Thursday 28 August 2008

SFL Labour Day message - Fight for the right to be union

SFL’s Labour Day Message 2008
Fight for the Right to be Union

Saskatchewan Federation of Labour President Larry Hubich says workers should stand tall this Labour Day and fight for their right to be union.

“Unions play such an important role for workers. When we organize and when we collectively bargain, we bring fairness to the workplace. We achieve decent wages and working conditions for our members. And that has the effect of raising the floor on wages and working conditions for all workers in the province,” says Hubich.

“We also know that unions and their members do so much more for our wider communities, through our volunteerism, our work with the Labour Councils and through our partnership with the United Way, to name just a few. Union members love their province and they serve it with pride. That’s something to celebrate this Labour Day,” added Hubich.

“Unfortunately, the Sask. Party government has made it perfectly clear that they want to see unions disappear. They passed a law, Bill 5, which totally undermines collective bargaining for public sector workers, many of whom need these negotiations to keep up with the increases in the cost of living. The other new Sask. Party law, Bill 6, makes it extremely difficult to organize new unions. That means no voice and no representation for Saskatchewan’s most vulnerable workers. What kind of government wants to attack the rights of the hard-working citizens of this province?” adds Hubich.

Labour Day was born over 130 years ago, when demonstrators from 27 unions took to the streets and demanded that their brothers from the Toronto typographical union, who had struck for a nine-hour workday, be released from prison. Thousands of citizens flocked to the protests in support of the right to legally belong to a union.

“We are now engaged in a renewed struggle for the right to be union. It may be technically legal to join a union and to be in a union, but the core activities of what make us who we are, collective bargaining and organizing, have been decimated. The new labour environment is tipped so heavily in favour of the bosses that workers will be hard-pressed to keep up, let alone make gains. This Labour Day, the SFL pledges to continue the fight for the right to be union. We’ll fight in the courts, and as always, we’ll fight on the picket line and on the shop floor,” adds Hubich.

Aged Tires: A Driving Hazard?

Wednesday 27 August 2008

Why are people dying from eating tainted meat?

Do you want the answer to the above burning question? Then read this linked article posted on the Globe and Mail website: New rules pulled lone watchdog off floor of contaminated meat plant, union says.

This article and the fact set of this case just blow my mind.

Irresponsible elected government officials and reckless business leaders who make decisions that result in citizens succumbing from eating poisoned food (insert Listeria here) or drinking poisoned water (insert Walkerton here) should be charged with criminal negligence causing death and they should go to jail.

And while we're at it - toss in a couple of bosses and the politicians they control, who constantly look the other way and continuously evade their responsbility to ensure that workplaces are healthy and safe for the workers.

The following quotes from the article are simply beyond belief:
.....At the Maple Leaf plant behind the listeria outbreak, a single federal inspector was relegated to auditing company paperwork and had to deal with several other plants, the manager and the union official said, contradicting the impression that officials had left last week that full-time watchdogs were on-site.....

.....Under the new rules, instead of heading to the plant floor to inspect with their own eyes, inspectors are sent to the office to confirm that the meat packer has performed the required tests and the results are satisfactory, Mr. Kingston said.

"We don't swab for listeria any more. The industry does all that themselves," he said. "They just document all this stuff. We read their reports. If their reports say they do everything fine, then they do everything fine.".....

.....Listeria is deadly only in high doses, Dr. Warriner noted.

"A big outbreak like this, definitely something went wrong," Dr. Warriner said. "The fact is listeria needs a very high dose ... How did such meat products get contaminated with such a high level of listeria in order to cause so much illness? It needs over a billion cells to actually cause illness."

SFL Labour Reporter - September 2008 Issue

The September 2008 issue of the SFL Labour Reporter is now available on line.

Click here to download in PDF Format.

Tuesday 26 August 2008

Naomi Klein on Obama - The Real News

Naomi Klein speaks about Obama and the intellectual and political integrity of the progressive movement. Check out The Real News by clicking here....

Sunday 24 August 2008

Career Civil Servant fired by Sask. Party Transition Team ordered Re-instated

A career civil servant who had promoted through the ranks over his 34 year career has been found to have been unjustly and inappropriately fired.

In a recent ruling, the Saskatchewan Public Service Commission has overturned the firing of Allan Walker - who was terminated, apparently on the recommendation (instructions) of an unelected, unaccountable Sask. Party operative who was contracted by Premier Brad Wall to hand-pick certain government employees to be fired following the last provincial election.

I posted an entry about this situation on July 10, 2008: Sask. Party gov’t faces questions in Walker wrongful dismissal case

Following the release of the 19 page decision a number of articles have appeared in local newspapers and on-line:

Commission slams civil service firings - CBC Sask. web site
New gov'ts asked to stop firing civil servants - Hall - Leader-Post
It's time for some civil behaviour - Mandryk - Leader-Post
Political purges slammed - Dawg's Blawg
Fired civil servant wins case - Mandryk - StarPhoenix
PSC blasts Sask. Party gov’t over Walker firing; Deputy Premier Ken Krawetz oblivious - Owls and Roosters Blog

One of my favourite quotes from the decision is:

"To arbitrarily end the careers of competent public leaders without cause based on political direction sends a message to the remaining and prospective employees that a public service career is at best a matter of who you know rather than what you know or what you are capable of accomplishing."

Wednesday 20 August 2008

Olbermann chastises McCain: Grow up!

Doing Well Indeed

Here's a great letter to the editor written by Cheryl Stadnichuk, which appears in the August 20, 2008 issue of the Regina Leader-Post. Cheryl is research officer for the Canadian Union of Public Employees in Saskatchewan. The letter is reproduced in it's entirety below, and can be viewed in it's on-line version by clicking here.
Doing well indeed

The July issue of SaskTrends Monitor reveals interesting statistics about who is benefitting the most from the current economic boom in Saskatchewan.

It points out that average weekly earnings have grown by an average of 3.5 per cent per year from 2002 to 2007. Aggregate employment income has grown by six per cent per year in the same period. Average wage increases have been higher than the cost of living, but do not come close to the increases in corporate profits. From 2002 to 2007, corporate profits before taxes grew from $4.8 to $12.5 billion, or by an average of 21 per cent per year, the Monitor points out.

Data from the Saskatchewan Bureau of Statistics shows how the distribution of wealth is shifting in favour of corporations. From 2002 to 2007, the labour income share of gross domestic product (GDP) dropped from 42.2 per cent to 38.5 per cent of provincial GDP, while corporate profits jumped from 13.3 per cent to 24.5 per cent of GDP in the same period. It is mind-boggling to think that corporate profits represent one-quarter of the province's GDP.

Though the economy is booming and profits are exploding, government revenues from corporate capital tax have actually declined because of government tax cuts. In 2005-06, it received $513 million in revenues from corporate capital tax, which dropped to $431 million in 2007-08.

For years, we've heard the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce whine about how labour laws and taxes made life hard for business. It is obvious business was doing very well long before any labour law was reformed.

I wonder if they are willing to share the profits created by labour's productivity?

Cheryl Stadnichuk

Monday 18 August 2008

Viterra desperate to recruit 'Scabs' in attempt to bust Union

Regina, Saskatchewan based grain company Viterra Inc. is so desperate to try and bust the Grain Services Union (GSU) that they have resorted to attempting to recruit 'Scab' labour through the use of 'full-length newspaper ads' in the major dailies along with a series of new 'Scab' position postings on their corporate web-site.
GSU has responded by preparing an issue of their daily strike tabloid: The GSU Review - August 18. That issue is dedicated to exposing the company's 'Scab' recruitment efforts.

In addition, the GSU has posted correspondence on their web-site including a copy of the legal opinion they received which confirms that Viterra is very likely engaged in illegal activity through their anti-employee, anti-union, scab recruitment efforts.

What's next from Viterra?

Shock doctrine opens way for oil drilling - The Real News

Naomi Klein: "Corporations are built to be opportunistic. That's their mission. If there's an opportunity, they must take advantage of it, and it's in the interests of their shareholders, and they shouldn't be sentimental about it. So that's what capitalism is supposed to do: take advantage of opportunities. What I'm talking about, and what I mean by disaster capitalism, is a political strategy."
See more here....

Labour seeks its piece of the potash boom

There's a very good article in the August 15, 2008 issue of Globe and Mail - Report on Business by David Ebner entitled: Labour seeks its piece of the potash boom.

The article sets out the glaring double standard being played out at three Saskatchewan potash mines where members of the United Steelworkers are looking to get a fair share of the unprecedented prosperity being enjoyed by the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan (PCS).

As an example, PCS CEO, William J. Doyle saw his paycheque nearly double in the past year when his total compensation went from a meager $8,943,757 in 2006 to a stunning $17,188,621 in 2007.

The value of stock options for the top three executives at PCS including Doyle is nearing the almost unbelievable $1 billion mark.

From the article:

"....The soaring price of potash has made the top three executives who run Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. fantastically wealthy, with stock options worth a total of $846-million...."

"....But given that Mr. Doyle's stock options alone were worth $553-million at yesterday's close, and company profit in the first half of this year tripled to $1.5-billion (U.S.), the union has almost unanimous support among the 500 workers on the line at three mines in Saskatchewan...."
For more detail on the bargaining dispute please see the USW web-site at:

Wednesday 13 August 2008

Corporate Free-loaders living high off of working class taxpayers

I recently read a couple of articles which, taken together, illustrate how corporations are making out like bandits while working-class taxpayers and other regular ordinary citizens are paying the freight.

An article posted on entitled: Most Corporations Don't Pay Income Taxes states in part:

"Most corporations, including the vast majority of foreign companies doing business in the United States, pay no income taxes, according to a Government Accountability Office report released Tuesday."
Meanwhile an article posted on the website: Canadian business taxes are among the lowest in world is based on a new report from KPMG which ranks countries in its annual report entitled Competitive Alternatives 2008 Special Report: Focus on Tax, the analysis looks at taxes paid by businesses in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, the U.K. and U.S.

From the article:
" study of 10 nations puts lie to corporate propaganda

Ottawa (1 Aug. 2008) - Canadian business taxes are among the lowest in the world, contrary to the stream of misleading reports pumped out by corporate-funded outfits like the Fraser Institute., the Canadian arm of one of the largest professional services corporations in the world, has issued a report finding that business taxes in Canada are markedly lower than those paid by American companies."
Most U.S. companies pay zero Income Tax in the states, and Canada's tax regime is even more favourable to corporations than that of the U.S. Nice scam!

Saturday 9 August 2008

Naomi Klein on China and the Olympics - The Real News

"Security, central planning, surveillance state is an ideal cocoon for global capitalism" - Naomi Klein.

Read a transcript of the video interview by clicking here.

Greedy Corporations and the Politicans they Control

There is an excellent article posted on Alternet.Org written by Joshua Holland. It's entitled: Corporate America Prepares for Battle Against Worker Campaign to Roll Back Assault on the Middle Class.

While it's a bit of a long read, it's definitely worth the effort. It is well written, and clearly illustrates the extremes to which many corporations (and the politicians they control) are prepared to go to deny workers the right to engage in free collective bargaining. It shows what they are prepared to do to deny workers the basic and fundamental right of freedom of association.

If you wonder where the Prime Minister, and the Saskatchewan Premier are taking their marching orders from, read the article. When you're done, you'll have the answer.
".....None of this is by accident. Union-busting has reached a high art form in the United States. Companies no longer need thugs and gun-toting Pinkertons to keep workers from exercising their legal rights to organize; now they have high-priced, Armani-wearing lawyers to do the job.

The tactics are as subtle as they are insidious. A study by Cornell University labor scholar Kate Bronfenbrenner found that: 9 in 10 employers facing a union campaign force employees to attend closed-door meetings to hear anti-union propaganda; 80 percent train supervisors on how to attack unions and require them to deliver anti-union messages to workers they oversee; half of employers threaten to shut down the plant if workers organize; and 3 out of 4 hire outside consultants to run anti-union campaigns, "often based on mass psychology and distorting the law........"

Friday 8 August 2008

GSU Certifies 250 more Viterra employees in Manitoba

Despite aggressive union busting efforts by the neanderthals in senior management at Viterra Inc. (Previously Sask. Wheat Pool), Grain Services Union (GSU) was recently certified by the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) to represent a unit of country operations and maintenance employees working for Viterra in the province of Manitoba. See the CIRB Certification order by clicking here.

GSU General Secretary, Hugh Wagner followed up the certification notification with the following "Hugh-Tube" message:

Congratulations to GSU!

Wal-Mart Warns of Democratic Win

"Wal-Mart is warning management that a Democratic win in November will aid employee efforts to unionize. (Photo: AP)" recently posted the following article on their web-site:

"Wal-Mart Warns of Democratic Win
Friday 01 August 2008

by: Ann Zimmerman and Kris Maher, The Wall Street Journal

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is mobilizing its store managers and department supervisors around the country to warn that if Democrats win power in November, they'll likely change federal law to make it easier for workers to unionize companies - including Wal-Mart." (Read more....)