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.

April 19, 2024

Profs call Ford government bill 'political interference' on campus
Some Ontario academics are waging a campaign against new legislation from Premier Doug Ford's government they say would pave the way for political interference on campus.

MUN faculty pushing back against vote to hire private headhunting firm in search of school's next president
Memorial University faculty are questioning the university's choice to hire a private headhunting firm to acquire the school's next president, saying the choice to outsource the hiring process offers little value to the institution.

Exam-taking students harmed as Western University TA strike drags on: Union
London Free Press
The strike by Western University graduate teaching assistants dragged into its seventh day on Wednesday, with union leaders saying the impasse has added unnecessary stress to students during year-end exams.

Union alleges Western U using ‘scab labour’ to handle undergrad exams
Global News
Thousands of undergraduate students at Western University are writing exams this month without their graduate teaching assistants and a union representative says concerns are being raised on the impact that could have academically.

McGill University teaching assistants end month-long strike
The Gazette
McGill University’s 1,600 teaching assistants voted Thursday night to accept an agreement in principle with management, ending a month-long strike.

Canadian science gets biggest boost to PhD and postdoc pay in 20 years
Researchers in Canada got most of what they were hoping for in the country’s 2024 federal budget, with a big boost in postgraduate pay and more funding for research and scientific infrastructure.

Pay transparency is on the rise, but how transparent is it? (audio)
CBC Radio - Cost of Living with Paul Haavardsrud
New rules around pay transparency were supposed to make things better for job hunters. But if the salary advertised is $50,000 to $200,000 — is that actually transparent (and useful)? Producer Danielle Nerman explains why pay ranges in job ads are getting wider and how that could backfire for employers.

Another transit worker labour dispute in Metro Vancouver is brewing
The union representing West Vancouver Blue Bus workers has established a deadline by late this month to reach a new contract.

CFLPA joins forces with Canadian Labour Congress
Global News
The CFLPA and Canadian Labour Congress joined forces Thursday. The CLC is Canada’s largest labour organization, with a membership of more than three million workers and over 500,000 retirees across the country.

Labour leader urges unions to expose Poilievre's working-class overtures as 'fraud'
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre is a “fraud” for portraying himself as a friend of the working class, the head of the country's largest labour organization said Thursday, urging unions to do everything they can to expose him before the next federal election.

Alberta Marches Toward War with Its Government Workers
The Tyee
To hear Alberta Finance Minister Nate Horner tell it this week, you’d almost think there’s been no inflation in Alberta since the pandemic.

Hospital workers awarded six per cent raise over two years
Toronto Star
Ontario hospital workers will receive a six per cent wage increase over two years, as awarded by a provincial arbitrator in two recent decisions.

A year since a historic public service strike: Where are we now?
Ottawa Citizen
It has been exactly a year since 155,000 federal public servants were on strike across Canada, many demanding higher wages and chances to work from home. While several promises were made to end the historic movement, little progress has been made.

April 18, 2024

Lack of applicants for medical lab sciences program a concern, says Manitoba regulator
The head of the regulatory body for medical lab technologists in Manitoba says he's concerned about a post-secondary program that has more available seats than applications.

Manitoba school bus operator drove impaired with kids on board, police allege
A school bus operator in Manitoba is accused of driving with children on board while his blood-alcohol level was double the legal limit, according to police.

Sask. teachers to vote on proposed contract
Saskatchewan teachers will soon be voting on a proposed collective agreement.

New survey finds Canadians can’t cope with increasing numbers of international students
CTV News
A new online survey done out of Toronto shows Canadians believe there are too many international students, which has directly correlated with issues like housing.

Canadian university teachers fear Alberta gatekeeping bill threatens academic freedom
Globe and Mail
A national organization of post-secondary teachers is calling on Alberta to either change a proposed gatekeeping bill or scrap it altogether.

Faculty Unions Seeking Formal AI Guidelines
Inside Higher Ed
Faculty unions are starting to take their concerns about artificial intelligence out of peer group discussions and into contract negotiations.

Indiana University graduate workers strike for union recognition, living wage
The Herald-Times
There was a celebratory air outside of Indiana University’s Ballantine Hall on Wednesday, as Indiana Graduate Workers Coalition (IGWC) members held up picket signs calling for union recognition and marched to the beat of a pounding drum.

Tories delay four bills to fall, ‘disgusted’ labour group fumes
Winnipeg Free Press
The Progressive Conservatives are delaying four government bills from passing until the fall — including ones that would give job-protected leave for serious injury or illness to Manitobans for up to 27 weeks and lower the compulsory age to six for children starting school in 2025.

Manitoba labour leader 'disgusted' as Tories stall bill to extend leave for injured workers
Manitoba's Opposition Progressive Conservatives are delaying passage of four bills at the legislature, prompting an angry response from a labour leader.

GreenShield workers ratify new collective agreement, ending 48-day strike
GreenShield workers have a new three-year collective agreement, the union announced Wednesday night, ending a nearly 50-day strike.

Alberta announces wage offer for 22,000 government workers during collective bargaining
Lethbridge News Now
The Alberta government is offering a 7.5 per cent wage increase in the midst of collective bargaining, with government workers calling for a 26 per cent bump.

NAV Canada threatens workers with use of scabs
As the Canadian Air Navigation Specialists Association (CANSA) at Unifor Local 1016 continued to negotiate with NAV Canada on the Maintenance of Activities in the event of a legal strike and/or lock-out to protect the Canadian travelling public, the company has advised the local it plans to use scab labour.

Once praised, settlement to help sickened BP oil spill workers leaves most with nearly nothing
Toronto Star
When a deadly explosion destroyed BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico, 134 million gallons of crude erupted into the sea over the next three months — and tens of thousands of ordinary people were hired to help clean up environmental devastation from the biggest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

Why the UAW vote at Volkswagen is significant for workers across US
ABC News
The United Auto Workers achieved a landmark victory last fall, when a strike against the Big 3 U.S. carmakers delivered substantial gains for nearly 150,000 employees.

The Paradox of the American Labor Movement
The Atlantic
Last year was widely hailed as a breakthrough for the American worker. Amid a historically hot labor market, the United Auto Workers and Hollywood writers’ and actors’ guilds launched high-profile strikes that made front-page news and resulted in significant victories. Strikes, organizing efforts, and public support for unions reached heights not seen since the 1960s. Two in three Americans support unions, and 59 percent say they would be in favor of unionizing their own workplace. And Joe Biden supports organized labor more vocally than any other president in recent memory. You could look at all this and say that the U.S. labor movement is stronger than it has been in decades.

Disneyland performers file petition to form labor union
Performers who help bring Disney's beloved characters to life at its Southern California theme parks filed a petition Wednesday to form a labor union.

April 17, 2024

York University faculty group recommends defining support of Israel as 'racism'
National Post
A York University faculty committee has recommended that the school henceforth define any acknowledgement of Israel’s existence as evidence of “anti-Palestinian racism.”

Academics, rural municipalities raise concerns about Alberta's Bill 18
CTV News
Alberta legislation pitched to protect provincial priorities could slow down grant funding and allow federal money to be spent elsewhere, say officials representing rural municipalities and faculty members at post-secondary institutions.

CAUT calls on the Alberta government to scrap Bill 18
The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) is calling on the Government of Alberta to protect scientific integrity and academic freedom, and prevent the potential loss of millions of dollars in funding for the province’s university and college researchers by immediately withdrawing or amending Bill 18.

Columbia University president to testify in House antisemitism probe
The Egypt-born academic and economic policy expert has been president of the New York City Ivy League university since July 2023. She's had big shoes to fill in her less than a year so far -- her predecessor, Lee C. Bollinger,  was the longest-serving Ivy League president at the time he stepped down, according to Columbia.

Higher education was easily accessible to disabled people during Covid. Why are we being shut out now?
The Guardian
My route to university was never going to be simple. While my friends were flicking through university brochures and choosing Ucas options, I was signing chemotherapy consent forms in the teenage cancer unit at Addenbrooke’s hospital and throwing up in its weirdly tropical island-themed bathrooms. Even before then, my severe chronic illness made attending traditional university unthinkable – until the pandemic happened.

Debunking The Latest Pro-Scab National Post Article
The Maple
Canadian employers and their organizations are out in force to oppose pending bans on replacement workers in some jurisdictions. Last week, the National Post joined the fray and published an article attacking the Manitoba NDP government’s proposed anti-scab legislation.

Why is Ontario’s gender pay gap ‘stuck’ at 32%?
HRD Canada
Three and a half months into 2024 and women in Ontario still need to work three months longer to earn what men would earn in a year, according to the Ontario Equal Pay Coalition.

Advocate Highlights Gender Wage Gap on Equal Pay Day
Today is Equal Pay Day, a day to reflect on the gender wage gap.

Sustainable Jobs Act passes in House of Commons
Canadian Labour Congress
Canada’s unions are celebrating the passage of the Sustainable Jobs Act, Bill C-50, through the House of Commons today.

Tired of after-hours emails? Budget 2024 plans ‘right to disconnect’
Global News
If your boss calls, texts or emails after hours, a change being proposed in Budget 2024 could give some Canadian workers the right to ignore them.

Living paycheque-to-paycheque: 'Canadians are under stress,' warns Equifax
CTV News
As Canadians deal with a crushing housing shortage(opens in a new tab), high rental prices and inflationary price pressures(opens in a new tab), now Equifax Canada is warning that Canadian consumers are increasingly "under stress" from the surging cost of living.

Unifor to re-apply to labour board after unexpected data from Amazon
Unifor is temporarily withdrawing its applications to the B.C. Labour Relations Board (BCLRB) to represent workers at two Amazon fulfilment centres in Metro Vancouver due to a suspiciously high number of reported employees.

Union alleges N.W.T. government wants right to use private agencies to fill all health-care positions
In an update on negotiations over a new collective agreement for public servants, the Union of Northern Workers (UNW) accused the Northwest Territories government of opening the possibility of contracting out all health-care positions.

Unions in Greece call widespread strikes, seeking return of bargaining rights
Strikes called by Greece’s largest labour union halted ferries, disrupted public transport services and left some state-run hospitals running on emergency staffing levels in Athens and elsewhere on Wednesday.

April 16, 2024

Allegations of unexplained layoffs shadow Neo Financial
Winnipeg Free Press
A company that’s received more than $1 million from the Manitoba government to create jobs has quietly laid off staff and has become a revolving door of workers, former employees allege.

Shared Health cuts some recruitment jobs as part of consolidation
Manitoba's Progressive Conservatives cried foul Monday after an unknown number of staff at Shared Health were let go.

4 of 5 councillors in RM of Armstrong resign, citing toxic work environment, leadership issues
Four of the five councillors in a Manitoba rural municipality stepped down from office this week, with some blaming a toxic work environment and leadership problems.

Griffin Wheel workers ratify deal, ending more than two-week lockout
Unifor Local 144 members at Griffin Wheel – a Winnipeg foundry that produces train wheels – have ratified a new four-year contract, ending a 19-day lockout.

Alberta announces wage offer for government workers during collective bargaining
Globe and Mail
The Alberta government is offering a 7.5-per-cent wage increase in the midst of collective bargaining, with government workers calling for a 26-per-cent bump.

How a ballooning public sector is reshaping Canada’s economy
Globe and Mail
In the final weeks of the 2015 federal election that would sweep Justin Trudeau to power, the Liberal leader penned an open letter to Canada’s federal civil servants promising that if he were elected, government workers would be a lot better off than they were under the last guy. “I have a fundamentally different view than Stephen Harper of our public service,” he wrote. “Where he sees an adversary, I see a partner.”

Union representing 10,000 TTC workers says it has taken 'first step' toward strike action
The union representing more than 10,000 transit workers in Toronto says it has taken the "first step toward strike action" as contract talks with the TTC stall.

Sustainable Jobs Act passes in House of Commons
Canadian Labour Congress
Canada’s unions are celebrating the passage of the Sustainable Jobs Act, Bill C-50, through the House of Commons today.

WestJet Encore pilots announce tentative deal in labour dispute with regional carrier
The union representing WestJet Encore pilots says a tentative deal has been struck with their employer, days before the pilots had threatened to go on strike.

Port of Quebec has refused to negotiate for more than 100 days
CUPE has harshly denounced the employer’s refusal to sit down at the bargaining table over the past 100 plus days to resolve the lockout at the Port of Quebec, now in its 19th month.

Winnipeg School Division wants more students with disabilities to stay in catchment schools
A different approach in the Winnipeg School Division to the way some learners receive additional support could mean more students with disabilities in traditional classrooms next year.

Opinion: UCP's Bill 18 politicizes post-secondary research in Alberta
Edmonton Journal
I write as president of the Association of Academic Staff of the University of Alberta (AASUA), which represents more than 4,000 members, to respond to Bill 18 — the Provincial Priorities Act, 2024.

University of Alberta under fire for not acting on over $1-million in donations linked to Waffen-SS unit
Globe and Mail
The University of Alberta is facing criticism, including from its own academics, for failing to act on more than $1-million in donations and endowments from veterans and people with links to a Ukrainian Waffen SS unit that fought for the Nazi regime in the Second World War.

Lawrence Krauss: Universities must be freed from the grasp of 'safe space' bureaucrats
National Post
Recent events have demonstrated the need to re-establish free inquiry, free speech and academic freedom at universities throughout North America. But current efforts by academic administrators to remedy the situation are often missing the point. You cannot restore free speech by creating further restrictions on what speech is appropriate, and by focusing on what sanctions may be appropriate and when.

The House Republican Going After Universities on Antisemitism
The New York Times
Virginia Foxx, the Republican congresswoman from North Carolina, has spent the last few months giving elite schools a hard time.

April 15, 2024

Small steps not enough
Winnipeg Free Press
It seemed for a moment as if adult basic education’s time had finally come. Premier Wab Kinew spoke publicly about its important role in moving people into the paid labour force; an Adult Literacy Act is in first reading; so too are legislative changes enabling people on Employment and Income Assistance (EIA) to pursue adult education and still receive benefits.

Christian schools bemoan cuts to international students
Winnipeg Free Press
Two Manitoba Christian schools say the recent decision to limit the number of international undergraduate students in Canada is having a serious impact on them.

Exams underway as York University strike hits 7 weeks
York University students say they're feeling stressed — about exams, but also by the ongoing education workers strike and how it might impact future studies and whether they'll be credited or refunded for lost time.

Striking York University workers reach tentative deal: union
The union representing striking academic workers at York University said Monday it has reached a tentative deal with the school.

Alberta universities concerned about bill mandating provincial approval of federal funding
Global News
Incoming legislation that requires provincial approval of direct agreements with the federal government has universities in Alberta exploring potential impacts.

University of B.C. to add 778 technology seats with $23 million from province
Globe and Mail
The University of British Columbia will add 778 more student spaces for technology-related programs over the next six years through a $23-million investment from the provincial government.

Saskatchewan teachers to go back into bargaining with province following dispute
Globe and Mail
Saskatchewan teachers are returning to the bargaining table and will end job action that had threatened to upend extracurricular activities, including graduation ceremonies.

Graduate teaching assistants go on strike at Western University as exams underway
Globe and Mail
About 2,000 graduate teaching assistants at Western University have gone on strike, as the spring exam season gets underway.

Queen’s unions explore unifying for negotiations
Toronto Star
Leaders of several of the unions at Queen’s held a joint public assembly on April 4 on Queen’s campus for members to hear about how union leaders intend to approach the upcoming round of bargaining with Queen’s.

CUPE files labour complaint, claims city garbage contractor fired employees trying to unionize
Winnipeg Free Press
The City of Winnipeg’s largest union has filed a labour complaint against a local garbage contractor, alleging the company interfered with workers’ attempts to unionize and punished some employees who took part.

New safety officers at Manitoba hospitals aimed at reducing workplace violence
OHS Canada
Specially trained and better equipped security staff are scheduled to start Monday at Manitoba’s largest hospital — the Health Sciences Centre — in a bid to reduce violence against health-care workers.

When leaders speak of workers and their rights, hold them to it, CLC urges unions
Canada’s largest labour organization is urging unions to hold politicians to account when they profess to champion the country’s working class.

The Alberta government is interfering in public sector bargaining on an unprecedented scale
The Conversation
In the coming months, over 200,000 public sector workers in Alberta will begin bargaining with their employers for new contracts. The most recent agreements expired in March and, after many years of high inflation and few wage increases, workers will be looking for raises.

Quebec union representing 80,000 nurses rejects tentative deal with province
Globe and Mail
A union representing about 80,000 nurses and other health care professionals in Quebec says its members have rejected a tentative agreement with the province.

Two-Tier Pensions: Just Say No!
Canada Post has presented two more major rollbacks at the bargaining table that would widen the gap of newer workers’ second-tier status, the rollbacks apply to both RSMC and Urban Units.

SAG-AFTRA union secures AI protections for artists in deal with major record labels
Hollywood performers and media professionals have reached a tentative deal with major record labels such as Warner Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment that includes increases in minimum salaries and protections against the use of AI.