Employment Code Changes Protect Workers

This year the NDP government implemented changes to the employment standards code.

It marked the first time in three decades that changes had been made. They were very long overdue, to say the least.

These changes finally defended workers’ rights – especially those who are in precarious or part time work, shift work or non-unionized workers. These are workers who are often taken advantage of and are too afraid to speak up.

While some employers have been okay with implementing the changes and publicly have shown their support for workers’ rights – other have not felt the same way.

The first major issue was the raise in minimum wage, and now the latest showdown is over statutory holiday pay.

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Marty Giles, the owner of vehicle dealerships in Fort McMurray, Calgary, Cochrane and Fort McKay recently recorded a video rant and posted it on social media. He stated that the new general holiday pay was going to hurt his businesses.

Giles said that these rules are going to cost his business $103 an hour on stat holidays because of the new changes and that he is basically paying his employees to ‘sit on the couch.’

Describing them as just 'sitting on the couch' is insulting to his employees. If you value your workers, you should make sure they have much needed time off.

Business owners, especially ones who have been as successful as Giles, need to realize that these costs come with running a business. If you can't afford to have your employees make a decent wage or pay for statutory holidays, then maybe your business model doesn't work. It's time to rethink it.

The code now states that ‘all eligible employees are entitled to holiday pay, where they are paid the equivalent of a day's pay whether they work or not.’

Previously, the employer would pay the stat pay the employee had worked five of the past nine days that the stat holiday fell on. This has been practiced in Saskatchewan and is included in their labour code.

Employees and employers alike would often be confused about how to interpret a ‘work day’ or the eligibility of a worker.

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Now all shift workers are protected on a statutory holiday, whether they are spending time with their family, running errands they wouldn’t otherwise have time for or just ‘sitting on a couch.’

"We absolutely recognize that employers, and indeed all Albertans, are facing tough economic times. Through the feedback we received, we developed modern and fair rules for workplaces that balance the needs of both employers and employees," said Christina Gray, Alberta Labour Minister, in an e-mail to the Globe and Mail.

The Employment Standards Code has remained the same for 30 years and required an update so that workers would be protected and have the same rights as workers do in several other provinces across Canada. Alberta has changed a lot in 30 years, so has the way business is done and our labour codes should reflect that.


Employees at Tim Hortons Deserve a Fair Workplace

The minimum wage debate has been raging in Canada.

Here in Alberta, it became a buzzword when Rachel Notley’s NDP government came into power and promised to gradually raise it to $15 an hour.

Ontario has now become the minimum wage talking point of the country with the wage rising to $14 an hour this month.

And at the centre of the debate over the last few weeks has been one of the most iconic Canadian chains – Tim Hortons.

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In response to the minimum wage raise, several Ontario locations took away paid breaks and cut contributions to their health plan. Other locations told employees that they could no longer accept tips.

The franchise owners blamed the Ontario government for the lack of assistance and financial help to deal with the recent rise in wage.

While the franchise owners are trying to use the ‘small business owner’ narrative – it should be noted that anyone who applies to own a Time Horton’s franchise must have a net worth of at least $1.5 million.

One of the franchises that cut employees paid breaks and benefits is owned by Jeri-Lynn Horton-Joyce (Tim Horton’s daughter) and Ron Joyce Jr. (the son of Ron Joyce, who co-founded the chain). According to VICE, Ron Joyce’s net worth is around 1.4 billion US.

It is estimated a Tim Hortons worker makes around $20,000 a year.

Tim Hortons released an official statement saying ‘Let us be perfectly clear. These recent actions by a few Restaurant Owners, and the unauthorized statements made to the media by a “rogue group” claiming to speak on behalf of Tim Hortons®, do not reflect the values of our brand.’

Canadians weren't having it.

Protestors took to the streets from coast to coast to stand up for workers’ rights. Canadian’s know that this is wrong and are told Tim Hortons that they will not stand for it.

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Many have said that this is an example of why unions are needed now more than ever.

Martin Regg Cohn pointed out in a recent column for the Toronto Star that ‘governments can’t legislate against every injustice, the media can’t cover every story, and the public has a limited attention span.’ We need unions.

Unions make sure their members are treated fairly, work in a safe environment, are paid a fair wage, covered by proper health and welfare plans and are given the breaks they are deserved. They level the playing field between the employer and the employee – especially when the employer is a multibillion dollar company.

Teamsters 362 is proud to stand by Tim Hortons' workers who deserve a fair workplace. Tim Hortons to many represents something engrained in Canadian society, so let’s make sure we take care of the people who work there.

Top Paid CEOs Continue To Earn Staggering Amounts in Canada

The first couple of weeks back at work after the holidays can be tough. You have to get back into your routine and are usually dealing with pretty cold weather.

But going back to work in the new year wasn’t so bad for Canada’s top CEOs.

By 11 AM on January 2, the highest paid CEOs had made what a Canadian will take home on average per year – $49,738. Not bad for a couple of hours of work.

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The report from The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives showed that CEO salaries are on the rise and are widening the gap between the rich and the poor. This gap has reached new highs with the top earning CEOs earning an average annual compensation of $10.4 million.

This income gap in Canada has become a major concern, especially for women, visible minorities, Indigenous Canadians and recent immigrants.

A recent study by statistics Canada has found that the income gap between visible minorities, Indigenous or recent immigrants and the rest of Canada remains large, with the gap only narrowing by 2 per cent for Indigenous and recent immigrants and widening by 1 per cent for visible minorities between 2006 to 2016.

In Canada women earned $0.87 for every $1 earned by a man last year. This gender gap can be found in this study as well with only three out of the 100 top-earning CEOs who were women – Linamar's Linda Hasenfratz: $14.6 million, Transalta's Dawn L. Farrell: $7.4 million and Atco and Canadian Utilities Limited's Nancy Southern: $5.4 million total compensation.

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Unions are one of the strongest forces against inequality in the workplace and society. It is well known that as unionization has declined, inequality has increased. Not only do union members earn more than non-union members, but they help set the bar for salaries in industries across Canada.

As we enter into 2018 unions will continue to fight to make the income gap smaller in Canada.

Not Paying the Arbitrator: A New Stall Tactic for Employers

Having a collective agreement is one of the most important things you can have in a workplace.

It is essential to earning fair wages, safe working conditions and so many other key aspects of an employee’s job environment.

But one of the most important elements of the Collective Agreement is the grievance procedure.

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Non-unionized workers all too often are unaware of their rights under the Labour Code or lack the financial ability to pursue workplace grievances on their own. This makes the grievance procedure one of the most powerful mechanisms for a unionized worker.

Knowing the employers often drag the process out – with the hopes of weakening the workers faith in their union. Information required to process a grievance through the steps will often be inaccurate, flow at an agonizingly slow pace and availability for the necessary meetings will often be strained.

The latest stall tactic we have experienced at Teamsters Local 362, is the employer making a conscious choice to not pay their portion of the arbitrator’s costs.

If the employer and the union are unable to reach a settlement to a grievance, the final step in the process is arbitration – something that is extremely costly. The majority of collective agreements, and the Labour Code, both state that the cost of the arbitrator be split equally by the parties.

When the employer refuses to pay, the arbitrator withholds the decision until they have been compensated. This only drags the process along further.

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We are faced with a situation, that has been totally unheard of in the Labour Relations community, with very little avenues existing within the Labour Code to correct the behavior. There are only so many arbitrators available and if employers choose this tactic they will ruin their good standing with sitting arbitrators who will refuse, and rightfully so, to hear the case.

This leaves unions with no choice but to foot the entire costs and seek some form of decision from the Labour Board to stop this practice before the less than honest employers influence others to take up this latest shameful tactic.

This stalling tactic hurts workers who deserve to have their grievance heard. This new tactic must be stopped before it gains any further momentum or employers will have an easy way to not deal with the issues their workers are facing.

Teamsters Local 362 intends on aggressively reacting to any employer that would take part in such a tactic ad we encourage other Trade Unions to do the same.

The Teamsters Union Demonstrates Why Collective Agreements Are Essential

Having a union on your side in the workplace means an improved level of safety for all workers. This month the Teamsters Union proved that once again.

On Jan. 11, it was announced that the Teamsters Union in the United States had won a $1 million settlement on behalf of YRC Freight’s road drivers.

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The collective bargaining agreement with YRC Freight limits the amount of over-the-road freight that can be put on trains or hauled by non-bargaining unit personnel. The Teamsters Union monitors those amounts and after reviewing the situation and convening a meeting of the committee that monitors compliance, it was determined that the company had in fact exceeded the permissible amounts.

“Our YRC members have an agreement that strongly protects bargaining unit work and work opportunities and the company acknowledged that it diverted more freight than what is allowed,” stated Ernie Soehl, Director of the Teamsters National Freight Division in a press release. “We will always seek to hold employers accountable by making sure they abide by our contracts and agreements.”

The company said that the diverted freight had a lot to do with hurricanes Harvey and Irma, however the committee determined that the company still exceeded the maximum road miles that could be hauled on rails and ordered it to pay $1,003,930.00.

YRC Freight will be contacting Teamster local unions to review the lists of drivers who are eligible for the payment.

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Collective agreements are essential in protecting the best interests of all workers across North America. Local 362 manages 100 collective bargaining agreements, which covers 6,800 members across Alberta and the Northwest Territories.

Having Local 362 protect your rights through a labour contract is essential to earning fair wages, safe working conditions and so many other key aspects of an employee’s job environment.

Women's March will take place again in 2018

Last year on Jan 21, a historic moment took place around the world. An estimated 5 million people worldwide took part in the 2017 Women’s March, an event about fighting for women’s rights.

Although the organizers say that it was not about President Donald Trump specifically, it did take place a day after Trump’s inauguration – a man who was caught talking openly about sexual assault and has been accused by multiple women of sexual assault.

But it wasn’t just in America where people took to the streets in support of women’s rights – Canadians came out in full force. Over 50,000 took to the streets in Toronto, 15,000 in Vancouver, 4,000 in Edmonton and 4,000 in Calgary.

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This year, organizers have announced that the march will happen again.

On Jan 20, cities and communities across the country will once again see people take to the street in support of women’s rights, and this past year has proved there is still lots of work to do.

According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Canada has the 8th highest gender wage gap of 34 industrialized countries and the world economic foundation found that Canada ranks in 30th place, making it 117 years before we would reach gender parity. Oxfam Canada found that working full-time aboriginal women made 26 per cent less than non-aboriginal men and women of colour made 32 per cent less than non-racialized men.

Sexual harassment and assault is an issue around the world including Canadian workplaces. A recent survey has found that more than half of women in Canada have experienced sexual harassment at work.

Domestic violence is also a serious issue for women in Canada. A 2015 study by the Conference Board of Canada found that 71 per cent of employers and 55 per cent of government employers reported a situation where they had to protect an employee who was a victim of domestic violence.

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It is clear we still need to raise our voices in support of women's rights around the world.

Unions are passionate about the fight for women’s rights in and ouside of the workplace. The labour movement was proud to take part in the inaugural 2017 march, and will once again be proud to take part in this march.

For more information visit womensmarchcanada.com.

Major Issues for the Workplace in 2018

The holiday season has come to a close and most of us are returning to our regular routines at work. As we put away our Christmas trees and make our new year’s resolutions, many are thinking about what the next 12 months will be like Canadian workplaces during 2018.

Here are just a few of the major workplace issues the labour movement and all Canadians will be focused on in 2018:

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This was obviously one of the most talked about labour topics in 2017, with the Silence Breakers featured as Time Magazine’s person of the year and the #metoo hashtag going viral around the globe. With so many organizations and businesses openly stating that workplace harassment is a high priority, this year a huge spotlight will be put on harassment of both men and women in the workplace.

Mental Health

This past year has been a great one for mental health with more employers and governments stepping up and taking care of Canadians who deal with mental health issues. However, there is still a lot to be done. Teamsters 362 has run several campaigns asking for more mental health support in Canada, and we will be keeping a careful watch this year on how leaders and politicians step up to help Canadian workers.

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The federal government is planning on legalizing marijuana in Canada in July of this year, and provinces will be setting their own age requirements and how to regulate and sell marijuana. Many companies are wondering how ‘decreased productivity, poor attendance safety issues and second-hand smoke.' will be dealt with in the workplace after legalization.

James R. Hoffa Memorial Scholarship 2018

Please click the links below for details on this Years' James R. Hoffa Memorial Scholarship. This year applications forms for the James R. Hoffa Memorial Scholarship are available on-line at teamster.org