Supreme Court strikes down essential services law

Description: A Saskatchewan law that imposed a sweeping ban on public sector strikes is unconstitutional, the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled.

Source: CBC

Date: 01/30/2015

Link: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/essential-services-law-deemed-unconstitutional-by-supreme-court-1.2937740

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Questions for discussion:

  • What does the term “essential services” mean?
  • Why did the court say the Saskatchewan law is unconstitutional?
  • What did the two dissenting justices say?
  • Whom do you agree with? Why?
  • What are the similarities between this decision and the court’s recent decision regarding the RCMP?


Mounties can bargain, Supreme Court says

Description: The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled 6-1 that RCMP members have the right to collective bargaining.

Source: The Globe and Mail

Date: 01/16/2015

Link: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/supreme-court-backs-mounties-right-to-collective-bargaining/article22486356/

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Questions for discussion:

  • Briefly stated, what did the court rule?
  • What are the likely results of this ruling?
  • What did the court say about freedom of association?
  • What happens now?
  • Based on what you know, do you agree with this ruling? Discuss.


Air Canada, Unifor talks begin

Description: Unifor is looking to make up for past concessions as collective bargaining begins with Air Canada.

Source: The Globe and Mail

Date: 01/04/2015

Link: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/after-banner-fiscal-results-air-canada-set-to-begin-talks-with-unifor/article22284006/

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Questions for discussion:

  • What is Unifor looking for in the new collective agreement?
  • What happened to Air Canada in 2003?
  • What does the union say it has given up since then?
  • What do you think about the union’s arguments?
  • What arguments do you think Air Canada will make in response to Unifor’s position?


CLC launches Fairness Works campaign

Description: The Canadian labour movement is “rebranding” itself with an ad campaign.

Source: Metro

Date: 12/30/2014

Link: http://metronews.ca/news/toronto/1249288/a-kinder-softer-canadian-labour-movement/

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Questions for discussion:

  • Consult your text: what is the role of the Canadian Labour Congress?
  • Have you seen this ad campaign? What do you think about it?
  • What is your impression of unions?
  • Does this campaign change that opinion? Why or why not?
  • What challenges do unions face in trying to organize what this story describes as “sectors that were previously considered off-limits”?


Ontario can’t afford public sector increases, Wynne says

Description: Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne says the province doesn’t have the money for public sector wage and benefit increases.

Source: The Ottawa Sun

Date: 12/27/2014

Link: http://www.ottawasun.com/2014/12/27/wynne-to-unions-no-money-for-wage-hikes

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Questions for discussion:

  • The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario has taken a strike vote. Consult your text: What is the significance of this move?
  • Does a strike vote mean a union is likely to take job action? Discuss.
  • Follow the Related Links above. What is the OPSEU’s response to Wynne’s statement?
  • Whom do you think the public would support on this issue?
  • If you were the leader of the OPSEU or the Teachers’ Federation, what would be your strategy dealing with the government?


Senate passes flawed labour relations bill

Description: The Senate has passed a bill related to public-sector union certification, even though the bill contains mistakes.

Source: The Globe and Mail

Date: 12/16/2014

Link: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/senators-to-vote-on-conservatives-union-bill-despite-error-in-legislation/article22102064/

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Questions for discussion:

  • What would Bill C-525 do?
  • What do unions say about Bill C-525?
  • What do its supporters say?
  • What are the mistakes in the bill?
  • Why weren’t the errors corrected before the bill was passed into law?


Quebec municipal workers hold one-day strike

Description: Municipal workers in Quebec walked off the job for one day to protest provincial government plans to restructure their pensions.

Source: CBC

Date: 11/26/2014

Link: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/quebec-municipal-workers-in-1-day-strike-to-protest-pension-reform-plan-1.2850168

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Questions for discussion

  • What is the Coalition syndicale pour la libre négociation?
  • What is Bill 3? How would it change Quebec public workers’ pensions?
  • Listen to the audio clip on the CBC site titled “are municipal workers ‘not in touch with reality.’ ” Why does the government think the workers are out of touch?
  • What is the union response?
  • What do you think? How important is public opinion in a dispute like this?


BC Federation of Labour elects new leader

Description: Irene Lanzinger, the former head of the B.C. teachers union, has narrowly defeated Canadian Labour Congress official Amber Hockin to become the first female head of the B.C. Labour Federation.

Source: The Globe and Mail

Date: 11/27/2014

Link: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/new-bc-labour-head-will-try-to-find-commom-ground-with-liberals/article21822722/

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Questions for discussion:

  • In this story, Irene Lanzinger talks about trying to find “common ground” with the B.C. Liberal government. Why might this be difficult?
  • What are the advantages to labour unions supporting specific political parties?
  • What are the disadvantages?
  • Should labour unions advocate for non-union workers?
  • Why or why not?


Unions join coalition for increased minimum wage

Description: As union power wanes in the United States, Los Angeles unions representing hotel workers are joining with other activist groups to lobby for an increased minimum wage.

Source: The New York Times

Date: 11/22/2014

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/23/business/how-a-coalition-pushed-for-a-hotel-workers-minimum-wage.html?_r=0

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Questions for discussion:

  • The New York Times story says activists have found it “hard to win through the traditional way of unionizing.” Why do you think this is?
  • What are the advantages to unions of joining coalitions like LAANE?
  • What are the disadvantages?
  • Do you think something like LAANE would be successful in Canada? Explain.
  • Have you ever worked in a minimum wage job? If so, how do you feel about what you were paid?


Steelworkers appear to be leaving Ontario Federation of Labour

Description: The Ontario Federation of Labour may be forced to lay off some of its staff after reports that the United Steelworkers Union may be withdrawing funding or leaving the federation.

Source: The Toronto Star

Date: 10/20/2014

Link: http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2014/10/20/ofl_facing_cuts_as_steelworkers_apparently_yank_funding.html

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Questions for discussion:

  • Consult your text: What is the function of a labour federation?
  • Which is the largest labour federation in Canada?
  • Why do you think a union would want to belong to a labour federation?
  • What appears to be the cause of the dispute between the USW and the OFL?
  • What would be the impact on the OFL if the USW leaves?