Exciting Labour Moments Of 2015

This year was an exciting one for the labour movement, especially in Canada. From workplace wellness, to social movements, to the promise to repeal anti-union bills – 2015 was a year many won’t forget. As the year comes to a close, we thought we would take a look at some of the most talked about labour moments of the year.

1.     Mental Health Comes To The Forefront

Mental health issues in the workplace cost the Canadian economy over $50 billion every year, and unfortunately there is still stigma that surrounds discussing the issue at work. But this year there were some huge steps taken to tackle the issue, including the #MakeItMandatory campaign started by Teamsters 362 and continued by Teamsters Canada. Newly elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised to invest more than $3 billion in mental health and home care – a great first step to support mental health in Canada.

2.     Promise to Repeal Anti-Union Bills

This year saw the commitment to repeal two bills that were not only anti-union, but also violated Canadian citizens basic rights – Bill C-525 and Bill C-377. Trudeau was greeted with a large applause at a Canadian Labour Congress gathering this year when he said he would ‘fulfil the Liberal promise to repeal Bills C-377 and C-525 — the former Conservative government’s anti-union legislation.’

3.     Spotlight On Workplace Discrimination

This year the spotlight was put on the fact that both globally and in Canada , there is still a long way to go when it comes to workplace discrimination. The World Economic Forum released a Global Gender Gap report that found that it will take another 118 years, or until 2133, until the global pay gap is closed. In Canada it estimated that ‘the average male earns the equivalent of $40,000 US, while women earn $32,916.’ A recent study conducted by international human resources consulting firm Randstad, found that a significant percentage of Canadians said they had been discriminated against because of gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs and age. The gender pay gap is still significant in Canada, that a United Nations report on our country cited it as a major concern.

4.     Young People Involved in Labour

One of the most exciting events that we saw in labour this year was young people and their involvement in the labour movement. The spotlight has been shining especially bright on this issue since popular millennial news outlets such as Gawker, Salon and Vice have been unionizing. A recent Gallup Poll showed that the approval of unions jumped to 58 per cent this year, an increase of 5 per cent from last year and 10 per cent since 2008. Of all age groups surveyed – millennials, aged 18 to 34, were more pro union than any other group. As young people move into positions of power and leadership, it will be exciting to see how the labour movement grows of the next few years.

Women Still Face Barriers Moving Into Leadership Roles In The Workplace

When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the mandate that his cabinet would have gender equality – 15 men and 15 women – many Canadians were excited about the very public example of women in leadership roles.

Trudeau said it was important for women to be given an equal voice on Parliament Hill, with more agendas moving forward on women’s issues.

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Women will be able to give their perspective, ‘because it’s 2015.’

However, in 2015 there are still very little women in leadership roles in Canadian workplaces.

Randstad Canada’s fourth annual Women Shaping Business study found that ‘nearly three-quarters of working Canadian women are in roles below the management level.’

And what was cited as the number one barrier to leadership? An employer’s fear of absence due to family obligations.

Faith Tull, senior vice president, human resources at Randstad Canada said that in order to promote gender diversity in more senior roles ‘Canadian employers need to enhance their offerings to alleviate workplace stress related to family obligations.’

"Making leadership opportunities accessible and attractive for women starts with nurturing a work culture of flexibility, openness and empowerment," she said.

Not being backed by a union can also make things more difficult. With union representation also comes the security in knowing you will not be denied a promotion into a leadership role, paid an unfair wage or terminated because of your gender or family obligations.

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Studies have shown that being a member of a union can help narrow the gender wage gap for 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.

All of these are important factors, as the study found more than three-quarters of working Canadian women ‘believe there is a divide compared to men in the workplace when it comes to salaries, influence in making important decisions, promotions, and getting the best jobs, tasks or projects.’

Trudeau set a great example, but we still need to take a closer look at the barriers women face moving into leadership roles in Canada.

2015 Kids of Promise Christmas Hamper Thank You Letter

This year was the 7th year that Teamsters partnered with the Kids of Promise Program to help support families in need. Please click the link below to view the letter.


Thank you - Kids of Promise 2015

Disability Rights Need To Be Addressed In The Workplace According To Study

Although many employers are encouraging diversity in the workplace, there is one group who continues to be ignored when it comes to human rights in the workplace.

In 2012, just around four million ‘working-age’ Canadians identified themselves as disabled – covering everything from visible disabilities such as being in a wheelchair to invisible disabilities such as a mental health issue.

And a recent study has found that half of Canadians believe ‘it’s understandable if an employer thinks it’s too risky to hire someone with a physical disability.’

The survey was done by the Angus Reid Institute and the Rick Hansen Foundation. The study also found that Canadians vastly underestimate the number of disabled people in the population.

“There seemed to be a split intuitively between how people were thinking about disability and where sometimes we thought we were,” said Mr. Hansen about the need for this new survey by the Globe and Mail. “I am always asked everywhere I go, ‘So, how accessible is Canada?’ ‘What are Canadians thinking?’ And so the notion started to emerge that we needed to do more research on this issue ….”

Hansen said advocates for disability rights must now ‘tackle the business world.’

This is an issue in Alberta as well, with 80 per cent of all complaints made to the

Robert A. Philp, Queen’s Counsel for the Alberta Human Rights Commission falling under unemployment.

Thirty four per cent of those complaints fell under physical disability and 16 per cent under mental disability.

“Employers have people in their workforce with disabilities whether they acknowledge it or not,” said Alexi Davis, a senior manager at Prospect Human Services for Disability Employment.

“So being intentional about fostering strategies in a culture and policies that support your employee base that already exists and opening to potential talent as you recruit … really strengthens your workforce,” she explained.

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.

With more studies and attention been drawn to disability and accessibility rights in the workplace, advocates are hoping that the high unemployment rates of those with disabilities will begin to decrease.

Disability rights are human rights, and all Canadians need to be more aware of that fact.

Little Warriors Thank You Letter

Please click the link below to view the thank you letter from Little Warriors. Little Warriors was created to prevent child sexual abuse and help heal those affected by it.


Little Warriors

Holiday Stress At Work: How To Deal With It And Get Through The Season

The holiday season brings family gatherings, gifts and good cheer – but it can also bring an extreme amount of stress.

This stress can also be amplified at workplaces, where trying to keep the work-life balance, while also trying to get everything organized for the Holidays, can sometimes seem impossible.

“It's very bad sometimes, basically because there's a clash between ideals and what's actually manageable. It starts to hit hard this time of year,” explained workplace psychologist Jennifer Newman in an interview with CBC news.

“There are lots of competing needs — to be productive at work, to make the holiday joyful, and keep the kids happy — and all of those activities vie for worker time.”

She pointed out that this time can be especially difficult for people who suffer from any sort of social anxiety, because there is the extra pressure to be social this time of year with family and also at work.

Here are some suggestions on how to manage stress at work during the holiday season.

1.     Don’t Take Things Personally
If you are feeling stressed at this time of year, keep in mind others are too and they may have other stresses that you haven’t even considered. If other workers are a little on edge during the holiday season, try not to take it personally, focus on your own situation and what you can control.

2.    Take Time For Yourself
It is important to find a way to wind down and recharge your battery – both mentally and physically. From taking time to read a book to participating in physical activities such as yoga or running, it is important to take care of your health.

3.     Reach Out To Resources
If you find you are feeling really down and think you might need some professional help, it is important to reach out to resources at work. Talk to your EAP, or if you are unionized reach out to your shop steward or business agent to find out what resources are available. Not talking to someone when you feel your stress is unmanageable, can have drastic effects on your mental health.

4.     Set Limits
One of the most important parts to not getting over stressed this time of year is knowing when to say no. You don’t have to make it to every social event your invited to, you don’t have to overspend and you don’t have to feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders, especially at work.

Newman pointed out that it is nearly impossible to be able to equally balance work, home and seasonal activities this time of year.

“The concept of equally balancing everything is a bit of a myth,” she said. “People do get worn down around this time of year, and stress results when workers can't meet high expectations set at home and at work. You have to adjust expectations, rather than trying to meet impossible standards.”

Trying to balance it all is nearly impossible, but knowing you have people supporting you at work this time of year is important in making it through the holiday season.

Why Unions Still Matter

Unions are the reason workers have many of the rights that exist in the workplace today – minimum wage, weekends and safety standards. We thought we would list just a few of the reasons why having unions in the workplace is still extremely important.

1.     Balances Power

When you are employed by a larger company, it may feel like you are just a small fish in a big pond. Unions continue to balance power by giving members a voice in the workplace. With collective agreements, shop stewards and business agents, members know they have people standing behind them so that their human rights are guaranteed in the workplace.

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2.     Lobbying Group For Interests of Canadians

Not only do unions fight for the rights of their own members, but call citizens of Canada. They can act as a lobbying group for issues that affect all Canadians. Teamsters Local 362 and Teamsters Canada recently ran a #MakeItMandatory mental health campaign raising awareness about the need for mental health support in the workplace. Both groups also encouraged all Canadians to vote, no matter what party they were voting for.

3.     Benefits and Pay

When it comes to pay, the union advantage is clear. Union members earn$5.28/hour more, on average, than non-union workers and women in a union earn $7.10/hour more, on average, than non-union. Workers in a union also receive great benefits, with health coverage for them and their family.

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4.     Sets The Bar

Having strong unions not only benefits its members, but all workers, setting the bar at unionized workplaces for other workplaces to follow. Unions raise wages and working condition standards for all, and have been for a long time.

A Call For More Mental Health Support As Alberta's Suicide Rate Rises

Mental health issues in Canada have long been ignored, but recent statistics coming out of Alberta are showing why we must do much more to address mental health and the stigma associated with it.

According to the chief medical examiner's office, 30 per cent more Albertans took their lives in the first half of this year compared to the same period last year.

Approximately 500 people die by suicide each year in Alberta, but due to this staggering increase the province is on pace to have more than 650 suicides this year.

David Kirby is a counsellor with the Calgary Distress Centre and said in an interview with CBC News that in this year of mass layoffs, calls to the Centre have ‘changed tone and have become more frequent.’ The demand for counselling services has also increased by 80 per cent.

"For me it says something really about the horrible human impact of what's happening in the economy with the recession and the real felt effect, the real suffering and the real struggle that people are experiencing," he said.

Many people in contract positions, or who were in positions of precarious work were the first to be let go.

However, Dave Grauwiler, who is with the Canadian Mental Health Association's Alberta division, said it is too early to link the increase in suicides to the job losses in the province. He pointed out that it typically takes a couple of years in a recession for those numbers to go up.

"I think that stigma is still an issue around all mental illness," he said. "However, we do see some pretty encouraging signs that the conversation is changing, that people are more willing to talk about their own experience of mental illness, that there are more opportunities for people to get help in our communities than there ever has been."

If someone is facing mental health issues, or knows someone who is, and wants more information about support they should get in contact with their EAP or they can call 211 in Alberta, a number that is there to help individuals find the right community and social services.

Whatever the cause is, it is clear Alberta is facing a major mental health crisis and more must be done.

Canadians and advocacy groups have been calling for more to be done about mental health and the stigma associated with it all across Canada, and especially in the workplace.

Mental Health issues cost the Canadian economy over $50 billion each year and both Teamsters Canada and Teamsters Local 362 have created ‘Make It Mandatory’ mental health campaigns to make mental health resources mandatory in every workplace across Canada.

Canadians must work together to end the stigma and let people suffering know that they are not alone.

2015 Carol McGregor Award

Please click the links below to view the Memorandum from the Canadian Labour Congress announcing this year's Carol McGregor Award winner and a touching story. A huge congratulations to Ann Ramsay.



Workplaces Need To Do More To Stop Domestic Violence According to Report

Domestic violence is a serious issue across Canada, with staggering statistics and sometimes, tragic results.

According to the Canadian Women’s Foundation, half of all women in Canada have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16, and on average, every six days a woman in Canada is killed by her intimate partner.

Something needs to be done, and recently advocates are calling for workplaces to take more action.

"Unfortunately, domestic violence is a reality of Canadian society and the Canadian workplace," said Louise Chenier, Manager of Workplace Health and Wellness Research at The Conference Board of Canada. "And employers can play a role in providing greater resources and supports for victims of domestic violence.”

The board recently found that 71 per cent of Canadian employers surveyed reported experiencing a situation where it was necessary to protect a victim of domestic abuse.

They also found that domestic violence impacts the workplace through productivity losses, higher absenteeism and, in some cases, can affect the safety of co-workers increasing the risk for physical and psychological violence in the workplace.

And a number of provinces across the country are taking action.

In Manitoba proposed legislation will ensure that victims of domestic violencecould get up to 17 weeks without penalty.

"When there is violence at home, you shouldn't have to worry about holding onto your job as you escape and rebuild," Labour Minister Erna Braun said in a news release.

It would allow those affected by domestic violence to take up to 10 days off per year without penalty, including five days of paid leave. They would also be entitled to a period of leave to up to 17 weeks so they can take time to recover or move.

"This proposed first-in-Canada legislation would ensure that victims of domestic violence have financial security, job protection and flexibility to take time away from work to recover from violence," said Braun.

Alberta has taken steps to combat domestic violence as well.

The province’s human services minister Irfan Sabir said that ‘the government has accepted and will implement recommendations by the family violence death review committee that would require workplaces to better protect employees from domestic violence.’

This includes training for employers and employees to know how to respond to family violence when it enters the workplace.

In 2011 a women was murdered by her spouse in Edmonton, and when the murder was reviewed by the family violence review committee, they discovered the woman’s employer and co-workers did little to help her, even thought they knew what was going on.

“On the victim’s side, the employer did very little to protect the employee at the workplace site and knew about the violence and knew about the potential threat and did nothing about it,” said Allen Benson, chairman of the death review committee.

The committee recommended that the Occupational Health and Safety act be amended to include family violence as a workplace hazard, so that tragedies such as the one that took place in 2011 won’t happen again.