Teamsters Local 362 Celebrates Announcement of Pipeline Expansion

On Tuesday, the federal government announced that they have decided to buy the Trans Mountain expansion pipeline project for $4.5 billion dollars. This was to ensure the pipeline would proceed.

This announcement was celebrated by Albertans across the province.

For months politicians, workers and activists across the country have been expressing their opinions about the project and now Trudeau has put a final word on the debate.

“Today, we’ve taken action to create & protect jobs in Alberta and BC, and restart construction on the TMX pipeline expansion, a vital project in the national interest,” he said in a tweet regarding the announcement.

Premier Rachel Notley celebrated the announcement with an event at the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Training Centre in Calgary. Teamsters Local 362 was honoured to attend the event with Teamsters Canada President François Laporte.

“We are pleased to have worked with the federal government to ensure construction resumes, certainty is increased and Albertans and all Canadians enjoy the many benefits of having this project go forward. There is more work to do, but we will not stop until the job is done,” she said in a statement.

According to CBC news, Kinder Morgan and the federal government will spend the next couple of months looking for a buyer for the pipeline, as the government is not looking for long-term ownership.

Here are a few fast facts about the project:

  • 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, he stated he would not support the project.
  • 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.
  • Scotiabank estimates the discount on Canadian oil caused by pipeline bottlenecks costs producers and the Canadian economy as much as $40 million per day.

Changes to Alberta Occupation Health and Safety Act Coming June 1

Albertans have had their input and will officially have a new Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHS) for the province as of June 1.

The NDP government invited Albertans to provide input during the month of April of what they would want to see in the act. The old OHS act will be replaced with a new act that employers will need to familiarize themselves with.

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

Here are just a few of the changes coming:

  • New obligations for worksite parties including supervisors, those who are self-employed, consultants and  more
  • New obligations for owners to ensure that their premises are maintained in a safe condition
  • Workers will now have a formalized right to refuse unsafe work
  • A larger definition of harassment and new measures to ensure that workers are protected from all forms of it
  • Broader and more explicit power of inspection and permits for OHS officers

Labour Minister Christina Gray announced last year that the NDP government would launch a review of the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act that had not been revamped since 1976.

Labour unions in Alberta have been fighting for these changes for years and were glad to see that the government was finally listening.

Researchers have found in both North America and internationally that where there is a union present, workplaces injury rates are lower than non-union. In Canada, a study found that unionized construction sites were 30 per cent less likely to suffer critical injuries.

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

This is because of the leadership role the union plays in the workplace. Union shop stewards and business agents are able to ensure the safety of everyone in the workplace and are available if employees feel that they need to report any health or safety violations.

You should never have to worry about performing unsafe work or feeling uncomfortable in your workplace. Unions are celebrating these changes and will continue to fight for workers’ rights across the province.


Albertans Are Afraid To Report Workplace Injuries

When you walk into your workplace, you should always feel safe. If you are injured on the job, you shouldn’t be afraid to report it.

But a new report has found that is not the case in Alberta.

Research released by the University of Alberta's Parkland Institute last week 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.

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

These numbers are staggering and indicate a huge problem in workplaces across the province.

Bob Barnetson is the co-author of the institute's report. In an interview with CBC News, he said there are two reasons that workers don’t report injuries – they don’t think it is serious enough and they fear retaliation from their employer.

"In workplaces that are particularly dangerous, where the highest risk of injury exists, you find 40 per cent of workers are scared to even ask for health and safety information,” said Barnetson.

The report recommended a number of changes that the Alberta government should implement. They advised that they should increase the number of workplace safety inspectors, allow for inspections by civil society groups, increase consequences for violations and make violations more public.

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

When it comes to physical health and safety in the workplace, what has become known as the ‘union effect’ has created a safer work environment. Researchers have found in both North America and internationally, that where there is a union present, workplaces injury rates are lower than non-union. In Canada a recent study found that unionized construction sites were 30 per cent less likely to suffer critical injuries.

Unions have fought for health and safety for decades, many labour laws that are taken for granted today were made possible by unions. Through leadership safety training, implementing safety protocols in collective bargaining and fighting for mental health support in the workplace like the Teamsters 362 Make It Mandatory campaign.

No one should ever have to feel unsafe in the workplace, and unions may be able to help you.


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.


Albertans Can Help the Government with New Occupational Health and Safety Regulations

The new OHS Act, which takes effect June 1, 2018, 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.

The act protects workers from reprisals and loss of wages while incidents are investigated.

The new act makes joint work site health and safety committees mandatory for larger employers (20+ workers) while smaller employers (5-19 workers) are required to have a worker health and safety representative.

New regulations are needed for the workplace harassment and violence provisions and the training requirements and operations of the health and safety committees.

Albertans have the opportunity to provide written submissions to help government devise the new regulations. The deadline for submissions is April 6, 2018.

Workers benefit from safe, fair and healthy workplaces that are respectful and free from harassment and violence.

A strong health and safety culture supports business and a strong economy by increasing worker morale and productivity.

Albertans get to have a say in regulations that will make their workplaces healthy and safe.

https://www.alberta.ca/OHS-regulations-consultation.aspx


Alberta Needs to Focus on Mental Health

Alberta is a province that experiences boom and bust cycles in the economy.

The last couple of years the downturn seemed to dominate the headlines with stories of massive layoffs every few weeks and the toll this was taking on the mental health of Albertans.

Recently things have been looking up in our economy and it seems that Alberta is turning a corner. However, mental health continues to be a huge issue for Albertans.

Dr. Robbie Babins-Wagner is the CEO of the Calgary Counseling Centre, said in an interview with Metro Calgary that demand has been steadily increasing since 2014. She added that they are expecting a 3-5 per cent increase for 2018.

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

And it is not just for people who are without work.

According to a survey released by Morneau Shepell 36 per cent of workers in the Alberta report a high level of stress, one of the highest in the country.

Eighty per cent of employees also felt their bosses needed to take a more active role in supporting employees with mental health issues and Alberta was one of the lowest in Canada for how workers ranked employers on providing mental health support.

Youth are also in growing need of mental health support in Calgary.

In a recent article by the Calgary Herald they found the Distress Centre in Calgary is facing a 115 per cent spike in teens facing a mental health crisis. Jerilyn Dressler, executive director with Distress Centre Calgary said they want to expand online services for teens but need additional operational funding.

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

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.

Following the momentum of our previous mental health initiative, Make It Mandatory, we created the campaign #YouAreNotAlone with the aim of raising awareness and preventing suicide in Alberta, and across the country.

We must do more, recession or not, to support all Albertans when it comes to mental health.

 


Bill 30 Hoping To Protect Alberta Workers From Bullying

Every workplace has to deal with conflict or differing opinions. It is nearly impossible to avoid when you have multiple people from different backgrounds that join together every day.

It is when these conflicts or differing opinions turn into something more personal or targeted that it turns into a problem. This is when it turns into bullying.

Bullying can have devastating mental and physical health effects that can last for years.

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

The Alberta Government is trying to do something about it.

Bill 30, An Act to Protect the Health and Well-being of Working Albertans, was introduced

Last year and will come into effect this summer.

There are a number of items on the bill including getting paid even if there is a ‘stop work order’ and the reporting of ‘near-miss’ incidents.

But the one many issues that advocates are keeping an eye on is that workers would be prohibited from engaging in harassing or bullying behaviour.

Michelle Phaneuf is the Alberta co-director for the Canada-wide Workplace Fairness Institute. In an interview with Metro Calgary, she said companies really need to make discussions about ‘respect and safety a normal part of their culture.’

“An important piece a lot of organizations are missing is to be able to facilitate these conversations for their employees in a safe, respectful way where they can explore the issue and talk about it,” Phaneuf said.

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

Having a union on your side can help.

When you are part of a union, you can reach out to a Shop Steward or Business Agent you feel comfortable sharing the issue with. They can also help you take care of your mental health, which can be greatly affected by bullying. Teamsters 362 has a full list of resources on our website that you can find here.

If you are not yet a part of a union, calling one and finding out what your rights are is also an action you could take.

Unions are there to stand up for all of your rights as a worker and ensure that you are working in a safe and healthy work environment –  that definitely includes workplace bullying.


LGBTQ2S Youth Need More Support In Alberta

Looking at the past year, there were a lot of gains for the LGBTQ2S community in Canada.

Trudeau issued a national apology for past government persecution of LGBT people. There was a trans rights bills passed federally and in several provinces. Alberta passed a law requiring schools to provide gay-straight alliances (GSA’s) for all students.

But there is still a lot of work to do.

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

Recently a group of activists are called on the government to appoint a cabinet minister to represent the LGBTQ community. Something similar has been in the works with Alberta as well, with the call for a civic advisory committee for the city of Edmonton.

One of the first priorities for the LGBTQ2S community in Alberta needs to be services and support for youth.

In 2017 the Alberta Office of the Child and Youth Advocate released a huge report on LGBTQ2S youth called Speaking Out.

The report pointed out that despite more acceptance and support for LGBTQ2S youth in Canada, ‘they are also at a higher risk of homelessness, mental illness, violence and suicide.’

According to Egale, LGBTQ youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers and 33 per cent of LGB youth have attempted suicide in comparison to seven per cent of youth in general. A study also found that between 25 per cent and 40 per cent of homeless youth in Canada identify as LGBT.

So just what can be done to support LGBTQ2S in Alberta?

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

The following are the recommendations from the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate’s report:

1. Require training about unique LGBTQ needs for all government employees who work with young people or make decisions that affect them.

2. Create LGBTQ-specific living options for children and youth in care.

3. Review and revise policies and practices around identity, safety, living arrangements, services and supports for LGBTQ children and youth.

4. Establish policies to guide decision-making for employees specific to transgender youth.

5. Ensure young people receive appropriate and inclusive sexual health information.

No young person should ever feel like they don’t matter because of their sexual orientation. All Albertans need to come together to support LGBTQ2S youth.


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.

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

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.

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

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.

 


Alberta Government Plan To Do More About Workplace Bullying

Bullying is an issue that is all too common in the workplace, and it has made headlines here in Alberta the last few weeks with City of Edmonton employees speaking out against harassment at work.

When Alberta Labour Minister Christina Gray announced major changes to  Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act with the introduction of Bill 30  An Act to Protect the Health and Well-being of Working Albertans.

One of the much needed changes will come to safety rules regarding bullying and psychological harassment.

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

The Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) pointed out on their website that the most harmful forms of bullying are usually psychological and subtle – making them hard to recognize.

This can result in disrupting sleeping and eating patterns, increased use of drugs or alcohol, depression or even suicidal thoughts.

It is clear that bullying is something that needs to be taken seriously and many are applauding this move by the Alberta government to do more about it.

Being a union member also means you have a resource to reach out to if you feel you are being unfairly treated at work.

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

When you are part of a union, you can reach out to a Shop Steward or Business Agent you feel comfortable sharing the issue with. They can also help you take care of your mental health, which can be greatly affected by bullying. Teamsters 362 has a full list of resources on our website that you can find here.

If you are not yet a part of a union, calling one and finding out what your rights are is also an action you could take.

Trade unions are there to stand up for all of your rights as a worker and ensure that you are working in a safe and healthy work environment –  that definitely includes workplace bullying.