The Popularity of Labour Unions Are On The Rise As Millennial Support Grows

As we head into the last few months of 2015, research suggests that unions are becoming more popular now than they have in a long time.

And some of the biggest supporters are those who will make up our future generation of leaders – millennials.

A recent Gallup Poll showed that the approval of unions jumped to 58 per cent this year, an increase of 5 per cent from last year and 10 per cent since 2008.

As pointed out in a story by the Huffington Post, the desire for more union influence is also on the rise with 37 per cent of people saying they want to see unions have more influence.

Of all age groups surveyed – millennials, aged 18 to 34, were more pro union than any other group.

Although the Gallop Poll was conducted in America, this young pro union attitude can be seen in Canada as well.

In an interview with the Globe and Mail, Canadian millennial Daniel Bastein, who works with UNITE HERE, described his desire to join the labour movement.

As a young activist, he was concerned about the growing income inequality that has been increasing as involvement in organized labour has been declining.

“I’m concerned about the direction that Canada’s heading,” said Bastien in the interview. “So many people my age are struggling for jobs, working contract-to-contract, or going to grad school to avoid the labour market. And that won’t change until the rebirth of the labour movement.”

The article pointed out that the future of the union movement in Canada is connected to young people like Bastein.

Not only is the approval of unions on the rise, so is level of life satisfaction for those who are part of a union.

A recent study found that overall union members are ‘more satisfied with their lives than those who are not members.’ This is due to factors such as wage stability, benefits and good pension plans.

As young people move into positions of power and leadership, it will be exciting to see how the labour movement grows of the next few years.


Working Long Hours Is A Risk To Your Health According To New Study

People work long hours for several reasons, sometimes voluntary and sometimes not.

Whether it is driving a truck extra hours to make a delivery, picking up overtime hours in a warehouse or working a double to get some extra cash – burning the candle at both ends tends to happen more often than we think.

But a recent study has shown that working more hours may actually be hazardous to your health.

Researchers at the University College London found that people who worked 55 hours or more a week were found to have a 33 per cent increased risk of stroke and a 13 per cent greater chance of developing coronary heart disease.

As pointed out in Time Magazine the researchers think that there may be a few potential causes for the health risk, including the fact that working long hours ‘tends to be correlated with risky health behaviours like drinking more alcohol and sitting for long periods of time.'

They also found that the stress associated with working overtime can also have a negative impact on health.

"If a person works long hours, it's extra important that he or she tries to keep healthy habits," said Mika Kivimäki on of the co-authors of the study, adding that working long hours ‘isn’t necessarily a personal choice since an individuals economic situation could necessitate it.’

But there are ways to find solutions to the issue of over working.

Having the support of a labour union could help in situations like this, as they ensure that employees are getting fair wages, therefore working an unhealthy amount of hours just to keep up with bills and payments wouldn’t be necessary.

Unions also ensure hours are stable and reasonable for all of its members, and have great health benefit plans.

Dr. Andreas Wielgosz, a professor of cardiology at the University of Ottawa, said in an interview with CBC News that he recommended that employees communicate that they are working extra hours to a physician

Employers also have a responsibility to try and facilitate healthy work environments, according to Wielgosz.

Teamsters 362 has been running a Make It Mandatory campaign to raise awareness about mental health support in the workplace. Employers should have to have resources available for people who feel burnout, stress or any other mental health issues.

This study demonstrates that both mental and physical health should be taken seriously when it comes to a work environment, with some mandatory health requirements for both.


Concerned Canadians: New Poll Suggests Most Canadians Feel Worse Off Than They Did At The Time Of 2011 Election

The 2011 election platform for the Conservative Party was titled ‘Here For Canada’, but four years later it seems the majority of Canadians are feeling a bit abandoned.

A new Forum Research poll asked Canadians ‘are you better off now than you were in 2011?’ – 51 per cent answered ‘no’ and only 34 per cent answered ‘yes.’

According to an article by the Toronto Star, concerns of many Canadians surround the soaring cost of living in the country, including the price of ‘everything from utility bills to food, clothing and transportation.’

As costs soar, paycheques have not been keeping pace.

“Housing prices have gone up and our salaries have not gone up equivalently, and that’s been the biggest hit for us,” said Chris Thomson , a medical adviser for a pharmaceutical company in an interview with the Star.

 The article states that survey results are broken down by age – 18 to 34-year-olds are split with 41 per cent answering yes or no, and half of 35 – 65 year olds believing they are not better off.

Lorne Bozinoff is the president of Forum Research and said these results are not good for the Conservatives chances of winning in the fall election, adding that she doesn’t think anyone who feels worse off now would vote for a party who has made the economy one of the keys of their platform.

The Conservatives recently increased the Universal Child Care Benefit and have promised a balanced budget this year.

It seems the negative backlash against the Conservatives has been spreading internationally with a scathing article in The New York Times titled ‘The Closing of the Canadian Mind’ and another in The Guardian called ‘Is the Stephen Harper Era Over?’

With the spotlight focused on the election, it will be interesting to see how the leaders address the Canadian economy and the issues of middle class Canadians over the next few months.


Teamster Takes Pride In Sense Of Togetherness

Jim has been with the Teamsters for nearly a decade, and over those years he has developed a good relationship with his business agent – something he said is important as an active member.

He said by staying in contact with his business agent, he always feels in touch with the union, keeping up on important dates and any contract changes.

Besides the excellent wage, health benefits and pension that comes along with being a Teamster, Jim said it is the sense of unity that he takes pride in.

“You have someone on your side,” explained Jim. “It is nice to have a sense of togetherness and brotherhood."


Burnco Lock Out Comes To An End: Strength And Solidarity The Key To Reaching An Agreement

20150813_190148On Monday at Burnco plants across southern Alberta, nearly 100 workers were locked out. At five sites around the greater Calgary area, Teamsters members stood strong and picketed in unity.

After four days on the picket line, members voted on a an amended Memorandum of agreement Thursday night.

“If it’s accepted they’re being told that there will be no replacement workers tomorrow and they can come at the time of their choosing and commence work,” said Richard Eichel, Secretary - Treasurer & Principal Officer for Teamsters 362, in an interview with the Calgary Herald.

After both parties worked with a mediator, the Burnco group ratified the Memorandum by 86 per cent that was reached by the negotiation committee during a hard bargaining session during the lock out.

"The turnout was absolutely amazing. This type of solidarity is what we strive for," said Wayne Garner, Vice-President for Teamsters 362.

He said during the meeting it was great to see the way the senior members supported the junior members, all listening carefully and demonstrating that they had faith in their committee as the offer came with a recommendation from them.

“In light of the difficult economic times facing many Calgary businesses, we want to thank the Union for working with us to find the best solutions possible for everyone,” said Michael Powell, chief executive of Burnco, in a joint statement with the Teamsters Union Local 362.

The statement continued to say that they believe a fair agreement has been reached.

Business agent Bernie Haggarty said in an interview with CBC that although neither side got everything they wanted, he was happy with the fact that respect was highlighted after the lock out.

"The amended position that was negotiated since the work stoppage will guarantee respect in the workplace and the ability for both sides to move forward," said Haggarty.

Throughout the whole process members showed true characteristics of what it means to be a proud union member – solidarity and strength during tough times.


Rising Youth Unemployment A Concern For All Canadians

While there are plenty of political and economic concerns for the millennial generation, one that has been highlighted recently is youth unemployment.

Statistics Canada reported that youth unemployment rose from 12.9 per cent in June to 13.2 per cent in July this year. As young people are graduating from high school or post secondary, there seems to be less opportunities for quality employment in industries across the board.

This number also doesn’t account for underemployed youth, which according to an article in the Globe and Mail, make up another 27 per cent. These are youth who ‘take contingency jobs to earn something of a living while searching for their career work.’

Young people are forced to take jobs with inconsistent hours, no benefits, poor conditions, low wages and in some cases may even be unpaid.

And who is it who is helping this group of young people get by?

According to an article in the Huffington Post it is middle class families, parents and grandparents who are stepping up. This can have long-term consequences, because it may take years, in terms of wages, for this generation of millennials to catch up.

An option more young people have been considering is joining a labour union, with workers at Vice Media and Gawker both recently joining unions. Unions step up to make sure all of their members, including young people have fair wages, hours and benefits – helping them build for the future, rather than taking away from it.

It seems to be something that those in powerful positions aren’t ready to fully deal with yet, as was evident when the Bank of Canada Governor made headlines when he suggested that unemployed youth should just ‘work for free.’

But with the economy being such a hot topic in the upcoming election, it will be interesting to see what the leaders have to say about the issue.

The question is how much will the leaders care about issues of young people, when they are the group of people most likely not likely to vote?

A recent study shows that 70 per cent of young people feel ignored by politicians.

Jonathan Sas, the director of the research for the Broadbent Institute who was part of the study, said that politicians really should take a closer look at prioritizing issues for millennials such as the high rates of unemployement.

Hassan Yussuff, president of the Canadian Labour Congress, has also spoken out about the issue saying that the rising rate of youth unemployment ‘demonstrates it is time for a change.’

“We need a new government that will commit to adequately funding initiatives like targeted paid internships and skills training for youth, and requiring that any business benefiting from federal infrastructure spending hires apprentices,” said Yussuf in a statement on the CLC website.

Many unions, including Teamsters 362, across Canada have also been encouraging their members to be politically engaged no matter where their political views lie, because voting is such an important right for all Canadians.


Post-Debate Wrap Up: From The Economy To Catch Phrases, The Leaders Battled It Out

The 2015 federal election campaign officially kicked off on the August long weekend when Prime Minister Stephen Harper asked the Governor General to dissolve parliament. Calling it on the long weekend seems fitting as it is going to be the longest campaign in Canadian history.

With the issue of the cost of the long campaign to the taxpayers already a hot topic, the first leaders debate last Thursday was expected to be heated, particularly for Harper.

The debate was hosted by Maclean’s Magazine instead of being organized by what is known as the broadcast consortium, which includes CBC, Tele-Quebec, CTV News, Global News and Radio-Canada.

The Harper government announced earlier this year that they would not be taking part in any debates organized by the consortium. This caused controversy as it is this debate that is said to reaches the largest amount of Canadian voters, adding to Harpers reputation of being closed off to the media.

The hot topics were definitely covered during the first debate, most of which surrounded the current government, although NDP leader Thomas Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau also traded jabs at one another including on the topic of Quebec separatism.

There was definitely a battle for the left between Mulcair and Trudeau who are sitting at second and third in the polls, respectively. Green Party Elizabeth May also had a strong showing talking about pipeline expansion and bill C-51.

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Harper came under fire when bringing forward his agenda, one that has been unsupported by many working Canadians and several labour groups. Harper has been criticized for focusing more on the wealthy than the working class and more on Netflix than the actual issues that are important to Canadians.

When discussing the economy, Harper seemed noticeably shaken even admitting at one point that it is on the verge of a recession. He also had to defend the controversial bill c-51 which was recently brought under scrutiny by the United Nations, who said it had the potential to violate the rights of Canadians.

Twitter Reaction

Some of the most entertaining parts of the debate were reading peoples reactions on twitter to the leaders comments and body language.

The leaders’ camera staring techniques were a hot topic, especially Mulcair's with people taking note of his intense technique of ‘smizing’ or smiling with his eyes. Tweets were also lighting up about Trudeau's hand actions, even comparing it to his boxing moves.

Other tweets were pointing out of using catch phrases such as Harper’s ‘let’s be clear’ or May’s ‘With all due respect' – both used throughout the debate.

Key Quotes

There were many notable quotes from the leaders, but some of the highlights mainly surrounded the economy and were aimed at Harper.

“There is no public trust anymore. People don’t trust this government to actually look out for long term interest.” – Justin Trudeau to Stephen Harper

“What we’re seeing here tonight is that you’re going to do everything you can to hang on to your job. I’m going to do everything I can to create jobs for average Canadians.” – Thomas Mulcair to Stephen Harper

“I don’t really think he’s got a good track record on spotting when the country is in a recession. We’re in a recession now.” – Elizabeth May to Stephen Harper

“The other parties are proposing literally tens of billions of dollars of additional spending, permanent spending, to be financed by permanently higher tax rates and permanent deficits.” – Stephen Harper

Social Media Winners

According to technology and data company Engagement Labs, creator of of eValue Analytics(TM) and the eValue(TM) score, Justin Trudeau came out on top in both Twitter and Facebook rankings, post debate.

Before the debate Trudeau was first in Facebook, followed by Harper and Mulcair, while May was ranked first on Twitter followed by Turdeau, Mulcair and then Harper.
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Importance of debate

With Harper saying he is not going to take part in the debate organized by the consortium, this debate had the potential to be the only English language debate that all four leaders would take part in.

Despite that possibility, experts say debates are still important to the overall elections campaign.

Duane Bratt, a professor at Mount Royal University in the department of policy studies pointed out in an interview with CBC the huge impact that a debate had on the recent Alberta election campaign, saying it helped Notley win.

Journalist Elizabeth Thompson also pointed out that they are a great chance to see the ‘leaders out of their usual element.’

If you want to take a closer look at the complete debate the transcript is available here.


Teamsters Show Solidarity After Burnco Gives Lockout Notice

Teamsters’ members who work for Burnco joined together in solidarity on the picket lines in five locations on Monday as they were served with a 72-hour lockout notice on Thursday of last week.

“Morale is really good,” said Teamsters 362 business agent Bernie Haggarty, who said he called an emergency meeting last night to get things organized when he received the notice that Burnco would be taking lockout action against the employees.

The meeting was so packed with employees who had now learned that they would be locked out, that it was standing room only.

“The guys are solid, because this is about a fundamental thing – seniority,” he explained.

Haggarty said seniority is one of the most important elements of a collective agreement and it is something they felt was not addressed properly in the new agreement.

He said they had been trying to renew an existing agreement, with three meetings taking place in June, but no progress being made. Haggarty filed for mediation and on July 15 they met with a mediator.

The mediator told Haggarty that the company felt that there was no common ground and a 14-day cooling off period was implemented in which Teamsters could apply for a strike vote and Burnco could apply for a lockout.

The vote took place on July 20 and had 96 per cent in favour of strike action. On Aug 4 Burnco made another offer, and Haggarty scheduled a vote on Aug 13, until the lockout notice was issued.

In a statement to CBC news about the lockout notice, Burnco CEO Michael Powell said the company is committed to finding solutions in a timely manner.

"As the current economic environment in Calgary is more challenging, we believe that this is a time when all parties need to be working together to find solutions," he said in the statement.


Catching A Case Of Rudeness: How Negative Attitudes Can Spread Throughout A Workplace

During cold and flu season employees have to be mindful of not catching the contagious bugs, but according to a recent study there is something else that is just as infectious in the workplace and it can’t be stopped by hand sanitizer or a flu shot.

The issue is rudeness – it can be transmitted by anyone in the office and usually makes people want to avoid those who have it.

According to a study by the University of Florida, people who encounter rude behaviour in a workplace are more likely to act rude towards other people in other interactions.

One rude person can lead to an entire office filled with negative behaviour.

"Part of the problem is that we are generally tolerant of these behaviours, but they're actually really harmful," said Trevor Foulk, the study's lead author in an interview with the L.A. Times. "Rudeness has an incredibly powerful negative effect on the workplace."

So what exactly is characterized as rude behavior in the workplace? According to psychologist Jennifer Newman, it can take a number of forms.

In an interview with CBC news, Newman said that rudeness could be something as simple as being abrupt with someone or interrupting them, but could also be more direct such as attacking others personally or not treating them with any respect.

She said that 98 per cent of workers report experiencing some form of rudeness at work – a staggering statistic.

And just like a cold or a flu, experiencing rudeness comes with a number of negative side effects.

Newman pointed out that the person experiencing rudeness may carry it on and be rude to the next person they interact with.

“It comes down to a reduction in creativity because when workers are less helpful, performances suffer,” said Newman. “There's also an increase in psychological distress, negative emotions, and there's more burnout and emotional exhaustion.”

There are ways to deal with rudeness such as bringing concerns to a supervisor or shop steward, or contacting your union about it. Overall studies show that doing something about rudeness is better than just taking it as part of the job.

According to an article on Stuff.co, besides the psychological distress, studies have also found that stress from rudeness has contributed to cardiovascular problems, ulcers and the common cold.

The article also pointed out that the idea of ‘nice guys finished last’ is not always true and that being kind actually helps people get ahead at work.  People who are nicer are seen in more of a leadership role, with real leadership being ‘connected with building trust and relationships,’ rather than inspiring fear.

A great example is a union business agent or shop steward, both have a leadership role based on trust with the membership. No one would nominate a co-worker to be a shop steward who was rude, or instilled fear in a workplace.

So just as you would ensure that you are not catching anything that might get you sick at work, be sure you are not passing on one of the most contagious problems in the workplace – rudeness.


UN Review Of Canada Reveals Concerns About Bill C-51 And Gender Pay Gap

Last week the United Nations released a report reviewing how well Canada has been complying with the international rights treaty. It was the first review of Canada in a decade and there were a few issues that were brought up as a cause for concern for the UN.

One of the concerns was the recent anti-terror legislation brought forward in Canada known as bill C-51.

The bill was passed in the senate in early June and deals with changes in arrest policy, mass surveillance, no fly list and how CSIS defines terrorism and terrorist activity.

Many unions, first nations groups and environmental groups have spoken out against the bill saying it would violate free speech, personal privacy and create a threat to all Canadians' rights.

The way the bill is crafted, a union or civil protest could potentially be defined as a form of ‘terrorist activity.’

According to the Globe and Mail the report from the UN said the government should consider rewriting the law so that it ‘doesn’t lead to human rights abuses’ and the report was also concerned about an increase in ‘information sharing.’

“The State party should refrain from adopting legislation that imposes undue restrictions on the exercise of rights under the Covenant,” the report stated.

The article by the Globe and Mail said that a spokesperson for Public Safety Minister Stephen Blaney said that Canada stands by the current anti-terrorism bill.

Another major concern from the report was gender equality, especially when it comes to pay in the workplace. They recommended that Canada make more of an effort to ensure that men and women, especially minority and indigenous women, are paid equally for work.

According to Catalyst Canada Canadian women earn $0.82 to every $1 earned by men, a gap of 18 per cent. They found that the ‘global pay gap was about $4,000 on average between men and women, and the Canadian pay gap was just over $8,000.’