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.

August 12, 2022

Manitoba orders regulator to remove barrier that prevented some internationally trained nurses from working
Health Minister Audrey Gordon is promising to remove perhaps the biggest obstacle for internationally trained nurses working in another province who are trying to move back to Manitoba.

Why financial incentives aren't enough to deal with health-care staffing shortages
As many provinces and territories deal with health-care worker shortages and overcrowded emergency departments, politicians are turning to financial incentives to keep or recruit staff.

Corporations are driving up the cost of living, not workers
Alberta Federation of Labour
From record-high gas prices, to growing grocery bills, Albertans are feeling the impacts of the rising cost of living. And without proper solutions, this crisis will only continue to get worse. To address this problem, we must abandon conventional policy responses that place the blame for rising costs on workers, and instead tackle the true cause of increasing costs: corporate profiteering.

15,000 nurses will vote whether to strike Monday
Lakeland Broadcasting
Hospital leaders are not happy that the Minnesota Nurses Association is holding a vote Monday on whether to go on strike. Executives at Twin Cities hospitals Methodist, North Memorial, Fairview, and Children’s are accusing union leaders of rushing a strike authorization vote and rejecting their offer of an outside mediator to settle differences. The hospitals say it does NOT mean a strike is inevitable and that they will “continue…efforts at the negotiating table to... avoid any actions that would interrupt patient care.” Union President Mary Turner says nurses don’t take a strike vote lightly, but with chronic staff shortages affecting patient safety they have no choice.

Nurses set to strike for first time in their history
The Herald
SCOTLAND’S nurses could go on strike for the first time in history after NHS staff across the country rejected a 5 per cent pay offer from ministers. 

Biden administration abolishes ICE labor union
The Washington Times
The Biden administration delivered a death sentence Thursday to the labor organization that represents thousands of employees at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

40 000 power loom workers in Pakistan strike for better wages
Over 40,000 power loom workers in Faisalabad responded to a call for a strike to demand social security cover and an increase in wages. The workers, who have been on strike since 1 August, have also been demonstrating on the streets of Faisalabad where over one million workers are employed in power looms.

Student scientists demand action on federal scholarships
Globe and Mail
Canadian graduate students in the sciences took to Parliament Hill on Thursday, pressing their case that the funding system which supports them at levels unchanged in nearly two decades is woefully inadequate.

Relocation dispute between Athabasca University and Alberta government facing twists and turns
Global News
There’s been a couple of twists and counter-twists to a five-month dispute between Athabasca University and the Alberta government.

Standoff between University of Ottawa and part-time profs continues
With the start of a new school year approaching, the standoff between the University of Ottawa and its part-time professors is still not settled.

Lecce calls on education union to put off strike vote, stay at table
Toronto Sun
Education minister Stephen Lecce has a message for the leadership of CUPE representing school support staff — don’t play games with the return to school in September. The Ontario School Board Council of Unions, part of CUPE and representing about 55,000, sent an email to union locals asking them to hold strike votes no later than the week of Aug. 22.

UPEI not disclosing employment details other institutions freely release, says UPEIFA
P.E.I.’s only university is falling behind other institutions across the country when it comes to transparency and accountability, says the faculty association’s president.

Douglas Todd: SFU prof targeted by China for groundbreaking Uyghur research
SFU professor Darren Byler has been frequently attacked by China’s state media, which accuses him of being an agent of the U.S. government. Something he denies.

Universities shouldn’t use software to monitor online exams: here’s why
The Conversation
Proctoring software monitors a student’s computer or phone while they write exams. These programs have been around for some time but became ubiquitous during online learning in the pandemic.

August 11, 2022

Union coalition endorses Glen Murray's renewed run for mayor
Mayoral candidate Glen Murray has earned another labour endorsement, this time from a coalition of unions.

Music venue sings praises of $16 living wage as provincial committee at odds over new minimum rate
A popular entertainment venue in Winnipeg isn't waiting on the provincial government to increase the minimum wage.

Employers looking to sweeten the deal for new employees amid labour shortage
CTV News
Employers in Manitoba are looking to attract a younger generation to join the workforce amid an ongoing labour shortage.

Quebec spending on private health-care workers up by 335% in last 5 years amid labour shortage
CTV News
The amount of money Quebec has spent on private health-care workers has quadrupled in the last five years as it continues to deal with a worker shortage made worse by the pandemic.

Ontario class action settlement reclassifies volunteers as employees, setting new precedent
More than four years after the launch of a class action lawsuit against a company that ran student travel excursions, an Ontario court has approved a settlement between the organization and former trip leaders who argued they were not paid as employees.

CUPE demands transparency from govt on health service disruptions
Regina Leader-Post
Saskatchewan’s largest health-care union is appealing to the public in its efforts to promote more transparency from the province and health authority about service disruptions in various communities.

Bruske to PM: Work with premiers to fix Canada’s crumbling care system
As families in communities across the country face closures of emergency departments, hospitals, intensive care units and birthing centres, Canada’s unions are demanding quick action from Canada’s leaders to address this health care crisis.

How the labour shortage got so bad
Never in Canada’s history have we seen labour numbers like this. This is the tightest the job market has ever been. At the start of this year, there were just 1.2 unemployed people for every job opening, and we hit an all-time high of one million vacancies in March. Those numbers are starting to decline, but they’re still at hugely elevated rates—and shifting demographics are the driving forces.

Starbucks workers hold strikes in at least 17 states amid union drive
The Guardian
Workers at Starbucks have held over 55 different strikes in at least 17 states in the US in recent months over the company’s aggressive opposition to a wave of unionization.

Lay-offs during a jobs boom: the paradox of the US labour market
Financial Times
America’s largest newspaper publisher has a problem: it cannot find enough people to toss editions on to readers’ doorsteps.

Samsung Electronics, labor union sign first-ever wage deal
Yonhap News Agency
Samsung Electronics Co.'s management and its union signed an annual wage deal Wednesday, the first of its kind since the company's foundation more than five decades ago.

Hundreds of scientists set to rally for more federal funding
Global News
Hundreds of scientists and researchers are expected to gather on Parliament Hill Thursday to call for a raise.

Alberta drops plan to force online university to move employees to Athabasca
Globe and Mail
The Alberta government has backed off on its threat to cut funding to Athabasca University unless the school agrees to relocate hundreds of employees to the small town that shares its name, with the minister in charge of post-secondary education signalling he is willing to negotiate the proposed residency target.

UPEI makes Indigenous Studies course mandatory in order to graduate
The University of Prince Edward Island will now require all graduating students to have completed a course in Indigenous Studies.

Victoria housing crunch hitting students hard
CTV News
Work is being completed on the University of Victoria’s new residence hall, which will be ready to welcome 400 students in September.

UTLA files complaint against LAUSD over extra school days
United Teachers Los Angeles, the union representing teachers in Los Angeles Unified, has filed an unfair practice charge over the district’s decision to add four optional days to the school year.

August 10, 2022

U of M adds third intake for nursing program to help with Manitoba shortage
Global News
The University of Manitoba is set to start producing 50 per cent more nurses beginning with the next school year.

U of M would fail service inspection
The Manitoban
Whether universities want to admit it or not, they are part of the customer service industry.

Laurentian University staff and faculty unions propose court action for lost benefits
Laurentian University's staff and faculty unions want to take some of the Sudbury, Ont., school's directors and officers to court once it exits its insolvency proceedings.

Windsor researchers develop new nursing program to help prevent burnout
CTV News
A team of University of Windsor researchers are designing a new program to help graduating nurses cope with the extreme stress in hospital settings.

Alberta relaxes some restrictions on university partnerships with links to Chinese government
Globe and Mail
The Alberta government has eased some restrictions on the province’s four major universities that prevented them from forming new partnerships with entities or individuals linked to the Chinese government.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on university finances for the 2020/2021 fiscal year
Statistics Canada
During the 2020/2021 COVID-19 pandemic year, Canadian universities reported record-high surplus revenues of $7.3 billion, the highest since Statistics Canada started collecting data in 2000/2001. Collectively, universities demonstrated resilience by rapidly transitioning to virtual learning environments and performed better than projected, despite travel restrictions affecting international students, campus services being closed, and residences operating at lower capacity.

Growing number of high schoolers are opting out of higher education
NBC News (video)
There are 4 million fewer students in college now than there were 10 years ago, a trend possibly caused by a growing skepticism of a degree's value. The Hechinger Report's Jon Marcus explains the reasonings behind the shift and its long-term consequences.

Universities are accused of 'mollycoddling' and 'patronising' students as books are removed from reading lists over 'challenging' content and trigger warnings are slapped on 1,000 texts including works by Dickens, Shakespeare, and Chaucer
Daily Mail
University students say they feel patronised and 'molly-coddled' after more than 1,000 texts were slapped with trigger warnings or removed from reading lists due to their 'challenging' content.

What is the risk of COVID-19 community transmission at US universities?
News Medical Life Sciences
As of August 2022, over 583 million confirmed severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection cases, including 6.4 million deaths, have been reported globally. Studies have reported that elderly and immunocompromised persons are the most susceptible to COVID-19 disease severity. These reports suggest that younger individuals less vulnerable to the infection are primary introducers of SARS-CoV-2 to communities, especially around universities and colleges.  

Province of Manitoba
The Manitoba government is providing more than $8 million to Manitoba businesses through the first intake of the 2022-23 Canada-Manitoba Job Grant to support the province’s workforce training needs, Economic Development, Investment and Trade Minister Cliff Cullen announced today.

Business, labour groups divided on new minimum wage
Winnipeg Free Press
Business and labour groups in Manitoba can’t agree on what the new provincial minimum wage should be, with a government announcement expected within the next two weeks.

Canadian tech company Hootsuite laying off 30% of staff
Vancouver-based social media company Hootsuite Inc. is laying off 30 per cent of its staff, the latest company to announce layoffs during a current surge in cutbacks in the tech sector.

Charting the OT overload driving many nurses from the job
After months without a break, Linda Boutillier, an emergency room nurse in Dartmouth, N.S., took a much-needed vacation earlier this summer.

National system for tracking medical staff shortages could prevent future crises at hospitals, advocates say
Globe and Mail
Canada does not have a national system for tracking or preventing shortages of nurses and other medical workers, which health leaders say has contributed to hospitals across the country temporarily shuttering emergency rooms and intensive-care units this summer.

Health-worker unions claim victory after tribunal rules Quebec acted in bad faith
Montreal Gazette
Several unions are claiming victory following a decision by the administrative labour tribunal that confirms the provincial Health Ministry “negotiated in bad faith” when it offered bonuses to health network employees without consulting union representatives during the pandemic.

Will BC Be Ground Zero for a New Era of Union Battles?
The Tyee
Successful unionization drives targeting corporate employers like Amazon and Starbucks have been big news in 2022.

Chipotle Agrees to Pay Over $20 Million to Settle New York City Workplace Case
New York Times
New York City said Tuesday that it had reached a settlement potentially worth more than $20 million with the fast-food chain Chipotle Mexican Grill over violations of worker protection laws, the largest settlement of its kind in the city’s history.

Royal Mail staff to stage four-day strike action
BBC News
Some 115,000 Royal Mail workers are set to strike on four days in August and September in a dispute over pay.

August 9, 2022

Brandon University paid over $41,000 in legal fees over sexual harassment scandal
Winnipeg Free Press
Brandon University’s botched investigation into allegations of sexual harassment against a soccer coach not only harmed student athletes and tarnished the school’s reputation, but it also cost the post-secondary institute upwards of $41,000 in legal fees.

Scrapped education reform bill looms large over trustee elections, Winnipeg candidates say
The current elections for Manitoba school trustees would not be happening if the provincial government's proposed education reform bill had passed into law.

Parents divided over masks being optional at school this fall
Parents shopping for back to school supplies on Monday were split on whether masks would be part of their children's outfits on the first day of school.

Arbitrator awards pay raise to Acadia University faculty union members
An arbitrator has issued an award that includes two raises of one per cent per year over a four-year term for members of Acadia University's faculty union.

Laurentian University staff union to take LU administrators to court
CTV News
One of Laurentian University's biggest unions is considering taking some members of the university's administration to court.

Western University rolls out program to support mental health, well-being of employees
London Free Press
Western University is putting in place a program to bring awareness to mental health issues that account for almost half of long-term disabilities among faculty and staff, according to a year-end report.

Union petition calls out 50% jump in yearly parking fees at UVic
Saanich News
A petition calls for the University of Victoria to consider revising its plan for parking fees this fall.

New ‘disconnecting from work’ policies aren’t enough to tackle the problem of work-life balance
University Affairs
In June, universities across Ontario unveiled their new “disconnecting from work” policies in accordance with provincial legislation aimed at fostering healthier work environments. But faculty and administration alike are saying that on their own, these policies do nothing to upend the more deeply rooted issues that drive high workloads and burnout.

University cuts show need for resistance
Socialist Worker
All modern language courses at Leeds Beckett university are set to close in the latest assault on university education.
The UCU union described the timing of the announcement while workers are not teaching as “cynical”.

'Caught off guard': Low-income students in Alberta scramble to go back to school with lower grants
Some students are scrambling to find extra loans and adjust their personal spending, after the Alberta government announced in late July it would clip the amount of monthly funding received through its full-time student grant program.

Ontario regulatory colleges have 2 weeks to find ways to register foreign-trained nurses, doctors faster
Ontario's health minister has directed regulatory colleges for nurses and doctors to develop plans to more quickly register internationally educated professionals, a move nursing groups and critics say falls short of the premier's promise to do everything in his power to address an emergency room staffing crisis.

Ontario health care unions call on Ford to take 'immediate steps, like yesterday' to solve staffing shortages
Ontario nurses are past their breaking point, burnt out and left believing there's no hope for change — that's the message from a group of health care unions calling on the province to take "immediate steps" to solve staffing shortages.

GO Transit workers vote 93 per cent in favour of strike if no deal is reached
Globe and Mail
The union representing 2,200 GO Transit bus operators, station attendants, plant and fleet maintenance workers, transit safety officers, and office professionals says their members have voted 93 per cent in favour of going on strike if necessary.

Racialized workers pushed out by workplace policies
Dress code. Professionalism. Leave and time off. Many workplaces have policies that lay out what is to be expected from their workers. When these policies are written with a specific type of worker in mind, they can create unintentional barriers to racialized and marginalized workers. As human resources departments start to take on heightened equity, diversity and inclusion efforts, it may be time to examine the mindset held while writing these policies.

'We've had enough!': Nurses to vote on first ever strike in England and Wales
The Royal College of Nursing's (RCN) recommending hundreds of thousands of its members support industrial action in September.

Public sector strike cripples cash-strapped Lebanon
ABC News
Tarek Younes was once solidly middle class and felt he helped contribute to society as an inspector in the Lebanese government’s consumer protection agency. But the country's economic free-fall has eroded his income and civic pride.

A Day in the Life of India’s E-Waste Workers
As dawn breaks, hundreds of men move in and out of the congested alleys of Seelampur, pulling carts and driving dump trucks loaded with discarded cellphones, computers, air conditioners, and almost any other electronic waste imaginable. Located on the outskirts of New Delhi, Seelampur is the country’s largest market dedicated to dismantling old tech, and it’s home to an estimated 50,000 men, women, and children whose livelihoods depend on e-waste.

August 8, 2022

Scrapped education reform bill looms large over trustee elections, Winnipeg candidates say
The current elections for Manitoba school trustees would not be happening if the provincial government's proposed education reform bill had passed into law.

Athabasca University president rips UCP for ‘1980s thinking’ that puts institution on ‘path to ruin’
In a video message posted yesterday morning, Athabasca University President Peter Scott ripped the United Conservative Party Government’s plan to force the institution to dramatically increase its presence in its namesake town 145 kilometres north of Edmonton as “1980s thinking” that will put AU on “the path to ruin.”

Advanced Education minister says Alberta will help with the relocation of 500 Athabasca University school staff
Global News
Alberta’s Advanced Education minister says he is willing to help Athabasca University with whatever it wants — including money — to relocate 500 employees to the small town that’s the school’s namesake but says the school has not stepped up.

The Aging Student Debtors of America
The New Yorker
On a warm October evening, in 1932, Franklin Delano Roosevelt stood in a baseball field in Pittsburgh, delivering an impassioned speech about passion’s improbable subject: the federal budget. “Sometime, somewhere in this campaign, I have got to talk dollars and cents, and it’s a terrible thing to ask you people to listen for forty-five minutes to the story of the federal budget, but I am going to ask you do it,” he told the crowd. In the back of the park, a two-year-old Black girl named Betty Ann sat on the shoulders of her father, Robert, as he strained to point out the man he was sure would become President. Robert was a dyed-in-the-wool Republican—his grandfather, an enslaved man from Virginia, had been emancipated by President Abraham Lincoln. Still, he felt compelled by F.D.R.’s message. Hard times had meant he had started to pay the reporters of Pittsburgh’s Black newspaper, which he ran, out of his own pocket. Much to his distress, his wife had taken to standing in relief lines in order to feed Betty Ann and her sisters. A few weeks later, when Robert cast his ballot for F.D.R., he wept, aghast to vote against the party of Lincoln. Thereafter, he became a devoted Democrat and jumped into local politics with fervor until he fell ill, five years later. He had two dying wishes: for his wife to take over his role as a Democratic ward chairperson, and for Betty Ann and her sisters to go to college.

Province of Manitoba
The latest economic indicators from Statistics Canada show Manitoba’s employment numbers increased by 2,500 jobs from June to July, with the unemployment rate dropping to 3.5 per cent, setting a record as the lowest percentage the province has seen since the labour force statistics series started in 1976, Premier Heather Stefanson announced today.

Winnipeg Transit drivers rally to make safety on buses election priority
Winnipeg Transit drivers want the city's next mayor and council to make safety on buses a top priority.

Many federal government employees balking at returning to offices
The federal government is facing pushback from employees reluctant to return to government offices after more than two years working from home.

Mom raises red flag over staff shortage at Kingston hospital
After months of frequenting the Kingston General Hospital, one mother says she's concerned about a staff shortage at the hospital's pediatric critical care unit after having to take on nursing duties for her sick child.

Unifor’s election a defining moment for Canada’s largest private-sector union after ethics controversy
Globe and Mail
Unifor’s coming election will serve as a referendum on former president Jerry Dias’s governance style, labour-movement observers say, after an ethics controversy surrounding the founding leader hurt the reputation of Canada’s largest private-sector union.

I’ve only been a nurse for eight months. The chaos is killing me.
Jacelyn Wingerter became a registered nurse in January and has worked in a Saskatchewan ER ever since. At only 22, she says being on the front lines of a collapsing health care system has crushed her stamina and her spirit. This is her story.

Support on paid sick days crucial next week
Decent Work and Health Network
Next week is extremely important. Ontario’s newly elected government is getting back to work on Monday, August 8. Due to the pressure we created, the opposition intends to table legislation immediately, which will provide all workers with 10 permanent paid sick days. This means, the government has a real opportunity to move on paid sick days and show up for workers.

Alberta defence lawyers vote to walk off job
Alberta Worker
Members of the Criminal Trial Lawyers Association, the Criminal Defence Lawyers Association, and the Southern Alberta Defence Lawyers Association met last night to discuss possible job action in response to the provincial government underfunding legal aid in Alberta.

Bank of Canada governor should stay in his lane and not undermine collective bargaining
Canadian Labour Congress
The spotlight has shone brightly on Canada’s Bank Governor this year. Tiff Macklem’s starring role has put him centre stage in Canada’s ongoing inflation drama. As expected, Macklem has been the face of the Bank as they set monetary policy and raised interest rates. More surprisingly, Macklem has also played a recurring role as Pierre Poilievre’s gatekeeping villain in the Conservative leadership race. What the labour movement didn’t expect was for the Governor to seek out a cameo role, supporting employers, as they sit down at the bargaining table to negotiate with workers.

The Pandemic and the Return of Class Struggle
Rank and File
The new “automated” warehouse opened by Sobeys in Terrebonne, Quebec is shut down for three months by 190 striking workers. They win an immediate wage increase of up to 28%, and an additional 12% wage increase over three years. The contract is ratified by just 59 percent of members.

How a Hong Kong law passed by the British to combat strikers is being used by China 100 years later
Following last year’s centenary of the foundation of the Chinese Communist Party, 2022 marks the 100th anniversary of the first general strike to shut down a British colonial territory – Hong Kong.