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. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for article text.

December 7, 2022

University and College faculty, staff and students share concerns as Bill 26 receives royal assent
The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA), Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) and the Canadian Federation of Students – Ontario (CFSO) collectively commend the government’s interest in protecting sexual violence survivors. However, we raise concerns about elements of the newly announced Strengthening Post-secondary Institutions and Students Act, 2022, introduced by the Ministry of Colleges and Universities on October 27.

Hamilton public school board trustees pass temporary indoor mask policy after tense meeting
Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) trustees passed a motion late Monday to implement a temporary, indoor masking requirement in all schools, with no restrictions for anyone who wants to opt out.

London lawyer hails victory on university, college use of non-disclosure agreements
London Free Press
A London lawyer who fought for a change to Ontario legislation restricting non-disclosure agreements is celebrating a victory.

LUFA calls for public inquiry into Laurentian University financial crisis
Laurentian University Faculty Association
The Laurentian University Faculty Association (LUFA) is calling for a public inquiry into the financial crisis and subsequent faculty, staff, and program cuts at Laurentian University. Given the wide-spread impact of the university’s cuts and the danger that such a scenario could repeat itself elsewhere, a public inquiry will be crucial to ensure that what happened at Laurentian never happens again.

Laurentian faculty union joins calls for public inquiry into university's troubles
The Sault Star
The Laurentian Union Faculty Association is joining calls for the province to conduct a public inquiry into the university’s financial mismanagement and its subsequent handling of staff and programming cuts.

Audit pushes UWindsor to pledge action on international student diversity
Windsor Star
In response to a new Auditor General of Ontario report, the University of Windsor has pledged to work towards creating greater diversity among its international student population.

Why we need open-source science innovation — not patents and paywalls
The Conversation
As we prepare to invest money to prevent the next global pandemic and find solutions to many other problems, science funders have a large opportunity to move towards open science and more research collaboration by offering open-source endowed chairs.

Computer Science Students Face a Shrinking Big Tech Job Market
New York Times
Ever since she was a 10th grader in Seattle, Annalice Ni wanted to develop software for a prominent tech company like Google. So she went to great lengths to meet the internship and other résumé criteria that make students attractive hires to the biggest tech firms.

Labour board strikes down Coquitlam, B.C., waste company's attempt to stop employees from unionizing
A Coquitlam, B.C., waste company has lost an appeal to prevent employees from unionizing.

CUPE launches legal challenge to Alberta labour rules
has filed a legal challenge against Alberta legislation they say is designed to tie unions in red tape and limit their freedom to exist.

Union says BC Ferries ban on facial hair discriminates against some members
Global News
The union representing BC Ferries workers says a company policy banning facial hair is discriminating against some of its members.

With flu season underway, B.C. Federation of Labour presses for 15 days of paid sick leave
Global News
Less than a year after eligible workers in B.C. became entitled to five days of employer-paid sick leave per year, the B.C. Federation of Labour is urging the provincial government to triple the standard.

Canada tweaks immigration programs to ease labour pains
New Canadian Media
The federal government’s move to expand Canada’s working-holiday program must be followed with timely processing of applications, say immigration advocates and employers.

New York Times union members set to walk out on Thursday after talks fail
More than 1,100 union employees at the New York Times Co are set to walk out on Thursday for 24 hours as negotiations with the news publisher for a "complete and equitable contract" failed on Tuesday, the union said in a tweet.

Twitter janitors go on strike citing unfair labor practices
CBS News
The janitors who clean the offices of Twitter's headquarters in San Francisco, walked off the job early Monday morning.

Long COVID could explain why so many people in the U.K. dropped out of the labour market
Financial Post
More than 200,000 Britons who left the U.K. labour market in the year to July reported suffering from long COVID, official statistics show.

December 6, 2022

Terminated Laurentian University faculty group demands their jobs and programs back
A group that represents some terminated faculty members at Laurentian University wants the institution to reinstate their jobs, along with programs it cut last year.

University of Calgary seeking more diverse staff of professors
The University of Calgary is looking to improve the diversity of its faculty, and will be hiring dozens of professors over the next three years through a new program.

With CUPE settled, Ontario shifts focus to teachers' unions. But don't expect deals anytime soon
Now that Ontario education workers have voted in favour of a new contract with the Ontario government, the focus shifts to the province's other major education unions.

Auditor general raises concerns over international student enrolment, finances at UWindsor
University of Windsor says it'll make changes after a financial review by the Auditor General of Ontario revealed that its finances heavily relied on international students from a handful of countries.

Teaching assistants wait for a move from McMaster University, as strike nears 2-week mark
Nearly two weeks since teaching and research assistants with McMaster University went on strike in Hamilton, workers say they are waiting for a sign from the institution that it might come back to the bargaining table with a new offer.

From Ontario to New Brunswick, workers unite to defend labour rights
Ontario Federation of Labour
The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) extends its solidarity to the New Brunswick Federation of Labour and all New Brunswick workers as they resist the Higgs government’s latest attack on labour rights in the province.

1,200 university students believed to have been poisoned before anti-regime protests
The Iranian news agency ISNA has reported that as many as 1,200 university students could have been poisoned the night before they were due to attend anti-regime protests.

‘Our mission is crucial’: meet the warrior librarians of Ukraine
The Guardian
he morning that Russian bombs started falling on Kyiv, Oksana Bruy woke up worried about her laptop. Bruy is president of the Ukrainian Library Association and, the night before, she hadn’t quite finished a presentation on the new plans for the Kyiv Polytechnic Library, so she had left her computer open at work. That morning, the street outside her house filled with the gunfire of Ukrainian militias executing Russian agents. Missile strikes drove her into an underground car park with her daughter, Anna, and her cat, Tom. A few days, later she crept back into the huge empty library, 15,000sqft once filled with the quiet murmurings of readers. As she grabbed her laptop, the air raid siren sounded and she rushed to her car.

Chinese students protest as university locks down over one Covid case
The Guardian
Students at a university in eastern China have staged a protest against a Covid lockdown as many in the country remain under some form of restrictions despite government steps to ease its zero-Covid policy.

It’s time to commit to ending gender-based violence and say never again!
Canadian Labour Congress
Every year on December 6th people across Canada remember the 14 women who were murdered in a horrific act of gender-based violence at Montreal’s École Polytechnique. This is a day to honour those lost to gender-based violence and to commit to eliminating it by taking concrete actions. Canada’s unions have marked the National Day of Remembrance and Action since the beginning and this year are saying #NeverAgain: End Gender-Based Violence at Work now.

Howard Levitt: Inflation is driving a union resurgence, but employees should be careful what they wish for
Financial Post
Private sector labour unions have had a tough go, seeing their numbers and bargaining power ravaged over the years. Only 13.8 per cent of workers were unionized in 2021, down from 19 per cent in 1997, according to Statistics Canada figures.

Apple’s Anti-Union Tactics in Atlanta Were Illegal, US Officials Say
BNN Bloomberg
US labor board prosecutors have determined that Apple Inc. violated federal law by interrogating and coercing employees in Atlanta, the latest legal salvo over the company’s response to organizing efforts.

People still afraid of catching COVID-19 are costing the U.S. economy billions of dollars
More than two years after the coronavirus pandemic began, social distancing is keeping some workers from going back to work.

ZeniMax to create first Microsoft union
Quality assurance workers at ZeniMax Studios, the game development studio behind The Elder Scrolls Online, will become the first group of workers at Microsoft to formally unionise.

December 5, 2022

Education shouldn’t require ‘crowd funding’
Winnipeg Free Press
STUDENTS knocking on doors to fundraise for classroom books, school libraries and general school supplies was already a strange practice.

Ontario education support workers vote to accept new deal
Ontario education support workers have voted to accept a new deal with the provincial government, putting an end to a long and contentious negotiation process.

Unifor ratifies collective agreement
UM Today
On Nov 29, 2022, a revised collective agreement between the University of Manitoba and Unifor was ratified by the Unifor membership. The Unifor collective agreement expired on March 30, 2022. The new agreement is 2 years in length.

McMaster University Working ‘Very Aggressively’ to Break CUPE Strike, Union Says
McMaster University invited striking teaching assistants and research assistants to return to work as scabs – complete with a “confidential” form, according to leaked emails obtained by PressProgress.

Census shows high rate of undergraduate and college education among Canadians, but complex trends lie behind it
Globe and Mail
More than half of Canada’s working-age population has graduated from either university or college, the highest proportion in the G7 industrialized countries, according to the latest data from the 2021 census.

Moving labs: a checklist for researchers with disabilities
Kelsey Byers outlines some of the things disabled scientists should look out when they are looking to move labs, both at home and abroad. Byers, an evolutionary chemical ecologist who was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome in her 20s and is now a group leader at the John Innes Institute, a plant and microbial research institute in Norwich, UK, also offers advice on how to talk about disability to potential employers.

Can Canada handle half a million new immigrants? Labour economist Mikal Skuterud on immigration’s diminishing economic returns
The Hub
This episode of Hub Dialogues features host Sean Speer in conversation with Mikal Skuterud, a labour economist at the University of Waterloo and director of the Canadian Labour Economics Forum. They discuss the federal government’s recent announcement of Canada’s immigration targets, how we ought to think about the labour market effects of Canadian immigration policy, as well as outcomes for immigrants themselves.

Economics Matters Ep: 02 - Labour market woes with Mike Burt and Armine Yalnizyan - Leadership Perspectives
Economics Matters via Spotify
Canada’s labour market is facing an unprecedented set of challenges.  We keep hearing the dual realities of low unemployment levels but high job vacancies. There is a loud and growing chorus of business owners who complain that they can’t find the workers they need. And workers are increasingly expressing their frustration with the jobs they do have.

UAW strike stuns University of California in 10 cities, heading into fourth week
Detroit Free Press
The UAW, a labor union started in Detroit to represent the rights of autoworkers, is leading a strike 2,400 miles away involving some 48,000 academic workers in 10 University of California cities — including Berkeley, Los Angeles and Santa Barbara.

One week left to reach a deal before Minnesota nurses' strike
Negotiations continue as a potential nurses' strike looms.

The California academic strike is the most important in US higher education history
The Guardian
he strike by unions representing 48,000 academic workers at the University of California stands at a perilous crossroads. It is by far the largest and most important strike in the history of American higher education, with the potential to transform both the status and income of those who work in an “industry” that now employs more workers than the federal government.

Canada’s Business-Class Brain Trust Is Warning About Labor Unrest
In recent months, Canada’s financial pages have pumped out warnings that “labor unrest” is the order of the day. This fall, the Financial Post anticipated that Canada’s “super-charged” inflation would drive an uptick in workplace activity not seen in a generation. As the Post put it, with a note of hyperbolic dread, “the potential for labour Armageddon is in the air.”

Canada’s unions call for fast-tracking of Canada Disability Benefit
Canadian Labour Congress
Canada’s unions are marking the International Day for Persons with Disabilities by renewing the call for a fast-tracked Canada Disability Benefit. People with disabilities continue to face significantly higher costs of living than people without disabilities and struggle to cover the cost of basic necessities including specialised equipment, prescriptions not covered by health insurance plans and accessible housing retrofits. These extra costs are a major contributing factor keeping people with disabilities living in poverty.

UK Rail Union Rejects Pay Offer, Christmas Strikes Still Planned
BNN Bloomberg
Britain’s National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers has rejected an offer from the Rail Delivery Group aimed at ending a strike action planned before Christmas.

Major Korean Union Joins Truckers’ Protest as Strike Broadens
BNN Bloomberg
A major umbrella union joined a protest by South Korean truckers, broadening a work stoppage that is disrupting global supply chains and hitting local exporters.

International outrage at South Korea’s illegal, heavy-handed attempts to break strike
International Transport Workers' Federation
The South Korean government is flagrantly denying workers their basic rights by issuing ‘return-to-work’ orders to truck drivers striking over safety laws.

Decades of progress for women’s workplace safety in one week
Australian Unions
Sexual harassment is not inevitable: it is preventable, says Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins – and finally, we have a government who is doing something about it. 

December 2, 2022

Unemployment rate drops slightly to 5.1% in November: Statistics Canada
Winnipeg Free Press
Employment was little changed in November as the economy added a modest 10,000 jobs, Statistics Canada says.

Driver shortage roadblock to restoring pre-pandemic service, transit director says
Winnipeg Free Press
A shortage of Winnipeg Transit drivers threatens to hamper efforts to restore the service to pre-pandemic levels.

Women leaving workforce in greater numbers
Winnipeg Free Press
THE labour market for women in Canada has been in flux since the pandemic began, hitting some women harder than others.

Winnipeg's labour deal with largest union slated to clear final hurdles
With the municipal election out of the way, city council is poised to finalize a new contract between the City of Winnipeg and its largest union.

'Face of food bank use is changing' as almost 1 in 4 getting help are now employed: Harvest Manitoba
Nearly one in every four people who used Harvest Manitoba's food bank recently said they had to turn to the organization for help even though they had a job — a figure that's jumped 50 per cent since last year.

Canada not doing enough with its highly educated immigrants, StatsCan says
Being a physician has been a lifelong dream for 35-year-old Ayman Jabril. He's passionate about caring for patients, clearly explaining medical treatments, and following up with them over time. He trained and worked as a physician in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, but has yet to make headway getting further training and certification in Canada, despite having completed a host of qualification exams since arriving in 2017.

Canada must choose a side in the wage war
Class war is not just a metaphor. It is real war, being murderously waged against workers around the world. We cannot, in good conscience, pretend we are neutral. It is far past time to choose a side and get involved.

U of T workers’ fight against precarity
At the University of Toronto, members of CUPE 3902 Unit 3 are rapidly approaching a strike deadline of December 8, 2022, having been without a Collective Agreement since August 31, 2021. I’m a sessional lecturer at the university as well as a proud member of the bargaining team. I’ve been an educator for three decades as well as a university lecturer for nine years, and, with one of the tools of my trade being storytelling, indulge me for a moment as I share a quick narrative.

'Racist criteria': White Quebec historian claims human rights violation over job posting
National Post
A historian at Montreal’s Dawson College has filed a human rights complaint over a prestigious job posting that’s open only to women, Indigenous people, those with disabilities and racialized groups.

Canada's Unions Applaud The Introduction of Federal Paid Sick Leave
Financial Post
Canada’s unions are pleased to see new legislation making ten days of paid sick leave available for all workers in federally-regulated private-sector workplaces come into effect today. Access to paid sick leave is a critical tool to keep our communities and workplaces safe.

Could Britain be facing a general strike this winter?
The Guardian
Nurses and ambulance workers, railway staff, bus drivers and postal workers have already voted yes to strike action, while civil servants and teachers are waiting for the results of ballots. Many are public sector workers, while others provide important services such as transporting cash or conducting driving exams.

Some N.S. universities to continue masking for winter semester
Some Nova Scotia universities plan to extend mandates for students and staff to wear masks during the winter semester beginning in January.

Nipissing University, in North Bay, Ont., at high financial risk, says auditor general
Nipissing University, in North Bay, Ont., is at high financial risk, according to the latest value-for-money audit of Ontario universities from the province's auditor general.

MP Charlie Angus introduces bill to save public institutions from insolvency
Timmins-James Bay MP Charlie Angus introduced a private member's bill Thursday that would protect publicly funded institutions, such as hospitals and universities, from insolvency proceedings designed for commercial enterprises.

Some CDI College recruiters are misleading students, Marketplace investigation finds
A CBC Marketplace investigation into CDI College, one of Canada's largest for-profit career colleges, has found a pattern of misleading practices being used to pressure would-be students into signing up for online programs that can cost upward of $20,000.

New program aims to get more P.E.I. high school grads to pursue post-secondary
A pilot project starting in February is aimed at encouraging more students on Prince Edward Island to pursue post-secondary education after they graduate from high school.

Saskatchewan child-care advocates say higher wages needed for early childhood educators
Global News
A group of advocates for affordable, accessible child care took to the Saskatchewan legislature Wednesday to voice concerns over the availability of labour in the sector.

In Canada, scientists are struggling with stagnant funding
Earlier this month, researchers attending Canada’s major annual science policy conference here got some seemingly good news when science minister François-Philippe Champagne announced the government would be awarding CA$1 billion to research projects. But disappointment soon set in. The $1 billion, scientists realized, was existing, not new, money.

Why University of California workers striking for better pay deserve it
CAL Matters
As many as 48,000 academic workers across the University of California system have participated in the largest higher education strike in American history. Striking employees include postdoctoral scholars, academic researchers and graduate students represented by the United Auto Workers union. They’re calling for better pay and benefits such as childcare support, dependent healthcare remission and expanded paid family leave.

December 1, 2022

Province botched subsidy rollout, child-care coalition says
Winnipeg Free Press
Six-digit sums of cash intended to reduce child-care costs for families across Manitoba have sat untouched for months owing to the “botched” rollout of a program to cut average fees in half before the year ends.

Manitoba accused of ‘sleight of hand’ on child-care fees
Winnipeg Free Press
Child care advocates say the Manitoba government hasn’t lived up to its promise of a 50 per cent reduction in fees by the end of this year.

Ontario AG audits four universities' financial management, here is what she found
CTV News
Following the Laurentian University financial crisis, the Ontario Auditor General conducted audits on the financial management of the province's universities and released her findings Wednesday in her 10th annual report.

Athabasca University signs funding agreement with province after government lowers demands
CTV News
The Alberta government says it has reached a deal with Athabasca University under which the province will continue funding the institution if half of its executive and 25 additional employees live in the town it shares a name with.

The Staffing Crisis in Higher Education
With twice as many job openings as there are unemployed workers in the U.S., entire industries are in flux — and higher education is no exception. Compounding the problem are issues that have plagued institutions for years, including lower pay, diminished benefits, and public skepticism of higher education.

Students sue Yale University, alleging discrimination against students with mental health disabilities
Current students and an advocacy group are suing Yale University and its governing body, alleging “systemic discrimination against students with mental health disabilities,” according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Connecticut federal court.

Low paid workers the winners as three universities settle.
Tertiary Education Union
Te Hautū Kahurangi | Tertiary Education Union members at three of Aotearoa’s eight universities have voted to ratify new collective agreements that deliver real gains for many lower paid workers.

Women struggling to regain lost ground
Winnipeg Free Press
THE COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated social and economic inequalities between men and women in Canada.

Applications for jobless benefits decline last week
Winnipeg Free Press
The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits came back down last week, hovering near levels suggesting the U.S. labor market has been largely unaffected by the Federal Reserve’s aggressive interest rate hikes.

Province mulls more private-public partnerships with Crown-owned Manitoba Hydro
The Manitoba government says it has no plans to privatize or shut down core functions of its Crown energy utility.

More than 10% of N.L. respiratory therapists resigned this fall, says association
Six Eastern Health respiratory therapists have quit their jobs since September, with even more positions likely to soon be vacant.

Extension of EI sickness benefits only a small step forward
As of December 18, 2022 workers who are eligible for EI and have to temporarily leave their jobs due to illness injury or quarantine will be able to receive up to 26 weeks of EI sickness benefits. However, compared to what’s needed to fix the Employment Insurance (EI) system so that it once again provides an effective safety net for workers, this announcement is only a small step forward.

Five Year Discount for Employers, Nothing for Injured Workers
Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour
Today’s announcement by WorkplaceNL that employers will once again receive a discount on their annual assessment rate, continues a five-year trend of prioritizing discounts to employers over fairness to injured workers.

Unions discuss court ruling labour bill unconstitutional
Globe and Mail
The decision by an Ontario court to strike down a wage-cap law that targeted some female-dominated professions is a pivotal moment that exposes long-standing problems, according to experts and advocates.

Canada’s jobs are changing as the work force gets more educated, diverse: Statscan
Globe and Mail
Canada’s work force became more educated, racially-diverse and skilled over the past five years, with a greater proportion of immigrants employed, significant growth in the number of people in professional white-collar jobs and a surge in the number of university graduates.

Pandemic, slower U.S. migration see Canada closing gap with U.S. in workforce race
Globe and Mail
Since the global onset of COVID-19, Canada has been gradually closing the gap with the United States when it comes to attracting and keeping an important economic prize: new permanent residents.

Actors’ union to assist performers with recovery of unpaid wages after criticism it did not warn members for weeks
Toronto Star
After weeks of mounting pressure and backlash that it did not protect members, the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA) said Tuesday it will now help to recover missing wages for performers represented by a Toronto talent agency that allegedly withheld thousands of dollars in payment for jobs completed months ago.

U.S. House backs bill averting national rail strike, imposing deal on unions
Global News
The U.S. House moved urgently to head off the looming nationwide rail strike on Wednesday, passing a bill that would bind companies and workers to a proposed settlement that was reached in September but rejected by some of the 12 unions involved.

Biden just knifed labor unions in the back. They shouldn’t forget it
The Guardian
t’s sad, really. The beleaguered labor unions of America thought that they had finally found a true friend. In Joe Biden, they had a man who was the most pro-union president in my lifetime – a low bar to clear, but something. Yet this week we found out that when the fight got hard, Biden had the same thing to say to working people that his Democratic predecessors have for decades: “You’ll never get anything you want if I don’t win; but once I win, I can’t do the things you need, because then I wouldn’t be able to win again.”

Starbucks violated labor law, ordered to negotiate with union: National Labor Relations Board
Starbucks has violated labor laws by refusing to recognize unionizers at a Seattle, Wash., store and must sit down for negotiations with the representatives, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) said Wednesday.

Thousands of Minnesota nurses vote to authorize second strike this year
The union representing 15,000 Minnesota nurses announced the health care workers voted "overwhelmingly" Wednesday to walk off the job for the second time this year.

After Deadly Blaze, Surge of Defiance Against China’s Covid Policies
New York Times
The fire began with a faulty power strip in a bedroom on the 15th floor of an apartment building in China’s far west. Firefighters spent three hours putting it out — too slow to prevent at least 10 deaths — and what might have remained an isolated accident turned into a tragedy and a political headache for local leaders.

Cost of living crisis forces 1 in 4 Australians to skip meals
56 per cent of Australians have cut back on essential items and 24 per cent have skipped meals due to the current cost of living crisis, according to a poll conducted by the ACTU.