Incidents At XPO Logistics Show Why Unions Are Needed

Everyone has a different feeling when they are heading to work. A lot of it depends on the person, the day or the job they are going to.

For XPO workers in Memphis, they start off their day by being forced to take off their bras at the security checkpoint. They then move on to deal with snakes, rats, lizards and bugs throughout their day. Then there is also the extremely long work days and sexual harassment.

“A co-worker died and we had to work around her body,” stated Elizabeth Howley, who works at the XPO warehouse in Memphis. “We don't deserve to be treated like this. No one does."

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She is talking about Linda Jo Neal, an XPO worker who collapsed on the job last year. Coworkers wanted to help, but they were told by management they would be fired if they attempted to ‘render aid to her.’

And this isn’t just a Memphis issue.

In France and Belgium, they have been called out for delaying the payment of overtime. In Spain, women are refused training or advancement if they have a family, and are paid less for the same work as men. The gender pay gap for female employees in the UK is a staggering 14% less per hour.

XPO Logistics is one of the world's ten largest providers of transportation and logistics services. They have an annual revenue of around $5 billion per year and over 500 locations.

Teamsters has begun to organize workers at this facility and is taking a strong stance against these abuses.

“We’re standing with them,” said James Hoffa, Teamsters General President.“There’s only one hope, the union, the Teamsters union. Hope is on the way. The Teamsters are on the way. We will be here for you…we will organize XPO.”

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This case demonstrates the dangers of not only non-union workplaces, but also the decline in unionization.

Large corporations are getting away with abuses of worker rights. They get away with not providing a safe environment to work in and paying women less than men for the same work. Allowing sexual harassment, extremely low wages, unstable schedules and the breaking of basic labour laws have become the norm.

The rate of unionization may have declined over the past decade, but in today’s economic climate they are needed now more than ever. They have brought us many of the rights as workers we take for granted today including weekends, safety standards in the workplace and fair wages.

Unions have always been leaders when it comes to social movements, and that has become more important than ever for fighting for social justice for not only union workers, but people all across Canada and beyond.

Employees at Tim Hortons Deserve a Fair Workplace

The minimum wage debate has been raging in Canada.

Here in Alberta, it became a buzzword when Rachel Notley’s NDP government came into power and promised to gradually raise it to $15 an hour.

Ontario has now become the minimum wage talking point of the country with the wage rising to $14 an hour this month.

And at the centre of the debate over the last few weeks has been one of the most iconic Canadian chains – Tim Hortons.

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In response to the minimum wage raise, several Ontario locations took away paid breaks and cut contributions to their health plan. Other locations told employees that they could no longer accept tips.

The franchise owners blamed the Ontario government for the lack of assistance and financial help to deal with the recent rise in wage.

While the franchise owners are trying to use the ‘small business owner’ narrative – it should be noted that anyone who applies to own a Time Horton’s franchise must have a net worth of at least $1.5 million.

One of the franchises that cut employees paid breaks and benefits is owned by Jeri-Lynn Horton-Joyce (Tim Horton’s daughter) and Ron Joyce Jr. (the son of Ron Joyce, who co-founded the chain). According to VICE, Ron Joyce’s net worth is around 1.4 billion US.

It is estimated a Tim Hortons worker makes around $20,000 a year.

Tim Hortons released an official statement saying ‘Let us be perfectly clear. These recent actions by a few Restaurant Owners, and the unauthorized statements made to the media by a “rogue group” claiming to speak on behalf of Tim Hortons®, do not reflect the values of our brand.’

Canadians weren't having it.

Protestors took to the streets from coast to coast to stand up for workers’ rights. Canadian’s know that this is wrong and are told Tim Hortons that they will not stand for it.

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Many have said that this is an example of why unions are needed now more than ever.

Martin Regg Cohn pointed out in a recent column for the Toronto Star that ‘governments can’t legislate against every injustice, the media can’t cover every story, and the public has a limited attention span.’ We need unions.

Unions make sure their members are treated fairly, work in a safe environment, are paid a fair wage, covered by proper health and welfare plans and are given the breaks they are deserved. They level the playing field between the employer and the employee – especially when the employer is a multibillion dollar company.

Teamsters 362 is proud to stand by Tim Hortons' workers who deserve a fair workplace. Tim Hortons to many represents something engrained in Canadian society, so let’s make sure we take care of the people who work there.

The Teamsters Union Demonstrates Why Collective Agreements Are Essential

Having a union on your side in the workplace means an improved level of safety for all workers. This month the Teamsters Union proved that once again.

On Jan. 11, it was announced that the Teamsters Union in the United States had won a $1 million settlement on behalf of YRC Freight’s road drivers.

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The collective bargaining agreement with YRC Freight limits the amount of over-the-road freight that can be put on trains or hauled by non-bargaining unit personnel. The Teamsters Union monitors those amounts and after reviewing the situation and convening a meeting of the committee that monitors compliance, it was determined that the company had in fact exceeded the permissible amounts.

“Our YRC members have an agreement that strongly protects bargaining unit work and work opportunities and the company acknowledged that it diverted more freight than what is allowed,” stated Ernie Soehl, Director of the Teamsters National Freight Division in a press release. “We will always seek to hold employers accountable by making sure they abide by our contracts and agreements.”

The company said that the diverted freight had a lot to do with hurricanes Harvey and Irma, however the committee determined that the company still exceeded the maximum road miles that could be hauled on rails and ordered it to pay $1,003,930.00.

YRC Freight will be contacting Teamster local unions to review the lists of drivers who are eligible for the payment.

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Collective agreements are essential in protecting the best interests of all workers across North America. Local 362 manages 100 collective bargaining agreements, which covers 6,800 members across Alberta and the Northwest Territories.

Having Local 362 protect your rights through a labour contract is essential to earning fair wages, safe working conditions and so many other key aspects of an employee’s job environment.

Want a Better Wage? Join a Union.

It is a fact that union members earn more than non-union, but what is not talked about as much is that unions raise the wage for non-union workers as well.

A recent study by the Economic Policy Institute in the United States found that the typical full-time private-sector worker, union or non-union, would be making thousands of dollars more a year now if unions were as popular as they were a few decades ago.

Canada is much the same way. When unions fight for higher wages for their members, that sets the bar high. This wage standard means that employers have to meet that in order to compete with what unions offer. Beyond wages this also includes benefits and working conditions.

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The study found that unions raise wages of unionized workers in the U.S. by 20 per cent and reduce wage inequality overall because they raise wages more for low- and middle-wage workers than for higher-wage workers.

Union workers in Canada have a wage advantage as well with union members earning $5.28 per hour more than non-union, putting an extra $43.2 billion into the local economy according to the Canadian Labour Congress.

The findings from the EPI study pointed to the conclusion that union decline has also lead to greater income inequality overall. In Canada, this inequality is especially concentrated in our cities, where more than 80 per cent of us live.

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Unions built the middle class and guarantee their members good wages, collective bargaining and health care benefits. By having strong unions in Canada, we have people looking out for fair labour laws and equality in our country.

Sears Canada Restructuring Process Leaves Many Former Employees Worried

When Sears announced it was going to seek court protection because of deep financial troubles, many Canadians were disappointed about the announcement. Sears has been around since the 1950’s and has become a part of Canadian history.

But it’s what happened to many Sears employees, that really grabbed the headlines this summer.

The restructuring process put in place by Sears includes closing 59 stores across Canada and the laying off of nearly 3,000 staff members. To make matters worse, staff members will not receive any severance.

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In addition, Sears had asked the court for permission to ‘immediately halt payments for pension, health and dental benefits for former employees, retirees and surviving spouses due to a severe cash crunch.’ On July 13 it was decided that they would continue payments to retirees until Sept. 30.

Since the initial announcement, there have been several stories of employees who worked at the store for decades being treated ‘like ants at the bottom.’

Many don’t know how they will pay their mortgage, rent or even buy groceries for their family.

But senior management is going to be just fine through the restructuring.

Sears announced they will pay up to $7.6 million in retention bonuses to executives and senior managers who work at the company’s head office in Toronto. That means that they will earn an additional 25 to 100 percent on top of their base salary.

Although Sears pointed out that this is very common in restructuring processes, that doesn’t mean a lot to long time employees with no protection.

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This type of treatment of workers should not be allowed in Canada. You should be rewarded for dedication and years of service to a company, not punished and left in financial turmoil.

Unions have the backs of their employees and level the playing field. A collective agreement ensures that your seniority and wages are protected. Teamsters 362 also offers an excellent pension plan for its members, ensuring that when they retire they are not struggling.

When you dedicate years of your life to an employer, you should not end your career worrying about your future.

Safety Before Profits

When Kinder Morgan announced the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion, residents of B.C. and workers from all over Canada were promised that their province would see major benefits.

But concern in the Canadian community is growing.

They are worried about Kinder Morgan's level of commitment to safety and rigorous training for their workers. Due to these concerns, the B.C. Coalition for Safety Before Profits was formed, which includes members from he Labourer’s International Union of North America, United Association Canada (Canadian Piping Trades), and Teamsters Canada.

These unions have built most of the pipelines in Canada, with highly skilled workers who put safety first.

If you want to support thousands of experienced British Columbians, and other Canadian workers, who are ready to work on this pipeline you can help in a number of ways – by sharing this information on social media and emailing Kinder Morgan. You can find a link to our email here and more information on the issue here.

The Red Circle: Why It Matters in Collective Bargaining

The holiday season just got a lot harder for a group of hard-working employees at CEDA Industrial Services in Fort McMurray.

Just before Christmas, CEDA has locked our members out, and now they are left wondering what will happen to their jobs in an economy that is already suffering.

What makes this even more frustrating for these members, is that we have been trying to establish their first collective agreement with the employer since July 2015.

For over a year, we have been fighting so that these members get the respect they deserve in the workplace.

We managed to convince the employer to return to the table on Dec.13 and they subsequently rescinded the lock out to Dec. 14.

One of the main issues is something known as ‘Red Circling’, something that does come up in collective bargaining.

But what exactly is Red Circling?

Red Circling is more common with newly unionized groups, or groups that merge together, or grow in size due to an employer’s acquisition of another business.

The parties may find themselves in a position that employees within the bargaining unit have certain benefits that differ from the other employees. These benefits could be in the form of a rate of pay or that has been ‘grandfathered’ for long term employees. When this occurs these individuals are ‘Red Circled’ so they are in fact protected.

An example would be in a newly unionize workplace, it may be discovered that the entire group of employees are paid $20 an hour and there is an individual whom is at $22 an hour. That individual would be Red Circled.

Should the group of employees receive a pay increase, the Red Circled employee would not get an increase until the remainder of his coworkers reached his rate of pay. However, should the group of employees accept a 5 per cent wage reduction, then all employees including the Red Circled individual, would have their rate reduced accordantly.

Ultimately unions have no control over the rates of pay within a work place that is newly organized. They inherit a new bargaining unit and Red Circling in a sense is a mechanism to begin the process of getting equality within a workplace ­ where equality, all too often, is missing. This process can take some time but eventually everyone reaches common ground without anyone feeling any undue hardship.

Sadly, this is one of the two reasons the members at CEDA are still locked out. The company does not want to continue to recognize the slightly higher rate of hourly pay this individual receives. This is a rate the employer had given him to recognize his long-standing service and some trade specific skill sets. This is also a rate that his coworkers feel he deserves.

This is also someone who has dedicated time to be a shop steward, a leader within the workplace. He takes care of his fellow co-workers and looks out for the interest of all employees.

We want to ensure our members have the rights they deserve in the workplace, and we continue to fight for them. Please show you support for our locked-out members as they wait for a fair collective agreement.

CEDA Industrial Services Employees Locked Out

The holiday season is supposed to be a time when you celebrate with friends and family. You look back on all of the things you are thankful for throughout the year, and think about what you are hopeful for in the year to come.

It is about giving and kindness, laughter and joy.

It is something that is especially needed in Fort McMurray this year. Between the downturn in the economy and the devastating fires, the city has been hit hard.

Now, the holiday season just got a lot harder for a group of hard-working employees at CEDA Industrial Services in Fort McMurray.

Just two weeks before Christmas, CEDA has locked our members out.

Now they are left wondering what will happen to their jobs in an economy that is already suffering.

We were served a lock out notice on Dec. 8, locking us out at 4 p.m. on Dec. 11th.

However, we managed to convince the employer to return to the table on Dec.13 and they subsequently rescinded the lock out to today at noon.

What makes this even more frustrating for these members is that we have been trying to establish their first collective agreement with the employer since July 2015.

For over a year, we have been fighting so that these members get the respect they deserve in the workplace.

We acknowledge that a first collective does take a bit longer with a new group, but to take over a year is absolutely unacceptable.

This is a prime example why first agreement language has to be introduced into the labour code. Employers shouldn’t be able to play the system, which currently favours them in the sense that they can drag the process. This can potentially result in some new members losing confidence in their unions.

Following the initial lock out notice, our members voted 100% in favour of strike action. This was a move that was essential to preserve the terms of their working relationship and hold on to the hard fought clauses that we attained during a process that is now entering its 17th month.

On Dec. 13 every unresolved issue with the exception of sub-contracting, and one employee with a slight wage differential, had been agreed to. In fact, the union had agreed to the employer’s previous language on subcontracting presented in good faith during bargaining in August of this year.

Despite this, the employer drove forward with language and a thought pattern on subcontracting that would threaten our members job security and the well-being of their families.

This collective agreement is not about wages – it is about respect for rights in the workplace. Employees have even been willing to take concessions in their wages and the union structured a plan to tie future wage increases to the economy, a plan that both parties had agreed to during negotiations.

After everything these employees have been through this year, they don’t deserve this from CEDA Industrial Services. Especially around the holiday season.

Please show you support for our locked-out members as they wait for a fair collective agreement. Being locked out on the street is no way to start out 2017.

Job Quality On The Decline, But Unions Offer A Way Up

As we head into 2017, a new report has found that the quality of employment in Canada is falling.

Although headlines recently have focused on the impact precarious employment is having on young people, this study shows that all age groups are affected by the quality of work in our country.

The report found that the loss in job quality has been stead over the past 10 years and the share of workers who are paid below the average wage has risen over the years to just under 61 per cent in 2015.

It also found that the gap in wages is still growing. Although the minimum wage is rising to help the poorest workers, it is the gap between middle and high-income people that is growing.

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So what exactly does a ‘low quality’ job mean?

CIBC economist Benjmin Tai explained to CBC news that it means more people are working part time, are self employed and are in low wage jobs.

He pointed out that jobs with above average pay will continue to have a good wage, that is not where new jobs are being created.

And this affects people of all ages.

Tai found that young people and Canadians over 55 are stuck in the low-wage job sector. Even among workers aged 25 to 54, over half had jobs that paid between 50 and 100 per cent of the average wage.

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Being a union member greatly increases the quality of your job in a number of ways including wage, benefits and safety.

Union members earn more across the board with members on average earning $5.28 more per hour. It also helps with gender parity with women earning 35 per cent more when they are with a union. You workers earn 27 per cent more.

A collective agreement makes sure you have job security, fair hours and benefits. Being a member improves your quality of life both inside and outside of the workplace.


Unions Looking to Millennials as Alberta Workforce Grows Younger

Times have changed when it comes to Alberta's labour market, and the workforce is getting younger.

With millennials now making up almost 40 per cent of Canada's working population, it will be up to a younger generation of employees to decide how relevant unions are in today's labour movement.

For decades unions have fought for fairer wages, more secure pensions and equality in the workplace. With high unemployment rates and growing numbers of precarious jobs spanning the province, millennials are looking to unions for opportunity and security.

As baby boomers and Gen X populations continue to retire, the millennial workforce will only increase; issues more unique to these younger generations — low wages, precarious work, etc. — may allude to why we’re seeing the popularity of unions rising with the millennial labour movement.

Although young workers are the least unionized part of the Canadian workforce,70 per cent of public sector employees are unionized; soon many of these roles will be occupied by a millennial generation.

For those who view unions as outdated and taxing on time and resources, recent statistics show 360,000 Canadian union workers between ages 15 and 24 “on average earn nearly $3.16 more per hour than their non-union peers.” And despite what many people commonly think, union jobs are varied — they accommodate everyone from highly skilled workers to new employees without experience.

Already making strides in the young worker movement today, the growing popularity of unions will continue to be reliant on millennials and their push for better, safer places to work.

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