Labour and education in the news

Below are recent news stories on labour and education related issues.  Click the headline to be taken to the article.

December 12, 2018

CUPW Challenges Back to Work Legislation in Court
The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) will file a constitutional challenge (December 11) with the Ontario Superior Court after being legislated back to work by the Liberal government two weeks ago.

Iowa Supreme Court to hear collective bargaining challenges
KCCI Des Moines
The Iowa Supreme Court is gearing up for a hearing affecting tens of thousands of Iowans Wednesday.
Iowa's new collective bargaining law faces two challenges. Those challenges are coming from Iowa's public employees.

A call to ban teacher/student dating at U of M
CTV Winnipeg

Mount St. Vincent students’ union sides with faculty
The Chronicle Herald
Mount Saint Vincent University Students’ Union is siding with the faculty association as a strike deadline looms.

Canada announces major investment into new research fund
Academica Group
The federal government has announced that it plans to “transform the way government supports research” by investing $275M over the next five years, and $65M per year ongoing, into the New Frontiers in Research Fund.

New university campus squeezing Montreal's poorest neighbourhood
Canada's National Observer
"Neighbourhoods always change. That's not the problem. But when it happens very, very fast – then we have a problem" – veteran Quebec housing rights activist François Saillant's take on Park-Ex's rapid gentrification #mtlpol #polmun

Half of academic scientists leave the field within 5 years, according to a new study
The Washington Post
Scientific publishing careers are getting shorter.

Alberta passes Bill 19, establishing new rules for post-secondary tuition and mandatory instructional fees
The Weal
The provincial government of Alberta will soon pass a new bill enacting key changes to post-secondary education policy throughout Alberta, including new rules regarding tuition prices.


December 11, 2018

Chicago Teachers back to work
CBS Chicago
The strike, which started last Tuesday, is officially over, meaning 500 school employees will be back at work Monday.

Largest university in UK hit by boycott over outsourced staff
Personnel Today
Academics, students and leading politicians have launched a boycott of the University of London in support of outsourced workers who have demanded equal terms and conditions with directly employed staff.

U of M professor placed on leave after misconduct allegations come to light
Winnipeg Free Press
The University of Manitoba has put one of its distinguished professors on leave and replaced him with an interim director.

Against Endorsing the Chicago Principles
Inside Higher Ed
In response to rising tensions around free speech, many colleges and universities have endorsed the Chicago principles, which express a commitment to free inquiry and an environment of open expression. A variety of groups, including FIRE and Heterodox Academy, have promoted these principles.

Study highlights ‘uncomfortable truth’ about racism in the job market
The Star
Racialized workers in Ontario are significantly more likely to be concentrated in low-wage jobs and face persistent unemployment and earnings gaps compared to white employees — pointing to the “uncomfortable truth” about racism in the job market, according to a new study.

Teaching the Students We Have, Not the Students We Wish We Had
The Chronicle of Higher Education
Today’s college students are radically different from the students occupying college classrooms even a decade ago. The expansion of education that propelled widespread positive change through American communities in the 20th century has reached beyond high school, and more people than ever before understand the importance of postsecondary education in all its forms.

Mediator appointed to resolve Canada Post labour dispute
The Globe and Mail
A former industrial-relations heavyweight has been appointed to bring a conclusion to the Canada Post labour dispute, two weeks after the federal government legislated an end to rotating strikes by postal employees.

France yellow vest protests: Macron promises wage rise
France's President Emmanuel Macron has promised a minimum wage rise and tax concessions in response to weeks of violent protests.


December 10, 2018

New allegations rock U of M
Winnipeg Free Press
For more than a decade, administration at the University of Manitoba appears to have mostly turned a blind eye to an alleged pattern of inappropriate sexual and financial behaviour from one of the school's star professors.

U of M needs to take 'honest, hard look' at Indigenous leader position after resignation, prof says
CBC Manitoba
A longtime professor of Native studies at the University of Manitoba says the resignation of the university's vice-provost of Indigenous engagement shows its administration needs to take a hard look at what it wants the position to be.

More teachers to be trained to bring Indigenous perspectives into classrooms
Nation Talk
DUNCAN – More British Columbia students will benefit from the traditional knowledge and culture of Indigenous peoples, thanks to a new Indigenous teacher education curriculum at Vancouver Island University (VIU).

Suspended B.C. professor to return to teaching but says he's still owed pay
A professor who was suspended from a British Columbia university after speaking out against the publication of research in journals that are not peer reviewed will be resuming his job next month.

Students call for improved services for deaf and partly deaf learners
CBC Nova Scotia
Quality of post-secondary supports called into question as government attempts fixes

Lakehead students, staff, faculty give input on 'strengthening' equity, diversity, inclusion
CBC Thunder Bay
Officials from the Office of Human Rights and Equity at Lakehead University's Thunder Bay, Ont., campus are asking students, staff and faculty for their input on how to improve equity, diversity and inclusion at the school, in order to help the university develop a five-year action plan.

CSIS cautions Canadian universities about research ties with Huawei
The Globe and Mail
Canada’s spy agency is warning the country’s top universities to be cautious about their extensive research relationships with Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. amid growing cyberintelligence concerns about the Chinese telecommunications equipment giant.

Media Release: NTEU condemns Murdoch University’s use of public funds that threatened the union and would have impeded freedom of speech
National Tertiary Education Union
Murdoch University has failed spectacularly in an attempt to obtain urgent court orders muzzling the NTEU from communicating with its members about the treatment of international students and staff at the University.

'Unacceptable' 26% ethnic minority pay gap at Russell Group universities must be tackled
University and College Union
The union was responding to a BBC report which revealed that black and minority ethnic (BAME) staff at Russell Group universities face an average pay gap of 26% compared to their white colleagues.

Man quits Grande Prairie Walmart with epic rant
Edmonton Journal
A Facebook video of a 17-year-old worker airing his grievances over a Grand Prairie Walmart intercom system and then quitting his job is attracting some online attention.

Transportation inequity plagues Winnipeg's inner-city residents, report says
CBC Manitoba
Winnipeg must create a transportation system that breaks the "poverty trap" by giving the poorest and most marginalized people the same ability to get around and take care of their daily needs as everyone else, says the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

John McDonnell says Labour would let UK workers go on 'sympathy strikes' for overseas counterparts
Evening Standard
John McDonnell has said Labour would allow UK workers to go on "sympathy" strikes for overseas counterparts.
Shadow chancellor Mr McDonnell pledged to reverse laws, introduced by Margaret Thatcher, which bar workers from taking action in solidarity with workforces overseas.

Uber's Arbitration Policy Comes Back to Bite It in the Ass
Over 12,000 Uber drivers found a way to weaponize the ridesharing platform’s restrictive contract in what’s possibly the funniest labor strategy of the year.

SEE Lists Yellow Vests’ Demands to End Protests in France
CAIRO, Dec. 8 (SEE) – For the fourth week in a row, France witnesses violent demonstrations as so-called Yellow Vests movement rally in the capital city of Paris, Marseilles and other cities across the country and protest against the government’s economic, social and educational reforms.

If unions fail, our democracy may well be at stake
The Globe and Mail
Canada has a long history of union victories that have defined national events and made for a more just and humane society, led by Canada’s most prominent unions. But some of those major players have recently suffered major setbacks, in a span of just a month: On Nov. 27, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers – the union that made maternity leave a mainstream expectation in Canada – was legislated back to work in the midst of a fight for job equity and workplace safety. Meanwhile, UNIFOR – Canada’s largest private-sector union – got news that they would lose at least 2,500 members in Oshawa when General Motors announced it would cease production there next year.

Statement on International Human Rights Day
CUPE Ontario
On December 10, 1948 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The rights enshrined in that declaration – among them them the right to seek asylum from persecution, freedom from arbitrary detention, and equality without discrimination before the law, were deemed to apply equally to all human beings.

Canada’s unions mark Human Rights Day by challenging rising racism and discrimination
Canadian Labour Congress
Canada’s unions are marking International Human Rights Day and the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by calling on Canadians to collectively confront racism, xenophobia, and Islamophobia.

Elon Musk says Tesla may consider buying idle General Motors plants
Winnipeg Sun
Tesla Inc. Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk told CBS’s “60 Minutes” that he may be willing to buy some of the five factories General Motors Co. will idle next year, making him the second rival in two days to step up with possible job-creating moves as GM takes political heat for cutting workers.

BRODBECK: There's a major flaw in the Tories' referendum bill
Winnipeg Sun
New proposed rules governing how and when a provincial referendum can take place unveiled this past week could pave the way for more direct democracy in Manitoba. That’s a good thing.
But there’s a major flaw in the bill that needs to be changed.


December 7, 2018

U of M Indigenous leader resigns, says administration frustrated anti-racism efforts
CBC Manitoba
The vice-provost of Indigenous engagement at the University of Manitoba has resigned, after she says her efforts to fight systemic racism at the school were met with frequent resistance from administration.

Access to transit key to fighting poverty: study
Winnipeg Free Press
A research paper by a left-wing think tank argues governments need to see public transportation and investments in transportation infrastructure as a means to improve lives.

U of M to create student bursaries in honour of Richardson & Sons leader
Winnipeg Free Press
The University of Manitoba will honour Manitoba business leader Hartley Richardson in creating a pair of bursaries for students at the Asper School of Business.

Why universities need homerooms
The Conversation
What kind of education can give us hope for the future? As an experiential educator for the past 20 years who focused my doctoral research on school exclusion, this is a question close to my heart.

Federal government needs to listen harder to scientists: letter
National Post
Three of Canada’s top environmental scientists want the federal government to listen harder to what their studies are saying about the future.

Nothing short of a nightmare’: The Indigenous experience on campus
On this edition to APTN’s InFocus, host Melissa Ridgen looks at Indigenous experiences on campus, from the perspective of educators and students.

Employment equity report suggests U of T closing representation gaps
U of T News
The University of Toronto’s Report on Employment Equity 2017-2018 suggests the university is improving representation gaps among its employees – although there’s still much work to be done.

CAUT statement on National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women
(Ottawa — 6 December 2018) — Canada’s National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women — is not only about remembering victims but is also a call to action.

Geneva teachers on strike after late-night negotiations fail; no classes for 5,800 students
Chicago Tribune
Teachers in Geneva School District walked the picket line outside Geneva High School on Tuesday morning, just hours after their union declared a deadlock in contract negotiations with Geneva School District 304.

Tony Tracy: Our rights are meaningless if not defended
The Nova Scotia Advocate
Tony Tracy was one of the six labour activists who last night were arrested after picketing in support of the postal workers who were legislated back to work. This is what Tony posted on Facebook after his release from custody this afternoon.

Brescia Faculty Association consolidation approved in nick of time
Congratulations are in order for the Brescia Faculty Association (BFA). The BFA managed to organize Brescia contract faculty and get them consolidated into the main bargaining unit just two days before Bill 47 passed. Introduced by Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives, Bill 47 wiped consolidation language from the Ontario Labour Relations Act.

Laurier introduces new tool that tracks student's extra-curricular activities
The Record
Wilfrid Laurier University has introduced the Laurier Experience Record, an online tool that allows students to maintain a comprehensive, validated record of their curricular and co-curricular activities and the skills and competencies they’ve gained. The Experience Record, combined with the recently renamed Experiential Learning & Career Development Centre, reflects Laurier’s focus on students’ access to experiential learning.

Ammendments to the Labour Relations Act, 1995 (Ontario)
The Schedule amends the Labour Relations Act, 1995 to deem municipalities and certain local boards, school boards, hospitals, colleges, universities and public bodies to be non-construction employers.
Trade unions that represent employees of these employers who are employed, or who may be employed, in the construction industry no longer represent those employees. Any collective agreement binding the employer and the trade union ceases to apply in so far as it applies to the construction industry.

To: Members of the CLC Canadian Council
From: Mike Palecek, President, CUPW

Dear comrades,

As I am sure you are aware, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers is engaged in a struggle for pay equity, the health and safety of our members and against precarious work and forced overtime. The government has introduced unconstitutional legislation in violation of our Charter right to free collective bargaining. This legislation is an attack on every worker in this country and is in violation of international as well as Canadian law.

CUPW is prepared to do whatever it takes to defend the right to strike, the safety of our members and women's equality. We may incur significant fines in this process.

We are therefore taking the unusual step of asking for pledges of financial support, if needed, in the form of loans to our strike fund. We need these pledges as soon as possible, in order to demonstrate that the entire labour movement is prepared to defend their Charter rights.

In addition to this, we need physical support of your activists that are willing and able to engage in peaceful protest, direct action and non-violent civil disobedience.

After conducting only limited strike action, without shutting down the postal service, if this legislation is allowed to stand, the right to strike is meaningless in this country.

Thank you in advance for your support.

In Solidarity,

Mike Palecek
President, CUPW

December 6, 2018


New Cabinet Committee on Gender-Based Violence
Will Better Integrate Government Services:  Squires

The Manitoba government is remembering victims of gender-based violence and creating a cabinet committee to find solutions, Sustainable Development Minister Rochelle Squires, minister responsible for the status of women, announced today.

“Manitoba has some of the worst rates of gender-based violence in Canada,” said Squires.  “As Dec. 6 is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, we are honouring 12 women we have either lost to acts of violence over the past year or were confirmed as victims of homicide over the past year, as well as the women and girls who experience violence as their daily reality.”

The minister and Barbara Bowes, chair of Manitoba Women’s Advisory Council, hosted a memorial in the Legislative Building Rotunda where they acknowledged the 14 women murdered Dec. 6, 1989, at l’École Polytechnique de Montréal.  The event included speaker Natalie Pirson, a consultant at the Independent Living Resource Centre, as well as Emily Cablek, a Winnipeg mother and author who survived domestic violence and the abduction of her children.

“It is way past time for women with disabilities to be included in the conversations regarding gender-based violence,” said Pirson.  “My hope is that we will work together to ensure that no group in society feels that they are not being heard.”

“I’m pleased to be joining Minister Squires for the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women,” said Cablek.  “It’s an honour to be able to use my voice on such an important day – sharing my story to inspire and empower young girls and women to stand together and continue fighting against gender-based violence.  My hope is that by remembering our past, we can change our future.”

The event showcased a local video, Stand Up, co-created by Rhonda Dagg and Holly Stahn to feature Manitobans taking a stand against domestic violence.

The minister also announced the appointment of a Gender-Based Violence Cabinet Committee to better collaborate across departments to meet the needs of Manitobans in critical situations.

“This is the first time a cabinet committee will focus solely on this topic in Manitoba,” said Squires.  “The committee will help us integrate services and take a government-wide approach to co-ordinate policies, legislation and initiatives on pervasive issues such as domestic and sexual violence and harassment.”

Squires will chair the committee and announced the appointments of:
•    Education and Training Minister Kelvin Goertzen;
•    Families Minister Heather Stefanson;
•    Health, Seniors and Active Living Minister Cameron Friesen;
•    Indigenous and Northern Relations Minister Eileen Clarke;
•    Justice Minister Cliff Cullen; and
•    Janice Morley-Lecomte, legislative assistant to the minister of families.

The minister noted the committee responds to two Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action related to culturally relevant and Indigenous-specific programs and services by all levels of government.  The cabinet committee held its inaugural meeting today and will meet a minimum of three times per year.

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For more information:

  • Public information, contact Manitoba Government Inquiry: 1-866-626-4862 or 204-945-3744.
  • Media requests for general information, contact Communications Services Manitoba: 204-945-3765.
  • Media requests for ministerial comment, contact Communications and Stakeholder Relations: 204-945-4916.

December 6, 2018
- - -
Bill would Improve Democracy,
Fulfils Promise to Create Stand-alone Referendum Law:  Cullen
The Manitoba government has introduced new legislation that would establish rules for conducting referendums on matters of public importance, Justice Minister Cliff Cullen announced today.

“This bill will meet a key government priority and respond to a request from the chief electoral officer for clear rules to govern referendums,” said Cullen.  “It will fulfil our government’s commitment to set out a framework for calling and conducting a referendum in Manitoba.”

The bill would set out clear rules for referendums including:
•  how a referendum question is determined so it is worded clearly, concisely and impartially;
•    how a referendum is called, conducted and financed;
•    spending limits on campaigning for referendums for both individuals and political parties;
•    restrictions on government advertising; and
•    rules that ensure referendum voting is done in the same manner as voting in a provincial general election.

Under the proposed legislation, the provincial cabinet could bring a referendum question to the legislative assembly for approval.  Public committee hearings would follow, allowing Manitobans to have a say in the wording of the referendum question.

The legislation would also require that a referendum be held before implementing a significant change to the provincial voting scheme and before the Manitoba legislative assembly can vote on authorizing an amendment to the Canadian Constitution.  These requirements are in addition to existing requirements to hold a referendum on major tax increases or on the privatization of public utilities, including Manitoba Hydro and the Manitoba Public Insurance Corporation.
“These changes will guarantee that any referendums conducted in Manitoba are fair, accountable and transparent,” said Cullen.  “It will strengthen democracy in our province and ensure that referendum results reflect the true views of our citizens.”

The referendum act follows legislation passed by the Manitoba government to improve the electoral process.  These improvements include requiring a referendum for all major tax hikes, ending the vote-tax subsidy for political parties, shortening election periods, and creating a permanent voters list to replace outdated and costly door-to-door enumerations.
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For more information:
•    Public information, contact Manitoba Government Inquiry: 1-866-626-4862 or 204-945-3744.
•    Media requests for general information, contact Communications Services Manitoba: 204-945-3765.
•    Media requests for ministerial comment, contact Communications and Stakeholder Relations: 204-945-4916.


December 6, 2018

After nearly a year in the making, Pallister to unveil province's new economic plan
Winnipeg Free Press
Restructuring provincial departments as they relate to economic development, outsourcing some government functions to third party agencies and the identification of priorities from which to develop action plans will be part of a new economic development framework that Premier Brian Pallister is unveiling today.

Marriott strike yields 40 percent pay hike for Westin housekeepers
The San Diego Tribune
A more than month-long strike by Westin San Diego Gaslamp workers will deliver a 40 percent pay hike for hotel housekeepers, stronger protections for sexual harassment and a first-time pension.

Why we strike
Let’s face it: no one enjoys going on strike. In Canada, the overwhelming majority of collective agreements are signed without ever having to resort to job action. But in rare cases, a strike is necessary.

Protesters, now joined by unions, reject French concessions
ABC News
Trade unions and farmers pledged Wednesday to join nationwide protests against President Emmanuel Macron, as concessions by the government failed to stem the momentum of the most violent demonstrations France has seen in decades.

CUPE Manitoba marks December 6, the National Day of Remembrance and Action to End Violence Against Women
CUPE Manitoba
December 6 is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women. Established in 1991 by the Parliament of Canada, this day marks the anniversary of the 1989 École Polytechnique massacre, where 14 women were murdered because of their gender.

Outrage as Facebook bans UCU strike film
University and College Union
Facebook has banned a UCU film urging members to vote “Yes” in a re-run of the union’s FE strike ballot.

MSVU reveals offer it made to faculty, union refuses to ‘engage in public bargaining’
The Chronicle Herald
Mount Saint Vincent University wants to educate its students about negotiations between the school and faculty association.
Brian Jessop, vice-president of administration at the Mount, sent a campus-wide email “to ensure accurate and timely communication to the greatest extent possible.”

Premier Doug Ford’s Cut to Toronto City Council Won’t Save $25 Million After All
The Huffington Post
The $25 million in savings the Ontario government promised would come from slashing Toronto's city council almost in half have so far not materialized.
The majority of Toronto's newly elected 25 councillors and Mayor John Tory voted Wednesday to increase each councillor's office and staffing budgets to about $532,000 a year, almost double the budget in 2018 of $270,000 for each of the previous 44 councillors.

NDP calls for restored funding to BU
Brandon Sun
The Manitoba NDP is calling on the provincial government to restore funding to Brandon University after the school’s annual operating grant was cut earlier this year.

Chicago Teachers Launch First Charter Strike in History
Labour Notes
Chicago teachers are leading the way again. Today they launched the first charter school strike in U.S. history.

Ottawa poised to compensate Indigenous survivors of physical, sexual abuse at 700 day schools
Globe and Mail
Canada is taking another step to acknowledge the centuries of harm done to Indigenous people by agreeing to compensate those who were abused as children while attending one of roughly 700 government-funded day schools.

December 5, 2018

Arbitration Award Shows the Need to Defend Free Collective Bargaining
CUPE 3903
On Monday, December 3, the arbitrator James Hayes provided his award for the Units 1, 2, and 3 collective agreements. These awards confirm what we at CUPE 3903 have said from the start: arbitration is not a valid way forward to resolve complex disputes. Arbitration, by Hayes’ admission, is a blunt instrument that knowingly simplifies difficult and complicated issues to arrive at limited solutions. While the government claimed to be acting in the best interests of students, it is clear from this that legislation that trampling on the rights of workers to impose half-measures that paper over problem is not in the best interests of anyone but the powerful and privileged. 

Morneau says pre-election budget will focus on skills training
Globe and Mail
Finance Minister Bill Morneau says skills training will be a big focus of his 2019 budget in addition to longer-term plans that will ultimately drive the Liberal Party’s fall election campaign.

Gender pay gap exists among recent college and university graduates: Study
London Free Press
A brother and sister graduate with similar degrees from the same university at the same time.
The tough truth about what they’ll make might be an eye-opener to them and their parents, but not to advocates who’ve long fought for equal pay for women.

Labour shortages in New Brunswick a ‘major’ issue, says Chamber of Commerce
Global News
Business owners in New Brunswick are faced with an ongoing challenge in trying to find qualified workers.

ULethbridge, support staff disagree about allocation of 2017-18 surplus
Lethbridge Herald
The University of Lethbridge invited members of the media to an information session this week about how to interpret their publicly available budget documents, which show a large accumulated surplus of about $206 million in 2017-18.

Report: Performance Funding Has Unintended Consequences
Campus Technology
Performance-based funding may not be the way to go if states want to see universities and colleges graduate more students. However, this approach can increase the number of people who receive shorter-duration credentials, such as certificates, to the detriment of the number earning associate or bachelor's degrees.

Top Colleges Seeking Diversity From A New Source: Transfer Students
When applying to many of the nation's top universities, if you aren't accepted in that first, extremely competitive, round of admissions, you're not likely to get in. But some institutions are trying to change that.