Latest Labour News

Federal Court of Appeal decision is mixed news for educators and students

CAUT -

(Ottawa – April 24, 2020) The Federal Court of Appeal has ruled that the collective licensing agency Access Copyright cannot enforce its tariffs against York University or any non-licenced user, but also repeated a lower Court’s misconceptions about fair dealing for education purposes.

“In finding that Access Copyright’s tariffs are not mandatory, the Court recognizes that educational institutions can opt out of collective licensing arrangements and choose other legal routes to copy and use works, including through site licensing, open access materials, transactional licences and through fair dealing,” said CAUT Executive Director David Robinson.

CAUT and the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) intervened in the appeal arguing against mandatory tariffs and the lower court’s ruling on York University’s fair dealing purposes. The Federal Court of Appeal, while reversing the decision on mandatory tariffs, failed to correct the lower court’s flawed comments on fair dealing, which contradict previous Supreme Court decisions on the user rights of students and faculty.

“This decision is critically important for choice in educational licensing of copyrighted material, but it remains equally important that the education community keeps working to defend fair dealing,” added Robinson.

Media contact:

Lisa Keller, Communications Officer, Canadian Association of University Teachers; (c) 613-222-3530; email – keller@caut.ca

Unifor welcomes announcement that Unifor members at GM Oshawa will produce masks for Health Canada

Unifor -

April 24, 2020

OTTAWA—Unifor’s National President is available to comment on the announcement today that Health Canada has contracted General Motors in Oshawa to begin manufacturing urgently needed masks for health care professionals and for Canadians.

“Unifor members in Oshawa are highly skilled and proud to step up and make whatever our country needs to get through this pandemic,” said Dias. “The fact that Unifor members will help GM produce as many as a million fabric masks a month, for Health Canada at cost, is an example of what we can do when we work together.”

50 Unifor members are expected to begin this work in a few weeks, working at the Oshawa facility in two shifts.

WHAT:                Unifor members to manufacture masks at GM Oshawa plant

WHO:                  Jerry Dias, Unifor National President

WHEN:                Friday April 24, 2020  between 3:30 – 5:00

WHERE:              To arrange Skype, Facetime, or telephone interviews contact Natalie.Clancy@Unifor.org (416)-707-5794

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

For media inquiries and to arrange interviews please contact Unifor’s Director of Communications, Natalie Clancy at  Natalie.Clancy@unifor.org or 416-707-5794 (cell).

MAHCP President’s Update, April 24, 2020

Manitoba Association of Health Care Professionals -

It’s been awhile since my last update, and MAHCP has been very busy working on your behalf to make sure you’re supported and protected through this challenging time. With so much happening all at once, I wanted to provide just a few updates here, but you should always feel free to contact us for more information or if you have a specific concern.

I’ll start off with some good news. We’ve seen an outpouring of gratitude from Manitobans since this crisis began. Everyone is realizing how important Allied Health Professionals and all health care workers are, and they are showing their thanks in many ways. Yesterday, the Chartered Professional Accountants of Manitoba (CPA Manitoba) announced the launch of a new initiative called Accounting for Bravery. This program “brings together CPAs from across the province to support frontline healthcare professionals by offering to prepare their tax returns free of charge.”

We encourage MAHCP members to take advantage of this generous offer and to sign up soon, as it’s first-come, first-served. More details are available on the CPA Manitoba website: https://cpamb.ca/public/accounting-for-bravery. Please note that MAHCP is not able to address questions or concerns regarding this CPA Manitoba initiative, but we do think it’s a great idea and hope as many of our members as possible are able to benefit.

Last week, the Pallister government reversed course and finally agreed to provide paid administrative leave to front-line health care workers who are asymptomatic but are forced to self-isolate due to possible COVID-19 exposure at work, retroactive to March 1, 2020. We’ve been waiting for details on how this announcement will be implemented, and how broadly it will apply. Yesterday, we were informed by the Employer that this newly announced paid leave will be granted only in the narrowest of instances. In other words, if you’re sick (i.e., symptomatic) or become sick while on leave, you have to use sick time or other earned leave. If you had to wait a few days for OESH to call you back and provide clearance to return to work, you have to use your own earned leave. Here’s an excerpt from the Employer memo: “This paid leave is not applicable to periods of required self-isolation due to personal travel, community exposure or for being sent home during site entry point screening.” Even if you test positive for COVID-19, the burden of proof will be on you to show that you acquired it due to exposure at work in order to receive WCB coverage. Otherwise you may be forced to use your own sick time or other earned leave.

The Employer’s narrow interpretation of the announcement is disappointing, to say the least. In our view, the government and Employer continue to nickel and dime our members during a crisis that is not of your making. Their approach is cold-hearted and unacceptable. As you know, MAHCP’s position remains that paid leave should be provided for any COVID-related absence, and that presumptive WCB coverage be assured for any Allied Health Professional who tests positive. We will continue pushing them to do the right thing, to provide you the security and protections you deserve.

Speaking of protection, the other top-of-mind issue for MAHCP members and all front-line workers continues to be the availability of PPE and the protocols governing its use. I and other health care union leaders have been beating this drum constantly in the media and behind closed doors with the Employer. Our members need to be protected to the highest possible standard while at work serving Manitobans. Not only is the Employer obligated by our collective agreements to keep you safe, but it’s just common sense that if front-line health care employees get sick in large numbers, the entire system is threatened.

Initially, the Employer promised “universal PPE” for all patient contact, but the effective date for implementation kept getting pushed back, in part due to limited supply. This week, they rolled out a new PPE protocol that establishes green, orange and red zones intended to optimize “supply management and stewardship” of scarce PPE resources. Sounds a lot like rationing to me. We are still reviewing this new protocol and I welcome your feedback on how it is being implemented on the front line. For more on my initial reaction, you can read what I had to say to CBC News, that “risk isn’t confined to zones.”

Finally, I want to acknowledge the bigger picture and the misguided approach the Pallister government is taking toward this crisis. It’s an approach focused on austerity and preserving the bottom line, one we’re all too familiar with in health care in recent years. We have seen firsthand the cuts, closures and consolidations that have defined this approach, and we know exactly how misguided it is.

Now, in the face of a global pandemic and economic downturn, the Premier seems to be doubling down on his austerity agenda, threatening cuts to other sectors in order to preserve balance sheets. MAHCP stands in solidarity with workers in the civil service, crown agencies, colleges and universities represented by MGEU and other unions who are deeply threatened by these proposed cuts.

Experts from across the political spectrum are trying to tell the Premier that now is not the time for austerity and belt-tightening that will only deepen the economic downturn and take more money away from the services we all depend on. Pallister is saying these cuts are necessary to pay for increased health care and other costs to combat the pandemic, but experts keep reminding him that provincial budgets are not a zero-sum game. We in health care reject his logic that pits worker against worker, public against private, health care against civil service. We call on the Premier and his government to do and spend what is necessary to make sure there’s a Manitoba economy to come back to after this is all over.

I want to end on a hopeful note because there are many bright spots in this fight:

  • The government reversed course and met, partially, our demands on paid leave, showing that together, we can force them to listen;
  • Individuals and groups from across the political spectrum are pushing back hard on Pallister’s continued and misguided austerity agenda; and
  • More and more Manitobans are stepping up to show their support for health care workers on the front line of this pandemic, both moral support like the postal workers parading at HSC and Grace, and tangible support like CPA Manitoba providing help on our personal tax returns.
  • Our very own MAHCP staff have put together a short thank-you video that I hope you’ll enjoy. We appreciate each and every member and the work you do!

Manitobans are with us in this fight, and we will continue pushing for the support, protections and respect that you need and deserve, now more than ever. Meanwhile, please stay safe while enjoying the warmer weather where and when you can.

In solidarity,

Bob Moroz, MAHCP President

America’s National Meatpacking Union Urges White House Task Force to Take Immediate Action to Protect Meatpacking Workers & National Food Supply 

UFCW Press Releases -

UFCW Releases New Estimates on Impact of Coronavirus on Meatpacking Workers – Including Infections, Deaths, Impact on National Food Supply

During National Press Conference Call, UFCW Leaders & Meatpacking Workers Highlight Challenges Posed by Coronavirus at Plants in South Dakota, Iowa, Georgia, Texas, and Kansas 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, America’s largest meatpacking and food processing union, held a national press conference call to highlight the impact of the Coronavirus on meatpacking and food processing workers and to urge the White House Coronavirus Task Force to take five immediate actions to protect these essential meatpacking and food processing workers.

In the letter to Vice President Pence, the UFCW International urgently called for the White House Coronavirus Task Force to prioritize five safety actions targeted toward the meatpacking industry, including: (1) increased worker testing, (2) priority access to PPE, (3) halting line speed waivers, (4) mandating social distancing, and (5) isolating workers with symptoms or testing positive for COVID-19.

The UFCW also released new updates on the serious and deadly impact of the Covid-19 virus. As of today, and based on UFCW internal estimates, 10 meatpacking workers and 3 food processing workers have died. In addition, at least 5,000 meatpacking workers and 1,500 food processing workers have been directly impacted by the virus. The estimates of those meatpacking and processing workers directly impacted includes individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19, missed work due to self-quarantine, are awaiting test results, or have been hospitalized and/or are symptomatic.

In total, the UFCW identified that 13 plants have closed at some point in the past two months. These closures have resulted in over 24,500 workers impacted and a 25 percent reduction in pork slaughter capacity and a 10 percent reduction in beef slaughter capacity.

“America’s food processing and meatpacking workers are in extreme danger, and our nation’s food supply faces a direct threat from the coronavirus outbreak. If workers in these plants are as essential as our elected leaders say, then it’s about time that our elected leaders provide them with the essential protections they need. Make no mistake, without national safety standards to protect these workers from the coronavirus– more lives will be lost, more workers will be exposed, and our food supply will face jeopardy,” said Marc Perrone, International President of the United Food & Commercial Workers.

During the conference call, the threat to America’s meatpacking workforce was highlighted in very personal terms by five workers from the meatpacking industry who discussed the significant risks they and their co-workers are facing every day in some of the nation’s largest meatpacking facilities. Among the specific risks highlighted by these workers was the challenge posed by a lack of PPE as well as increased line speeds which make social distancing all but impossible.

“Across this country, we are seeing the impact when the government fails to take steps to protect these essential workers. It needs to both provide testing and protective equipment and issue clear and direct safety guidelines that companies can and must enforce. This is not just about whether we will have enough beef, chicken, and pork to feed our families. It is – for these workers – a matter of life and death,” UFCW International President Perrone added.

Further details from the national conference call, including estimates of the coronavirus impact on meatpacking workers and the food supply, information about the workers who spoke out about their personal experiences, and links to the letter sent today to Vice President Pence and the White House Coronavirus Task Force are included below.

Background:

A copy of the letter to Vice President Pence can be found here.

The conference call featured remarks by UFCW International President Marc Perrone, UFCW International Vice President for Meatpacking Mark Lauritsen as well as the following workers from the meatpacking industry who are represented by UFCW:

  • Smithfield pork worker in South Dakota – Achut Deng
  • Cargill beef worker in Kansas – Itzel Goytia
  • JBS pork worker in Iowa – Margarita Heredia
  • Cargill beef worker in Texas – Rhonda Trevino
  • Pilgrim’s Pride maintenance worker in Georgia – Tony Adams

For more information about today’s call, please contact Abraham White at awhite@ufcw.org (202) 341-1899.

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The UFCW is the largest private sector union in the United States, representing 1.3 million professionals and their families in grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries.

Our members help put food on our nation’s tables and serve customers in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico. Learn more about the UFCW at www.ufcw.org.

 

Unifor launches legal challenge to Translink layoffs

Unifor -

April 23, 2020

VANCOUVER—Unifor will use the B.C. Labour Code to challenge Translink subsidiary Coast Mountain Bus Company’s lay-off notices issued on Monday, April 20, 2020.

“Transit service rollbacks must be stopped,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “The federal government needs to act fast. It is a mistake to weaken the public transit system while tens of thousands of essential workers rely on it every day.”

Close to 1,000 transit operators and 200 maintenance staff have received layoff notice effective May 18, 2020. Unifor will argue that CMBC breached the Labour Relations Code by not giving 60 days notice. The union will be seeking to have the lay-offs rescinded, or at minimum pay workers during the 60 days.

In the meantime, Unifor is urging members of the public to tell their Members of Parliament that federal emergency funds are urgently needed to keep transit service reliable during the pandemic. Unifor wrote to the Prime Minister this week urging him to provide similar assistance to public transit that has been already granted to the airline industry.

“Other critical transportation networks, such as airlines, have been granted access to federal subsidies,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor Western Regional Director. “Let’s show essential services workers that we are committed to getting them to work safely and efficiently.”

Balbir Mann, President of Unifor Local 111 representing transit operators, said the company should have used proper notice provisions to begin respectful dialogue with the union. “We’re not going to let the employer cut corners when it comes to layoffs of this magnitude. They should know better.”

President of Local 2200 representing Seabus and CMBC maintenance staff, Mike Smith, said TransLink’s approach to the layoffs is causing more delays than it should. “Instead of rushing to put our members out of a job, Translink should follow the law and engage in good faith to make sure we can collaborate on balancing the interests all parties, including essential services workers.”

Unifor is calling on all levels of government to come together to maintain transit service levels to keep passengers safe and to keep the struggling Metro Vancouver economy moving.

Information about the union’s response to the pandemic, as well as resources for members can be found at unifor.org/COVID19.

To arrange for interviews, in-person or via Skype/Facetime, please contact Unifor Communications Representative Ian Boyko at ian.boyko@unifor.org or 778-903-6549 (cell).

Grocery workers talk poverty wages and pandemic profits

Rank and File - latest news -

These low-wage, essential workers in Ottawa are getting organized By Michelle Paquette and Doug Yearwood After large private sector grocery retailers introduced pay increases for frontline workers, Herb & Spice—a locally owned and operated grocery store in Ottawa— announced that its employees would receive a $1.50/hour hazard pay increase. Unlike other grocery stores who have Continue readingGrocery workers talk poverty wages and pandemic profits

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