Important To Recognize Day of Mourning

The average person will spend over approximately 1,800 hours a year at work. That is a lot of time, so it is important to know that your workplace is safe.

Unfortunately, workplace fatalities take place every year. Last year in Alberta alone there were 166 men and women who died because of a workplace injury or illness. That is up from 2016, where there were 116 workplace fatalities.

Every year on April 28, people around the world take a moment to remember all those we have lost on the National Day of Mourning.

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What was known as the Day of Remembrance was originally launched in 1984 by the Canadian Labour Congress, and in 1991 the Government of Canada passed the Workers Mourning Day Act making April 28 the official Day of Mourning.

It has now spread to over 100 countries around the world, in hopes that this day will help to establish healthy workplace conditions globally.

Flags fly at half-mast and ceremonies are held around the world.

Here in Alberta, the new Occupational Health and Safety Act will take effect June 1. Over the past few months, the Government of Alberta has asked Albertans to provide written submissions to help with new regulations.

The OHS defines workplace harassment and violence in all its forms, including sexual and domestic violence. The act requires employers and supervisors to ensure workers are not subject to nor participate in harassment and violence and to investigate incidents.

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Alberta will have the following ceremonies on April 28:

Edmonton and District Labour Council
Grant Notley Park at 2 p.m. For more details, please visit the Edmonton and District Labour Council's website.

Alberta Construction and Safety Association
SAIT’s Orpheus Theatre at 11 a.m. Additional details can be found on the Calgary Day of Mourning Facebook event page or by emailing calgarydayofmourning@gmail.com.


Incidents At XPO Logistics Show Why Unions Are Needed

Everyone has a different feeling when they are heading to work. A lot of it depends on the person, the day or the job they are going to.

For XPO workers in Memphis, they start off their day by being forced to take off their bras at the security checkpoint. They then move on to deal with snakes, rats, lizards and bugs throughout their day. Then there is also the extremely long work days and sexual harassment.

“A co-worker died and we had to work around her body,” stated Elizabeth Howley, who works at the XPO warehouse in Memphis. “We don't deserve to be treated like this. No one does."

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She is talking about Linda Jo Neal, an XPO worker who collapsed on the job last year. Coworkers wanted to help, but they were told by management they would be fired if they attempted to ‘render aid to her.’

And this isn’t just a Memphis issue.

In France and Belgium, they have been called out for delaying the payment of overtime. In Spain, women are refused training or advancement if they have a family, and are paid less for the same work as men. The gender pay gap for female employees in the UK is a staggering 14% less per hour.

XPO Logistics is one of the world's ten largest providers of transportation and logistics services. They have an annual revenue of around $5 billion per year and over 500 locations.

Teamsters has begun to organize workers at this facility and is taking a strong stance against these abuses.

“We’re standing with them,” said James Hoffa, Teamsters General President.“There’s only one hope, the union, the Teamsters union. Hope is on the way. The Teamsters are on the way. We will be here for you…we will organize XPO.”

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This case demonstrates the dangers of not only non-union workplaces, but also the decline in unionization.

Large corporations are getting away with abuses of worker rights. They get away with not providing a safe environment to work in and paying women less than men for the same work. Allowing sexual harassment, extremely low wages, unstable schedules and the breaking of basic labour laws have become the norm.

The rate of unionization may have declined over the past decade, but in today’s economic climate they are needed now more than ever. They have brought us many of the rights as workers we take for granted today including weekends, safety standards in the workplace and fair wages.

Unions have always been leaders when it comes to social movements, and that has become more important than ever for fighting for social justice for not only union workers, but people all across Canada and beyond.


Canadian Women Face A Disadvantage In Saving For Retirement Compared To Men

Retirement. For some, it is something to look forward to and for others, it becomes something to fear.

This all depends on how you have saved for that important phase of your life. When you have a large nest egg it can be an easy transition, when you don’t it can be devastating.

What studies have shown over the last few years is that there is one group in particular that is disadvantaged when it comes to retirement savings. That group is women.

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The Broadbent Institute found that 28 per cent of senior women in Canada are living below the poverty line and it will only get worse in the years to come. Another study found that women should be saving almost 18 per cent of their income to enjoy the same retirement lifestyle as men who save 10 per cent of theirs.

Here are a few reasons why:

1.    Women Live Longer

Although the life expectancy gap between men and women is shrinking, the average life expectancy in Canada is still on average around 79 years for men and 83 years for women. This means women typically will need more money for retirement.

2.    Women Earn Less
The wage gap is real in Canada and it is large. Woman earn 88 cents for every $1 earned by a man. Obviously, this means women have less money available to put away to save. A recent study found that this ends up costing women almost $16,000 a year.

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3.    Women Are More Likely To Leave The Workforce
According to CBC News, women work an average of 28 years in their lifetime while men work 38. There is an entire decade where women are not making any income of their own. This is mainly because women leave their job to raise kids and take care of ageing parents.

Unions have fought for better pensions for all Canadians for decades, calling for the expansion of the Canada Pension Plan. Being a union member also means you will get a good wage that is fair no matter what your gender is and also means an excellent pension plan. We should be making sure all Canadians look forward to their retirement and can enjoy that part of their life to the fullest.


Teamsters 362 Proves The Importance of Unions With The Latest Grievance Win For Members

When you think of being a member of a union, there are a lot of perks that usually come to mind. Excellent wages, health benefits and a steady schedule are just a few.

Perhaps one of the most important parts of being in a union is knowing you have an entire membership and leadership team backing you up if you face unfair workplace practices.

This month, our Vice-President Jordan Madarash proved once again just how important this is through a successful grievance win.

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A grievance was filed because members had chosen to bank their overtime, but never received their pension contributions for the hours worked on the days they chose to bank. Banking overtime means you work overtime, but you choose to place the money on hold for either a payout or days off to be taken on a later date.

This is a common practice, but what is not common is not receiving the pension contribution.

Jordan said that Teamsters 362 received a complaint from a member that noticed discrepancies in their banked overtime/pension hours.

“Once I received that complaint, I reached out to several members that I knew had also banked their overtime. Once I confirmed this was more than just a hiccup for one member, the Union filed a policy grievance,” explained Jordan.

This grievance captured the entire Bargaining Unit to make sure an audit of all of the members that had banked their overtime received the appropriate pension contributions. Once the grievance was processed, discussions took place between Teamsters 362 and the employer. The employer confirmed that an internal error had occurred and identified all the employees that needed to be paid additional pension contributions due to those errors.

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The members received a payout of over $8,000.

“This demonstrates the importance of unions in several ways,” said Jordan.

He pointed out that without unions, most workplaces do not allow banked overtime as it’s considered a liability that most non-union locations would not accept. He also explained that the complaint itself was fought by the union and no single member had to face the employer on their own or think that there is a target being placed on their back due to a complaint that they had.

We’re proud of yet another victory won for our members at Teamsters 362.


Government Stakeholders To Come Together To Talk Kinder Morgan Pipeline

Across the country, Canadians have been watching the ongoing saga of the Kinder Morgan Pipeline. Major political leaders have been arrested and wine has been banned.

This definitely makes for interesting headlines, but things are getting serious.

This month Kinder Morgan Canada suspended all non-essential spending on the Trans Mountain expansion project and set a May 31 deadline to reach agreements with stakeholders.

"Every day that goes by without commencement of the project is further delay, more cost, and the possibility of the cancellation of the Trans Mountain pipeline and that is why we feel strongly that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau needs to show leadership on this file," explained Robert Blakely, COO of the Canadian Building Trades Unions.

The Canadian Building Trades Unions are calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to hold an emergency meeting by bringing the Kinder Morgan Pipeline stakeholders to the table.

The Canadian Building Trades Unions represents over 500,000 construction trade workers in Canada. Although they were never included by Kinder Morgan Canada, they still want this project to move forward for the betterment of Canada and its economy.

"The last several months has seen unfortunate statements and behavior by certain individuals and this project is too important to our country and our economy to see this happen," said Blakely

He called for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to bring together the Premier of British Columbia, the Premier of Alberta, CEO of Kinder Morgan Canada and all other relevant stakeholders.

On Thursday, Justin Trudeau announced he will meet Sunday with Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and B.C. Premier John Horgan.

In 2016 the Federal government approved the project, and in early 2017 then B.C. Premier Christy Clark announced her support. Once NDP leader John Horgan became premier in 2017, things changed.

According to Kinder Morgan Canada, the Project would create approximately 15,000 construction jobs and the equivalent of 37,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs per year of operations.

They state that producers will see $73.5 billion in increased revenues over 20 years.


Violence Against Women With Disabilities Is A Huge Issue In Canada

The #MeToo movement has been going strong, but when we talk about women’s rights one area often neglect is disabled Canadians.

A recent report from Statistics Canada found that found the rate of violent victimization of women in the able-bodied population totalled 65 per 1,000 people, the figure for disabled women more than doubled to 137 per 1,000.

The report also found that 29 in 1,000 women overall reported surviving a sexual assault, but the number jumped to 56 per 1,000 for disabled women. Women with a cognitive or mental health condition were at even greater risk with their rates of victimization at 121 and 131 per 1,000 respectively.

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While any violence or sexual assault against women is unacceptable, these numbers show that there is a huge part of the issue that is not being acknowledged.

Sarah Jama is a disability justice activist and said in an interview with Metro Newsthat part of the problem is how society views women with disabilities.

“(The disproportionate risk is) not talked about because we’ve been socialized to see disabled women as not sexual, or (as) childlike, especially if you have an intellectual disability,” said Jama. “There’s a lot of shame around that for women with disabilities.”

Accessibility policies in Canada unfortunately do not address violence or women. As a result, when we talk about violence against women, we don’t focus attention on women with disabilities.

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Something to keep in mind as well is that women with disabilities are the largest, poorest minority group in the world. A large part of this has to do with lack of employment opportunities.

According to a recent Canadian study, people with disabilities are more likely to hold low-skill, temporary jobs. This not only means lower wages, but more workplace hazards are more likely to face inadequate occupational health and safety (OHS) protections.

Disability rights are human rights, and as Canadians we need to do more to make sure this population no longer has to fear violence or discrimination.


How To Be An Ally To The #MeToo Movement

The #MeToo movement has taken the world by storm and to say it has been polarizing would be an understatement with some calling it a revolution and others a witch hunt. No matter which end of the spectrum you fall, it is clear that the way we understand feminism is changing and this means navigating new territory for a lot of men.

This isn't always as easy as it sounds though. With any social change there are different points of view and decades of history behind it. As a man, saying you are a feminist or trying to navigate the new feminist movement can seem daunting. Here are a few ways men can be better #MeToo allies in the workplace and beyond.

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1.     It’s Complicated

Like many other social issues, feminism is complicated. This is a huge movement with different schools of thought, opinions and voices. You don’t have to become an expert, but it is important to acknowledge that feminism is intersectional and that patriarchy impacts women differently depending on factors such as race, income and location.

2.     Ask Questions And Listen

This is one of the most important parts of being an ally to any marginalized group. Don’t be afraid to ask women a lot of questions about their thoughts on feminism and discrimination, but make sure you listen. One of the obstacles women face is not having their voices heard, so take time to listen to what they have to say, whether you agree with that point of view or not.

3.     Accept That These Are Big Problems

When you hear about the issues women face, you may have the instinct that it is something you can fix. It is important to realize that patriarchy is not something that is easy to ‘fix’. It is systemic and entrenched in our norms and institutions. Try to focus on supporting existing campaigns or making small changes in your own life or attitudes towards feminism.

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4.     Educate Yourself

Because feminism is complicated, educating yourself is crucial. As mentioned before, you can do this by asking questions and listening closely to the answers, but there is so much more. Read a book, watch a documentary or attend an event in your community. In the era of #MeToo, there are an endless amount of resources you can use to educate yourself on women's rights.