‘A moment of truth for Canadian labour’

Description: As two of Canada’s largest unions explore a merger, a confidential union report says that labour must become more relevant to Canadians.

Source: The Toronto Star

Date: 01/26/2012

Link: http://www.thestar.com/article/1121505–unions-must-change-quickly-to-survive-says-secret-report-by-cep-caw

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Questions for discussion:

  • Why do you think these two unions are thinking about merging?
  • What do you think would be the advantages of such a merger?
  • What do you think would be the disadvantages of such a merger?
  • If you were a member of one of these unions, how would you vote on a merger proposal?
  • The confidential report referred to in the Toronto Star story recommends creating a “brand” and “visibility for a new kind of national Canadian industrial unionism.” What do you think about this advice?

Toronto paramedics ask to be declared essential service

Description: About 250 — some reports said 350 — Toronto paramedics held a rally asking that they be declared an essential service.

Source: CBC

Date: 01/24/2012

Link: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/story/2012/01/24/toronto-paramedics-protest-essential-service.html

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Questions for discussion:

  • In industrial relations terms, what is an essential service?
  • Who would make the final decision on whether Toronto paramedics are an essential service?
  • Describe the process by which an application for an essential service designation would be made in this case.
  • What reason is the city giving for not making an immediate decision?
  • What effect would an essential service declaration have on the paramedics?
  • Why do you think they are asking to be declared an essential service?
  • What is binding interest arbitration? Why do you think the paramedics favour it?

Employers ‘have warmed to work stoppages’

Description: Jim Stanford, an economist with the Canadian Auto Workers union, writes that employers, who once opposed work stoppages, are now eager to lock out unions.

Source: The Globe and Mail

Date: 01/20/2012

Link: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/opinion/management-has-warmed-to-work-stoppages/article2308417/print/

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Questions for discussion:

  • Summarize Jim Stanford’s argument.
  • What is his solution?
  • Do you agree with his analysis?
  • Why or why not?
  • Do you think the current situation requires government action?
  • Why or why not?

Halifax transit workers reject offer

Description: Halifax transit workers have voted nearly unanimously in favour of striking if an agreement with the city cannot be reached by Feb. 2.

Source: The Halifax Chronicle Herald

Date: 01/23/2012

Link: http://thechronicleherald.ca/metro/54722-transit-workers-vote-strike

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Questions for discussion:

  • Summarize the issues in this dispute.
  • What is the key issue?
  • What did the employer do almost immediately after contract negotiations began?
  • What is the meaning of this move? (Consult your text.)
  • Why do you think the employer took that action at that time?

Quebec mill closes after union rejects offer

Description: White Birch Paper Co. is shutting its Stadacona paper mill in Quebec City after union members voted to reject a contract offer.

Source: CBC

Date: 01/13/2012

Link: http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/story/2012/01/13/white-birch-quebec.html

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Questions for discussion:

  • Why does the employer say it has to close the mill?
  • What is the union’s position?
  • Why do you think the workers overwhelmingly rejected the offer?
  • Based on what you know about this situation, how would you have voted if you were a union member?
  • What would you have done if you were an executive of the employer?

B.C. liquor store workers offer to work Sundays

Description: As contract negotiations begin, the union representing B.C. government liquor store workers says the government could make millions by opening more stores on Sundays.

Source: The Vancouver Sun

Date: 01/10/2012

Link: http://www.vancouversun.com/business/Union+proposes+Sunday+openings+more+liquor+stores+ahead+talks/5971560/story.html

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Questions for discussion:

  • Why do you think the union is making this proposal?
  • How do you think the public will respond to this proposal?
  • How do you think the government will respond?
  • What is a “cooperative gains” mandate?
  • What arguments can you think of in favour of and against a wage freeze for public sector workers?

Labour facing tough year

Description: Employers facing tough economic conditions are increasingly taking a tough line with organized labour.

Source: The Globe and Mail

Date: 01/07/2011

Link: http://investdb1.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/GAM.20120107.RBCOVERLABOURCLASHES0107ATL/GIStory/

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Questions for discussion:

  • Summarize Caterpillar Inc.’s actions at its London, Ont. subsidiary.
  • Why do you think the company is taking such a tough line?
  • Do you agree with the company’s actions?
  • Why or why not?
  • What do you think the next year will bring for industrial relations in Canada?

NDP leadership candidates woo unions

Description: Candidates for the leadership of the New Democratic Party are competing to line up support from unions.

Source: The Globe and Mail

Date: 01/06/2012

Link: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ottawa-notebook/topp-lands-calverts-support-as-ndp-rivals-burnish-union-credentials/article2294036/

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Questions for discussion:

  • Why are NDP leadership candidates seeking union support?
  • Describe the historical relationship between the NDP and labour in Canada. (Refer to your textbook.)
  • What are the advantages of this relationship for unions?
  • What are the advantages for the NDP?
  • What are the disadvantages for both?
  • How have election spending laws affected the relationship?