- December 8, 2013 at 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm USW 480 Hall, 910 Portland St., Trail, B.C. West Kootenay Labour Council holding a Holiday Event for all IB EW 213 and COPE 378 members and their families who have been locked out by FortisBC.
- Rally For Locked Out FortisBC Workers-Kelowna December 13, 2013 at 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm 1975 Springfeild Road Kelowna BC
- Pacific Region Winter School January 19, 2014 at 9:00 am – January 24, 2014 at 4:00 pm Week 1
- Pacific Region Winter School January 26, 2014 at 9:00 am – January 31, 2014 at 4:00 am Week 2
- Pacific Region Winter School February 2, 2014 at 9:00 am – February 7, 2014 at 4:00 am Week 3
- Pacific Region Winter School February 9, 2014 at 9:00 am – February 14, 2014 at 4:00 pm Week 4
- Pacific Region Winter School February 16, 2014 at 9:00 am – February 21, 2014 at 4:00 pm Week 5
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West Kootenay Labour Council Hosting Locked Out FortisBC Workers and Their Families At Holiday Event in Trail Today
December 7, 2013 By Andrew Chernoff, West Kootenay Labour Council
TRAIL-IBEW 213 and COPE 378 locked out FortisBC workers, labour and community supporters along with distinguished dignitaries gathered at the FortisBC office in downtown Trail, B.C. on December 7, 2013.
Those at the rally braved wind and cold temperatures as cold as –16 degrees Celsius, listening to distinguished speakers demanding that FortisBC do what it did with COPE 378 FortisBC inside workers last week——bargain in good faith a new and fair collective agreement—–and end the six month lock out imposed by them on June 26.
Speaker after speaker…….
- Jim Sinclair, president of the BC Federation of Labour;
- David Black, president of COPE 378;
- Katrina Conroy, NDP MLA Kootenay West;
- Susan Lambert, past president of the B.C. Teachers Federation;
- Andy Davidoff, president of the Kootenay-Columbia Teachers’ Union;
- Rod Russell, IBEW 213 business manager
- Armindo deMedeiros, president USW 480
—–all encouraging locked out FortisBC workers to continue standing their ground.
The speakers also appealed to FortisBC locked out worker supporters in the community and the House of Labour, to continue demanding FortisBC do the respectful and dignified thing: sit down and negotiate in good faith a new and fair collective agreement, and end this lockout that is now in its sixth month.
Unless a Grinch’s heart grows, this story of 225 locked out electrical workers won’t have a very merry ending. The latest round of negotiations between FortisBC and its electrical workers failed earlier in the week; all but ensuring the workers will be locked out for the holiday season.
Two days of talks broke off on December 5, 2013 with no end in sight for the nearly six month lockout that began on June 26.
For 225 workers across the southern interior who haven’t seen a paycheque in six months, Christmas is going to be really tough. For FortisBC which has saved over $7 million dollars and is only raising rates another 19% by 2018, obviously Christmas doesn’t matter much. Except of course for its CEO, who will take in another $1.4 million this year. He’ll certainly be jolly, while his workers are freezing and his customers are paying more.
Since locking out its electrical employees FortisBC has continued to only add requirements for a deal to be done. Negotiations collapsed today because the company will not budge from two significant demands: a mandatory compressed work week which entails longer working days for less money, and the Union’s surrender of its legal right to labour action in the System Control Centre.
After suffering six months without pay, the Union wanted its members back to work so at least Christmas could be a happy time spent with their family. Seeking to be flexible, three proposals were brought to the table. One was the same, identical deal FortisBC signed yesterday with COPE 378, its office workers, and the company said no. The second proposal was a basic, plain back-to-work agreement, that included only minimal wage increases of 2.5%-2%-2%-2.5%-2.5%, no other changes, and the company said no.
An IBEW 213 statement released after talks broke off on Thursday, stated:
Though it would be hard for workers with young families, the third proposal included a compromise on the mandatory compressed work week. All workers would be forced to be on the compressed work week if 50%+1 of the crew voted for it or if 75% of the workers’ headquarters voted for it. The company had already agreed to a 5% premium as compensation for working the longer 10 hour day which would significantly encourage workers to vote for it. However FortisBC rejected this compromise.
If these demands of a compressed work week and giving up right to strike were so important for FortisBC, why didn’t the company bring them up earlier? Why did FortisBC only make these demands months after its workers were locked out? It would appear FortisBC isn’t interested in a deal or compromise; it just wants its workers locked out until FortisBC can get whatever it wants.”
More pictures of rally:
By H.G. Watson December 4, 2013 http://rabble.ca
The labour movement’s female ranks are growing, but women are still struggling to have their voices heard and to fill executive positions.
"Sadly, I still find myself in the trenches," said Yolanda McClean, the Diversity Vice-President of CUPE, speaking at the microphones during the women’s forum at the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) convention.
Women, even in unionized workplaces, face workplace harassment and income inequality.
For those that might consider leadership positions, there are still barriers in the way of taking executive roles at the local or national levels — including a lack of available childcare and mentoring — despite the fact that there are more women unionized than ever before.
A recent Globe and Mail article found that the rate of men who are unionized is dropping while rates for women have held steady. The losses for men is found in the declining manufacturing sector while unionization rates in health care, education and public administration — industries largely dominated by women — have grown.
Men still take up many of the top positions in labour unions and councils, a situation that has certainly not gone unnoticed by union sisters. At the Unifor founding convention in August, Lindsay Hinshelwood, a member of the former CAW local 707 in Oakville, Ontario, ran against Jerry Dias to challenge what she called the "old boys club" of leadership.
"Traditional power structures still exist within the labour movement which is really unfortunate," said Nicole Wall, a Toronto based regional representative of the Public Service Alliance of Canada.
She, along with her mother, labour activist Carol Wall, sat on a panel about the challenges women face in the labour movement last Tuesday at the OFL convention.
They were joined by Katie Arnup, a national representative for communications at Unifor, Sue Genge, who was formerly with the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and Michele Landsberg, a journalist who has written extensively on labour issues.
Landsberg recounted that when she attempted to write a story about maternity leaves many years ago, she was laughed off the phone by many of the union leaders when she asked if they would include leave provisions in collective agreements.
"I’ve heard a woman say that she ran for an elected position and she was told she’d get in trouble with her union supervisor because they didn’t want a woman running," she said.
If there is anyone who knows the challenges of becoming not only active in labour, but a leader, it would be Nancy Hutchison. The secretary-treasurer of the OFL was the first woman to work in the gold mine in the Campbell Red Lake Mine in 1977. Hutchison became the president of her union local, and eventually rose through the ranks of the United Steelworkers to take a place on their national executive as the Canadian National Health, Safety and Environment Department Leader.
"Very rarely will a sister come up and say, ‘it’s my first year working here and I want to be involved in the union,’" she said. "It’s up to us to look for [leadership] qualities."
Mentorship opportunities and access to childcare were two of the key barriers she identified for women who may consider running for leadership positions.
At the OFL convention, there were several impassioned speeches in support of a universal childcare system. Others also advocated for maternity leaves to be included in collective agreements — a situation that they argue benefits families overall, not just women.
But according to Landsberg, union culture has to become more inclusive — or risk disappearing altogether.
"The union movement has done amazing things for changing the scene for women externally," she said, noting that unions supported Charter challenges that helped secure the right to choice.
"But internally, they haven’t done as much and they have to because that is the future of unionizing –they need the women or they are gone."
Nov 20, 2013
Today our basic rights to freedom of association, democratic representation in the workplace, and free collective bargaining may be easy to take for granted as having always been with us. But these rights didn’t just happen. They weren’t gifts from enlightened employers or kindly governments!
At a time when powerful corporations and their friends in government are trying to roll back the clock on workers’ rights, we have much to learn from the inspiring, and often untold, stories of the workers and activists who fought for the rights we enjoy today, and won.
You can also download the various components of the book as individual files:
- Introductory Essay (Establishing Unions in Canada: A Long, Difficult Road)
- The Ford Windsor Strike, 1945
- The Rand Formula, 1946
- United Aircraft Strike, 1974
- Fleck Strike, 1978