Labour News Update: May 22 2017

Striking Zoo workers using puns against management | GE report on Peterborough workers’ health makes ‘other evidence’ clear | Union vows to fight move giving railways access to video recorders data | Local roofer gets day in jail, fine | Flex-N-Gate ratification vote fails; members strike | Irving Oil could profit from new element of federal carbon tax plan | 28 laid off from Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board | City of Winnipeg’s largest union hints at potential labour disruption | Union town hall addresses potential job losses at two Niagara casinos | CUPE tells feds to drop promise-breaking Bill C-27 | The $15 minimum wage is good: busting business lobby myths | Tesla factory workers reveal pain, injury and stress | Weed dispensary in Toronto unionizes | Before break, ‘one last rally’ held at Legislative Building to protest budget | SEIU Healthcare’s response to the Ontario Chamber of Commerce objecting potential labour and employment standards reforms | Federal audit finds oversight problems in foreign worker program | Nova Scotia teachers formally file for court to end imposed labour contract

Toronto Zoo workers are on strike, and their strategy includes torturing management with bad animal puns
Toronto Life
May 17 201718486360_1553293701381869_8999903773122032725_n

The Toronto Zoo is temporarily closed, because about 400 of its unionized workers are on strike. According to CUPE Local 1600, the zoo’s union, the main point of disagreement is job security: the workers want the city-run zoo to continue a longstanding commitment not to allow the zoo’s complement of full-time, permanent staff to dip below 150 employees. Zoo management would prefer to do away with the staffing minimum.

Most unions rely on strikes for leverage, but the Toronto Zoo’s employees have another weapon at their disposal: terrible animal puns. The placards on the picket lines are laden with so many zoo-related groaners that it’s a wonder city hall didn’t cave to workers’ demands days ago. Here are some of the worst we could find.

GE report on Peterborough workers’ health makes ‘other evidence’ clear
The Peterborough Examiner
May 20 2017

A new report that describes working conditions at the General Electric plant in Peterborough from the mid 1940s to 2000 is a damning indictment of working.

And while the 183-page report was put together by former GE workers, their family members and researchers sponsored by the plant union, Unifor, it appears to be an accurate review of what workers faced.

There are detailed breakdowns of jobs in each section of what was once this city’s overwhelmingly biggest industrial employer with a workforce that once topped 5,000.

Union vows to fight move giving railways access to video recorders data
Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press
May 18 2017

Railways operating in Canada would be required to install locomotive voice and video recorders as a safety measure under legislation introduced Tuesday, but the union representing workers is vowing to fight the change over privacy concerns.

“This is a full violation of privacy,” said Don Ashley, national legislative director for Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, who will take the fight to Canada’s privacy commissioner.

Local roofer gets day in jail, fine
The Intelligencer
May 19 2017

BELLEVILLE – A local roofer spent one day in jail and was fined $10,000 for ignoring safety regulations, reports the Ontario Ministry of Labour.

Steve Bell was charged with failing as an employer to ensure a worker was adequately protected from falling. By law the worker should have been using a travel restraint system, fall-restricting system, fall arrest system or a safety net.

Flex-N-Gate ratification vote fails; members strike
Tamar Harris, Windsor Star
May 19 2017

Workers at a company that supplies door rails for Chrysler minivans are on strike and if an agreement isn’t reached by Tuesday, operations at the Windsor Assembly Plant could be affected, according to a union representative.

Fifty-five per cent of Flex-N-Gate workers voted Friday to reject the tentative deal that was reached between Unifor Local 195 and the company, said union president Gerry Farnham.

Irving Oil could profit from new element of federal carbon tax plan
Robert Jones, CBC News
May 19 2017

The Irving Oil refinery — New Brunswick’s largest business — could end up mostly exempt or even profiting from the federal government’s national carbon tax plan, according to new details released Thursday.

Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna announced Ottawa will be copying an element in Alberta’s carbon tax system called “output-based pricing,” meant to shield companies that would be made uncompetitive by a high tax on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

28 laid off from Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board
Alexander Quon, Global News
May 19 2017

According to the local Canadian Union of Public Employees, 28 education workers at the Cape Breton – Victoria Regional School Board received layoff notices on Friday

The workers include 23 teaching assistants, two secretaries, two cleaning supervisors and one cleaner.

City of Winnipeg’s largest union hints at potential labour disruption ahead of ‘final offer’ from the city
Bartley Kives, CBC News
May 19 2017

The City of Winnipeg’s largest labour union is hinting at the potential for a work stoppage in advance of a final offer from the city expected early next week.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 500, which represents 5,070 city workers, has been without a contract since Dec. 24. Contract talks with the city have been strained, with both sides accusing the other of engaging in unfair labour practices.

Union town hall addresses potential job losses at two Niagara casinos
Don Mitchell, AM640
May 17 2017

Canada’s largest private sector union held a town hall in Niagara on Wednesday in the hopes of saving jobs at two casinos in the region.

The union told the public and members of the media about a potential Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) plan which could privatize Casino Niagara and Fallsview Casino, affecting up to 1,400 workers.

CUPE tells feds to drop promise-breaking Bill C-27
CUPE
May 17 2017

CUPE National President Mark Hancock has called on Finance Minister Bill Morneau to withdraw Bill C‑27, “An Act to amend the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985.”

If passed, Bill C‑27 would allow federally‑regulated employers like banks, transportation and telecom companies to retroactively walk away from the pension promises they have already made to workers and retirees.

The $15 minimum wage is good: busting business lobby myths
Michal Rozworski
May 18 2017

With the Ontario government seriously considering raising the minimum wage thanks to the tireless organizing efforts of the $15 and Fairness campaign, the labour movement and thousands of supporters, the business lobby is out fear-mongering in force. Here is a tool for the rest of us to fight back. It’s a collection of 5 myths and facts about raising the minimum wage: clear arguments for why $15 an hour is right for Ontario workers and the Ontario economy.

Tesla factory workers reveal pain, injury and stress: ‘Everything feels like the future but us’
Julia Carrie Wong, The Guardian
May 18 2017

When Tesla bought a decommissioned car factory in Fremont, California, Elon Musk transformed the old-fashioned, unionized plant into a much-vaunted “factory of the future”, where giant robots named after X-Men shape and fold sheets of metal inside a gleaming white mecca of advanced manufacturing.

The appetite for Musk’s electric cars, and his promise to disrupt the carbon-reliant automobile industry, has helped Tesla’s value exceed that of both Ford and, briefly, General Motors (GM). But some of the human workers who share the factory with their robotic counterparts complain of grueling pressure – which they attribute to Musk’s aggressive production goals – and sometimes life-changing injuries.

There is power in a union
Rachel Browne, Vice News Canada
May 18 2017

In what’s believed to be a first in Canada, employees at a Toronto marijuana dispensary have started the process of forming a union, despite the fact that the business is illegal.

Forty workers at the Canna Clinic on Broadview Avenue are expected to have their bargaining unit certified by the end of the week, the Ontario Labour Board tells VICE News.

Before break, ‘one last rally’ held at Legislative Building to protest budget
Brian Fitzpatrick, Regina Leader-Post
May 17 2017

On Tuesday afternoon the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and the Stop the Cuts Coalition held a “Rally for Saskatchewan” at the Legislative Building, aiming to maintain budget pressure on the government as the spring session nears a close.

The gathering was dubbed “one last rally” before lawmakers break, with mocking, creative theatre used to hit out at cuts and push for last-minute concessions before the budget is settled on Thursday, the session’s last sitting.

SEIU Healthcare’s response to the Ontario Chamber of Commerce objecting potential labour and employment standards reforms
Sharleen Stewart, President SEIU Healthcare
May 17 2017

Dear Premier Wynne,

Yesterday I read an open letter to you from the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.

Frankly, I was shocked at how ignorant these c-suite executives are to the real concerns facing too many hard-working families.

Nobody should be against building a strong economy. At the same time, nobody should be against ensuring we meet our obligations to those hard-working families on whom a strong economy relies.

Federal audit finds oversight problems in foreign worker program
Jordan Press, The Canadian Press
May 16 2017

OTTAWA—Canada’s temporary foreign workers program is rife with oversight problems that appear to have allowed lower-paid international workers to take jobs that out-of-work Canadians could fill, the federal auditor general says.

Michael Ferguson’s examination of the controversial program, part of a battery of spring audits tabled Tuesday, details a litany of problems.

Nova Scotia teachers formally file for court to end imposed labour contract
Francis Campbell, Local Xpress
May 17 2017

The Nova Scotia Teachers Union launched legal action Wednesday against the province and Bill 75, the law the majority Liberal government pushed through the House in February to impose a contract on the province’s public school teachers.

“The current government took numerous steps to erode NSTU’s ability to engage in a fair collective bargaining process, which culminated with Bill 75,” union president Liette Doucet said in a release Wednesday.

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