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.

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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 ...

Monday, July 02, 2012

Union Democracy Under Attack In North West

read the full article at Respect our Crafts
An Assault on Union Democracy
Fighting for the Soul of the Carpenters’ Union
by SHAMUS COOKE
All working people should pay attention to the egregious assault on union democracy happening in the Carpenters Union’s Pacific North West Regional Council, which covers all the Carpenter’s Locals in Oregon, Idaho, Washington, Wyoming, and Montana. The United Brotherhood of Carpenters has a proud history and should take immediate action to overturn a recent Regional Council decision that disciplined innocent, union-dedicated Carpenters with fines and a loss of membership privileges. Those punished included twelve Carpenters who had recently won elections to lead their local union – mega-Local 156 of Oregon and South West Washington – as well as many regional delegate seats. The newly elected President and Vice President of Local 156 – as well as the other newly elected officers on the slate – are now facing fines up to $1,500 and six years of stripped membership privileges (the Carpenters interviewed for this article chose to remain anonymous, for fear of further retaliation). What were the crimes of these long standing union Carpenters? They held a “get out the vote” phone bank. For this they were charged with:

1) causing dissent in the ranks
2) failure to uphold the union oath
3) defrauding the union.

The real crime of the convicted Carpenters was that they ran a well-organized election campaign promising to reform their union on a pro-democracy basis, and they won.

Their campaign succeeded because they reached out to the union rank and file at the work sites while campaigning to fight for more democracy and transparency in the union and, more importantly, for better contracts by fighting harder against the employers attempts to reduce the standard of living of the membership. The reform group raised all of the money at their disposal at work sites from rank and file Carpenters.

Turmoil had been simmering in the Regional Council for quite some time, since century-old Carpenters locals throughout the state of Oregon and South West Washington were shut down and merged into a “mega-local,” which was done in a way that restricted the democracy previously enjoyed by the smaller locals.

For example, rural carpenters were made to drive hours to attend a union meeting if they wanted a voice in their union, since their local office was closed. Statewide decisions were centralized without the ability of carpenters to participate in the decision making process on a local level. The connectedness that Carpenters felt to their union was removed by hundreds of miles; their personal investment in their union was forcibly made impersonal.

The “mega-local” phenomenon has been a virus running throughout organized labor for years, creating the above, predictable effects. The reform-minded Carpenters saw this happening in their union and fought back against it.

read the rest of the article