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.


Teamsters 362 Proves The Importance of Unions With The Latest Grievance Win For Members

When you think of being a member of a union, there are a lot of perks that usually come to mind. Excellent wages, health benefits and a steady schedule are just a few.

Perhaps one of the most important parts of being in a union is knowing you have an entire membership and leadership team backing you up if you face unfair workplace practices.

This month, our Vice-President Jordan Madarash proved once again just how important this is through a successful grievance win.

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A grievance was filed because members had chosen to bank their overtime, but never received their pension contributions for the hours worked on the days they chose to bank. Banking overtime means you work overtime, but you choose to place the money on hold for either a payout or days off to be taken on a later date.

This is a common practice, but what is not common is not receiving the pension contribution.

Jordan said that Teamsters 362 received a complaint from a member that noticed discrepancies in their banked overtime/pension hours.

“Once I received that complaint, I reached out to several members that I knew had also banked their overtime. Once I confirmed this was more than just a hiccup for one member, the Union filed a policy grievance,” explained Jordan.

This grievance captured the entire Bargaining Unit to make sure an audit of all of the members that had banked their overtime received the appropriate pension contributions. Once the grievance was processed, discussions took place between Teamsters 362 and the employer. The employer confirmed that an internal error had occurred and identified all the employees that needed to be paid additional pension contributions due to those errors.

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The members received a payout of over $8,000.

“This demonstrates the importance of unions in several ways,” said Jordan.

He pointed out that without unions, most workplaces do not allow banked overtime as it’s considered a liability that most non-union locations would not accept. He also explained that the complaint itself was fought by the union and no single member had to face the employer on their own or think that there is a target being placed on their back due to a complaint that they had.

We’re proud of yet another victory won for our members at Teamsters 362.


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.


Not Paying the Arbitrator: A New Stall Tactic for Employers

Having a collective agreement is one of the most important things you can have in a workplace.

It is essential to earning fair wages, safe working conditions and so many other key aspects of an employee’s job environment.

But one of the most important elements of the Collective Agreement is the grievance procedure.

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Non-unionized workers all too often are unaware of their rights under the Labour Code or lack the financial ability to pursue workplace grievances on their own. This makes the grievance procedure one of the most powerful mechanisms for a unionized worker.

Knowing the employers often drag the process out – with the hopes of weakening the workers faith in their union. Information required to process a grievance through the steps will often be inaccurate, flow at an agonizingly slow pace and availability for the necessary meetings will often be strained.

The latest stall tactic we have experienced at Teamsters Local 362, is the employer making a conscious choice to not pay their portion of the arbitrator’s costs.

If the employer and the union are unable to reach a settlement to a grievance, the final step in the process is arbitration – something that is extremely costly. The majority of collective agreements, and the Labour Code, both state that the cost of the arbitrator be split equally by the parties.

When the employer refuses to pay, the arbitrator withholds the decision until they have been compensated. This only drags the process along further.

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We are faced with a situation, that has been totally unheard of in the Labour Relations community, with very little avenues existing within the Labour Code to correct the behavior. There are only so many arbitrators available and if employers choose this tactic they will ruin their good standing with sitting arbitrators who will refuse, and rightfully so, to hear the case.

This leaves unions with no choice but to foot the entire costs and seek some form of decision from the Labour Board to stop this practice before the less than honest employers influence others to take up this latest shameful tactic.

This stalling tactic hurts workers who deserve to have their grievance heard. This new tactic must be stopped before it gains any further momentum or employers will have an easy way to not deal with the issues their workers are facing.

Teamsters Local 362 intends on aggressively reacting to any employer that would take part in such a tactic ad we encourage other Trade Unions to do the same.


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.


Major Issues for the Workplace in 2018

The holiday season has come to a close and most of us are returning to our regular routines at work. As we put away our Christmas trees and make our new year’s resolutions, many are thinking about what the next 12 months will be like Canadian workplaces during 2018.

Here are just a few of the major workplace issues the labour movement and all Canadians will be focused on in 2018:

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Harassment

This was obviously one of the most talked about labour topics in 2017, with the Silence Breakers featured as Time Magazine’s person of the year and the #metoo hashtag going viral around the globe. With so many organizations and businesses openly stating that workplace harassment is a high priority, this year a huge spotlight will be put on harassment of both men and women in the workplace.

Mental Health

This past year has been a great one for mental health with more employers and governments stepping up and taking care of Canadians who deal with mental health issues. However, there is still a lot to be done. Teamsters 362 has run several campaigns asking for more mental health support in Canada, and we will be keeping a careful watch this year on how leaders and politicians step up to help Canadian workers.

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Marijuana

The federal government is planning on legalizing marijuana in Canada in July of this year, and provinces will be setting their own age requirements and how to regulate and sell marijuana. Many companies are wondering how ‘decreased productivity, poor attendance safety issues and second-hand smoke.' will be dealt with in the workplace after legalization.


A Look Back On Labour And Human Rights in 2017

This has been the year of human rights. From athlete protests to the #MeToo movement, people are standing up for what they believe in. With these movements, it is crucial to find strength in solidarity and that is something unions believe in.

Here are a few of the important human rights issues unions helped fight for in 2017.

1.     Sexual Assault and Harassment Prevention

Although the #MeToo movement started in the United States, sexual harassment and assault are an issue around the world including Canadian workplaces. A new survey has found that more than half of women in Canada have experienced sexual harassment at work. Unions have fought to protect workers from harassment no matter their race, gender or age.

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2.     LGBTW2S Rights

This year Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a formal apology to ‘individuals harmed by federal legislation, policies, and practices that led to the oppression of and discrimination against LGBTQ2S people in Canada.’ This was another important step in making sure those in the LGBTQ2S are treated fairly inside and outside of the workplace.

The Teamsters union is proud to have an LGBTQ Caucus with the goal to unifying, educating and empowering Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the workforce at large, ‘to ensure equality in the workplace and to enhance workers’ power at the bargaining table, in organizing campaigns, and in the political arena.’

3.     Reconciliation and Indigenous rights

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission released a document with 94 calls to action . One of the sub-categories called on the corporate sector in Canada to ‘adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a reconciliation framework and to apply its principles, norms, and standards to corporate policy and core operational activities involving Indigenous peoples and their lands and resources.’

Labour unions have taken pride in standing by Indigenous people in Canada. Unions stood beside Indigenous people in the call for a national inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Indigenous workers also earned 8.47/hour more with a union, than without a union.

4.     Income Gap

A recent study by statistics Canada has found that the income gap between visible minorities, Indigenous or recent immigrants and the rest of Canada remains large, with the gap only narrowing by 2 per cent for Indigenous and recent immigrants and widening by 1 per cent for visible minorities between 2006 to 2016.

Experts have pointed out that labour reform, including more access to unionization, is key. In Alberta alone, immigrants earned $3.49/hour more with a union, and Aboriginal workers earned $8.47/hour more.

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5.     NAFTA

NAFTA negotiations have been going on all year and Teamsters have been active in fighting for workers rights.

Teamsters Canada President Francois Laporte pointed out that like members in the U.S., Canadian Teamsters recognize that the new NAFTA must contain a new chapter that will protect workers’ rights. Teamsters are participating in talks with the Steelworkers, the AFL-CIO and fellow unions from Canada and Mexico to ensure a successful NAFTA renegotiation.

6.     Disaster Relief for Hurricane Victims

Canadian Teamster local unions and joint councils, along with Teamsters Canada, have raised over $100,000 for the Teamsters Disaster Relief Fund. The donation comes in response to three back-to- back hurricanes that hit the United States in less than a month.

“As Teamsters, we have a duty to assist our sisters and brothers in their time of need. The level of devastation from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria demands action,” stated François Laporte, President of Teamsters Canada.


Looking Back on Organized Labour Wins from 2017

Labour unions have a lot to celebrate this year – provincially, nationally and internationally.  South of the border we have seen labour unions fighting for human rights and the Fight for 15 movement has had a huge impact on minimum wage in the United States.

Here in Alberta, Teamsters Local 362 has been proud to fight for workplace rights for Airport Pre-Board Screeners in Alberta and also spreading awareness about suicide prevention with our campaign You Are Not Alone. The public support form Albertan’s has been amazing, and we are so thankful for that.

In Canada, unions have also been fighting to protect the rights of workers across the country. Here are just a few highlights of wins for labour in 2017.

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1.     Passing of Bill C-4

This year in June Bill C-4 was passed, which was praised by union members and leaders across the country. This bill repeals two bills that were passed under Stephen Harper’s Conservatives, C-377 and C-525. Bill C-377 targets labour organizations, with critics arguing that it is unconstitutional and violates the rights and privacy of all Canadians. Bill C-525 would make the union certification process very difficult, eliminating the automatic card check certification and replacing it with a two-stage process adding a voting process in addition to card signing.

Read more here.

2.     Alberta Workers Better Protected

This year the Alberta NDP brought forward a large amount of changes to labour laws in Alberta, something that union members and leaders have pushed towards for a long time.

Bill 17, the Fair and Family-Friendly Workplaces Act, was passed in June. This saw significant changes to provincial labour law, including union certification. They are now working to push through Bill 30, An Act to Protect the Health and Well-being of Working Albertans. This bill, if passed, would mean an improved Workers Compensation Board system and Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHS).

Read more here.

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3.     Alberta Film Support

The Alberta government announced in October that there would be a new Screen-Based Production Grant, that will replace the Alberta Production Grant. The Grant will make $45 million per year available to eligible production companies working in Alberta and will offer productions a cash grant of up to 30 per cent of eligible production expenditures made in Alberta. This is great news for labour in the province. It also will up the per-project cap from $5 million to $7.5 million.

Both Teamsters 362 Secretary-Treasurer Al Porter and President Wayne Garner, said that the film industry in Alberta is extremely important for all aspects of our economy and welcomed this news.

Read more here.


We Must Continue to Support LGBTQ2S Rights in the Workplace

Last week Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a formal apology to ‘individuals harmed by federal legislation, policies, and practices that led to the oppression of and discrimination against LGBTQ2S people in Canada.’

The government also introduced legislation that will expunge criminal records of people who were convicted of having same-sex partners and will be putting $100 million to compensate members of federal agencies whose careers were ended as part of the ‘gay purge.’

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This apology and compensation is long overdue, but we still must look at how we as Canadians can support our LGBTQ2S allies in the workplace.

In a recent survey by the Jasmin Roy Foundation three-quarters of respondents said they had been victims of bullying and discrimination and the majority of it happened at work.

Unions have a long history of supporting LGBTQ2S rights and continue to do so both inside and outside of the workplace.

The Teamsters union is proud to have an LGBTQ Caucus with a goal to unify, educate and empower Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the workforce at large, ‘to ensure equality in the workplace and to enhance workers’ power at the bargaining table, in organizing campaigns, and in the political arena.’

Teamsters Local 362 intends on implementing committees of rank and file members to represent the five key equity groups recognized by the Canadian Labour Congress including workers of colour, workers with disabilities, women, Indigenous workers and LGBTQ2S.

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Employers must also take steps in the workplace by developing company-wide policies that promote inclusion, educate employees about how to support LGBTQ2S employees that they work with and implement anti-discrimination and harassment policies.

Together we can make sure Canada supports workplace inclusion that prevents anything like the ‘gay-purge’ from ever happening again.


Alberta NDP Government Hopes New Bill Will Better Protect Workers

The Alberta government has been paying a lot of attention to labour in our province this year, something that is long overdue.

First there was Bill 17, the Fair and Family-Friendly Workplaces Act, that was passed in June. This saw significant changes to provincial labour law, including union certification.

Now the NDP has introduced large changes with Bill 30, An Act to Protect the Health and Well-being of Working Albertans.

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“Every Albertan should be able to go to work and come home healthy and safe at the end of the workday. When they don’t, they deserve to have access to the medical and financial supports they need to get healthy, care for their families and return to work,” said Christina Gray, Alberta Minister of Labour at a press conference on Monday.

She explained that this bill would better protect Albertans and provide fair compensation to Albertans injured on the job.

This bill if passed would mean an improved Workers Compensation Board system with ‘greater benefits to workers to support their return to work.’ The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHS) would see changes to ensure Albertan’s have the same rights as other Canadians in the workplace.

According to the Edmonton Journal, The WCB paid out 144 fatality claims in 2016, as well as more than 44,500 disabling injury claims.

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Teamsters Local 362 was happy to see that some of the proposed changes included better coverage and support for those dealing with mental health issues at work. Local 362 has fought for every workplace to have mandatory mental health support with multiple campaigns you can find here.

Bill Highlights:

Workers’ Compensation Board changes

·       Establishing an independent Fair Practices Office that helps Albertans navigate the WCB system by providing additional resources to support workers every step of  the way.

·       Establishing a Code of Rights and Conduct that outlines the rights of workers and employers, while also explaining how WCB staff would recognize these rights and conduct.

·       Improving benefits for:

· Surviving spouses and children when a worker is killed on the job.

·  Young workers who sustain a long-term injury that affects their career opportunities.

·  Enhancing coverage for psychological injuries, including post-traumatic stress disorder, for all occupations where workers have experienced a traumatic incident at work.

Occupational Health and Safety changes

·       Enshrining the three basic rights of workers in Alberta’s legislation:

·  The right to refuse unsafe work. The proposed changes protect workers from any form of reprisal for exercising this right, including loss of compensation or benefits.

·  The right to know. The proposed changes ensure workers are informed about potential hazards and have access to basic health and safety information in the workplace.

·  The right to participate. The proposed changes ensure workers are involved in health and safety discussions, including participation in health and safety committees.