees at Veterans Affairs Canada are calling on the federal government to take steps to fix the Phoenix pay system once and for all. Many workers have been paid incorrectly and, in some cases, not at all.

Action was taken by the Veterans Affairs employees executive – Debi Buell, Valerie Quinn, Bonnie Biggar, Vicki Bryenton, Barry Parsons and Priscilla Giroux – along with members of Local 90001 who belong to the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) at the headquarters building.

It was one year ago that the Liberal government rolled out the new consolidated payroll system for the federal public service.

Peterborough coalition offers hope to General Electric retiree
Jamie Steele, Peterborough This Week
February 28, 2017

It’s been 13 years since General Electric-retiree Robert Bruce, of Peterborough, has heard any news about his claim with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.

With the help of the Occupational and Environmental Health Coalition of Peterborough (OEHCP), he and his daughter, Lissa, are hoping that will change.

In August of 1959, Robert Bruce, also known as Bob, started working at General Electric. In November of 1996, he went on long-term disability. He devoted 37 years to his work at the Peterborough plant.

Workers at Jamieson Labs in Windsor ratify new deal
AM800 News
February 28, 2017

Strike over at Jamieson Laboratories in Windsor.

The 200 workers voted 79% in favour of a new tentative agreement after rejecting the first agreement reached last week.

The new 3-year deal include a $0.50 an hour wage increase in each year of the contract, along with a $1,000 signing bonus.

Ontario to give public high-school teachers $25-million as lawsuit remedy
Caroline Alphonso, The Globe and Mail
February 28, 2017

Ontario’s Liberal government is giving its public high-school teachers a paid day off and $25-million in compensation as part of a remedy to a court ruling.

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruled last April that the government violated teachers’ Charter rights in 2012 when it temporarily suspended the right to strike, cut their sick days and imposed contracts on some education worker unions.

The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation last week said it had reached a tentative deal with the government to extend its current contract for teachers and support staff by two years. The union also said that it had reached a remedy on the lawsuit.

B.C. announces plan to hike minimum wage
The Canadian Press
February 28, 2017

The minimum wage in British Columbia will rise by 50 cents to $11.35 an hour in mid-September.

The ministry says there will be an identical increase of 50 cents to the minimum wage for liquor servers, bringing it to $10.10 per hour in September.

The Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training Ministry says the new wages include a 20-cent increase based on British Columbia’s 2016 Consumer Price Index, plus an additional 30 cents.

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