Labour News Update May 8 2017

May Day marches around the world | Contentious CLC report on ATU crisis falls short | STF opts for binding arbitration | Liberals give investors extraordinary control over infrastructure bank | CNA cuts will have wide impact | Toronto Zoo workers prepare for strike or lockout | Documents expose dangers of Liberal privatization bank | Canadian wages see weakest growth since 1997 | Worker safety still at risk 25 years after Westray tragedy | Why a $15 Minimum Wage Is Good Economics | U of R raises tuition, freezes salaries | NSNDP unveils plan to raise minimum wage to $15 per hour | ‘I can’t even get a job waitressing’: Gen Y on its work woes | Labour board rules D-J Composites engaged in bad-faith bargaining | Profits at Canada Post show its potential

May Day in Karachi, Pakistan. Shakil Adil/Associated Press.

May Day marches see large crowds, some clashes with police
Associated Press
May 1 2017

In Bangladesh, thousands of garment industry workers gathered to demand better wages and legal protection.

Lovely Yesmin, president of the Readymade Garments Workers Federation, one of several unions representing factory workers, said just increasing salaries is not enough.

She said workers must be provided better living quarters and health benefits, and factories must make provisions so the children of factory workers can be educated.

Contentious CLC report on ATU crisis falls short
David Bush and Gerard Di Trolio,
May 5 2017

On March 27, CLC Investigator Barry Thorsteinson submitted an 11 page report to CLC President Hassan Yussuff on the ATU Local 113 crisis. His report notes that with the March 17 withdrawal of Bob Kinnear’s request for the CLC’s justification proceedings, the case ends with the filing of his report. No full investigation is to be conducted.

The Thorsteinson report makes a number of preliminary findings. The first is that Unifor stands in violation of the CLC Constitution for its interference in this dispute. The report notes that the CLC will determine what response if appropriate.

STF opts for binding arbitration if teachers and employers hit impasse
Morgan Modjeski, Saskatoon StarPhoenix
May 3 2017

As the Saskatchewan government, school boards and teachers start a contentious round of labour negotiations, the possibility of a strike or lockout appears to have been avoided.

The Saskatchewan Teacher’s Federation executive has opted to give a third-party arbitrator the final say if the groups hit an impasse.

A portion of the STF membership learned of the decision during its annual meeting of council in Saskatoon last week.

Liberals gave investors ‘extraordinary control’ over infrastructure bank: opposition
Bill Curry, The Globe & Mail
May 5 2017

Opposition parties accused the Liberal government of being too cozy with global wealth funds, after documents revealed extensive interactions between investors and federal officials in the planning and promotion of the Canada Infrastructure Bank.

Both the Conservatives and NDP raised the issue Friday in the House of Commons in the wake of a Globe and Mail report that published behind-the-scenes details of how Ottawa spent months working to pitch the bank to international investors.

CNA Job/Course Cuts Will Have Far-Reaching Impact: NAPE
May 6 2017

The elimination of dozens of full-time and contractual faculty positions at the College of the North Atlantic is going to have far-reaching effects across the province.

That’s according to NAPE President Jerry Earle who was reacting to the cuts announced yesterday.

Eleven full-time and 34 contractual positions were eliminated after CNA removed seven programs from its schedule for the upcoming year due to low enrollment.

Toronto Zoo workers prepare for possible May 11 strike/lockout
David Nickle, Inside Toronto
May 4 2017

Five hundred unionized workers at the Toronto Zoo could be on the picket line at 12:01 a.m. May 11, over what union leaders say is an attempt to remove all job security provisions from the contract.

“We’re not going to be accepting those severe cuts,” said Christine McKenzie, President of CUPE Local 1600, at Toronto City Hall May 4. “What we’re most concerned about is cuts to our job security. They want to eliminate all of our job security language, which would impact the conservation work that we do.”

McKenzie said that zoo management has proposed provisions which would permit all of the unionized jobs at the zoo to be contracted out. She said that doing so would jeopardize the conservation work that the zoo does, helping protect endangered species in Canada and abroad.

Documents expose dangers of Liberal privatization bank
May 5 2017

Newly-released government documents expose the privatization plans at the heart of the Liberal’s proposed infrastructure bank.

The Globe and Mail is reporting on government briefings that show the Canada Infrastructure Bank has been designed with one-sided advice that comes almost exclusively from the corporations and private investors, including pension funds, that will profit from it.

Canadian wages see weakest growth since 1997
Andy Blatchford, The Canadian Press
May 5 2017

The unemployment rate fell last month to its lowest level since the start of the last major recession, but details within Statistics Canada’s latest labour report — including a record-low for wage growth — dampened what has otherwise been a strong run for the job market.

Job creation cooled down in April and produced a net increase of just 3,200 positions, a figure so low it was statistically insignificant, the agency’s workforce survey said Friday.

Worker safety still at risk 25 years after Westray tragedy: Wells
Jennifer Wells, The Toronto Star
May 5 2017

It was a couple of hours past midnight when Mike Piché walked through the portal to the Westray coal mine. His hard hat didn’t have a head lamp, so it was by flashlight that Piché scanned the surroundings, the sight of cigarette butts, the five-gallon pail lined with a plastic bag and fitted on top with a toilet seat, the coal dust that drifted shin high.

“It’s like stepping in talc,” Piché says of moving through the abundance of black dust that coated the tunnel that April morning, the dust that would explode weeks later, turning the Westray mine into a mortuary for 26 miners, and a permanent sepulchre for 11 of those men.

Why a $15 Minimum Wage Is Good Economics
Jared Bernstein and Ben Spielberg, The American Prospect
May 4 2017

In our last column, we offered two bold policy ideas: Medicare for All and a job guarantee. Now, we’re pleased to see Democrats in the House and the Senate step up with an idea of their own: raising the minimum wage to $15.

The Raise the Wage Act of 2017, co-sponsored by Senators Patty Murray and Bernie Sanders and House members Bobby Scott and Keith Ellison, would hike the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024. It would then index the minimum wage to the median wage (to keep low-wage workers’ pay changing at the same pace as the pay of middle-wage workers) and would gradually phase out the loopholes in federal minimum-wage law that set subminimum wages for tipped workers, teenagers who’ve just started their jobs, and workers with disabilities.

U of R raises tuition, freezes salaries to ‘minimize the effect of government funding cuts’
Creeden Martell, CBC News
May 5 2017

Tuition is going up again at the University of Regina.

Tuition will increase by 2.5 per cent and the operating budget has been set at $216 million. Last year’s operating budget was $214.9 million.

NDP unveils plan to raise minimum wage to $15 per hour
Michael Gorman, CBC News
May 4 2017

Liam Crouse knows how challenging it is to make ends meet while making minimum wage in Nova Scotia.

The NDP candidate for Hants East watched his family’s small tea room in Elmsdale go under in 2007 during the economic collapse. Both his parents had to take on minimum-wage jobs. His dad worked 16 hours a day, but it still wasn’t enough to support the family of six.

Crouse’s dad eventually went West seeking work, but their struggle continued.

‘I can’t even get a job waitressing’: Gen Y on its work woes
Rob Carrick, The Globe & Mail
May 4 2017

Starting a career as a young adult today is precarious work.

Almost one-quarter of the generation of young adults born between 1981 and 2000 are working temporary or contract jobs, nearly double the rate for the entire job market. Almost one-third are not working in their field of education, 21 per cent are working more than one job, and close to half are looking for a new job.

Labour board rules D-J Composites engaged in bad-faith bargaining
May 3 2017

The Newfoundland and Labrador Labour Relations Board ruled on Wednesday that U.S.-owned D-J Composites violated section 75 of the Labour Relations Act by engaging in bad-faith bargaining with its Gander employees, members of Unifor Local 597.

“This is an exceptionally important decision that reinforces what Unifor has been saying all along – that this employer was not interested in reaching a fair contract with its employees,” said Lana Payne, Unifor Atlantic Regional Director. “D-J Composites introduced proposals that no reasonable union would agree to. In our Union’s opinion, these proposals were designed to lengthen the lockout‎.”

Profits at Canada Post show Crown corporation’s potential: union
May 2 2017

Canada Post has once again turned a profit. The Crown corporation made $81 million in net profit in 2016 in spite of a management team that refuses to innovate, and despite management threats to lock out postal workers last summer, which scared away a hundred million dollars in business.

The union representing the majority of postal workers says it’s time to stop the doom and gloom.

“Canada Post is a public sector success story,” said CUPW National President Mike Palecek. “For years, they’ve tried to cut our public services and jobs by claiming the sky is falling. Their dire predictions have never materialized.”

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