Political Attacks on Labour Continue Unabated

The Federal Government is currently sponsoring a group of anti-union legislation under the guise of Private Member’s Bills.

FIGHT_OF_OUR_LIVES_LOGOC-525 would eliminate ‘card check’ for organizing workplaces under the Canada Labour Code. ‘Card Check’ grants Union Certification if 50%+1 of the prospective Members sign an application. This will allow employers to bribe or intimidate employees during the run-up to a vote.

C-4 would weaken an employee’s right to refuse unsafe work. Only imminent danger would be grounds for refusing work. The Federal Bargaining Agents (Unions) of the National Joint Council sum it up this way:

Bill C-4 undermines the right to collective bargaining, eliminates important human rights protections, and will make every federal workplace less safe for its workers and the Canadians they serve. The Bill was drafted with no consultation with public sector bargaining agents and eliminates labour rights gained over the last fifty years, and severely undermines the ability of federal employees to negotiate on a fair playing field. The Bill gives the federal government’s Treasury Board the unfettered right to determine what constitutes an essential service, which workers are denied the right to strike, and which collective agreements will be decided through arbitration.  The Bill also changes arbitration by limiting the independence of arbitration boards. Bill C-4 gives the Minister of Labour the authority to throw out any unsafe work refusal complaint without investigation, leaving employees who refuse unsafe work open to discipline, including dismissal. If the Minister chooses, an investigation can be undertaken in secret. The impact of these changes to health and safety protection will reach far beyond the federal public service to the 1.2 million private and public sector workers covered by the Canada Labour Code.

C-377 would put onerous reporting obligations on Union, where every expenditure greater than $5,000 would have to be reported and made public. Though this information is already available to Union Members, under this Bill, Union would have to undertake the costly and time consuming task of documenting and reporting everything from pension payments to office supply purchases. This Bill was rejected by the Senate for unfairly targeting Unions while leaving corporations untouched but has been reintroduced this session by the Federal Government.

Some provincial politicians dream of emulating the worst of American Labour law.

Right to Work for Less has been a fact of life in some of the poorest US states, such as Alabama and Louisiana since the 1960s. In the last few years, some of the Rust Belt states, such as Michigan and Indiana have introduced the policy. Under Right to Work for Less, employees are not required to join a union or pay dues in a unionized workplace. Further, the Union is obligated to represent the, though they neither belong to the Union nor pay dues. This strengthens the hand of the employer leading to lower wages and benefits state wide. For those who pay dues, payroll check off is illegal and the Union has to collect the dues form each member individually. Total dues are approximately 30% less and the collecting of dues becomes an expensive proposition. Some politician, especially Tom Hudak, leader of the Conservatives in Ontario, have been especially vocal in proposing this vile medicine for Ontario as unscrupulous employers have moved from Ontario to right to work for less states.

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Canadian Centre For Policy Alternatives Releases Counter Budget


In anticipation of tomorrow’s release of the Federal Budget, the CCPA has produced a counter budget.
There is a also a two page summary of the 10 priorities which guided this counter budget.

1)    Reduce Povery and Inequity
2)    Bring Down Unemployment
3)    Restore Fairness to the Tax System
4)    Create a National Accessible Child Care Program
5)    Expand Our Public Health Care System and Create a National Pharmacare Plan
6)    Repair Our Cities and Build Sustainable Communities
7)    Protect and Improve Federal Pensions
8)    Invest in First Nations
9)    Invest in Post Secondary Education
10) Address Our Enviromental Challenges

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Jack Layton’s Passing


Jack Layton gave a rousing speech at the 2011 CLC Conference

The Machinists Union mourns the passing of Jack Layton. Jack was Leader of Canada’s New Democrats and of Canada’s Official Opposition. He was 61 years old.

Jack’s vision and his tireless energy transformed the NDP into Canada’s official
opposition. He was someone who believed in social democracy and spent his whole life bringing that message to Canadians.

It is a sad day for Canadians and democracy that this great leader has passed away just as he was reaching his peak. Jack launched the NDP into Canada’s official opposition for the first time in its history after the May 2011 general elections. The dream of forming Canada’s governing party falls to those who follow in his footsteps.

Jack supported the Machinists Union in our many struggles and was always available to speak to us when we needed him.

The Machinists Union in Canada and the officers, staff and members send our deepest condolences and our strength to Olivia and Jack’s family. Jack will be missed by all.

Dave Ritchie
General Vice President IAMAW Canada

Please visit http://www.ndp.ca/
Jack Layton’s final message to Canadians

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Message of support to Jack Layton as he receives treatment


On behalf of the entire Machinists membership, I want to commit to you our complete cooperation while you step away to take care of your health. Furthermore, I want to send a message of support in this new battle and let you know that the Machinists, as always, are prepared to do whatever is necessary, both personally or in the political arena during this trying time.
Here’s to a speedy recovery. Yours in Solidarity,

Dave Ritchie
General Vice President IAMAW Canada

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Canadian Labour Congress Constitutional Convention 2011

Over 2,000 Union Delegates Met At Canada Place In Vancouver For the Week of May 9-13

Delegates concentrated on several important areas of business:

  1. Introducing new mechanisms to resolve inter-Union raiding
  2. Restructuring of the CLC Executive to make it more accessible for smaller Unions 
  3. Preparing for the Harper government’s attacks on workers and their families
  4. Promoting improvement to Pensions for all Canadians

Delegates approved amendments to the Constitution creating a new mechanism to mediate disputes between Unions over raiding of members. Previously, all disputes were dealt with by the President and Executive Council. This led to the preception of bias towards the larger Unions. Now an independent Umpire will mediate disputes. Another problem was Union Presidents blaming ‘rogue’ locals for raiding. The ranking Union officer for each of teh 52 affiliate Unions will swear to “not attempt to recruit their [other Union’s] members”. 

The Executive will be replaced as the governing body of the CLC by the Canadian Council which has representation from:

  • all 52 affilliate Unions,
  • 12 territorial and provincial Federations of Labour,
  • 10 women from the largest public and provate sector unions,
  • 2 representatives of workers of ‘colour’,
  • 1 representative of Aborignal workers,
  • 1 resprestnative of disabled workers,
  • 1 represetative of GLBT,
  • 1 young worker representative,
  • 1 representative of retired workers

as well as the CLC President, Secretary-Treasurer, and 2 Vice Presidents

Delegates are heartened by the electoral success of the New Democrats in forming the official oppostion for the first time. It is as strong an opposition as any in Canada’s history. But the joy inthe success of the friends of labour is tempered by the Harper majority government and his undisclosed policies to be implelments to the detrimet of workers in Canada.
Jack Layton gave a rousing speech to the thunderous applause of the delegates.

The CLC policy initiative to improve pensions has nationwide appeal. The banks and Harper are trying to divert this need to create yet another fund for banks to manage and so profit from the basic needs of workers. The CLC will contimue this high profile campaign, looking to enroll the support of Provincial Governments and Canadian from sea to sea to sea.

Panel discussions , with moderators such as Wendy Mesley and Ina Hanomansing of CBC, deal with the topics such as “What Derailed the Post-War Social Contract?”, “The Silent Majority: Starting the Conversation” and “The Solution is Political: Moving to Political Change”. expert panelists gave their opinions and fielded questions from the floor.

Evening sessions included a showing of the Academy Award winning documentary “Inside Job”. The director, Charles Ferguson, spoke at the main session and answered questions before the screening. An International Forum gave delegates a chance to interact with labour leaders from Tunisia, Kenya, Bangledesh, and Columbia.

Dance and music acts started each morning and afternoon session, highlighting the diversity of Canadian culture. Sek dancers, native dancers, a jazz band, Japanese drummers and a blues band were among the highlights.

The last day was taken up with workshops on using the new social media and pension security.

The IAM was represented by 31 delegates from across Canada. The Convention was a great success and every delegate left enthused and ready to face resist the anti-worker agenda of the Harper Government.

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