Labour News Update: April 17 2017

Union stands by its decision to picket ex-minister’s home | Ontario miners paid price for human experiments | Senate blocks Liberals’ plan to repeal ‘anti-union’ law | Chronicle Herald union to file labour complaint in wake of purchase of 28 news outlets | New motion proposes stronger protections for temp agency workers | 88 per cent uncomfortable with Canada-China FTA | Capitalism is violence | Lobbyists target Senate to derail WestJet union bid | EI benefits run out for thousands of Albertans | Sudbury city council defeats motion to consider laundry hub | The unions that like Trump | No death blows in Manitoba budget | Sackville municipal workers rally at town hall

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If the Fraser Institute celebrated Easter…

Union stands by its decision to picket at Terry French’s home
Glenn Payette, CBC News
April 13 2017

The union that represents striking elevator construction workers in the province says it was ‘appropriate’ to picket former cabinet minister Terry French’s house.

French is no longer in politics, and is now the president of the Construction Labour Relations Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (CLRA).

In human experiment, Ontario miners say they paid devastating price
Sara Mojtehedzadeh, The Toronto Star
April 15, 2017

It was a human experiment on an unprecedented scale. Its target: 10,000 Ontario miners. Its tool: a mysterious black powder they were forced to inhale in a sealed room before plunging underground to work.

From 1943 to roughly 1980, an aluminum-based prophylaxis called McIntyre Powder was sold as an apparent miracle antidote to lung disease. It was designed, historical documents suggest, by industry-sponsored Canadian scientists bent on slashing compensation costs in gold and uranium mines across the north.

The problem: experts say aluminum is now known to be neurotoxic if significant doses get into the blood. And victims’ families say those exposed to Canada’s miracle McIntyre dust might be paying a devastating price.

Senate blocks Liberals’ plan to repeal ‘anti-union’ law
Bill Curry, Globe & Mail
April 14 2017

In one of its first acts after winning the 2015 federal election, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government moved to reverse two Conservative laws that Canada’s labour leaders viewed as an attack on unions.

When the House of Commons passed the legislation last fall, Mr. Trudeau boasted of this accomplishment to a large and appreciative gathering of the Canadian Labour Congress.

Now that pledge is suddenly in jeopardy after the Senate voted to keep one of those two laws in place.

Chronicle Herald union to file labour complaint in wake of purchase of 28 news outlets
CBC News
April 13 2017

The national union representing the striking Chronicle Herald employees says it plans to file an unfair labour practice complaint against the newspaper in the wake of its purchase of 28 news outlets across Atlantic Canada on Thursday.

“We’re already looking at legal action,” said Martin O’Hanlon, president of the Canadian chapter of Communications Workers of America union.

He told CBC’s Mainstreet the union also plans to renew its call to the labour minister of Nova Scotia to appoint an industrial commission to help settle the strike.

New motion proposes stronger protections for temp agency workers
Sara Mojtehedzadeh, The Toronto Star
April 13, 2017

Give temp agency workers equal pay for equal work, ban “temporary” assignments that turn into long-term gigs, and eliminate unfair fees charged by staffing agencies, a new motion suggests.

The new proposals are expected to be introduced Thursday by provincial NDP deputy leader Jagmeet Singh, and mirror some of the demands made by workers’ rights activists to better protect vulnerable workers.

As Canada-China FTA talks resume this month, poll shows 88 per cent uncomfortable with deal
Brent Patterson, Council of Canadians
April 11 201717523454_1514896871888219_5531257399010820145_n

The Trudeau government is having a hard time selling the proposed Canada-China Free Trade Agreement to the public.

The Globe and Mail reports, “A Nanos Research survey of 1,000 Canadians, conducted April 1-4, found 88 per cent are uncomfortable or somewhat uncomfortable with the prospect of a free-trade deal that would allow Chinese state-owned corporations to buy high-tech Canadian firms and lift restrictions barring these enterprises from investing in Alberta’s oil sands. [But] China’s new envoy to Canada has said any bilateral deal must remove restrictions on state-owned enterprises investing in the oil sands and give them open access to the Canadian economy without national-security screening.”

Capitalism is violence
Matt Bruenig, Jacobin
April 12 2017

United Airlines violently removed a passenger from an airplane earlier this week. The company had overbooked the flight, which is standard practice in the airline industry, and then failed to entice enough people to give up their seats by offering as much as $800 to anyone who would volunteer. The final solution to the conundrum of too many passengers and not enough seats was to demand certain passengers give up their seats. When one man refused, he was forced out.

Lobbyists target Senate to derail WestJet union bid
Riley Sparks, National Observer
April 10 2017

A fight to stop unionization of WestJet pilots has moved into the Senate, with lobbyists working behind the scenes to derail the proposed repeal of a Stephen Harper-era measure that critics denounced as anti-union.

The WestJet Pilots Association, which represents pilots at the airline but is not a trade union, is lobbying in favour of a Conservative senator’s last-minute proposal to preserve legislation adopted under the former prime minister that requires secret ballot votes on union membership.

Thousands of Albertans slip to ‘lowest level of the social safety net’ as EI benefits run out
Robson Fletcher, CBC News
April 6 2017

The number of people receiving income support in Alberta has jumped 28 per cent in the past year and the vast majority of that increase is among people who are looking for work — a consequence of federal EI benefits running out.

“That’s what’s happening here,” said University of Calgary economist Ron Kneebone, who has been delving into the provincial data.

“We’ve got people who have exhausted EI and now they’re moving on to the next level — the lowest level — of the social safety net.”

Down the drain: Sudbury city council defeats motion to consider laundry hub
CBC News
April 12 2017

A city councillor’s attempts to create an independent laundry hub in Sudbury went down the drain last night.

Michael Vagnini had called for the Greater Sudbury Development Corporation to conduct a feasibility study to determine if the idea of a locally-run facility has merit.

Vagnini said establishing a hub would save the jobs of 38 unionized laundry workers, who will soon be out of work.

The unions that like Trump
Steven Greenhouse, The New York Times
April 8 2017

Like Ronald Reagan, Donald Trump racked up the support of millions of blue-collar white voters in Midwestern swing states, and like Mr. Reagan, the 45th president is pushing to nail down more blue-collar support to ensure a lasting Republican majority. In doing so, Mr. Trump has championed many issues straight out of organized labor’s wish list — he is pressing manufacturers not to ship jobs overseas, he has promised $1 trillion in infrastructure spending, he has threatened a 35 percent tariff to slow Mexican imports and he has vowed to overhaul Nafta.

While Mr. Reagan lined up support from only a few unions, Mr. Trump is seeking to go him one better; he is wooing many unions and their members directly, from carpenters to coal miners to autoworkers. At a recent discussion on how to expand auto industry jobs, Mr. Trump invited the president of the United Auto Workers to sit close to him on the dais.

2017 Manitoba budget: Numerous jabs but no death blows
Bartley Kives, Kristin Annable, Sean Kavanagh, CBC News
April 11 2017

Wielding a butter knife instead of an axe, Manitoba’s Progressive Conservative government chose to make a series of modest changes to the provincial budget this year instead of engaging in the radical fiscal change some observers had wanted and others feared.

Manitoba’s 2017-18 spending plan, the second budget prepared by Brian Pallister’s government, calls for a small increase in overall spending, a small reduction in the provincial deficit and no drastic cuts to services.

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Sackville, NB municipal workers at rally. Photo by Bruce Wark.

As Sackville edges closer to municipal work stoppage, workers rally at Town Hall
Bruce Wark, The New Wark Times
April 11 2017

About 150 union supporters rallied outside Sackville Town Hall last night and then crowded into the council chamber to support members of CUPE local 1188 which represents the town’s 35 inside and outside workers. The workers have been without a contract since December 31, 2015 and negotiations are now at a standstill.

A provincially appointed conciliator has informed both sides he will be submitting his report to the provincial minister of labour today (April 11th) starting the clock on a process that could see a strike or lockout within about two to four weeks.

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