Labour News Update: August 28 2017

NSGEU turns up heat over loss of retirement bonus for Nova Scotia’s public sector | Union demands TTC stop using contract workers after serious workplace accident | GE closing down Peterborough plant | How today’s unions help working people | ATI documents show government still spending millions on flawed Lean projects | Nearly half of public servants paid by Phoenix have reported problems | B.C. tenants could be on the hook for 4-per-cent rent hike next year | He’s considered Canada’s founding father, but many Ontario teachers want his name stripped from public schools | Trump: ‘We’ll end up probably terminating NAFTA’ | Striking ground crew workers at Toronto’s Pearson airport reject latest offer | Poutini’s is back in business after staff revolt | Labour bill clears hurdle on road to $15-an-hour minimum wage

NSGEU turns up heat over loss of retirement bonus for Nova Scotia’s public sector
Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press
August 25 2017

Nova Scotia’s decision to end the long service award for public-sector workers – retirement bonuses that cost the government tens of millions of dollars a year – is proving particularly irksome for union leaders.

In legislation proclaimed this week, the government froze the one-time retirement payment for 41,000 employees retroactive to April, 1, 2015, and removed it altogether for new workers.

Union demands TTC stop using contract workers after serious workplace accident
Don Mitchell, Global News
August 26 2017ttc-mount-dennis-garage-2010

The union representing transit workers is calling on the TTC to stop the practice of hiring contract workers for vehicle maintenance work due to safety concerns.

The Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 113, which represents around 11,000 TTC workers, pointed to an Aug. 15 incident at the Wilson Bus Garage in which a contract service line worker got behind the wheel of an out of service bus and hit a driver not working at the time.

GE closing down Peterborough plant
Mike Lacey, Peterborough This Week
August 25, 2017

More than 300 employees at Peterborough’s GE plant will be out of work by the fall of 2018.

GE informed employees Friday (Aug. 25) that it would be closing the manufacturing side of its Peterborough plant. That decision will leave about 358 current employees without work. GE will retain 50 people who will handle engineering services. No decision has been made on what it will do with the property moving ahead.

The decision is a result of reduced demand for its products, says Kim Warburton, vice-president of communications and public affairs for GE Canada.

How today’s unions help working people
Josh Bivens, Lora Engdahl, Elise Gould, Teresa Kroeger, Celine McNicholas, Lawrence Mishel, Zane Mokhiber, Heidi Shierholz, Marni von Wilpert, Ben Zipperer, and Valerie Wilson, Economic Policy Institute
August 24 2017

Americans have always joined together—whether in parent teacher associations or local community organizations—to solve problems and make changes that improve their lives and their communities. Through unions, people join together to strive for improvements at the place where they spend a large portion of their waking hours: work.

The freedom of workers to join together in unions and negotiate with employers (in a process known as collective bargaining) is widely recognized as a fundamental human right across the globe. In the United States, this right is protected by the U.S. Constitution and U.S. law and is supported by a majority of Americans.

ATI documents show government still spending millions on flawed Lean projects
CUPE
August 23 2017

Documents obtained through an access to information (ATI) request by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) show that the Saskatchewan government is still spending tens of millions of dollars on Lean or Kaizen staff across the province, despite the public backlash and poor track record.

The Ministry of Health documents show that there are 17 continuous quality improvement offices (formerly known as Kaizen Promotion offices) in health regions that employed 175.4 full time equivalents (FTEs) in 2016. Salary and benefits for these teams from 2012 through to December 31, 2015 total $54.24 million. In 2015, there were 190 FTEs in health care working in Lean or Kaizen positions.

Nearly half of public servants paid by Phoenix have reported problems
CBC News
August 24 2017

Nearly one in every two federal public servants paid through the problem-plagued Phoenix system has opened a file seeking redress for a pay issue, CBC News has learned.

As of Aug. 8, there were 156,035 employees who had been waiting at least 30 days to have their pay complaint dealt with, according to data released to Radio-Canada by a government source.

B.C. tenants could be on the hook for 4-per-cent rent hike next year
Simon Little, CKNW News
August 23 2017

B.C. renters are set to see the highest jump in the maximum allowable monthly rent increase in over five years.

The Residential Tenancy Branch has set the maximum at four per cent for 2018, up from 3.7 per cent in 2017.

He’s considered Canada’s founding father, but many Ontario teachers want his name stripped from public schools
Shanifa Nasser, CBC News
August 23 2017

As U.S. legislators mull the removal of statues seen by many as painful reminders of the darker moments in American history, a similar debate is playing out in Ontario over whether public schools should bear the names of Canadian figures associated with this country’s legacy around the treatment of Indigenous communities.

That debate hit the floor of a meeting by the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario days ago, ending with a resolution to urge school boards across the province to consider removing the name of Canada’s first prime minister — Sir John A. Macdonald — from public schools.

Trump: ‘We’ll end up probably terminating NAFTA’
Alexander Panetta, The Canadian Press
August 23 2017

Donald Trump has threatened to blow up NAFTA less than one week into the renegotiation of the trade agreement, providing an early indication that the upcoming talks might occur under a cloud of menace.

The president’s threat itself is no surprise. A common topic of hallway chatter at last week’s first round of talks was when he might deploy that withdrawal threat, which many view as his principal source of negotiating leverage.

Striking ground crew workers at Toronto’s Pearson airport reject latest offer
The Canadian Press
August 23 2017

Striking ground crew workers at Canada’s busiest airport have voted overwhelmingly to reject the latest offer from their employer and will continue a four-week-long work stoppage.

A spokesman for Teamsters Union Local 419 says the workers employed by Swissport vote 98 per cent to reject a new contract after turning down an offer by a wide margin in late July.

Poutini’s is back in business after staff revolt
Blog TO
August 21 2017

It looks like one of Toronto’s most popular poutine purveyors is back in business. Days after workers walked out of Poutini’s Queen St. location, staff and ownership met today to try to resolve the issues.

In a note recently posted to the restaurant’s Facebook page, Poutini’s owners Fred and Nick Laliberte explained how they met with staff today to hear their views and try to address their concerns.

Labour bill clears hurdle on road to $15-an-hour minimum wage
Robert Benzie, The Toronto Star
August 22 2017

It’s full steam ahead with labour reforms that will increase the minimum wage to $14 an hour in January and $15 the year after that.

A legislative committee studying the bill concluded its clause-by-clause work this week, setting the stage for its passage in the fall session of the legislature, which begins Sept. 11.

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