Women Still Doing More Unpaid Work Than Men

Times have definitely changed in Canada when it comes to having children and raising a family.

Men are doing more work at home than they did in previous generations, with more of a role in cooking and household cleaning.

Today 76 per cent of men take part in house hold work, where as in 1986 just over half did.

We have come a long way, but according to a Statistics Canada Time Use Survey, women are still doing the overwhelming majority of unpaid work at home.

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According to the report women spent an average of 3.6 hours per day doing unpaid household, which is 50 per cent more than the 2.4 hours men spent doing the same tasks.

The highest participation rates for fathers was found in Quebec, and the lowest was in the prairies – Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

So why does this matter? It is a contributing factor to the gender pay gap.

A recent article in the New York Times pointed out that the gender gap starts to widen most sharply when women are in their late 20s to mid 30s, when most women are having children.

They said that the main reason that pay is lower is because the division of labour at home is ‘still unequal, even when both spouses work full time.’

Women are more likely to give up job opportunities or take less intensive jobs, because they know they will have more responsibilities at home.

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A study found that the bulk of the pay gap is from ‘women not getting raises and promotions at the rate of men’ and that ‘seniority and experience seem to pay off much more for men than for women.’

Studies have shown that being a member of a union can help narrow the gap for all members of society, including women. Union members earn on average $5.28 per hour more than workers without a union and women earn $7.10 per hour more on average with a union, getting paid more fairly.

Being a member of a union also means you have a collective agreement that will make sure you are treated fairly no matter what gender you are or if you choose to start a family.


Raising the Minimum Wage: Why Some Say it's Good for Canada

Ontario’s Premier Kathlene Wynne was in the news this past week, with some hailing and others criticizing her announcement on the minimum wage.

The government said that they will phase in this increase over the next 18 months with the minimum wage rising to $14 by January 2018. It will be up to $15 by 2019.

Critics have said that raising the minimum wage will crush small businesses and destroy jobs, especially for young people in this economy that is already tough for them. They also said it will force businesses to raise their prices.

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But economic experts point out that raising the minimum wage is actually good for business and it is time for change. Here are some reasons why:

Consumer Consumption:

According to Macleans Magazine, household purchases account for 57 per cent of Canadian GDP and helps to drive the economy. Rising housing costs across the country have eaten up a lot of disposable income for all Canadians. They pointed out that when lower income earners see a rise in their income they will spend it locally, boosting the economy from the bottom up.

Productivity:

Increasing wages has been shown to increase productivity in workers. A study from the Peterson Institute for International Economics found that higher wages motivate employees to work harder, leads to lower turnover, enhances quality of service and attracts more capable workers.

Big Business:

When it comes to larger business, those who support a higher minimum wage point out that low wages maximize profits for these big businesses. Macleans points out that big businesses complain about higher minimum wage, but don’t make the same statements about the growing compensation for senior management.

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It’s Time:

Ontario is not alone in there commitment to raising the minimum wage. They join Nova Scotia, Alberta, Quebec and Manitoba who has hinted a raise. Statistics Canada has found that Canada has outpaced the United States in its reliance on low wage work and Ontario has the highest reliance in Canada.


When is it time to join a union?

If you feel your rights as a worker are being abused, it might be time to think about joining a union.

Whether you’re unhappy with your hours, feel you’re underpaid or generally go unheard at work, there are a million reasons to consider unionizing

But what do you do after you’ve made the big decision to join a union?

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Step 1: Talk to your co-workers. Chances are if you’re feeling unhappy at work, so is someone else (just make sure all conversations surrounding the formation of a union happen outside of company time). You need support from at least half your co-workers, keeping in mind that excludes management.

Step 2: Get in touch with Teamsters 362. We take pride in protecting your privacy, and our organizers will help assess your circumstances and workplace issues before moving forward.

Step 3: Pick a select group of workers who can speak on the behalf of all other employees wanting to unionize. This small team will work closely with Teamsters 362 to develop and execute an organization strategy.

Step 4: The application for membership cards begins. These cards are confidential, and your Teamsters representative will help you complete them properly. The card acts as a thumbs-up for Teamsters to represent each individual worker.

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Step 5: A specific percentage of cards must be completed and signed before Local 362 files to the labour board. At that time, Teamsters will also send in an application for certification on the employee’s behalf.

No matter where or when you decide to unionize, Local 362 will protect your privacy and use our access to labour experts to assist us with health and safety issues.

The first steps in the organizational process come from you, but your union will be there to support along the way.


The Power of Collective Bargaining

What can a collective agreement do for you?

Unions fight for the rights of employees everywhere - that’s our job.

Since the early 1900s, Canadian unions have negotiated on behalf of workers. But getting results like better wages, safe working conditions, and health and welfare support can’t happen without a collective agreement between employees and employers.

The result of collective bargaining is a legal binding agreement -- a collective agreement -- that governs all different arenas crucial to a healthy and prosperous work environment.

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Here are a few areas collective agreements cover:

Wages

Especially when it comes to things like money, negotiating rate of pay for employees isn’t quite as simple as a handshake over lunch. Legal contracts are crucial to pay equality, regulating work salaries, and putting in place appropriate wage scales.

Working conditions

Fair working conditions as well as safe physical and mental environments are imperative for an employee’s well being. A collective agreement puts legal implements in place to ensure things like hours, rest periods and working schedules are at the standard they should be.

Grievance procedures

Managing conflict is one of the trickiest aspects employers and employees face. Between mental health issues, workplace bullying and personality clashes, having legal dispute resolution mechanisms in place has been one of the most revolutionary progressions in labour history.

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Fringe benefits

Collective agreements are also beneficial for solidifying fringe benefit contracts, or in other words, the “perks” of the job. Things like transportation, subsidized meals and health insurance can be bargained for and incorporated into a legal agreement.

Teamsters 362 believes collective agreements are essential in protecting the best interests of Canadian workers. 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.


What does workplace safety look like in Canada?

People work so they can live. They have mortgages, savings and children to worry about -- they shouldn’t have to be anxious about feeling safe at work.

And safety at work comes in a lot of forms.

Despite technological advancements and improvements in safety rules and standards in the workplace, too many employees are getting hurt -- even killed -- on the job.

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The deaths earlier this year of Albertan workers at sites in Joffre and Redwater are clear reminders that workplace safety is still an issue.

The most current data from Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) shows that Alberta fatality rates were down from 2013 to 2014, but the number of workplace-related deaths in 2014 (a total of 169), was still higher than the three years previous.

Disabling injury claims increased to 55,245 that year, and today there are still hundreds of worksite injuries that go unaccounted for -- in too many cases, the need to work is greater than reporting an injury.

Are you safer at work with a union?

It’s an ongoing fight for workers’ rights. Teamsters 362 stands up for better working conditions, and at the forefront of our battleground is safety in the workplace.

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We can improve workplace standards by listening to safety concerns, and demanding better legislation. Collective bargaining, safety committees and fighting on every worker’s behalf, is how we protect employees.

Mental health supports are more important now than ever. Our recent campaign,Make it Mandatory, calls on everyone in the workplace to take action, to fight against mental health stigmas and lay better foundations for success.

Let’s work together to keep everyone safe.


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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


Unions Needed Now More Than Ever

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.

We have just listed a few of the reasons of why organizing is so important now more than ever.

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Rise of precarious unsafe employment

This type of work usually includes low wages, unstable hours and no benefits at all. While this type of employment is not new, it is on the rise across the world, including right here in Canada. These types of jobs have little stability and can take a serious toll on workers mental and physical health both in and outside of the workplace.

Alberta economy

The price of oil has hit record lows and lay offs are coming all across the province in a variety of industries. Those in contract positions are most likely to be let go first, while those who have unions to negotiate for them have a better chance of remaining in their jobs. People need to know there is someone fighting for them when times get tough.

Social and political rights

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. From the Fight for Fifteen to mental health awareness to getting people out to vote, labour unions have mobilized their members and lobby for the rights of all Canadians.

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Pay gap between CEO and workers continues to grow

According to the annual report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Canada’s highest-paid CEOs will have earned the average workers salary of around $48,000 by lunch on a Monday.

They took home an average of $8.96 million, 184 times the pay of an average working Canadian, per year. The middle class is shrinking because most jobs that are considered middle class are disappearing. Unions created the middle class and we need them to bring it back once again.


Mental Health Support Critical During Tough Economic Times

Mental health in the workplace has been receiving much needed attention in the past year across Canada. The issue has reached crisis level, with numbers showing that the economic cost is at least $50 billion per year in Canada.

Stress levels in the workplace have been high in Alberta where the economy has been hit hard and now we need to look even more closely at increasing mental health support.

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More People Are Looking For Help

According to experts working in Alberta’s mental health community, there has been a ‘significant increase in people looking for their services since the downturn in the energy industry.’  They pointed out that they not only have people contacting them who were laid off, but also see people looking for services who feel guilty for still having a job.

Domestic Violence Expected To Rise

Research recently released from the University of Alberta, has found that rate of domestic violence is expected to rise if the economy continues to struggle, finding that interpersonal violence can be caused by the stress everyday living conditions. Researchers see it as a public-health problem, especially with Alberta having some of the highest rates of interpersonal violence of any province in Canada.

Increase In Suicide Rate

At the end of last year the chief medical examiners office released a report that 30 per cent more Albertans took their lives in the first half of 2015 compared with the same period in 2014. Experts say that that number far exceeds anything they could have expected and if the trend continues there could be over 600 suicides in Alberta this year.

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These issues not only effect those who are going through job losses but friends, families and coworkers around them. Many unions have taken on the initiative to get more help including Teamsters 362 and Teamsters Canada both ran a #MakeitMandatory mental health awareness campaign urging policy makers to pay more attention to mental health support in the workplace.

If you or someone you know needs assistance, you can call the distress centre at 403.266.4357.


World Happiness Report: Highly Unionized Countries Take Top Spots

The world happiness report was recently released and the top countries have a few things in common including the strength of unions within the country.

The top 10 nations were Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, Finland, Canada, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia and Sweden.

Denmark was originally in third place last year and moved up to take top spot. Canada dropped one from last year.

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This is the fourth year of The World Happiness Report and is put together by the the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the Earth Institute at Columbia University.

It was released just before the UN World Happiness Day on March 20.

According to an article by the CBC economic stability is a large factor in the ranking, as are social support and solidarity.

Of the top 10 almost all have extremely high percentage of workers covered by collective agreements, with Denmark at 80 per cent. The happiest countries tend to have high levels of unionizing, creating a strong middle class and less inequality.

This is also consistent with studies that have been done on countries with higher levels of unionization.

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A study from Baylor University and the University of Arkansas found that overall union members are ‘more satisfied with their lives than those who are not members and that the substantive effect of union membership on life satisfaction is large and rivals other common predictors of quality of life.’

It is clear that people who are in unions usually have a better work environment with good benefits, job security and fair wages. This also translates outside of work where studies have found union members have a better social well being a life satisfaction.

In a place like Alberta where jobs have become unstable and economic times are extremely tough, unionizing is something that could offer support both inside and outside the workplace.