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.

November 20, 2019

U of Manitoba salary negotiations swept off the table by wage-freeze bill, former union head tells court
The provincial government's wage-freeze legislation stymied salary bargaining between University of Manitoba administration and the union representing some professors in 2017 — despite the fact the bill has, to date, not been proclaimed into law, the union's former president testified in court Tuesday.

MFL statement on the Pallister government's throne speech
Manitoba Federation of Labour
Working families will be disappointed with today's throne speech.

Province targets infrastructure bump, post-secondary accountability in throne speech
Winnipeg Free Press
The Progressive Conservative government is moving to implement much of its election campaign platform, setting dates for some promised tax cuts and pledging action to make Winnipeg's streets safer.

CN workers picket at Symington yards on first day of national strike
Winnipeg Free Press
Striking Canadian National Railway workers picketed outside Winnipeg's Symington rail yard Tuesday morning, joining the first day of a national strike by more than 3,000 CN employees.

Strike Information
Teamsters Canada Rail Conference
I’m sure that you are all aware that the CN CTY went on strike today at 0001 EST.

Why are CN rail workers striking and what do they want?
Global News
Thousands of workers with Canada’s largest rail network are on strike.

Bill 21 turns free and open PSE collective bargaining into a fettered and secret process
In late October, the Kenney government introduced Bill 21 (Ensuring Fiscal Sustainability Act, 2019), Tucked away at the back of Bill 21 is the entirely new Public Sector Employers Act (PSEA). The PSEA gives the government new powers to intervene directly into the collective bargaining process between specified government agencies, boards, and commissions (ABCs), including Athabasca University’s Board of Governors, and the unions that represent employees, including AUFA, AUPE, and CUPE.

Thompson Rivers University violated professor’s academic freedom with suspension, CAUT report says
The Globe and Mail
Thompson Rivers University violated the academic freedom of a professor who criticized his colleagues for publishing in low-quality journals, an investigation by the Canadian Association of University Teachers has found.

Statistics Canada seeks feedback on postsecondary policies
Canadian HR Reporter
Statistics Canada is asking the public for feedback to fill data gaps on equity, diversity and inclusion in postsecondary institutions that can help in the development of policies and programs in support of faculty members and researchers.

Research assistants launch unionization campaign in search of better pay and working conditions
The Peak
“Research is work!” states the slogan of the campaign for SFU’s Research Assistant’s to unionize with the Teaching Support Staff Union (TSSU).

Hong Kong protesters’ attempted sewer escape from university thwarted by firefighters
The Globe and Mail
Some anti-government protesters trapped inside a Hong Kong university on Wednesday tried to flee through the sewers, where one student said she saw snakes, but firemen prevented further escape bids by blocking a manhole into the system.

Education support workers at Regina Public Schools reach an impasse
Global News
The union representing education support workers at Regina Public Schools has filed for an impasse after bargaining for over two years on a new contract.

Education minister offers mediation as teacher strikes edge closer
The London Free Press
Education Minister Stephen Lecce called on Ontario’s major teachers’ unions to enter into mediation Monday, as one took another step toward a potential strike and another voted overwhelmingly in favour of one.

Help preserve our apprenticeship system
Manitoba Federation of Labour
Dear Sisters, Brothers and Friends,

Manitoba’s apprenticeship system plays a key role in training workers to be skilled at their trades and ensuring safety on the job while doing it.

We have been concerned for some time that the Pallister government would look at weakening our apprenticeship system, and they have released a “consultation” survey which raises a number of concerns about their plans. We need to push back as a labour movement to ensure that our apprenticeship system is made stronger, not weaker.

The Manitoba Building Trades have put together a helpful document to help guide responses to the survey. We encourage you to fill out this survey and use the attached document to guide your responses.

You can fill out the survey by clicking the link below.

CLOSING DATE: November 22, 2019

In solidarity,

Kevin Rebeck

President, Manitoba Federation of Labour

Solidarity with Teamsters Canada Rail - strike details!
Manitoba Federation of Labour
Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC), a new affiliate of the Manitoba Federation of Labour, is exercising its legal right to strike against Canadian National Railway (CN).
The union is fighting for badly needed health and safety improvements. For example, CN currently requires TCRC members to operate trains alone from outside of the locomotive, hanging on to moving trains with one hand while operating a remotely controlled locomotive with the other. Railroaders are expected to do this in rain and in freezing temperatures, sometimes for distances of up to about 17 miles. The union’s demands to cease these dangerous practices have fallen on deaf ears and the company has refused to come to a satisfactory agreement at the negotiations table to adjust their operating practices in the interest of safety.
Please show your solidarity by joining our brothers and sisters on the picket line at one of the two following locations (24/7):
1.       Symington Yard- 821 Lagimodiere Boulevard
2.       Winnipeg Intermodal Terminal Gate -560 Plessis Road  
In solidarity,
Kevin Rebeck
Manitoba Federation of Labour

November 19, 2019

Opening shots fired in Manitoba wage-control bill court battle
Winnipeg Free Press
A public-sector wage-control bill passed by the Manitoba legislative assembly two years ago is not yet law and "may never become law," according to a lawyer defending the government in a court challenge launched by organized labour.

Trial begins in court battle over province’s public-sector wage freeze
CTV News
A lawyer representing the Manitoba Federation of Labour and 28 public-sector unions argued the Manitoba government’s wage-freeze bill should be declared unconstitutional, as a trial over the legislation began Monday morning in a Winnipeg courtroom.

Manitoba throne speech likely to focus on small tax cuts, campaign promises
Winnipeg Free Press
Manitoba's Progressive Conservative government is to lay out its plans for the coming year in a throne speech at the legislature this afternoon.

Stop the Cuts to Winnipeg Transit - Community Forum
The City of Winnipeg's proposed budget includes several cuts to Winnipeg Transit. Transit riders, workers and advocates know that the City needs to be investing more in Winnipeg Transit and not less. Please join us for a Community Forum as we talk about the impact of the cuts, how we can fight back in the short term and work to present an alternative to the status quo.

Grain shippers worried about strike as feds urge CN and union to continue talks
Winnipeg Free Press
Grain shippers are concerned about the impact of a strike by about 3,200 Canadian National Railway Co. workers in an already tough harvest year.

More than 3,000 CN workers on strike, shutting down Canada’s biggest rail network
The Globe and Mail
More than 3,000 Canadian National Railway Co. train operators went on strike just past midnight on Tuesday morning, shutting down Canada’s largest rail network.

Arbitration Update
We have now completed 35 days of hearings. There are 4 dates scheduled for December; 3rd, 6th, 19th and 20th. Canada Post has used 15 hearing dates so far. When the Arbitrator asked about how much longer they need to complete their case, the answer from their counsel was vague. He never really answered the question but stated they think they have 3 or 4 more witnesses to go.

MEC staff 'over the moon' after Victoria workers vote to unionize
The staff at Victoria's Mountain Equipment Co-op have voted to join a union, amid allegations management tried to derail the vote by using "scare tactics" about the company's financial situation.

PSAC marks 20th anniversary of pay equity victory
Twenty years ago, on October 29, 1999, PSAC won a long-running battle with Treasury Board over pay equity for federal public service workers. The union’s victory resulted in retroactive pay and interest payouts to some 230,000 PSAC members and former members totaling $3 billion. Salaries for various female-dominated classifications were also adjusted to adequately reflect the principle of equal pay for work of equal value.

Teachers union the latest group to sue Quebec over religious symbols ban
A federation of unions representing 45,000 teachers in Quebec is suing the provincial government over its ban on the wearing of religious symbols by many public employees.

250 jobs being eliminated at University of Calgary following 2019 Alberta budget
Global News
The University of Calgary is cutting 250 positions as it works to deal with budget shortfalls the school said are the result of the UCP government’s first provincial budget.

Post-secondary students descend upon Alberta legislature to protest UCP cuts
Global News
Post-secondary students from the University of Alberta and MacEwan University marched from their respective campuses to the Alberta legislature Monday, raising concerns over provincial budget cuts.

November 18, 2019

Manitoba Metis Federation signs 10-year, $90-million post-secondary funding deal with Ottawa
Métis students who want to go to university will now have access to a multi-million-dollar program that will pay for their tuition.

Edmonton university students planning rally against UCP cuts to post-secondary education
Global News
Spending decisions in last month’s provincial budget are the driving force behind next week’s planned protest by university students at the Alberta legislature in Edmonton.

UNBC-FA Bargaining update (Nov. 14)
Dear Colleagues, We worked last night and early this morning to table a proposal at 10:30am that we believe addressed all the Employer’s concerns from yesterday’s bargaining. After receiving the proposal, the Employer’s team caucused at 11:42am to deliberate for the remainder of the day. The Employer contacted us at 7:47pm to tell us that they continue to work on a settlement offer through the night and will have a proposal for us tomorrow (Friday) at 10:00am. Given the duration of their deliberations, we are confident that they are taking our concerns seriously and will address our substantive differences in the next proposal.

Classics for the people
A Classical education was never just for the elite, but was a precious and inspiring part of working-class British life

Union-province showdown begins Monday
Winnipeg Free Press
Manitobans are a friendly people, and we tend to want to work together to find solutions to problems we face.

Government unions to fight wage freeze in court
Winnipeg Free Press
After launching a court challenge of a government-imposed wage freeze in 2017, unions that represent more than 110,000 public-sector workers in Manitoba will finally get their day in court.

CN union gives Tuesday strike notice amid weekend contract talks
Canadian National (CN) conductors, train persons and yard persons have given strike notice ahead of a Tuesday deadline.

Manitoba Liberals say workplace death plea deal shows province isn’t serious about worker safety
Thompson Citizen
The Manitoba Liberal Party and the father of a man killed in a workplace accident in a Manitoba Hydro marshalling yard near Gillam in 2018 say a plea deal with the company that employed him at the time shows that the provincial government isn’t taking workplace health and safety seriously enough.

Province, Hydro pressed for details
Winnipeg Free Press
The family of a 22-year-old man killed while working on a Manitoba Hydro site nearly two years ago says it is still waiting for answers about the circumstances of his death.

WHAT HAPPENED? Family seeks truth behind son’s death on the job
Winnipeg Sun
The family of a worker killed on a job site while building a transmission line for Manitoba Hydro is asking for the truth about how he died and changes to make sure it does not happen again.

Killed on the job: Family demands answers, increased protections for workers after death of young man
CTV News
The family of a man killed on the job in Northern Manitoba is looking for answers

Unions warn that Kenney government is about to weaken workplace safety protections as part of so-called “Red Tape Review”
Alberta Federation of Labour
The Kenney government is considering dropping or weakening many workplace health and safety (OHS) protections because it views them as red tape, the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) has learned.

Uber Fined $649 Million for Saying Drivers Aren’t Employees
The New York Times
New Jersey has demanded that Uber pay $649 million for years of unpaid employment taxes for its drivers, arguing that the ride-hailing company has misclassified the workers as independent contractors and not as employees.

Labour manifesto to promise dramatic shift in workers' rights
The Guardian
Labour’s manifesto will reaffirm plans for the most dramatic shift in conditions for employees in Britain since the 1980s – including changing the way wages are set for 20 million workers.

November 15, 2019

Abe Araya Elected as President of CUPE Manitoba
Delegates at the 2019 CUPE Manitoba Convention in Brandon elected Abe Araya as President of the province’s largest union. Abe Araya comes from CUPE Local 110, representing custodians, maintenance, and painters at the Winnipeg School Division.

Arbitration for P.E.I. health-care unions fighting vaccinate-or-mask flu policy
Four unions representing more than 4,000 health care workers in the province are asking that grievances over Health PEI's flu shot mask policy go to arbitration.

Province's public survey on employment rules sparks union backlash
Edmonton Journal
The provincial government is exploring potential changes to provincial employment standards — including vacation time, holiday pay, youth employment and termination notices — by launching a public engagement survey, it announced in a Thursday news release.

An organizing dilemma
Clarence worked at a vegan restaurant in Montreal for ten years as a line cook and expeditor, before leaving last month. While there, he participated in an organizing campaign, first with the IWW, then with the CSN – Confédération des Syndicats Nationaux, the second-largest trade union confederation in Quebec. Once the union was certified, Clarence was elected to the bargaining committee and helped negotiate their first collective agreement, in June 2018.

Progress apparent, UNBC Faculty Association president says
Prince George Citizen
The head of the University of Northern British Columbia Faculty Association expressed a glimmer of hope Thursday that progress is being made the ongoing labour dispute between the university and its striking faculty.

Ontario’s student unions respond to Student Choice Initiative fallout
University Affairs
The summer months are usually a time when students disconnect from school-related worries, but that wasn’t the case this year for Bilal Khan, president of Brock University’s Students’ Union. While their peers worked summer jobs or took vacations, Mr. Khan and his colleagues spent time at the drawing board, rethinking their plan for the year ahead. With the announcement of the Ontario government’s Student Choice Initiative (SCI) in January, a shift in funding that would impact many services for postsecondary students was underway.

Teachers’ federation, province reach impasse in collective bargaining
CTV News
Neither side is talking about job action yet, but the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation has declared it has reached an impasse in collective bargaining with the Saskatchewan Government.

Ontario elementary teachers to start work-to-rule campaign Nov. 26
Ontario’s elementary teachers will start a work-to-rule campaign on Nov. 26 that they say will not affect students, but is just the first phase in potentially escalating job action.

Province lifting moratorium to grow community colleges
North Bay Nugget
Canadore College intends to follow a new provincial policy that could see more international students attend Ontario colleges.

Alex Trebek increasing donation to University of Ottawa to hit $10M total
CTV News
The University of Ottawa will take donations for $10 million, Alex.

American universities terminating Hong Kong study abroad programs early
USA Today
Georgetown University's student-run newspaper, The Hoya, announced in a tweet on Thursday that students studying in Hong Kong this semester would be coming home due to protests in the territory.