Labour News Update: April 3, 2017

Manitoba Tories attack | Saskatchewan budget cuts | Trudeau backs Bombardier management raises | CNRL workplace deaths inquiry | CAS strike | Settlement reached for fired CHCH workers | CHS strike in Ontario | Brantford bans use of temp agencies | Victory! USA Women’s Hockey Team Just Won Their Strike | Irvings Canada’s biggest corporate welfare bums | Part-time staff being taken advantage of’ at Food Basics | CP not providing adequate training |

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Using the bargaining table to advance racial justice, March 28

When we talk to co-workers about the racial justice demands, we’re connecting them to a bigger picture—the new threats to our communities and national right-wing efforts to divide and destroy our labor movement. We’re also talking to other unions and other organizations resisting the Trump administration to share examples of what we’re trying to do. It’s difficult for any single union to win and defend racial justice provisions alone. To establish pattern standards on these issues will take many unions pursuing the same demands.

Book Review – Union Power: The United Electrical Workers in Erie, Pennsylvania, March 29

The history contained in the pages of Union Power: The United Electrical Workers in Erie, Pennsylvania by James Young is an invaluable lesson for those looking to reinvigorate the labour movement today, especially in former industrial areas facing decline.

Osgoode workers win $15, March 30

By March 2018, every person working at Osgoode Hall Law School will be making $15 an hour or more. That makes Osgoode the first major post-secondary academic unit in Ontario to bring its employment practices in line with the demands of the Fight for $15 and Fairness campaign.

Saskatchewan’s 2017 Austerity Budget, April 1

Saskatchewan’s 2017 budget landed with an unenthusiastic thud last week. Riddled with cuts, job losses, public sector wage reductions, and tax increases, the Saskatchewan Party’s austerity budget has garnered few friends, with critics ranging from organized labour movement to small businesses. The government’s budget has several fiscal goals: aggressively tackle its $1.3-billion deficit in three short years, overhaul the tax structure away from progressive forms of taxation to consumption taxes, and dismantle key aspects of the social welfare state.

Other News

Trudeau defends government aid to Bombardier after its senior execs boosted their pay by nearly 50%
Financial Post, March 30

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is defending his government’s decision to provide federal assistance to Bombardier after the company’s senior executives saw their compensation rise by nearly 50 per cent last year.

Sask. taxes subsidizing oil execs’ move here is madness
LeaderPost, March 31

Just in time to pay double-digit property tax increases and a newly minted six-per-cent provincial sales tax on restaurant meals, Premier Brad Wall is enticing Calgary oil executives to move to Saskatchewan.

Hard at Work: ‘Part-time staff being taken advantage of’ at Food Basics, claims worker
CBC, March 31

Despite being classified a part-time worker on paper, the grocery clerk gave CBC paystubs that showed consistent work weeks of 40 hours. The clerk says they’re scheduled often to “keep up with the workload at the store.”

Union demands CAS board be dissolved
Bay Today, March 31

‘I’m angry that children’s and families in our community are suffering because we are locked out of our workplace; and I’m angry that our employer continues to lie about us’ After 99 days of being locked out of the Nipissing and Parry Sound Children’s Aide Society (CAS), starting on Christmas Eve past, worker representatives have reached a new level of frustration, taking them to the streets of North Bay Friday afternoon.

STC closure shows flaws in Wall’s thinking
LeaderPost, March 30

Saskatchewan’s citizens will be facing — and questioning — the fallout from last week’s slash-and-burn provincial budget for a long time to come. In that context, the closure of the Saskatchewan Transportation Company is just one of many plans which stands to transform Saskatchewan into a less-connected, less-functional province. But it’s worth examining how the STC announcement highlights the largest flaws underlying Brad Wall’s decision-making.

Are the Irvings Canada’s biggest corporate welfare bums?
National Observer, March 30

While the Irvings are receiving massive subsidies and tax breaks and grants, the New Brunswick government is in dire financial shape and its citizens are among the highest taxed in Canada. For fiscal 2015-’16 year, the province’s deficit was $260.5-million. Almost a third of the province’s budget comes from federal transfer payments. While the deficit was down from previous years, the province’s debt has soared to $14-billion.

$1M settlement reached for fired CHCH workers
CBC, March 27

CHCH’s parent company has reached a settlement with the union representing its workers who were laid off en masse in 2015. Channel Zero announced the deal — which is for $1 million to be paid out over two years — on Monday afternoon. “They aren’t getting as much severance as they would have under their collective agreement, but they are getting more than they would have gotten under the bankruptcy proceedings,” said Unifor national representative Liz Marzari.

She’s Hot: Female Sessional Instructors, Gender Bias, and Student Evaluations, March 30

Over the course of the past year or so, there have been a number of studies that have emerged detailing the gender bias against female instructors in student evaluations. According to one study, male professors routinely ranked higher than female professors in many areas. While many of these studies discuss the negative impact that this bias has on tenure and promotion few consider how devastating they can be to sessional instructors, particularly given the overrepresentation of women at this academic rank.

17629625_1498812343496672_5727947289410295641_nP.E.I. widow awarded benefits after husband’s death linked to workplace bullying
CBC, March 30

A Prince Edward Island widow has been awarded benefits after her husband’s death was linked to workplace bullying and harassment. “I said that from the get-go,” said Lisa Donovan. “I believe that Eric’s workplace bullying and harassment was the reason that my husband had his heart attack.” Donovan got the ruling from the Workers Compensation Board of P.E.I (WCB) in December 2016, after three years of complex legal proceedings to decide whether the WCB or the P.E.I. Supreme Court should hear her claim, and then whether the bullying that was alleged could be considered a workplace accident.

Brantford city council bans use of temp agencies to hire workers
Toronto Star, March 29

In a rare move, Brantford city council has voted to end its use of temporary staffing agencies — businesses local councillors blame for trapping workers in a cycle of poverty and insecurity. The ban, unanimously approved on Tuesday evening, is believed to be the first of its kind in Ontario and will prohibit the city council from hiring through such organizations. Councillor Brian Van Tilborg, who introduced the motion, called the decision “groundbreaking.”

Watson Lake, Yukon, town workers begin strike as lockout ends
CBC, March 27

Twenty-two unionized municipal employees in Watson Lake began a strike at 1 p.m. Monday, as the town’s earlier lockout came to an end. “With the collective agreement no longer in place, it is no longer safe for our members to return to work,” said Jack Bourassa, executive vice-president for the North region of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, in a news release.

Very depressing’: CIBC staff losing jobs to workers in India, expected to help with training
CBC, March 31

CIBC is eliminating up to 130 jobs in its Toronto finance department and outsourcing the work to India. As part of the transition, staff losing their positions must train other local CIBC employees. Those employees then train the workers in India who will be taking over the jobs. Although they aren’t directly training their replacements, the situation isn’t sitting well with some affected staff who spoke with CBC News. They asked that their identity be protected because they fear repercussion from CIBC — one of Canada’s largest banks.

‘They are scared’: CP workers say rookie engineers ill-prepared for dangerous job
CBC, March 30

CBC News has heard from multiple sources inside the company who say a recent group of engineer trainees for the mountain routes expressed concern to CP officials that they felt ill-prepared for the job after just a few months of training but were promoted anyway. “They are scared because they are forced into it,” said the quick-thinking conductor who stepped in for his rookie engineer. “They are telling them, ‘We’re not ready. We’re not qualified.’ But the company and Transport Canada say, ‘Oh yeah, we’ll qualify them. Only 2 ½ months on the mountain? But what the hell. We’ve got a warm body in the seat. Hopefully all goes well.'”

Victory! USA Women’s Hockey Team Just Won Their Strike
The Nation, March 29

They went on strike and held the line until the last possible moment, less than 70 hours before the World Championships in Michigan. They went public with their demands, building a groundswell that inspired solidarity from every sports union, male and female, in the United States as well as 16 US Senators. They had won seven of the last nine World Championships and were willing to sacrifice that for the basic idea that being a full-time athlete and being paid like a part time employee was no longer going to cut it. But it was bigger than wages.

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