Thursday, March 27, 2014

Suncor loses another round in push to test oilsands workers for alcohol, drugs – Journal of Commerce

article at Journal of Commerce: March 26, 2014

Suncor loses another round in push to test oilsands workers for alcohol, drugs

Oilsands giant Suncor Energy has lost another battle in its attempt to randomly test thousands of union workers in northern Alberta for drugs and alcohol.

A court-ordered arbitration panel has sided with the union Unifor that represents 3,600 workers in the Fort McMurray area and which had filed a grievance against the policy.

The majority of panel members ruled there is no evidence that there is an out-of-control drinking or drug culture at Suncor.

The panel said the random testing policy is an unreasonable exercise of Suncor's management rights.

Suncor says it will ask the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench for a judicial review of the ruling.

The union says it will work with Suncor to improve workplace safety through education and prevention programs.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

United Steelworkers Local 9346 (Elkview Operations) V. Teck Coal Limited

article: Mondaq - Canada:

In this decision, a labour arbitrator refused to prohibit the implementation of a random drug and alcohol testing policy pending a decision on the merits of a grievance filed by the employees' union.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Construction firm will re-hire Canadians replaced by workers from Croatia

read full article at Calgary Herald: EDMONTON - The company that laid off 65 Canadian ironworkers from their jobs at the Kearl oilsands project earlier this week and replaced them with temporary foreign workers has reversed course.

Pacer Promec Joint Venture (PPJV) confirmed on Friday it will re-hire the Canadians who had been replaced by workers from Croatia on the project located north of Fort McMurray.

But on Friday evening, Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour, said the company had not yet contacted the 65 Canadian ironworkers.
“To date, no formal offers to give the workers their job back have been made, either to the union that represents the workers or to the individual workers,” McGowan said.

Friday, January 10, 2014

How the UBCJA spends members dues money

2010 Las Vegas UBC convention with red, white and blue showgirls for the appointed delegates.

see more at Red, White and Blue in Vegas
read irate commentary at Local370voice

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Teck continues random drug testing at Elk Valley coal mines

read full article at The Free Press By Tamara Hynd - The Free Press
Published: November 25, 2013 3:00 PM Updated: November 25, 2013 3:51 PM

The United Steel Workers local 9346 (Elkview) took Teck Coal Ltd.’s drug and alcohol testing policy to the Court of Appeal while the issue is before the Labour Relations Board in efforts to halt the testing in the interim. On Nov. 12, the BC Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal for an interim injunction on Teck's drug and alcohol policy on the grounds that the Labour Relations Board has jurisdiction on the matter. That means Teck can continue to randomly test employees for drug use at five of the open pit coalmine facilities in the Elk Valley while the matter is currently before the Labour Relations Board.

The Court of Appeal made no determination as to the actual injunction, or the merits of the case, or any other determination regarding the legality of random testing. They simply decided they did not have the jurisdiction to even look at the injunction case, and decided it belonged before the Labour Board where it now currently resides.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

B.C.’s construction industry turns to Ireland to fill jobs

 read full story by Keven Drews, The Canadian Press, Published on Mon Oct 14 2013

B.C.’s construction industry turns to Ireland to fill jobs | Toronto Star: B.C.’s construction industry turns to Ireland to fill jobs

VANCOUVER—The current shortage of skilled tradespeople in Western Canada is so dire that the B.C. Construction Association is returning to Ireland this month to hire 600 people, said the group’s vice-president.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Seaspan gets second federal contract

October 16, 2013
Seaspan gets second federal contract
Seaspan Marine Corporation has been awarded another multi-billion dollar shipbuilding contract by the federal government, which will require at least 1,000 more skilled workers for the construction of 10 new non-combat ships for the Canadian Coast Guard.
“Obviously, this is very good news,” said Jan Noster, president of the Construction Maintenance and Allied Workers union. “We are a little anxious and hope they start building the first ships soon.”
The federal government announced on Oct. 7 that Vancouver Shipyards will be building up to 10 vessels for the Canadian Coast Guard at an estimated cost of $3.3 billion.
This investment is for up to five Medium Endurance Multi-Tasked Vessels and up to five Offshore Patrol Vessels.
The investment is in addition to the $8-billion contract that was awarded to Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards in October 2011 for the construction of seven non-combat ships, under the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy (NSPS).
The first contract is the largest federal government procurement awarded in B.C. history.
It involves the construction of Offshore Fisheries Science Vessels, an Offshore Oceanographic Science Vessel, and Canada’s first Polar Icebreaker for the Canadian Coast Guard.
The new ships increase Seaspan’s Non-Combat build package to 17 ships from the seven originally announced.
“They have redone the whole infrastructure in the shipyard with a $200 million investment to modernize and bid on international work,” said CMAW Local 506 marine and shipbuilding business agent Percy Darbyson.
“Currently, we have about 300 people on the site. They are building barges and tugboats, which are part of Seaspan’s regular business.”
The NSPS is now in its fourth phase, with the designs of the initial set of ships being finalized and the shipyards undertaking the infrastructure upgrades required to enable them to build Canada’s ships efficiently.
“We are one year into our Shipyard Modernization Project, and with approximately one year remaining, the transformation of Vancouver Shipyards has been profound,” said Brian Carter.
“In addition to the progress on facilities, we are making a huge investment in people, processes and tools. We continue to recruit the best and brightest engineers, project managers and procurement personnel to join the Seaspan team and look forward next year to increasing the number of unionized tradesmen and women once we commence construction of our first ship under the NSPS project.”
Darbyson said work for the NSPS is scheduled to start in October 2014. He anticipates that CMAW’s workforce on the site will increase from about 300 to more than 1,000 workers between October 2014 and October 2016.
CMAW members do all ship construction except for electrical and pipefitting, which involves 20 trades.
The two government contracts will have will CMAW members building ships in three shifts, 24 hours per day until the year 2020.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Random drug and alcohol testing leads to harder stuff

This is an article in the NY Times.

NY Times: In one of the court’s most important decisions, the judges have expanded the use in terrorism cases of a legal principle known as the “special needs” doctrine and carved out an exception to the Fourth Amendment’s requirement of a warrant for searches and seizures, the officials said.

The special needs doctrine was originally established in 1989 by the Supreme Court in a ruling allowing the drug testing of railway workers, finding that a minimal intrusion on privacy was justified by the government’s need to combat an overriding public danger. Applying that concept more broadly, the FISA judges have ruled that the N.S.A.’s collection and examination of Americans’ communications data to track possible terrorists does not run afoul of the Fourth Amendment, the officials said.

Here is a link to the Wikipedia article on the 1989 court case involving the testing of the railway workers because of "overriding public danger" that eventually became the shit storm leaked by Edward Snowden:

Skinner v. Railway Labor Executives Association, 489 U.S. 602 (1989), was the U.S. Supreme Court case that paved the way for random drug testing of public employees in "safety sensitive" positions.

[T]he Government interest in testing without a showing of individualized suspicion is compelling. Employees subject to the tests discharge duties fraught with such risks of injury to others that even a momentary lapse of attention can have disastrous consequences based on the interest of the general public […] While no procedure can identify all impaired employees with ease and perfect accuracy, the FRA regulations supply an effective means of deterring employees engaged in safety-sensitive tasks from using controlled substances or alcohol in the first place.
You might note that in the current court cases involving Teck, Suncor and Irving currently before the courts in Canada those companies are using the expression "enhanced safety risk in the workplace"

you will see it used here:

Monday, June 17, 2013

Supreme Court of Canada quashes random alcohol testing in dangerous workplace

read full article at Canadian Employment Law Today: Top court overturns lower court decision using safety as justification for testing without cause; employee privacy trumps safety without proof of existing problem

"Even in a non-unionized workplace, an employer must justify the intrusion on privacy resulting from random testing by reference to the particular risks in a particular workplace," said the Supreme Court.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Workplace random alcohol tests rejected by top court

read full article: New Brunswick - CBC News
Supreme Court says Irving pulp mill's random testing policy has 'severe' impact on privacy

The Supreme Court of Canada has overturned a company's right to impose mandatory, random alcohol testing on its unionized workers in a dangerous workplace.

In a 6-3 decision released on Friday, the court ruled the policy unilaterally adopted by Irving Pulp and Paper Ltd. in Saint John in 2006 for employees in safety sensitive positions is unreasonable.
The Supreme Court of Canada says random alcohol testing by an employer is only justified in certain circumstances.The Supreme Court of Canada says random alcohol testing by an employer is only justified in certain circumstances. (Canadian Press/Adrian Wyld)

A dangerous workplace is not automatic justification for random testing, the court ruled in the case, which dealt narrowly with unionized workers and management's ability to balance privacy rights with the need for safety in dangerous workplaces.

The decision says dangerousness of a workplace only justifies testing particular employees in certain circumstances:

Where there are reasonable grounds to believe an employee was impaired while on duty.
Where an employee was directly involved in a workplace accident or significant incident.
Where the employee returns to work after treatment for substance abuse.

"It has never, to my knowledge, been held to justify random testing, even in the case of 'highly safety sensitive' or 'inherently dangerous' workplaces like railways (Canadian National) and chemical plants (DuPont Canada Inc. and C.E.P., Loc. 28-0 (Re)(2002), 105 L.A.C. (4th) 399), or even in workplaces that pose a risk of explosion (ADM Agri-Industries), in the absence of a demonstrated problem with alcohol use in that workplace."

Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, Local 30 v. Irving Pulp & Paper, Ltd.

Supreme Court of Canada - Decisions

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Construction industry group calls for government crackdown on 'unscrupulous contractors' in Metro Vancouver

read full article by Jessica Barrett, Vancouver Sun

A group of construction professionals is pressing the federal government to crack down on “unscrupulous contractors” they say have made it impossible for law-abiding companies to compete in the industry.

In a letter sent to Public Safety Minister Vic Toews last week, Wayne Cox, executive secretary-treasurer of the B.C. Regional Council of Carpenters, said the problem of unethical payroll practices and illegal workers in the Lower Mainland is rampant.

Cox also represents a group of non-union and union industry workers that authored a 2011 discussion paper on the issue that was sent to the Canada Revenue Agency, the Canada Border Services Agency and the RCMP.

“The construction industry in Vancouver, in particular the carpenter, formwork and drywall sectors, have been devastated by the use of illegal immigrants by unscrupulous contractors,” the letter states.

“Low wages, payment by cash … and other illegal schemes have made it virtually impossible for legitimate employers to do business and employees to earn a living wage in the construction industry in Vancouver.”

Cox commended Toews on the high-profile Canada Border Services Agency raid earlier this month that resulted in the arrests of eight men working at an east Vancouver construction site. The raid was filmed by a TV crew for the documentary series Border Security and at least five of those arrested have been issued deportation notices.

In an interview Monday, Cox said the raid has pushed the issue of illegal workers on to the public radar. But his letter encouraged Toews to get to the root of the problem by publicly prosecuting employers.

“We anxiously await the (Border Security) episode where the real culprits, the contractors and subcontractors who devise these illegal schemes, are arrested, fined and serve jail sentences,” he wrote.

Read more:

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Tembec to sell its NBSK pulp mill in Skookumchuck, British Columbia

Tembec press release:

MONTREAL, March 26, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ - Tembec Inc. ("Tembec") announced today that it has reached an agreement to sell its NBSK pulp mill and related assets and liabilities located in Skookumchuck, British Columbia to Paper Excellence Canada Holdings Corporation ("Paper Excellence") for a purchase price of $89 million, which includes working capital. Closing of the transaction is expected to occur in the second calendar quarter of 2013 and remains subject to certain conditions and regulatory approvals.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Time to Retire ‘Scabby the Rat’, Says Top AFL-CIO Official

read full article at Local 157 blogspot

Scabby the Rat'
Go to any labor rally and you are likely to see a towering symbol of union pride: a 16–foot-tall, inflatable plastic rodent known as “Scabby the Rat.” Although “scab” is a derogatory word for temp workers hired by bosses during strikes, in Scabby’s case, it’s a term of affection.

According to the website of Big Sky Balloons & Searchlights, the exclusive makers of Scabby the Rat, the floats were originally designed for Chicago unions. Since then, “the rats have multiplied and are found thriving throughout the U.S.A.”

However, Scabby may be harder to find at rallies if one union leader gets his way. Today, Sean McGarvey, president of the 2-million-strong AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department, tweeted, “Meeting with our Presidents and state councils. Issued a call to retire the inflatable rat. It does not reflect our new value proposition.”

The call to retire Scabby was met with dismay by some in labor movement. In response to McGarvey’s tweet, Chicago labor activist (and In These Times contributor) Micah Uetricht tweeted, “Booooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.”

“You can’t spell DIRECT ACTION without RAT” tweeted another Pittsburgh area organizer.

Monday, January 07, 2013


The CMAW Vancouver office has an opening for an Organizer/Service Representative that is able to work independently as well as be part of a team.  You will be a motivated, self-starter who will be able to take the initiative.  Travel on short notice will be required periodically.

Resumes will be accepted via email only.  Please email a covering letter with your resume to prior to February 15, 2013.

Only those that are short listed will be contacted.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Drug tests anger B.C. miners' union

British Columbia - CBC News
Posted: Dec 8, 2012

The giant Teck Mining Company has begun conducting random drug tests on workers at its southeast B.C. mines — a move the miners' union calls outrageous and a violation of rights.

The testing began at five mines in the Elk Valley this week as some workers among the 3,500 coal miners and contractors were randomly selected and asked to urinate into a cup.

It's all about safety, Teck spokesman Nic Milligan said.

“We believe it is a deterrent, and if an employee tests positive, it is not a firing offense. That employee has the opportunity to go for treatment,” Milligan said.

Milligan said dozens of job applicants go through the same process and test positive for drugs every year.

Union incensed

The miners' union is incensed about the tests, calling them an illegal trampling of employee rights.

“I think it's humiliating, degrading and demeaning and I think it's a violation of workers' privacy,” said Alex Hanson, president of United Steelworkers Local 9346.

“It completely obliterates the trust of the employee-employer relationship.”

Hanson said the union will take the issue to the Supreme Court to try to have the testing stopped.

Milligan said the company has taken the employees’ rights into account in carrying out the program.

“We take privacy rights seriously, but we think the random program creates a reasonable balance between privacy and the safety of all our workers.”

Friday, September 14, 2012

There are workers aplenty for Kitimat with the right union

By Ken Lippett, Vancouver Sun

Re: Kitimat smelter project suffers skilled labour shortage, Sept. 10

The Construction Maintenance and Allied Workers (CMAW) has 70 carpenters and apprentices working on site at the Kitimat modernization project (KMP); this is down from a high of 121 carpenters and apprentices in March/April.

The article states that the project is short 50 carpenters.

CMAW has always been able to supply this project with tradespersons, the majority of whom came from northwestern B.C. There is still a supply of tradespersons wishing to work on the project. In addition there are an additional 25-30 applicants per month wishing to join CMAW.

What Colleen Nyce from Rio Tinto/ Alcan (RTA) must be referring to is the inability of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (UBCJA) to supply carpenters and apprentices to the Kitimat project.

In 2008 RTA's managing contractor, Bechtel, chose to do a deal with the American carpenters union (UBCJA) that attempted to exclude the Canadian union CMAW from the project.

Through a B.C. Labour Relations Board order and a directive from RTA to Bechtel, CMAW was written into the Project Labour Agreement (PLA) as a participant union. There are two separate and distinct carpenters unions on that project.

The CMAW was formed in 2004 when over 95 per cent of the B.C. members of UBCJA voted to leave that union, forming the CMAW, head-quartered in Vancouver and led by an elected board of Canadian tradespersons from Western Canada.

It is the contractors who have no relationship with CMAW who are having the perceived supply problem.

One reason the UBCJA contractors may have a supply problem on the project is that they believed the UBCJA's claim that supply of tradespersons would be no problem.

It is CMAW's opinion that the UBCJA assumed temporarily unemployed CMAW members would come flocking to the UBCJA contractors. This has not happened.

Another issue that aggravates the problem is the distaste the majority of CMAW's members have in working under a UBCJA agreement (an organization they voted overwhelmingly to leave).

The manifestation of this issue is a perceived supply problem.

There is no skills shortage in the carpentry trade in northern B.C.

Ken Lippett First vice-president, CMAW © Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Read more:

Monday, September 10, 2012

IN MEMORIAL 18 UBCJA Union Carpenters Sept. 11, 2001

SEAN CANAVAN, 39 Brooklyn NY Initiated 1981. Finish/Furniture. Local 608. Father and brother are also UBC members. Survivors include his many beloved nieces and nephews.

MARTIN COUGHLAN, 53 Bayside NY Initiated 1987. Interior Systems. Local 608. Immigrated with family from Ireland in 1987.Wife Catherine; Orla (27),Ailish (24), Sinead (21), Denise (19).

MATTHEW DIAZ, 33 Brooklyn NY Initiated 1998. Floorlayer. Local 2287. Reached safety but returned to help others.Wife Karen; Michael (7), Christopher (3).

PAUL GILL, 34 Astoria NY Initiated 1986. Carpenter. Local 608. Fulltime NYC firefighter lost in the line of duty. Wife Tina; Aaron (14).

MAURICIO GONZALEZ, 27 NYC, NY Initiated 1995. Carpenter. Local 608. Held dozens of skill and safety certifications. Wife Evan; Nina (1).

MAURICE KELLY, 41 Bronx NY Initiated 1980. Interior Systems. Local 157.Acoustical ceilings specialist. Children Danielle (17), Sean (10), Thomas (7).

CHRIS KIRBY, 21 Bronx NY Initiated 1997. Carpenter. Local 608. A third-year apprentice and sports lover.

BENJAMIN MILLMAN, 40 Staten Island NY Initiated 1999. Carpenter. Local 608. Wife Toby; Brandon (14), Maghan (7).

JOSEPH MISTRULLI, 47 Wantagh NY Initiated 1982 Interior Systems. Local 157. Foreman and holder of numerous certifications. Wife Philomena; Joseph (22), Mary (21),Angela (16).

BRIAN MONAGHAN, 21 New York NY Initiated 2001.Apprentice. Local 157. Reached safety but returned to help others

DAVID ORTIZ, 37 Bronx NY Initiated 1998. Carpenter. Local 608. Employed by the Port Authority (NYC transit agency).

, 48 N. Arlington NJ Initiated 1973. Carpenter. Local 157. Immigrated from Poland in 1962. Wife Rosemary; Brian (23), Laura (21), Steven (18).

JOHN RIZZO, 50 Brooklyn NY Initiated 1979. Carpenter. Local 608. Wife Concetta; Giuseppe (20), Luigi (10)

DANIEL ROSETTI, 32 Bloomfield NJ Initiated 2001. Journeyman Carpenter. Local 15 (NJ). Was thrilled to “work above the clouds, close to heaven.” Fiancee Christine Bennett; son Justin (14 mos.)

DAVID RUDDLE, 31 Bronx NY Initiated 1996. Interior Systems. Local 157.The youngest of eight children. Daughter Amanda (11).

STEPHEN RUSSELL, 40 Arverne NY Initiated 1987. Carpenter. Local 45. Fulltime NYC firefighter lost in the line of duty.

, 41 Brooklyn NY Initiated 1987. Journeyman Floorlayer. Local 2287. Children Kathleen and Raymond.

, 36 Staten Island NY Initiated 1996. Furniture Systems. Local 608. Beach goer, dog lover, strong union man. Survived by both parents and two younger brothers.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Commentary: Labor Day and Peter McGuire

Read the full article by Sharon K. Williams

"No festival of martial glory or warrior’s renown is this; no pageant pomp of war-like conquest … attend[s] this day. It is dedicated to Peace, Civilization, and the triumphs of Industry. It is a demonstration of fraternity and the harbinger of a better age—a more chivalrous time, when labor shall be best honored and well rewarded."—Peter McGuire

Peter J. McGuire, a young carpenter, stood before New York’s Central Labor Union on May 12, 1882, to suggest an idea of setting aside one day a year to honor labor. His idea was simple. The day should "be celebrated by a street parade which would publicly show the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organization."
"No festival of martial glory or warrior’s renown is this; no pageant pomp of war-like conquest … attend[s] this day. It is dedicated to Peace, Civilization, and the triumphs of Industry. It is a demonstration of fraternity and the harbinger of a better age—a more chivalrous time, when labor shall be best honored and well rewarded."—Peter McGuire

The trade unionists, enthusiastic about the idea, quickly established a committee to plan the event. The committee chose the first Monday in September because "it would come at the most pleasant season of the year, nearly midway between the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving, and would fill a wide gap in the chronology of legal holidays."

McGuire, a man of many talents, became known as the "Father of Labor Day." He was born into a poor family on July 6, 1852, in a Lower East Side tenement in New York City. His working career began at the age of 13. He held many different jobs and was quoted as saying, "I have been everything but a sword swallower…and sometimes I was so hungry, a sword—with mustard, of course—would have tasted fine."

Monday, August 06, 2012

CAW and CEP are exploring the possibility of building a new union together.

New Union Project
The Canadian Auto Workers Union and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada are exploring the possibility of building a new union together.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Sask. labour shortage 'worst in history,' most non-union employers can't hang on to workers

read the full article at Calgary Herald: More than 80 per cent of Saskatchewan's non-union contractors believe the current labour shortage is the worst in the province's history, with nearly three out of four unable to hire a journeyperson within three months and four out of 10 unable to hire at all.

Merit Contractors Association Saskatchewan, which represent 225 "open-shop'' or non-unionized contractors employing more than 4,000 workers in the province, also said 85 per cent of its member-companies are having difficulty retaining employees.

The association recently commissioned a survey of its members to determine the extent of the labour shortage and its impact on construction activity. Karen Low, executive director of the association, said the survey indicated that the labour shortage was a much bigger problem than previously thought.

"(Until) the last year, even our sector didn't realize how dire it had become,'' Low said. "I don't think anybody anticipated (the growth in construction activity)."

With two-thirds of companies having difficulty retaining skilled employees, combined with the cost of finding and training new employees, the labour shortage is delaying some projects and driving up the cost of construction, she said.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

CAW holds contest to name possible merged union

Windsor - CBC News

A contest in Windsor, Ont., aims to come up with a new name for the Canadian Auto Workers if the union merges with the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada.

The road to a merger hasn't met any bumps yet. The proposal goes to a CAW convention in Toronto next month, and a CEP gathering in October.

CAW Local 444, to which national president Ken Lewenza belongs, is asking for input from union members on an appropriate new name.

"This is a way for them to understand what's happening in regards to the discussions and as we get closer to that merger, there is going to be a name change and our members need to recognize that," said Dino Chiodo, president of the local, which has members working at the Chrysler Windsor Assembly Plant, Caesars Windsor and other workplaces in Windsor.

The deadline for name suggestions is early next month.

A committee will choose five top names and send them to the national union.

The merged union is expected to have 325,000 Canadian members.

blog note: back in April ago I suggested to Josh Coles that it be named CAPICE U-- stands for Canadian Auto Paper Industry Communication and Energy Union ...