Labour Day: Why We Still Need Unions

The Labour Day weekend signals a lot of things for Canadians. It’s time for the kids to go back to school, friends gather together for one last camping trip and you can start getting sweaters and toques ready for Fall.

What it really should mean is that you take a minute to think about the labour movement and why it is important today. There are a lot of reasons and here are just a few.

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

Experience Fighting for Workers’ Rights

The labour movement has been fighting for workers' rights for decades and are the reason we have so many of the laws and rights that are in place in the workplace today. Unions fought to ensure that there were health and safety standards in effect across the country, that people are entitled to properly scheduled work weeks and they set the bar for fair wages across industries.

The Toronto Printers Strike in 1872 saw over 100 strikers in Toronto fight hard to win a 54-hour work week and better wages. In 1914 unions helped to create the first Canadian model for provincial legislation that recognized that ‘some level of injury is inevitable and that compensation should be provided.’ Unions also fought for the Unemployment Insurance Act (EIA), which according to Statistics Canada was created in 1940 and over 30 years later in 1971 unions helped push for maternity rights to be added to it where mothers with ‘20 or more insurable weeks could claim up to 15 weeks of benefits.’

Pay Gap
The pay gap in Canada is very real and not shrinking. Statistics Canada found that the income gap between visible minorities, Indigenous people 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. The gap is alive and well for women as well who earned $0.87 for every $1 earned by a man last year. A lot of this is due to the decline in unions who have fought for equal pay for decades.

In Alberta alone
, immigrants earned $3.49/hour more with a union, and Aboriginal workers earned $8.47/hour more. Union women in Alberta earn $7.76/hour more than non-union women.

Growth of Precarious Work
Precarious work is starting to become the new norm in Canada, a fact that is very troubling. This is when workers who fill permanent job needs are denied full workplace rights such as benefits, a fair wage, a stable schedule and a voice in the workplace. They also don't allow you to unionize, because they know that unions fight for all of those rights of employees. Unions are the only answer to the rise of precarious work.

Wage Theft
Wage theft can include not paying for hours worked, overtime or breaks, not paying minimum wage, illegal deductions, withholding tips or denial of pay for sick leave or vacation. This usually happens in precarious work, but can happen in high-paying jobs as well. In the last three years in Alberta, there have been more than 6,000 wage theft claims, adding up to nearly $19 million owed to workers. Unions ensure that this will not happen to you. They have grievance procedures in place that will hold employers accountable to their responsibility to pay their employees.

Health and Safety
Everyone should feel safe and healthy in the workplace – it’s a basic human right. Unfortunately, research has shown that Albertans are afraid to report workplace injuries because of being fired. Research released by the University of Alberta’s Parkland Institute found that there were around 170,000 injuries serious enough to require time off or modified work in 2016, but only 45,000 were reported. Out of a poll of 2,000, workers they found that nearly 70 per cent of disabling workplace injuries in Alberta go unreported. With a union on your side, you have someone to back you up in the workplace and ensure you are working in a safe workplace. With a union, you will never be afraid to report and employers are held responsible.

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

All of these examples show exactly why we should celebrate and support unions today. They are the strongest force against inequality, wage theft and health and safety violations in the workplace and society.

It’s well known that as unionization has declined, inequality has increased and wages have remained become stagnant. Not only do union members earn more than non-union members, but they help set the bar for salaries in industries across Canada.

This labour day, take a moment to think about what unions have done for workplaces in the past and how they continue to fight for the rights of all Canadians in the workplace today.


Teamsters Local 362 Weekly Update For Aug. 17

Each week Teamsters Local 362 will update our members on what is happening within the Local and what our Business Agents are doing outside of their daily responsibilities. Make sure you check in to see what is happening in the union.

Late last week, a meeting was held for all members of Inland Concrete in Fort McMurray on the Aug. 9 to vote on the recent Memorandum of Agreement. We would like to congratulate and thank all members for attending the meeting and taking part in the vote, which ratified the re-negotiated agreement.

On Tuesday, Aug. 14 Business Agents in Edmonton attended a step two grievance meeting at the Edmonton International Airport with Garda World Pre-Board Screening. If any members working with Garda World Pre-Board Screening in Edmonton are looking for information about their grievances settlements, please contact the Edmonton Hall at 780-455-2255.

Representatives from Local 362’ Motion Production, ACTRA Alberta, The Directors Guild of Canada and IATSE 210 met with the Edmonton Screen Industries Office on Tuesday, Aug. 14 to discuss motion production development in the Edmonton area. The Unions and Guilds also worked in conjunction with the Edmonton Screen Industries Office to develop a business plan to aid future development of motion production projects in the Edmonton area.

In bargaining this week, Local 362’ bargaining committee for Brinks Alberta met the company representatives in Calgary from Tuesday, Aug. 14 to Thursday, Aug. 16 for the second round of contractual negotiations. The next round of negotiations is tentatively scheduled for mid-September.

In other exciting news, members and representatives from Teamsters Locals 362 and 987 have committed to their 5th year riding their bicycles in the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer. The Local 362 Truck and Trailer will be transporting riders' bikes from the Edmonton and Red Deer areas to the event. Local 987's Sprinter Van will be active for all 200km of the ride on Saturday, Aug. 18 and 19 as a sweep van to ensure the riders' safety and provide any aid needed during their journey over the two days. We would like to wish all riders participating in the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer a safe ride and congratulate them on their determination for a great cause in further development for a cure for cancer. Thank you!

For more information on the event, please visit: https://ride.conquercancer.ca/alberta/


Teamsters Local 362 Weekly Update For Aug. 10

Each week Teamsters Local 362 will update our members on what is happening within the local and what our Business Agents are doing outside of their daily responsibilities. Make sure you check in to see what is happening in the union.

Teamsters Local 362 in conjunction with Teamsters Local 213 in British Columbia counted the ballots returned for Monarch Transport on Friday, Aug. 3. The Memorandum of Agreement was ratified by the membership in both Alberta and British Columbia. Congratulations to our members with Monarch Transport on their success of ratifying their agreement.

On Tuesday, Aug. 7  representatives from Teamsters Local 362 were present at the monthly meeting with the Southern Alberta Building Trades to discuss ongoing projects and affairs of unions involved in the construction industry in Alberta. In other events on Tuesday, Business Agents handling Garda World Pre-Board Screeners met with management of Garda World for a step three grievance meeting, where the Business Agents discussed issues from Calgary, Edmonton and the other regional airports that Teamsters Local 362 represents.

In other airport news this week, Business Agents in Edmonton have started accepting nominations for Garda World Pre-Board Screeners Shop Stewards. If any members with Garda World Pre-Board Screening at the Edmonton International Airport are interested in joining the ranks to become a Shop Steward, please inquire with a current Shop Steward or contact your Business Agent on how to complete a nomination form. The deadline to have your nomination in is Aug. 31, 2018.

In Calgary, Business Agents for the Armoured Car Division met with Brinks management for a step three grievance meeting in hopes of resolving open grievances and other pending items before Local 362's bargaining committee resumes contractual negotiations with Brinks next week. In ratification votes this week, Business Agents in Fort McMurray presented the Memorandum of Agreement for Inland Concrete at the Fort McMurray office on Thursday, Aug. 9.

In other events this week, Shop Steward Pei VanDen Brink from Garda World Pre-Board Screeners in Edmonton has started her first developmental leave with Local 362. Pei will be on duty out of our Edmonton Hall and will be working with all of the Business Agents stationed in the Edmonton area. Pei will be with Local 362 until the beginning of September. If you have the chance to speak with Pei, make sure you to welcome her aboard Team 362.


Teamsters Local 362 Weekly Update For Aug. 3

Each week Teamsters Local 362 will update our members on what is happening within the local and what our business agents are doing outside of their daily responsibilities. Make sure you check in to see what is happening in the union.

On Monday, July 30 Business Agents in Calgary were present at the United Parcel Service facility to celebrate long-standing member and Shop Steward, Elliot Marfo's milestone of 20 years of employment with the company.  In Calgary, on Tuesday, July 31 Business Agents visited the membership of Local 362’s Motion Production Division onset of an upcoming production being filmed in Calgary.

On Wednesday, Aug 1 Business Agents in Edmonton met with members from Inland Ready Mix Edmonton to present the newly drafted Memorandum of Agreement, which was followed by a vote by the membership. On Friday, Aug 3 Business Agents in Calgary and Edmonton counted ballots for Alberta members employed with Monarch Transport. In other upcoming membership meetings, Business Agents in Fort McMurray will be meeting with members from Inland Concrete to present and vote on a Memorandum of Agreement on Thursday, Aug 9 at the Fort McMurray office.

Local 362 is happy to announce that we have now completed all the steps to secure our office space within the Calgary International Airport and we anticipate to be fully operational within the next few weeks. We are excited to be at an arm’s length of our members who are working at the Calgary International Airport. Make sure to stop by the new office and say hello.

As mentioned a few weeks ago, Local 362 is excited to announce that we will be taking part in our first ever Calgary Pride Parade on Sept 2 with our Teamsters Truck and our float that will be showcased in the parade. If any members or members’ family members would like to take part in this adventure to showcase our Pride, please reach out to us by email at Pride@gtl362.ca for further information or to have your name(s) added to the list.


The Issue of Wage Theft in Alberta

It’s generally understood that when you have a job and you do your work, you get paid. Whether you’re a server taking home tips at the end of the night, an office clerk who gets paid bi-weekly through direct deposit or a contractor who is paid at the completion of a job – you get to take home the money you’ve earned. It’s the law.

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.

Wage theft is a huge issue across North America. It comes in many different forms – not paying for hours worked, overtime or breaks, not paying minimum wage, illegal deductions, withholding tips or denial of pay for sick leave or vacation.

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

The worst part is that it usually happens to the most vulnerable workers in low-wage industries who don’t always have the voice or resources to do anything about it.

There have been countless examples across Canada from The Regal Restaurants in Toronto to the highly publicized case of Smiling Goat workers in Halifax who recently unionized.

Alberta is also facing a big crisis when it comes to wage theft and the government is starting to crack down.

In the last three years, there have been more than 6,000 wage theft claims, adding up to nearly $19 million owed to workers.

In June, the Alberta Ministry of Labour sent out letters to employers who were accused of wage theft giving them one last chance to ‘settle with their workersbefore formal investigations ensue.’

The Alberta Labour Minister Christina Gray pointed out the importance of dealing with wage theft because ‘there are many vulnerable workers where two weeks without pay could mean losing their home.’

The Calgary Herald reported that the NDP government has added 23 additional employment standards officers to investigate and enforce regulations concerning fair compensation.

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

Wage theft should be taken seriously, but the truth is many workers are afraid to speak up, and even if they do it can take weeks or even months to see those wages.

One of the best ways to protect against wage theft is having a union to back you up. Unions negotiate a collective bargaining agreement that guarantees you not only fair wage but that it will be paid on time without illegal deductions. If there are any issues you have an entire union to back you up so you don’t have to be afraid to raise your voice.

While it is a positive step that the government is taking more steps to ensure wage theft is dealt with, nothing can match the power of having a union on your side.