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?

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/

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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?

Tory leader backs away from ‘right-to-work’

Description: Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak is no longer calling for “right-to-work” laws.

Source: The Toronto Star

Date: 02/21/2014

Link: http://www.thestar.com/news/queenspark/2014/02/21/tim_hudak_renounces_antiunion_righttowork_plan.html

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Questions for discussion:

  • What is “right to work”?
  • Consult your text: what is the Rand Formula?
  • Do you think the Rand Formula is fair?
  • Why or why not?
  • Why do you think Hudak backed away from his “right to work” plans?

New foreign worker rules anger UFCW

Description: The general counsel for the United Food and Commercial Workers Canada union is calling changes to the federal government’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program a “smokescreen” and adds that one provision is “absolutely unconscionable.”

Source: The Toronto Star

Date: 01/03/2014

Link: http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2014/01/03/new_regulations_to_temporary_foreign_worker_program_called_a_smokescreen.html

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Questions for discussion:

  • What is the Temporary Foreign Worker Program?
  • What caused the federal government to review it?
  • What changes are particularly upsetting to the UFCW and other critics?
  • What is the government’s explanation for the changes?
  • What is your opinion of the changes?

Ontario Liberals, NDP attack ‘right-to-work’ promise

Description: Ontario Liberals and New Democrats are hitting back at a Conservative pledge to make the province a “right-to-work” jurisdiction.

Source: Canadian Labour Reporter

Date: 11/29/2013

Link: http://www.labour-reporter.com/articleview/19565-ontario-right-to-work-legislation-would-kill-jobs-lower-wages-liberals

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Questions for discussion:

  • What is “right-to-work”?
  • Do you believe the term is an accurate description of the concept? Why or why not?
  • What is the Rand formula?
  • Consult your textbook: what is the history of the Rand formula?
  • Do you think making Ontario an “right-to-work” province would be a good idea? Why or why not?

BC forest union leader dies

Description: Jack Munro, the legendary former IWA Canada official, has died at age 82.

Source: The Vancouver Sun

Date: 11/15/2013

Link: http://www.vancouversun.com/business/forest+labour+icon+Jack+Munro+dies/9171250/story.html

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Questions for discussion:

  • Why was Jack Munro a significant person in Canadian history?
  • What has happened to the power of unions since Munro’s day?
  • What are the reasons for this change?
  • What was the B.C. Solidarity movement?
  • Do you think a movement like that could happen today? Discuss.


Federal government seeks concessions from unions

Description: The federal government has promised in its throne speech to cut union jobs and roll back sick leave provisions.

Source: The Ottawa Citizen

Date: 10/17/2013

Link: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/business/Government+vows+broad+changes+public+service+throne+speech/9045182/story.html

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Questions for discussion:

  • Briefly summarize the government’s plans for the public service.
  • What is the reaction of unions and the New Democratic Party Opposition?
  • Based on what you have read, do you think the government is right to seek these changes?
  • Why or why not?
  • Do you think that what some call “public-service bashing” would be politically popular? Discuss.

Unifor leader says it’s time to ‘stop playing defence’

Description: Jerry Dias, the new leader of Unifor, says it is time for unions to go on the offensive. He promises to spend 10 per cent of the newly merged union’s revenues on organizing and increasing membership.

Source: The Globe and Mail

Date: 08/31/2013

Link: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/newly-elected-unifor-leader-says-he-is-taking-labour-movement-on-the-offensive/article14063604/

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Questions for discussion:

  • What did Dias say about young people and those who traditionally have not belonged to unions?
  • Do you agree that “young people today are crying for a union”?
  • Why or why not? Discuss.
  • Have you ever belonged to a union?
  • If so, describe briefly the pros and cons of the experience.

Steelworkers, TWU to merge

Description: The United Steelworkers union, which represents 225,000 Canadian workers, and the Telecommunications Workers Union, which represents 13,000, have tentatively agreed to merge – the second large private-sector union merger of the year.

Source: CBC

Date: 08/30/2013

Link: http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/story/2013/08/30/steelworkers-telecommunications-union-merger.html

Related links:

Questions for discussion:What sort of workers does the Steelworkers union represent?

  • What sort of workers does the Telecommunications Workers union represent?
  • What reasons do the unions give for wanting to merge?
  • What is the next step in this process?
  • Why do you think the TWU is supporting Canada’s Big Three telecommunications companies on the issue of Verizon’s possible entry into this country?

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