Labour News Update: July 3, 2017

Winnipeg and union in disucussion about waste collection | Feds replace unionized cleaners at National Research Council offices in Halifax | Ottawa spends $1.2M on travel for Phoenix training boot camp | Ontario gets it right with move to higher minimum wage | Stelco set for ownership change Friday | Workers Occupy Factory to Keep their Jobs with PepsiCo | NAFTA lawsuits target Canada the most, United States hasn’t lost yet | CPP Changes Do Little for Low-Income Earners, Study Finds | Former Tbaytel worker wins suit for constructive dismissal | Privatized airports: Will this disaster land in Canada? | CUPE at Odds with Government Plan to Merge it with SGEU | Bus drivers rally against proposed changes to Edmonton Transit | Unions warn private contractors could jeopardize public security under Liberals’ new defence plan | Essex County library workers mark one year anniversary of 231-day strike | CUPE ‘raising red flags’ about P3 school model

City, union in talks about garbage, recycling collection
Aldo Santin, Winnipeg Free Press
June 29 2017

A council committee has endorsed a series of short-term contracts for a variety of Winnipeg waste and recycling collection services with the goal of one day having civic staff do the work.

The environment committee gave its nod Thursday for three, one-year contracts to private firms for the collection of bulky waste across the city, recyclables from multi-family dwellings, and garbage collection from apartments and small businesses in the east area of the city.

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Rally in front of NRC building to protest the laid-off cleaners Photo: Robert Devet

Feds replace unionized cleaners at National Research Council offices in Halifax
Robert Devet, Nova Scotia Advocate
June 30 2017

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – About forty people rallied at the Halifax offices of the National Research Council (NRC) on Oxford Street to protest that three unionized cleaners will no longer be working there.

The employees of GDI Integrated Facility Services will be transferred to other locations, now that the company was unsuccessful in its bid to retain the contract with the NRC.

Ottawa spends $1.2M on travel for Phoenix training boot camp
Katie Simpson, CBC News
June 28 2017

The federal government spent more than $1 million sending workers to a training boot camp in its ongoing efforts to fix its troubled payroll system, called Phoenix.

Compensation advisers from across the country have travelled to a facility in Gatineau, Que., for sessions described by government officials as mandatory.

Ontario gets it right with move to higher minimum wage
Lars Osberg, Craig Ridell, Michal Rozworski, and Jim Stanford, The Globe and Mail
June 30 2017

The Ontario government’s decision to raise the provincial minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2019 has set off a storm of predictable criticisms. Higher wages will, it is said, result in job losses, raise consumer prices and will do little to help low-wage workers. One constituency that has mostly declined to join this chorus of boos has been professional economists. What is the view of research economists on the consequences of this interference with the market mechanism?

A generation ago, most economists believed that minimum wages constituted a classic parable of self-defeating interventionism – a well-meaning attempt to dictate higher wages only reduced employment, thus hurting the very workers they were supposed to help.

Stelco set for ownership change Friday
Mark McNeil, The Hamilton Spectator
June 29 2017

Details are falling into place for Bedrock Industries to become the new owner of Stelco on Friday, a company spokesperson says.

“Things are still on track. They are still working out the fine details with the various stakeholders and getting all those agreements put to bed,” said Stelco’s Trevor Harris.

Workers Occupy Factory to Keep their Jobs with PepsiCo
Mira Craig-Morse, Left Voice
June 29 2017

If the name PepsiCo is not familiar, surely a few of its trademarks are: PepsiCo owns nearly all the brands we expect to see in any general store around the world, including Pepsi, Lay’s, Quaker, Dorito, Starbuck’s Ready-to-Drink, 7UP, Cheetos, Aquafina, Mountain Dew, Gatorade and Tropicana. The sheer corporate strength of the second largest food and beverage company in the world makes the struggle of over 600 workers in Buenos Aires against a PepsiCo snack factory both an uprising against great odds and an inspiring stand against corporate dominance.

On June 20, 2017 PepsiCo announced the relocation of its snack production from Vicente Lopez in Buenos Aires to a factory in Mar del Plata, a city over 250 miles south of the Argentinian capital. 691 employees arrived to work to find a sign on the closed entrance announcing the relocation of the factory, in which only 155 of them would be offered jobs in the new location. In the following days, workers voted in committees to take over the plant, blocking the entrance to the factory and demanding their jobs instead of the compensation PepsiCo offered.

NAFTA lawsuits target Canada the most, United States hasn’t lost yet
The Canadian Press
June 28 2017

OTTAWA — When it comes to the North American Free Trade Agreement, Canada can safely claim the title of biggest loser in terms of lawsuits.

Since the agreement came into force in 1994, Canada has been sued 39 times by foreign companies claiming Canadian policies have violated their rights under NAFTA.

That is almost half of the 84 challenges made against all three nations under the investor state provisions.

CPP Changes Do Little for Low-Income Earners, Study Finds
Jeremy J. Nuttall, The Tyee
June 14 2017

The changes made last year to the Canada Pension Plan provide little benefit for low-income earners, says a new study from the Institute for Research on Public Policy released Wednesday.

The study, titled Unfinished Business: Pension Reform in Canada, found that an examination of how the CPP changes interact with the rest of Canada’s retirement system, such as the Guaranteed Income Supplement for low-income pensioners, should be conducted.

The concern is that pension changes could end up resulting in clawbacks of other retirement income, making the CPP changes almost negligible.

Former Tbaytel worker wins suit for constructive dismissal
Gary Rinne, Thunder Bay News Watch
June 28 2017

THUNDER BAY — A court has ordered Tbaytel and the City of Thunder Bay to pay a former employee about $114,000 for constructive dismissal.

But Linda Colistro’s lawyer expects to appeal the court’s rejection of her additional claim for much larger damages for intentional infliction of mental distress.

Colistro sued Tbaytel and the City of Thunder Bay after the phone company rehired her ex-supervisor in 2007, eleven years following his termination.

Privatized airports: Will this disaster land in Canada?
CUPE
June 21 2017

The federal government owns 26 airports across Canada. The airports are privately managed by non‑profit airport authorities that pay rent to the government and reinvest revenues back into the facilities. Airports are essential to travelers and our economy. But the government is now considering privatizing them.

Traveler frustrations make it clear Canada’s airports can do better. Canadians pay some of the world’s most expensive ticket taxes and airport charges. Landing fees for airlines also rank among the highest. Even though things aren’t perfect, a recent poll shows that most Canadians think airport privatization is a bad idea.

CUPE at Odds with Government Plan to Merge it with SGEU
Craig Hemingway, Discover Moose Jaw

The provincial government has applied to have about 500 unionized health care and social workers switch unions.

CUPE Local 600 says the Government of Saskatchewan gave notice of plans to apply to the Labour Relations Board (LRB) to move affected CUPE members into the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees Union (SGEU) bargaining unit.

CUPE Local 600 represents many workers at facilities that will be closed over the next two-and-a-half years, including Saskatchewan Hospital in North Battleford and Valley View Centre in Moose Jaw.

Bus drivers rally against proposed changes to Edmonton Transit
Jennifer Ivanov, Global News
June 24 2017

Just days after the city released a report suggesting changes to Edmonton’s transit system, local bus drivers held a rally at a south Edmonton transit garage to protest the proposed changes.

The plan features high-frequency routes closer to the city’s centre, with new crosstown routes and rapid-bus commuter routes (BRT) from the suburbs.

Unions warn private contractors could jeopardize public security under Liberals’ new defence plan
David Pugliese, Ottawa Citizen
June 26 2017

The Liberal government’s new defence plan potentially compromises national security by relying too much on private contractors to maintain the country’s new warships, public service unions have warned Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The unions are concerned companies will hold too much control over the proprietary rights to equipment on board the ships, limiting what defence department workers and Canadian military personnel can do to maintain the vessels and their systems.

Essex County library workers mark one year anniversary of 231-day strike
Teresinha Medeiros, AM800
June 26 2017

It appears the strike by Essex County library workers a year ago may have sparked some new library patrons.

The 58 workers, members of CUPE Local 2974, walked off the job June 25, 2016 and remained on the picket line for a 231-day strike.

The strike ended four months ago in February and union spokesperson Lori Wightman says the patrons have been fantastic.

CUPE ‘raising red flags’ about P3 school model
Erin Debooy, The Brandon Sun
June 27 2017

The Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 737 held a town hall on Monday night to shine a light on the pitfalls of public-private partnerships, or P3s, which is the model proposed by the Pallister government for Brandon’s new south end school.

More than 60 people gathered at the Riverview Curling Club to learn about how P3 projects work and some of the complications that can come along with them.

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