Thursday, November 30, 2006

Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters versus the Dept. of Labor

Blocking Carpenters move for more bureaucratic power - by Judith Schneider, Union Democracy Review #164
After a complaint by Jeff Fearon of Chicago Local 58 and other members, the U.S. Department of Labor rejected an effort by the union to make its council structure even more rigid and even less subject to challenge from the membership. The Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters represents 47,000 members of 42 locals in 82 counties in three states. In May 2006, the department sued to void the July 2005 election of officers of the Chicago council. The key issue in dispute is a provision in the council's bylaws which requires all aspiring candidates to have previously served as council delegates for three successive years to be eligible to run for regional office. The department challenges this rule as unreasonable.

The suit also charged that not all council delegates had been elected by secret ballot. Apparently, if you were a regional officer when the delegate elections occurred, you were automatically declared a delegate from your local. The DOL sought new nominations and elections of all council delegates and all council officers.

Catalyst Buys Sylvan Warehouse

Tim Thompson - Viewpoint:
One last thing to note, I'm certain that Catalyst believes Sylvan's workers are unionized but CLAC is not a recognized union by the CLC or the BC Fed. It is one of those so-called Rat Unions that we grew so fond of during the 94-95 labour dispute. Currently, in Local 592, we have a ban on visits to Sylvan, in large part because of how some of their workers responded to CEP organizing attempts in the past.

But, by taking jobs away from the mills and giving them to Sylvan, they are probably paying less in wages and salaries and pretty much guaranteeing labour peace because the workers there really aren't represented by a union.

Doesn't everybody just love this company we work for? And they say they like us. I'm not sure we could be treated much worse if they hated us.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Rig worker pay jumps nine per cent

Edmonton Journal
Education pays especially well in Alberta oil and natural gas fields this fall.

Drilling hands who make the grade for their new occupational title as rig technicians are hitting a wage gusher.

Hourly pay jumped about nine per cent for veterans who quickly passed exams set by the province's apprenticeship system.

Increases average about five per cent for workers who have not yet completed the program begun last winter by oilfield employers, trade schools and the Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training Board.
"We wanted to send a message," said Don Herring, president of the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors.
"We are trying to communicate that you can make a career in this business."
No crews in the 835-rig western Canadian drilling fleet belong to unions. But the CAODC posts recommended pay standards after canvassing employers, reviewing oilfield personnel needs and checking wages offered by rival recruiters of skilled blue-collar workers such as construction firms that often have organized labour.
Base wages for top rig hands, drillers or foremen, rise $1.25 to $37.25 this fall. But they make $39.25 if they earn a $2 "rig tech premium" by passing Alberta's new apprenticeship exams.

The premium is $1.50 an hour for the two rungs below driller on the rig occupational ladder, assistant driller and derrickhand. The education bonus is $1 an hour for the first level requiring technical training, motorhand.

No premiums are available to two novice ranks, leasehands and floorhands, who do rig heavy lifting and cleaning as basic training in the trade's blend of hazardous machinery, high technology, 12-hour shifts around the clock every day of the week, remote locations and harsh weather.

But the beginners receive pay raises this fall. Pay for entry-level leasehands rises by $1 or five per cent to $21 an hour.

Annual earnings on junior to middle rungs of the drilling job ladder typically average $60,000 to $100,000. Top hands can make $150,000 or more depending on types of technology and specialized activities on their rigs, Herring said.

Alberta's rig technician program, a world first in the oil and gas industry, lays out a three-year apprenticeship of on-the-job and classroom training. But veterans are allowed to obtain journeyman tickets immediately if they prove they have the right experience and pass written exams.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Judge asked "To Bell the cat" ...

Judge to be asked who should lead Telus union - By Fiona Anderson, Vancouver Sun
Published: Friday, November 24, 2006
The contract dispute between Telus Corp. and its union may have ended a year ago but the bitter aftertaste remains, with union representatives scheduled to be in court today looking for a judge to decide who should be their leader.

An application started in the name of the Telecommunications Workers Union is asking the court to keep president Bruce Bell from acting or purporting to act as president of the union. Bell, on the other hand, is claiming the TWU has not authorized the action against him. Bell is also seeking an injunction to stop the disgruntled union executive members from interfering with his ability to do his job.
The court action comes a year after the union ratified a new contract after almost five years of often acrimonious negotiations and four months off the job.

The work stoppage -- called a lockout by the union and a strike by Telus -- led to divisions within the union, some of it along geographical lines. In Alberta, Telus reported that more than half of its unionized employees crossed picket lines to go to work, while B.C. workers stayed off the job. Before the new contract, workers in the two provinces were covered by separate collective agreements.

The move to oust Bell is supported by TWU's vice-president responsible for Central and Eastern Canada, John Carpenter. Carpenter has been acting as president of the union since July, when members of the TWU's executive council purported to oust Bell for dereliction of duty. Bell successfully appealed that decision to an ombudsperson appointed by the Canadian Labour Congress and was reinstated in October. In the current application before the court, the TWU alleges that the ombudsperson was biased and his decision should be overturned.
The Vancouver Sun 2006

Sunday, November 19, 2006

WCB 'rogue state'

Politicians, injured workers and their advocates are demanding the provincial government launch a public inquiry into Alberta's Workers' Compensation Board.
'The WCB is operating like a rogue state within the Alberta government. We've known for a long time about the complaints workers have had with the board, but to see so much substantiated? Its behaviour is just unconscionable.'

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Relaxed Foreign Worker Rules Will Lead to More Abuse of System, says AFL

Relaxed Foreign Worker Rules Will Lead to More Abuse of System, says AFL - Canada Newswire
The Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) responded to Citizenship and Immigration Minister Monte Solberg's announcement this morning that the federal government will be relaxing rules for the importing of temporary foreign workers by predicting it will lead to greater abuse of the system, more exploitation of foreign workers and suppression of wages in Alberta.

'In Conservative-speak, 'streamlining' is shorthand for 'let employers do what they want.' I do not trust Harper's government to protect either the foreign workers coming to Canada or to ensure Canadian workers are not pushed aside,' observes AFL President Gil McGowan."

Monday, November 13, 2006

The new web and the unions

click to read the full text by Eric Lee of LabourStart
But unions are not rushing forward to create websites that are full of content produced by their own members. The vast majority of union websites are traditional, one-to-many forms of broadcasting just like television and radio.

There are some notable exceptions. In Britain, the Trades Union Congress launched a website some time ago called At its core, the site is a giant discussion forum in which union reps (shop stewards) get to talk about whatever matters to them. It has been a phenomenal success story, studied by academics and the subject of a lot of attention. But it has not been emulated.

The typical union website – even in unions which ordinarily would see themselves as encouraging member participation – is written by officials, designed to be read by members. There is very little that members can do on these sites other than read what their leaders have to say.

It is quite ironic that websites owned by the likes of Murdoch are wide open, examples of free-ranging discussion and debate, while the websites of the trade union movement are closed, tightly regulated, censored and controlled.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

JVD - Catalyst: An Obscene Love Story...

CEP 1123 Online
Finally, the cat is out of the bag. those of us who thought that the JVD debacle on the recovery cyclone job during the July mill down was going to turn the most obscene love story in our labour history into a bad dream are dead wrong.

They're BAAACK..... 1000 man-days for demolition work in the mill (Mostly #3 PB and precipitator). Our forceful push-back at the CIC table got us the following answer: This is $1,000,000 that is being pushed down from Vancouver head office. There is no option like improvements that would increase reliability, or production, or quality. You get this or you get nothing, while the head office is telling JVD yes dear, you sort of disappointed me on the first try, but here is a million dollar blue pill.

The way that the Kraft Mill has turned itself around is a credit to all the people involved. Some reports would have you believe that it was a gathering of great minds that made it possible. Ideas and great plans are realized by OUR HANDS.?

JVD gets a million, you get a golf shirt.?
Wear it with pride.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

CMAW brass could learn from USW:

Instead of blaming this blog for the International twisting Dave Coles' nose over the Pulp Fiction agreements in the Nov/Dec '06 issue of The Carpenter, the Divine Right could wake up to the fact that there is no official website, no hard copy newsletter since August (having terminated On the Level) no CMAW mail out since June 16th (and what a biased potboiler that was), and no internet presence to communicate with the members since the last update on June 28th.

The BC Carpenters Union had a court mandated convention in October, but the only obvious source of information on that seems to be this weblog or horrors! The Carpenter Mag!! What about the second injunction that resulted from the outcome of the convention? Nothing has been sent to the members on that either.

Furthermore, there is no other forum or vehicle for members to voice their questions, concerns and opinions and no information at all is exchanged except among the Top Dawgs as they circle and sniff. I have offered suggestions and extended invites to Jan "The Anointed" Nosterdamus on how to help further the interests of our union via the internet - even to making available a domain name (again - but that's another story eh Coles the Younger?) - I hope the Janster responds with more than the suggestion of possibly a mail-out before years' end and an adjective-laced directive to kill this blog.

Read the article below to see how the Steelworkers do it.
fraternally, dave livingston

USW: What Is Rapid Response
Grassroots: Rapid Response is the Steelworkers' nonpartisan grassroots education, communication, and action program that involves every member.

Communication: Rapid Response allows for almost instant personal communication with every USW member on any given subject.

Education: Rapid Response provides the necessary structure to inform every USW member about pending legislation concerning labor and work-related issues. All information identifies the issue, its effect on workers and their families, and the sponsors and supporters.  It also asks for a specific response.

Action: Rapid Response Action Calls provide USW members with a way to respond to the education provided. Rapid Response also provides the necessary structure to activate the USW membership to provide for real change in our ability to influence the legislative process. This system provides the necessary infrastructure to generate tremendous action on any given issue.

Change: Rapid Response provides the tools to generate necessary changes in the legislative process to ensure that labor survives and flourishes far into the future.

Opportunity: Finally, Rapid Response provides opportunity for all USW members to have a strong voice and an active part in the legislative activities that affect their daily lives. This program allows USW members to fight back on a daily basis on issues that affect them, their families, and their communities.