Labour News Update: April 10 2017

Windsor Goodwill workers negotiating union contract | Toronto’s ‘gig economy’ fueled by young workers starved for choice | Kids in care suffering due to low wages and lack of support for social workers | Saskatchewan sheds 2,000 jobs | Argentine workers to hold general strike | U of T hit with health and safety grievance over asbestos leak | D-J Composites workers block managers from entering offices | Protestors read in MLA offices | Worker dies in industrial accident at Vale | New bill gives academic staff the right to strike | Closing ERs in Winnipeg an idea ‘doomed to fail’ | Electric car workers accuse Tesla of low pay and intimidation | Uber’s latest move to exploit its workers | LCBO union uses government’s rhetoric against it in labour battle | Provincial strategy session maps out fight for $15 in 2017 | Trudeau’s housing spending is smoke and mirrors

17493032_1504693876241852_3889084428320863479_oProvincial strategy session maps out fight for $15 in 2017
Peter Hogarth, socialist.ca
April 2 2017

“We are building an intergenerational, multi-racial working class movement!” Betty Douglas’ words rang out to a huge standing ovation from the packed hall. Douglas, a McDonald’s worker from St Louis, Missouri, was in Toronto for the Fight for $15 and Fairness provincial strategy session on March 31-April 1.

The two-day conference brought together organizers from across Ontario. It was attended by activists from communities, campuses and workplaces in Sudbury, North Bay, Ottawa, Waterloo, Brantford, Hamilton, Kingston and a number of other towns across Ontario. They came to share and strategize on how to advance the demands of the $15 and Fairness campaign. The weekend’s skills building workshops wrestled with topics such as: using social media for movement building, meeting MPPs, workers’ rights, building in neighbourhoods, on campuses, among healthcare providers and in our workplaces. Table discussions took on challenging debates relating to bargaining for $15, organizing caregivers, overcoming divisions and understanding basic income and living wage.

Windsor Goodwill workers negotiating union contract
CBC News
April 7 2017

Employees at a Windsor thrift store will soon have a union contract.

Unifor Local 200 has signed up about 60 employees with Goodwill Industries. They work at the store on McDougall Avenue, two donation centres in the city’s east end and one in LaSalle.

Toronto’s ‘gig economy’ fueled by young workers starved for choice
Sara Mojtehedzadeh, The Toronto Star
April 7 2017

In the sound and fury of debates over the rise of businesses like Uber, one question is often drowned out: who, exactly, is behind the wheel — and why?

Now, the first comprehensive Canadian study on the topic provides some answers: the people powering Toronto’s so-called “gig economy” are young, educated, and reliant on “on-demand” jobs because they feel there is no other way to earn a living.

Kids in care suffering due to low wages and lack of support for social workers, says BCGEU
Angela Sterritt, CBC News
April 5 2017

Stressed, underpaid and overworked child protection staff are failing children in care, warns the union representing government workers in B.C.

Social workers and representatives from the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU) rallied at MLA Sam Sullivan’s office Tuesday.

They were calling for more support for B.C. social workers, days after B.C.’s Minister of Children and Family Development apologized to the family of 15-year-old Nick Lang who died six days after entering government-funded drug rehab.

Saskatchewan’s economy sheds 2,000 jobs in March: StatsCan
Saskatoon Star-Phoenix
April 7 2017

Saskatchewan’s economy shed 2,400 jobs last month, virtually all of which were part-time positions, partially offsetting the addition of almost 5,000 jobs to the province between January and February.

The provincial economy remains better-off than it was a year ago by about 2,000 jobs, however, with a loss of 4,100 part-time positions compensated for by 6,000 new full-time jobs, according to new data released Friday by Statistics Canada.

Argentine workers to hold general strike against neoliberalism
TeleSur
April 5 2017

Dozens of labor unions and grassroots organizations are calling for a general strike in Argentina on Thursday in protest of President Mauricio Macri and his neoliberal economic policies.

The strike coincides with the start of the World Economic Forum on Latin America, which is expected to attract thousands of business and political leaders from around the world to the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires.

U of T hit with health and safety grievance over asbestos leak
Laura Fraser, CBC News
April 7 2017

The union representing teaching assistants and contract faculty at the University of Toronto alleges the school violated the Occupational Health and Safety Act and compromised the well-being of its employees by having them continue to work following three documented asbestos leaks in the Medical Sciences Building.

CUPE local 3902 filed grievances against the university Thursday connected to five labs that tested positive for asbestos fibres when dust-samples were taken in February and March.

17546685_1507060579338515_6926945143850242341_oLocked out D-J Composites workers block managers from entering offices
Geoff Bartlett, CBC News
April 7 2017

Workers blocked 16 managers from entering the offices of aerospace manufacturer D-J Composites in Gander Friday, more than 100 days after the company locked out the 32 employees.

The workers have been without a contract for nearly two years, and say their lack of a living wage is one of the issues behind the lockout.

Protestors drop everything at read at MLA offices
Pamela Cowan, Regina Leader-Post
April 7 2017

Sitting on the grass reading with her family and friends over the lunch hour of a sunny spring day, Anna Bruce-Quark should have been happy.

Instead, the six-year-old was downcast.

“I’m sad because we can’t order books from places out of Regina,” Anna said.

The little girl was among more than 200 protesters who brought their books to Tina Beaudry-Mellor’s south-end constituency office to participate in the Drop Everything and Read rally.

They were among hundreds who rallied in support of libraries in more than 70 communities across the province on Friday.

Worker dies in industrial accident at Vale in Sudbury, Ont.
CBC News
April 7 2017

Ontario’s Ministry of Labour has confirmed a contract worker hurt Thursday afternoon on the Vale tailings property has died.

In an email to CBC News, ministry spokesperson Janet Deline said the employee was pinned underneath the tires of a dump truck, causing fatal injuries.

New bill gives academic staff the right to strike
Michelle Bellefontaine, CBC News
April 6 2017

Post-secondary faculty, graduate students and post-doctoral fellows will be given the right to strike under a new bill introduced Thursday by the Alberta government.

If the bill is passed, the associations representing professors, graduate students and post-doctoral fellows would have to negotiate an essential services agreement before heading to the picket line.

Closing ERs in Winnipeg an idea ‘doomed to fail,’ says emergency department doctor
Kristin Annable, CBC News
April 7 2017

If Manitoba wants to reduce wait times and save money, the solution isn’t converting emergency rooms into urgent care centres, warns an emergency room doctor.

Dr. Alan Drummond says any approach must include increases in hospital bed capacity and personal care homes if the goal is to save money or create efficiencies.

Charge Time: Electric car workers accuse Tesla of low pay and intimidation
David Dayen, Capital & Main
April 6 2017

Along Silicon Valley’s interlocking freeways, low-slung tech offices with obscure names like Way.com or Oorja are populated by fresh-faced technologists in badges and pleated slacks, striving to create the next great app. But off the I-880 in Fremont, a white colossus rises from the landscape, a 5.3-million-square-foot monster that stretches across two interchanges. The gray lettering is a full story high: TESLA.

Here, the company makes high-end, zero-emission vehicles, luxury cruisers for a climate emergency. Chief executive officer Elon Musk has cultivated a reputation as an economic visionary and has been hailed for solving the world’s great challenges with panache. Tesla’s Fremont factory brought hope to a blue-collar, racially diverse town with a manufacturing tradition. And this week, after reports of a 69 percent increase in first-quarter sales, the automaker passed Ford in market value. But though its products epitomize the future, workers like Richard Ortiz say Tesla’s labor conditions are mired in the past.

Inside Uber’s latest move to exploit its drivers and hide behind the courts
President ATU International Lawrence J. Hanley, Huffington Post
April 6 2017

With all the scandals Uber has been engrossed in, you may have missed a small, but extremely important, piece of news that represents a huge win for the company and a huge loss for their workforce. This week, U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik issued a temporary restraining order on a 2015 Seattle law that would give drivers for rideshare companies like Uber the right to join a union. This ruling should alarm progressives and everyone who believes in a fair and just society.

Recently, we also got a glimpse of what Uber thinks about its workers and why this ruling could be so devastating to the men and women who drive for the company. A few weeks ago, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick was caught on camera arguing with a driver named Fawzi Kamel. Kamel’s main complaint to his boss: Uber is making it tougher and tougher for drivers to make ends meet.

LCBO union uses government’s rhetoric against it in labour battle
David Reevely, Ottawa Citizen
April 5 2017

Creeping privatization at the Liquor Control Board of Ontario is behind a tough round of labour talks that’s headed for a strike vote later this month, says the president of the union representing workers there.

“Every time we go into bargaining with them, we take a strike vote and go right down to the 11th hour, and then the employer settles,” said Smokey Thomas, the president of the Ontario Public Service Employees’ Union. “It’s the classic, classic, classic (case of) the employer coming in and tabling all kinds of concessionary demands with the aim of getting (only) some of them.”

Trudeau’s housing spending is smoke and mirrors
David Hulchanski, Spacing
April 5 2017

In a year when the high cost of housing dominates the headlines, this year’s federal budget is promoting a bright shiny object: the allocation of $11 billion for housing.

Well before budget day, we were told to expect that $11 billion. On budget day, there it was, in all its glory.

But when you look closer, the money is not actually there. It’s not real. The $11 billion for housing is an alternative fact, distracting us from a gaping hole in the budget figures.

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