Category Archives: Strike

News Leader Pictorial staff on strike in Duncan


Twelve employees at the Cowichan News Leader Pictorial newspaper in Duncan took to the picket lines on Monday in a dispute over proposed changes to their pay structure.

The strike is about blocking the implementation of a two-tier wage system by management, said Unifor Local 2000 representative Peter McQuade.

Right now, employees’ wages increase over time through a classification system. Management is trying to eliminate the top wage classifications for any new employees coming in, McQuade said.

Employees voted 100 per cent in favour of strike action.

McQuade said it was possible the paper would not be able to put out an edition for Wednesday. He had no indication when the strike might be over.

Calls to the News Leader Pictorial’s editor and publisher were not returned Monday morning.

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Nanaimo Daily News members vote in favour of strike

Members of Local 2000 working at the Nanaimo Daily News voted Wednesday in favour of a strike, if necessary, after talks with the employer broke down last week. Pressmen voted 100% in favour of strike action, while members in Composing, Sales, Pre-Press and Editorial covered under one agreement voted 85% in favour, in an effort to secure a new agreement with their employer.
CEP Local 525G, which represents the mailroom staff at the Daily News, had already taken a vote and the members delivered a 100% strike mandate to their committee.

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Nanaimo Daily News members to take strike vote


Members of CEP Local 2000 working at the Nanaimo Daily News will take a strike vote, after talks with the employer broke down last Wednesday.

Voting will take place at the Beban Park Community Center  2300 Bowen Road on October 10th, with meetings scheduled for noon and 5:30 p.m.

The employer is seeking removal of language that protects against contracting out in both Editorial and Pre-Press/Ad Building departments. The company also wants to eliminate the Composing room agreement and reduce manning in the Pressroom. It is also offering a wage freeze for three years.

CEP Local 525G, which represents the mailroom staff at the Daily News, has already taken a vote and the members delivered a 100% strike mandate to their committee.

On a sad note, the Local would like to pass along condolences to the family of Brother Walter Cordery of the Editorial department at the Daily News who passed away last weekend. His funeral will be held Friday Oct. 5 at the Beban Park Center at 2:00 p.m.

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Why Striking Postal Workers Deserve Support

This is about a crucial, wider fight for income equality and collective bargaining rights.

Source: By Murray

Members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers are on strike — beginning with rotating strikes in selected cities but quite possibly escalating into a full scale shutdown if the corporation remains intransigent. It has been a long time since there has been a national strike and this one could turn out to be one of the most important in decades.

Labour has been largely absent from the political scene for five years of Harper minorities. Now that the Conservatives have a majority, labour simply has to get its act together and play the key role it has played in the past. But it is not just labour that needs to get behind CUPW, so does anyone who committed to defending Canadian democracy.

The strike — with a 95 per cent mandate from union members — is important because it is on the front line in the fight for income equality and collective bargaining rights. Post office management has as one its key demands the implementation of a two-tier wage system. New hires would be paid 30 per cent less than existing employees, literally wiping out decades of collective agreements establishing livable wage levels. Workers doing identical work, working side by side, would be paid dramatically different wages. This issue alone justifies the strike for if it is allowed to pass, you can be certain that it will serve as a precedent for other employers.

The immediate danger is at the federal level where, thankfully, only 10 per cent of Canadian workers come under federal legislation. Federal employees and those in federal agencies, along with private unions in a handful of sectors, like transportation, banks and telecommunications, are vulnerable to whatever Harper’s labour agenda turns out to be.

To date, Harper has not picked major fights with labour simply to please his right-wing base. But that will likely change very soon as his promise to get rid of the deficit will come first at the expense of federal employees. While Canada Post is arm’s length from the government a successful rollback of contract items (retiree benefits and sick leave are also under attack) will almost certainly put similar efforts on Harper’s agenda. Laying off even thousands of federal employees will actually do little to get rid of the deficit. Harper could up the ante by arguing that rolling back pensions, salary terms and other contract items are essential to the long term control of the deficit.

Harper will have to decide how to deal with the postal strike if it develops into a prolonged, nation-wide stoppage. He could impose a contract or go the route of binding arbitration. But he would have trouble simply tearing up an existing contract. The B.C. government did that and the action was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Canada.

Radical anti-unionists emboldened

The election of a Harper majority seems to have emboldened at least some of the more reactionary business voices in Canada who have always been anti-union. Catherine Swift, head of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), let loose an anti-union tirade recently that seemed inspired by the radical anti-unionism practiced by the governor of Wisconsin and other U.S. states. Perhaps it was intended as an informal mandate from business for governments to go after public service unions.

Swift first attacked public-pension plans warning of a “tsunami” of public employee retirements and a “crushing” blow to taxpayers. Her irresponsible worker-bashing was enhanced by some good old fashioned fear-mongering: “Do we have to hit the wall like Greece?” It is hard to tell whether this is just rhetoric or incompetence on Swift’s part. But her final shot left little to the imagination: “What would be ideal is getting rid of public-sector unions entirely.”

Swift, of course, is supposed to represent the interests of small and medium businesses. I wonder who she thinks spends money at her members’ establishments: people on welfare or earning minimum wage or those with decent wages and salaries — like those in unionized jobs. Even the IMF has been warning countries lately that if they want to have sustained, stable economic growth they had better pay attention to inequality. According to a recent IMF study: “…attention to inequality can bring significant longer-run benefits for growth. Over longer horizons, reduced inequality and sustained growth may thus be two sides of the same coin.”

Getting rid of unions as Swift suggests would dramatically increase inequality and undermine the growth her members presumably want her to promote.

But don’t hold your breath for business, small or large, to abandon its dedication to ideology any time soon. Economic growth during the 25-year period of neo-liberalism we are now in has been much slower and less stable than it was in the previous period of activist government. But the ideology still trumps common sense

Defending democracy

But defending postal workers from the ravages of roll-back bargaining is not the only reason to actively support this strike. CUPW has been amongst the most progressive practitioners of social unionism in Canadian history. It has a long history of fighting for women’s rights, human rights, peace and social justice, played a major role in the fight against free trade and has been in the forefront of international solidarity movements. Maternity leave is now taken for granted in Canada but without the historic 1981 CUPW strike — lasting 42 days — we might not have it at all.

Virtually every progressive piece of legislation in the country from Medicare, to unemployment insurance, from public education and labour standards, were brought about in large part because unions and their members fought hard to make them happen. This historic role of unions is one that the majority of Canadians know very little about. To a large extent unions have no one but themselves to blame. Over the past 25 years, they — especially public service unions — allowed themselves to be framed by the right as greedy, over-paid, under-worked and privileged. That message has played into the race-to-the-bottom mentality of many non-union workers who too often attack their unionized counterparts for the job security and rights they can only dream of.

I often try to imagine how different the situation might be if unions had dedicated resources to educating the public over the past two decades about their role in making Canada one of the best places in the world to live. Because they didn’t, they will now be asking support from a public that has been subjected to years of anti-union propaganda. And that means that they — starting with the postal workers — will need our help even more.

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Deadline deal averts strike at Windsor Star


Windsor Typographical Union | CWA Canada Local 30553

A tentative deal reached between three unions and the Windsor Star mere minutes ahead of a Friday midnight strike deadline scored all-around thumbs up in ratification votes yesterday.

The three-year collective agreement mostly preserves an enviable early-retirement provision that new owner Postmedia Network wanted to abolish. It was that stance at the outset of talks early in the new year, along with what amounted to a proposed wage freeze, that galvanized 230 union members and led to a 96-per-cent strike vote in late March.

Brian Beaumont, vice-president of the Windsor Typographical Union (WTU) and chair of its bargaining committee, says these were a “tough set of negotiations given the economic times.” Postmedia, which last year purchased newspaper assets from a virtually bankrupt Canwest, made it clear “it did not want to move forward with any wage increases.”

In the end, he says, “We got the best deal possible and that’s what we told our members (on Sunday).”

The WTU, with 72 workers in the mailroom; the Canadian Auto Workers, which represents staff in the newsroom, advertising and business office; and the Communications Energy and Paperworkers (pressroom) voted 100, 93 and 100 per cent respectively to ratify the contract that contains modest wage increases.

David Esposti, the CWA Canada staff representative who assisted the WTU in the joint-council negotiations, says the 60 part-time hopper feeders are the big winners. While all full-time workers get a $1,000 lump sum in lieu of a first-year increase (followed by 1.0 per cent in year two and 1.5 per cent in the third year), they get a lump sum of $500 plus a one-per-cent wage increase in the first year.

The other major victory for the part-timers, says Esposti, is that they retain their guaranteed minimum shift of four hours, which Postmedia wanted to trim to three, amounting to a 25-per-cent pay cut.

“By the end of this three-year contract,” he says, “WTU members will be making more than $17 an hour.”

Esposti says the “elephant in the room” during the four days of mediation last week was the early retirement provision, which allows employees qualified to retire at age 60 to receive half pay, full benefits and pension contributions until age 65.

Under the new arrangement, which is now in effect for all future contracts until existing employees have exercised their rights, retirees will receive 45 per cent pay and full benefits for four years and pension contributions for two years.

In addition, says Esposti, the employer-funded pension plan contributions increase by 25 cents in year two and a similar amount in year three, bringing the total to $15 per shift.

All three unions saw gains, including a night-shift premium that goes from $14.50 to $15 in year two; vision care increases $25 to $275 every two years; and sons- and daughters-in-law are now included as immediate family for three-day bereavement leave entitlement.

Esposti says there were several contract language changes that benefitted the WTU and one that retained the union’s jurisdiction but gave the employer a break on overtime rules.

The last two collective agreements at the Windsor Star were achieved within minutes either side of a strike/lockout deadline. This agreement will expire at the end of 2013.

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Workers at Windsor Star give bargaining team strike mandate

Windsor Typographical Union | CWA Canada Local 30553

Postmedia Network’s attempt to eliminate an early-retirement provision in their contracts has employees at the Windsor Star up in arms.

Members of three unions on Sunday voted 96 per cent in favour of giving their joint council a strike mandate, which could see them hoisting picket signs by mid-May.

David Esposti, the CWA Canada staff representative who has been assisting the Windsor Typographical Union (WTU) in negotiations that began in late 2010, says Postmedia’s assault on their contracts has electrified the membership.

“This is a very serious undertaking. The three unions are standing together on this issue,” he says.

The wages of the 65 WTU members who work in the mailroom are also threatened: The company wants to reduce part-time hopper feeders’ guaranteed minimum shift from four hours to three, which amounts to a 25-per-cent pay cut, says Esposti.

The collective agreement that expired at the end of December was reached three years ago only minutes after a midnight strike-lockout deadline. Standing united, the WTU, the Communications Energy and Paperworkers (pressroom) and the Canadian Auto Workers (newsroom, advertising, business office) were able to win modest improvements and made no concessions.

This time around, the newspaper is in the hands of Postmedia Network, a group of Canwest creditors who purchased the failing company’s publishing division last summer. In the runup to an initial public offering expected this spring, Postmedia has been cutting hundreds of jobs at the former Canwest newspapers.

With conciliation scheduled for next week, Esposti says the joint council is eager to get on with some serious negotiations and not waste time getting to mediation, the last stage before they can be in a legal strike position. “Let’s start the dance, sooner rather than later,” is the message he’d like to send to management.

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