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. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for article text.

July 18, 2024

Mennonite university adds social work program
Winnipeg Free Press
MANITOBANS who want to study to become social workers have another option in the province through Canadian Mennonite University.

Reforms needed to address antisemitism at Canadian universities
Winnipeg Free Press
Canada’s Jewish community is investing vast resources into defending itself against the anti-Israel “encampment” movement on university campuses from coast to coast, including Winnipeg. But universities have not been listening to our reactive strategies, signalling that it may be time to rethink our approach.

Encampment at University of Guelph ends, school to review endowment portfolio
The University of Guelph says an encampment set up on campus in May has ended peacefully and all tents and structures associated have been removed.

Amid backlash over pro-Palestinian student deals, UWindsor reaches out to Jewish groups
Windsor Star
In the midst of backlash from Jewish groups for its deals with pro-Palestinian protesters, the University of Windsor said it will work on agreements with Jewish stakeholders and create a “toolkit” to combat antisemitism.

NSCAD students have two ways to tell union how they feel about demands, potential strike action
The Coast
On Monday July 15, the Student Union of Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (SUNSCAD) emailed all members of the union requesting their participation in a survey released the same day.

Concordia University loses attempt to have tuition increase suspended
The Gazette
A Quebec Superior Court judge has ruled against a request by Concordia University to suspend the provincial government’s tuition increases for out-of-province and international students until the university’s challenge to the changes can be heard.

'Just fly a drone over': Suggestion on encampment response at U of T Council meeting sparks privacy concerns for protesters, advocates
CTV News
A suggestion by a University of Toronto Governing Council member to deploy drones and facial recognition on encampment participants and seek financial reparations from "bad actors" within the movement has sparked concern among protesters and privacy advocates.

Student protesters vow 'complete shutdown' in Bangladesh as clashes escalate
CTV News
Police clashed Thursday with student protesters attempting to impose a “complete shutdown” in Bangladesh’s capital, following days of violent confrontations during demonstrations over a system of allocating government jobs.

Fighting for academic freedom, profs challenge FL's ‘Stop WOKE’ Act
Public News Service
Advocates for academic freedom are battling in court against Florida's claim a professor's speech is government speech, allowing them to prevent criticism of the governor.

The ‘PhD influencers’ logging lab life on TikTok and Instagram
In January 2023, Lindsay Ejoh posted a TikTok video of her work dissecting a frozen mouse brain. In it, the neuroscience PhD student uses a bladed machine to cut paper-thin tissue slices that she’ll later examine with a microscope. She also complains about the hour she spent trying to get the machine to work. The post racked up an impressive 5,000 views and dozens of comments. “What a cool life you lead,” wrote one user.

They Used to Say Arabs Can’t Have Democracy Because It’d Be Bad for Israel. Now the U.S. Can’t Have It Either.
The Intercept
There’s an adage among observers of American Middle East policy that suggests the Arab world can’t have democracy because it would be bad for Israel. Arab publics favor the Palestinians, the thinking goes, and will vote in governments that act accordingly — and that is a no-go zone.

Departed CEO made $603K, only worked 4 months for Manitoba Shared Health last year
The former CEO of Shared Health saw his pay exceed $600,000 last year — a nearly 83 per cent increase from the prior year — despite only working for four months before his unexpected departure from the provincial health-care organization.

U.S. weekly unemployment claims increase more than expected, but no material shift in labour market
Globe and Mail
The number of Americans filing new applications for unemployment benefits rose more than expected last week, but there has been no material shift in the labour market and the data is typically noisy in July because of summer breaks and temporary factory closures.

U.S. union organizing, unions’ election win rate surging, labour board says
Globe and Mail
U.S. unions are filing petitions to hold elections and winning them at rates not seen in decades, according to data released by the National Labour Relations Board on Wednesday, likely a reflection of the agency’s adoption of policies favoured by unions during the Biden administration.

Iran: Labor Activist Sentenced to Death
Human Rights Watch
Iran’s Revolutionary Court has sentenced a labor activist to death on a charge of “armed rebellion against the state,” based on an allegation of membership in an opposition group, Human Rights Watch said today. The court on July 4, 2024, communicated the verdict against Sharifeh Mohammedi to her husband, Sirous Fathi, Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) reported.

July 17, 2024

Passing of Chris McCann, AESES President
It is with heavy heart that we inform you of the passing of Chris McCann, AESES President. Chris passed away unexpectedly early Sunday morning at his residence. Our thoughts are with Chris’ loved ones, and we extend our heartfelt condolences to them. For now, we kindly ask that you respect the privacy of Chris’ family during this difficult time.

B.C. caps international post-secondary student enrolment at 30 per cent of total
Globe and Mail
British Columbia’s government has introduced new guidelines for public post-secondary education institutions, capping the number of international students at 30 per cent of their total enrolment.

YUFA calls upon members to vote YES for a strong strike mandate!
On July 12, the Employer requested a “no board report” in the early stages of bargaining, just days after YUFA had finished presenting its main proposals package. This sudden move has triggered a countdown to a potential summer strike/lockdown position which deviates from past bargaining practices.

President of FAMU resigns after multi-million dollar donation debacle
NBC6 South Florida
The president of Florida’s only public historically Black university is resigning amid backlash over the school’s apparent failure to properly vet a multi-million dollar donation from a dubious donor.

Michigan State University's tenure-system faculty say school is stonewalling union
Lansing State Journal
Nearly eight months after seeking union recognition, tenure-system faculty say Michigan State University officials still have not recognized their bargaining unit.

Bangladesh shuts universities, colleges indefinitely but protests mount
Police in Bangladesh fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse students protesting against the government's job quota system on Wednesday, a day after violent clashes left six people dead and scores injured.

Number of federal workers hits new high in 2024, but pace of growth slows ahead of planned cuts
Globe and Mail
The number of workers in Canada’s federal public service climbed to a new high this year, but the pace of growth was the slowest in seven years as the government moves to curb spending after a surge of hiring during the pandemic.

Air Canada hit by court ruling after ex-maintenance workers sue
BNN Bloomberg
Air Canada may be forced to pay at least $100 million (US$73.2 million) to about 2,200 former workers after a Quebec court issued a ruling in their class-action lawsuit against the airline.

Cities Want To Give Workers Heat Breaks. States Are Stopping Them.
Next City
This summer’s most recent heat wave has broken temperature records in nearly 50 cities across the southeast. As these blistering temperatures move east, cities across the Northeast are bracing for triple digits while Houston residents are preparing for scorching heat without power. Millions of Americans are suffering under a heat advisory, meaning that exposure to the elements for just an hour or two could severely impact their health. Across the country, cities are encouraging residents to stay inside and are opening up cooling centers wherever possible to help prevent deadly heat stroke.

New survey finds over one-third of U.S. workers live paycheck to paycheck
Louisiana Radio Network
A new report from consumer financial services company Bankrate found 34% of U.S. workers say they’re living paycheck to paycheck on their current salary. Bankrate analyst Sarah Foster said the study focused on workers because they’re the group most impacted by the inflated cost of living.

Prime Day means injuries for almost half of Amazon warehouse workers, Senate investigation finds
This year’s Amazon AMZN, -3.20% Prime Day, which spans Tuesday and Wednesday, is predicted to attract over 40% of American shoppers. For the company, the annual sale event leads to massive revenue. For warehouse workers, it leads to injuries, lawmakers say.

Project 2025: Eliminate Unions
Labor Notes
Corporate backers of the Trump campaign have tipped their hand. In “Project 2025: Presidential Transition Project,” the Heritage Foundation unveiled its 900-page wish list for a new Trump presidency and a compliant Supreme Court.

Italian unions push for human rights in future World Cup hosting decisions
Building and Wood Workers International
BWI’s leading Italian trade union affiliates Fillea Cgil, Filca Cisl, and Feneal Uil recently met with the leaders of the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) to discuss the importance of awarding and managing the FIFA World Cup in countries that respect human rights and ensure workers' rights and protections in infrastructure projects.

King’s Speech sets out plans to start mending broken public services
Commenting on the government’s planned programme of legislation set out in the King’s Speech today (Wednesday), UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: “These bills are the start of the long process to mend much of what’s been broken by Conservative governments and generate the growth to get public services thriving once more.

July 16, 2024

Pro-Palestinian camp vacates U of M after legal threat
Winnipeg Free Press
A pro-Palestinian encampment on University of Manitoba grounds has been dismantled after 70 days after school administration threatened organizers with legal action.

TRU asks for faculty's judicial review petition to be dismissed
Thompson Rivers University has responded to its faculty members' request for a judicial review of the decision to close visual arts programs earlier this year, asking a B.C. Supreme Court judge to dismiss the faculty's petition with costs.

Vancouver Island University sues Gaza protesters as deadline to leave expires
Globe and Mail
Vancouver Island University says it has “regrettably” launched legal action against pro-Palestinian protesters, who it says ignored a trespass notice and a deadline to leave their encampment at the campus in Nanaimo, B.C.

UBC looking into professor’s social media post after Trump rally shooting
Globe and Mail
The University of British Columbia says it is “aware” of a social media post that was apparently made by a professor at its faculty of medicine shortly after the attempted assassination of former U.S. president Donald Trump.

Unions at the University of Windsor sends letter to Board of Governors regarding recent cuts
A number of unions at the University of Windsor have sent a letter to the Board of Governors regarding cuts that may impact the schools reputation.

Laurentian University ratifies new collective agreement with staff union
A new collective agreement with its staff union is a sign Laurentian University is "moving in a positive direction," says Laurentian's president and vice-chancellor.

P.E.I. bans cellphones in classrooms for fall
CTV News
Students in Prince Edward Island will not be allowed to use cellphones in classrooms this upcoming school year.

What I learned in the 1960s about universities and political statements
The Hill
Shortly after congressional hearings last fall, the president of Harvard resigned. Now, after months of protest related to Israel, Palestine and the war in Gaza, Harvard has proclaimed a policy that its administration will no longer issue official statements about public matters unless they directly affect the core functions of teaching, research and academic freedom.

Corus Entertainment 'aggressively' cutting costs, laying off more employees as revenue slumps
As revenue slumps from a "challenging advertising environment," Canadian media company Corus Entertainment — which houses brands like Global News and YTV — is "aggressively" cutting costs, continuing layoffs and shutting down parts of its business.

CBC/Radio-Canada board approves bonuses after layoffs, will review pay structure
Financial Post
The board of directors for CBC and Radio-Canada has approved bonuses for some staff for work they did in the most recent fiscal year, despite members of Parliament saying it would be inappropriate to do so after hundreds of jobs were eliminated.

Union coalition takes action in notwithstanding clause lawsuit
Saskatchewan Federation of Labour
Today, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour (SFL), and the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF) announced their joint application to intervene in the Court of Appeal case concerning Bill 137: The Education Amendment Act, 2023. The parties’ interest in the appeal responds to the provincial government’s application of the notwithstanding clause.

3 unions look to intervene in Sask. government’s appeal of pronoun law challenge
Global News
A number of unions are coming together to take action against the Saskatchewan government and its ‘Parents’ Bill of Rights.’

Doug Ford appeals to LCBO union to return to bargaining
Toronto Star
As the LCBO launches an advertising blitz aimed at ending an 11-day strike, Premier Doug Ford is urging the Ontario Public Service Employees Union to return to bargaining.

600 workers on strike at Montreal's Queen Elizabeth Hotel
CTV News
The 600 employees of the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in downtown Montreal have been on strike since noon on Monday and will remain on strike until noon on Tuesday to advance negotiations for the renewal of their collective agreement.

Thousands of Philadelphia city workers are back in the office full time after judge rejects lawsuit
ABC News
Thousands of Philadelphia city employees are back in their offices full time after a judge rejected a union's request to block Mayor Cherelle Parker’s requirement that they return.

Tesla Goes on Robotaxi Hiring Spree Months After Chaotic Mass Firings
BNN Bloomberg
Tesla Inc. is looking to hire nearly 800 new employees, three months after Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk hastily ordered the largest round of layoffs in the company’s history.

July 15, 2024

Administrators threatening legal action against pro-Palestinian protesters at U of M
Winnipeg Free Press
A months-long encampment at Manitoba’s largest university may soon be coming to an end, with school administrators threatening legal action against the pro-Palestinian protesters occupying the site.

Understanding Faculty Association Communication Strategies During Strike Action
Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labour
Abstract - In 2021-22 there were an unprecedented six faculty association strikes across Canada. These strike actions took place during a period of crisis and transition in Canadian news industry. The consolidation of traditional media outlets meant that these venues were even less reliable for the extensive or effective coverage of the strikes, trends in post-secondary education, or faculty experiences as workers. Concurrently, the proliferation of social media platforms allowed faculty associations to reach audiences directly, bypassing the traditional news media. This paper presents results of our study of Canadian faculty associations’ communication strategies in this period of transformation in Canadian media structures. Based on interviews with members of the communications teams of faculty associations on strike in 2021-22, we identified three key issues that communications teams grappled with during their strikes: the “neutral” approach of the traditional media, a concern with maintaining professionalism and transparency, and the increasing need to use social media to reach important stakeholders. We conclude that although communicating with members remains the most critical task for faculty associations’ communications teams during negotiations and job action, it is a benefit to overall support to have robust external communications as well. In an ever-changing media environment, this means focusing on communications strategies well before beginning the bargaining process.

Pro-Palestinian protesters 'prepared to resist' as U of Manitoba threatens legal action
Pro-Palestinian protesters who have been encamped at the University of Manitoba campus for more than two months say they are ready to fight a potential injunction that could see them removed.

Manitoba faces a teacher shortage — but universities are struggling to recruit education students
As post-secondary students in Manitoba start their summer vacations, universities are focused on finding future teachers amid a worsening shortage.

MTS Table Team Reaches Tentative Agreement
Manitoba Teachers Society
After two years of intensive negotiations aimed at amalgamating the 37 teacher collective agreements under provincial jurisdiction, the Manitoba Teachers’ Society Table Team achieved a historic breakthrough on July 11, 2024, at the anglophone bargaining table.

University of Windsor hit with backlash for striking deal with pro-Palestinian student protesters
Windsor Star
The University of Windsor is facing harsh backlash from multiple fronts after it struck deals this week to appease pro-Palestinian students in hopes of ending a protest that occupied part of campus for two months.

B.C. graduate pressured to change artwork critiquing her high school’s accessibility barriers
Globe and Mail
For months, Grade 12 student Lexis De Meyer had been anticipating her high school’s year-end art show. But as the 17-year-old delivered a speech to the school community about her student project focused on inclusivity and accessibility, joy eluded her.

MGEU demands end to reliance on private health-care aides
Winnipeg Free Press
The union for health care aides employed across a large part of Manitoba has told their health region bosses they will no longer agree to private agency staff doing their work.

WestJet airplane mechanics ratify 5-year agreement that ended strike
WestJet has announced the collective bargaining agreement between the airline and the union representing airplane mechanics has been ratified.

WestJet Mechanics’ Union Soars To A Major Victory For Labour
The Maple
A small, independent union fighting for its first contract at the second largest airline in Canada recently won big.

Fort McMurray equipment operators get wage freezes
Alberta Worker
Last month, the Mediation Services department of Alberta Jobs, Economy, and Trade published their May 2024 Bargaining Update, which includes details on recently settled collective agreements.

Grocery Workers Are Suing to Bring Democracy to Their Union
Members seeking to transform the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) have added a new weapon to their arsenal: legal action.

New York Amazon Workers Demand Paid Juneteenth Holiday
Labor Notes
Six hundred of our Amazon co-workers at five warehouses around New York signed a petition demanding starting wages of $25 an hour, time-and-a-half pay for Prime Day (July 16-17), seasonal workers converted to permanent status within 30 days of employment, and Juneteenth as a paid holiday.

French unions threaten strikes to pressure Macron into allowing leftist coalition government
PBS News
With just 15 days before the start of the Olympic Games in Paris, a leader of a major French union on Thursday called for mass strikes to pressure President Emmanuel Macron into “respecting the results” of recent legislative elections and allow a leftist coalition to form a new government.

Mangled fingers, no time off: Why the women who make Samsung’s semiconductors are striking
On Saturday, six days into the general strike by the National Samsung Electronics Union (NSEU), someone in the KakaoTalk group chat operated by striking union members who work on the 8-inch semiconductor production line at Samsung’s Giheung plant posted a photo of their thumb, which has become deformed from their work.

The strike of 24000 oil workers entered its 24th day
Free Them Now
Today, July 14, the strike of more than 24,000 oil project workers has passed its 24th day. The strike is going on in 123 oil and gas centres. According to the reports published by the “Council for Organizing Protests of Oil Contract Workers”, the contractors are trying to break this strike in various ways, including by trying to hire new workers even by offering higher wages. However, they have not succeeded and no one is ready to cooperate with them. An increase in wages according to the workers’ declared demand, 14 days of work and 14 days of rest, and removal of contractors are the three immediate demands of these workers. In addition, the oil project workers have unanswered demands regarding the miserable working conditions and the unbearable condition of the dormitories, the poor quality of food, and the insecurity of the work environment. They are decisively pursuing their demands.