You Are Not Alone: Moving Forward

The past few years have been tough for Alberta. We have faced a huge recession with dropping oil prices and mass layoffs across the province.

Add to that the devastating Fort McMurray fire, and we have found ourselves with a province that is suffering.

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The suicide rate in Alberta went up by 30 per cent just this past year and demand for counselling services have increased by up to 80 per cent according to resources across Alberta.

It is clear we need a more open dialogue and more resources dedicated to suicide prevention and awareness in our province.

That is why we launched You Are Not Alone over two months ago in hopes to do this. A docu-series and initiative dedicated to reducing stigma and increasing prevention of suicide, not only in Alberta, but across Canada.

We talked to people who have lost loved ones to suicide, people who have tried to die by suicide, policy makers and suicide prevention resources across the country. They shared their stories of loss, determination and hope.

They have also shared stories of stigma and a a lack of awareness. Although we have come a long way in talking about mental health, suicide is something that is still not talked about openly at home or in the workplace.

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Alberta is a province that is known for its resilience and helping each other in times of need. It is time for us to come together when it comes to mental health and suicide awareness. There shouldn’t be a stigma attached to these issues and the fact that there is, needs to be addressed.

Although our video series has come to an end, the chance to make a difference has not.

By sharing our videos and reaching out to leaders and policy makers, you can send a message – we need more funding towards suicide prevention and mental health support in our province. The time for change is now.

 


Recognizing Survivors of Suicide

When people are affected by the loss of a love one, there needs to be a period of dealing with that grief. This can be complicated when that person dies by suicide.

There is stigma that is associated with suicide, that is not found in other forms of death. This needs to stop, and people around the world need to share stories of healing and hope.

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International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day is an opportunity to do this. On Nov. 19 people gather around the world to find comfort and gain understanding.

As the Mental Health Commission of Canada pointed out ‘survivors of suicide can also include people with lived experience of suicidality, suicide attempt survivors and caregivers and support persons.’

According to Health Canada for every death by suicide, at least seven to 10 survivors are significantly affected by the loss. We need to be there for survivors.

At Teamsters 362 we have launched a suicide prevention and awareness campaign called You Are Not Alone, that includes an 8-part docu-series. Alberta has been greatly affected by suicide, with an increasing rate in our province. We need to do more to educate and provide resources.

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One area where this desperately needs more attention and awareness is in the workplace.

Certain professions have much higher suicide rates than others, such as first responders and farmers, but all workplaces should have resources available for those dealing with mental health issues or feeling suicidal.

The workplace is where the average persons spends around 1/3 of their life and it needs to be a place where people feel safe and supported.

The fact that most people spend so much time there also offers a unique opportunity to implement suicide prevention programs where we know people will see them and be able to access resources.

Together we can make a difference.


Episode 7 Blog: Gender and Suicide

Mental health can be affected by a number of factors such as age, career or location. When it comes to suicide, a huge factor is gender.

According to the Centre for Suicide Prevention, the ratio of male to female suicides is 3 to 1. Women tend to attempt suicide more, but don’t use as lethal of means as men.

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When women attempt, they are often put in touch with resources that can help them. When men attempt, they are more likely to succeed.

The rate of suicide is highest in middle age — white men in particular, and has been called the ‘silent epidemic’ by many researchers.

Studies have also found that the stigma surrounding depression and suicide in men has a large impact on preventing them from seeking help from professional resources or friends and family.

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Awareness and conversations about mental health and suicide are so important when it comes to reducing stigma. By reducing stigma, we allow those who are afraid or ashamed to ask for help, to possibly save their own life.

It is clear something needs to change and you can make a difference. By sharing our videos and reaching out to leaders and policy makers, you can send a message – we need more funding towards suicide prevention and mental health support in our province. The time for change is now. #YouAreNotAlone


Want a great workplace? Make sure your employees are happy.

Money may not be able to buy happiness, but research shows that happiness can make for a better workplace.

While it has been shown that fair wages improves productivity, research has shown that there is a strong link between employees happiness and productivity at work.

A study by economists at the University of Warwick found that happiness led to a 12 per cent spike in productivity, while unhappy workers proved 10 percent less productive.

And a strong factor in making employees happy are unions.

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.’

Union members ­have higher wages, work better hours, have better job security and good benefits. There is also the added factor of being part of a union family who will have your back both inside and outside of the workplace adding to a sense of security in the workplace.

According to Shawn Anchor, author of The Happiness Advantage, when a person is feeling positive that are better at solving problems and are better collaborators. All of this leads to higher levels of profits for companies and better work environments for the employer.

It's clear that when workers are happy, everyone benefits.


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.


Fort McMurray: Reaching out to Teamsters 362 members in time of need

With many Teamsters 362 members in Fort McMurray unable to work due to the devastating wildfire that struck the city weeks ago, we are doing our utmost to provide relief and support for our members.

Firstly, we want to do everything we can to alleviate any financial stress for Teamsters members either unable to work, or who are working sporadic hours. We will be instructing the employers to not deduct and remit dues on your behalf for the month of May and June.

Our members have expressed to us how important health and welfare coverage will be during this tough time. If you are unable to work due to the fires, it is increasingly important that your Health and Welfare coverage continues during May and June.

For those working in Fort McMurray who are covered by our Teamster plans, we are committed to ensuring that you are still covered, regardless if that member if working or not. We are currently negotiating with your employers, and are committed to provide coverage through the months of May and June. For Teamsters members not covered by our plan, we will work on your behalf to negotiate with employers to keep premiums flowing.

We have also started an independent Teamsters Local 362 trust fund for the short and long-term aid of our Teamsters membership and community. Teamsters 362 has also asked all Teamsters Canada executives for further assistance, so we can help each individual member affected by the wildfires in the future.

Teamsters Canada National Executive Board held a special meeting and have committed to match all the donations collected from the four Joint Counsels in Canada as well as the Local Unions across the country. The total will be donated to the Canadian Red Cross and the federal government has promised to match all the donations they receive.

Already Joint Counsel 90, representing the prairie provinces, has committed to a $40,000 donation.

If you are in need of shelter or are looking for more information on the Teamsters trust fund, please visit our website at teamsters362.com.

 


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.


Five Facts About Precarious Work

Precarious work entails more than you might think: unstable employment, low wages, more dangerous working conditions, no benefits and are often denied the right to join a union. It is officially defined as people who 'who fill permanent job needs but are denied permanent employee rights.' While not a new trend in Canada, precarious work is one that is on the rise and can be seen in jobs that are seasonal or construction. It is also becoming more common in places where the economy is experiencing troubled times like Alberta.

Most of the issues associated with this type of work come up because workers have no one to stand up for them in the workplace. If they do bring up an issue it can be easily dismissed, which is something a union can help fight against. When it comes to layoffs, unions ensure that seniority is recognized and protocols and health care benefits cover layoff periods.

Here are five statistics about precarious employment in Canada:

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1. It Is Growing

Precarious work is an issue that is growing in Canada with the increase of employment in the ‘gig economy.’ Between  25 – 35 per cent of all jobs in Canada share one or more characteristics of precarious work, and the category of self-employed workers increased by nearly 45 per cent between 1989 and 2007.

2. They Earn Less

A study by United Way Toronto and McMaster University found that precarious workers earn 46 per cent less than those who are employed in secure work and experience more income variability. They rarely receive any employee benefits and only make a basic wage.

3. They Have Very Limited Stability

The same study found that those employed in precarious work often don’t know their work schedule a week in advance, and have limited career prospects. They are also more likely to fear raising an issue about any problems at work because of the instability of the job.

4. Insecure Homelife

Overall, the ‘anxiety about employment hampers their personal and family lives.’ They are more likely to find it hard to make ends meet and are less likely to have children. An inability to participate in leisure activities also adds to feelings of isolation and stress.

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5. Mental and Physical Health

Not only does this type of work affect mental health because of the stress associated with it, but it also affects physical health. Risks arise from ‘lack of experience, lack of knowledge about occupational health and safety rights, and fear of losing one’s job.’ Due to lack of income and benefits, they would also have trouble accessing medical assistance for both mental and physical health issues.


Three Reasons To Thank A Union

It often gets taken for granted, but most of the rights we have when it comes to the workplace are because of labour unions. That fight continues today for the labour movement as they are always trying to make sure workplaces are fair and safe for all employees. There are almost too many to list, but we thought we would start with three major reasons all Canadians have to thank labour unions.

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1.     Safe Work Environments

The environment where we work is so important to our everyday safety and it is because of unions that we are able to work without worrying about whether or not we may be hurt on the job. Many decades ago unions led the fight to implement the Canada Labour (Safety) Code that clearly set out laws and regulations for safety in

Canada. Today unions continue to fight to make sure all workers, whether union or non-union are both physically and mentally safe in their work environment. 

2.     A Standard Work Week

Working a set number of hours for a set number of days is something that every worker should be entitled to and is something unions put in place. Today with the rise of precarious work it is important to remember where those initial standards came from. The Toronto Typographical Union made that possible in 1872 when they first demanded better working hours. Now workers in Canada are able to enjoy weekends and parts of their day to take time to themselves or hang with friends and family.

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3.     A Fair Wage

Unions have a long history of fighting for fair wages in Canada and have set the standard for not only union employees, but non-union as well. Once the bar is raised for union employees, other employers have to follow suit. And the fight for fair wages across North America continues with the social movement ‘Fight for 15’ making sure all workers are entitled to a fair living wage.


Wear 'Plaid For Dad' And Support Prostate Cancer Research June 17

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Canadian men and this June you can help raise awareness and funds by taking out your finest plaid.

On June 17 you can join others across Canada by wearing ‘plaid for dad’ to work, an initiative Teamsters Local 362 is encouraging workplaces to take part in. This twist on ‘jeans day’ is a great support for this vital cause and everyone in the office can take part. There are prizes for sharing your amazing plaid outfit on social media and you can also donate online.

Last year over 200 workplaces took part and #WearPlaidForDad was a top treading topic supported by celebrity ambassadors such as W. Brett Wilson, and the King of Plaid himself, Don Cherry.

Statistics show that one in eight Canadian men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and 4,100 will die from the disease, but support for research has made a huge difference.

The death rate has been declining significantly from improved testing for prostate cancer and better research treatment options. The survival rate for prostate cancer can be more than 90 per cent when detected early.

For more information check out this guide or visit the plaid for dad website.