Labour News Update: September 18 2017

Union blames fewer staff, high mail volume for long days in Tecumseh | Ontario college faculty members vote in favour of strike mandate | Good jobs improve health and profits | City still wants to farm out sick day management at Saskatoon Transit | Sears case shows the risk of defined benefit pensions for employees | Instructors quit community college due to lack of paid prep time | U.S. wants to insert a 5-year termination clause in renegotiated NAFTA agreement | Teacher Nadia Shoufani defeats silencing campaign against her advocacy for Palestinian freedom | Union drive at National Post a ‘hell-freezes-over moment’ | The headline you didn’t see: $15 per hour will have a big net benefit | ‘Betrayed’: East Side Mario’s waitresses allege sexual harassment complaints not taken seriously | The Fight for 15 in Ontario and Nova Scotia — a study in contrast

Union blames fewer staff, high mail volume for long days in Tecumseh
CTV News
September 13 2017cupw

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers is spreading the word about how spread-thin staff are at the Tecumseh post office.

The union has been holding an information picket each day this week in front of the office near Banwell Rd.

According to the union, the depot has seen a 50 per cent decrease in staff since 2008. But there has been a slight increase in mail and more than double the parcel volume.

Ontario college faculty members vote in favour of strike mandate
CBC News
September 14 2017

Faculty at Ontario’s 24 public colleges, including professors, instructors and librarians, have voted in favour of a strike mandate, the union says, should upcoming contract talks fail.

The chair of OPSEU’s bargaining team, J. P. Hornick, said the vote doesn’t mean the faculty will hit the picket lines — but it does give them more negotiating power.

Sixty-eight per cent of the membership said yes to a possible strike.

Good jobs improve health and profits
Ritika Goel, The Toronto Star
September 14 2017

As a family doctor, I know that having a good job is good for your health. I see the health impacts of precarious work on a daily basis, but this week, I was pleased to attend an event that brought together employers who are making this connection too.

The link between decent work and good health reminds me of Michael, whom I met a few years ago when he had recently arrived in Canada from the Caribbean. Michael had just fled a dangerous situation leaving his wife and children behind, and come to Canada to claim refugee status. He came to see me regularly, but whether the issue at hand was headaches, dizziness or loss of appetite, I could never find a physical root cause.

City still wants to farm out sick day management at Saskatoon Transit
Guy Quenneville, CBC News
September 11 2017

The City of Saskatoon says it still wants to farm out the management of sick days at Saskatoon Transit.

Last month, the city asked councillors to endorse another year of the pilot project.

The program, carried out by Saskatoon-based contractor Bridges Health, was launched for a nine-month period last year to try to reduce the high number of sick days taken by employees at Saskatoon Transit and help employees return to work.

Sears case shows the risk of defined benefit pensions for employees
The Canadian Press
September 14 2017

Sue Earl, a 38-year Ontario-based Sears Canada employee, was shocked when she found out she would only initially receive 81 per cent of the value of her pension as part of the company’s insolvency process.

The 64-year-old from Cobourg, Ont., had assumed her defined-benefit pension was “money in the bank,” a guaranteed amount she’d receive in retirement regardless of the financial health of the failing retailer.

Instructors quit community college due to lack of paid prep time
Elizabeth McMillan, CBC News
September 12 2017

Some former instructors at the Nova Scotia Community College say the school is taking advantage of some of its teaching staff by not compensating them for the work they do preparing for their courses.

Krista Keough taught courses in NSCC’s music business program for six years, but is one of several instructors who decided not to continue this year after learning they wouldn’t be paid extra for any out-of-class hours worked.

U.S. wants to insert a 5-year termination clause in renegotiated NAFTA agreement
Alexander Panetta, The Canadian Press
September 14 2017

The United States is seeking to insert a so-called sunset clause into a new NAFTA, a controversial proposal that would automatically terminate the agreement after five years unless all three member countries agree to extend it.

That idea has been quietly floated for months by U.S. officials who finally made it public Thursday.

Canadian teacher Nadia Shoufani defeats silencing campaign against her advocacy for Palestinian freedom
Samidoun
September 13 2017

Canadian teacher Nadia Shoufani has won a significant free-speech victory after a year-long battle and a prolonged campaign by pro-apartheid Zionist organizations attacking her and attempting to have her fired from her job for speaking about Palestinian prisoners at a public rally in 2016.

“A victory for myself, for the Palestine solidarity movement, for freedom of expression! A victory for the Palestinian cause and the struggle of Palestinians!” said Shoufani in a Facebook post on 8 September offering thanks to friends, colleagues and supporters for their consistent support throughout a year of struggle.

Fiera Foods pleads guilty in death of 23-year-old temp worker
Brendan Kennedy and Sara Mojtehedzadeh, The Toronto Star
September 14 2017

The North York industrial bakery where a 23-year-old temp worker died last September pleaded guilty Thursday to Ministry of Labour charges relating to the death.

Fiera Foods, which mass produces baked goods for grocery stores and fast-food chains around the world, was fined $300,000 under the Occupational Health and Safety Act plus a 25 per cent victim surcharge, following a joint submission with the Crown.

Union drive at National Post a ‘hell-freezes-over moment’
Deborah Richmond, CWA Canada
September 13 2017

An organizing drive is under way at the National Post, where editorial staff are seeking protection from Postmedia’s severe austerity measures and possible bankruptcy.

Several employees at the newspaper have formed a committee and are working with CWA Canada organizer Katherine Lapointe to encourage their colleagues to sign a confidential union card pledging their support. They went public today, issuing a news release and revealing a website: nationalpostunion.ca.

“This may seem like an unusual step for National Post employees. Some might even consider this a hell-freezes-over moment. But NP editorial staff have no other realistic option. We need a union. Logic and common sense demands it,” the committee said in a message emailed Sept. 1 to fellow workers.

The headline you didn’t see: $15 per hour will have a big net benefit
Michal Rozworski, Progressive Economics Forum
September 12 2017

You wouldn’t know it from today’s headlines about impending job losses, but an analysis of the impact of Ontario’s move to a $15 minimum wage from the province’s Financial Accountability Office shows a net benefit for Ontario workers.

Overall, this is a much more cautious report than what the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and its allies had furnished, noting both the costs and benefits of $15. While the media is focusing on job loss figures (more on this below), the report predicts a big overall rise in incomes.

‘Betrayed’: East Side Mario’s waitresses allege sexual harassment complaints not taken seriously
Sophia Harris, CBC News
September 17 2017

Two women allege that because their sexual harassment complaints weren’t taken seriously, they were forced to quit their full-time waitressing jobs at an East Side Mario’s restaurant in Woodstock, Ont.

“I thought, ‘You don’t believe us?'” says 21-year-old Adrienne Young when she left her job in August. “I just felt betrayed.”

The Fight for 15 in Ontario and Nova Scotia — a study in contrast
Robert Devet, The Nova Scotia Advocate

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – How come real gains are made in the Fight for 15 elsewhere in Canada, but not in Nova Scotia? Does it have to be that way, and are there lessons to be learned both from earlier false starts here and successes elsewhere in Canada?

The idea that people should be paid at least $15 per hour is gaining momentum. Alberta, Ontario, and most recently British Columbia have committed to it. There have been major victories for the Fight for 15 movement in the USA as well.

Meanwhile it’s crickets in Nova Scotia, even though 130,000 Nova Scotians struggle to make ends meet on less than $15 an hour.

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