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?

Mediator walks out of B.C. school talks

Description: Veteran mediator Vince Ready says it’s unrealistic to expect the two sides in the B.C. schools dispute to come to an agreement by the scheduled start of classes. He had been engaged in exploratory talks with the parties in the hopes of entering mediation.

Source: CBC

Date: 08/30/2014

Link: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/b-c-teachers-strike-vince-ready-walks-out-of-talks-1.2751718

Related links:

Questions for discussion:

  • Why did Vince Ready quit the talks?
  • Consult your textbook. What is mediation? What does a mediator do?
  • The Vancouver School Board is asking that the dispute be put to binding arbitration. What is binding arbitration? How does it differ from mediation?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of both approaches?
  • See the Related links above. In January, the B.C. Supreme Court found the B.C. government had bargained in bad faith with the teachers. What does the term bad faith mean in a collective bargaining context?

 

Federal government knew TFW rules being broken, AFL says

Description: The Alberta Federation of Labour says documents show the federal government knew temporary foreign workers were being underpaid in 2013.

Source: CBC

Date: 08/15/2014

Link: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/temporary-foreign-worker-program-misuse-sanctioned-by-harper-government-union-says-1.2737422

Related links:

Questions for discussion:

  • Consult your text: what is a labour federation?
  • Who does the AFL represent?
  • Summarize the AFL’s complaint.
  • What changes did the federal government make to the TFW program this year?
  • Do you agree with the AFL that the TFW program should be eliminated? Why or why not?

 

Sick days similar in private, public sector

Description: A report from the Parliamentary Budget Officer finds that workers in the public sector take about the same number of paid sick days as their private-sector counterparts.

Source: The Toronto Star

Date: 02/06/2014

Link: http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2014/02/06/public_servants_take_similar_amount_of_sick_days_as_private_sector_report.html#

Related links:

Questions for discussion:

  • Describe the role of the Parliamentary Budget Officer.
  • What does the report conclude?
  • How do public sector workers differ from private sector workers, according to the report?
  • How does this affect sick leave?
  • How does the report affect Tony Clement’s claims of sick leave abuse in the public service?

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?

Considering the union wage premium

Description: Unionized Canadians make more than their non-union counterparts, but the concept of the union “wage premium” is a complex one.

Source: The Globe and Mail

Date: 02/05/2014

Link: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/economy/economy-lab/it-still-pays-to-be-in-a-union-but-for-how-long/article16697608/

Related links:

Questions for discussion:

  • What is the union “wage premium”?
  • Why does the author say this premium “tends to be overestimated”?
  • What are some of the forces that threaten this premium?
  • Do you agree with the statement that “belonging to a union may seem like an antiquated notion to many in today’s work environment”?
  • Why or why not?

 

BC government fined $2 million in teachers dispute

Description: A B.C. Supreme Court justice has ruled that the B.C. government did not act in good faith in its dealings with the B.C. Teachers’ Federation and has fined the government $2 million.

Source: The Globe and Mail

Date: 01/27/2014

Link: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/bc-teachers-win-legal-fight-to-bargain-class-sizes/article16525448/

Related links:

Questions for discussion:

  • Why did the judge fine the government $2 million?
  • Why did the judge find the government’s legislation was unconstitutional?
  • Why did the judge conclude the government had not bargained in good faith?
  • What has been the government’s response?
  • What are some of the impacts of this decision?

 

Tentative agreement in UNB strike

Description: The University of New Brunswick and the university’s faculty association have reached a tentative agreement, while faculty at Mount Allison University remain on strike.

Source: Global News

Date: 01/30/2014

Link: http://globalnews.ca/news/1118652/unb-faculty-union-have-agreement-in-place-to-end-strike/

Related links:

Questions for discussion:

  • What are the issues in these disputes?
  • See the CTV story: What is the position of the New Brunswick Student Alliance?
  • What would be the impact on you if your professors went on strike?
  • The Mount Allison faculty association says this dispute is about academic freedom. Based on what you know, do you agree?
  • Why or why not?

United Church clergy form union

Description: United Church ministers and other church workers are forming a union to seek better job security and combat bullying and overwork.

Source: The Toronto Star

Date: 01/21/2014

Link: http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2014/01/21/united_church_of_canada_clergy_form_their_own_union.html

Related links:

Questions for discussion:

  • What is “precarious work”?
  • Can you think of some other examples?
  • What is this union’s relationship to Unifor?
  • Does it surprise you that clergy would form a union?
  • What challenges can you think of that would face a non-traditional union such as this?

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?

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