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OPSEU member activists show their support for World Breastfeeding Week at an event in Sault Ste. Marie.

Sault Ste. Marie (10 Aug 2015) — The presidents of two OPSEU/NUPGE locals in Sault Ste Marie took part in an event yesterday marking World Breastfeeding Week. 
Although it technically took place from August 1 to 7, World Breastfeeding Week was marked in Sault Ste. Marie during an event yesterday. OPSEU/NUPGE Local 607 President Shauna Weston and OPSEU/NUPGE Local 602 President Carole Gregoric each took their children to the event celebrating World Breastfeeding Week.
Mother-Friendly Workplace Initiative
The World Breastfeeding Week 2015 theme was working women and breastfeeding and was meant to revisit the 1993 WBW campaign on the Mother-Friendly Workplace Initiative.
Much has been achieved in 22 years of global action supporting women in combining breastfeeding and work, particularly the adoption of the revised ILO Convention 183 on Maternity Protection with much stronger maternity entitlements, and more actions by countries on improving national laws and practices.
More information: 
World Breastfeeding Week 
NUPGE
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE
 
NUPGE Components: 

Issues and Campaigns: 

"If we marshal our considerable resources and energy, I believe we can stop the proposed bill before it becomes law." — Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President OPSEU.

Toronto (20 July 2015) — A proposal to change labour law rules when competing unions find themselves facing merger votes violates worker rights and undermines democracy in the workplace, says the President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE).
Workers lose right to choose own union
“If Bill 109, as currently drafted, passes into law then a worker will lose the right to determine which union he or she chooses to represent them,” said Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “That is fundamentally unjust, and it ignores the principle of workplace democracy.”
The proposed change to the Public Sector Labour Relations Transition Act (PSLRTA) would affect only those unions which represent employees working in the public sector.
Need for concerted effort to fight off changes
Bill 109 represents such a sweeping change to the way organized labour conducts its democratic processes that Thomas urged all unions in Ontario to join together to force changes to the draft legislation.
“One union acting alone is unlikely to change the direction the Liberals want to go with this,” he said. “But if we marshal our considerable resources and energy, I believe we can stop the proposed bill before it becomes law.”
Changes to how mergers take place
Merger votes occur when two or more unions represent employees working for a single employer. The employer can make an application to the Ontario Labour Relations Board to have the employees decide which of the competing unions should represent them.
Under the proposed bill, no merger vote would be required if one of the unions already represents more than 60 per cent of the workforce.
Thomas said the proposed change doesn’t take into account the fact that while one union may be able to sign up a majority of workers through an organizing drive, it doesn’t mean that same union enjoys either a superior collective agreement or is better able to enforce the contract.
“In a merger vote, workers should be entitled to judge each union on their own merits,” said the OPSEU President. “Bill 109 rewards one union for having signed up the most members compared to the other union. It doesn’t allow for members to decide for themselves which is the stronger union with respect to negotiating, or enforcing, a good collective agreement. The proposed legislation snatches away that entitlement.”
NUPGE
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE
NUPGE Components: 

In rhyming couplets and a clever schematic, the latest Why Unions Matter winners remind us that by standing together, we keep the worst of capitalism at bay.
Ottawa (08 July 2015) — Greed and power can get the worst of anyone. The two most recent winners of the $1,000 Why Unions Matter contest look at the ways in which unions help keep greed and power in check.
"It preys on those with the least to show"
Jessica Turgeon, a Niagara Falls liquor store worker and OPSEU Local 286 member, decided a poem with a nursery-rhyme feel was the best way to sing labour's praises.
Her Why Unions Matter gets right to the point: "Monsters exist you know / It preys on those with the least to show .... Its eyes are green and its wallet fat / Absorbing wealth like a blood sucking bat." Of course, every story needs a hero, and that's where people working together in a union come in. "An altruist, a hero, a union / Yes, that’s it! A blue-collar fusion."
'Voice, equality, security'
Meanwhile, New Brunswick university student Nicholas LeBlanc reminds us that not every hero has to be blue collar. In his schematic A Young Person Graphically Organizes Three Ways Unions Matter, he tells the tale of Robert Drummond, a 19th-century mine manager in Nova Scotia who couldn't stand by and watch as his workers had their wages cut. "He lost his job," LeBlanc writes, "but earned a career giving unions a voice."
LeBlanc further demonstrates why unions matter by highlighting the Canadian Union of Postal Workers' 1981 maternity leave strike, and his own fictional account of a father being suddenly fired. In those three examples, he reminds us that unions give "voice, equality, and security."
Contest still open: enter now
To anyone else with an interesting or artistic way to describe why unions matter, the contest is still on, and we’re continuing to award $1,000 prizes to best entries each month.
Send them along to Why Unions Matter contest.
More information:  
Why Unions Matter past winners, rules & regulations
NUPGE
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE
NUPGE Components: 

Cover: PDF:  3_ways_unions_matter.pdfPublication date: June, 2015Link to PDF: Three Ways Unions MatterIssues and Campaigns: 

Body:  A Young Person Graphically Organizes Three Ways Unions Matter, by Nicholas LeBlanc
Series: Why Unions Matter Contest

“This truly is a sad day for Canadian democracy. It speaks volumes to the disrespect this government has for democracy and the rule of law when Prime Minister Harper personally direct these undemocratic tactics to ensure that Bill C-377 passes the Senate in order to appeal to the Conservatives’ right-wing base.” — James Clancy, NUPGE President

School teacher inspired to enter Why Unions Matter contest by the role unions played in the Japanese redress moment

Ottawa (17 June 2015) — As a high school teacher in rural Saskatchewan, Andre Boutin-Maloney knows first-hand that unions matter. For one thing, he belongs to the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation and enjoys all the benefits that entails. 
But it wasn’t until he began doing research into the Japanese Canadian Redress Movement that Boutin-Maloney became inspired to enter NUPGE’s Why Unions Matter contest. His poem is the latest winner.
"Inspired by labour unions"
“I was simply inspired by how labour unions joined in the formation of The National Coalition for Japanese Canadian Redress and The Ad Hoc Committee for Japanese Canadians Redress,” says Boutin-Maloney. “I hope if nothing else, my poem serves as a reminder of the important work unions do every day.”
As Boutin-Maloney points out in his poem, all Canadians now enjoy the spoils of union victories:
"Eventually — we all win"
“More benefits unseen … / teachers bargain smaller classes / educations improves / nurses campaign / improved patient care / eventually — we all win.”
Congratulations to Boutin-Maloney. And to anybody else with an interesting or artistic way to describe Why Unions Matter, the contest is still on and we’re continuing to award $1,000 prizes to best entries each month.
Send them along to: whyunionsmatter@nupge.ca
More information:  
Why Unions Matter past winners, rules & regulations
NUPGE
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE
Issues and Campaigns: 

"While legislation of this type is a responsibility of the provincial governments, I believe that this is an area where your office could provide much needed leadership." — James Clancy, National President, NUPGE
Ottawa (16 June 2015) — The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is calling on the federal Minister of Labour, Dr. Kellie Leitch, to use her position to encourage provinces to enact pay-before-you-pump legislation.
In a letter to the Minister, James Clancy, NUPGE's National President, points to the tragic and avoidable death of Maryam Rashidi — a 35-year-old Calgary resident and mother, who was killed by a stolen truck as she was attempting to stop a gas-and-dash while at work.
Another avoidable death of a gas station attendant
Ms. Rashidi’s death is yet another avoidable death of a gas station attendant who was working alone late at night.
Following Rashidi’s death, the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) has called for pay-before-you-pump legislation, something that already exists in British Columbia and other jurisdictions. In addition, the AFL is calling for mandatory employee training and legislation that will establish an employer’s responsibility to keep late-night workers safe.
Federal government should show leadership
Clancy writes that while "legislation of this type is a responsibility of the provincial governments, I believe that this is an area where your office could provide much needed leadership."
"You could use your position as the federal Minister of Labour to encourage and assist provinces in introducing and adopting pay-at-the-pump legislation and enacting related safety measures."
Minister could use office to move issue forward
Clancy is urging the Minister to take three steps to help make pay-before-you-pump legislation a reality in every province:

  1. Publicly announce support for pay-before-you-pump legislation
  2. Commission research on best practices for protecting these workers and draft model pay-before-you-pump legislation that could be adopted by provincial governments
  3. Include the issue of pay-before-you-pump legislation on the agenda of the next meeting of provincial Ministers of Labour.

Now is the time for action
"Too many people have died already" wrote Clancy. "Too many families have felt the pain of losing a family member through an avoidable accident. The time to act on this matter is now."
NUPGE
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE
Issues and Campaigns: 

A tribute to Artist Bob Kell, 1944-2015

By James Clancy
Ottawa (16 June 2015) — Bob Kell was one of ours. He died on May 31, 2015. He was a soldier in our army—the army of all big-hearted, open-handed, generous and kind fighters for the dignity and value of all working people everywhere. 
Bob was an artist. He fought the good fight with his art. He asked no quarter and gave none.  He did not use his art to merely mirror reality. He used it as a hammer to shape reality. Bob hammered away at it all his life. In paint, sculpture and fabric he worked to capture and depict the worth of all who labour and the worth of our ideals of solidarity and fraternity. He did it well.
Winnipeg General Strike series
His greatest success came with a long series of works on the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike. The series was 10 years in the making. It debuted in a union-sponsored showing in Winnipeg in 1985.
In 1990 the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) commissioned a major mural from Bob for the main foyer in the union’s headquarters.
A number of Bob’s works from his Winnipeg General Strike collection are also featured in the Canadian Museum of History.
Bob worked fulltime at his art all his life. But his art was always considered “too political” to sell well. He always had to work at other jobs to get by. However, he never gave up his campaign to free “high art” from the grip of the ruling class. He believed that grip meant we were all being deprived of a great part of the “history that belongs to us.”
It’s safe to say Bob Kell was the greatest artist working people in Canada have ever had on their side.
Undeniable value
The value of his work is undeniable. There is no better proof of that than the recent decision by the Canadian Museum of History to dismantle the exhibit on the Winnipeg General Strike. This is just one more example of how working class history, “the history that belongs to us”, can be erased or discarded. So long as Bob’s paintings exist a part of that history—the history that belongs to us—will exist.
There can be no better epitaph for Bob than the last words of another great union man, Joe Hill, who said: “Don’t mourn. Organize.” 
Bob didn’t have to say it. His paintings always will.
NUPGE
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE
 
Issues and Campaigns: 

2015 New Labour Trilogy provides analysis and interpretation of the three January 2015 Supreme Court of Canada decisions on labour rights, as well as insights on how they may be applied in current and future Charter litigation involving labour rights.

Three young Canadians are the latest winners of NUPGE’s $1,000 Why Unions Matter contest.

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