Supporting Canadians with Disabilities in the Workplace

It is no secret that there have been tough economic times for Canada, with the rise of precious and part time work and the dropping oil prices.

Now a recent survey has found that it is even harder for people with disabilities, who still have dismal employment conditions in our country.

A survey commissioned by CIBC and conducted by Angus Reid found that only half of respondents living with a disability have a full- or part-time job. They also found that 37 per cent of disabled respondents said they were unemployed and 11 per cent put themselves in the ‘miscellaneous category’.

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It is still a growing concern that in Canada, workplaces are making efforts to diversify but are still leaving disabled people out.

No matter whether the disability is mental or physical, it is clear there is still stigma attached.

According to experts many business think that hiring disabled employers will cost them extra time and money.

Mark Patterson is the executive director of Magnet – a project using technology to connect prospective employers with groups that have historically struggled to join the work force.

He pointed out in an interview with the Globe and Mail that if we don’t have enough persons with disabilities in the workforce, they are hidden.

“We’re really interested in making sure that … people with disabilities are in customer-facing roles and so on. That’s going to be an important step in helping change the stigma," he said.

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Adding to that stigma is institutionalized discrimination found in some labour laws, specifically Alberta’s.

The law states an employer is eligible to apply for a permit from the government nullifying minimum wage standards for disabled workers, paying them less than minimum wage.

According to an article in the Financial Post one of the most important things an employer can do is have an ‘open-door policy’ to discuss disabilities and job seekers and employees must feel supported and safe in sharing their disability.

If you are part of a union, reaching out to a shop steward or business agent is also an option those with disabilities can take. These representatives from the union are there to make sure your human rights are respected in the workplace, which includes not having to face discrimination due to a disability – visible or non-visible.

Having a diversified workforce is so important and it must include people with disabilities.


Support Mental Health Awareness

Mental health is an issue that affects directly and indirectly everyone across the country, and yet stigma still surrounds the topic, especially suicide.

Bell Let’s Talk Day is a national campaign that started in 2010, in order to start a conversation about mental health. The way the campaign works is that on January 25 each year Bell donates 5¢ towards mental health initiatives each time someone uses the #BellLetsTalk, counting every text, call, tweet, Instagram post, Facebook video view and Snapchat geofilter.

Last year they raised a record 6 million and #BellLetsTalk was Canada’s most used hashtag on Twitter in 2016.

Not only does this raise money, but it also raises awareness.

There is stigma associated with mental health overall, and one of the most difficult topics to talk about is suicide.

In Alberta, we currently have the second highest rate of suicide in the country and there have been recent reports of the suicide rate climbing by 30 per cent.

Following the momentum of our previous mental health initiative, Make It Mandatory, this year we created the campaign #YouAreNotAlone with the aim of raising awareness and preventing suicide in Alberta, and across the country.

Our eight-part docuseries traveled around Alberta to hear from those who have been directly affected by suicide and advocates who are speaking out and trying to raise awareness.

We also had an action engine so people could tweet and email politicians and leaders to let them know we need more support for those suffering.

Our campaign reached nearly a million people and had 300,000 video views.

Bell Let’s Talk announced funding this year for suicide prevention in Nunavut. The program trains people to recognize when someone is struggling with suicidal thoughts, and offer help. Nunavut's suicide rate is approximately 10 times higher than Canada's national average.

We need to all do our part to help end the stigma around mental illness and suicide. Whether you use Bell’s hashtag, share one of our videos or simply start talking about the issues – we all have the opportunity to make a change.

 


Teamsters Local 362 Weekly Update January 23

Each week Teamsters Local 362 will update our members on the latest news within the local. Make sure you check in to see what is happening in the union.

CEDA INDUSTRIAL SERVICES
CEDA Industrial Services had previous locked out our members just before the holiday season and

on Jan 16 the mechanics at CEDA rejected the proposed Memorandum of Agreement by 100%. We are hopeful and eager to return to the bargaining process.

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CANADIAN MEDIA PRODUCERS

Negotiations continue with the Canadian Media Producers Association for a Master Agreement for the Province of Alberta. Our goal is to have an agreement in place by Q2 2017.

UPCOMING BARGAINING 

Bargaining is set up for Zenith Logistics in St. Albert tire warehouse for Feb. 1 and 2.

Progressive Waste in Edmonton will have there bargaining coming up on Jan. 23, Feb. 22 and 23.

Although there are no dates set yet, Inland Concrete in Edmonton and Leduc, both with 2 separate Agreements will have bargaining dates scheduled in the near future.

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SUCCESS STORIES

Last week our Business Agent Jordan was successful in winning a grievance when a member was short paid. He received his pay and additional earnings because the payroll error went unresolved by the employer over a specified period of time. When the employer is unable to resolve the issue within a specified period the employee receives 4 hours/day until it is resolved. Just another great benefit to be a part of a Union to make sure you get paid on time.


CEO Pay On The Rise Once Again

After the holiday season, most Canadians will return to their jobs and get back to the usual routine.

When most workers were just about to take their lunch break on Jan. 3, Canada’s highest paid elite group of CEOs will earn the same amount average working person’s income for all of 2017.

It’s a shocking stat, that shows the difference between the super wealthy and the average Canadian.

The report was released by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and found that the 100 richest CEOs in Canada took in an average of $9.5 million in 2015. This number includes ‘salaries, bonuses, share grants and stock options, the report said.

The highest paid Canadian CEO in the report was J. Michael Pearson, CEO of Valeant Pharmaceuticals, who collected $182.9 million.

The report also found that CEO compensation in Canada has increased by 178 per cent between 1998 and 2015.

One issue pointed out by the author of the report Hugh Mackenzie is that board of directors have the authority to ‘set compensation’. He suggested having this decision be more accountable to shareholders rather than a board of directors.

Political economist Robert Reich suggested having a tax penalty on CEOs who earned more than a ‘given ratio’ to average pay. He said that the increase in average workers pay would simulate the economy.

Having a fair and steady wage is so important to quality of life both inside and outside of the workplace. With the rise of precarious work, it is so important to know you have rights when it comes to your wage.

Having a union representing you means you have a guaranteed fair wage and someone to look out for you. Unions also set the bar for all workers, non-union and union, for fair wages.

With rising CEO pay in Canada, it becomes ever more important to make sure you are guaranteed a fair wage.


Teamsters Local 362: Supporting The Fort McMurray Community

In May of this year Fort McMurray experienced one of the worst disasters in Alberta’s history with a devastating wild fire.

The city issued an evacuation notice for 80,000 causing gridlock on Highway 63. Many headed out to oilsands operations north of Fort McMurray and the Fort McKay First Nation where they opened spaces for people to stay, while others headed south to Anzac and Lac La Biche. There are around 20 000 people expected to arrive in Edmonton.

Almost 2,500 buildings (mostly residential homes) were lost in the fire, but Fort McMurray fire chief Darby Allen said that, “85 per cent of the city is still intact.”

Add to that the tough economic times the province has been through and it made this one of the hardest times that Fort McMurray has ever experienced.

Teamsters Local Union 362 has a long history of being part of the Fort McMurray community, and we tried to help right away.

We did everything we could to alleviate any financial stress for Teamsters members either unable to work, or who were working sporadic hours. We instructed employers to not deduct and remit dues on their behalf for the month of May and June.

Workers who were unable to work due to the fires who were covered by our Teamster Health and Welfare plans, we were committed to ensuring that they were still covered, regardless if that member if was working or not.

Teamsters 362 also asked all Teamsters Canada executives for further assistance, so we could help each individual member affected by the wildfires in the future.

Teamsters Canada National Executive Board held a special meeting and 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.

We are also are dividing up donations to various school lunch programs in the community and are in the process of purchasing a side by side ATV for the local fire department.

Supporting the community then was important, and it is still important to us. During the holiday season our members from CEDA Industrial Services in Fort McMurray were locked out.

They were left wondering what would happen to their jobs in an economy that is already suffering.

Bargaining for this collective agreement was not about wages – it was about respect for rights in the workplace. Employees have even been willing to take concessions in their wages and the union structured a plan to tie future wage increases to the economy, a plan that both parties had agreed to during negotiations.

Last week we reached a deal called Memorandum of Agreement, meaning the members will be able to vote on Jan.16. If they accept it they will have there first collective agreement as part of Teamsters Local 362.


Support for CEDA members from the community during the lock out

This holiday season was a tough one for our members at CEDA Industrial Services in Fort McMurray. Just two weeks before Christmas they were locked out, and stood strong on the picket line.

Last week we reached a Memorandum of Agreement, meaning the members will be voting on this on Jan. 16. If they accept, it they will have there first collective agreement.

Our members received an outpouring of support from the community and across North America on social media, which kept the spirits of our members up during that time.

The Wood Buffalo District Labour Council and Unifor Local 707A both offered their help to make Christmas a little more enjoyable for these members.

Both organizations donated a total of $4000 to the members, which was added to the first week of strike pay. They also brought a pizza lunch, water and showed their support on the picket line.

Our thanks to Steve Kelly, Secretary Treasurer of Unifor local 707A and President of the Wood Buffalo Labour District.