Monday, 31 December 2007
You might want to read a bit before you do. Check out these articles:
- Temporary Labour or Disposable Workers?
- Working Full-Time
- For Many Women, Alberta's Boom a Bust
- Notes from the Tar Pits: Flying Above an Open Pit Graveyard
Will we be making the same mistakes in Saskatchewan, or will we learn from it?
Sunday, 30 December 2007
Unions Passing Resolutions to Honor, Assist Folksinger/Storyteller Bruce"Utah"Phillips.The great folksinger and storyteller Utah Phillips (www.utahphillips.org/) has had to retire from performing due to chronic and serious heart problems that have plagued him for years. In recognition of his great love for and work on behalf of the union movement and working people of the United States, several union locals have passed resolutions honoring Phillips and attaching donations for his "retirement fund.".Unable to travel or stand the rigors of performing a two-hour concert, Phillips has seen his main source of income vanish just when his medical problems are demanding more money for treatment and medications..In response, Local 1180 of the Communications Workers of America (NYC), and both the Detroit and the James Connolly (Upstate New York) Branches of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) have recently passed the following resolution:.Bruce "Utah" Phillips is a truly unique American treasure. Not just a great folk song writer and interpreter, not just a great storyteller, Utah has preserved and presented the history of our nation's working people and union movement for audiences throughout the world. His recorded work keeps these songs and stories alive. He has spoken up against the injustices of boss-dominated capitalism and worked for peace and justice for more than 40 years. Now Utah finds himself unable to continue performing due to severe heart problems. We wish to honor and recognize his great talent, spirit and love for the working people and the union movement of the United States..Therefore, we move to pass this resolution in gratitude for all he has done and will continue to do in his work and life. We also wish to contribute $____ to Utah Phillips in appreciation and in solidarity as he and his wife, Joanna Robinson, deal with his health and the loss of his ability to work.
.This news is being released with the hope that other unions, anti-war and labor-affiliated organizations will respond in kind by passing this or similar resolutions in appreciation for all Utah Phillips has done for the cause of unions and peace..Another way that organizations and individuals can help is by purchasing some or all of Utah's vast catalog of songs and stories. All of his CDs and more information are available at his website, www.utahphillips.org/, and Utah has begun posting podcasts up there that you can download and listen to!
.You can also order his CDs online (credit card sales) through, www.cdbaby.com/, but be advised that prices are cheaper and more of that money will go into Utah's hands if you order directly from him. More info on his website..Here's the address for CD orders and to send a donation:
.U. Utah PhillipsNo Guff RecordsP.O. Box 1235Nevada City, CA95959(530) 265-2476.Utah has given so much of himself to the labor and peace movements. It is great news that some unions and many have chosen to give something back to him, to allow him and his wife, Joanna Robinson, to rest easy, work on his long-term health, and not have to worry about where money will come for the medicine and bills he has to pay.
.Please forward and post this release widely!.In Solidarity, George MannContact: George Mannemail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday, 29 December 2007
See the accompanying News Release entitled: Free trade has failed to live up to its promises—study
The full report is entitled: 20 Years Later: Has Free Trade Delivered on its Promise? (in Adobe PDF format)
Excerpt from News Release:
"OTTAWA— Twenty years after Canada signed the Free Trade Agreement its biggest boosters have grown wealthier but promises of better jobs and rising living standards fell short, says a study released by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
The Canada-US Free Trade Agreement was signed on January 2, 1988. The study examines what’s happened since: It takes a sample of 41 Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE) member companies – the leading supporter of free trade – and finds they shrank their workforce by 19.6% while their revenues grew by 127%."
Friday, 28 December 2007
It's a fascinating piece that talks about the unbelievable power this huge corporation wields at all levels. Well worth the read.
"In an interview with James Wood, who covers the provincial scene for the Saskatchewan News Network, Wall talked about the learning curve of his early days in power and what the new year has in store." Read more ...
"According to the latest opinion poll on the subject, the role of trade unions in the civil society is as much misunderstood as ever by the great unwashed.
Unions themselves don’t seem much the wiser, concentrating as they do so heavily on collective bargaining." Read more ......
Thursday, 27 December 2007
Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated today in a suicide attack that also killed at least 20 others at the end of a campaign rally near the capital, Islamabad.
New York Times
Wednesday, 26 December 2007
"The Story of Stuff With Annie Leonard" is an engaging new short film that explains the "materials economy" in 20 fun-filled minutes. Produced by Free Range Studios, which developed "The Meatrix" - an animated short about factory farming that ranks among the cleverest uses of Internet technologies to deliver a politically progressive message - The Story of Stuff features Annie Leonard, amusing graphics, lots of humor, and a complicated analysis presented in an easy-to-understand conversational tone."Watch the teaser video below. You can view entire 20 minute video at: www.storyofstuff.com.
Monday, 24 December 2007
Of those jurisdictions in Canada that use the mandatory secret ballot system for union certification, most require 50% plus 1 of “those voting” as the threshold for majority support. They normally set quorum at 50% plus 1 of “total eligible voters” who must vote in order for the vote to be accepted.
So, if 50% plus 1 voters of 50% plus 1 of total eligible voters cast a ballot in support of a union, the workplace can be certified with just marginally over 25% support of the total eligible voters (let’s say 26% for the sake of the argument).
Put another way, you have 100 employees. In order for a secret ballot vote to be legal, at least 51 of them must vote. And in order to have a majority of the 51 voters, 26 must vote in favour. So in the secret ballot system with “majority quorum” – 26 voters can make the decision for 100.
Under the card majority system – the lowest possible number of employees who must support a union out of a workplace of 100 is 51. (That’s 25 more than the above system). Some jurisdictions set a slightly higher threshold. In other words, an absolute majority of “all eligible employees” must be achieved through a card sign-up.
Now given this, why do unions prefer the card majority system to the other system?
Because, under the “so-called” secret ballot system, the fact is – it really isn’t a secret ballot.
You see, employees must usually come to a balloting location to cast their vote. Or send their ballot in through a system that identifies the voter, but not the vote. The employer inevitably (and by law) has a representative there to observe employees who come to vote, or send in ballots. (In fairness, the union has someone there too). BUT, if an employee does not come to vote – the employer knows, for absolute certain, that the particular employee DID NOT vote in favour of the union. If the employee does come to vote – the employer knows that the particular employee had a 50 - 50 chance of being a union supporter.
With any union drive, there will be those employees who are vocally opposed to unionization of the workplace. Management is well aware of who those people are, it is no secret. If you know who voted, and you know who will vote against a union, it doesn’t take much, through the process of elimination, to figure out who the supporters are. There are lots of cases where workers have been fired for being union supporters.
Furthermore, using our example of 100 employees – management is at a significant power and strategic advantage if only 26 people out of 51 voters voted to support – because the other 49 workers are too fearful to come out to vote and risk being thought of as a union sympathizer by the boss. Especially if the boss is openly hostile to unionization, and has been able to send that message through “expressing their opinion”.
And this says nothing of the whole issue of the anti-union tactics that 94% of employers already admit they are using when they find out that the employees are considering unionization. (12% of whom readily admit that what they are doing is illegal). See Sara Slinn's: Anti-union intimidation is real.
Let’s at least be honest about the reasons why the Sask. Party is proposing to change the certification process in Saskatchewan – it hasn’t got the slightest thing to do with “workplace democracy”.
Saturday, 22 December 2007
I quite like Mr. Johnstone, he is a very pleasant man, and I've always enjoyed our chats. I look forward to the opportunity to sit down with him soon and have a more comprehensive dialogue about these matters.
I can assure Mr. Johnstone, without fear of exaggeration, that the legislative changes (as written) proposed by the Sask. Party government will in fact transform Saskatchewan's laws respecting "union certification", "employer communication" and "essential services" into the category of the worst or tied-for-worst provisions in Canada.
I'll touch on just a couple of items in this post to clear up some of the questions or points raised by Mr. Johnstone in his article:
1. All other jurisdictions in Canada have some form of "essential services" legislation. Actually, the jury is still out on Nova Scotia - despite broad-based public opposition, the conservative government of Rodney MacDonald tabled legislation to strip away certain health-care workers right to strike (i.e. essential services). The opposition Liberals and NDP in the Nova Scotia legislature do not support the Bill, and subsequently the minority governing Conservatives have refused to put the Bill to a vote - so apparently the Bill will die on the order paper. As a result, there is no essential services legislation in Nova Scotia - see this CBC report.
As for other jurisdications - some have accompanying "anti-scab" legislation, some have other mitigating legislation. Many jurisdictions engaged in broad based, comprehensive and respectful consultations, especially with the people who will be affected. And (I believe) NONE have legislation with such wide and sweeping powers that may effectively allow a "Cabinet" to designate every worker in the province (public or private) as an essential service worker. See Section 2 (i) (xi) and Section 21 (c) of Bill 5 - what do these mean? (And that's just one question - there are others, many, many others).
In the aftermath of the Supreme Court of Canada decision respecting HEU BC, active discussion is occuring across the county regarding potential Charter challenges of other existing "essential services" legislation.
2. Saskatchewan's legislation allows a certification vote to be triggered at 25% support. This is a moot point - because the practical application of the law is that unions in Saskatchewan rarely (if ever) apply to the LRB for a certification vote with support that low. So if the Sask. Party wanted to put the "trigger percentage" in the middle of the pack - they should have done that. They haven't - they have set it at the highest level of any other jurisdiction in Canada. A mid-point trigger would be 35 or 40% not 45%. See Bill 6.
Further, there are a number of legal questions that arise with respect to what constitutes majority support (i.e. 50% plus one "of those voting", or 50% plus one of "all eligible voters"), and where and how the definition of quorum is established for the purposes of certification votes. The Premier and the Minister have actually said things about this that directly contradict each other. Which one is accurate?
And how is it, that moving from a system that allows for an "automatic certification process based on card support" (which, by the way, is in place in the majority of jurisdictions in this country - 6 out of 11) to one that doesn't (which is in place in the minority of jursidictions in this country - 5 out of 11) is being competitive and consistent with other provinces?
In closing, what other jurisdictions in Canada confer upon an employer the ability to legally interfere with an employee's constitutional protection under the Freedom of Association provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights? The Supreme Court of Canada is clear - given the acknowledged power imbalance that exists between a worker and an employer, it is no business of an employer whether or not an employee wishes to be a member of a union. The employers "opinion" in the matter is not required, justified, nor warranted.
A few years ago I signed up a worker to a union in Westlock, Alberta. During that process he said to me: "My employer is my employer, he's not my mother."
Workers have no legislated right or entitlement to interfere in an employer's decision to join a "Business Association" or a "Chamber of Commerce". Why is the reverse necessary? Democratic Workplaces, Fair and Balanced Labour Laws - Indeed!
Season's Greetings and Best Wishes for the New Year. Give me a call Bruce, and we can go for a coffee, it's on me.
Friday, 21 December 2007
According to the YouTube descriptor this is:
"Couple of drivers from europe on a govn't grant work thing- having a tough time in the confined space behind the fence- JACKNIFE! JACKPOT! They haven't come back."Were these drivers hired under the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP)? There is more information available about the SINP on the Saskatchewan Trucking Association web-site click here.
And if, as certain businesses and some politicians say - the proposed changes are "only modest" - that means our existing legislation couldn't have been that biased in favour of labour in the first place.
People have been fed a steady diet of untrue and distorted perceptions of what Saskatchewan's labour laws say - mostly from businesses and organizations that have a tiny fraction of their memberships unionized in the first place, if at all.
A classic distortion of reality was illustrated in a recent article in the Saskatoon StarPhoenix: Labour legislation changes welcomed - where the Executive Director of the North Saskatoon Business Association (NSBA) is quoted as saying:
"People can be intimidated into voting one way if you stick up your hand, so with a secret ballot you can vote with your own conscience, not necessarily what anyone is telling you," she said. (emphasis added)
There hasn't been a union certified in this province by "show of hands" - EVER! Leaving that impression is quite frankly dishonest. Something we've come to expect from certain organizations.
Again, if our laws are so "pro-union and pro-labour" it would have taken more than simply "modest changes" to go from the middle of the pack to the bottom of the barrel.
Here's what some labour leaders have to say about it.
And here's what Leader-Post political columnist Murray Mandryk has to say about it. I have a proposition - you don't think Saskatchewan's new "certification" and "essential services" legislation will be the WORST in Canada? Find me something worse, and I'll gladly post a link to it.
Thursday, 20 December 2007
Wednesday, 19 December 2007
These two pieces of legislation, if passed in their current form, would result in Saskatchewan becoming the jurisdiction that has the worst union certification legislation and the worst essential services legislation in Canada - bar none.
In a single afternoon, Saskatchewan has gone from a province that had a highly respected and internationally recognized reputation of fair, balanced and competitive labour legislation to one of leading the pack in the race to the bottom. Brilliant retention and recruitment strategy!
See the SFL Official News Release.
It raises serious legal questions about the authority of any government to unilaterally (and especially without broad and meaningful consultation) fetter workers Collective Bargaining Rights, and by extension the Right to Strike - which is an integral element of the collective bargaining process.
The analysis is offered against the backdrop of the recent Supreme Court of Canada decision (June 2007 - HEU B.C.) which enshrined collective bargaining as a Charter Right.
Valerie Matthews Lemieux practices labour and aboriginal law through her own law corporation in Manitoba. She was co-counsel for the AG Manitoba in the original labour trilogy. Steven Barrettt is managing partner at Sack Goldblatt Mitchell in Ontario. He was co-counsel for the Canadian Labour Congress in the recent Health Services case.
Tuesday, 18 December 2007
Workers finally have new law to protect their wages
December 14, 2007
OTTAWA – Canadian workers have finally won new legal protection for their wages and their pension contributions when their employer goes bankrupt. Bill C-12, a series of amendments to existing insolvency and wage protection laws, was approved by the Senate last night and received Royal Assent today. This was accomplished after an intensive three-year campaign by the Canadian Labour Congress and its affiliated unions to change bankruptcy laws that unfairly put workers last in line to get paid. read more...."
Monday, 17 December 2007
Sunday, 16 December 2007
"Mr. Broten: — Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, it has been suggested that during the recent CUPE strike the Minister of Employment and Labour made a call to Peter MacKinnon, the president of the University of Saskatchewan. When reporters asked about conversations between Mr. MacKinnon and the minister, he replied, quote, “All I’ll say, there was a range of what I would term as quiet diplomacy. And I won’t give any specific details of that.”
To the Minister of Advanced Education, Employment and Labour: what quiet diplomacy did he conduct during the CUPE strike, and exactly what does he feel is an appropriate level of involvement with one side of the table during a labour dispute?" (P. 46 - Hansard - December 12, 2007).
In his response, Mr. Norris did not deny that during the strike he spoke to U of S President, MacKinnon. It's hardly a coincidence then that shortly after CUPE 1975 rejected the University's "so-called final offer", Premier Brad Wall all of the sudden started to threaten back-to-work legislation.
So my questions are:
1. Who Said What to Whom, and When
2. Did the Minister of Employment and Labour really only speak to one-side?
3. Is "Quiet Diplomacy" code for "We did what the University asked us to do"?
I commented about this matter in an earlier post on this blog.
Thursday, 13 December 2007
"International officials and experts have named Canada the worst country in the world on climate change as a result of PM Harper’s climate plan: wreck any chance of an international agreement being reached at the UN summit in Bali this week.
PM Harper's short-sighted and corporate-driven policy on climate change has launched an attack on Canada's traditional role in the world. There's still a few days left to save our country, and the climate. Let's get a massive Canadian roar to remind our PM which country he's leading and what we stand for. Sign the petition, below calling on Harper to change Canada’s position at the Bali summit, and we'll advertise the number of signatures in an ad campaign across Canada this week. Sign the petition now!"
Tuesday, 11 December 2007
Merry Christmas Tim!
"With the holiday season fast approaching, Christmas Day is not far away. As President of Local 21 and on behalf the Executive members, I would like to wish you, along with your families, the best of this joyous season. We hope this season will bring happy reunions, celebration, and new memories to cherish as we approach the New Year.
Christmas centers on the birth of a child, and on the message of hope and peace. We hear that message in many ways at Christmas, and it never looses the power to lift our hearts.
The holidays can also deepen our sense of gratitude for life, and for family and friends who fill our lives. We remember how much we have been given, and how much we have to share.
We think of those among us who spend the holidays in sadness or solitude. We think of those facing illness, or the loss of a loved one, or the hardships of poverty or unemployment. And across the city, caring Local 21 members are reaching out to those in need by volunteering their time. By serving a cause greater than themselves, Local 21 members spread hope in our community and make our city a better place to live.
At Christmas we also think of the sisters and brothers of Local 21 who are working shifts insuring the taxpayers are driving on safe streets, have clean water to drink, and recreation facilities to use, something we all take for granted. We are grateful for the commitment of our sisters and brothers, and we are safer because of their skills and sacrifice.
Separation from loved ones is always difficult, especially at this time of year. All sisters and brothers that must work over the holidays know their families miss them. I personally know of this as I worked shifts for some five years.
All Local 21 members who serve others or volunteer their time are living out the spirit of the Christmas season. The story of Christmas is familiar to us all, yet it still brings inspiration and comfort and love to people everywhere.
Whether we are watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” for the 100th time or watching our children inhale the Christmas spirit for the first time.
May the spirit of the season be with you today and throughout the new year. From our family to yours, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
President Local 21"
Monday, 10 December 2007
"Scotiabank faces C$350 mln unpaid overtime suit
December 10, 2007
TORONTO (Reuters) - A second lawsuit against a Canadian bank alleging unpaid overtime was launched on Monday, this time against Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO) for C$350 million ($346.5 million) in damages." Click here to continue reading.
From the Saskatoon StarPhoenix: Sask. employee representative in $350M class action against Scotiabank
From the Regina Leader-Post: Sask. banker leads lawsuit
From the CBC Website: Scotiabank hit with lawsuit over unpaid overtime
Elsewhere in this blog I reported on a $600 million lawsuit against CIBC.
Still think our Labour Laws are too worker and too union friendly???
Sunday, 9 December 2007
Saturday, 8 December 2007
Since things could hardly be better in Saskatchewan, what with the booming economy, low unemployment rate, optimistic population, great productivity and efficiency, labour movement engagement in numerous co-operative initiatives and so on, it is difficult to understand why any government would want to create an unnecessary and totally irresponsible conflict where none currently exists.
Much good will has been built up over the past few years, through significant efforts in the area of Labour/Business/Government co-operation. Just one example is the creation of the new "Saskatchewan Labour Market Commission" which is still in it's infancy, but holds much promise if supported and encouraged.
However, the signals are loud and clear - Brad Wall's government have announced that they will be coming out of the gates with a full frontal attack on working people, their constitutional and charter rights and their democratic organizations. The Sask. Party government has announced it will table a number of pieces of anti-union/anti-worker legislation. In the past week, Wall and his cabinet have announced plans to amend (without consultation) the Trade Union Act respecting union certification and employer communication; to open-end the length of collective agreements; and to bring in unneccessary and intrusive "essential services legislation". This is just what they have announced, I'm not sure what else they plan to introduce.
I'm curious as to how this squares with Mr. Wall's election campaign commitment to "reach out to labour". As far as I'm aware, he hasn't consulted with anyone in the labour movement about any of these proposed legislative changes.
Yesterday's National Post carried a commentary by Sara Slinn from Osgoode Hall Law School, York University entitled: Anti-union intimidation is real. I think it's a preview of what we are about to witness in Saskatchewan.
I found this section of the commentary particularly revealing:
Too bad we will have to spend so much time and energy on this when we could be spending our time cooperating, consulting, and working together to create a province that respects the rights of working people in addition to being a great place to work, play, raise a family, and run a business.
"Most academic studies find that employer anti-union tactics are both widespread and effective. A survey of managers at Canadian workplaces where union organizing had recently occurred found 94% used anti-union tactics, and 12% admitted to using what they believed to be illegal, unfair labour practices to discourage employees from unionizing.
The commentators cited academic research showing that introduction of mandatory vote procedures significantly reduce the probability of certification. They suggested that mandatory votes remove this imbalance, and thus fewer certifications result. The commentators implied this was because of a weakness of the card system. However, we must be very careful about making such an assumption.
Academic research, including one of the studies referred to by the commentators, suggests a different explanation. It suggests that the explanation lies in the advantage votes give to employer anti-union efforts. Unionization is less likely under mandatory votes because employers are encouraged to resist unionization and research shows that these union-avoidance efforts (legal and illegal) are more effective under the vote than card system."
Friday, 7 December 2007
The article is by James Wood - Wall tries to settle labour law confusion.
and the column by Murray Mandryk - Sask. Party rewrites election script.
Just to clear up the comments regarding demonstrations and rallies on the steps of the legislature -- this is how it went. It was right at the end of a 15 minute scrum following my meeting (On Thursday) with the new minister in charge of labour, Rob Norris. I had talked and responded to questions about worker rights; potential judicial challenges against the backdrop of recent Supreme Court of Canada decisions; why the Sask. Party said one thing before the election and the complete opposite after the election; whether workers might defy legislation like has occurred in the past; and so on.
We were just about to conclude the interview and Leader-Post Reporter James Wood demands something like - "so if the Wall government refuses to back down and refuses to consult appropriately will we be seeing 500 people protesting on the steps of the legislature?"
I looked at him with a puzzled and astonished look, thinking to myself - "you can't be serious James, we're talking about peoples' constitutional and charter rights here - that's the best question you can ask?" and I responded (kind of tongue in cheek) - "oh I don't know, probably - maybe even more. If workers feel strongly enough that this is an infringement on their charter rights I'm sure they'll protest in a variety of ways."
p.s. Murray Mandryk wasn't even there to witness me "declaring Jihad ... with my threats of protests on the steps of the legislature." It was James Wood who threatened protests on the steps of the legislature, I just responded that protests were a possibility. Talk about sensationalism and exaggeration.
Other than that - the article and column are pretty good.
Thursday, 6 December 2007
The USFA represents approximately 1,000 faculty members including professors, librarians, archivists, and extension specialists at Saskatchewan’s largest university.
These additional members at the University of Saskatchewan will make a fantastic addition to the diverse make-up of the SFL. Our Federation is an organization that truly reflects the wide cross-section of workers in virtually all occupations throughout the province.
Wednesday, 5 December 2007
There is a second article reporting of the same matter on the CBC Web-site.
These articles refer to efforts being made by the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour to assist the parties to settle the dispute.
Monday, 3 December 2007
The two outstanding issues that precipitated the strike have been referred to "binding arbitration". Previously, CUPE had offered to end the strike by referring these same two issues to "non-binding mediation" - an offer that was rejected by the University leadership.
The following excerpt from the article speaks volumes:
"It's not the resolution we wanted, but the government's threat of back-to-work legislation meant 'arbitration' was the only topic of discussion at the conciliation table," says CUPE 1975 bargaining chair Brad McKaig. "Since both employers appeared to prefer legislation to negotiation, it had a huge influence on what we could achieve at the table."So how did all of this come to pass? I think that the President of the U of S - probably called (former University of Saskatchewan employee) the new Minister in charge of the labour portfolio (Rob Norris) and asked for the government to exert the heavy hand and introduce the threat of legislation. Plain and simple.
Premier Brad Wall told the media on Thursday the government would end the strike through back-to-work legislation if no agreement was reached in concilation talks, which resumed Friday.
"Given the threat of government intervention, our only option was to influence how arbitration would proceed, not whether it would proceed," says McKaig.
I also think that the new Minister responded to the request, and the Premier issued the "threat".
Now, just to put things in perspective - during the week prior to CUPE 1975 voting on the employers "so-called final offer", I placed a call to the new Minister and offered (through his office) to meet with him to discuss the matter, and offered to provide labour's perspective. I'm still waiting to hear back from Mr. Norris in this regard. Somehow, I don't think he's interested in anything workers or their representatives have to say about anything.
I guess that's what the new Minister meant when he said to reporters following his appointment that the government would be "Rebalancing the relationship with labour". And that's what the new Premier meant when he said during the election campaign that he would be "Reaching out to labour".
Sunday, 2 December 2007
TILMA is a massive assault on democracy and is being pushed by corporations and the right-wing governments and political parties that they control.
Read the Council of Canadians news release about this by clicking here.
In addition, Erin Weir has added more commentary on the topic of anti-democratic government behaviour over at the "Progressive Economics Form" Blog under the title of: TILMA, Ontario and Quebec: The Price of Freedom is Eternal Vigilance.
Saturday, 1 December 2007
Part 1 - The End of America: Naomi Wolf
Part 2 - The End of America: Naomi Wolf
Read more and watch the video interview of Naomi Wolf by Amy Goodman from Democracy Now on AlterNet.org by clicking here.
Enterprise Saskatchewan: Former CFIB director Dale Botting lands key role in Saskatchewan Party government
Friday, 30 November 2007
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
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. "
Wednesday, 28 November 2007
Tuesday, 27 November 2007
“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.”
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
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
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!
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
Read the recent posting on the CUPE 1975 Web-site entitled: What are you Voting On? The FINAL Final Offer! (Saskatoon), and come to your own conclusions.
Friday, 23 November 2007
"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:
Thursday, 22 November 2007
Wednesday, 21 November 2007
Sunday, 18 November 2007
Saskatoon StarPhoenix columnist blames victim; supports RCMP actions in brutal Taser death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski
I couldn't agree more.
Friday, 16 November 2007
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
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 involvementRead the balance of the release here.
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.
Interested in finding out the connection between the University of Saskatchewan and Management Consultant Greg Trew? Click here.
Tuesday, 13 November 2007
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.
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
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.
"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.Read the full story here.
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........"
Additional coverage: Canada Line tunnel workers exploited, say unions
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
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
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
Tuesday, 6 November 2007
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
Enterprise Saskatchewan: Regina columnist says Brad Wall “would privatize the economic decision-making functions of government to this new body.”
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.)
Is this how democracy functions?
““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.”
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
Wednesday, 31 October 2007
Read the Tyee article published yesterday entitled: Public Jobs Went Private, Work Life Soured, to see how it has all played out.
There are numerous other examples of where the Gordon Campbell government basically ripped up duly negotiated collective agreements, fired (mostly) women workers, privatized and contracted out their jobs to multi-national corporations, and then the workers got their old jobs back at 1/2 the wages. Thereby totally ignoring, and violating the workers Constitutional and Charter Rights. The Supreme Court of Canada found the B.C. Government guilty of the above.
Makes one question the sincerity and honesty of any ideologically right-of-centre party when they are prepared to "say whatever it takes to get elected."
Check out today's posting over at "Owls and Roosters" for further analysis of the Sask. Party privatization plans "Enterprise Saskatchewan" style. Click on: Saskatchewan Party Leader Brad Wall ducks tough questions on Enterprise Saskatchewan; Industry and Resources employees could lose jobs.
See any potential similarities?