Friday, 30 November 2007

Olbermann with Naomi Klein: The Shock Doctrine

This is VERY illuminating!

What does "Reaching Out to Labour" mean?

Saskatoon StarPhoenix reporter James Wood writes in an article in the Friday, November 30, 2007 issue entitled: Wall enters strike fray, Settle or face back-to-work law, premier warns about Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall's apparent anxiousness to legislate an end to the strike at Saskatchewan's two universities.

Just to clear up any possible confusion caused by this article. I told James Wood when he contacted me by telephone (Thursday) that since the election of the new government I have sent the Minister (of Labour) 2 letters (on different topics). I also attempted to contact him once by telephone - last week.

The telephone call was my offer to meet with him to provide my insight into the dispute, and to offer my analysis of the options available to assist in resolving the dispute.

He has not returned my call, nor taken me up on my offer.

Obviously, the "new" labour minister, and the "new" Premier are not as interested in "reaching out to labour" as they promised during the election campaign.

A couple of bloggers have already posted on Wall's comments:

Buckdog: Saskatchewan Party Government Threatens To Legislate University Support Workers Back to Work!

Sean in Saskatchewan: Sask Politics: Wall, CUPE 1975 strike, and back-to-work?

Thursday, 29 November 2007

The Writers Strike - Why We Fight

The Folly of Merit Pay - by Alfie Kohn

Linked here is a really interesting article by Alfie Kohn entitled: The Folly of Merit Pay. The upshot of which is a very compelling argument that "pay-for-performance plans are reliably unsuccessful, if not counterproductive".

While the article is aimed mostly at these types pay schemes in relation to the teaching profession - the arguments are generic across all occupations.

I particularly like the following paragraph:
"Educational policymakers might be forgiven their shortsightedness if they were just proposing to raise teachers' salaries across the board—or, perhaps, to compensate them appropriately for more responsibilities or for additional training. Instead, though, many are turning to some version of "pay for performance." Here, myopia is complicated by amnesia: For more than a century, such plans have been implemented, then abandoned, then implemented in a different form, then abandoned again. The idea never seems to work, but proponents of merit pay never seem to learn. "

Urgent Message to Board of Governors U of S

The Advertisement below and linked here was placed today (November 29, 2007) in the Saskatoon StarPhoenix by Concerned Alumni from the University of Saskatchewan.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Whatever Happened to the 100 Million Dollars?

Whatever happened to the 100 Million Dollars that the Provincial Government gave to the University of Saskatchewan on December 12, 2005? Have we got an Academic Health Sciences Centre?

Is it time for a forensic audit???

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Academics' Critique U of S Human Resources Policies, Practices & Procedures

Some University of Saskatchewan Academics have done a critique of the U of S Human Resources Policies, Practices & Procedures. Check it out over at the "Concerned Academics Speaking Out Blog".
Described another way this is sort of "a performance evaluation", or a "grading" so to speak.

And the results are in. The University of Saskatchewan Adminstration and Human Resources Department have flunked out. The following quote says it all:

“The development of a five year plan by the University of Saskatchewan based on publications that have been described by one leading international business authority as studies that “lack analytical rigor” and not likely “to win a blue ribbon at your local high school science fair” is almost incomprehensible for an institution that promotes “scholarship” as one of its fundamental values. One would think that scholarship, critical thinking and the attendant high performance standards for research should apply to the Human Resources department as well.”

CUPE 1975 Rejects University Final Offer

CUPE 1975 members (employees of the University of Regina and University of Saskatchewan) have overwhelming and massively rejected their employers' so-called Final Offer.

In votes held November 26 and 27, (and supervised by the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board) the members voted 'NO' by 85%.

For further details check the Union Web-sites at:

www.cupe1975.ca (U of S)
www.cupe1975-01.ca (U of R)

The Official New Release is reproduced below:
CUPE calls for more bargaining dates:
University workers vote to reject employers’ final offer

Saskatoon/Regina: Striking university workers voted 85% to reject the employers’ final offer at membership meetings in Regina and Saskatoon. The ballots were counted this afternoon.

The CUPE 1975 negotiating committee, which asked members to reject the final offer, says the strong “no” vote sends a clear message to the employer.

“We are not prepared to settle for anything less than a fair contract settlement,” said Brad McKaig, chair of the 1975 bargaining committee, adding “the employers’ final offer was far too little and way too late.”

Despite the falling temperatures and the approach of Christmas, striking university workers came out in large numbers to defeat the employers’ final offer. About 72% of the membership cast ballots at meetings in the two cities.

“The strong rejection vote demonstrates the membership’s resolve to achieve a fair contract offer – something they have not seen so far,” said Don Puff, president of CUPE 1975-01 in Regina.

Bargaining is scheduled to resume on Friday, November 30. But the union says they are ready to meet as early as tomorrow and through the weekend, if that’s what it takes to negotiate a settlement to this dispute.

“There are two outstanding issues that must be resolved to conclude an agreement and get members back to work,” said Puff. “There’s no reason that could not happen on Friday, but if it takes longer we are prepared to bargain through the weekend.”

- 30 -

For more information contact: Brad McKaig at 229-6730 or Don Puff at 537-3199

The Ontario-Quebec Deal: TILMA 2.0 ?

Erin Weir over on the "Progressive Economics Forum Blog" has just posted a commentary on the recently announced discussions between Ontario and Quebec on so-called "free-trade".

Below is an excerpt from Erin's posting. The full commentary can be read by clicking here.
"Today, Premiers McGuinty and Charest kicked off “free trade” negotiations between their provinces. The key question is whether this process will be a sweeping “race to the bottom” like the BC-Alberta Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) or a focused effort to develop common standards in the few areas where problems may exist. As usual, the rhetoric about “inter-provincial barriers” is based on barely any concrete examples of alleged barriers."

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Bank Teller Sues CIBC for $600 Million for Unpaid Overtime

Dara Fresco image courtesy www.cbc.ca

There was a great segment on CBC Sunday Night tonight called: "Working For Nothing". It's a story about a Toronto bank teller named Dara Fresco who is sueing the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) for $600 million for unpaid overtime.

There's a video of the segment available at this link: Working For Nothing.

Also, there is a story about the case when it broke back in June of 2007 posted on the CBC Web-Site. You can read it by clicking here.

Good for Dara Fresco!

Temporary Labour or Disposable Workers?

"Foreign labourers are brought to the tar sands, but are easily sent home"

Here is an excellent article by Tim Murphy which further exposes the exploitation of workers through the Government sponsored Temporary Foreign Worker Program.

This is a source of terrible embarassment. These types of programs will cause serious damage to Canada's reputation around the globe if we don't start paying attention to ensuring workers rights are respected and protected.
"It's a litany of horror stories that almost smack of servitude. They [the workers] are artificially subdued because the threat of being sent back is always hanging over their heads and so the complaints part of the process is largely silent." - Don MacNeil, CEP

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Friday, 23 November 2007

Canada's guest workers - Not such a warm welcome

The temporary foreign workers pouring into Canada are often exploited
Illustration by Claudio Munoz
Excerpted from The Economist:

"TIMES had caught up with the sprawling brewery in the town of Barrie, an hour's drive north of Toronto. Canadians were drinking less and less beer, especially the traditional mass-produced brands. So Molson, the biggest of them all, closed the brewery and sold the property. The new owners were soon pandering to a different vice—marijuana. When police raided the plant in 2004, it was producing four crops a year of 30,000 high-grade, hydroponically-grown plants, worth around C$100m ($102m)."
Read the rest of the article by clicking here:

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

UK enacts Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007


There has been new piece of legislation enacted recently in the United Kingdom. It's called the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007. Very interesting concept.

There is also an organization called the: Centre for Corporate Accountability. (Promoting worker and public safety.)

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Saskatoon StarPhoenix columnist blames victim; supports RCMP actions in brutal Taser death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski

Joe Kuchta over at the "Owls and Roosters" blog has just posted a critique of a recent column in the Saskatoon StarPhoenix written by StarPhoenix columnist Les MacPherson respecting the brutal tasering death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski.

I couldn't agree more.

Friday, 16 November 2007

Saskatchewan CEO's hit the payroll jackpot

This article in the Friday, Nov. 16, 2007 Regina Leader-Post reveals that a number of Saskatchewan based CEO's hit the payroll jackpot last year.

According to the article, which quotes the Financial Post Business magazine, the following CEO's received compensation last year as listed below:

Gerald Grandey, CEO of Cameco Corp.: $7.6 million
William Doyle, CEO of Potash Corp. of Sask.: $3.6 million
Mayo Schmidt, CEO of Sask. Wheat Pool (Viterra): $3.3 million

It's like winning the Lotto 649 once or twice a year - every year.

For more on the Growing Gap and bloated CEO compensation - click here.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Robert Dziekanski's Taser Death

Robert Dziekanski was tasered and killed by RCMP Officers within 30 seconds of the RCMP's arrival on the scene at the Vancouver Airport. Where the actions of the RCMP warranted in this case? Or did the RCMP use excessive force?

This video is very graphic and some may find it difficult to watch.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

CUPE asks university boards to review Trew’s involvement

Below is a excerpt from a CUPE 1975 News Release issued November 14, 2007
CUPE asks university boards to review Trew’s involvement

Saskatoon - November 14, 2007

CUPE Saskatchewan has asked the boards of governors at both the University of Regina and University of Saskatchewan to review the performance of their chief negotiator Greg Trew of Claymore Consulting.

“We’re concerned that Mr. Trew is not operating in the best interests of the university community or the broader public,” says CUPE Saskatchewan President Tom Graham. At issue is Mr. Trew’s involvement with a Saskatoon business association that issued a news release last week urging the University of Saskatchewan not to soften its position on performance reviews – one of the key issues in the contract dispute with CUPE 1975.
Read the balance of the release here.

Interested in finding out the connection between the University of Saskatchewan and Management Consultant Greg Trew? Click here.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Exploitation of young workers in Saskatchewan

Reproduced below is a back and forth e-mail exchange between me and a young woman (17 years of age) who was being ripped off by her employer. I have edited it slightly to protect her anonymity - at least until she files the complaint with the Labour Standards Branch of the Dept. of Labour.

At the appropriate time, I will be revealing the name of the employer.

It's an embarassment to everyone in Saskatchewan that employers in this province are treating workers this way.

Hey Larry, I got a question for you: I was just wondering if you could tell me if there is any labour standards for being paid "under the table". Like if you are required to get a certain amount, or if you are just taking your chances with the pay that you get, because i think that i am getting ripped off by my employer. Thanks A.

Hi A., Getting paid "under the table" is illegal. It violates the "income tax" act and also labour standards. Who is the employer??? Larry

A: It is an owner of the resturant in (small town). and she said that she is just doing it for the first little bit and then she was to be starting payroll. Would this person be able to take a percentage of my earnings because i wouldnt get it anyways, like on a payroll.

L: That is fraud and theft! She is stealing from you - and she is violating the income tax act, to boot. If Revenue Canada finds out about this they will throw the book at her.

A: What should i do about this?

L: Well, I depends how badly you want (and need) that job. Personally, I think you should report the owner to the Department of Labour. And if you don't want to do it, I sure can.
I would need to know the precise details of what is happening.
- How much are you being paid?
- Is it $5.00 an hour, $6.00 and hour, or what - or is it minimum wage ($7.95)?
- Are you being paid in cash, or by a cheque?
- What is the employer saying about withholding money from you that "you wouldn't get anyway" if you were on the payroll? How much money is the employer not paying? Like, is it a $1.00 an hour, or what?
- How long have you been working there?
- How many hours do you work every week?
- What is the name of the restaurant? And who is the owner?
- If you provide me with these answers, I can file a Third Party complaint with the Department of Labour, and ask them to investigate.
- Is anyone else working there under the same arrangement? If so, Who?
- Any other information you can provide would be very helpful.

Larry

p.s. And what happens at the end of the year, when you are supposed to file your income tax. Will the employer be giving you a T4? I doubt it.


A: I dont work there anymore, but i would still like to get the money that they should have to give me.

I got paid 3.65 an hour. Then they told me that they were not paying me for sundays.. no tips. being paid in cash. She said she wasn't paying me 30% of my earnings. i worked there for a month and then she cut my hours back so i didn't get any so i quit. every day except for tuesday thursday... til ten. weekends was alot longer. T. D. a friend you also know .. he is still working there.. .and there is her daughters and one of her daughters friends.


L: Hi A, You should go to the Labour Standard Branch of the Department of Labour at:

3rd Floor, 1870 Albert Street
Regina, Sask.

Tell them that Larry Hubich suggested you should come to them.

You should tell them you want to file a "labour standards complaint for unpaid wages".

Take your calendar with you and any record of the dates you worked and the number of hours you worked. Tell them your whole story.


A: Would the Labour standard branch of the department of labour be able to do something even if it has been like a month since i worked there, or would they stilll investagate it anyways.

L: YES! They will investigate as long as it's not too old. Like a year. GO FOR IT!

If this isn't an iron-clad case for why we need Labour Standards and laws that protect workers rights - then I don't know what is.

Michael Moore Talks SiCKO & Tobacco on Keith Olbermann

B.C. transit line builders coerced workers, tribunal rules

The CBC Website is running the following story:
"A group of Latin-American construction workers was intimidated and coerced by companies building the Canada Line, the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has ruled.

The 30 foreign workers from Costa Rica, Colombia and Ecuador were brought by the companies to Vancouver to operate the tunnel-boring machine being used to construct parts of the rapid transit line linking Vancouver with Richmond and the international airport........"
Read the full story here.

Additional coverage: Canada Line tunnel workers exploited, say unions

Greed and the markets

Seems like everybody is getting into the game. Now MSN Money has put together a Special Coverage section entitled: Greed and the markets - Exposing bloated CEO salaries and compromised corporate ethics.

Coverage of this matter by sources such as MSN Money, illustrates that the problem is serious and getting worse. The corporate elite and the rich are literally breaking away from the rest of us.

Related stories available at the links below:

Bad CEOs who walked away rich

The most overpaid CEOs in America

Is a CEO worth 364 times the average Joe?

CEOs who ought to go

The coming crackdown on CEOs

CEOs who take the millions and run

A tricky new way companies inflate profits

The worst CEO perks

4 Ways you can fight greedy CEOs

Sask. Party '07 Election Promises Scorecard

A new blog-site has been created by Joe Kuchta which is a comprehensive digest of the election promises made by the Sask. Party in the recent Saskatchewan election.

View it by clicking here:

Sask. Party '07 Election Promises Scorecard

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Canada's rich not contributing fair share in taxes: study (CCPA)

The following is reproduced from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives:

Canada’s rich not contributing fair share in taxes: study

November 8, 2007

TORONTO – More than a decade’s worth of tax cuts have disproportionately lined the pockets of Canada’s most affluent families, says a new tax study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).

The study finds the top 1 percent of families in 2005 paid a lower total tax rate than the bottom 10 percent of families.

“Canada’s tax system now fails a basic test of fairness,” says Marc Lee, senior economist with the CCPA’s B.C. office and author of the study. “Tax cuts have contributed to a slow and steady shift to a less progressive tax system in Canada.”

The study, which is the first comprehensive review of tax changes at all levels of government in Canada within the past 15 years, finds the system is delivering larger tax savings for high income families. This reinforces the growing gap in market incomes between high income families and the rest of Canadians.

“Most Canadians will be surprised by these findings because they believe we have a progressive tax system – but looking at all taxes combined, that’s no longer the case.”

The study, Eroding Tax Fairness: Tax Incidence in Canada, 1990 to 2005, is available at http://www.growinggap.ca/ and http://www.policyalternatives.ca/. Its key findings include:

Provincial tax cuts are the key culprit for the increasingly regressive nature of Canada’s tax system but the problem has been exacerbated at the federal level with billions of dollars worth of post-2000 tax cuts.

The richest one percent of taxpayers saw their tax rate drop by four percentage points between 1990 and 2005.

Most Canadians saw their tax rate fall by two percentage points of income, but not so for the poorest 20 percent of taxpayers, who pay three to five percentage points more in taxes.

Middle-income families pay about six percentage points more in total taxes than a family in the top 1 percent.

– 30 –

For more information, please contact: Trish Hennessy, 416-263-9896.

Download the Report/Study:

Eroding Tax Fairness: Tax Incidence in Canada, 1990 to 2005 - PDF File, 967 Kb

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Olbermann: On Waterboarding and Torture

Keith Olbermann *SPECIAL COMMENT* 11/5/07-Part 1 of 2


Keith Olbermann *SPECIAL COMMENT* 11/5/07-Part 2 of 2


Read the transcripts of these videos on: truthout.org

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Workplace Democracy

Today, I sent the following letter to the editor of the Regina Leader-Post:

Dear Editor,

Doug Robertson in his letter to the editor (Regina Leader-Post Nov. 6/07), misrepresents the position of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour respecting the certification provisions of the Saskatchewan Trade Union Act. The Federation absolutely supports the concept of 50 percent plus one representing the majority, and union certification being granted on the basis of achievement of that threshold.

We should have such a system in Canadian politics where before you can be the Prime Minister of this country you would need support of at least 50 percent plus one of the citizens. Following our last election Stephen Harper was placed in the Prime Minister's chair with less than 40% support of the citizenry.

What the SFL is opposed to is the suggestion that a person by signing a union card (in secret from their employer) does not constitute a legitimate declaration of that individual's support for unionization. The suggestion is that following such a declaration, workers should be required to re-affirm their indicated support for unionization through a 2nd "secret" democratic process. The part that Robertson doesn't include is the intervening opportunity for employers to threaten, coerce, intimidate, scare and browbeat employees into changing their minds on their stated intention when they vote in a second ballot.

Perhaps Robertson would support a system that requires a 2nd election, one month after the first - just to make sure citizens made the correct choice.

It is important to point out that the Supreme Court of Canada has acknowledged there is a significant power imbalance between a worker and an employer - with the employer clearly holding the upper hand vis-a-vis the power relationship. And that a worker's Charter Rights related to Freedom of Association need to be protected from undue influence of the employer who holds the upper hand. The Canada Labour Code has identical certification provisions to the Saskatchewan Trade Union Act. I don't hear people like Robertson calling for changes there.

If Robertson, Brad Wall and others were truly interested in workplace democracy they would be calling for a vote in "every" workplace. Every bank, every department store, every restaurant, every hotel, every mine, every mill, and every manufacturing plant - every private sector, every public sector, and every co-operative workplace. But they are not.

Their phony concern for workplace democracy extends only to a very select group. To those who have already made the decision (in secret from their employer) to seek the formation of a union.

Saturday, 3 November 2007

What Have The Unions Ever Done For Us?

Enterprise Saskatchewan: Regina columnist says Brad Wall “would privatize the economic decision-making functions of government to this new body.”

Yet another brilliant analysis, and masterful piece of research on the origins and thought processes that have gone into the creation of the Sask. Party concept called "Enterprise Saskatchewan" has been posted by Joe Kuchta over at the "Owls and Roosters" blog. You can read it by clicking here.

What Kuchta does in this posting is to confirm his previous assertions about Enterprise Saskatchewan by quoting from articles written over the past two to three years by main stream reporters and columnists.

One of the most revealing (and stunning) is in this quote by Leader-Post Columnist Bruce Johnstone from an article written for "Investment Executive" newspaper: (The article is entitled: Sunday school teacher preaches radical agenda.)

““We’ve relied on government to be the driver of economic growth,’’ Wall said. “Government has a role to play, to be sure ... but our government has been ubiquitous when it comes to economic development.”

Under Wall’s “bold new vision,’’ a Saskatchewan Party government would cede control of economic decision-making to Enterprise Saskatchewan, a joint government/private-sector body that would assume the economic development functions of government. Instead of bureaucrats or politicians, Enterprise Saskatchewan’s independent board of directors would make the big decisions about such issues as key economic sectors, the barriers to growth, taxes to cut, businesses to attract, and investments to make. In essence, Wall would privatize the economic decision-making functions of government to this new body.”

Is this how democracy functions?

As an aside, for the past number of months I have been following Kuchta's blog and linking to various articles and postings on it. I became aware of this man when he waded into the debate on the anti-democratic B.C./Alberta Trade Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA). In fact, the first time I linked his blog was on April 16, 2007. See here.

But I had never met him until last Thursday, (October 25, 2007).

While up in Saskatoon at the annual SFL Convention, I had the opportunity to chat briefly with Joe and his wife, Georgie. I complimented him on his remarkable research ability and his incredible knack at pulling together complex issues in an understandable way. To this he remarked in a very gentle, humble, and shy way, "I'm just one man - with one computer, who thinks these things are important."

We need more Joe Kuchta's!

Thursday, 1 November 2007