May 18, 2012
Volume 42, No. 19
BC Labour Board Rules Email Addresses Must Be Provided
CAW Local 114 was involved in a significant victory on a recent reconsideration case at the BC Labour Relations Board involving Viking Air.
At issue was whether or not a provincially regulated employer was required to turn over email addresses in its possession to the union upon request and whether or not this right was inherent in the BC Labour Relations Code. The union argued the email addresses were critical to efficient communication with its membership.
The CAW filed the complaint against Viking Air when it moved to a paperless pay stub system and required all employees to provide an email address for this purpose. The CAW took the position that the union should be on an equal footing with the employer with respect to employee contact information.
The CAW filed an appeal of the original Viking Air decision and approached BC Federation of Labour President Jim Sinclair to put the word out to other unions to join in fighting on this important issue, said CAW National Representative Gavin McGarrigle.
UFCW Local 1518 intervened and filed a brief in support of the CAW application with the BC Labour Relations Board.
The BC Labour Relations Board issued its reconsideration decision on April 25, 2012, overturning the original decision and ruling unanimously in favour of the union.
As a result, all provincially regulated employers in BC must now provide not only names, addresses and phone numbers to any union upon request, but also must also provide email addresses of members if it collects them, as long as the information can be easily supplied and the employer does not have a sound business reason to refuse to provide the information, said McGarrigle.
"This decision is one of the first in Canada to deal explicitly with the issue of email addresses," McGarrigle said. "We believe this decision is a major step forward into the twenty-first century in the labour movement's ability to represent and communicate with our members using modern technology."
Youth Unemployment Requires Government Action
Despite some good news about job creation in Canada last month, CAW President Ken Lewenza says he remains concerned that younger workers are not benefitting and he renewed his call for a national jobs strategy.
Lewenza was reacting to Statistics Canada's monthly report on jobs for April released on May 11 that showed that employment increased by 58,000 jobs, but Lewenza said the report also highlights numerous troubling issues for job seekers in Canada.
Even though employment increased, the unemployment rate last month actually nudged up by 0.1 per cent to 7.3 per cent as a result of more people looking for work.
Lewenza said while there is some good news with more full time jobs being created, the unemployment rate remains high and noted that younger workers in particular are having a tough time finding jobs.
Statistics Canada said youth employment in April was little changed with an unemployment rate of 13.9 per cent. Youth employment has remained around the same level since July, 2009, Stats Canada said.
"Young people are not able to find jobs in this economy and the federal government must do more to ensure our youth secure decent full time jobs," Lewenza said. "The federal government must show a lot more leadership on the stubborn issue of youth unemployment in Canada."
Lewenza repeated his call for a multi-stakeholder, national good jobs summit in the wake of ongoing structural changes in the Canadian labour market, including the loss of more than half a million good paying manufacturing and processing jobs in the last seven years.
Food is a Human Right: National Food Policy Needed
As the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food winds up his mission to Canada, Food Secure Canada is calling for a national food policy, based on the recommendations in Resetting the Table: A People's Food Policy for Canada.
"The Special Rapporteur has traveled in Canada for the past 10 days, hearing staggering statistics and stories about food insecurity, health issues and the outrageous costs of food in remote and Northern regions. He has reminded us that food is a basic human right, and Canada is failing in its obligations to fulfill this right," said Diana Bronson, Executive Director of Food Secure Canada, in a May 16 press release.
"In order to change this, we need to move towards developing a comprehensive national food policy. As underlined by the Rapporteur, any national food policy must be participatory and include dedicated seats at the table for civil society, Aboriginal peoples and those who are directly affected by food insecurity. The ground-breaking process behind the People's Food Policy can be used as a model."
Based on the input of over 3,500 Canadians, the People's Food Policy calls for:
1. A federal poverty prevention and elimination program, with measurable targets and timelines. At a minimum, all government income supports and minimum wage must be set at rates that guarantee being able to fulfill basic rights, including food and shelter.
2. A national children and food strategy, including federal support for student nutrition programs. Every time a child goes to school hungry because they cannot access food, it is a denial of their human rights.
3. Taking immediate steps towards support for ecological and local food production and consumption, including movement on institutional procurement.
4. Public promotion of healthy food choices - which can save billions of dollars in health care.
5. Immediately addressing the ongoing food insecurity and water crises in Native and Northern communities, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples and other Northern communities.
FSC helped organize meetings between the U.N. Special Rapporteur and civil society groups in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Winnipeg. The CAW is a member organization of FSC. For more information please visit http://www.foodsecurecanada.org/.
Reverse Changes to Temporary Foreign Worker Program
A growing group of unions and non-government organizations (NGOs) say that recently announced changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) permitting employers to pay migrant workers up to 15 per cent less and fast tracking employer applications for these workers are unfair and misguided. The CAW is supporting this joint effort.
"Allowing employers faster access to migrant workers and paying them less for their labour sends a message that this government believes migrant workers are not equal," says Hassan Yussuff, Secretary-Treasurer of the Canadian Labour Congress. He was speaking at an Ottawa news conference attended by unions and NGOs on May 15.
Ottawa has announced changes, effective immediately, to the TFWP and has included those changes in a large omnibus budget bill that is being pushed through Parliament.
"Canada's laws don't support wage discrimination based on where you come from," says Yasmeen Khan, with Migrante Canada. "Many people recognize the majority of migrant workers are people of colour and oppose wage discrimination based on race."
Naveen Mehta, General Counsel and Director of Human Rights, Equity and Diversity with the United Food and Commercial Workers, says, "Rather than further skewing Canada's Temporary Foreign Worker Program to unfairly serve employers' interests, what is needed are stronger compliance, monitoring and enforcement measures to protect migrant workers' rights."
Sign onto the pledge to call for the reversal of the discriminatory changes to the already flawed TFWP: http://www.canadianlabour.ca/action-center/pay-less-wage-model-unfair-migrant-workers
WTO called on to Dismiss Japan, EU Challenge to Renewable Energy Policy
Canadian NGOs and labour unions, including the CAW, have sent an amicus curiae submission to the World Trade Organization (WTO) prior to a May 15 hearing into Japan's and the European Union's joint attack on the Ontario Green Energy Act.
The groups address Canada's failure to properly defend Ontario's actions and call upon the WTO to respect the priority of Canada's international climate change obligations.
"These are the first international trade disputes which create the potential for conflict between a nation's commitments under the WTO and its obligations under the Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol," says the submission.
"It raises fundamental questions about whether the goals of trade liberalization can be reconciled with ecological imperatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and if not, which are to prevail," says the joint submission from Blue Green Canada, the CAW, the Canadian Federation of Students, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union of Canada, the Council of Canadians and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union.
Canada, the EU and Japan are signatories to the Framework Convention and Kyoto Protocol, which seek to avert catastrophic climate change.
Unfortunately, say the Canadian civil society groups, the Harper government is playing into Japan's and EU hands by ignoring these international climate change treaties. In fact, having recently repudiated its commitments under the Kyoto Protocol, Canada has threatened to use the WTO to challenge climate measures such as fuel quality standards in the United States and EU.
The Canadian NGOs and labour unions involved in the amicus curiae submission have a strong presence and hundreds of thousands of members in Ontario, including those in the green energy sector. They support the phase-out of coal-fired electrical power generation and the development of renewable energy infrastructure and power generation to replace it.
The submission was prepared by Steven Shrybman, international trade and public interest lawyer with Sack, Goldblatt Mitchell LLP.
The Canadian NGOs and labour unions insist that the WTO should resist efforts by countries like Japan, the EU and Canada to enlist its dispute procedures to defeat or discourage climate measures. WTO dispute panels must recognize and accede to the jurisdiction and competence of multi-lateral institutions and instruments, including the Kyoto Protocol, designed to address the climate change imperative.
Two Workplace Fatalities
Two FFAW/CAW members died on the job during the first week of May.
Ralph Rose, 64, from St. Carol's, Newfoundland and
Labrador died May 1 after he fell backward from the shelter to the main deck on a fishing vessel.
Harrison Genge, 57, from Anchor Point, Newfoundland and Labrador died on May 7 after being crushed by a shrimp dumper.
Outstanding CAW Retired Worker of the Year Award
Nominations are being sought for the Outstanding CAW Retired Worker of the Year.
This annual award is presented to a CAW retired activist who has made a major contribution to their local union and community.
All nominations must comply with criteria for the award and must be approved by the chairperson of your Retired Workers' chapter and the local union executive board, and be signed by the President.
The deadline for submitting nominations is June 15, 2012. They may be faxed to 416-495-6554, attention of Dean Lindsay.
Please contact Dean if you have questions regarding the award at 1-800-268-5763, ext. 3791, directly at 416-495-3791 or email to email@example.com
Women in Trades Conference
CAW Atlantic Area Director Les Holloway; Anna Marenick, Human Resources Manager, Irving Shipbuilding; Koren Beaman, Chairperson of the Women's Committee, CAW/MWF Local 1; and Rachael Farrell, Welder/Apprentice Steelworker, Halifax Shipyard
More than 160 participants took part in a women in engineering, science, trades and technology conference in Halifax recently.
The conference highlighted the opportunities and important role that women can play in trades and technology. A number of CAW members participated in the conference, which ran from May 3 to 5.
"I feel as a woman in the trades that we are making great strides in becoming more and more involved with trades and science," said Koren Beaman, chairperson of the CAW/MWF Local 1 Women's Committee. "At the conference it was nice to see so many younger women interested in trades and science," Beaman said.
"I feel the conference was a huge encouragement to the women and men in these fields," said CAW member Rachael Farrell, an iron worker apprentice in the Halifax shipyard. "Even though we still have along ways to go, we as females have made a huge impression in the trades. And we will continue to grow the more we work together and make it a traditional work place for women. Going forward, I feel the conference was a huge success and should continue for years to come," said Farrell.
Health and Safety Conference: Reminder
The 2012 CAW National Health and Safety Conference will be held June 8 to 10 at the CAW Family Education Centre in Port Elgin, Ontario.
The conference will feature plenary sessions and workshops offering interactive tools, information, thought-provoking exercises, dialogue and it will help develop shifts in perspective.
The deadline for registration is May 18. For more information contact the CAW Health and Safety Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CLC Job Posting
The Canadian Labour Congress has a vacancy for a regional representative in the Pacific Region, based in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Please send your application to email@example.com and include bulletin number 2012-03 in the subject line. Only applicants selected for an interview will be contacted.
Applications will be accepted until May 28, 2012.