Thursday, May 31, 2007

Catalyst Paper laying off 185 at Port Alberni operation

Vancouver Sun
Catalyst Paper said Wednesday it is shutting down one of two paper machines at Port Alberni, laying off 185 people in the Vancouver Island community and eliminating another 130 jobs across the company.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

International unions provide better benefits, training, safety

read full text: Daily Commercial News - Letter to the Editor
Dear Editor,
I would like to comment on the position taken by the Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC) in a letter to the editor that appeared in Daily Commercial News on May 22, 2007.
The views expressed by the representative of CLAC are humorous but also very misleading and must be corrected.

In the letter, CLAC is presented as a legitimate alternative to the long-established international building trades unions. In reality, however, CLAC merely plays hand-maiden to employers by negotiating employer-specific agreements and lumping all trades into one contract.

Traditional building trades unions like the Operating Engineers, Boilermakers and Carpenters, to name just a few, have solid reputations and track records of representing workers, providing proper training for apprentices and working towards better health and safety.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

CMAW: Vote Yes!

Click here for the link to a PDF version of the draft constitution.
"Vote Yes to the CMAW Constitution"

B.C. sees jump in construction injuries

Vancouver Sun
B.C.'s booming construction industry had a 'startling' increase in serious injuries last year as the sector struggles with a continuing labour crunch and a young and inexperienced workforce.

A majority of these injuries were the result of falls, workers being hit by falling or swinging objects, and overexertion.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Unions want jobs back

The Chronicle Journal, Canada
“We‘re sick and tired of watching all these jobs leave and everybody packing their bags and moving to Alberta,” United Steelworkers Local 1-2693 president Joe Hanlon told the cheering throng.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Oilpatch workers rake in the pay: study

Edmonton Journal
As the energy sector booms in Western Canada, workers in the oil and gas sector are commanding 80-per-cent more in wages than the average Canadian employee, a gap that has widened more than 20 per cent in the past decade, a new study shows.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Tension within Canada's labour movement

Journal of Commerce
Although some members have pulled out of their internationals and formed their own Canadian unions, most of the trades remain content to be internationalists. Yet they could be subject to the same push and pull of accountability to U.S HQs.

It’s a delicate situation, which Canadian officers work assiduously to maintain as a mutually beneficial relationship. Even so, there are occasions when relations become at least wobbly, as in the case of the Carpenters Union where various factions are currently striving for control inside or outside the international, whichever side prevails.

According to Stanford, problems at the Toronto local of the Labourers International Union, where officers were also removed by the international, are another example of tensions even among the building trades that can lead to breakaways. Stanford’s own union some years ago led the biggest retreat from international unionism but there have been others.

The B.C. wing of the International Woodworkers of America, once the biggest union in the province, broke from its international to become independent, although it later joined the international Steelworkers Union in a search for protection by a bigger organization in the winds of change sweeping through the forest industry.

IBEW president Hill upholds Canadian member's rights

By Matt Noyes, Union Democracy Review #167
In sustaining Speranza's appeal, Hill rejected the argument that Speranza was himself responsible for everything posted by other users of the site. Speranza managed the open forum responsibly, Hill said, noting that IBEW members who run independent web sites cannot be expected to "inspect every conversation as to its accuracy and whether it violated a provision of the IBEW constitution" and cannot be subject to union discipline based on comments by others.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

US trade union on China visit

China Daily
James Hoffa, a delegate and Chair of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, said dialogue between China and US trade unions are of great importance.

"You can never ignore a nation of 1.3 billion people," he said.

"We expect to have a frank interchange and talk with our Chinese counterparts on issues such as how we can respectively improve the living standards of our member workers."

Hoffa said Change to Win unions share common employers with millions of Chinese workers throughout the service, transportation and industrial sectors, like the United Parcel Service Inc (UPS).

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Brawn and brains required

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
When would-be apprentices apply to join the carpenters union, the first thing they have to do is take a math test. It's a sign of the increasing importance of math and computers, even in a traditionally low-tech field such as carpentry.

'You gotta know math,' said Dave Dougherty, a 25-year-old third-year millcabinet apprentice. 'Math doesn't lie.'

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Second Tank Collapses at Fort McMurray Work Site

Edmonton Journal
On April 24, two Chinese citizens working for Chinese contractor Sinopec Shanghai Engineering died instantly when the roof of a large storage tank collapsed. Four other workers, also from China, were injured.The investigation into the April collapse is expected to take months.

Nobody was near the tank that collapsed Saturday because a stop-work order from the April accident was still in effect, Frey said. 'There wasn't any work going on the site.'Saturday's collapse will be examined as part of the investigation that was launched in April, he said.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Labour Movement Calls for Shutdown of CNRL Tank Farm

Canada newswire
At its Biennial Convention today, Alberta Federation of Labour delegates voted unanimously for a resolution calling for the immediate shutdown of the CNRL Tank Farm site north of Fort McMurray until government health and safety inspectors determine that the worksite is safe.

The resolution was made in response to news that a second tank collapsed late Saturday night. A first collapse killed two workers last month.

'A second collapse this quickly after the first tragic accident raises many questions about how safe that workplace is,' says AFL President Gil McGowan. 'The labour movement is demanding that the site be shut down until such time that government safety officers can assure workers on that site and all Albertans that it is safe.'

More foreign workers on the way
An agreement between Alberta and the federal government will allow 25,000 foreign workers per year to come to the province to aid in its worker shortage.

Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach says the agreement will cut red tape and give the province increased influence and control of immigration.

Steeplejack Industrial Group Inc. Announces Signing of Albian Sands Expansion 1 Contract to Be the Exclusive Provider of Scaffold Equipment

CCNMatthews (press release)
Steeplejack will be setting up a yard at Jackpine Mine from which to manage the total scaffolding equipment requirements for Albian Sands Expansion 1. Albian Sands will purchase and rent their scaffolding from Steeplejack. The supply of labour to erect and dismantle the scaffolding is not contemplated in this agreement.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

'It's outrageous' - Steel plant to employ mostly foreign workers

Edmonton Sun
Alberta workers should get a crack at filling more than 2,000 jobs at a Malaysian company’s new steel plant in Tofield, the labour community demanded Tuesday.

Sun Media reported exclusively Tuesday that the KNM Group plans to staff the 2,600 employee plant with mostly overseas staff via the Temporary Foreign Worker program, with only 200-300 leftover jobs for Albertans.

It plans to start construction next month, despite still needing months of regulatory approvals.

“It’s obviously a concern, although I can’t say it’s a surprise — this is Alberta, after all,” said Nick Stewart, president of United Steelworkers Local 1-207.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

La Vie Est Bellences ...

CEP 1123 Online: (Life is Beautiful)
What an interesting total mill down we had: the mill was once again crawling with contractors. Mostly from JVD. Being assigned to #5 PM and the TMP during that week, I saw some good examples of over manning and Cover Your A$$.

Jobs like the gear changes on the backside of #5PM, where a crew of six or seven did in 36 hours what our mill crews have done in the past with three people in 16-18 hrs. Add to that the owner’s reps, foremen, area supervisors and our own Maintenance Department staff poking their nose in there regularly to see what is happening (because they were told to!) and you end up with a very expensive way to save money.

The Survival Agreement signed a year ago was supposed to reduce the costs of contracted-out services for Catalyst. Flying 62 Millwrights from Quebec, guaranteeing them seven days wages, room and board, airfare, $500.00 bonus for a three day shut down that could by their own admission, have been done by 20 contractors hardly qualifies as a bargain.

Meanwhile, some JVD employees were sent home after less than two day’s work, that is what happens when you live in the area I guess. The mill crews were kept busy during the down, working long hours, which means that some found work could not be taken car of (we are busy, and JVD is outrageously expensive…)

By talking to the Millwrights from Quebec, I learned that the Survival Agreement is comparable to what they get at home. However, they had no idea on how the deal came about, and were interested to find out about it.

From one job to the next, JVD seems to get pricier, to the point where the maintenance of the mill is adversely affected since it is impossible to spend the same dollar twice, but this is coming from the same company that made 3.9 million in operating earnings in 2006 and waves goodbye to its CEO with $4.8 million severance, which would take from January 1st 2006 to March 9th 2007 to earn, with all of us pitching in.

Construction industry wooing tradespeople

Construction industry wooing tradespeople - Business Edge, Canada
Program hopes to attract more Aboriginal involvement
Homebuilders in Saskatchewan are grappling with a relatively new problem: How to build enough homes to meet the demand in the marketplace.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Oilsands deaths reignite worker safety debate

Business Edge News Magazine
The deaths of two Chinese workers at an oilsands construction site in northern Alberta has reignited a debate over Canada's temporary foreign worker program.

AFL sets up Temporary Foreign Worker Advocate Office

Canada NewsWire (press release)
The Alberta Federation of Labour is creating a new Temporary Foreign Worker Advocate Office to help protect the basic human and workplace rights of vulnerable foreign workers in the province.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

How ya gonna get 'em out of the tar sands?

Unionized carpenters on mainland Nova Scotia have ratified a new contract with contractors who are members of the Construction Management Bureau, says a recent release from the union.

The new collective agreement for members of locals 83 and 1392 of the Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island Regional Council of Carpenters, Millwrights and Allied Workers includes wage increases and pension and training fund improvements.

Journeymen carpenters are to earn $34.21 per hour under terms of the two-year deal, it says.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

May Day

Unions need to re-energize - Tom Cooper, Hamilton Spectator, Canada
Although Canada celebrates officially on the first Monday in September, many jurisdictions around the world consider today their official Labour Day.

Throughout the 20th century, Canada's labour movement made important strides in pushing for progressive changes in the workplace. Despite sometimes violent opposition from business and government, unions were largely responsible for advancements such as safer workplace conditions, fair hours, paid holidays ... even the concept of 'the weekend.'