Saturday, December 30, 2006

workplace safety: all hat and no cattle

Courts take companies to task for poor safety record - By Eric Beauchesne, Canwest News Service
OTTAWA - Canada's worsening workplace-safety record is putting more than workers at risk, as the courts are cracking down on companies and supervisors deemed not to have done enough to protect their workers and others, legal and safety officials say.

Prosecutors are seeking, and judges are imposing, higher fines against companies and supervisors, says Toronto lawyer Peter Brady, a partner at McCarthy Tetrault, who deals with occupational health and safety issues.

''What five years ago would have been a fine of $30,000 or $40,000 is now upward of $100,000,'' Brady says. ''That kind of multiplier is being applied across the board.

''Companies have to have their due-diligence ducks in a row,'' he says.

Brady's warning follows a recent report that on average nearly five Canadians died every single working day last year because of a work-related accident or illness.

Friday, December 29, 2006

CEP accuses Catalyst of Smoke & Mirrors

CEP fights concessions... -
I will conclude with a quote from our CEP Western Region Vice President, Don MacNeil that sums it up quite nicely. “We are sure wondering what game Catalyst is playing.” “They talk about investing money to improve operations and increase profits but for some reason they are still demanding concessions from our members in Port Alberni rather than just simply going ahead with this lucrative investment. If they think for one minute that they are going to get concessions from our members just to improve profits for shareholders, they have another thing coming.”
I could talk about the rise in contracting out, a direct result of the evil plot that parachuted JVD in our mills under the guise of survival, and yet without much consideration for cost control and quality workmanship.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Alberta's gain Nova Scotia town's loss

Edmonton Journal
In the past six years, nearly half-a-million Canadians have migrated to Alberta from all corners of the country, leaving empty homes and worried communities in their wake.

And nowhere is the impact of the exodus more apparent than in southwest Nova Scotia, where residents of Clare say anywhere from 300 to 800 people -- roughly five per cent of the municipal population -- have gone to Alberta since the spring of 2005.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Labour tug-of-war

Irving Oil is poised to launch a $7-billion expansion at its Saint John refinery, a project that needs 5,000 construction workers and 1,000 permanent staff.
It all sounds familiar.
Just what we needed.
Tough competition for labour.

A labour tug of war: Go West for the jobs - Financial Post
The latest salvo was a glossy-covered, 40-page publication distributed this month in Alberta's major cities that was supported by provincial governments and major employers in Atlantic Canada. Created by a company owned by New Brunswick's powerful Irving family and titled Come Home to a career in Atlantic Canada, the publication pits Alberta's high cost of living and stressful cities against Atlantic Canada's affordable housing and laid-back lifestyle.

'The price of seafood is significantly higher in Alberta,' the publication points out. 'Fresh cultivated mussels, for example, cost $1.69 a pound at Sobey's in Moncton, and $3.38 at Sobey's in Calgary, and Atlantic Canadians know there is nothing like these delicious tastes of home.'

Add the exorbitant cost of housing in Alberta, which is sometime triple the cost of a similar house in New Brunswick, and the cost of living in the East starts to far outweigh any salary differences.'

The publication was put together partly in response to similar brochures recently circulated in Atlantic Canada by Western Canadian provinces and employers.

Both regions of Canada are fighting for the same skilled workers to support growth.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Judge grants TWU an injunction banning union leader

Judge grants TWU an injunction banning union leader
Published: Friday, December 08, 2006
B.C. Supreme Court Judge Joel Groves today granted the Telecommunication Workers Union an injunction banning union leader Bruce Bell from acting as its president.
It is a temporary resolution to the ongoing bitter dispute that split the union following the ratification of a controversial contract with Telus Corp. a year ago.
"This is very much a Band-Aid solution," Groves said, but added that it was necessary to allow the TWU to function.
Groves' ruling upholds an August decision by the union's internal decision-making body, the TWU trial board, removing Bell as president.
He rejected the appeal decision of Canadian Labour Congress ombudsman John Shields, which reinstated Bell, and denied the now-former president his application for an injunction to stop the union from interfering in his role.
Groves did, however, rule that the Bell is still entitled to remain a TWU member in good standing so that he may vie for the president's job again in union elections to be held at its convention next March.
© Vancouver Sun 2006

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Court lets Telus union fire its president -- but rules he must remain a member

Vancouver Sun Dec. 9 - subscription required
B.C. Supreme Court Judge Joel Groves on Friday granted the Telecommunication Workers Union an injunction upholding its decision to fire Bruce Bell as its president.

archived articles -
Telecommunications Workers Union Awarded an Injunction - Canada NewsWire
BURNABY, BC, Dec. 8 /CNW/ - Today, the BC Supreme Court granted an Interim Interlocutory Injunction restraining Bruce Bell from representing himself to any person as the President of the Telecommunications Workers Union (TWU), or for seeking to exercise any powers of the President of the TWU.

The TWU deemed the application for an injunction necessary as it was evident that Bruce Bell refused to recognize Executive Council's authority or to follow their direction. Executive Council are responsible for running the Union and for the day to day servicing of the membership.

"We are pleased that Justice Groves has granted this injunction. The TWU will now move forward focusing our energies and resources in the servicing of our membership. Our members expect and deserve principled leadership. This injunction ensures that checks and balances remain in place which will protect our members," explains TWU Acting President John Carpenter.

The Telecommunications Workers Union represents over 11,600 members within the Canadian communications sector for over 55 years.

For further information: TWU Acting President John Carpenter at (403) 237-6990, TWU office - Calgary; or visit the TWU website at

seems i recall a lot of folks at the BCPC convention using the now overturned injunction in TWU/Bell case as a precedent for not voting out the resident officers...

Monday, December 04, 2006

Pulp Fiction hits Powell River

Mill faces cuts - The Powell River Peak
Powell River's paper mill will look much different in the future as the company plans for a leaner operation.

Brian Baarda, Catalyst Paper Corporation vice president and Powell River mill manager, said the company is discussing with its 690 employees what the Powell River division needs to look like. "We've done a lot of benchmarking of other sites and what we've seen is that other people are able to run a site this size with fewer people," he said. "Because of the economic times facing the industry, there have been mills that have gone to their employees for changes in wages or to local governments for reduction in taxes in order to survive."

The company has not announced any layoffs for 2007, but it has said it is cancelling the 37-and-a-third-hour work week and employees will be returning to a 40-hour week, said Mike Verdiel, president of Local 76 of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers' (CEP) Union of Canada.

Workers went to a 37-hour workweek in 2001, after the kraft mill was shut down. Local 76 negotiated for the reduced hours in order to save jobs.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

No Solidarity

click for full article: | W-FIVE
Local 183 of the Labourers International Union - LIUNA for short - is the biggest union local in North America. Located in Southwestern Ontario, mostly in Toronto, it boasts 35,000 members, who work in the construction business.

At Local 183 they like to boast that if they stopped working, Toronto would immediately fall into recession. But these days, Local 183's battles aren't with the boss, they're internal, as the local is mired in a nasty fight, pitting member against member and local against the parent International.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

In Detroit: Carpenters corruption is centralized and efficient

Union Democracy Review #164
According to the Detroit News Ralph Mabry, executive secretary treasurer of the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters, was sentenced to two years in prison and a $50,000 fine for receiving $127,000 from contractors in discounts toward building his $803,000 home. His assistant was sentenced to a year and a day plus a $3,000 fine.

There's something special about this case. As executive secretary treasurer of this regional council, which represents 23,000 carpenters statewide, he was endowed with authoritarian power that insulated him from membership control and gave him near-dictatorial control over all local affiliates and staff members, local or regional. In justifying the reorganization of the union and combining all locals under all-powerful executive secretaries, International President Douglas McCarron argued that such a super-centralized system was imperative to end petty corruption in the union and to make the union more effective in meeting the great challenges of our epoch.

In one odd, limited but not unanticipated way, McCarron was right. Petty local corruption seems to have been replaced, at least in Michigan, by more efficient, centralized corruption at a higher level.