This week in Canadian labour: Sunshine, strikes and solidarity

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Photo: Undergrads4Cupe

Daylight time is here for most of the country, the days are getting longer, and nothing says 'Friday' like a jolt of labour news to give a person a little pick-me-up.

Let's try to keep spirits high with this roundup, shall we?

This one's for the strikers and nearly strikers from coast to coast!


  • The Harper government has scrapped its proposed target benefit plan framework, which would have allowed Crown corporations and employers in federally regulated sectors to convert defined benefit plans into inferior target benefit plans. Unifor Local 2002 president Cheryl Robinson celebrates the victory as a result of Unifor's effective mobilization against the pension proposal, which was first put forward in April 2014.

  • Also to be filed under "good news about pension plans," the Saskatchewan government has announced that it will amend pension regulations in order to maintain defined benefit pension plans for Regina city workers. A reversal in the trend of pension downgrading taking place in other municipalities!

  • University of Toronto sessional staff (CUPE Local 3902 Unit 3) have voted to ratify their collective agreement, which included significant gains in job security for contract faculty. BUT, don't get confused: U of T's teaching assistants (CUPE 3902 Unit 1) are still on strike!

  • After 18 months on strike, Crown Can workers are taking their fight on vacation again this year. Passengers of the Carnival Ecstasy cruise ship were greeted by striking workers handing out leaflets during a four-day Caribbean cruise last week. Steelworkers also leafleted Carnival passengers at various ports and at the corporation's Miami headquarters. Carnival CEO Arnold Donald serves as a board member for Crown Holdings. rabble has covered this action in the past. You can read that article here.

  • How's this for solidarity action from students at York and U of T? This week, undergraduate Students hosted a sit-in at York's Senate offices on Thursday to demand that classes remain closed so long as the strike continues. "We are here outside the Senate building, to demand that there should be no class unless and fair contract with CUPE 3903 is reached. York Administration should go back to the bargaining table immediately!" says undergraduate student Aicha Coulibaly in a press release. Over 4,500 undergrads have signed a petition to the York Senate to not open classes.

  • Solidarity action, part two: meanwhile, University of Toronto students are demanding a refund from their administration, arguing that they have lost 11 days of their education because the administration refuses to meet with the union.

  • Educators are on strike across this country and soon, Ontario's Catholic school teachers might join them. The Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA) which represents over 45,000 teachers has recommended that its members reject the employer's contract proposal offering, which included no salary increases for three years.

  • Meanwhile, in Fredericton, members of the University of New Brunswick Employees Association voted almost unanimously to join Unifor in what's called a successor vote. The union will now file a successor union application at the New Brunswick Labour Board before launching into bargaining on behalf of the 333 ground maintenance, trades and clerical staff at the university.

  • On the opposite side of the country, the lockout continues at Southern Rail (SRY) in New Westminister B.C. The labour board has called foul play on the railway company, ruling that SRY unlawfully used scabs to diminish the union's bargaining power and prolong the lockout. Not only has Southern been ordered to cease and desist using private contractors to do union work, they have also been ordered to pay CUPE $5,000 in damages.

  • And finally, trade unionists are decrying a "strategic partnership" between United Nations Women and the ride-sharing platform Uber. A coalition of concerned organizations took the message to the floor of the 59th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW59) on Thursday, after Uber used the event to announce a plan to supposedly create a million jobs for women drivers. As has reported, the jobs created by Uber are highly precarious and have created major instability for taxi drivers around the world.

Ella Bedard is rabble's labour intern and an associate editor at GUTS Canadian Feminist Magazine. She has written about labour issues for and the Halifax Media Co-op and is the co-producer of the radio documentary The Amelie: Canadian Refugee Policy and the Story of the 1987 Boat People. 

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