Issue: Edmonton Catholic Schools Support Staff, members of CEP Local 52A went out on strike today, September 10, 2012. They are on strike for negotiated wage increases and working hours. The employer, Edmonton Catholic School District, refuses to negotiate the second year of wages on a two-year contract and instead wants to put into place a wage re-opener provision.
Actions Requested: Join CEP Local 52A members on the picket lines in Edmonton from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM. See locations listed on the Edmonton Catholic Support Staff Association website at http://www.ecssa.ca. The central picket is located at the district's head office at 9807 – 106 Street.
When: Today and until Edmonton Catholic Schools support staff goes back to work.
Edmonton Catholic Schools Support Staff on Strike
Edmonton Catholic Schools Support Staff from CEP local 52A are on strike for negotiated wage increases and working hours. The employer, Edmonton Catholic School District, refuses to negotiate the second year of wages on a two-year contract and instead wants to put into place a wage re-opener provision. Staff is also facing the erosion of full time positions and increased workload. Workers have less time to meet the needs of students. The membership is comprised of all Edmonton Catholic Schools support staff which includes all media resource (library) staff, teacher assistants, secretarial and clerical staff, instructors, coordinators, counselors and printing services staff.
Sisters and brothers are encouraged to join workers from CEP 52A on the picket lines from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM at the locations listed on the Edmonton Catholic Support Staff Association website: http://www.ecssa.ca/. The central picket is located at the district's head office 9807 –106 Street, Edmonton. The picket is from 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM.
For day-to-day information, please call Ishani, Director of Special Projects at the AFL: 780-483-3021.
The first 100 years
The Alberta Federation of Labour is dedicated to improving the lives of Alberta's working people, union members and non-members alike. We seek to represent all those who must work to earn a livelihood. Together workers share a need for security, safety, a living wage, a life beyond work, and a society that puts the needs of the many ahead of the needs of a few. Only by banding together into unions and organizations such as the AFL can they hope to keep the rights and protections they require and to win new ones.
The next 100 years
Those who came before left a tremendous legacy: laws that provide for a minimum wage and maximum hours of work, weekends and statutory holidays, Worker's Compensation, health and safety, pensions and health care, and so much more. The challenge facing the AFL and the entire labour movement during the next 100 years is to protect and build on this inheritance and to meet new challenges - unprotected farm workers, temporary foreign workers, invasion of privacy, new workplace hazards and occupational disease, to name a few.
If we approach our task with energy and commitment, we will succeed!
The Edmonton Journal, Friday August 31 2012
Issue: UFCW 1118 on strike/lockout for fair wages and working hours since Saturday, August 25, 2012.
Actions Requested: Support your sisters and brothers on the picket line at 127 Avenue and 76 Street in Edmonton.
When: Pickets will be going in shifts between Monday and Friday, 6 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.
Backgrounder: UFCW 1118 workers at Lilydale Foods’ North Edmonton shop are on strike for wages comparable to those in other Lilydale plants. The employer refuses to pay wages on par with other Lilydale plants despite the fact that these workers work harder by handling larger and heavier poultry. The employer has cut the number of workers on the floor, meaning those left on the floor have to work harder while their wages have remained the same. Workers are also asking for a guaranteed minimum number of hours per week. There are about 200 workers on strike in shifts of about 75.
AFL’s Position: The AFL is asking union members to support the striking workers by joining them on the picket line whenever possible - the picket line runs every day from 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Action: Support your sisters and brothers on the picket line at 127 Avenue and 76 Street in Edmonton.
Key contact at the AFL: Tony Clark, 780-218-5281 (cell)
Call it a digital warning shot.
Two Alberta unions have quietly launched a website, EthicalSpoon.com, which targets one of Canada's largest restaurant franchisers, Cara, over alleged "ethical concerns".
The barebones site, created by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Union Local 401 and the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) only states, "There are serious ethical concerns relating to Swiss Chalet, Milestones, Harvey's and Kelsey's" and to "Stand by for more information".
"Your definition of ethics and my definition of ethics may vary," says Tom Hesse, UFCW 401 union negotiator. "But most people would agree that they'd like a restaurant in their community that treats their people fairly, or at least reasonably."
"People will obviously think, 'What is going on? What are the ethical concerns?' when they go by these places. It's a very good strategy on their part." — Marjorie Griffin, Simon Fraser UniversityHesse says the ethical concerns with Cara, hinted at on the new website, were uncovered during the union's interviews with Cara's employees. The UFCW currently represents the workers of two Swiss Chalet restaurants in Edmonton.
The two parties are scheduled to meet next week, to begin collective bargaining for the Swiss Chalets UFCW 401 represents.
Hesse says the restaurants exploit immigrant workers, pays its employees poorly, ignores health and safety concerns, and is using Alberta's two-tiered minimum wage system to its advantage.
Alberta's minimum wage is set to increase from $9.40 to $9.75 per hour this September. However, the minimum wage for liquor servers, $9.05 per hour, will remain unchanged.
And because the restaurants serve alcohol, Hesse says Swiss Chalets typically pay their workers the lower rate. "They don't serve alcohol there in any meaningful way," he says. "One of the owners told me it's less than five percent of their overall sales."
Cara is a privately held restaurant conglomerate that's been operating in Canada since 1883. Its 673 restaurants in Canada reported $1.3 billion in sales in 2011.
The company declined interview requests to respond to the website or to Hesse's accusations, issuing a prepared statement:
"As discussions are still ongoing between our Edmonton franchisee and the UFCW union local representatives, it would be inappropriate for Cara to provide comment at this time."
EthicalSpoon.com will function much like EthicalShoppingAlberta.com, another website launched by the UFCW 401 and the AFL. That site, says Hesse, aims to inform diners and shoppers of the most ethically sound places to spend their money.
"You can go look at UrbanSpoon (.com) for a rating of where to eat... based on whether or not people like it," says Hesse. "But our constituency of people are saying they want to eat somewhere that treats their people fairly, that has good food safety practices, that isn't overpriced, and that buys locally."
Cara's franchises will likely be the first restaurants to be on the receiving end of an EthicalSpoon information campaign, if working conditions are not addressed soon, Hesse says.
It may turn out to be an effective strategy, but is it fair to sling mud anonymously?
"I think it's a good tactic, they've got nothing to lose by this," says Marjorie Griffin Cohen, professor of political economy at Simon Fraser University's Morgan Centre for Labour Studies.
Griffin Cohen says unions in Canada are increasingly taking to Twitter and Facebook to promote their agendas, and keeping the site's creators off EthicalSpoon makes it all the more interesting to whoever comes across it.
"People will obviously think, 'What is going on? What are the ethical concerns?' when they go by these places." she says. "It's a very good strategy on their part."
OpenFile, Mon July 30 2012
Byline: Sean Young
It has become clear that the federal government, supported by a number of employer organizations, has a plan for transforming Canada's labour market in ways that will profoundly hurt Canadians.
It's a four-prong strategy which includes the dramatic expansion of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), the erosion of Employment Insurance, raising the country's retirement age, as well as a systematic effort to undermine the ability of unions to stand up for the rights of working people and improve their standard of living.
Taken together, these policies will suppress the wages and incomes of Canadians, rather than address the real problems in Canada's job market.
As provincial and territorial federation of labour leaders, representing over three million workers from coast to coast to coast, we are calling on the premiers to stand with the workers of Canada against this cheap labour strategy.
Canada's premiers touched on some of these issues when they met in Halifax last week at the Council of the Federation. We think it is critical that the following issues be front and centre when they come together this fall to talk about the economy.
Foreign Workers: The TFWP is not immigration. It's exploitation. These workers, many of whom are desperately seeking a better life, are being used to create an underclass to drive down the wages and working conditions of Canadians. It's not fair or just to them, or to their Canadian co-workers. The recent decision by the Harper Conservatives to allow employers to pay temporary foreign workers 15 per cent less than their Canadian co-workers is a blatant example of their low-wage strategy.
With 1.3 million unemployed, and several hundred thousand more discouraged or underemployed Canadians, our focus should be on providing opportunities for Canada's unemployed and underemployed.
Employment Insurance: Instead of tackling unemployment in many regions of our country, the Harper plan has been to attack the unemployed. The Conservative government's changes to EI are clearly designed to force workers to take low-paying jobs or have their unemployment benefits cut off. This is not about helping the unemployed find jobs — rather, it is about serving them up to low-wage employers.
Old Age Security: Increasing the country's retirement age to 67 has nothing to do with the sustainability of our social programs or with retirement security. It is about forcing older workers who have struggled with low and medium wages throughout their working lives to work two more years. It is about expanding the pool of desperate workers who have no choice but to work for less.
Attacks on unions: Unions are one of the few mechanisms to protect the rights of working people and improve their standard of living. What unions achieve at the collective bargaining table lifts the floor and improves living standards for all workers. Unions also fight for and are instrumental in making gains for all society, like the establishment of medicare, health and safety laws, and fair minimum wages.
But the Harper government has a clear plan to attack unions. The government has undermined collective bargaining in the federal sector, and emboldened employers to drive down wages and attack pensions in the private sector. In addition, through legislation like Bill 377, the Harper Conservatives are attempting to rob unions of the ability to use their resources to defend their members and civil society.
So, what is the solution? Canadians need our country's premiers to denounce this low-wage agenda and stand up for what is in the best interest of working people.
When the premiers meet this fall to discuss the economy, we believe the labour market ought to be front and centre in that discussion. They must denounce the exploitive expansion of the TFWP. They must collectively demand that Ottawa invest more in training to bridge the skills gap, so that unemployed Canadians can fill available jobs.
Premiers should also call for improvements to Canada's EI program, as fewer than 40 per cent of unemployed Canadians are currently eligible for benefits. We need our premiers to challenge the notion that Canada must increase its retirement age to 67. What's really needed is pension reform that will allow all Canadians to retire in dignity, such as improving and enhancing CPP. And finally, the premiers should recognize and defend the important role unions play in our society and our economy.
The provinces have power. Our premiers understand that Canada is more than the sum of its parts.
Canadians need our premiers to push back. And when they do, Canadians, the vast majority of us, will be with them.
Halifax Chronical Herald, 2012 July 26
Submitted by the presidents of the provincial and territorial Federations of Labour: Rick Clarke, Nova Scotia; Lana Payne, Newfoundland and Labrador; Michel Boudreau, New Brunswick; Carl Pursey, Prince Edward Island; Sid Ryan, Ontario; Kevin Rebeck, Manitoba; Larry Hubich, Saskatchewan; Gil McGowan, Alberta; Jim Sinclair, British Columbia; MaryLou Cherwaty, Northern Territories.
Issue: The MacEwan Staff Association is seeking a new collective agreement for the more than 700 non-academic staff at MacEwan University in Edmonton.
Actions Requested: Join the workers as they hold an information picket/walk at all MacEwan University campuses.
When: Over the noon hour tomorrow, Wednesday, December 14th.
Backgrounder: Non-academic staff at MacEwan University are in negotiations for a new collective agreement.
AFL's Position: The more people who join these workers on an information picket/walk tomorrow (Wednesday), the louder the message to employers that the labour movement is united in support of these workers and that they need to offer them a fair deal. Their last agreement expired June 30th .
Action: Show your support for the workers and send a message to the employers. Join the workers as they hold an information picket/walk at all MacEwan University campuses over the noon hour tomorrow (Wednesday), December 14th.
- Non-unionized Beer Outlets an Privately Owned Wine Boutiques (cause: opening of non-unionized shops)
- Canada Post Franchise Outlets (privatization of Canada Post)
- NORPAC Food Processor Boycott [support for Oregon Farmworkers (PCUN) - this Oregon-based food processor has refused for eight years to negotiate a first contract] - Note: February 18 PCNU signed framwork for agreement. Boycott has been suspended but will not be cancelled until an agreement is reached.
- Sklar Peppler, Alan White Branded Furniture, and its manufacturer, AW Manufacturing (in support of approximately 100 USW members. After moving to Ajax from Whitby, Ontario in 2006, Sklar Peppler went into bankruptcy in August of 2008. The President of Sklar Peppler bought the company's assets out of bankruptcy in late 2008 and proceeded to close the facility. He then bought AW Manufacturing Inc., another furniture manufacturer in Mississippi, USA, and now uses product from that plant to sell to Sklar's customers. The hard-working Steelworkers who were employed by Sklar Peppler in Canada not only lost their jobs, they lost their severance pay in the bankruptcy proceedings.)
Strikes and Lockouts
UFCW 401 at Forest Lawn Sobey's, September 30, 2011 - November 27, 2011
CAW Local 2002 (Air Canada), June 14, 2011 - June 16, 2011 - Canadian Auto Workers Local 2002 at Air Canada file 72-hour strike notice - picket lines set up on Tuesday, June 14, 2011 at Calgary and Edmonton International Airports (national strike) - Air Canada refused to remove major concessionary demands on existing pension plan - June 16, 2011 - deal reached with Air Canada and CAW 2002 after federal government said it would introduce back-to-work legislation - pension issue to arbitration.
CUPW, June 2, 2011 - June 27, 2011 (National) - Canadian Union of Postal Workers file 72-hour strike notice - rotating strikes began Thursday, June 2nd, 11:59 p.m. EDT (9:59 p.m. MT) - Rally/dance June 3rd - nationwide lockout June 15, 2011. Ordered back to work on June 27, 2011.
- UFCW 401 (Gate Gourmet) at Edmonton International Airport, April 16, 2011 - July 1, 2011 - main issue remaining was company's demand for three-year wage freeze; the settlement included a wage increase and no concessions.
- UFCW 401 (McKesson Canada) - June 28, 2010 (Edmonton) - strike ended September 1, 2010
- UFCW 1118 (Canada Malting) - August 24, 2010 (Calgary) - The major issue in the dispute is the company's insistence on moving from a defined benefits pension plan to a defined contributions plan - strike ended November 6, 2010
Issue: In an attempt at union-busting, Sobeys has tabled an offer to members of UFCW 401 at the store in Forest Lawn in Calgary that does not include a return-to-work agreement for striking workers. The workers have declined to vote on the offer, so the strike continues.
Action Requested: Join the rally to support the workers at the store at 5105 – 17 Avenue SE, Calgary.
When: 4:00 p.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesday, November 16th.
On Saturday November 12, 2011, UFCW local 401 members at Forest Lawn Sobeys declined to vote on the company's latest offer because it did not include a return-to-work agreement for striking members. This is a radical step in collective bargaining. The absence of such an agreement sends a strong message that the company is not interested in bargaining, it is only interested in union busting. Not having a return-to-work agreement leaves the door open for the employer to try to punish workers for exercising their right to strike. The Sobeys family is one of Canada's richest, with skyrocketing net worth into the billions of dollars. Canadian Business magazine ranked them in 25th spot on its Rich 100 list in Canada, with a net worth of $2.26 billion, with their wealth growing rapidly in the last two years. Meanwhile, they have been pushing for concessions from employees at a Sobeys store in Calgary.
AFL's Position: The AFL is asking union members to support the striking workers by joining them on the picket line whenever possible (the picket line runs every day from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.) and by attending the rally on November 16th. We are asking retail customers to avoid shopping at all Sobeys outlets until they sign a new collective agreement that respects workers.
Action: Join the rally from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, November 16th, at the Sobeys outlet store at 5105 17th Avenue. S.E., Calgary.
Issue: Members of UFCW 401 at the Sobeys store in Forest Lawn, Calgary, are on strike as the employer seeks cuts to wages and benefits.
Action Requested: Join a rally to support the workers at the store at 5105 – 17 Avenue SE, Calgary.
When: 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., Wednesday, November 2nd.
Issue: The Sobeys family is one of Canada's richest, with skyrocketing net worth into the billions of dollars. Canadian Business magazine ranked them in 25th spot on its Rich 100 list in Canada, with a net worth of $2.26 billion, with their wealth growing rapidly in the last two years. Meanwhile, they are pushing for concessions from employees at a Sobeys store in Calgary.
AFL's Position: The AFL is asking union members to support the striking workers by joining them on the picket line whenever possible and by attending the rally on Nov. 2. We are asking retail customers to avoid shopping at all Sobeys outlets until they sign a new collective agreement that respects workers.
Action: Join the rally from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, November 2nd, at the Sobeys outlet store at 5105 - 17th Avenue. S.E., Calgary.
Issue: Members of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners Local 2010 at Peri Formworks in Calgary have been on strike since July 4.
Actions Requested: Join the picket lines to show your support for workers as they attempt to get a fair contract.
When: 3:00 p.m., Thursday, October 27th.
Backgrounder: Workers at Peri Formworks have been on strike for more than 113 days in a bid to get a first collective agreement. They are seeking only a reasonable wage and fairness in the workplace.
AFL's Position: Members of other unions need to show their support for these workers fighting for basic rights and respect.
Action: Join them on the picket line at 3 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 27 at 29 Industry Way SE, Calgary.