ST. JOHN'S, NL, May 12 /CNW/ - A government-commissioned report examining the 18-month labour dispute at Voisey's Bay is a vindication for all workers in Newfoundland and Labrador.
"Although we are disappointed that anti-scab legislation was not included, the report is the first step in restoring fairness for workers and their families in Newfoundland and Labrador," says Wayne Fraser, Director of the United Steelworkers (USW) union in Atlantic Canada and Ontario.
"The commission's report recognizes that existing law does not deal adequately with collective bargaining problems created when powerful multinational corporations are determined to defeat workers at the bargaining table," adds USW Canadian Director Ken Neumann.
"If these recommendations had been in place prior to our negotiations with Vale, we would not have had an 18-month strike and the economic and social harm suffered by working families and their communities," Neumann says.
The Voisey's Bay workers are represented by the USW. Their struggle for a fair collective agreement included an 18-month strike against Brazil-based Vale, which ended in late January of this year.
The Industrial Inquiry Commission recommends the provincial government adopt new mechanisms to "take account of the need to ensure that (multinational) corporations respond to Canadian labour relations values."
The commission also recommends mechanisms to deal with situations in which collective bargaining is undermined by "the relative economic weight" of one of the parties involved.
"In our view, these recommendations reflect Vale's management style and its insistence on reducing the rights of workers in Canada to match its labour relations standards elsewhere in the world," says Fraser.
The Steelworkers welcome the commission's other recommendations, which call on the Newfoundland and Labrador government to:
- Recognize that mandatory labour-management committees should exist in every workplace;
- Implement interest arbitration as an effective means to achieve a fair collective agreement;
- Ensure Vale and the USW work with aboriginal peoples to ensure all participate and share in the benefits of the Voisey's Bay operations.
"We are pleased with the recommendation to work with the aboriginal peoples - the USW has made efforts in this regard and we will continue to do so," Fraser says.
"We are calling on the Newfoundland and Labrador government to do the right thing and put these recommendations into law as quickly as possible."
To view the Industrial Inquiry Commission's complete recommendations, visit www.usw.ca.
CNW, Thurs May 12 2011
New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch (D) vetoed a so-called right to work bill today, saying that "There is no evidence that this legislation will offer any benefits to New Hampshire's economy or workers."
Earlier this month, the bill passed the state Senate by a veto-proof majority but fell short of a super majority in the House, where a close override fight is expected.
In his veto message, Lynch says New Hampshire has a lower unemployment rate and a stronger economy than most states with so-called right to work laws. He also points out that in states with "right to work" for less laws, workers on average have a lower standard of living, bring home less in their paychecks and go without health insurance more frequently.
In my time as a CEO, in my years spent in the private sector turning around companies, and in my seven years as governor, I have never seen the so-called right-to-work law serve as a valuable economic development tool.
He also says that the push for "right to work" in New Hampshire is being driven by "national outside interest groups and is not a result of problems facing New Hampshire businesses or workers."
AFL-CIO Now Blog, Thurs May 11 2011
May 2011: AFL convention; lineup of star speakers at CLC convention; battle for workplace safety continues; workers warned about delayed retirement
AFL Convention a success: Read all about it!
- About 400 delegates and guests attended the AFL convention in Calgary for a packed schedule of events that included:
- A moving ceremony to mourn workers killed and injured on the job;
- A parade at Calgary International Airport in support of CAW workers negotiating a new contract;
- A rousing speech from the secretary treasurer of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO that prompted affiliates to donate more than $50,000 to the group's Defence Fund;
- An inspiring talk on how to organize campaigns by Harvard University Prof. Marshall Ganz, presented via Skype;
- A picnic in Eau Claire park to support a drive by workers to keep Calgary's parks public; and
- A rally before the federal election to remind voters of Harper's Broken Promises.
Lineup of star speakers at CLC convention
- Jack Layton, leader of the NDP and now head of Canada's Official Opposition, thrilled delegates at the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) convention in Vancouver. He called for a united front in the drive to push for improving the Canada Pension Plan. AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka brought a message of thanks for Canada's labour movement. "You were at our side in Wisconsin, in Indiana and Ohio when we called. You kept your promise of solidarity." Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) – the first woman to lead an international labour organization –came with a message of praise and encouragement. "You, your unions and your Canadian Labour Congress are a bright spot in a world where unions and workers are under attack."
Battle for workplace safety continues
- New figures revealed that the number of Alberta workers killed on the job last year soared by 24 per cent to 136. The AFL continues to pressure the Alberta government to take real action to improve workplace safety, calling for a range of measures including posting the full safety records of employers online, rather than the meaningless statistics now provided; increasing the province's dismal record for prosecuting employers whose unsafe worksites cause injury and death (the prosecution rate for workplace fatalities is 2.8 per cent); giving inspectors the power to issue tickets for violations during inspections; and introducing mandatory worksite health-and-safety committees that include workers. For release on murder trial worksite ...; for blitzes release ...; for forklifts release ...; Day of Mourning release ...
Workers warned about delayed retirement
- An Alberta government plan - revealed by Employment and Immigration Minster Thomas Lukaszuk - to encourage workers to delay retirement to deal with a looming labour shortage raised concerns in the labour movement. "If he's talking about forcing people to work past retirement age against their choice, then he's going to have a war on his hands," said AFL president Gil McGowan. "Working Albertans won't take kindly to having their retirement dreams undermined or taken away." For AFL press release ... and for government release ...
- Your help still needed at Gate Gourmet picket line - It's been a month since about 60 workers were locked out at Gate Gourmet's facility at Edmonton International Airport. The workers had been seeking only moderate increases – barely enough to keep pace with the rising cost of living and the soaring cost of gas needed to get to and from the worksite – but were given a final offer of a three-year wage freeze and a threat to close the facility. Join them on the picket line at Airport Road. For more info ...
- May 17: International Day against Homophobia
- May 21: International Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development
- May 25: Multi-cultural Luncheon (CUPE 1158), 10410 – 111 Ave., Edmonton
- May 30: World No-Tobacco Day
- June 4: International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression
- June 5: World Environment Day
- June 11: Edmonton Pride Parade
- June 20: World Refugee Day
- June 21: National Aboriginal Day (click here for Edmonton events)
- June 27/28: AFL Standing Committees' Orientation and Meeting
Did You Know ...
- In 2008, there were 8.91 deaths per 100,000 workers in Alberta, compared to the national average of 7.14.
- In 1991, Alberta spent $11.14 per worker on health and safety programs. In 2009, it spent $10.13 per worker.
- In 2009, 620,000 Albertans (22 per cent of workforce) was employed in the top four most dangerous industries, compared to 341,000 workers (15 per cent of the workforce) in 1991.
- Between 2006 and 2009, there were 142 fatalities directly on worksite, but only four convictions – that's a 2.8-per-cent conviction rate.
MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Local police and firefighters would no longer be exempted from key restrictions on collective bargaining under a proposed bill.
A bill introduced by Independent Rep. Bob Ziegelbauer of Manitowoc would eliminate collective bargaining rights for public safety employees on health care and pension contributions. The bill does not require employee contributions to health care and pension funds, but would allow municipalities to mandate them.
Ziegelbauer says the bill is an attempt to apply key parts of Gov. Scott Walker's controversial budget repair bill to police and firefighters without "blowing up" the entire collective bargaining process. Ziegelbauer voted for Walker's bill.
Walker's bill curtails collective bargaining rights for most public employees, but exempts police and firefighters. A judge has blocked the law from taking effect.
WBAY.com, Wed May 11 2011
For years, billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch flew under the radar as they financed right-wing campaigns and extreme conservative think tanks to overturn financial regulations, corporate rules, environmental standards, workers' rights and the entire litany of "evils" on the radical right agenda.
But their cover was blown in a New Yorker article last year and further shredded when their connections to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) and his attack on public service workers and workers' rights were exposed.
Now, our friends at the Brave New Foundation—the same folks who bring us Brave New Films—are making the spotlight on the Kochs even brighter with a series of new videos in their new Koch Brothers Exposed campaign.
In the first video (above) they take us to five of the Koch's multimillion-dollar mansions around the country. Three seniors who rely on Social Security go to David's $37 million Palm Beach, Fla., estate to ask why the Kochs want to destroy Social Security.
Pushing the intercom at the $18 million Koch South Hampton beach estate, a Brave New filmmaker asks the Kochs why they are "financing all these organizations designed to smash the American worker."
He gets the same answer—nothing—at the luxurious $15 million Aspen, Colo., getaway when he asks why they are "spending millions of dollars to destroy American unions."
AFL-CIO Now Blog, Tues May 10 2011
In 2008, Milwaukee, Wisconsin became the third city in America to guarantee workers paid sick leave, joining Washington D.C. and San Fransisco. These cities are stepping up to fill a void left by the federal government, which is content to leave America as one of the only countries in the developed world that does not guarantee workers paid time off if they are sick.
The sick leave law was approved by referendum — with nearly 70 percent of voters in favor — and was upheld a few weeks ago by the state's court of appeals. However, Republicans in the Wisconsin state legislature passed a bill preempting the city's law and ensuring that no jurisdiction within the state of Wisconsin is allowed to decide it wants to mandate paid sick days. Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) — who gained notoriety for proposing a law stripping public sector workers of their collective bargaining rights and sparking mass protests — signed the anti-sick leave bill into law today:
Gov. Scott Walker has signed a bill that prohibits local governments from passing ordinances guaranteeing workers' paid sick and family leave...Walker, a Republican, says in a statement the bill removes another barrier to creating jobs.
But Walker's concern about job-loss is overblown. The Drum Major Institute conducted a study examining San Francisco's paid sick leave law and found "no evidence that businesses in San Francisco have been negatively impacted by the enactment of paid sick leave." In fact, the U.S. economy as a whole loses $180 billion in productivity annually due to sick employees attending work and infecting other workers.
Despite Walker's misguided action, as the National Association of Working Women noted, plenty of other cities are forging ahead with paid sick leave legislation:
In Philadelphia, a paid sick days bill was passed out of a City Council committee a few weeks ago, and in Connecticut, the state legislature is moving forward on a bill with bipartisan support. Paid sick days legislation in New York City has 35 City Council sponsors, legislation is about to be introduced in Seattle, and more than a dozen states have coalitions advocating actively for paid sick days and paid family leave policies. San Francisco and Washington, DC have already implemented paid sick days laws.
In the end, repealing Milwaukee's paid sick leave law is simply one more way in which Walker is undertaking his assault on Wisconsin's workers.
Wonk Room, Thurs May 5 2011
Imagine one day you woke up and there were no sanitation workers to pick up the pile of stuff in your trash. No letter carriers or postal workers to move your mail. No teachers in the classrooms, no firefighters to stop your neighbor's house—or yours—from burning to the ground.
Such is the scenario being created by many Republican lawmakers in the states who are destroying collective bargaining rights for public employees and decimating our ability to attain good middle-class jobs.
Sam Gilberg, an 18-year-old songwriter with a band, One Track Mind, thinks about the plight of workers and has created a video depicting this bleak scenario, with the hope that it will stir people to action. Watch it.
AFL-CIO Now Blog, Tues May 3 2011
Byline: Tula Connell
The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO communications team, Jim Deegan and Karen Gownley, sent us this report.
Some 5,000 private- and public-sector union workers came together in Harrisburg, Pa., yesterday to rally for a responsible budget. Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Richard Bloomingdale called it an incredible event because it
"wasn't just about public sector workers—this was about ALL working men and women in our state. Today they all came together and demanded that the budget not be balanced on the backs of working families.
Gov. Tom Corbett's recent budget proposal slashes millions from public education and other vital public services. Meanwhile, big corporations like Marcellus Shale gas drillers, pay little or no taxes to the state. As Pennsylvania AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Frank Snyder put it:
The corporate loopholes must be closed. It is time corporations pay their fair share.
The rally was sponsored by the CLEAR Coalition, which is made up of labor organizations across the state, and represents more than 1.1 million people. AFSCME Council 13 Executive Director David Fillman emceed the event, in which workers from SEIU, UFCW, PSEA and others spoke about their experiences.
AFL-CIO Now Blog, Wed May 4 2011
The Egyptian revolution has opened the door for workers' unions to mobilise in Egypt – and it is bearing fruit. The Egypt Federation for Independent Unions was established as a result of the revolution and gave their first press conference yesterday at their headquarters to raise the curtain on the 1 May Labour Day and to explain several issues.
"Before the revolution all laws limited the syndicates' activities, but the constitutional decree gives us back our rights - and here we are establishing our independent union," Kamal Abbas, one of the founders of Egypt Federation for Independent Unions, told Ahram Online.
Labour Day celebration in Tahrir on Sunday
Thousands of labourers and Egyptians are expected to celebrate Labour Day this Sunday in a way that that has never been seen prior to the January 25 Revolution.
"Workers will gather with their families in Tahrir Square on Labour Day with Egyptian flags to celebrate their day after the revolution," said Abbas.
According to Abbas, the union has informed the military council, the ministry of interior and the Egyptian cabinet about the celebration, which will kick off with a 20-minute play, then several speeches by the heads of the unions, followed by a concert of famous Egyptian singer, Ali El-Haggar.
Current labour issues
Abbas, speaking on the petition to the Egyptian state council to dissolve the General Federation of Trade Unions of Egypt, asserts: "This is a part of the old regime and the National Democratic Party, which, having been dissolved by the revolution, should also be dissolved." They are also petitioning for the NDP-affiliated trade union to have their assets frozen and transferred to the strongest independent available labour union.
Not only is this union accused of being too closely related to the old, corrupt regime, but its head, Hussein Megawer is furthermore accused of taking part in the planning of the "Battle of the Camel," which was a camel- and horse-mounted deadly attack spearheaded by the NDP of peaceful protesters on the third day of demonstrations.
Blacklist us no more from the International Labour Conference
The ministry of manpower and immigration is proposing new draft laws on the freedom of association, especially as related to labour laws.
"We are working on a law that ensures freedoms to be able to attend the International Labour Conference held in Genève by the beginning of June and delete Egypt from the blacklist," said Abbas.
Egypt was blacklisted from the International Labour Conference because the Mubarak regime denied Egyptian workers the right to organise independent trade unions, but now the Egypt Federation for Independent Unions has 12 syndicates with 250 thousands members.
ahram.org, Sat Apr 30 2011
In a joint statement, “Winds of change for social justice and democracy”, Global Unions supported the struggle by the peoples of the Arab States, with their legitimate trade unions, where they exist, to fight corruption and build democracy and social justice. The revolutions in the region served as the basis and background for a global call for action by governments for good jobs, quality public services, human rights, including trade union rights, and for measures to redress the slide into growing inequality, discrimination, and exploitation, much of it due to the explosion of precarious work.
Global Unions also initiated a joint “Declaration of Trade Unions from Arab countries for Democracy and Social Justice”. Trade union organisations in Arab countries affiliated with the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and the Global Union Federations (GUF) and some friendly, independent unions in the region were given the opportunity to sign onto the Declaration. It associates the free trade union movement with the profound changes that are underway in the region as people, often demonstrating incredible courage and determination, oppose corrupt, dictatorial regimes and fight for social and economic progress and democracy.
In connection with any possibility of the development of democracy in the region, it is vital to repeal any legislation or practices that restrict freedom of expression and the rights of journalists to independently gather and impart information on society’s needs. Transparency is part of having government that is accountable. It is a key, although not sufficient, tool to fight corruption. This is true for all countries and regions. Government control and influence over the media is far from limited to the Arab countries. In addition, in far too many countries the commercial interests of owners and advertisers can limit the free flow of information that is essential to having healthy, democratic societies.
Free information is part of combatting fear. The fact that fear has not won in several Arab countries in spite of bullets, beating and brutality inspires us all.
globalunions.org, Fri Apr 29 2011