Labour News Update: March 20, 2017

Kinnear resigns | Manitoba’s austerity | Saskatchewan government fires cleaners | CHS Ontario strike | Liberals set to sell off airports | Transit workers | Emera’s greed | Unpaid taxes | Alberta’s Bill 6 | Health-care workers face ‘epidemic of violence’ | Big banks ripping off customers and public | Gatineau bus drivers strike | BC Ironworkers fight their own union over Liberal endorsement | Phoenix failure eroding faith in system | Lear locked in labour negotiations as GM deadlines loom | More BS from Uber | UofT Scarborough food service rejective tentative deal and continue their strike |


What is next for Nova Scotia’s teachers?, March 14

For days and weeks the Nova Scotia Teachers Union dominated the headlines. But after the government imposed a new contract all that disappeared. What actually happened? Why did it matter? What’s next?

Book Review: Education Justice, March 15

The appointment of Betty DeVos as U.S. Secretary of Education aroused considerable opposition. Many of those challenging her were acting on the subtitle of Howard Ryan’s book, “organizing against the corporate juggernaut.” Education Justice is a rewarding mix of political analysis about the corporate forces pushing U.S. education in one direction and examples of grassroots union and classroom organizing as a way of challenging that direction.

Recommendations on Alberta’s Bill 6, March 16

In reading the recommendations, it is worth noting that only 29% of Alberta farms employed waged labour in 2011. Most of this employment occurs on farms with annual revenue of $250,000 or more. These farms can afford to provide fair and safe workplaces.

ATU members to meet as unions slam Unifor, CLC, March 17

On March 19, ATU Local 113 will hold its monthly general meeting. It will be the first such membership meeting to truly deal with the fallout of President Bob Kinnear’s attempt to take Local 113 out of the Amalgamated Transit Union. has learned of a letter signed by numerous unions sent on March 3 to the CLC protesting its acceptance of Kinnear’s request to invoke section 4.9 of the CLC Constitution. Section 4.9 initiates a process in which members of a local can begin the process to change unions.

In Other News

Employees at Canada’s 5 big banks speak out about pressure to dupe customers
CBC News, March 15

Employees from all five of Canada’s big banks have flooded Go Public with stories of how they feel pressured to upsell, trick and even lie to customers to meet unrealistic sales targets and keep their jobs. The deluge is fuelling multiple calls for a parliamentary inquiry, even as the banks claim they’re acting in customers’ best interests. In nearly 1,000 emails, employees from RBC, BMO, CIBC, TD and Scotiabank locations across Canada describe the pressures to hit targets that are monitored weekly, daily and in some cases hourly.

Bob Kinnear resigns as head of the TTC union
Toronto Star, March 17

The embattled president of the TTC’s largest union has resigned, following a dramatic struggle over the group’s affiliation with its U.S.-based parent organization. In an emailed statement Friday afternoon, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113 announced that Bob Kinnear, who had led the organization since 2003, had stepped aside “effective immediately.”

Labour in Manitoba braces for legislative storm
Winnipeg Free Press, March 16

Monday is the deadline to get legislation expected to be contested by the opposition passed before the session ends June 1. The government is suspected to be planning to impose a wage freeze on public servants. It isn’t clear whether that will extend to every Manitoba employee who draws a salary from the public purse.

Selling off Canada’s airport could result in sky-high prices
Toronto Star, March 17

If the leaks are true, the upcoming federal budget will include an ill-advised move to sell off Canada’s airports, which would result in both travellers and governments paying a heavy price. The potential sale of Canada’s airports is part of a larger trend of “asset recycling,” the politically popular term describing government sales of public assets to investors who then control prices and quality, often with little to no competition.

Health-care workers face ‘epidemic of violence’
Toronto Star, March 13

Ontario’s nurses and personal support workers are facing an “epidemic of violence” caused by government and hospitals’ failure to safeguard them from abuse, assault and sexual harassment, according to the body representing health-care providers. In a letter sent Monday to Minister of Labour Kevin Flynn, Ontario Council of Hospital Unions president Michael Hurley expressed dismay at the “daily” threats health-care workers confront on the job, which he calls “unacknowledged, dismissed, or tolerated by administrators and regulators.”

Phoenix failure eroding faith in system
iPolitics, March 14

As tax season looms, a whole new set of screw-ups is emerging: tens of thousands of erroneous T-4 forms, or public servants forced to fork over big money to accountants to sort out the mess that Phoenix made of their pay in 2016. Just in the past week, coast guard and correctional officers have lodged renewed complaints and CBC Radio listeners heard yet another story of Phoenix-induced hardship that’s become too typical since the system was rolled out a year ago.

17211796_10154540918609422_5076835425460427639_oHearing society workers out on strike
Whig-Standard, March 17

Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 2073, which represents 227 workers at the agency across Ontario, has been on strike since March 6, the day after contract negotiations broke down. The unionized employees have been working without a contract for four years, said Christine Lang, the CUPE national representative in Kingston. “These are really dedicated-to-their-profession people, but it has certainly brought moral down,” Lang said. “I don’t think our people are asking for anything outlandish.”

Lear locked in labour negotiations as GM deadlines loom
Globe and Mail, March 14

Workers at a Lear Corp. automotive seat-making plant in Whitby, Ont., are battling to save their jobs amid demands by the company that hourly labour costs be reduced by 40 per cent. About 350 workers at the plant, who make seats for General Motors Co. vehicles assembled in nearby Oshawa, Ont., have been on the job without a contract since Feb. 28 while negotiations continue with Lear on a new labour agreement.

Ironworkers fight their own union over Liberal endorsement
The Province, March 15

A rebel group of angry construction workers say they’re mad as hell at their own union for endorsing Premier Christy Clark’s Liberal Party in the approaching B.C. election. Now they’re demanding the 1,800 B.C. members of the Ironworkers Union be allowed to vote on the endorsement before the campaign kicks off for the May 9 election.

Saskatchewan Co-op Refinery brings in housing trailers as labour disruption looms
CJME, March 15

Extra steps are being taken at the Co-op Refinery which would indicate a possible labour disruption is closer to happening. The company confirmed 50 housing trailers were brought in on site at the refinery March 8 as either a strike or lockout looms, which could happen as soon as early April.

Fired Bonté Foods worker wins job back because of ADHD discrimination
CBC News, March 14

Bonté Foods Ltd. of Dieppe has been ordered to reinstate a worker with attention deficit disorder who was fired for violating the company’s safe food-handling practices. Arbitrator Robert Breen said Bonte’s failure to accommodate Robert Daniel’s diagnosed disability amounted to discrimination.

Fighting Saskatchewan’s deficit on the backs of cleaners a sad story
Leader Post, March 15

The idea that only government employees can sell you liquor or clean your bedsheets after your hospital stay is a notion that does seem passe. So by the same logic, one could certainly rationalize replacing 250 government cleaners with private contractors.

Uber’s possible demise could be a wake-up call for tech companies behaving badly
CBC News, March 13

The thing is, if Uber does crash, it won’t just mark the demise of the company. It could serve as a wake-up call to an industry dominated by a culture of conceit, and the end of the myth that a company can succeed by breaking all of the rules. There’s one rule that simply can’t be broken: respect your employees and respect your customers

Tragedy waiting to happen at Sterling Fuels, say concerned politicians
CBC News, March 13

Windsor politicians and union leaders gathered with employees of Sterling Fuels Ltd. Monday calling on the company to eliminate alleged safety issues for workers and threats to the surrounding neighbourhood and environment. “If you think Lac-Mégantic was bad, this would be ten times that size,” said Dino Chiodo, who represtents the workers as president of Unifor 444. “They need to get off of their keister and figure out how to fix the situation.”

Alternative Federal Budget 2017: High stakes, clear choices
BehindtheNumbers, March 14

In 2017, the stakes are high and the choices are clear. Canadians simply can’t afford a “go slow”, “wait and see”, or “status quo” budget. It’s time to deliver on promises made and to invest in reducing inequality and driving inclusive growth. Budgets are about choices—some of the most important choices that any government can make. With this budget, our federal government has a responsibility to do everything within its power to avoid this path.

17349679_10155050595493186_524157879590484031_oLack of Oxford Comma Could Cost Maine Company Millions in Overtime Dispute
New York Times, March 16

A class-action lawsuit about overtime pay for truck drivers hinged entirely on a debate that has bitterly divided friends, families and foes: The dreaded — or totally necessary — Oxford comma, perhaps the most polarizing of punctuation marks. What ensued in the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, and in a 29-page court decision handed down on Monday, was an exercise in high-stakes grammar pedantry that could cost a dairy company in Portland, Me., an estimated $10 million.

STO bus drivers, mechanics walk off to protest lagging talks
Ottawa Sun, March 16

“It’s last minute and the two sides don’t seem to be interested in talking to each other at all.” Union president Félix Gendron said at a picket line outside of STO headquarters Thursday that the employer could bring an end to the rotating strikes by agreeing to arbitration, which was recommended to both sides by a mediator, saying the union would engage in real bargaining. The employer has been dragging its heels on negotiations, he said. “Arbitration will stop the strike immediately,” Gendron said.

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