Monday, July 30, 2012

UFCW scholarships

The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) is offering 18 x $1000 Scholarships for UFCW Canada members and their families.

All eligible applicants are encouraged to apply for the UFCW Canada Beggs—Dowling—Mathieu Scholarship online.

-- Bob Barnetson

Thursday, July 19, 2012

US drops additional regulation for child farm workers

MSNBC is reporting that the US government has dropped plans to further regulate child labour on US farms. The abandoned proposal would have made it made it illegal for paid workers under 16 to use powered equipment and for paid workers under 18 to work in silos, feedlots and grain elevators. These restrictions would not have applied to child worker on their parents' farm.

Intense opposition from the farm lobby stopped the proposal and the Obama administration has indicated it will not re-open the issue. Currently, children working on farms are four times more likely to die on the job than children working in all other industries combined.

-- Bob Barnetson

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Government appoints DIB in senior care strike

The government has appointed a dispute resolution tribunal (DIB) which makes a non-binding recommendation to forestall another strike in Alberta's private senior care facilities. A DIB appointed in a different (but basically identical) dispute between the two parties yielded a recommendation for the employer to pay more (as did a mediator report) and the employer declined. The newest DIB appears likely to run a similar course.

The government's rationale for the DIB is that patient care was in jeopardy. AUPE (representing the workers) has noted in a sharp letter to the premier that the proper legislative mechanism to use if public safety is threatened is a PET (public emergency tribunal) which could issue a binding settlement. The government may be shy of PETs after the 2002 teacher strike where the courts threw out the PET because it was being used to solve a political (rather than an actual) emergency (obviously I'm paraphrasing the court--I'm on vacation and too lazy to look up the chief justice's actual words).

I can't imagine that is a real issue here--there is (apparently) an emergency. Unless there isn't an emergency. But then why would the government intervene with a DIB if there is no emergency and there are zero prospects of a settlement?

Further, it seems strange the government would (1) use the wrong legislative mechanism in a way (2) that is likely to be ineffective to (3) basically stall a strike. Unless the government is trying to pull the private-sector employer's ass out of the fire, a fire caused by the employer paying substandard wages. Ah, the myth of the neutral state in labour relations.

-- Bob Barnetson