Labour News Update: June 26, 2017

| Chronicle Herald strike | Grenfell fire | Austerity in Saskatchewan | Tentative agreement reached with PWL Cold Lake | Maritime forestry workers rally for fair trade for softwood | RBC cuts 450 jobs | Possible LCBO strike | Hamilton transit union fights outsourcing | Random drug testing of TTC | Quality-of-life issues at centre of LCBO labour dispute | UPS shooting | B.C. Greens kill NDP’s proposed change on unionized secret ballots| Postal workers want home delivery restored | Montreal firefighters will pay $253K in labour settlement with city | Violence in Ontario schools prompts call for more front-line staff | Federal government asked to set up $350M fund to support journalism in Canada | Canadian Labour and Pride


Victims of UPS’s deadly drive for profit, June 23

On June 14, a 38-year-old United Parcel Service driver, Jimmy Lam, shot and killed three co-workers, wounded two others and then killed himself at the UPS hub in San Francisco in the Potrero Hill neighbourhood. This tragedy is obviously upsetting for those of us who work at UPS, along with our family and friends. But it doesn’t come as a real surprise given the undue stress of the job.

From a firefighter at Grenfell tower, June 22

I’m not sure if this is something that I should vocalise or whether or not it should be shared with the world but as I sit at home thinking about the other night the Grenfell Tower I feel like people might want to know how the incident went from the point of view of a firefighter who was sent inside, while the tower burned all around us and how after years of cuts to the service I work for, how I feel about what we do and how the past few years have been for us.

The Effectiveness of Random Testing at the TTC, June 21

It has been just over one month since the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) implemented random testing in safety sensitive positions. In that time, five employees have tested positive for alcohol or drug impairment. This pro-active approach seemed to stop impairment before safety is impacted. However, does it establish a significant problem within the workforce?

Rally marks 511 days on picket line for Chronicle Herald workers, June 20

“This is really hard on us,” says Tom Ayers, a striking Herald reporter based in Sydney, Cape Breton. Ayers traveled to Halifax for the occasion after a supporter offered to pay for gas and take his spot in the picket line. “The worst part is the uncertainty. My car is reaching the end of its life, but I can’t afford a new car. It is a difficult and stressful time,” said Ayers. The company wants to cut salaries and increase working hours, significantly reduce benefits in the defined benefit pension plan, and eliminate seniority considerations when staff are targeted for layoffs. The reporters, editors and photographers, members of the Halifax Typographical Union (HTU) have made many concessions to their employer over the last 17 months, but the owner has not reciprocated.

In Other News

Union members rally in Saskatoon, award province with ‘Cold Heart Award’
CTV News, June 22

A Saskatchewan union chastised the provincial government Thursday with a one-of-a-kind award. Protesters with Service Employees International Union-West marched in Saskatoon, offering up the inaugural “Cold Heart Award” to the Saskatchewan government for what the union describes as “cold-hearted decisions” in the recent provincial budget. “Many people across Saskatchewan agree that the provincial government is quite deserving of this award since the 2017/18 budget was announced,” Barbara Cape, SEIU-West president, said in a news release. “It is our hope the government will reverse their cold-hearted decisions due to the overwhelming number of Saskatchewan people demanding better of their government.”

19429665_1776267979056614_1420717854870720719_nQuality-of-life issues at centre of LCBO labour dispute
Globe and Mail, June 20

Money isn’t on the bargaining table as employees at the LCBO, Ontario’s government-owned liquor stores, are prepared to go on strike in time for Canada Day in a bid to secure more job security and better shifts. The union representing nearly 8,000 LCBO workers says that as negotiations continue it is turning up the pressure on Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government to sign a new collective agreement and fix what it says are significant quality-of-life issues facing employees at the Crown corporation before a June 26 strike deadline.

RBC confirms it is cutting 450 jobs, mostly at Toronto head offices
CBC News, June 21

Royal Bank of Canada said Wednesday it is cutting roughly 450 jobs, primarily at its head office locations in the Toronto area. In May, the bank reported a second-quarter profit of $2.81 billion on revenue of $10.31 billion. The profit was up nine per cent from the same quarter a year ago, while its revenues rose from $9.53 billion. The profit amounted to $1.85 per share, up year-over-year from $1.66 per share.

Tentative agreement reached with PWL Cold Lake
AUPE, June 21

A tentative agreement was reached today between the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees and Points West Living for members at its Cold Lake facility who have been locked out since Dec. 16, 2016. Termination notices delivered to nursing care members May 25 have been rescinded.

Have HSR operate the new LRT system in Hamilton, says transit union campaign
CBC News, June 20

Hamilton’s transit union has launched a campaign to try to encourage public officials to hire HSR drivers to run the new light rail transit (LRT) system. To do otherwise, it says, would hand over a major transit route to a private company. The Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 107 has launched a “Keep Transit Public” website, petition and video this week. The union wants city council to “assert its preference” to Metrolinx that HSR operate and maintain the $1 billion system, which will launch in 2024. The petition also calls for Metrolinx to remove the “operate and maintain” portions of a bid to finance, design, build, operate and maintain the system.

Montreal firefighters will pay $253K in labour settlement with city
CBC News, June 24

The Montreal firefighters’ association has agreed to pay $253,000 to the City of Montreal in order to settle a labour dispute that lasted more than four years. The two parties reached an agreement in late May, the details of which were released in a press release sent out Friday night. The majority of the money, totaling $200,000, is being transferred to cover a part of the City’s legal fees for the duration of the dispute. The remaining $53,000 will cover fines handed down to 53 firefighters over a protest that took place at City Hall on Aug. 18, 2014, when hundreds of municipal workers stormed and trashed the council chambers.

Violence in Ontario schools prompts call for more front-line staff
Toronto Star, June 24

A group of Oshawa parents says the situation has grown so out of hand at Beau Valley Public School that their children sometimes don’t want to go to class. And they are calling on the Durham public board and province for changes to help curb such disturbing incidents across all boards — and better support students with special needs who need more support workers with them in class. It’s an issue the elementary teachers’ union is lobbying the government to address — arguing its members are twice as likely as secondary school teachers to take time off because of workplace violence, noting that rate in general is higher for education workers than for other professions.

Postal workers want home delivery restored
St. Alberte Gazette, June 21

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers hasn’t given up on restoring door-to-door mail delivery in St. Albert. CUPW Edmonton president Nancy Dodsworth was at city council recently to ask council to support the recommendations that came out of a recent postal review conducted by the standing committee on government operations and estimates. The postal review is expected to come before the House of Commons within the next month. Dodsworth asked council to send a resolution to minister of public services and procurement Judy Foote in support of the recommendations, saying she has heard from residents who want to see home delivery service restored.

Latest study: Seattle’s wage law lifted restaurant pay without shrinking jobs
Seattle Times, June 20

Seattle’s minimum-wage law has led to higher pay for restaurant workers without affecting the overall number of jobs in the industry, according to a new study from the University of California, Berkeley. Indeed, employment in food service from 2015 to 2016 was not affected, “even among the limited-service restaurants, many of them franchisees, for whom the policy was most binding,” according to the study, led by Berkeley economics professor Michael Reich.

How much does gender inequality cost Canada? $150B, report finds
CBC News, June 21

Taking steps to fix gender inequality in the workplace could give Canada’s economy a $150-billion shot in the arm, a major consultancy says. In a report published Wednesday morning, the McKinsey Global Institute found that gender inequality in Canadian workplaces isn’t just holding women back, it’s bad for the economy as a whole. In the report, McKinsey looked at 69 large Canadian corporations who collectively employ more than a half a million people. Despite outnumbering men in higher education, women still significantly lag behind their male counterparts as they enter their working years, and are drastically underrepresented in terms of being promoted into higher-paying positions.

19402014_1632069583531198_5416641485836711592_o‘Keep up the fight’: Maritime forestry workers rally for fair trade for softwood
CBC News, June 19

An estimated 500 forestry workers and supporters from across the Maritimes gathered in Saint John on Monday to urge the federal government to demand a softwood lumber deal with the United States “before any more jobs are lost” due to countervailing duties and pending “anti-dumping” tariffs. Their union, Unifor, held a rally at Irving Pulp and Paper Ltd. on the city’s west side at 3 p.m. — one of five simultaneous events held across the country.

B.C. Greens kill NDP’s proposed change on unionized secret ballots
Vancouver Sun, June 21

The B.C. Greens won’t support the NDP’s plan to remove the use of secret ballots for employees seeking to form unions. Green Leader Andrew Weaver said he’s adamantly opposed to the idea, and will fight the NDP if the party tries to push forward. The NDP needs the Green party’s three votes to pass any legislation.

Job cuts to come as Saskatoon public schools pass budget
CBC News, June 21

The Saskatoon Public School board says the budget for its upcoming 2017-18 academic year includes several staffing cuts and reductions in services. The board passed its budget — which includes expenses of $259.4M, down $800,000 from last year — at a meeting on Tuesday night.

Talk of a skills gap in the labor market is ‘an incredible cop out’
Business Insider, June 18

“First the Econ 101 ‘pay more for more if you want more’ cuts against this well in a period of little wage growth,” Madowitz said. “Second, there’s fascinating/depressing empirical research showing a ‘skills gap’ occurs because employers add and remove qualifications for the same job postings depending on the labor market, ensuring there is always a skills gap.”

Federal government asked to set up $350M fund to support journalism in Canada
National Observer, June 18

A group representing print and digital media publishers is calling on the federal government to set up a $350 million fund to support journalism in Canada. News Media Canada is proposing the existing Canada Periodical Fund be updated and expanded to address what it calls “the critical issues and crisis facing the dissemination of Canadian perspectives.”

Outrage brews over pub signs protesting minimum wage hike
CBC News, June 20

A handful of people stood outside the Ale House bar in London on Monday to protest the owner’s attitude towards the recently announced minimum wage increases coming to Ontario. The Ale House has been posting warnings to customers on a front-facing sign at its downtown location about potential price increases as they adjust to a minimum wage bump.

Herald labour impasse cries out for government intervention
Local Xpress, June 17

Common sense would suggest our downsized majority government has an opportunity to mend some fences (with the labour movement) … So surely the strike at the province’s largest daily newspaper, The Chronicle Herald, that has lasted more than 500 days, provides just such an opportunity. It is painfully clear that all traditional methods have been exhausted at this point in the work stoppage.

Bargaining LGBTTI rights: A checklist for collective agreement language
CUPE, June 19

This document provides a checklist of ways to advance LGBTTI rights through the collective agreement.

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