Labour News Update: August 21, 2017

| Eaton Centre Uniqlo workers seeking to unionize | Hamilton council confirms that it wants HSR to run LRT | Help on way for ailing miners exposed to ‘miracle’ dust | Standing at work linked to heart disease | Re-engaging unions in the fight against fascism | Meet 2 women sick of sexism and discrimination in mining | Mexican Workers March in Protest at NAFTA Renegotiations | BC NDP’s crawl to $15 | An Injury to One is an Injury to All? U.S. Labour’s Reactions to Trump | Minimum Wage Hike Needed As Half Of Ontarians See Wages Shrink | More than 500 Winnipeg nurses to be offered new jobs after positions deleted | The Ontario Chamber’s economic impact analysis of Bill 148 still doesn’t make sense | Saskatchewan backs away from planned funding cut for community based organizations


Re-engaging unions in the fight against fascism, August 18

In Canada, where union density remains much higher, at almost 30 per cent, the responsibility that trade unionists have is even greater. They should be linking arms with the thousands of newly arrived refugees, helping with relief efforts and volunteering their resources and time. They should be paying for anti-racist organizers. They should be boosting these messages in the mainstream press.

BC NDP’s crawl to $15, August 17

The BC NDP’s announcement is a victory for the Fight for $15 movement. But the delayed rollout shows that a grassroots movement aimed at organizing and mobilizing workers across the province is needed to stand-up to the business lobby and force governments, even one’s led by the NDP, to pass much needed reforms for workers in the here and now.

20799944_1651951641516074_3216735733441876093_nAn Injury to One is an Injury to All? U.S. Labour’s Reactions to Trump, August 16

These and other fledgling examples of social movement unionism understand that the fight is about power, that we need to build broad alliances of the 99 per cent, disrupt convention and circumvent broken law, and employ bold new strategies. And, importantly, each of these campaigns challenges unions to think differently about their role in the world – to act expansively, to link arms with new friends, and to articulate a bold vision of justice.

5 reasons to be skeptical of this $15 minimum wage report, August 15

Keep Ontario Working (KOW), a coalition of business groups organized by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, has released its analysis of Bill 148, the legislation that will increase the minimum wage in Ontario to $15 per hour and introduce important improvements to working conditions. With the legislative window to make any changes to the Bill closing, KOW has opted to make public a presentation of incomplete, “expedited” results. Here are five key things to know about the analysis, which cast serious doubt on its conclusions.

In Other News

Eaton Centre Uniqlo workers seeking to unionize
Toronto Star, August 19

Employees at the Uniqlo store at Toronto Eaton Centre have decided to hold a vote on whether to join a union to improve conditions at the Japanese apparel retailer’s first Canadian location. Staff at the store are being scheduled for 9.5-hour workdays that include 90 minutes of unpaid breaks and they are often asked to work overtime on top of that, said Chicheng Wat, 35, who works on the sales floor and in the management office. “People say: ‘It’s just retail, what do you expect,’ but we work hard, we deserve to be treated fairly,” said Wat.

‘Hey gorgeous’: Meet 2 women sick of sexism and discrimination in mining
CBC News, August 15

Foster and Lentowicz are speaking out after responding to a LinkedIn article by Anne Belanger. Belanger wrote about her experience as a woman in the mining industry and how sexism led her to quit.

Both women said they saw a lot of their own experiences reflected in the article. Lentowicz said it’s important for women to start speaking out about their experiences, but she did have to leave the industry before she felt comfortable talking about it publicly.

Hamilton council confirms that it wants HSR to run LRT – but will Metrolinx listen?
CBC News, August 18

It’s official — Hamilton city council wants its transit agency to run the new light rail transit (LRT) system. But Metrolinx’s head of the project says he’s still not sure if the province will agree. Councillors cast a ratification vote Friday to push for HSR to run the line, which is scheduled to open in 2024. Metrolinx has already issued a request for qualification for consortiums to design, build, finance, operate and maintain LRT. HSR can only do two of those.

Standing at work linked to heart disease
Toronto Star, August 17

A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that workers who primarily stand on the job are twice as likely to have heart disease than workers who mainly sit. That puts them more at risk of getting heart disease than smokers, said Peter Smith, a scientist from the Institute for Work and Health (IWH) and lead author of the study.

Mexican Workers March in Protest at NAFTA Renegotiations
Telesur, August 16

Trade unions believe they have a right to know the terms and conditions of the NAFTA renegotiations, which they claim are inaccessible. Mexican workers representing broad sections of their country’s labor force are marching in Mexico City against renegotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA.

Help on way for ailing miners exposed to ‘miracle’ dust
Toronto Star, August 17

The province’s worker compensation board has rescinded a decades-old policy that prevented Ontario miners from claiming for neurological diseases they believe were caused by years of exposure to toxic aluminum dust. The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board will also commission an independent study to assess the development of neurological conditions resulting from exposure to the aluminum-based McIntyre powder, which was used extensively in the province’s northern mines between 1943 and 1980.

Unveiling Of Plaque Honouring Toronto’s First Black Letter Carrier Sends Powerful Message
Pride News, August 17

The Albert Jackson saga is viewed by many as a struggle for dignity, fairness and respect in the work place — an illustration of perseverance and dedication, despite not being able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Some describe it as an example of what a people with a clear vision, with an unending determination to achieve what is right, can accomplish. Few would dispute that the Albert Jackson saga depicts a community, rallying around a common belief that this country is at its best (not its weakest) when everyone gets a fair shot at equal access to opportunities and everyone is playing by the same rules.

The Ontario Chamber’s economic impact analysis of Bill 148 still doesn’t make sense
The Progressive Economics Forum, August 17

In summary, we now have seen two slide decks of the Keep Ontario Working coalition’s analysis on Bill 148, but still have no full picture as to how these numbers, inconsistent with mainstream research, were generated. Unrealistic assumptions underpinning the job loss estimates remain unexplained. The misleading claim about price increases remains unacknowledged and uncorrected.

Minimum Wage Hike Needed As Half Of Ontarians See Wages Shrink: Report
Huffington Post, August 15

Ontario’s proposed increase of the minimum wage to $15 an hour is “long overdue” because half the province’s households have seen their wages shrink since the start of the century, a new report says. The report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) found that inflation-adjusted earnings fell for the bottom five deciles of Ontario households, or the bottom 50 per cent, between 2000 and 2015. At the same time, those in the top 50 per cent saw their real earnings increase, meaning Ontario has seen income inequality widen since the start of the century.

20799133_1653439644700607_2645623729366378993_nYes, Mr. Weston, you can afford a living wage
Hamilton Spectator, August 14

Loblaw Companies Ltd. chair and CEO Galen G. Weston recently joined the chorus of business leaders to come out against the Liberal’s proposal to increase Ontario’s minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2019. Weston — whose family’s sprawling business empire includes Loblaw stores, No Frills, Shoppers Drug Mart and high-end fashion retailer Holt Renfrew — fretted about the proposal’s effect on his bottom line in a call with analysts recently.

This comes on the heels of the government’s plan to increase the minimum wage to $14 per hour on Jan. 1, 2018, and then to $15 the following January. A similar policy in Alberta will see the minimum wage raised to $13.60 this October, and increase to $15 in October 2018.

More than 500 Winnipeg nurses to be offered new jobs after positions deleted
CBC News, August 15

Health-care staffing changes have started as the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority prepares to replace two emergency departments with urgent care centres and completely close a third. More than 500 nurses will start receiving “position deletion letters,” which doesn’t mean they are being laid off but they will move to new jobs as the health region tackles major staffing changes. “These are the most significant changes to health care in Manitoba in a generation,” said Karlee Blatz, regional director of labour relations for the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.

Fiat Chrysler VP bribed UAW execs ‘to take company friendly positions’

Fiat Chrysler and UAW executives, authorities said, were scheming together to line their own pockets.
Detroit Free Press, August 19

But the scheme, they now claim, had another goal: Helping the company instead of autoworkers, and bribing union officials to get that done.
In an explosive document filed Friday in the growing Fiat Chrysler-UAW scandal, the government said former Fiat Chrysler Vice President Alphons Iacobelli was bribing union officials to persuade them “to take company-friendly positions.” This new allegation raises the question of whether or not the union’s contract and other decisions were influenced by the wrongdoing, potentially undermining the credibility of the contract.

Financial struggles plaguing many northerners, ‘I am having a hard time’
CTV News, August 18

Many people agree Bill 148 – the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act – is long overdue. “Our labour market has changed a lot, there are a lot more temporary jobs, casual positions, and so the law has to change. It has to be modernized and it needs to try and fix these issues and close that income gap,” Beaulieu said. “We do want to see the number of good jobs increase,” added Leblanc. “We want to see an opportunity for our youth to stay here and live here, and find a future here.”

LRT health committee minutes reveal job site injuries, concerns
Ottawa Citizen, August 17

Records produced after internal safety meetings for the Confederation Line LRT reveal more about workers’ injuries and their concerns on Ottawa’s largest infrastructure project. The documents include summaries of reported injuries, “near misses”, inspection orders and concerns expressed by workers on the municipality’s $2.1-billion transit job.

Saskatchewan backs away from planned funding cut for community based organizations
Leaderpost, August 17

The Saskatchewan Party government is backing off another funding cut it announced earlier this year. After the 2017-18 budget was released in March, the province made clear its intention to cut 10 per cent of funding to health-related community-based organizations (CBOs), in order to shrink government spending. Health Minister Jim Reiter — who is expected to join the race to become the province’s next premier — is now announcing the province won’t be reducing CBO budgets.

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