Labour News Update: July 31 2017

700 baggage handlers, ground crew at Pearson Airport on strike | How the government could have helped Sears workers | Injured workers group renews calls for review of Nova Scotia WCB | Introducing the Vancouver Tenants Union | Alberta lacks rules and thresholds for working in heat | Calgary Board of Education may layoff up to 48 support staff by the fall | Former coal miners union leader Joe Burke dies | Retired Peterborough General Electric workers respond to minister’s response | Unifor details D-J Composites’ union-busting efforts | ‘Tremendous injustice’ as migrant workers sent back to Jamaica | Workers at 2nd Winnipeg Tim Hortons vote to unionize | Liberals can afford to spend $8-billion a year on daycare program | Shorter routes sought as rate of postal worker injuries rises | Saskatchewan liquor stores layoff 32 ahead of privatization | Long shifts and no meal breaks prompt Waterloo Region EMS workers to vote for strike

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Pearson baggage handlers on strike.

700 baggage handlers, ground crew at Pearson Airport on strike
Brennen Doherty, The Canadian Press
July 27 2017

About 700 ground crew workers at Canada’s busiest airport went on strike Thursday night after they rejected a contract offer from their employer.

The members represented by the Teamsters union marched at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport waving picket signs and chanting “respect.”

Here’s How The Government Could Have Stopped Sears Canada Employees From Getting Fucked Over
Ishmael N. Daro, Buzzfeed
July 28 2017

When a big company like Sears Canada goes through tough times, public sympathy is usually with the workers who are losing their benefits, pensions, or severance. But the way the law is currently written means that, for the most part, people with deeper pockets get paid before employees do.

“What we have essentially is a regime that creates a priority of claims in any insolvency situation for who gets paid out,” Mark Rowlinson, a labour lawyer and policy researcher at the United Steelworkers union, told BuzzFeed Canada.

Injured workers group renews calls for review of WCB
Yvonne Colbert, CBC News
July 25 2017

An injured workers group is renewing its calls for a broad review of Nova Scotia’s workers compensation system, which it says is hampered by foot-dragging and a board whose decisions are often overturned when appealed.

The Pictou County Injured Workers Association was established in 1992 to help workers make their way through the workers compensation system. It says it now has more than 600 active files.

Right to rent: Introducing the Vancouver Tenants Union
Jenn McDermid, Megaphone Magazine
July 18 2017

On a bright afternoon in early June, I meet Sarah (her name has been changed to protect her identity), a renter in Metro Vancouver and organizer with the newly formed Vancouver Tenants Union.

Sarah is a mother of two, who relocated to the West Coast from eastern Canada. Since arriving in Vancouver, she has struggled to find adequate and affordable housing for her family.

“When I first moved to Vancouver, I felt pressured to find a place, and wound up signing a lease for an overpriced one bedroom in New West. Now my kids are in school, and we have an eviction notice,” she says. “I want a home, but I know I can never buy a home. I’m born and raised in Canada, I work seven days a week, and I can barely afford to live here.”

Alberta lacks rules and thresholds for working in heat
Brodie Thomas, Metro Calgary
July 27 2017

Calgary landscaper Diane Paradis-Reimer knows all too well how dangerous extreme heat can be when working outside.

For the second time in a month, Calgary is under a heat warning from Environment Canada, with temperatures expected to reach 29 degrees Celsius or more until Friday.

Earlier this month Paradis-Reimer was landscaping the Rocky Ridge Recreation Centre, which has exterior brass tiles, making it even hotter.

Calgary Board of Education may layoff up to 48 support staff by the fall
Eva Ferguson, Calgary Herald
July 27 2017

Up to 48 support staff — including educational assistants, librarians and lunchroom supervisors — could be out of a job when classes start this fall because of “difficult decisions” the Calgary Board of Education says it’s been forced to make.

“Every year the CBE makes adjustments to staff levels as a result of enrolment changes, retirements, staff returning from leaves and the annual budget process. We make decisions about staffing based on our values and where we predict resources will be needed in the upcoming year,” said CBE spokeswoman Megan Geyer.

‘Didn’t take guff’: Former coal miners union leader Joe Burke dies
Hal Higgins, CBC News
July 26 2017

A well-known Cape Breton coal miner and union leader who began working in the mines at the age of 16 and was an advocate for safe mining practices has died.

Walter (Joe) Burke, 80, served as president of District 26 of the United Mine Workers of America from 1986 to 1994.

Burke had black lung, also known as coal worker’s pneumoconiosis, a disease caused by inhaling dust deeply into your lungs. The disease damages the lungs and in rare cases can cause death.

Retired Peterborough General Electric workers respond to minister’s response to editorial
Robert and Dale DeMatteo, The Peterborough Examiner
July 27 2017

Our advisory committee feels compelled to respond to Minister of Labour Kevin Flynn’s response letter dated July 24, 2017, to The Examiner editorial of July 15 regarding the lack of progress for resolving the growing number of occupational disease claims from GE employees.

This response fails to answer the most important question: Why haven’t we seen any concrete measurable results from the ministry’s activities on this file. GE retirees suffering from various occupational diseases have been pressuring the government for well over 15 years. The Peterborough coalition has been meeting the current minister over the last two years for five meetings and despite their optimistic reports that a resolution was on its way, little has materialized.

Unifor details D-J Composites’ union-busting efforts
Unifor
July 20 2017

Unifor issued a formal letter to Newfoundland and Labrador Labour Minister Gerry Byrne detailing ongoing union-busting efforts by U.S.-based employer D-J Composites toward its workforce in Gander.

“From the beginning of this lockout on December 19, this employer has had one goal in mind – to break the union,” said Lana Payne, Atlantic Regional Director. “We want the Minister to understand how serious this situation is. Workers expect their department of labour to protect their rights, rights which are being trampled on daily by this employer.”

‘Tremendous injustice’ as migrant workers sent back to Jamaica
Andrew Lupton, CBC News
July 27, 2017

Against his will and with weeks left in the growing season, migrant farm worker Waldin Simpson is being sent back home to Jamaica today.

Thursday morning Simpson and another worker were driven from the farm they were working south of Tillsonburg, Ont., to Pearson airport. This afternoon they will be flown home.

From a financial perspective, the early return is catastrophic for Simpson and his family. They were counting on him to send home the bulk of the $11.41 an hour he earns harvesting cucumber and asparagus on the Kinglake Freshpac Farm near Vienna, Ont.

Workers at 2nd Winnipeg Tim Hortons vote to unionize
The Canadian Press
July 27 2017

Employees at a Tim Hortons in Winnipeg have voted to unionize.

Workers United Canada Council said 15 people at the Lombard Avenue location have agreed to unionize with them, the second group of Tim Hortons employees to do so in the city.

They will be joining 35 Tim Hortons workers at the Portage Avenue and Wall Street location, who have been represented by Workers United since 2015.

Liberals can afford to spend $8-billion a year on daycare program: IMF
Jordan Press, The Canadian Press
July 26 2017

International Monetary Fund researchers say the federal government can afford to spend $8-billion annually to reduce the cost of child care spaces nationwide because the program would pay for itself.

The proposal is more than 10 times what the Liberals have promised to spend annually over the next decade on child care.

The IMF predicts the cash would bring down the national average for child care fees by about 40 per cent, a figure expected to be high enough that it could entice more women into the workforce and drive greater economic growth.

Shorter routes sought as rate of postal worker injuries rises
CBC News
July 26 2017

Statistics on federal employees indicate the rate of disabling injuries to postal workers is rising, and some carriers are blaming it on expanded routes and heavier mail loads.

“I’m seeing back injuries, I’m seeing shoulders. A lot of knees and feet from pounding on the pavement all the time, lifting the heavy parcels and stuff,” said Suzie Moore, health and safety officer with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW).

Saskatchewans liquor retailer has issued layoff notices in seven-communities to 32 full and part time employees including 17 in Saskatoon as it works to privatize 50 liquor stores across the province
Alex MacPherson, Saskatoon StarPhoenix
July 26 2017

While there’s “certainly an amount of truth” to SLGA’s explanation that the decision was the result of a policy change that led to dwindling business, that doesn’t tell the whole story, according to the head of the 800-member organization.

“What we’re seeing in every other ministry in the province is the government has gone to them and said, ‘We need cuts,’” said Bob Stadnichuk, chair of Saskatchewan Government and General Employees’ Union (SGEU) Local 6080.

“There’s layoffs in health. There’s layoffs in education. There’s layoffs in public service. We’re no different. The layoffs are to get them ‘X’ amount of dollars in savings right now,” he added, referring to the province’s plan to halve a $1.2 billion deficit.

Long shifts and no meal breaks prompt EMS workers to vote for strike
CBC News
July 24 2017

Long shifts and no meal breaks have prompted the Region of Waterloo Paramedic Services to threaten strike action if an agreement is not reached when they meet with the Region of Waterloo later this week.

Paramedics say understaffing keeps them on the job 16 hours at a time when shifts are supposed to be 12 hours long. On top of that, they are sometimes so busy they don’t have time to sit down and take the two meal breaks mandated in their collective agreements, said Chris Sutton, the representative for CUPE 5191.

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