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?

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

Related links:

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

Related links:

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

Related links:

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

Related links:

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

Related links:

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/

Related links:

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?

Unions good for local economies, CLC report argues

Description: A Canadian Labour Congress report says unionized workers earn an average of almost $5 an hour more than their non-union counterparts, pumping more than $78 million a week into local economies.

Source: Ottawa Citizen

Date: 08/21/2013

Link: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/business/Higher+union+wages+pump+extra+money+into+local+economy+labour+congress+says/8818168/story.html

Related links:

Questions for discussion:

  • Follow the link to the CLC report. Is your community mentioned in it? If so, what does the report say about it?
  • What does Ian Lee, of the Sprott School of Business, say about this study?
  • What does George King say? (See the CBC story.)
  • What do you think of their arguments?
  • Beyond wages, what reasons can you think of for and against belonging to a union?

Unions merge in hopes of reversing decline

Description: With organized labour on the defensive across the country, the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada are merging to create a 300,000-member union called Unifor.

Source: The Globe and Mail

Date: 08/08/2013

Link: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/unions-political-calculus-with-numbers-come-power/article13678660/

Related links:

Questions for discussion:

  • Who is the new head of Unifor?
  • What has happened to union membership in Canada in recent years?
  • What benefits do the CAW and CEP expect from this merger?
  • Can you think of any possible negative effects of this merger?
  • If you were a member of the CAW or CEP would you support the merger? Discuss.


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