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. Some may require a subscription.

November 14, 2019

Donor Peter Allard sues UBC, demands his name be printed on all law degrees
The Globe and Mail
A prominent donor who gave tens of millions of dollars to the University of British Columbia and whose name adorns the law school is taking the university to court for failing to ensure his name is also on the school’s graduate degrees.

Textbooks could be free if universities rewarded professors for writing them
Academic Matters
Some student organizations have endorsed the social media campaign #textbookbroke to draw attention to the burdens placed on students by the high cost of learning materials.

Statistics Canada wants you – for a new survey on faculty diversity
University Affairs
Did you get an email or letter in the mailbox from Statistics Canada recently? You may be among the 100,000 postsecondary faculty and researchers randomly chosen by Canada’s chief data collector to participate in a new online survey. The Survey of Postsecondary Faculty and Researchers is designed to fill in gaps in our understanding around the level of equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) at Canada’s colleges and universities so that policies for addressing EDI can be improved.

Bargaining ongoing as UNBC faculty strike enters seventh day
Prince George Citizen
Negotiators remain at the bargaining table today as the strike by the University of Northern British Columbia Faculty Association entered its seventh day.

University of Northern British Columbia Faculty Association Bargaining Bulletin 2019 #16
Dear Colleagues, As you know, on Friday, the Employer’s bargaining team asked us to return to the table Tuesday afternoon. When we suggested that we could also meet before then, the Employer responded that they needed the weekend to caucus. Thus, we were disappointed when we arrived at the table at yesterday afternoon, only to learn that the Employer’sposition had not changed since we last met. However, we asked some questions for clarification, and returned to our room to develop a new salary proposal.

UN Moves Into Higher Education
Inside Higher Ed
The United Nations is set to begin its most significant intervention in higher education with the approval of plans to establish a new global system of qualification recognition to help migrants and refugees.

Higher education has become a net subtraction from reasonableness
The Washington Post
With another academic year churning on, many people, bemused by campus excitements — trigger warnings, safe spaces, “bias response teams” in hot pursuit of the perpetrators of microaggressions — wonder whether higher education has become a net subtraction from the nation’s stock of reasonableness. Those who read the Chronicle of Higher Education, a window into that world, are not reassured.

Greek students protest higher education reforms
Greek students held a protest Thursday over the conservative government’s higher education reforms, including the abolition of the so-called asylum law that made universities no-go zone for police.

Transit budget cap means cuts
Winnipeg Free Press
Winnipeg is literally facing dark times, officials involved in budget presentations revealed Wednesday at city hall.

When Union Militancy Isn’t Enough
The GM strike was a reminder of two old lessons: rank-and-file militancy is the foundation of working-class struggle. But to win, we need a broader socialist politics that can both support worker organizing and push it further.

November 13, 2019

Manitoba Law School co-founder “A labour jurist ahead of his time”
UM Today
On November 6th, 1919, co-founder of the Manitoba Law School Hugh Amos Robson, K.C., as he then was, tabled his report as Commissioner of the Royal Commission to Enquire into and Report Upon the Causes and Effects of the General Strike which Recently Existed in the City of Winnipeg for a Period of Six Weeks, Including the Methods of Calling and Carrying on Such Strike.

Athabasca seeks 2% rollback from support staff
Labour and Employment in Alberta
Last week, Local 69 of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (which represents support staff at Athabasca University) received a letter from the university’s director of HR, Charlene Polege. The letter provides some insight into how public-sector labour relations are proceeding under the Kenney government.

Elementary teachers could be on strike before end of November
City News Toronto
Elementary school teachers in the province could be on the picket lines before the end of the month.

No end in sight for Saanich School District strike
CTV News
The Saanich School District strike has entered its third week, and there's no end in sight.

Police union filing grievance over city's proposed changes to pension plan
Winnipeg Free Press
Winnipeg's police union is challenging city hall’s decision to unilaterally impose changes to the benefits provision of the police pension plan.

B.C. government grappling with multiple labour disputes by public-sector unions
National Post
The British Columbia government faces a “difficult balancing act” in dealing with labour strife among public-sector unions representing bus drivers in Metro Vancouver, teachers around the province, support staff on Vancouver Island and faculty members at a university in the north, a labour expert says.

$18-an-hour minimum wage? Quebec's biggest labour union may demand it
CTV News
The Federation des travailleurs et travailleuses du Quebec, the province's largest labour union, will vote at its upcoming annual convention to no longer seek a minimum wage of $15 an hour in Quebec, but rather $17 or $18.

Transit strike: Bargaining to resume on Wednesday as drivers threaten overtime ban
Vancouver Sun
Job action by 5,000 Metro Vancouver transit workers will escalate Friday, with bus drivers refusing to work overtime, if a collective agreement isn’t reached in the next two days.

Safeway workers ratify collective agreement for FreshCo transition
Saskatoon Star Phoenix
Safeway employees in Saskatchewan’s two largest cities have voted in favour of a new collective agreement, which will take effect when their stores are converted to FreshCo locations next year.

As a McDonald’s worker, I hope this is the last time I have to go on strike
The Guardian
t’s time for McDonald’s to give its workers a new deal. I’ve worked at McDonald’s for six years, and today I’m on strike for the fourth time. McDonald’s workers everywhere face poverty pay, insecure hours and a lack of basic respect. But we are growing bigger with every strike, and together we will win.

November 12, 2019

Parents rally along picket lines in support of CUPE 441
An organized rally of parents, families and community members showed support for CUPE 441 by joining them on the picket lines Friday morning.

CUPE convention to focus on post-election landscape
Brandon Sun
The Canadian Union of Public Employees’ Manitoba branch is set to host its annual convention in Brandon next week, which is a chance for the union to chart a course after two elections.

Brazil launches job program amid mass unemployment
Winnipeg Free Press
President Jair Bolsonaro launched a jobs program Monday largely based on tax reductions as Brazil struggles to put more than 12 million people back to work.

McDonald’s workers say anti-harassment efforts fall short
The Globe and Mail
McDonald’s got tough on its former CEO, who was fired last week for having a consensual relationship with an employee.

If you are a unionized journalist, this labor ruling should worry you
America’s top labor law enforcer signaled last week that many unions, including media unions, may be left without recourse if their employer engages in illegal union-busting.

First he mopped floors. Then this B.C. janitor put Canada’s potentially abusive employers on notice
The Star

SGEU agrees to 7% raise over six years in new collective bargaining agreement
Global News
The province and Saskatchewan General Employees Union (SGEU) have come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement that includes a seven per cent raise over six years.

A Canadian university just pledged to abandon pil and gas by 2025
In a major step in the fight against climate change, Concordia University in Montreal just announced its plan to stop investing assets in the coal, oil and gas sector by 2025.

The back and forth continues: UNBCFA responds to university's public release of bargaining proposals
Prince George Matters
It's now a back and forth between UNBC and its faculty over bargaining details.

UNBC classes cancelled Tuesday, but both sides agree to return to negotiations
Classes are again cancelled on Tuesday at the University of Northern British Columbia as faculty continue to strike after months-long negotiations broke down last week without an agreement.

The high price of higher learning
Globe and Mail
A postsecondary education has plenty of benefits. After all, it often leads to better career options and higher incomes.

November 8, 2019

Faculty at UNBC on strike over 'rock-bottom' wages
Faculty at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) in Prince George, B.C., began a staff strike Thursday morning after months of negotiations over wages broke down without an agreement, meaning no classes at the university for thousands of students.

UNBC-FA Bargaining Update
Dear Colleagues,
We have had intense negotiationsin the seventy-two hours after UNBC FA Executive served notice to strike. On 4 November, progress appeared to have stalled, but in the following two days we appeared to be making significant headway. However, progress remained slow. At about 1:30 am on 7 November, we presented a proposal that we hoped would be a breakthrough on salaries. Unfortunately, at 2:45 the Employer stated that they would consider that proposal only if we agreed to delay the start of the strike. Given the number of unresolved issues that remained and the significant distance between positions, postponement was not an option.

BC government announces over 1,000 students have benefited from tuition waiver program
The Ubyssey
The BC government has announced that 1,119 former youth in care are now utilizing the Provincial Tuition Waiver Program for post-secondary education.

Manitoba commits $1.6M for 5 schools to build community services
Five schools across Manitoba are set to get new provincial funding for community programming, as the province expands efforts to build school capacity to serve the needs of students and their families.

Employer Prosecuted for Workplace Incident
Government of Manitoba
Manitoba Finance is reminding employers to ensure they report serious incidents and have adequate safeguards in place for machines after an employer was prosecuted for violations of The Workplace Safety and Health Act and Regulations.

Folk fest agrees to pay former employee over human-rights complaint
Winnipeg Free Press
The Winnipeg Folk Festival has agreed to pay a breast cancer survivor $110,000 in lost wages and $20,000 in damages by not letting her return to work after her health battle.

Canadian economy sheds 1,800 jobs in October but wage growth strong
Globe and Mail
Canada’s labour market fell short of expectations by shedding 1,800 positions in October, though wage growth continues to run at a strong pace, according to Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey.

Unions consider legal action against province for ‘shameful’ new bill
Blackburn News
Unions across Ontario are condemning the passage of new legislation that will force workers to accept contracts that don’t keep pace with inflation, which could infringe on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

November 7, 2019

Funding dispute with province leaves city up to $23M short for Southwest Rapid Transitway
Winnipeg Sun
There appears to be a new funding dispute between the city and the province, which municipal officials claim could leave Winnipeg with a shortfall of up to $23 million.

Instacart Workers Are Striking Because of the App’s User Interface
Several thousand workers who ferry groceries for Instacart are on the final day of a 72-hour strike over how the on-demand delivery app pays them. Instacart’s “shoppers” grab items off stores shelves, purchase them, and deliver the order to customers’ doors—but they have a problem with how the platform manages tipping: The default in the app is for users to leave either a $2 or a 5 percent tip for the shopper on top of the 5 percent service fee that Instacart charges every order. The workers allege that this service fee is misleading and that the 5 percent default tip option has cut into their take-home wages—which they say have shrunk because the app previously suggested a tip of 10 percent, and the company didn’t charge a service fee.

Acting UAW head says he'll clean up corruption found by feds
Winnipeg Free Press
The acting president of the United Auto Workers said Wednesday that a corruption scandal plaguing the union will get worse before it gets better, but he's confident he can fix the mess and turn over a clean house to the next leader.

Vancouver Island forestry workers rally in Nanaimo after 4 months on strike
Nearly 300 striking forestry workers from all over Vancouver Island gathered in downtown Nanaimo Wednesday to up the pressure on their employer, Western Forest Products (WFP).

How Seven Thousand Quebec Workers Went on Strike against Climate Change
The Bullet
With a crowd of 500,000, Montreal’s march for the climate was the largest in the world during the September 20-27 week of climate action. Yet it was also noteworthy for another reason. Despite provincial labour laws preventing unions from striking over political issues, 11 locals representing 7,500 workers formally voted to go on strike for a day.

Lufthansa scraps 1,300 flights in 48-hour strike
BBC News
The two-day action over pay and conditions began at midnight local time. About 180,000 passengers are set to face travel disruption.

Impending work stoppage at McMaster University could affect exams
Students at McMaster University could see their exams disrupted after the union representing teaching assistants and tutours says a "lockout or strike" could take place as soon as Dec. 1.

CUPE 3906 requests 'No Board' report after hours of fruitless bargaining with McMaster University
Following a fruitless day of negotiations, the union representing 2,900 teaching assistants, research assistants, demonstrators, tutors and markers at McMaster University announced late last night they would be seeking a 'No Board' report from the Provincial Ministry of Labour.

'It really comes down to one thing and that's respect': UNBCFA not backing down from fair agreement as strike looms
Prince George Matters
The UNBC Faculty Association (UNBCFA) made their message loud and clear on campus: it comes down to respect.

French immersion causes two-tier school system, data show
Globe and Mail
As parents increasingly choose French immersion, new data from one Ontario school board show that the program is creating a two-tiered system, with new Canadians, children from low-income families and students with special needs overrepresented in English-program elementary schools.

Cuts to education mean students will lose teachers, get shuffled into other classes midway through school year
Calgary Herald
As public schools look to make up a $32-million funding shortfall before Christmas, union leaders say students can expect to lose their former teachers and get shuffled into different, larger classrooms by early next year.

November 6, 2019

With the help of teachers unions, the climate strikes could be moving into phase two
As young people across the country join the global movement to mobilize school strikes to demand climate action, one group is starting to think more seriously about how to best support those efforts: their teachers.

Ryerson students hold one-day 'strike' downtown to protest Ford gov't cuts
Ryerson University students are taking part in “strike action” on Wednesday to protest funding cuts made by the Ford government.

University strike could affect more than a million students, says union
The Guardian
Staff at 60 universities across the UK are to walk out on strike later this month over pensions, pay and conditions in a wave of action which could disrupt the studies of more than a million students, according to union leaders.

New deal for CUPE education workers
Dryden Now
The central agreement between 55,000 education workers represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees and the provincial government has been ratified by school boards and the union, after strike action was threatened earlier this month.

More than 25,000 University of California employees prepare to strike Nov. 13
The Mercury News
More than 25,000 University of California service and patient care technical workers plan to stage a statewide unfair labor practices strike Nov. 13 to protest the school outsourcing jobs to lower-paid workers.

Harvard Grad Student Union Will Strike If Contract Not Reached Before Reading Period
The Harvard Crimson
Harvard’s graduate student union announced Tuesday morning that it will strike if negotiations are unable to reach a contract with the University by Dec. 3.

University workers vote for eight-day strike
Members of the University and College Union (UCU) will walk out between 25 November and 4 December, following votes in favour of industrial action.

Metro Vancouver transit strike: Disruptions to bus service could start mid-week, union says
Global News
The Metro Vancouver transit strike continues Tuesday morning with no real end in sight.

Unions Are Pushing Members To Run For Office ― And It's Paying Off
Huffington Post
Labor unions are seeing a surge of support. They’re more popular than they have been at any point in the last 15 years, and a majority of Americans believe that the declines in union membership are bad for the country. Democratic presidential candidates are embracing unions, appearing on picket lines and talking about strengthening the labor movement in ways the party hadn’t for much of the past decade.

Alberta unions ramp up fight against government cuts
Public sector workers met across Calgary on Tuesday for three union events, vowing to fight back against budget cuts and proposed wage rollbacks announced by the province.

Sask. NDP gripped by debate over union donations
Regina Leader-Post
Labour delegates to the Saskatchewan NDP’s convention last weekend raised heated opposition to the idea of treating union money like corporate money, as the party discussed its plans for new campaign finance laws.