Labour News Update: June 12, 2017

| Quebec construction strike | $15 and Fairness | Lockout in small town Saskatchewan | Presenting your grievance to management | Davis Day | Hospital workers rally for increased funding | Possible LCBO strike | Remembering Stan Raper | NAFTA’s dirty secret | Jail sentence for boss who owed workers $125,000 | Liberals break pension plan promise with Bill C-27 | Ontario legislation ensures workers can take at least 10 sick days a year without a doctor’s note | Stelco: 1005 says yes in historic collective agreement vote | Sleeman-Unibroue workers go on strike | Westjet union drive | Alberta labour law reform | Union asks Canada Post to come clean on scope of mail theft from community boxes |

From RankandFile.ca

Presenting your grievance to management
RankandFile.ca, June 6

You’ve filed a good grievance—but the work needed to be done to win it has just begun. How you present your grievance can mean the difference between winning or losing. The timing and kind of grievance meeting you have will depend on your contract. The contract also determines who in management you will be dealing with. But the skills used around presenting grievances are universal. Whether you’re a steward or a member with a grievance, the following tips will help you prepare to meet with management.

18920231_1575627915815114_8762424345411045392_n$15 and Fairness shakes up Ontario
RankandFile.ca, June 7

The Fight for $15 and Fairness scored a big victory on May 30 when the Ontario Liberals announced they would raise the minimum wage to $15 by January 1, 2019. The Liberals also announced a slew of other legislative changes they will introduce as part of the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, such as two paid personal emergency leave days (as part of the 10 PEL days workers are already entitled too), equal pay for equal work for part-time workers, requiring employees to be paid for three hours of work if their shift is cancelled within 48 hours, an additional week of paid vacation for employees who have been with a business for at least five years.

Lockout in small town Saskatchewan
RankandFile.ca, June 8

On May 21, After being at the bargaining table for almost four years, workers at Variety Place in Outlook, Saskatchewan were locked out by their employer. Variety Place is an organization that provides residence and day programs for individuals with physical and intellectual disabilities. The workers of Variety Place have been without a contract since August 13 2013. Despite funding from the government for 9.4% higher wages for workers, the employer has only offered a 1% increase.

Quebec construction workers fighting for work-life balance
RankandFile.ca, June 9

On May 24, about 175,000 construction workers from across Quebec walked off their construction sites. The workers called an unlimited general strike, and construction across the province stopped. During the strike week, thousands of workers protested in Quebec City, plastering the streets surrounding the National Assembly with neon stickers that said: Ma famille d’abord, my family first. L’Alliance syndicale de la construction represents the workers in negotiations. The Alliance includes members of of FTQ-Construction and CSN-Construction. The 175,000 workers represent a majority of construction workers in the province, and it’s the second general construction strike in just four years.

In Other News

Health care dollars in provincial budget not enough say rallying hospital workers
CBC News, June 8

Hundreds of health-care workers from across Ontario descended on Health Sciences North in Sudbury, Ont., today chanting and waving flags as they marched near the hospital. The Ontario Council of Hospital Unions —which is the hospital division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)— held the rally to demand an increase in health-care funding from the provincial government. “We’re here today to push all three political parties to support a real increase in hospital funding and funding for long term care,” OCHU president Michael Hurley said.

Time to stock up? LCBO workers could strike ahead of Canada Day weekend
Toronto Star, June 9

Booze could be hard to come by on the Canada Day long weekend with unionized workers at the LCBO in a legal strike position starting June 26. The date was set Friday after the Ministry of Labour issued a no-board report, giving the Ontario Public Services Employees Union and the liquor monopoly 17 days to reach a deal before a strike or lockout is possible. Contract talks will resume next week as the clock ticks toward the deadline while the LCBO extends hours at some stores.

Latest offer to city workers includes wage freeze, CUPE says
CBC News, June 6

Winnipeg’s latest offer to members of the city’s largest union includes a wage freeze and slow growth in pay after that, the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 500 president says. The city’s settlement offer is a four-year deal that includes a wage freeze during the first year, one per cent wage increases in the second and third year and a 1.25 per cent increase in the fourth year, Gord Delbridge said Tuesday. “What we’ve been hearing is that we’ve been a scapegoat for many years. Kind of getting treated like third-class citizens. And we spent many years bailing the city out of harsh economic times and it’s not fair,” Delbridge said.

Stan Raper, who led fight for health and safety protection for farm workers, dies at 55
London Free Press, June 6

A passionate advocate who bettered the lives of farm workers across Canada and led the battle that won health and safety protection for Ontario’s agricultural employees has died. Stan Raper, 55, the national co-ordinator of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Canada’s (UFCW) agricultural workers program, died suddenly Monday. “Write your piece with your heart,” his distraught wife Terry Raper emailed Tuesday. “Stan wore his out caring about everyone.”

NAFTA’s dirty secret: it lets U.S. control our oil
Toronto Star, June 9

There’s been virtually no attention to another section, Article 605, which effectively relinquishes control over our energy resources to Washington. Article 605 was considered such an extreme infringement of national sovereignty that Mexico refused to accept it. Instead, Mexico demanded and was granted an exemption to that clause when it joined NAFTA in 1994. Let’s shine a little light then on this mostly darkened corner of NAFTA: Article 605 limits the power of governments to cut back energy exports. So, for instance, Canada must continue to make available to Americans the same proportion of our energy as in the previous three years.

NDP braves opposition outrage to drag Albert labour law into the late 20th century
Albertapolitics.ca, June 7

he legislation by the government of Premier Rachel Notley is important because it’s been almost 30 years since Alberta updated its labour laws, and the new act brings common practices in other provinces that have worked well for decades into use in Alberta, where labour relations laws in particular had come to be the most backward in the country under successive Progressive Conservative governments. Changes include the introduction of first-collective-agreement compulsory arbitration, a mechanism for requiring employers to negotiate in good faith with newly unionized employees seeking a first contract, and a provision that means a secret-ballot vote will not be required if at least 65 per cent of the employees in a workplace verify their membership in a union. If between 40 and 65 per cent sign union cards, there must be a vote regardless.

New legislation ensures workers can take at least 10 sick days a year without a doctor’s note
Toronto Star, June 8

Sick notes for the boss could soon be a thing of the past in Ontario. Employers will be banned from asking staff for a doctor’s note if they take 10 or fewer days a year under legislation proposed to take effect next January. The measure, part of the workplace reform law Premier Kathleen Wynne’s administration has put forward, means fewer wasted appointments for doctors and nurse practitioners, allowing workers to stay home and get well instead of spreading their germs around, Health Minister Eric Hoskins said Thursday.

Sleeman-Unibroue workers go on strike
Teamsters Canada, June 7

Seniority rights are at the heart of the labour dispute between the Teamsters and Sleeman-Unibroue. Repeated violations of the collective agreement and issues involving overtime are also sticking points. Achieving a work/life balance at the brewery is impossible for some workers, who are often forced to work overtime on short notice. Company managers maintain that mandatory overtime is preferable to hiring new workers to fill positions left vacant due to retirements and job cuts. The employer is also asking for provisions in the collective agreement that would allow experienced workers to be laid off and replaced by temp workers who don’t already work for the company. “Our members feel disrespected and that’s why they walked off the job,” explained the President of Local Union 931, Gerry Boutin. “We also want to make it clear that salaries and pensions are not an issue.”

Jail sentence for boss who owed workers $125,000
Toronto Star, June 6

A Brampton-based employer has been handed a rare 30-day jail sentence for failing to pay 43 employees more than $125,000 in wages, as the Ministry of Labour vows to ramp up enforcement. Peter David Sinisa Sesek, who ran two GTA businesses — Academic Montessori in Brampton and WISE Summer Camp in Mississauga — was also slapped with a $20,000 fine for failing to comply with the ministry’s order to pay, originally issued in 2015. Over the past two decades, the courts have imposed fewer than 10 jail sentences on bosses who ignore orders to pay. The last employer jailed for that offence in 2016 served a prison term of one day. The maximum sentence is one year.

Stelco: 1005 says yes in historic collective agreement vote
Hamilton Spectator, June 7

United Steelworkers Local 1005 has a new collective agreement with Stelco’s owner-in-waiting, Bedrock Industries, clearing the last major obstacle in a mega-restructuring deal to lift the steelmaker out of creditor protection. Unionized workers in Hamilton voted nearly 64 per cent in favour of the new contract, meaning Stelco representatives can present the takeover plan to Justice Herman Wilton-Siegel at a “sanction hearing” Friday. The judge is expected to approve the plan. Turnout for the vote was 90 per cent — 467 of a possible 518 workers — and reflected the “high interest and frustration” felt by workers stuck in the midst of the restructuring, said Local 1005 president Gary Howe.

Liberals break pension plan promise with Bill C-27
Rabble.ca, June 6

On October 19, 2016, the anniversary of the Liberal government’s election, Finance Minister Bill Morneau introduced his Target Benefit Plan (Bill C-27). It establishes a framework for target benefit pensions in the federal private sector and Crown corporations. The bill was introduced without any press release and no advance notice to unions, pension plan members or retirees, and no public consultation. Unions and retiree groups were quick to condemn the Liberals for resurrecting the Harper Conservatives’ target benefit plan agenda, abandoned in 2014. All the major unions called on the finance minister to withdraw the bill. On February 7, 341 retirees and union members lobbied individual MPs.

98-669-29456How Canada’s tax system subsidizes the very rich
Ipolitics, June 5

Canada’s tax system is riddled with loopholes. Year after year, we hear tax experts and politicians talk about it but, aside from some tweaking and a whole lot of rhetoric, they do little to fix it. In the meantime, the rich get richer. Preferential Treatment, a new report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, calculates that Canada’s one per cent are the major beneficiaries of the tax system’s costliest tax loopholes. The report also finds that the richest 10 per cent average an annual discount of $20,000 from these tax loopholes.

Union asks Canada Post to come clean on scope of mail theft from community boxes
CBC News, June 5

The president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers is demanding Canada Post come clean to the public on the issue of thefts from Canada Post community boxes. “We’ve been asking for this information for years and Canada Post refuses to release it,” said CUPW president Mike Palacek. Palacek was speaking in Richmond where the union estimates as many as 4,000 residents are being forced to pick up their mail in person at the Richmond Canada Post depot because of vandalized mailboxes.

Two groups push to unionize WestJet flight attendants
Globe and Mail, June 6

A recent successful bid to unionize WestJet pilots has prompted a push to organize flight attendants at the airline. The airline, Canada’s second-largest, has long prided itself on its relationship with its employees, whom it refers to as co-owners. Among the benefits offered to WestJet staff are a company-matched share purchase plan. But in recent weeks, WestJet has found itself the target of two unions wanting to represent its flight attendants.

Remembering the miners in Florence
Cape Breton Post, June 8

In June 1999, Romeo and MacDougall arranged the first cemetery service in celebration of the lives of miners, a way for the community to mark William Davis Miners’ Memorial Day. “We had never really thought about it in earlier years, nobody kind of took up the idea, but we are sorry we didn’t start it earlier,” said MacDougall. The annual event has been a success in the community. This year’s ceremony will take place on Sunday at 11 a.m. at St. Stephen’s Cemetery, known to many as Florence cemetery.

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