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: http://www.vancouversun.com/Construction+industry+group+calls+government+crackdown+unscrupulous+contractors+Metro+Vancouver/8150533/story.html#ixzz2PQFAxewi

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 council@cmaw.ca prior to February 15, 2013.

Only those that are short listed will be contacted.