Team members of Decent Work and Health Network in Toronto
KATELYN HAGEL GOT FIRED FOR WANTING TO WORK. She couldn’t afford not to—even though she had ongoing health problems.
The dentist she worked for didn’t want her at work. She wanted Katelyn to take two weeks sick leave—without pay. Katelyn refused. She couldn’t afford it. She wanted to work every day she could until she would have to take time off following a scheduled surgery. Her refusal got her fired.
LET’S MAKE LABOUR DAY DIFFERENT THIS YEAR. Let’s make it a celebration rather than an obligation. More like Canada Day and New Year’s Eve than Remembrace Day. A day full of joy and hope: a day that celebrates who we are even more than what we have done.
We are the “happy warriors,” the ones who automatically believe the best about ourselves and our neighbours. We are the ones who bring casseroles to the folks down the block who got burned out; the ones who water the neighbours’ plants when they’re on vacation, the ones who write letters to the editor and sign endless petitions to make the world safer for humans and all living things.
And, we are the ones who join unions.
LIGHT 'EM UP
CHANGE A BRAKE LIGHT AND CHANGE THE WORLD. Probably not. But it was a great place to start for the New Orleans chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).
DISHING IT OUT
CHARLEEN POKORNIK DOESN’T FEEL LIKE HER OWN BOSS. If she can prove it she’ll be a lot better off.
Charleen is a delivery driver for the Skip the Dishes online food delivery service franchise in Winnipeg. They call her an “independent contractor.” She says she’s not. She wants to go to court to prove it.
Charleen is seeking class-action certification for her lawsuit. She alleges the company misleads its workers by telling them they are private contractors. It’s a claim the company uses to deny its workers all that is due them under the law.
BAM! YOU’RE UNIONIZED!
Aaron Doncaster lead union drive at Calgary Hilton hotel
FIRING AARON DONCASTER WAS A BIG MISTAKE. The managers of the Hilton Garden Inn in Calgary thought it would bust a United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) organizing drive. It lead to instant certification of the union instead.
Hilton management fired Aaron last September. They claimed his work schedule showed signs of tardiness. The Alberta Labour Relations Board (ALRB) wasn’t buying it.
THE GIG IS UP
Uber driver Sami: I had to force myself to stop the car
SAMI SOMETIMES FELL ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL. Not so good when you are an Uber driver. But it’s the kind of thing that can happen when you work in the so-called “gig economy.”
Sami needed the Uber gig to make ends meet. He could clock off after an eight-hour shift at his day-job in a supermarket, hop into his car and log straight on to the Uber app.
BARS ARE A GREAT PLACE TO VISIT, BUT YOU WOULDN’T WANT TO WORK THERE. That’s the story all across Canada.
It's certain the work in bars and restaurants will be hard. Everything else about the work is uncertain: hours are erratic, pay unpredictable, working conditions stressful, management overbearing or inept, job security non-existent.
KATE SMITH IS WORKING HERSELF OUT OF A JOB. She doesn’t seem to mind. It's all part of our love/hate relationship with automation.
Kate (not her real name) works as a cashier at a Home Depot store in Ottawa. She’s happy there: working her cash, and often helping customers trying to navigate the automated self-checkout machines.
She says it’s fine with her if some cashiers prefer to stay at their stations. But she’s happy to join those who welcome the opportunity to “bop around” at the self-checkout.
Worker action ends Trump use of airlines to separate families
FLIGHT ATTENDANTS JUST SAID NO. They simply refused to be part of Donald Trump’s plan to separate immigrant kids from their moms and dads. There was no way they could justify it: not as flight attendants; not as human beings.
They took to Facebook to express their anguish and anger about being drawn into Trump’s scheme. They drew a line. They said it was work they could not, should not, and would not be forced to do. They vowed to refuse to work on future flights carrying little kids away from their parents.
Their personal posts on Facebook went viral. There was massive public support for their stand. The airline companies told Trump they would no longer let him use their planes to tear families apart.
On June 18 Trump cancelled his family separation program. All because workers stood together and spoke out from the heart.
It all began with an anonymous Facebook post
In mid-June 2018, flight attendant Anika Lodzinski re-posted a text from another unnamed flight attendant reporting on a flight he had recently worked.
“...nothing prepared me or my crew for 16 passengers. Sixteen. All dressed in black and gray cheap Walmart sweat suits, quietly boarding the 12:30am flight.
“...Children! Thirty-two scared eyes looking straight forward dazed. We try to speak, yet none speak English.
“...During the beverage service, one of the crew comes to me in tears. They can’t face these children that have been ripped from their families.
“...We are trained yearly in hundreds of possible scenarios as attendants. Something like this isn’t remotely one of those. I had only met one of my crew a few years earlier, the rest never. Thank God, we had one another to lean on to not only get through the flight, but also maybe some glimmer of hope for those babies.”
The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA) confirmed that the Facebook post was real, and written by a flight attendant.
AFA-CWA International President Sara Nelson, said: “As aviation’s first responders flight attendants are charged with the safety, health, and security of the passengers in our care. ...When we see someone in distress we are moved to help them. ...Some flight attendants are struggling with the question of participating in a process that they feel deeply is immoral.”
THE DEMAND FOR DECENT WORK IN ONTARIO AIN’T OVER TILL IT’S OVER. That was the message thousands flooded into downtown Toronto to deliver to the brand new Doug Ford government in Ontario, just nine days after his June 7 victory.
The rally put Ford on notice: there would be no backsliding. The important labour law reforms in 2018 that came with the passage of Bill 148: Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act must be honoured.
“The people of Ontario expect a $15 minimum wage on January 1, 2019 and you can see from the crowd that I am not alone,” said Yvette LeClair, a Toronto worker.
PHOTO: Jasmin Ngan