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April 24, 2014
Ontario Public Service Leaders Sign a Solidarity Pact
"The bargaining agents representing the majority of Ontario government employees have joined forces to defend against employer contract concessions and protect public services."
OPSEU, April 16, 2014: "Ontario Public Service Leaders Sign a Solidarity Pact"
AMAPCEO, OPSEU, PEGO, April 16, 2014: "Solidarity Pact: Ontario public sector unions pledge to work together" (1 page, PDF)
"Six bargaining agents representing 57,000 Ontario public servants working directly for the government of Ontario are joining together to fight off government demands for devastating cuts to members' financial security and health and wellness benefits."
"The unions today pledged their support for AMAPCEO, which is facing unprecedented demands for claw backs, concessions and cuts. The unions believe these demands contradict the recent declaration of the Premier who said 'it would be a mistake to declare war on labour... we don't need that kind of risky, radical approach.'"
AMAPCEO Media Release, April 16, 2014: "Unions Come Together to Fight Government Demands for Concessions" (2 pages, PDF)
AMAPCEO Video, April 17, 2014: Unions Sign Solidarity Pact to Fight Government Demands for Concessions
University of Toronto to be Ruined by Ideologues?
"The institution is one of a handful of research universities in Canada where faculty are not certified as a trade union. As a result, the University of Toronto Faculty Association (UTFA) is limited in the range of matters that can be bargained during contract negotiations with the university, and cannot go on strike."
UTFA President Scott Prudham on certification:
"It's an option that's always out there," said Scott Prudham, president of the UTFA. "But the goal is to arrive at a negotiated way forward that's an alternative to certification." [current SJAC negotiations]
"It is simply outrageous that that the ideologues who purport to represent us even raise the notion. They should be embarrassed. Sure they can say that it happens at other Universities in Canada. But when ever was that robust logic for doing something incredibly stupid and destructive?"
"We simply can't let University of Toronto be ruled and ruined by ideologues.
The Globe and Mail, April 20, 2014: "U of T faculty consider option to unionize," by Caroline Alphonso
"Perhaps Martin isn't a horny-handed coal miner or bolting wheels on cars at an auto plant. But he and his colleagues have as much right as anyone to the legacy of the sometimes bloody battles fought for workers' rights, rights which have come under siege in an era of globalization."
"Highly-paid public servants (which in some sense university professors are) have belonged to unions for decades, as have other professionals such as nurses and journalists."
"And let's not forget organizations like the National Hockey League Players Association. Its members pull down seven- and eight-figure salaries and can negotiate individual contracts but its collective bargaining agreement provides a framework and minimum terms for all players."
"Martin also ignores the fact his colleagues are already bargaining collectively, just not under Ontario Labour Code provisions governing unions."
"He also argues union certification would scare off talented academics from coming to the U of T."
"'I just don't think really high-quality professors would want to work in a union environment,' Martin told the Globe."
"I suspect other universities might disagree. The Globe noted certified unions represent more than 80 per cent of faculty members at Canada's research universities."
Yahoo News, April 21, 2014: "While U of T faculty mulls union certification, some profs are opposed," by Steve Mertl
Union Democracy and the Rand Formula
"This CCPA series documents the critical role unions have played in reducing inequality and enhancing democracy in Canada, and examines the forces working to undermine union strength."
"The Rand Formula is a formula dating back to 1946 when a decision was made during an arbitration hearing by Justice Ivan Rand that union dues would be paid by all employees benefiting from the collective agreement, not just signed union members. This means the employer deducts the dues from all employee paychecks and then forwards those funds to the union. The Rand Formula prevents employees from benefitting from the work of the union, while not paying union dues."
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, April 17, 2014:"Unions and Democracy," Christopher Schenk (17 pages, PDF)
Pay Inequality in Professional Sports
"The Toronto Raptors are in the playoffs(!!!) despite the fact that they traded their star player Rudy Gay mid-season."
"Or: the Toronto Raptors are in the playoffs(!!!) because they traded their star player Rudy Gay mid-season."
"It's impossible to know which sentence is correct, but it's fun to speculate. That's exactly what I do with labour economist Rafael Gomez, who has studied the issue of pay inequality as it applies to professional sports teams. In some cases, it turns out that paying some players too much and others too little has resulted in big mistakes for some pro sports teams. We discuss the lessons all employers can learn from that."
TVO's The Agenda, April 23, 2014: "Pay Inequality in Professional Sports" with Rafael Gomez, by Meredith Martin
Temporary Foreign Workers Program Problems
"Allowing more low-skilled immigrants into Canada and requiring them to settle in regions of the country with labour shortages is one option, says Jeffrey Reitz, an immigration expert at the University of Toronto."
"Larry Hubich, head of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour, is calling for something he calls "proactive immigration."
"So let's develop a number that's reasonable and that encourages citizens from other countries to come to Canada to work and set up residence here by providing the supports required to build communities. Often new immigrants end up in remote locations where they don't have community and they're isolated; we need to be pro-active in helping them settle here."
"As well, Hubich said, the government must do a better job ensuring there aren't Canadian workers who would happily do the jobs filled by temporary foreign workers."
CBC News, April 22, 2014: "Replace Temporary Foreign Worker Program with immigration, say experts"
The Globe and Mail, April 24, 2014: "Where are the labour shortages? If only we knew," by Dominique M. Gross
The Globe and Mail, April 23, 2014: "McDonald's halts use of foreign workers," by Tavia Grant and Bill Curry
The Broadbent Blog, April 23, 2014: "Profiting from the precarious: new report details recruitment abuse of migrant workers," by Fay Faraday
Soaring Tuition Costs so Why Go to College?
"The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives "acquired tuition data from 1975 to 2013 and compiled a database that compares faculty costs, provincial variations and national tuition cost averages."
"Armine Yalnizyan, a senior economist at the centre who led the project, said while tuition increases are nothing new, this data provides a historical look at how post-secondary policy decisions can affect university affordability in Canada."
"'We say to our kids, 'Go to university if you want a good professional degree,' but that's getting more and more difficult to do,' she said."
Click here to explore tuition in Canada analyzed by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
CBC News, April 15, 2014: "Soaring tuition costs force students to work more hours: analysis," by Holly Moore
Why go to College?
The key is that rising inequality between educational groups means that there are high school graduates at the high end of the distribution who earned more than those at the bottom of the college distribution. So for some men, not going to college is a perfectly rational economic decision."
Washington Centre for Equitable Growth, April 16, 2014: "Insights on Changes in Lifetime Earnings Inequality and Educational Attainment," by Nick Bunker and Carter Price
Occupational Cancer Research Centre
"The Occupational Cancer Research Centre (OCRC), established in 2009, is the first of its kind in Canada. The establishment of the OCRC grew out of the recognized need to re-emphasize research on the causes and prevention of occupation-related cancers after decades of diminished effort in most countries."
"The OCRC will work to fill the gaps in our knowledge of occupation-related cancers and use these findings to inform preventive programs to control workplace carcinogenic (cancer-causing) exposures and improve the health of workers."
"The Occupational Cancer Research Centre, based at Cancer Care Ontario, is leading a new initiative to prevent workplace cancers."
"Researchers from across Canada are collaborating to find out how many cancer cases and deaths are related to cancer-causing agents in Canadian workplaces, and to examine the economic impact of workplace cancers on society. It has long been known that occupational exposures cause cancer, and this project will identify priority workplace carcinogens. This will provide policymakers and health advocates with much-needed information to work toward reduction of workplace-related causes of cancer. The results will also be used to raise awareness of this issue among employer and labour representatives and healthcare professionals."
Cancer Care Ontario, December 2013: "Canadian team working to identify the most important workplace carcinogens"
The Wellness Dividend
The Wellness Dividend, a new report by workplace expert Graham Lowe, provides employers and benefits consultants with a state-of-the-art, evidence-based overview of why investing in employee wellness makes sense. Also provided are practical insights about how to do this. The Wellness Dividend examines the following topics:
o The strategic value of wellness
o Understanding absenteeism and presenteeism
o Ingredients of effective wellness programs
o Addressing mental health in the workplace
o Measuring impact and progress
o Building healthier organizations
Creating Healthy Organizations, April 2014: "The Wellness Dividend: How Employers Can Improve Employee Health and Productivity."
"The Wellness Dividend: How Employers Can Improve Employee Health and Productivity," by Graham Lowe (32 pages, PDF)
The Secret Life of the Cubicle
"Sitting used to be considered essential to the West; it was presumed that the "great divergence" came because those in the East did not have chairs. A British colonialist in 1851 was disgusted to see Indians squatting while they worked. "All work with their knees nearly on a level with their chin," he sniffed, "the left hand – when not used as the kangaroo uses his tail to form a tripod – grasps the left knee and binds the trunk to the doubled limbs. The whole posture is so suggestive of indolence and inefficiency, that an Englishman... requires great self-control to look at it with any degree of patience." A real civilization, it was believed, would learn to sit. As recently as fifty years ago, Galen Cranz tells us in her history The Chair, the Japanese postwar economic miracle was ascribed by some Western experts to the abandonment of tatami mats."
"Now we know an entire aesthetic and social order was based on a falsehood. The truth is this: to ask someone to sit is to take months away from his or her life. Meanwhile, to sit yourself, in full knowledge of the costs, is like tying a noose around your neck and then kicking out the support because you think it would be more comfortable. Chairs are forms of comfort that artfully conceal mechanisms of torture: they reduce your legs to jelly, atrophy the muscles in your lower back, curve your spine into unnatural shapes. Over months or years spent in a chair, robust human substance dissipates into muck, and the longer you sit, the sooner you die."
N+1, April 2014: "New Trends in Office Design: What is the way of life implied by our contemporary standing revolution?" by Nikil Saval
NPR, April 20, 2014: "Exploring The Secret History Of The Cubicle" The new book, Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace, is a look at how the white-collar world came to be the way it is, and what it might become. NPR's Rachel Martin speaks with author Nikil Saval.
The Globe and Mail, April 13, 2014: "Sitting is the new smoking, and it's time to quit," by Alex Hutchinson
The Credible Best Workplaces to Work Study
"There's only one way to get on this list - and that's if your employees put you there."
"Great Place to Work (GPTW) is a global research and consulting firm whose mission is to build a better society by helping companies transform their workplaces. All of the organizations on this list were assessed using an employee survey, called the Trust Index developed by Great place to Work."
"This is part of the world's largest annual workplace study, which culminates in a series of national lists in almost 50 countries, including the study's flagship list of 100 Best companies published annually in Fortune magazine. Globally, this survey represents the voices of 11 million employees, including approximately 300,000 from Canada alone. It's what makes this study so credible: the primary determinant used in selecting winners is an employee survey. There's only one way to get on this list - and that's if your employees put you there."
CNW, April 17, 2014: "It's here! The 2014 list of 100 Best Workplaces in Canada is being unveiled today"
STRIKE! the Feminist Issue
Strike! Magazine: Feminist Issue Spring 2014
Fast Food Failure
"Even in an era characterized by a widening gap between executive pay and the income of the average worker, the compensation practices at companies within the fast food industry are considerably out of line with the rest of the economy. Both components of the CEO-to-worker compensation ratio contribute to the result, as fast food CEOs reap greater and greater economic rewards while workers have seen no gains. Among the fast food companies in this study, CEO average pay since 2000 more than quadrupled, while workers' incomes rose just 0.3 percent."
"Pay disparity in the fast food industry is a result of two factors: escalating payments to corporate CEOs and stagnant poverty-level wages received by typical workers in the industry.
o Fast food CEOs are some of the highest paid workers in America. The average CEO at fast food companies earned $23.8 million in 2013, more than quadruple the average from 2000 in real terms.
o Fast food workers are the lowest paid in the economy. The average hourly wage of fast food employees is $9.09, or less than $19,000 per year for a full-time worker, though most fast food workers do not get full-time hours. Their wages have increased just 0.3 percent in real dollars since 2000."
Demos, April 22, 2014: Demos, April 22, 2014: "Fast Food Failure: How CEO-to-Worker: Pay Disparity Undermines the Industry and the Overall Economy," by Catherine Ruetschlin
Demos, April 22, 2014: "Fast Food Failure: How CEO-to-Worker: Pay Disparity Undermines the Industry and the Overall Economy," by Catherine Ruetschlin (27 pages, PDF)
Work and Leisure
"Research by Arlie Russell Hochschild of the University of California, Berkeley, suggests that as work becomes more intellectually stimulating, people start to enjoy it more than home life. "I come to work to relax," one interviewee tells Ms Hochschild. And wealthy people often feel that lingering at home is a waste of time. A study in 2006 revealed that Americans with a household income of more than $100,000 indulged in 40% less 'passive leisure' (such as watching TV) than those earning less than $20,000."
"What about less educated workers? Increasing leisure time probably reflects a deterioration in their employment prospects as low-skill and manual jobs have withered."
The Economist, April 19th, 2014: "Nice work if you can get out: Why the rich now have less leisure than the poor"
University of Oxford, Department of Sociology, April 2014: "Post-industrious society: Why work time will not disappear for our grandchildren", by Jonathan Gershuny and Kimberley Fisher
"Mike Judge's sharp, very funny new HBO comedy Silicon Valley, about the absurdities of startup culture, feels like a satire. But as Judge, the man who made Beavis and Butt-head and Office Space, put it in a recent interview, "You can't call it satire when you are showing it like it is." Rarely has a show had to do so little to find so much to mock."
Slate, April 3, 2014: "Inside the Incubator: Mike Judge's Silicon Valley is satire, but feels like a documentary," by Willa Paskin
YouTube, April 2014: Watch: Silicon Valley Season 1: Episode 1, Full Episode
Book of the Week
Unions Matter Advancing Democracy, Economic Equality, and Social Justice
Income inequality has risen rapidly over the past three decades. In Canada it is now at its highest level since 1928. One of the root causes: the consistent chipping away of labour rights. The labour movement has been left unable to maintain membership levels and incapable of narrowing the income gap through collective bargaining, with profound implications for Canadians. Labour rights are human rights. They provide a powerful democratic counterweight to the growing power of corporations and the wealthy, and are key to a functioning democracy. Unions Matter affirms the critical role that unions and strong labour rights play in creating greater economic equality and promoting the social wellbeing of all citizens.
o Paperback / softback, 176 pages
o ISBN 9781771131322
o Published April 2014
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