Three young Canadians are the latest winners of NUPGE’s $1,000 Why Unions Matter contest.
"The importance of the Canadian middle class cannot be overstated. It's what drives the economy and our country is at its best when it's strongest." — The New Brunswick Union
Fredericton (03 June 2015) — The New Brunswick Union (NBU/NUPGE) has launched a new television ad campaign to highlight the important role that unions play in maintaining a strong middle class.
Unions helped create a strong middle class and a thriving economy
The NBU/NUPGE says,"The importance of the Canadian middle class cannot be overstated. It's what drives the economy and our country is at its best when it's strongest."
The ad reminds people that one of the biggest factors in creating the middle class was the hard work, sacrifices and gains made through the labour movement — including unionization.
Beginning with the 1940s and moving through several decades, the Canadian economy and levels of unionization were directly linked. The more unionized workers there were, the stronger the middle class and the better the economy.
Since 2000, this upward trend has changed. Unionized jobs have been decreasing, the gap between the rich and poor increasing and the middle class disappearing.
NBU/NUPGE to work with government and employers to strengthen the province
The NBU/NUPGE believes a strong middle class is key to helping the province out of its fiscal problems and back to financial stability. The NBU/NUPGE wants to work with the provincial government and employers in the private sector to find solutions and strengthen New Brunswick.
This latest commercial reflects the belief that one way to do it is by bolstering the ranks of the middle class and unions.
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:
Despite the best efforts by the Saskatchewan Association of Health Organizations to force an agreement on many of the province's health professionals, the members of Health Sciences Association of Saskatchewan (SAHO) have soundly rejected the final offer.
Regina (May 29, 2015) – Specialized health care professionals represented by the Health Sciences Association of Saskatchewan (HSAS/CHPS) have voted 80 per cent to reject a so-called ‘final offer’ contract proposal from Saskatchewan health care employers that are represented by SAHO, reported Karen Wasylenko, HSAS/CHPS President.
A forced vote
“In spite of SAHO forcing our members to vote on this so-called final offer, and launching an extensive misinformation campaign throughout the voting period, our professionals have spoken loud and clear: they reject this unfair, disrespectful contract offer, which did not provide full retroactivity on proposed wage adjustments, and would have capped the employer’s share of future increases in professional licensing fees,” Wasylenko said.
“Throughout these long and difficult contract negotiations, health care employers, represented by SAHO, have shown that they disrespect and undervalue the vital work being done for Saskatchewan patients by our specialized health care professionals. This latest insult — forcing a vote on an unfair contract proposal — has been rejected out of hand by our professional members,” Wasylenko noted.
Rejection despite misleading propaganda from employer group
“This clear rejection came in spite of SAHO’s attempts to distribute misleading propaganda to our professionals in every health region. Some materials appeared to be designed to suggest their information was coming from Health Sciences rather than the employer; SAHO also threatened that a “no” vote could lead to early job action. How much better off would Saskatchewan health care and patients be today if SAHO had spent the past six weeks negotiating in good faith, rather than wasting time and public money on this misleading propaganda?” Wasylenko asked.
“SAHO seems determined to try to provoke Health Sciences into taking job action, rather than bargaining in good faith. The message of this vote is clear — SAHO needs to get back to the bargaining table with a new contract offer now,” Wasylenko concluded.
Strong rejection of offer
Ballots, 3,597 of them, were mailed to Health Sciences' members across the province on May 6 through the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board (LRB). Under provincial law, the LRB supervised the voting process after SAHO forced the vote on its so-called final offer. The membership response rate was 63 per cent, with 2,268 returned ballots. Eighty per cent of the members voted "no" to the SAHO proposal.
Health Sciences Association of Saskatchewan represents 3,600 specialized health care professionals from more than thirty professions including
CFLR’s Guide for Negotiating Essential Services is intended as a practical guide for union negotiators engaged in essential service negotiations.
Nova Scotia's unionized home support workers tell the leaders of the province's political parties that should their work be contracted to another company, they won't accept jobs unless their current contract and working conditions continue.
Halifax (7 May 2015) — The President of the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU/NUPGE), Joan Jessome, and home support workers presented Nova Scotia politicians with approximately 1,200 signed pledges, stating that if their work is contracted to another company, they will not accept employment unless their union representation with the NSGEU/NUPGE and contractual terms and conditions are respected by the new employer.
Workers' rights must be respected
“These pledges are a very clear signal to government that, if they choose to further privatize home support work without ensuring the workers’ rights and benefits are respected, they will be faced with a crisis in home care,” said NSGEU President Joan Jessome.
Minister urged to avoid a crisis
“This disaster can be easily avoided: the Minister of Health can guarantee—in writing—that workers’ union representation and collective agreements will follow them to whichever employer is selected to deliver the care.”
The presentation of the pledges was made at the Legislature following a series of province-wide rallies organized by the Nova Scotia Citizen's Health Care Network.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 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:
Ontario's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is charged with operating an unsafe workplace for an incident in 2014 that left two nurses severely hurt.
Toronto (7 May 2015) — As Ontario's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) faces charges for operating an unsafe workplace, OPSEU/NUPGE President Warren (Smokey) Thomas says the world-renowned institution must redouble its efforts to guarantee a safe work environment for patients and staff alike.
“The start of the trial marks a significant day for CAMH,” said Thomas, whose union represents more than 1,800 staff members at the downtown Toronto centre. “Nobody takes pleasure in what will unfold in court. But the trial is a wake-up call to all health care facilities that violence in the workplace must never be tolerated and that severe penalties await those which willfully disregard health and safety regulations.”
Two nurses severely injured
CAMH has been charged with four counts under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) for operating an unsafe workplace. The charges stem from a January 2014 incident in which a patient violently attacked a registered practical nurse and, moments later, a registered nurse who came to her colleague’s assistance. The attack left each nurse with severe injuries that required months of recuperation.
CAMH faces a maximum $2 million fine if convicted on all counts.
Without prejudging the outcome of the trial, Thomas noted that the Ministry of Labour, which is responsible for enforcing the OHSA, typically conducts a thorough review of events and circumstances leading up to an incident before determining whether to lay charges.
For too long, incidents went unreported
“Obviously, the Ministry felt there were serious grounds to lay charges and we are pleased they did,” he said. “For too long incidents of the sort CAMH is now facing went unreported or underreported which left patients and workers at high risk of violence. By my reckoning that is the definition of an unsafe workplace.”
Citing figures from 2013-2014, Nancy Pridham, President of OPSEU Local 500 at CAMH, said CAMH reported 514 workplace violence incidents, 453 of which involved physical assaults or abuse—a 29-per-cent increase over incidents the previous year.
Communication, training, and transparency
“For our members the issue comes down to an organization taking responsibility for keeping its employees and clients safe,” said Pridham. “That means having good communications in place, proper training from top-to-bottom, a transparent accounting of violence, and a plan in place to stop health care professionals from being injured or harmed when they’re on the job.
“Unless CAMH is ordered to improve its record of violence in the workplace I’m afraid we could see more charges in the months and years to come.”
An IT worker at Dalhousie University points out the many disasterous consequences of the Nova Scotia Liberal government's attempt to strip post-secondary workers of their basic constitutional rights
Dalhousie University IT worker Darryl Warren, who is a member of NSGEU/NUPGE, read the following speech during public hearings on the Nova Scotia government's proposed bill to give universities the right to suspend collective bargaining and grievance procedures.
Halifax (5 May 2015) — The Universities Accountability and Sustainability Act is as poorly titled as most of the legislation tabled by our current government, since it allows for neither accountability nor sustainability.
Education, the primary responsibility of universities, is not even mentioned in the bill, nor is there any suggestion on how institutions should be held accountable for the quality of the product they provide.
Constant cutting doesn't yield sustainability
And although I agree that universities should be administered in such a way that they remain sustainable, I don’t see how the province expects that to happen with the continued cuts to funding year after year. It’s akin to telling the person whose chest you’re sitting on that they aren’t breathing very well and it’s their fault for not trying hard enough.
I try to imagine applying this same legislation to P-12 public education. Imagine measuring the profit and loss of elementary school or the sustainability of junior high. Clearly, children don’t need to learn their ABCs; there’s just no money in it. To suggest the link between education and prosperity isn’t just as direct in post-secondary as it is in public education is naive to the point of dishonesty.
I’m not suggesting universities should not be fiscally responsible—everyone agrees they should be. The government should hold those who spend public money accountable—and they can, without legislation, and certainly without this legislation.
Steady funding better than emergency bail-outs
It’s ridiculous for this legislation to specifically allow, even require, an institution to fail to the point of collapse before the government will assist, particularly when that assistance comes at such a high academic price — mainly, the loss of autonomy and the sale of the education agenda to business interests. If government truly wanted to assist in delivering quality education in the province, why would it continuously reduce funding?
The purpose of this particular piece of legislation is as transparent to me as the purpose of Bill 1 was to James Dorsey. It is simply another attack on labour. It is another blindfolded whack at the constitutional piñata in hopes that the few treats that fall out will be enough to appease the business interests who control this government and to satisfy those who think the winner of the race to the bottom is still a winner.
Government has one year to make changes to Alberta's labour laws that violate workers' Charter rights.
Sessions at CFLR Forum will examine particular aspects of the three Supreme Court of Canada decisions released in January 2015, discuss their implications for the Canadian labour movement and consider the impact the decisions will have on future Charter litigation by unions in Canada.
Toronto (08 April 2015) – The Canadian Foundation for Labour Rights (CFLR) will be hosting a forum this week to examine three recent Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) decisions that impact on labour rights in Canada. The decisions, all of which were released in January 2015, involve the three following cases:
- SFL v. Saskatchewan, regarding the right to strike
- Mounted Police Association of Ontario v. Canada, regarding the right of Canadian workers to join an independent bargaining agent of their own choosing
- Meredith v. Canada (Attorney General), regarding the constitutionality of legislative wage-restraint programs
Forum will bring together legal professionals and labour experts to discuss the direction of labour rights in Canada
The forum, taking place in Toronto on April 9, 2015, will be attended by some 50 participants, including the CFLR Board of Directors, members of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) Legal Challenges Committee and members of the Canadian Association of Labour Lawyers (CALL), representing union-side labour lawyers from across Canada.
It will consist of six sessions. Each of the sessions will be led by either a labour law academic or a labour lawyer who represented a union in one of the three SCC cases. The first session will provide a general overview of the three SCC decisions. The next five will examine particular aspects of each of these decisions, discuss their implications for the Canadian labour movement and consider the impact the decisions will have on future Charter litigation by unions in Canada.
Cooperation and coordination of legal cases important for the future of labour rights legislation
CFLR board member, and President of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), James Clancy, noted that he hopes the forum will help build on the cooperation and coordination by unions that was evident in the lead up to and during the hearings of the three cases before the SCC in 2014.
“It’s obvious from these positive decisions that increased coordination amongst unions paid off for the labour movement. We need to learn from those decisions, and build on our success. We must ensure the labour movement continues to present strong and coordinated arguments before the courts in any future challenges to the constitutional rights of Canadian workers.”
Some of the questions that will be considered during the Forum are:
The ILO declares Bill 45's "penal sanctions" to be "contrary to freedom of expression and principles of freedom of association."