Labour News Update: May 29 2017

Pipemakers in Regina vote for a strike authorization | Union gives CN Rail 72-hour strike notice | Accused of underpaying women, Google says it’s too expensive to get wage data | Winnipeg Harvest food bank ‘blindsided’ by staff unionization vote | Public servants could be waiting until 2018 for raises, back pay | No deal between Quebec unions, construction companies as talks break down | Ontario may be about to let doctors unionize. How much will it change? | Sudbury call centre using credit history to narrow down applications | Lethbridge mom fired while caring for son with cancer welcomes proposed law | Union accuses province of using hospital funding to sway voters in Sault byelection | Provincial budget cuts prompt yet another protest outside Sask. legislature | Tying minimum wage to inflation draws fire from unions, business | WSIB cutting costs at expense of workers’ health, report says | WSCC lays charges in 2016 death of 19-year-old Australian in Inuvik | P&G closing in Brockville | ‘Officials not listening’: CUPE unites with Digby coalition on health care crisis

Pipemakers in Regina vote to give union executive power to call strike
The Canadian Press
May 26 2017

Hundreds of unionized workers at Evraz North America’s steel plant in Regina have voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action to back contract demands.

The vote by members of United Steelworkers Local 5890 took place Thursday at a special meeting to discuss the company’s contract proposals.

The union’s website says more than 99 per cent of the workers cast ballots in favour of job action.

Union gives CN Rail 72-hour strike notice
Stephanie Taylor, CBC News
May 27 2017CNRail

The union representing rail workers in Canada has given a 72-hour strike notice to CN Rail, which means conductors across the country could be off the job starting Tuesday.

On Friday, Teamsters Rail Conference, which represents around 3,000 conductors,yardmen and trainmen with CN Rail, said union members handed the bargaining committee a 98 per cent strike mandate.

The next day the union issued an update, saying the company gave notice it was changing the terms and conditions of their collective agreement.

Accused of underpaying women, Google says it’s too expensive to get wage data
Sam Levin, The Guardian
May 26 2017

Google argued that it was too financially burdensome and logistically challenging to compile and hand over salary records that the government has requested, sparking a strong rebuke from the US Department of Labor (DoL), which has accused the Silicon Valley firm of underpaying women.

Google officials testified in federal court on Friday that it would have to spend up to 500 hours of work and $100,000 to comply with investigators’ ongoing demands for wage data that the DoL believes will help explain why the technology corporation appears to be systematically discriminating against women.

Winnipeg Harvest food bank ‘blindsided’ by staff unionization vote
CBC News
May 26 2017

Managers at Winnipeg’s largest food bank are reeling after a vote by staff members to unionize and still trying to find out the concerns of employees, they say.

“We were pretty blindsided. Actually, not pretty — we were blindsided,” said Winnipeg Harvest managing director Kate Brenner.

“It was quite a shock. To say we were surprised and speechless and a little sad would be an understatement.”

Public servants could be waiting until 2018 for raises, back pay
Kathryn May, iPolitics
May 26 2017

Thousands of public servants could be stuck waiting until 2018 for the beleaguered Phoenix pay system to process raises and back pay they are owed if the federal government delays signing final contracts.

The federal government claims the Phoenix payroll system is ready to handle raises negotiated with Canada’s public servants, but it has yet to sign a contract with the Public Service Alliance of Canada that would trigger the 150-day countdown for those payments.

No deal between Quebec unions, construction companies as talks break down
Kalina Laframboise, CBC News
May 28 2017

Negotiations have officially stalled between Quebec construction companies and the unions representing workers as the deadline to strike a deal looms.

Unions rejected the employer groups’ final offer this afternoon in what has been a last-ditch effort to avoid back-to-work legislation. They had until 4 p.m. to accept a deal.

“It’s over for us,” said Michel Trépanier, a spokesperson for the alliance of unions.

Ontario may be about to let doctors unionize. How much will it change?
John Michael McGrath, TVO
May 24 2017

The Ontario government is considering the biggest set of changes to provincial labour law in nearly a generation. Labour Minister Kevin Flynn is expected to present an expansive bill as soon as next week, now that the final Changing Workplaces Review report has been made public. The overarching theme of the review, by special advisors C. Michael Mitchell and John C. Murray, is creating an environment in Ontario where workers can expect decent treatment from their employers — naturally raising the question of what exists now.

It’s a particularly interesting question given one of the report’s recommendations: giving medical professionals the right to unionize. The right would be limited to the minority of those who are formally employees in larger organizations and not, say, family doctors running their own offices. Still, it’s a step previous governments have avoided.

Sudbury call centre using credit history to narrow down applications
May 24 2017

Kristan Cannon says her credit history is the reason she wasn’t hired by a new call centre in Sudbury, Ont.

When Millennium 1 Solutions announced it would open a new location in Garson, Cannon applied.

The call centre, which opened earlier this month, has a current workforce of 22 and plans to add another 200 more positions by the fall.

Cannon says she was shocked to learn her $2,500 debt was the reason she wasn’t hired by the company.

Lethbridge mom fired while caring for son with cancer welcomes proposed law
CTV News
May 25 2017

A Lethbridge, Alta. mother who was fired while caring for her son with cancer is applauding new provincial legislation designed to make sure other parents like her don’t lose their jobs during one of the toughest times of their lives.

“I’m thrilled beyond relief,” Amanda Jensen told CTV Edmonton after learning about Bill 17, the Fair and Family-friendly Workplaces Act that was introduced Wednesday

Last October, Jensen’s seven-year-old Jake was diagnosed with leukemia. She let her employer know she needed to be with her son for an extended time in Calgary where her son was being treated.

Union accuses province of using hospital funding to sway voters in Sault byelection
CBC News
May 25 2017

The Ontario Council of Hospital Unions is accusing the provincial government of attempting to sway the Sault Ste. Marie byelection with hospital funding.

The council claims the Sault Area Hospital has received a 3.8 per cent increase in funding in 2017, compared to the average of 2 per cent received by other northern Ontario health centres.

The numbers are based on provincial funding announcements says Michael Hurley, president of OCHU.

Provincial budget cuts prompt yet another protest outside Sask. legislature
Jamie Fischer, CTV News

Hundreds of people took to the steps of the Saskatchewan legislature in yet another protest against provincial budget cuts Wednesday.

The rally, organized by the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees’ Union, was held in opposition to cuts in the latest provincial budget.

Speakers told the crowd how public employers have been sent letters suggesting a 3.5 per cent wage rollback.

Tying minimum wage to inflation draws fire from unions, business
Nick Martin, Winnipeg Free Press
May 23 2017

The Pallister government took it from all sides at a public hearing Tuesday night into its proposed legislation on the minimum wage.

The Tories want to take the $11-an-hour minimum wage and tie any increases to the cost of living every Oct. 1. It won’t go down if living costs were to decline and the cabinet could stop any increase in a given year during a recession or if it feared an economic downturn.

WSIB cutting costs at expense of workers’ health, report says
Sara Mojtehedzadeh, The Toronto Star
May 24 2017

Ontario’s worker compensation board is saving money by reducing spending on drug benefits for workplace accident victims and by providing financial incentives to their health-care providers to limit treatment time, a new report compiled by a Toronto-based legal clinic says.

The study released Wednesday, which is based on a series of freedom of information requests to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, says there has been “a significant cut in prescription drug benefits that affects thousands of injured workers per year” since a cost-cutting drive initiated at the board in 2010. It also found a shift toward “services that are structured to drive down the cost of benefits paid to injured workers.”

WSCC lays charges in 2016 death of 19-year-old Australian in Inuvik
CBC News
May 23 2017

Charges have been filed by the Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission naming Allen Services & Contracting Limited (Inuvik), and a company supervisor.

The nine charges follow a June 28, 2016 incident when 19-year-old David Vinnicombe was fatally injured while on the job at an access road to the Inuvik satellite station facility near the town.

At the time of the incident, Jim Sawkins, director of protective services for the town, described a scene where a “piece of heavy machine had rolled over on the sole occupant of the vehicle.”

P&G closing in Brockville
The Recorder
May 25 2017http://www.digbycourier.ca/news/local/2017/5/23/cupe-united-with-digby-on-health-care-crisis.html

Nearly 500 local jobs will be lost within three years after Procter and Gamble announced Wednesday it will close its Brockville operations as early as 2020.

Employees of the Brockville site were informed at a meeting early Wednesday of the decision attributed to what P&G described as a “North American Supply Network Design” that will relocate remaining local production of Bounce and Swiffer products to a new site in West Virginia.

The transitions are planned to be complete by early 2020 and will result in the permanent closure of the Brockville site by late 2020 or early 2021, the company said in a statement. The city plant employs 480 people.

‘Officials not listening’: CUPE unites with Digby coalition on health care crisis
Sara Ericsson, Digby County Courier
May 23 2017

The Canadian Union of Public Employees is supporting the Digby Area Health Coalition’s statement that healthcare is a major problem in Digby.

The union announced their stance May 19, and described what it sees in the Digby hospital in a release: “beds sit empty [in Digby], while neighbouring hospitals [are] unable to meet needs of all patients.”

According to national CUPE rep Carl Crouse, nearly half the hospital’s 33 beds are empty.

“In a provincial healthcare system where there is overcrowding and bed shortages, it’s a real failure of the health authority to have any facility operating below capacity,” he said.

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