Labour and education in the news

Below are recent news stories on labour and education related issues.  Click the headline to be taken to the article. Some may require a subscription.

June 18, 2019

Western University apologizes for musician's convocation speech that degraded women
The London Free Press
Western University’s president has issued an apology for “unacceptable” comments made by a Grammy-nominated music producer who received an honorary degree at the school’s graduation ceremony Monday.

Ignoring own recent history, York University refuses to bargain seriously with student employees; CUPE 1356-2 forced to request conciliation
The Union representing part-time student parking, Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) camera operators and GoSafe (walk-home program) escorts at York University warned today that their employer is ignoring their own recent history of catastrophic labour relations by refusing to seriously negotiate with their workers.

Education minister walks back earlier statement on Alberta GSA protections
Education Minister Adriana LaGrange says a statement released late last week about privacy protections for Alberta students in gay-straight alliances relative to those in other provinces did not signal a change in her government's position.

Top engineering university to open jobs exclusively to women
The Guardian
Job vacancies at one of Europe’s leading engineering universities will be open exclusively to female candidates for at least the next 18 months in order to overcome the institution’s “implicit gender bias”.

The Kenney administration recently introduced the Public Sector Wage Arbitration Deferral Act, or Bill 9, a piece of legislation that will allow the Alberta provincial government to break public contracts and defer upcoming union talks. The bill will affect tens of thousands of provincial employees, including those in essential services such as teachers, nurses, and hospital support staff, as well as social workers, librarians, food inspectors, and others. This action comes less than a month after an email sent out last month by Athana Mentzelopoulos, deputy minister for Alberta Treasury Board and Finance, warned that the United Conservative Party (UCP) government “is considering all available options up to and including legislation” in order to delay upcoming wage arbitration. The email was received by several prominent public sector trade unions such as the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE), the Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA), and the United Nurses of Alberta (UNA).

Canadians report far higher job satisfaction and engagement than global averages
Globe and Mail
Canada is home to some of the most satisfied and engaged workers in the world.

Alberta Health Services removed proposal for discrimination investigator from report on women in medical leadership
Globe and Mail
Alberta Health Services deleted a key recommendation that called for an independent investigator to review incidents of discrimination from a report on the experience of women in medical leadership, says a physician who was an adviser on the study.

AFL-CIO’s Richard Trumka laughs at Trump's suggestion unions love new trade deal
President Donald Trump has repeatedly said unions are supportive of the new North American trade pact, as he ramps up his push for Congress to approve the deal this summer. But the head of America's largest labor organization thinks Trump's claim is laughable.

New Federal Bill Would Make It Easier to Join a Union
A record number of workers in the United States decided to go on strike in 2018. Now congressional Democrats are trying to harness that momentum to pass a massive labor reform bill that would make it easier for workers to join unions and collectively bargain.

India – ‘Archaic labour law must be scrapped’ Indian Staffing Federation says
Staffing Industry
The number of people in formal employment in India will grow only if the country’s archaic labour regulations, are fully scrapped, the Indian Staffing Federation said, adding that the laws are irrelevant in today’s context.

June 17, 2019

University welcomes $10 million gift, new graduate school
UM Today
The University of Manitoba has received a transformational gift to the Front and Centre campaign that will enhance the I.H. Asper School of Business’ role as a leader in business education and research.

Ford government shouldn't try to modernize education while cutting funding, new report warns
A new report from an education advocacy group warns the Ford government against reducing funding while aiming to modernize the school system.

Punishing Alleged Violations of Tenure, Academic Freedom and Governance
Inside Higher Ed
The American Association of University Professors voted to censure two institutions for alleged violations of academic freedom and tenure at its annual meeting Saturday in Washington. It sanctioned a third administration for deviating from AAUP-supported norms of shared governance.

Canadians Celebrate Tax Freedom Day on June 14, 2019
Fraser Institute
In 2019, the average Canadian family will earn $117,731 in income and pay an estimated $52,675 in total taxes (44.7%).

National strike in Brazil
Canadian Labour Congress
Canadian workers stand in solidarity with Brazilian trade unions protesting government pension policies that weaken workers’ rights.

Why the UAW Lost Again in Chattanooga
Labor Notes
It was a bad sign. On the day voting began at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the shift change suddenly turned blue.

June 14, 2019

Government of Canada and public service unions finalize agreement to compensate federal employees impacted by the Phoenix pay system
Government of Canada
June 13, 2019 – Ottawa, Ontario – Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
Today, the Government of Canada and 15 public service unions finalized a joint agreement to compensate more than 146,000 current and former employees who may have been impacted by the Phoenix pay system.

About 2,400 Ontario public servants take province's voluntary buyout
CTV News
About 2,400 Ontario public servants are taking voluntary buyouts, the Progressive Conservative government announced Thursday, saying the departures will help the province tackle a multibillion-dollar deficit.

Unions vow to ‘fight back’ as Alberta lawmakers introduce bill that strips bargaining rights
The Star
The leaders of Alberta’s public sector unions promised Thursday to fight back after the province introduced a bill to strip away some bargaining rights from an estimated 200,000 workers.

Unions angry merger votes held during hospital upheaval
Winnipeg Free Press
Manitoba’s health-care unions will compete this summer to represent more than 40,000 workers, as the Progressive Conservative government’s forced amalgamation of bargaining units unfolds.

Children's Minnesota nurses voting on strike authorization
MPR News
Rank and file members of the union that represents roughly 1,500 nurses Children's Minnesota facilities in St. Paul and Minneapolis are voting Thursday on a contract offer from the health system. The workers could accept the deal, reject it, or both reject it and authorize a strike.

Indian doctors to widen strike demanding improved safety after attack
Cape Breton Post
KOLKATA/NEW DELHI (Reuters) - A leading Indian doctors' association called for a nationwide strike on Monday, stepping up protests by medical staff demanding better security at hospitals after an attack on doctors in Kolkata.

Swiss women go on strike over inequality
Women are going on strike across Switzerland on Friday, demanding an end to an equality gap that is far wider than in many other western European countries.

The Trump administration is waging a quiet war on education
The Guardian
erhaps nothing illustrates the perverse nature of Donald Trump’s administration better than his approach to the regulatory state. In Trump’s America, those most zealously dedicated to unraveling federal oversight are in charge of the government, racing to shred laws as quickly as they can.

June 13, 2019

Human Resources releases 2018 annual report
UM Today
What does our university work environment look like? Who makes up the employee population and how are we supporting employees throughout their career?

Introducing our new logo
UM Today
Universities have stories to tell: about who they are, their values, their priorities. At the University of Manitoba, we are all a part of that story, and our visual identity—the look and feel of the materials we produce—provides us with a recognizable vehicle with which to express ourselves and connect with those who care about us and the work we do.

Every child left behind: How education cuts fuel inequality
The college admissions scandal in the U.S. has led to a flurry of stories over the past few months about the cheating rich: investigations into how the system is defrauded, op-eds about class privilege and entitlement. There are shame lists of those who have pleaded guilty, and calls for jail terms. Canadian universities, meanwhile, have rushed to point out that not only has this kind of straight-up cheating not happened here, but our system is more broadly accessible and less swayed by elite extracurriculars and Ivy League-worthy social experiences.

Ottawa to launch ‘pay experiments’ as next step to replace Phoenix pay system
The Star
The federal government could soon revert to using multiple pay systems to replace the Phoenix system it adopted more than three years ago in a costly, failed attempt to streamline how it pays its employees.

Liberals prepare to spend $50M on social-finance plan, but no strategy for now
The Star
The Liberals made their first $50-million move Wednesday in a plan to finance experimental ways to deliver social services, intending to help small social-service organizations understand how to apply for a much bigger pot of money starting next year.

Federal pharmacare report backs $15-billion universal, single-payer system
The Globe and Mail
Canada should adopt a universal, single-payer public pharmacare program that does for prescription drugs what medicare did for services provided in hospitals and doctors’ offices, according to a new advisory council report.

Addressing Canada’s worker shortage requires a broad-based approach
The Globe and Mail
When asked about the most significant constraints on their businesses’ growth, more than 40 per cent of small and mid-sized employers cite a shortage of qualified employees. The issue has been a long-standing concern, but since the middle of 2017, the problem has been the most significant on the list, according to CFIB’s monthly Business Barometer.

Kenney government to bring in bill to alter union wage deals
Global News
Alberta’s United Conservative government has formally served notice it is bringing in legislation to override bargained contract agreements and delay wage talks for thousands of public-sector workers.

Doug Ford’s workplace safety changes undermine role of unions
The Star
The move by the province to “protect” workers by instituting digital methods for filing workplace complaints is another tactic in suppressing unions that already advocate for fair wages, fair work shifts, health and safety.

Parks Canada employee union wants more supports for wardens
Rocky Mountain Outlook
BANFF – The union representing Parks Canada employees is pushing for an appropriate mental health support program for national park law enforcement wardens.

Uber Eats delivery staff in Japan to launch labor union as they dispute their 'contractor' status
The Japan Times
Food delivery staff working in Japan for ride-hailing company Uber Technologies Inc. said Wednesday they plan to form a labor union in a bid to improve what they see as disadvantageous treatment for being classified as independent contractors rather than employees.

June 12, 2019

Transit union president bolsters local negotiation efforts
Winnipeg Free Press
Winnipeg’s transit union brought its top gun to city hall Tuesday morning.

Transit union raises new contract concerns with City
CTV News
The Amalgamated Transit Union raised concerns Tuesday about ongoing contract negotiations with the City of Winnipeg.

Alberta eyes legislation if necessary to override public sector wage talks
Global News
Alberta’s finance minister says the government will pass legislation if necessary to override collective bargaining agreements with unions and delay contractually mandated wage talks.

Strike mandate for unionized city workers: Sudbury
CTV News
Municipal workers with the City of Greater Sudbury represented by CUPE Local 4705 have voted in favour of a strike mandate in its contract negotiations.

Breaking public sector contracts an option for new UCP government
Alberta public sector unions have been warned that the government is contemplating legislation to break their contracts by delaying a reopening of wage talks until it gets advice from a panel on the province's finances.

Workers at the Guggenheim Museum in New York Move to Unionize
Around ninety art handlers, maintenance workers, light installers, and other staffers who are involved with the production of exhibitions at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York are taking steps to unionize. Citing low wages and raise rates as a reason for the move, workers intend to join IUOE Local 30, which also represents staffers at the Museum of Modern Art, and filed a petition with the institution last week.

Pushed to ‘breaking point’: French ER workers on strike
France 24
French emergency room workers protested Tuesday against a chronic staff shortage that they say is pushing hospitals to breaking point and putting patients’ lives at risk.

University of Waterloo research centre closing after losing cancer society funding
The Record
A University of Waterloo research centre focused on prevention of cancer and other chronic diseases is set to close at the end of the month after its funding was not renewed by the Canadian Cancer Society, ending a nearly 30-year partnership.

Wage cap ‘a race to the bottom’
North Bay Nugget
A planned provincial wage cap only “hastens a race to the bottom for contract faculty,” according to the president of the Nipissing University Faculty Association.

Is French immersion creating a 2-tiered education system?
Does French immersion create a two-tiered education system in which privileged kids learn French while newcomers and students with learning challenges wind up in English-only programs?

‘Unequal Higher Education’
Inside Higher Ed
Large gaps separate the haves and have-nots in American higher education, whether talking about students, instructors or institutions. A new book, Unequal Higher Education: Wealth, Status and Student Opportunity (Rutgers University Press), focuses on these gaps and their impact on students.

Universities urged to hire staff to investigate sexual harassment
The Guardian
Universities should hire specialist staff to investigate hate crimes and sexual harassment against their students, according to a report commissioned by the higher education regulator for England.

Free Speech on Campus Is Doing Just Fine, Thank You
The Atlantic
Earlier this year, President Donald Trump signed an executive order requiring colleges and universities that receive federal funds to do what they’re already required by law to do: extend free-speech protections to men and women on campus.

June 11, 2019

Canada Signs Historic Post-Secondary Education Agreement with Métis Nation
The Minister of Indigenous Services, Seamus O’Regan, and the President of the Métis National Council, Clément Chartier, signed a historic agreement today that signals the Government of Canada’s commitment to providing post-secondary education supports for Métis Nation students across Canada.

Evolving the U of M brand
To the University of Manitoba community,
I’m pleased to share an update with you about our brand initiative.

A Pride to remember
In alliance with Pride Winnipeg, the University of Manitoba celebrated the 2SLGBTQ+ community and the diversity that thrives on its campuses May 27 to June 2 through ceremony, events and participation in one of Manitoba’s largest festivals.

A pledge to ‘listen and engage’
June 3, 2019 —
Anne Mahon, the 14th Chancellor of the University Manitoba, was officially installed at a ceremony this morning in UMSU University Centre.

The war to free science
The 27,500 scientists who work for the University of California generate 10 percent of all the academic research papers published in the United States.

We Don’t Trust Course Evaluations, But Are Peer Observations of Teaching Much Better?
Chronicle Vitae
Student evaluations of my spring English composition course arrived the other day, and I read them with the usual stew of satisfaction, frustration, and puzzlement. The numbers looked good, and I heard plenty of praise. But, as always seems to happen, the same teaching technique inspired completely contradictory reactions.

After One-Day Strike, New Jersey District Settles Teacher Contract
NBC New York
A New Jersey school district that canceled classes on Monday after teachers went on strike over issues including health care costs, reached a contract agreement with its educators overnight after the one-day strike.

Universities condemn ‘catastrophic’ plan to link fees to graduate pay
The Guardian
cademics are warning it would be “despicable” if the government went ahead with recommendations to cut funding for some arts and humanities degrees on the basis that they don’t net big salaries for graduates.

Lebanon university strike threatens students’ futures
BEIRUT — Professors at the Lebanese University have been striking for a month, with no end in sight, over proposed plans to not only cut the wages of the teachers, but also other parts of the budget of Lebanon’s only public university.

New data show thousands of Ontario companies violating country’s toughest anti-harassment law
The Globe and Mail
Ontario restaurants were the worst offenders following the implementation of the country’s toughest anti-harassment law, which for the first time included requirements to investigate sexual harassment complaints.

Teachers don’t need unions to get a raise
Washington Examiner
Public schools captured the nation’s attention over the past school year thanks to massive “walk-outs” in five states, where teachers went on strike for higher wages. With the school year coming to an end, it’s time to call out the real obstacle to higher teacher wages — unions.

New production of Strike! brings a few twists
Winnipeg Free Press
Fourteen years after its world premiere and 100 years after the labour uprising it’s based on, Strike! The Musical returns to Winnipeg this month.

Manitoba pre-election blackout will start Wednesday
Manitoba will trigger its pre-election blackout on Wednesday, according to an internal email sent by the province to civil servants Monday.

Payroll system change that will delay July pay for CFS workers is 'frankly quite ridiculous': CUPE
Child and Family Services support workers from Winnipeg and the Eastman region are calling foul over changes to their payroll system that will see some paid less than half of what they were expecting next month.

LETTER: Support unions
Guardian PEI
Recent events of strikes from the labour movement give us cause for concern. In P.E.I. and now in Ontario, the plumbers, pipefitters, and welders were forced to strike for better wages and benefits. During those bitter cold days, the NDP P.E.I. members came to the support of Local 721, bringing them cookies, coffee, and even cash, then walking beside them with our flag and waving for support.

The Marriott Strike Helped Grow The Largest Hotel Workers Union
Huffington Post
A labor union representing Marriott workers says it’s building off the success of a large strike last year to add new members inside the world’s largest hotel chain.

Hong Kong braces for unprecedented strikes over extradition bill
BNN Bloomberg
Hong Kong braced for rare strikes and further protests amid an escalating standoff over a controversial bill that would allow extraditions to mainland China.