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

Related links:

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?

Postal unions challenge home mail delivery decision

Description: The Canadian Union of Postal Workers is going to court to challenge Canada Post’s plans to phase out home mail delivery in urban centres.

Source: CBC

Date: 10/16/2014

Link: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canada-post-court-challenge-launched-to-save-home-mail-delivery-1.2800697

Related links:

Questions for discussion:

  • What does the union want the courts to do?
  • What does the union intend to argue before the court?
  • What do you think of the union’s arguments?
  • Why does Canada Post say it is necessary to phase out home delivery?
  • What do you think about phasing out home mail delivery?

Air Canada pilots ratify 10-year agreement

Description: Air Canada pilots have ratified a 10-year collective agreement that the airline describes as a “landmark” deal.

Source: Canadian Press – Canadian Labour Reporter

Date: 10/31/2014

Link: http://www.labour-reporter.com/articleview/22657-air-canada-pilots-vote-84-per-cent-in-favour-of-a-10-year-contract

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Questions for discussion:

  • Ten-year collective agreements are rare. What advantages might there be for such agreements?
  • What disadvantages can you think of?
  • What does the company say it gained from the agreement?
  • What does the union say it gained from the agreement?
  • The agreement replaces one imposed by an arbitrator that was set to expire in 2016. Consult your text: How does arbitration work? Why might the two parties want to negotiate a new agreement?

Pensions key issue in Saskatoon transit lockout

Description: The Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board has halted the City of Saskatoon’s plans to change its transit workers’ pension plan.

Source: Global News

Date: 09/26/2014

Link: http://globalnews.ca/news/1585324/labour-board-to-rule-on-legality-of-saskatoon-transit-lockout/

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Questions for discussion:

  • What did the union ask the board to do?
  • What is the city’s reason for locking the union out?
  • What is the city’s reason for changing the pension plan?
  • What does the union say about the state of the pension plan?
  • Summarize the offers from the two sides.

Tories seek debate limits as Bill C-377 returns to Senate

Description: Conservative senators are attempting to limit debate on private member’s bills as a controversial bill affecting unions goes back to the upper house.

Source: National Post

Date: 09/21/2014

Link: http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/09/21/tories-move-to-limit-debate-in-senate-as-controversial-union-bill-heads-back-to-upper-chamber/

Related links:

Questions for discussion:

  • What would Bill C-377 do?
  • Summarize the arguments in favour of Bill C-377.
  • Summarize the arguments against Bill C-377.
  • Do you think the bill is necessary?
  • What happened to the bill the first time it went before the Senate?

BC teachers back at work

Description: After a long and bitter dispute, the B.C. government and the B.C. Teachers’ Federation have reached a six-year contract with the help of mediator Vince Ready.

Source: The Vancouver Sun

Date: 09/20/2014

Link: http://www.vancouversun.com/business/Vaughn+Palmer+Remarkably+clean+ending+bitter+dispute/10219679/story.html

Related links:

 

Questions for discussion:

  • What did the BCTF give up to get this agreement?
  • What did the government give up to get this agreement?
  • Why does Vancouver Sun columnist Vaughn Palmer describe the settlement as a “remarkably clean ending to bitter dispute”?
  • What were the key issues in this dispute?
  • Palmer says: “when parties don’t trust each other, it takes time to recognize which proposals are non-starters and move into each other’s zone of settlement.” Why don’t these parties trust each other?

Unions and the changing economy

Description: For many Canadians, Labour Day may not have the same significance it once did.

Source: The Globe and Mail

Date: 09/01/2014

Link: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/evolving-work-force-presents-new-challenges-to-unions/article20290383/

Related links:

Questions for discussion:

  • What does the article describe as the aims of the labour movement in its early days?
  • What recent changes to the economy have proved challenging to unions?
  • How have unions responded?
  • Have you ever belonged to a union?
  • What are your feelings about unions? Are they necessary?

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