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Pope Francis: Labor Unions are Essential to Society

Labor unions that protect and defend the dignity of work and the rights of workers continue to have an essential role in society, especially in promoting inclusion, Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis greets the crowd as he leaves his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on June 28. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

“There is no good society without a good union, and there is no good union that isn’t reborn every day in the peripheries, that doesn’t transform the rejected stones of the economy into corner stones,” the pope said on June 28 during an audience with Italian union leaders.

“There is no justice together if it isn’t together with today’s excluded ones,” he told members of the Italian Confederation of Union Workers.

Unions, he said, risk losing their “prophetic nature” when they mimic the very institutions they are called to challenge, he said. “Unions over time have ended up resembling politicians too much, or rather political parties, their language, their style.”

Labor unions must guard and protect workers, but also defend the rights of those “outside the walls,” particularly those who are retired and the excluded who are “also excluded from rights and democracy.”

Pope Francis denounced situations in which children are forced to work rather than being allowed to study, which is the “only good ‘job’ for children.”

Turning to one of his frequently voiced concerns, the pope told the union leaders that a society that leaves young men and women without jobs is “foolish and shortsighted.”

“When young people are outside the world of work, businesses lack energy, enthusiasm, innovation and the joy of living which are precious common goods that a make a better economic life and public happiness,” he said.

The pope’s speech kicked off the union’s national conference on the theme: “For the person, for work.”

Reflecting on the conference theme, the pope said that work without respect for the person “becomes something inhuman,” while a person without work is incomplete.

People truly flourish when they have a job, “the most common form of cooperation that humanity has generated in its history,” the pope said.

Men and women, he continued, are not created solely for work but also must enjoy a “healthy culture of leisure,” which “isn’t laziness but a human need.”

Pope Francis said he asks working parents if they play with their children and is often told that some mothers and fathers leave for work when their children are still sleeping or arrive home when they are already in bed.

“This is inhumane,” he said. “For this reason, this other culture (of leisure) must go together with work; a person is not made just for work, because we don’t always work and we shouldn’t always work.”

 

Junno Arocho Esteves – Catholic News Service

Pride Statement from Canadian Labour Congress

Over the next few months, Canada’s unions will join others in communities across Canada to celebrate Pride and support LGBTQ2SI equality and justice.

While Pride is a time to celebrate, it is also a time for reflection and activism. Pride originated in response to the police crackdown on LGBTQ2SI spaces like the 1981 bath house raids in Toronto.

“It is important for us to continue to challenge ongoing discrimination and the challenges faced by members of the LGBTQ2SI community,” said CLC President Hassan Yussuff.

There are still many countries where homosexuality is illegal and subject to extreme punishment and even execution. In Chechnya, for example, gay men are being detained in concentration camps, tortured and in some cases killed, and families are being pressured to kill their gay sons.

Rainbow Railroad, a Canadian organization that helps LGBTQ2SI people who face physical violence, imprisonment, or death, has been working with Russian LGBTQ2SI organizations to bring Chechnyans to Canada as refugees. At this May’s CLC Convention, delegates gave unanimous support for a resolution calling on the Canadian government to actively support these efforts and to condemn Chechnya’s actions.

Canada has its own dark history of state-sanctioned discrimination and much work needs to be done to make reparations. Canada has yet to formally apologize for a decades-long national security campaign that targeted public service workers and members of the RCMP and military perceived to be homosexuals. Many were questioned, outed, and fired.

“These individuals and their families have waited decades for justice. It is long past time not just to apologize to those whose lives and careers were destroyed, but to secure pardons and provide compensation for the harm inflicted upon them,” said Yussuff.

“We encourage everyone to be loud and proud at parades and pride events across the country and we will celebrate the ways Canada’s unions have helped advance LGBTQ2S1 rights. But we also commit to continuing our work to achieve more fairness and justice for these communities in Canada and abroad,” Yussuff added.

This link contains the CLC Pride statement issued June 1, 2017 – http://canadianlabour.ca/news/news-archive/canada%E2%80%99s-unions-celebrate-pride-committing-work-more-justice 

Why BC Employment Standards Need to Change: Workers’ Stories of Exploitation & Abuse Summary Report

A very compelling read!  The summary report of the BC Employment Standards Coalition is out.  This summary report provides an overview of Workers’ Stories of Exploitation & Abuse: Why BC Employment Standards Needs to Change, a forthcoming report produced and published by the BC Employers’ Standards Coalition.  The Coalition brings together organizations, advocates, and workers in a campaign for employment standards legislation that provides decent wages, working conditions, respect, and dignity for all workers in the province of BC.

http://vdlc.ca/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/BC-EmployStandardsCoalition-Summary.pdf 

 

Day of Mourning – April 28

The Federal Government has responded to call for action and has announced plans to enforce the Westray Law; a law which would impose criminal liability on organizations and its representatives for negligence.

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Message from Hassan Yussuff, CLC President

Today, the CLC has secured another significant victory for workers across Canada.

Last year, we dedicated the April 28th Day of Mourning to winning a nationwide ban on asbestos. Just eight months later, the government announced that ban and followed through on a promise to join the international call to add asbestos to the list of hazardous substances listed in the Rotterdam Convention.

This year, we dedicated the Day of Mourning to a call for the enforcement of the Westray provisions of the Criminal Code of Canada. I am pleased to report that the government has responded to our call for action, and has announced its plans to enforce the Westray Law. For the details of the government’s announcement, follow this link: https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/news/2017/04/joint_statement_byministershajduandwilson-raybouldonnationaldayo.html

Below you will find the CLC media release responding to this announcement. We ask that you share it widely through your networks. Follow this link for the CLC statement: http://documents.clc-ctc.ca/communications/2017-04-27-WestrayReleaseFinal-EN.pdf

This April 28th, we honour our fallen sisters and brothers, but we must continue to fight for the living by calling on the provinces and territories to work closely with the federal government on an urgent action plan to enforce the Westray Law. Please share our petition: www.RememberWestray.com

I want to thank the United Steelworkers for their tireless efforts to amend the Criminal Code, and to everyone who fought so hard to enforce this law and protect the lives of workers across this country.

In solidarity, Hassan Yussuff, CLC President

The Liberals are Throwing Injured Workers Under the Bus (Again)

The Liberals are Throwing Injured Workers Under the Bus (Again) – Article by Sarah O’Leary of Rush Crane & Guenther 

You may have heard that Christy Clark has proposed new legislation that promises employers they will receive millions of dollars earmarked for injured workers. http://www.pressreader.com/canada/timescolonist/20170402/281595240376219

The way the compensation system works is that employers pay an assessment per $100 of payroll into an “Accident Fund”. In return for this, workers give up the right to sue their employers but are supposed to be guaranteed benefits if they are injured on the job. Employers like this system; it keeps them safe from multimillion dollar lawsuits for negligent operation or dangerous workplaces.

After the Liberals came to power in 2001, they immediately attacked the Workers Compensation system. They took away many rights for injured workers and saved the employers hundreds of millions of dollars by reducing injured worker benefits. They even renamed it WorkSafeBC (rather than SafeworkBC) to shift the emphasis for safety to workers and away from employers.

Just a few of the changes that Christy Clark and the Liberals made:
 No more pensions for life, just to age 65.
 Benefits changed from 75% of gross to 90% of net!
 Those most seriously disabled and living on their WCB pensions had the cost of living increase limited to 1% BELOW the cost of living and never more than 4% no matter how high inflation goes.
 Canada Pension Plan-Disability is now clawed back by 50%
 Loss of earnings pensions were made very difficult to get, again for those who are so disabled by injury or occupational disease that they have to live on their WCB pensions, and a loss of income of 25% or less is deemed too insignificant to compensate!

Under the Liberals they even made a policy that employers who won their appeals would get interest on their awards but injured workers who had been living in poverty for years while they fought their appeals would get no interest at all when they finally won!

Now they have done it again. In blatant pandering to the business community Christy Clark and the Liberals have promised that if re-elected they will give even more to employers. The WCB has created surpluses by denying benefits to workers and reducing the benefits that they do get even if accepted. Now there is no room improving those benefits.

Stan Guenther of our office put it this way in a recent povnet post:
The WCB can manage the Accident Fund, including any surplus, in a way that might directly benefit injured workers, i.e. by easing some of the more draconian policies, by paying interest on retroactive entitlements, etc. etc. However, since 2002, the goal has been to ease the burden on employers, a goal well-achieved by the WCB. By forcing the WCB to refund surplus to employers, that power to revise policy to the benefit of injured workers will be limited, and in that regard, clearly the amendment will affect the benefits payable to injured workers. Again.

In 1986 the Socred government of Bill Bennett made a one-time payout to the employers of $99 million from the Accident Fund. There was such a huge uproar from the Labour Community and the NDP that the premier had to set up a Commission of Enquiry about the WCB. The result of this commission was a complete restructuring of the WCB so that it was fairer to workers.

Now they are proposing not a “one-time” payback, but a payback every year! We should all be screaming bloody murder about this outrageous transfer of wealth from workers to employers as a result of whittling down the compensation system.

We all need to remember this: only a change in provincial government will carry with it the possibility of the broad and significant steps required to protect injured workers.

Labour Canvasses – Starts TONIGHT!!

The BC Fed is coordinating Labour Canvassing for the 2017 Provincial Election!  The attached file lists all scheduled canvassing events to date – Labour Canvasses – 2017 Provincial Election Lower Mainland (see linked page for details)

April 19 – Wednesday

  • Burnaby Lougheed (Katrina Chen candidate) – 5:30 to 8:30 pm
  • Vancouver Mt. Pleasant & Vancouver Hastings (Melanie Mark & Shane Simpson candidates) – Young Worker training & canvassing – 6:00 to 8:00 pm

April 22 – Saturday

  • North Vancouver Lonsdale (Bowinn Ma candidate) – 10:00 am to 1:00 pm

April 29 – Saturday

  • Surrey Green Timbers (Rachna Singh candidate) – 10:00 am to 1:00 pm

May 4 – Thursday

  • Surrey Panorama (Jinny Sims candidate) – 5:00 to 8:00 pm

May 6 – Saturday

  • Vancouver Fairview (George Heyman candidate) – 10:00 am to 1:00 pm
    • With Joey Hartman – VDLC President – RSVP to VDLC office

 

Labour Canvasses – Starting April 8… this Saturday

Saturday, April 8  – 10:30 am to 1 pm

Please sign up and commit a few hours of your time to electing progressive candidates. Your time and commitment will make the difference in bringing about an NDP victory.  For more information and to RSVP, please contact Lynn Bueckert at the BCFED – lbueckert@bcfed.ca or 604 446 8303.

These will be happening regularly leading up to the election.  Join labour leaders in the following canvasses:

 Join BCFED President, Irene Lanzinger and Burnaby Teachers’ Association

Campaign: Janet Routledge – Burnaby North NDP Campaign

Place: Burnaby North NDP campaign office,  109 – 3701 East Hastings St (corner of Hastings and Boundary), Burnaby  Phone: 604 299 7374

  • or

Join BCGEU President, Stephanie Smith and the Burnaby Teachers’ Association

Campaign: Katrina Chen – Burnaby-Lougheed NDP Campaign

Place: Burnaby-Lougheed NDP campaign office, 242-9855 Austin Ave ( inside Lougheed Mall)  Phone: 604 421 1297

  • or

Join PSAC Alternate Regional Vice President, Jamey Mills

Campaign: Bowinn Ma – North Vancouver-Lonsdale NDP Campaign

Place: North Vancouver – Lonsdale NDP campaign office, 1309 Lonsdale, North Vancouver  Phone: 604 880 4053

  • or

Join CUPE BC Treasurer, Trevor Davies

Campaign: Lisa Beare – Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadow  &  Bob D’Eith, Maple Ridge-Mission

Place: Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge-Mission campaign office, 22335 Lougheed Hwy, Maple Ridge  Phone: 778 893 6244

 

10 Things Unions are Looking for in Budget 2017

The CLC has posted a new article on the 2017 Federal Budget:  http://canadianlabour.ca/news/news-archive/10-things-unions-are-looking-budget-2017 

After the Trudeau government introduced its first budget last year, Canada’s unions were optimistic, but knew that much more would be needed to really build a fairer and more prosperous Canada. Infrastructure funding, and improvements to EI and the Guaranteed Income Supplement for seniors emerged as highlights in the 2016 budget.

But working Canadians and their families were left waiting for sustained funding for health care and child care, and action on other key campaign commitments.

Here are the top 10 things Canada’s unions are looking for in the 2017 federal budget:  (details in link above)

  1. Education & Training
  2. Pharmacare and Sustained, Fair Funding for Health Care
  3. Infrastructure
  4. Child Care
  5. Fairer, More Accessible Employment Insurance
  6. Green Job Creation
  7. Refugee Resettlement Services
  8. Support for Good Jobs
  9. Indigenous Justice and Reconciliation
  10. Fairness for Mirgrant Workers