Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Michael Moore's Message to Barack Obama and Blue Dog Democrats

NUPGE gives CFIB the big smack-down

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) has come out swinging against the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) with the release of an independent research paper entitled: An examination of the Public Sector Wage Premium in Canada - A critique of the 2008 study by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) called Wage Watch: A comparison of public and private sector wages.

The NUPGE commissioned study challenges a flawed and biased analysis of public vs private sector wages released by the CFIB in the fall of 2008.

According to NUPGE

".... the CFIB has an established track record of hostility to the public sector. It may be that the CFIB is afraid the wages paid by many of their members will look too inadequate compared to wages in other sectors. It may be the lack of benefits, especially pensions, for workers in their sector will make it difficult for small business employers to attract employees. It’s certainly odd the CFIB hasn’t made the connection that public sector workers spend their salaries in the stores, and purchase the services, of CFIB members.

Over time this incorrect CFIB study began to be quoted as fact in the media and elsewhere. We kept hearing that this dubious large differential really did exist. The mere fact this study was obviously incorrect was apparently not enough to invalidate it. CFIB spokespeople themselves peddled the purported conclusions of this study at every opportunity."


You can read the NUPGE web article on this topic by clicking here. And you can download the complete NUPGE commissioned analysis by clicking here.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Trailer - You, Me, and the S.P.P: Trading Democracy for Corporate Rule

You, Me, and the S.P.P: Trading Democracy for Corporate Rule

"What do secrecy, police provocateurs, an assault on democracy and infringements on citizens’ rights have in common? The Security Prosperity Partnership.

‘You, Me, and the S.P.P: Trading Democracy for Corporate Rule’ is a feature length documentary which exposes the latest manifestation of a corporatist agenda that is undermining the democratic authority of the citizens of North America.

Two processes, the Security Prosperity Partnership (SPP) and the Trade Investment Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA are rapidly eroding and eliminating standards, civil liberties, regulatory systems and institutions put in place over generations through the democratic process. Proponents of the SPP and TILMA say that they are needed to keep trade flowing, opponents say these agreements not only undermine the democratic authority of citizens they threaten the sovereignty of the three nations through the integration of military, security structures and regulatory regimes."

Visit the web-site at www.youmespp.com

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Corporate interests come first, citizens and democracy come last

B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell, left, Alberta's Ed Stelmach, centre, and Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall conclude a news conference Friday in Calgary. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

On Friday Canada's three western most premiers confirmed that corporate interests trump citizen rights.

Democracy means nothing when your wheels are being greased by the wallets of Big Corporations.

CBC: Western premiers move closer to economic accord
Leader-Post: Western provinces break down barriers

President Obama Speaks to Congress About Health Reform

Friday, 11 September 2009

Universal Health Care Message To Americans, Dos Equis, Two X's

Rally for Safety

Rally for Safety

The Saskatchewan Federation of Labour will bring together 190 workers from across Saskatchewan to attend their annual Occupational Health and Safety conference, in Saskatoon.

The conference kicks off on Sunday, September 13 with a keynote speaker, Cathy Walker former OHS Director – CAW, speaking on the exposure to asbestos and the health problems that will lead to death.

Participants will attend workshops covering issues such as: OH&S Act & Regulations; Effective OH&S Working Committees; Harassment Investigations; Workers Compensation; Duty to Accommodate; Asbestos Workshop for Activists; Blame the Worker; Shift work and Toxins in the Workplace.

On Monday, September 14 at 11:30 a.m. there will be a Rally for Safety held at the Provincial Cabinet office at 315-22nd St. East. This rally is being held to call attention to workplace safety and the need to protect workers. Our safety record in Saskatchewan is one of the worst in Canada and Canada’s record among industrialized countries is also dismal. Much needs to be done.

The conference runs from September 13 to September 15 at the Delta Bessborough in Saskatoon and will wrap up with apresentation from SFL President Larry Hubich.

The SFL represents over 95,000 unionized workers from 37 affiliated unions in Saskatchewan.

For more information, contact the SFL Office at 525-0197

Medical Isotopes - Are we being given all the facts?

Community Educational Event
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Speaker: Dr. Dale Dewar
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Unitarian Centre
Corner of College and Angus (Upstairs)
Regina, Sk.
September 23, 7:30 pm
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Everyone Welcome Free Admission. A collection will be taken.
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sponsored by: Clean Green Regina
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Click image for printable poster (PDF)

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Study reveals growing income gap in Saskatchewan - Labour Day 2009


Labour Day is a national holiday to celebrate workers’ economic and social achievements. On the one hand, workers in Saskatchewan have much to celebrate: they continue to be a fundamental driver of the economic and social life of our province. Our labour creates the infrastructure, services and goods that support our communities. We contribute to the economy through our taxes and we spend most of our wages locally.

But this Labour Day, Saskatchewan’s working families are faced with some stark facts about how they have fared from 1976 to 2006. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) Saskatchewan Office has just released the report Boom and Bust: The Growing Income Gap in Saskatchewan. It analyzes Saskatchewan family earnings from 1976 to 2006 and reveals that thousands of low and middle income families have failed to thrive during these years of neoliberal economic policies.

Even though the overall economic pie has been growing, the slices for families raising children, the cohort in the study, showed that income of the bottom half of earners has remained the same, or even worse, decreased in size.
The benefits of the larger pie have gone almost exclusively to the richest 10 per cent of families.

For the half of Saskatchewan families with children that were the least well off, median earnings and after-tax income were actually lower in real terms in 2006 than they were in 1976. And their share of total earnings and after-tax income was lower in 2006 than in 1976. In contrast, the richest 10 per cent of families increased both their real income and their share of total income.

Through periods of both bust and boom in Saskatchewan’s economy, the income gap has widened. Income inequality reached an unprecedented level in 2006.

The data also shows that families are employed more weeks in 2006 as compared to 1976, yet only the richest 10 per cent have made gains in income.

So why does income inequality matter and why should we care that inequality is increasing?

The CCPA study, authored by retired sociology and social studies professor Paul Gingrich from the University of Regina, argues:

The economic costs of poverty are staggering, for taxpaying households and for governments.

• An Ontario report The Cost of Poverty reveals that in real terms poverty costs every household in Ontario from $2,299 to $2,895 every year. The Ontario government loses $10 to 13 billion a year due to poverty, between 10 and 16 per cent of the provincial budget.
• Treating the symptoms of poverty is expensive. Consider the incremental costs to the health system that result from the lower health status of those who are poor, the costs to the justice system, and the costs of government social transfers, when thousands are living on the margins.
• The social costs of poverty are well-known. Societies that allow their social capital to decline face growing incidence of social dysfunctions. When such conditions become endemic, breaking the cycle is extremely difficult, which in turn discourages new capital investment, perpetuating a negative cycle.

The latest international research based on United Nations data sources demonstrate that social problems are related to the distribution of wealth in a society, not to its overall wealth.

• The growing gap in income inequality results in more social problems like mental illness, substance abuse, teen pregnancy, male violence, homicide, incarceration and shortened life expectancy.

Gross income inequalities stand in the way of a vibrant democratic system.

• Frank Cunningham, professor of philosophy and political science at the University of Toronto, sees three attitudinal trends emerging from the growing gap:
• Inequalities foster elitism and resentment. The well off resist progressive change and exert disproportionate influence in the political system.
• As the most well off continue to succeed, they are encouraged ‘to leave the boat’. They isolate themselves from the rest of society physically and psychologically and resist economic measures that are fundamentally redistributive.
• Poor families are threatened with becoming beggars and become dependent on the charity of the well off and of government transfers. These conditions lead to disillusionment, despair, cynicism and low participation in the political system among those at the bottom of the social ladder.

Inequality reduces the life chances and opportunities for children.

• There are too many children trapped in poverty; their full potential to contribute economically and civically is lost. There are also intergenerational and opportunity costs: consider how much productivity and tax revenues society loses when children of successive generations fail to escape poverty.

The findings of this study are critical food for thought and action for governments and communities. Without unions, the gap between rich and poor would be much worse. Unions help reduce the gap by giving workers a vehicle to negotiate better wages, benefits and protections.

This Labour Day let’s celebrate the efforts that the union movement makes to build a more caring and sharing society.

Larry Hubich, SFL president

To read the full the full study, visit www.policyalternatives.ca and www.growinggap.ca

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Celebrate Labour Day 2009 - SFL

CELEBRATE LABOUR DAY

The Saskatchewan Federation of Labour (SFL), which represents 95,000 workers from 36 national and international unions wishes all citizens a safe and enjoyable Labour Day weekend.

SFL President Larry Hubich said “Labour Day is a good time to get together with family and friends to celebrate our work and our successes. As summer comes to an end, we can reflect on the past and re-dedicate ourselves to improving our lives and our communities.”

“Over the years, workers have organized themselves to improve working conditions, wages and benefits,” said Hubich, “these gains by unionized workers have often been passed on to other workers. The eight-hour work day, pensions, occupational health and safety legislation, harassment protection, and our public health system are among the many advances achieved with the assistance of the union movement.”

“Much remains to be done. Recent studies indicate that the rich continue to get richer, while the poor continue to fall behind,” Hubich added. “A recent study Boom & Bust: the Growing Income Gap in Saskatchewan shows that, between 1976 and 2006, the income of the bottom half of earners has remained the same, or even worse, decreased in size, while benefits of the larger economic pie have gone almost exclusively to the richest 10 percent of families.”

“There is much work to be done. For a start, we should: double benefits for the Canada Pension Plan (CPP); increase low income (GIS) pensions by 15% and introduce a national system of pension insurance,” advocates Hubich. “This would assist in providing retirement security for all Canadians.”

“As well, our Employment Insurance (EI) system must be overhauled to provide for those workers who have lost their jobs because of economic mismanagement. They have paid into the system and should have benefits in time of need,” said Hubich.

“Workers’ rights are under serious attack by those who control our economy. Labour Day is a good time to recognize that those who actually produce goods and services are appreciated as the real movers of our economy. Enjoy the holiday, relax, and get ready to build a better world.”

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

The fight for rights

From the September 2009 issue of the SFL Labour Reporter

Times are tough. The economic meltdown means companies are tabling rollbacks and trying to outsource union jobs. Government policies of privatization threaten our public services.

Unions continue to fight this corporate agenda on many fronts – the fall edition of the Labour Reporter will highlight labour’s fightback.

Unions are fighting for decent jobs and for workers’ basic right to unionize. Two current disputes are good examples.

RWDSU local 558 at the Coca-Cola plant in Saskatoon went on strike to protect the contracting out of union jobs. As we go to press, a tentative agreement has been reached.

The CLC has called for a national boycott against Old Dutch. The Alberta plant locked out UFCW 401 and is challenging the corporation’s obligation to deduct union dues.

Many trade unions and workers continue to advocate for their rights using the courts, with some notable successes.

For example, in a landmark Supreme Court decision on freedom of association, RCMP officers recently won the right to unionize.

The New Brunswick Union of Public and Private Employees (NBUPPE/NUPGE) recently had a section of its Public Services Labour Relations Act struck down because it excluded casuals, thereby violating their freedom of association.

Unions are also engaged in strategic campaigns to protect public services and our Crown sector.

Take a look at CUPE’s anti-P3 campaign. It exposes the P3 agenda for what it really is: putting public services like education and health care at risk so right-wing governments can reward their corporate friends.

CEP recently launched the Save Our Saskatchewan Crowns campaign. Find out how the government is making Crown corporations less profitable and potentially easier to dismantle.

Together, Saskatchewan unions are proudly protecting labour rights and the social fabric of our province.