"Alberta’s Unconstitutional labour laws
An invitiation to union-busting - tom fuller, AFL
When labour relations experts look at Alberta, the first thing they notice is the low rate of unionization in the province’s workforce.
At last count (in 2006) just 22.3% of workers in Alberta were union members – by far the lowest rate in Canada. Journalists and academics have noted this fact and discussed possible reasons for it. Much of the discussion centers around Alberta’s conservative political culture, “entrepreneurial values” and “cowboy spirit.” Rugged individuals like us, apparently, just don’t like the idea of joining together with others in an attempt to better ourselves; we’d rather go it alone.
To anybody with on-the-ground experience doing union work in Alberta, that explanation is ludicrous. The fact is: workers in Alberta, at least a significant number of them, want to unionize; but that our province’s anti-union labour laws make it very difficult for them to exercise their right to do so. “Give us some halfway balanced labour legislation,” say the organizers, “and we’ll see if the “cowboy spirit” still keeps workers away from unions!” (read more....)
Thursday, January 31, 2008
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
"Striking N.B. professors reject final offer from St. Thomas University
By THE CANADIAN PRESS
Tue. Jan 29 - 2:02 PM
FREDERICTON — Striking professors at St. Thomas University in Fredericton have voted to reject a final contract offer from the university.
The vote, conducted by the province's Labour and Employment Board, saw the offer rejected by 72 per cent of full-time faculty and 63 per cent of the part-time staff.
The faculty association had recommended the offer be rejected.
Union president Suzanne Dudziak says she's confident a collective agreement can be reached if the two sides can resume negotiations.
The labour dispute began Dec. 27 when the university locked out the professors, who are asking for higher wages. The school recently lifted the lockout, but faculty had already voted to strike." (read more....)
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Sunday, January 27, 2008
"Deputy Premier Ken Krawetz says firings about towing the party line, more to come; Premier Brad Wall betrays own words from Aug. 2007 letter"
Its an analysis and commentary about the recent Political Firings carried out by the new Sask. Party Government including the full text of Brad Wall's pre-election (Aug. 30, 2007), letter to the editor respecting the topic of firings in the civil service following elections.
It can be argued that there are some serious contradictions between what was said, and what's been done.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
"At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the United States is in a position of military preponderance, both in terms of its ability to project power abroad and wage conventional war. To maintain this military advantage, the U.S. has spent annually between $332 and $513 billion annually since the end of the Cold War. The end of the communist military threat gave rise to hope of a “peace dividend” and to political efforts both to reduce the defense budget and redirect spending from the military to domestic social programs, but the American defense budget never fell below 85% of the highest Cold War levels achieved during the Reagan buildup in the late 1980s. The U.S. accounts for nearly half the world’s military expenditure, outspending on defense the next fourteen largest military powers combined." (read more....)
Friday, January 25, 2008
The article reports on the SFL's intention to submit the names of nominees to represent Labour on the Board of Enterprise Saskatchewan.
"The Saskatchewan Federation of Labour has decided to play ball with the provincial government, by nominating candidates to be on the board of Enterprise Saskatchewan.
Larry Hubich, the president of the SFL, said the decision to accept an invitation from the government to nominate candidates was made despite the serious concerns the SFL has about the role and structure of Enterprise Saskatchewan." (read more....)
Thursday, January 24, 2008
CBC Saskatchewan Website runs the following story:
70 Sask. civil servants being dismissed, minister says
The story reads (emphasis added):
"Krawetz said people were being evaluated individually, on their ability to do the job, and on whether they share the same philosophy as the new premier."
Regina Leader-Post coverage.
"US recession fueled by low wages and consumer debt
Leo Panitch: Weakening of unions and global pressures on US wages a major factor
Thursday January 24th, 2008
Leo Panitch is the Canada Research Chair in Comparative Political Economy and a Distinguished Research Professor of Political Science at York University in Toronto. Panitch is also the author of Global Capitalism and American Empire."
You can read the transcript of the Panitch interview here.
Honourable Lyle Stewart
Minister of Enterprise and Innovation
Government of Saskatchewan
Re: Enterprise Saskatchewan
Dear Minister Stewart:
By now you will have received correspondence from the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour (SFL) dated January 10th, 2008, responding to your invitation to put forward nominees for the Board of Enterprise Saskatchewan. In it, we ask a number of questions, including:
• Are we correct in assuming that the SFL will be a prescribed organization as contemplated in Bill 2?
• Can all other labour organizations who have been asked for nominees assume they are considered prescribed organizations?
• Why did some unions receive an invitation to put forward nominees and not others? (read more....)
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Hundreds of false statements on WMDs, al-Qaida used to justify Iraq war
"Associated Press - updated 1:30 a.m. CT, Wed., Jan. 23, 2008
WASHINGTON - A study by two nonprofit journalism organizations found that President Bush and top administration officials issued hundreds of false statements about the national security threat from Iraq in the two years following the 2001 terrorist attacks.
The study concluded that the statements "were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses." (read more....)
"Saskatchewan’s new Premier, Brad Wall, addressed the Petroleum Club in Calgary on Monday to emphasize his willingness to continue giving away his province’s oil reserves for scandalously low royalties. Several media outlets reported that he also expressed interest in joining TILMA, which he had previously rejected. For example, The Globe and Mail reported, “He mentioned his desire to become part of a pact that now includes Alberta and British Columbia that is aimed at removing interprovincial trade barriers.”
In the following story, “New gov’t turfs TILMA,” Wall’s Minister of Enterprise and Innovation set the record straight. Fittingly, this article was printed in The Meridian Booster of Lloydminster, which straddles the Saskatchewan-Alberta border." (read more....)
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
"Latin America Banks on Independence
The new Bank of the South shatters neoliberal economics
By Mark Engler
In the closing weeks of 2007, a region in revolt against the economics of corporate globalization issued its most unified declaration of independence to date.
On Dec. 9, standing before the flags of their countries, the presidents of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay and Venezuela, along with a representative from Uruguay, gathered in Buenos Aires and signed the founding charter of the Banco del Sur, or the Bank of the South." (read more....)
According to the message that came with the e-mail link, this was created by some guy at the University of Chicago.
A whole bunch of photos cycled through while the Billy Joel tune "We didn't start the fire" plays in the background.
Click here to view it. (It should open up in a separate page)
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Saturday, January 19, 2008
The article is entitled: Collective Bargaining as a Constitutional Right
There are a couple of quotes from Elaine's article that bear repeating:
"the right to bargain collectively with an employer enhances the human dignity, liberty and autonomy of workers by giving them the opportunity to influence the establishment of workplace rules and thereby gain some control over a major aspect of their lives, namely their work." - Supreme Court of Canadaand
"THE RIGHT TO STRIKE IS NEXT?
Put in proper historic context, legislation did not create collective bargaining, but rather legislation eventually came to protect collective bargaining because of its fundamental importance" to society. One might also make the same case for the right to strike. Unfortunately, this case did not involve the right to strike and so it remains an open question whether the Supreme Court, in a future case, will recognize "the right to strike" as a constitutional right. Like collective bargaining, the right to strike "is consistent with, and indeed, promotes other Charter rights, freedoms and values" and therefore deserves to be recognized and protected by the Charter." - Dr. Elaine Bernard
Friday, January 18, 2008
Freelance writer Stephen LaRose has just written a piece which appears in the January 17, 2008 issue of Planet S Magazine:
"Drive For Five
Labour leaders express concern about proposed Essential Services Legislation
by Stephen LaRose
When Saskatchewan Federation of Labour president Larry Hubich calls Bill 5, the Saskatchewan Party government’s new essential services legislation, the worst bill he’s ever seen, Saskatchewan’s mainstream media simply chalk it up to a union leader playing politics with a government that’s perceived to be anti-union, and leave it at that.
It’s only when you actually talk to Hubich, and Saskatchewan Union of Nurses president Rosalee Longmoore, that you get an idea of what they mean." (read more....)
Regina, Jan. 18, 2008 – Grain Services Union (ILWU • Canada) announced the beginning of the final chapter of its pension solvency dispute with Saskatchewan Wheat Pool Inc., doing business as Viterra.
“For the past 43 months GSU and Viterra have been engaged in a dispute over resolving a solvency deficiency in the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool/Grain Services Union defined benefit pension plan(SWP/GSU Plan) covering approximately 1,800 current and former employees of the company,” said GSU General Secretary Hugh Wagner.
“Through the many ups and downs since April 2004 GSU has resisted every effort by the employer to shift all or a major part of the financial burden for the solvency deficiency onto SWP/GSU Plan members,” Wagner said. “I am happy to report that the patience and persistence of GSU and its members have paid off and Viterra will fully fund the solvency deficiency and Plan members’ benefits will be fully protected.” (read more....)
"Canadian Manual Has U.S. on Torture List
By IAN AUSTEN
Published: January 18, 2008
OTTAWA — A training manual for Canadian diplomats lists the United States among countries that potentially torture or abuse prisoners.
The manual is an internal document of the Department of Foreign Affairs. A spokesman for the foreign minister confirmed the contents of the manual after news reports about it circulated on Thursday." (read more....)
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Survey finds growing support for curbing excessive executive compensation at Canadian companies
SHARE today released the findings of its 2007 Key Proxy Vote Survey of Canadian Investment Managers.
Download the complete survey
Press Releases Jan 15, 2008
"Job related injuries and illnesses are killing nearly five Canadians a day, and the death toll for B.C. workers last year alone was higher than for Canadian forces in the entire Afghan mission.
"Canada can do much better," charges a think tank study, citing a 45 per cent increase nationally in job related deaths between 1993 and 2005.
The study, issued by The Centre for the Study of Living Standards, finds accidental deaths are down but occupational illness deaths are up, making Canada the worst among developed nations at reducing workplace fatalities over the last 20 years." (read more....)
"BC Fed condemns expansion of temporary worker program—government fails to address rights of vulnerable workers
January 14, 2008
Vancouver-Today's latest expansion of the temporary foreign worker program means continued exploitation of foreign workers and fails to address the rights of vulnerable workers, says the B.C. Federation of Labour.
Despite previous calls from the Federation and other groups concerned about the exploitation of these vulnerable workers, again the federal government has failed to dedicate resources to enforcement and monitoring of fair housing and labour standards for temporary workers," said Federation President, Jim Sinclair. (read more....)"
Monday, January 14, 2008
Photo by Don Healy - The Leader-Post
"One person can't change the world overnight, but one person at a time we can come together and make a difference," says Bernadette Wagner.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Saturday, January 12, 2008
Friday, January 11, 2008
One of my favourite quotes from the decision is:
"[This legislation] was likely going to have a dramatic and exceptional effect on the rights of employees. The government adopted it knowing perfectly well that the unions were strongly opposed to certain aspects of the legislation, without considering other means that would have allowed it to achieve its objectives, and without explaining its choices.…"
From the Lancaster House web-site:
"Charter right to freedom of association violated by Quebec legislation, court holds
Posted January 10, 2008
A Quebec Superior Court judge has invalidated portions of a controversial Quebec law forcing contentious groups of workers in the health care and social services sector to bargain together, and requiring that certain issues be bargained locally, rather than leaving it to negotiations between the parties. Applying a recent ground-breaking decision of the Supreme Court of Canada, the judge found that the impugned provisions violated the workers' right to freedom of association guaranteed by s.2(d) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms because they constituted a substantial and unjustified interference with collective bargaining." (read more)
Thursday, January 10, 2008
The Sask Party government appears determined to leave a legacy of Saskatchewan being the home of the WORST labour laws in Canada.
"B.C. health care unions resume meetings on Bill 29 today
Health care shortages and workers' rights must be addressed in wake of historic Supreme Court ruling
Vancouver (10 Jan. 2008) - The British Columbia Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU/NUPGE) and other health unions resume meetings today with the provincial officials and health employers to discuss the implementation of last summer's historic Supreme Court of Canada ruling invalidating key portions of Bill 29." read more...... (nupge.ca)
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
"Women Are Never Front-Runners
By GLORIA STEINEM
Published: January 8, 2008
THE woman in question became a lawyer after some years as a community organizer, married a corporate lawyer and is the mother of two little girls, ages 9 and 6. Herself the daughter of a white American mother and a black African father — in this race-conscious country, she is considered black — she served as a state legislator for eight years, and became an inspirational voice for national unity." Read the rest.....
Enterprise Saskatchewan: Ministry sends over 55 organizations more than one invitation; SUN, SUMA, SARM, NSBA, STEP omitted
He raises some interesting and puzzling questions. Read Joe's posting here.
"Wall heads to Ottawa a changed man
Murray Mandryk, The Leader-Post
Published: Wednesday, January 09, 2008
Whether a job automatically changes a man is debatable.
What it clearly does do, however, is change a man's view on matters. Witness the evolution of one Brad Wall on the topic of equalization:" read more......
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Check out this article in the Montreal Gazette: Concordia Workers Walk Out, Support staff bitter over ex-president's golden parachute.
Sunday, January 6, 2008
Saturday, January 5, 2008
The curious absence of class struggle
It's not so much the rich getting richer; it's the very, very rich
PETER J. NICHOLSON
From Saturday's Globe and Mail
January 5, 2008 at 9:00 AM EST
Statistics Canada reported recently that the earned income of the "average" Canadian -- the so-called median income -- was the same in 2004 as in 1982. After we subtract inflation to keep the purchasing power of a dollar roughly constant, it turns out that median income, before taxes, did not rise at all over those 22 years. Yet during that same time the Canadian economy grew, in real per capita terms, by more than half. But only the very well-paid - those above the 90th percentile of the income distribution - saw any significant increase in earned income; and the higher up the earnings ladder, the greater the growth. What has been going on? read more......
I have subsequently received a copy of a response which has been submitted to the Leader-Post by a reader who sent me a copy. It is reproduced below:
Sent to Editor, Regina Leader Post, Saturday, January 05, 2008
Brian Fergusson’s letter of January 5, 2008 shows a complete lack of understanding of what the Saskatchewan Party’s labour legislation revisions are all about. Mr. Fergusson wonders what is wrong with secret ballots. The answer is simple: not a thing. Unions use secret ballots for all sorts of decisions within the union. It is the administration of a secret ballot vote during a union organizing drive that is at issue. Under the proposed legislation, employers will know which of their employees cast ballots in any union certification vote. Therefore the workers will have been divided into two easily identifiable groups, those who either voted for or against the union and those who most certainly are against the union because they did not vote.
There is a huge incentive for employees to not vote in a system where their potential loyalties can be so easily revealed to their employer. Most people agree that it would unfair if a union were voted in or out solely on the basis of a majority of votes cast. In this case, the legislation requires that a majority of eligible employees must vote in favour of joining the union in order to determine whether union certification is warranted.
If voting can be discouraged in the first place, by an employer who makes it known that "not voting" is the preferred option for its employees, anyone brave enough to show up at the polls will be identified immediately as being a possible union supporter. The new legislation allows employers to "freely communicate" with employees in such cases. It allows employers to "advise" its employees of all the down sides to unionization that the company can dream up, including, as Mr. Fergusson pointed out, warnings about jobs being "lost forever", that a union might provide an "impediment" to competition. How fair is that?
The current system of secret card signing as a method to determine how many employees want a union was devised specifically to prevent employers from finding out which of their employees are potential union supporters. It was enshrined in law because it protects employees from being targeted by employers.
Mr. Fergusson talks about Saskatchewan Federation of Labour President Larry Hubich as if he is a gangster, referring to the people who elected him (by secret ballot!) as "his cronies". I would like to know what we ought to call Mr. Fergusson’s colleagues?
- Gary Schoenfeldt
For more information on this topic click here.
Update Jan 11, 2008 - Gary's letter has now been printed (in edited form) in the Leader-Post entitled: Workers could be targeted by employers
Friday, January 4, 2008
Thursday, January 3, 2008
His most recent posting is entitled: Enterprise Saskatchewan Act: Sector teams lack transparency; labour laws not identified as barriers in Premier Brad Wall’s ‘economic vision’ .
Give it read. It's a bit long, but very comprehensive, thoughtful and insightful. It raises many questions that the citizens of Saskatchewan (and the mainstream media) should be asking the Brad Wall Sask. Party government to explain.
Click this link: http://www.labour.gov.sk.ca/
Do you believe the fact there are no "Quick Links" or "Shortcuts" to these particular Important Pieces of worker legislation and agencies prominently displayed on the first page is an innocent oversight?
I don't. It's deliberate, it's anti-worker, it's anti-union, and it's vindictive.
So much for "Reaching Out to Labour"!
Hubich ready for peace, war
"Larry Hubich says he would rather make love than fight wars in 2008.
But, as 2007 came to an end and a new year dawned in Saskatchewan, the chances of Hubich ending up in bed with Premier Brad Wall seemed remote, even in a metaphorical sense.
"The labour movement has been very clear that we would welcome an agenda of co-operation and consultation,'' said Hubich, the veteran outspoken president of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour." read more.....
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
New Year’s party still going for top CEOsThe CEO report and an online tool to find out how quickly the top 100 CEOs earn your salary are available at http://www.growinggap.ca/.
TORONTO - By the time most Canadians roll up their sleeves to begin a new year of work, Canada's best paid 100 CEOs will already be having a good year: They'll pocket the national average wage of $38,998 by 10:33 am January 2nd.
And they will continue to earn the average Canadian wage every nine hours and 33 minutes for the rest of the year, according to a new report on CEO pay by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).
"Most Canadians are heading back into work with a mound of Christmas bills and financial worries but for Canada’s best paid 100 CEOs it’s like Santa Claus delivers every nine hours,” says the report’s author, CCPA Research Associate Hugh Mackenzie.
“That’s what happens when you make an average of $8,528,304 – which is the average of what Canada’s 100 best paid CEOs made in 2006.”
On average, the best-paid 100 CEOs make more than 218 times as much as a Canadian working full-time for a full year at the average of weekly employment earnings.
“That represents a significant gap between the rich and the rest of us – especially the working poor who earn the minimum wage,” Mackenzie says.
By 1:04 p.m. New Years’ Day, the best paid 100 CEOs pocketed what will take a minimum wage worker all of 2008 to earn. Every four hours and four minutes, they will keep pocketing the annual income of a full-time full-year minimum wage worker.
“We have to ask ourselves, are those at the top of the income heap really worth so much? And are those at the bottom really worth so little?”
You can download the full (12-page) report from the CCPA entitled: The Great CEO Pay Race: Over Before it Begins. (Adobe PDF format)
See the Globe and Mail article: Average Canadians work for shillings while CEOs make a killing
Michael Moore's new letter entitled: Who Do We Vote For This Time Around?
Ian Swanson in "The Hill": Top Democrats Ponder Changing NAFTA
p.s. Sask. Premier, Brad Wall and his government think Corporations need MORE POWER!
"OTTAWA -- The majority of the world's most informed, engaged and connected citizens believe large corporations have too much influence over government decisions and wield more power than governments, according to a poll conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs.
The survey found 74 per cent of respondents believe companies have too much influence over governments, while 69 per cent agreed that large companies are more powerful than governments." Read more.....