Building Trades of Alberta Requests To Meet With Fort McMurray Council

The Building Trades of Alberta represents workers across Alberta and recently requested to meet with the Fort McMurray council to see how they can work together. Read their letter here. 

What is Fairness in the Workplace?

Fairness shouldn’t be just something you hope for in the workplace. Fairness should be a standard, a staple for survival like food, clothing or shelter.

Not only can fairness at work be a rare commodity in some spaces, but studies have shown employees who perceive workplaces as unfair are more likely to leave jobs -- jobs they can’t afford to leave.

Download Our Guide On How To Know If Your Workplace Needs A Union!

Fairness in the workplace is not as black and white as you might think. Being underpaid or yelled at by your boss daily are more obvious examples of abuse at work, but the struggle for employee justice goes much deeper.

What factors contribute to fairness in the workplace?

Recent studies have found that poor treatment in the workplace, or “workplaces perceived to be less fair,” are corrosive to work environments and employee morale.

Things that factor into employee perception of fairness on the job:

  • Opportunities for career development
  • Work environment
  • Conflicts with management
  • Lack of challenging work
  • Lack of recognition
  • Proper direction of company/organization

How can being part of a union help?

Research evidence reports workers feel healthier, and contribute a higher level of energy and effort on the job when workplaces are perceived to be fair.

With the economy in Alberta (even more so with the current wildfire disaster in Fort McMurray), it’s increasingly important that workers are respected and treated justly in all arenas of work.

Teamsters 362 fights for fair workplace laws and standards. We collectively bargain on your behalf for what should be non-negotiable rights -- safe working conditions, fair wages, job security...the list goes on. And with high career and environmental stresses weighing heavy on Albertans, Local 362 is putting more focus than ever on mental health supports for employees.

Download Our Guide On How To Know If Your Workplace Needs A Union!

If you want to have happy and healthy employees -- if you want to be a happy and healthy employee -- workplaces need to be fair. We all need to fight for fair.

To see what Teamsters 362 is all about, visit:

Need for Mental Health Supports Increase as Canadian Workforce Grows Younger

Canadians spent most of their waking hours at work: home is for family, solitude and sleep.

Because almost one fourth of the population is expected to experience mental health problems at some point in their lives, mental health support in the workplace is becoming more important than ever.

Canada is growing younger. In just 10 years, 75 per cent of the workforce will be made up of millennials.

And with suicide rates the highest among this particular demographic, more mental health supports are not only expected, but are a necessity to a healthy work environment.

According to Statistics Canada, “employees who considered most days to be either quite a bit, or extremely stressful, are three times more likely to suffer a major depressive episode.”

Especially with Alberta’s current economic state, workplace stresses are at all-time highs. Almost equally as alarming is many employees’ lack of confidence speaking to employers about mental health; in Canada’s 2008 Mental Health Strategy, the Canadian Medical Association “found only 23 per cent of Canadians feel comfortable talking to their employer about a mental illness.”

If you suffer from a mental illness, you should have the right to feel safe at work - especially if you spend most of your time there.

Providing more mental health supports and talking openly about mental health as the Canadian workforce grows younger is crucial to not just making employees feel cared for at work, but it can also cut the staggering economic costs associated with mental health problems.

Teamsters 362 has campaigned to get more mental health support in the workplace with our Make It Mandatory initiative. It is something that is so important for all Canadians.

According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, “about 30 per cent of short- and long-term disability claims in Canada are attributed to mental health problems and illnesses.”

Awareness around mental health is growing, and as both employers and employees, it is our job to talk about it openly - no one should have to suffer at the hands of unmitigated psychological health in the workplace.

How to Prepare Yourself in the Face of Job Loss

With 2015 the worst year for job loss in Alberta since 1982, job security is still a fear for many Albertans.

Even if you know it’s coming, no one is ever fully prepared for that awful moment when the big boss calls you into the office and gives you the, “Thank you for your service” speech. Sometimes the speech is skipped altogether.

Download Our Guide On How To Protect Yourself In This Economy

But there are plans workers can put in place when termination seems imminent. Here are some strategies to protect workers in the case of looming job loss:

1.     Have a resume ready

The first thing most people who are laid off are tasked with doing is finding a new job, which is no easy feat — especially in today’s economic climate. Even if you currently have a steady job, it doesn’t hurt to iron out your resume.

Resumes should be polished, up-to-date and include your current job and references. The Alberta government offers resume review services  and most municipalities offer local services as well.

2.     Legal rights

In the case of job loss, many employers will offer settlements or severance packages. Even though they might look fair, or even more than expected, it is still your right as a worker to investigate your worth.

Contacting a lawyer or accessing social service supports such as Alberta Works can give you a better sense of what you are entitled to as a worker and if you should take the settlement offered to you. Doing research beforehand can avoid last minute scrambles for legal aid in the case of job loss.

3.     Weighing your options

Especially if you work in the oil and gas industry, there is a possibility you may have to look down other avenues if cutbacks are pending. Even though you may have been hired for one gig, chances are you have skills for many other jobs.

The Alberta government has all sorts of career planning resources easily accessible online. In this economic climate, it never hurts to have a plan B.

Download Our Guide On How To Protect Yourself In This Economy

4.     Are you protected?

Depending on where you work, being part of a labour union can be a lifesaver when facing job loss. Whether you’re supporting a family or starting out your career alone, getting laid off is not something any one wants to deal with alone.

Having a union to back you up when facing cut backs or job loss is so important. It is also a great place to start when understanding you rights as a worker and how collective bargaining can protect you. Being part of a union can also protect your seniority and qualification for all classifications in the workplace.

Survivor Guilt: How Layoffs Can Change The Workplace For Those Who Remain

It may not be something you think about all the time, but your coworkers can often become a second family. You see them almost every day and they become part of your life and even sometimes close friends.

With the downturn in the Alberta economy, more and more people have been experiencing layoffs and work ‘families’ have been torn apart.

Download Our Guide On How To Protect Yourself In This Economy

Something that is not talked about enough when it comes to layoffs is what psychologists have termed ‘survivors guilt.’  There are a number of ways people deal with the layoff of a co-worker, but there are some symptoms that managers and fellow coworkers should be aware of.

Struggle with guilt

There is the thought of ‘why was that person let go and not me?’ that is so often associated with survivors guilt. It can be a confusing time because of the relief workers feel when they are not let go, but then the grief they feel for their fellow coworkers. When that coworker is laid off, it can feel like the loss of a friend or loved one and that can have an extreme emotional toll on individuals and the entire office.

Psychologists have pointed out that people with survivors guilt may also suffer from emotional contagion, known as the tendency ‘pick up your laid-off colleagues’ feelings of gloom and desperation.' This can be especially hard for union workers who may have a 'recall right' in their collective agreement, meaning 'the right of an employee on a layoff to be called back to work by his or her employer under a term or condition of employment.' Seeing them again may only add to that guilt and the stress felt by people still there.

Increase to workload and burnout

Not only are people dealing with the loss of a coworker, but they are often expected to pick up the extra workload and inherit a lot of new responsibilities from the people who have left. There can be a situation where the person may have been removed, but all of their workload remains only adding to the stress of the people who still work there.

Anxiety and Pressure 

Once layoffs start happening, the pressure to keep a job creates a cut-throat culture.  With cuts looming throughout Alberta, many employees can't help but wonder if they are next. This can lead to anxiety and a complete change in identity for the entire company. This can sometimes be more damaging than what the person who was laid-off may feel themselves.

Download Our Guide On How To Protect Yourself In This Economy

Expected to Jump Back in the Saddle

When coworkers are laid off, there is no time for grieving the loss. You have to get back to work, especially if your workload is increased. However, the anxiety and stress that people feel from survivors guilt can often lead to ‘reduced commitment and productivity.’ The fear of being the next one to go can cause many to ‘freeze up’ and get less work done or have to work longer hours to get it done.

If you or someone you know is really struggling with anxiety or depression during these economic times it is important to reach out for help. In Calgary you can call the Distress Centre 24 hour crisis line at 403-266-4357 and in Edmonton 780-482- 4357.

Fort McMurray Update: Alberta government working to bring residents back home

It’s been almost two weeks, and still the city of Fort McMurray sits abandoned against a backdrop of flame and ash.

While the Alberta government has committed to grinding out a schedule to return the 80,000-something evacuees home, fire officials say the blaze is expected to take months to extinguish.

Despite what is projected to become one of worst financial disasters in Canadian history, there are a few silver linings to these thick, ashen clouds.

If you need help or want to help the people of Fort McMurray click here.

Almost 2,500 buildings (mostly residential homes) were lost in the fire, but Fort McMurray fire chief Darby Allen says, “85 per cent of the city is still intact.” And for probably the first time ever, Albertans pray for this spell of cooler weather to continue to give firefighters even the slightest advantage over the relentless blaze.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley is doling out high praise for the teams of firefighters who banded together to save 25,000 homes as well as the hospital and local schools in town.

Because of the magnitude of the disaster and its relation to the oil sands, Alberta finance analysts say Canada’s economic growth projections are being scaled way back.

Evacuated from the Fort McMurray office, Teamsters Local 362 is still working diligently to support the citizens of Fort McMurray and mitigate the devastation in any way possible.

If you need help or want to help the people of Fort McMurray click here.

For those in need of shelter, please visit our website at Teamsters Canada is matching donations from the National Joint Council and other local unions, which will go to the Canadian Red Cross.

A trust fund is also being established for monetary donations for the short and long-term aid of our membership and community — please visit our website for more details.

Our thoughts are with the people of Fort McMurray. Together strong.

2016 James R. Hoffa Memorial Scholarship Essay

It is that time of year to apply for the James R. Hoffa Memorial Scholarship Essay. This is separate from the annual scholarship for high school seniors and will award a on-time $1,000 scholarship annually to 200 students.

Find out more about the essay topic and how to apply.

The deadline for applications is June 15, 2016.

Fort McMurray: Reaching out to Teamsters 362 members in time of need

With many Teamsters 362 members in Fort McMurray unable to work due to the devastating wildfire that struck the city weeks ago, we are doing our utmost to provide relief and support for our members.

Firstly, we want to do everything we can to alleviate any financial stress for Teamsters members either unable to work, or who are working sporadic hours. We will be instructing the employers to not deduct and remit dues on your behalf for the month of May and June.

Our members have expressed to us how important health and welfare coverage will be during this tough time. If you are unable to work due to the fires, it is increasingly important that your Health and Welfare coverage continues during May and June.

For those working in Fort McMurray who are covered by our Teamster plans, we are committed to ensuring that you are still covered, regardless if that member if working or not. We are currently negotiating with your employers, and are committed to provide coverage through the months of May and June. For Teamsters members not covered by our plan, we will work on your behalf to negotiate with employers to keep premiums flowing.

We have also started an independent Teamsters Local 362 trust fund for the short and long-term aid of our Teamsters membership and community. Teamsters 362 has also asked all Teamsters Canada executives for further assistance, so we can help each individual member affected by the wildfires in the future.

Teamsters Canada National Executive Board held a special meeting and have committed to match all the donations collected from the four Joint Counsels in Canada as well as the Local Unions across the country. The total will be donated to the Canadian Red Cross and the federal government has promised to match all the donations they receive.

Already Joint Counsel 90, representing the prairie provinces, has committed to a $40,000 donation.

If you are in need of shelter or are looking for more information on the Teamsters trust fund, please visit our website at


Important Message From the CEO of American Income Life Insurance (AIL)

Roger Smith, the CEO of American Income Life Insurance, has released a statement regarding the Fort McMurray wildfires. Read the following letter to learn more about your insurance. Building Trades_001 copy

Get Loud For Mental Health Week

Mental Health Week is underway and it is a great chance for people to bring more awareness to a topic that is too often ignored, especially in the workplace.

The initiative was created by the Canadian Mental Health Foundation and the week long initiative is celebrating its 65th anniversary from May 2 – 8. This year they are asking people to use the hashtag #GETLOUD and wear green in support of positive mental health.

Mental health has been a huge issue in Alberta recently with the suicide rate rising by a staggering 30 per cent as the province goes through tough economic times. Mental health resources are being exhausted and more support is needed.

But Alberta is not alone when it comes to more mental health awareness.

A recent survey in Canada by Morneau Shepell found that two-thirds (66 per cent) of employees who took time off work for a mental health issue did not report it. This has a lot to do with stigma and fear that managers and coworkers will think of them differently for having mental health issues.

It is clear that there is still a lot of work that still needs to be done, as the same survey found that 31 per cent of employers said ‘support for mental wellness in their organization has improved over the last two to three years, compared to 62 per cent that said it stayed the same.’

Mental health issues cost the Canadian economy over $50 billion each year and both Teamsters Canada and Teamsters Local 362 have created ‘Make It Mandatory’ mental health campaigns to make mental health resources mandatory in every workplace across Canada.