This week in labour: Commemorating Davis Day

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Photo: flickr/Simon Harrod

If you live in Cape Breton you definitely know what Davis Day is. But for those of us in other parts of the country, where mining heritage is not a part of everyday life and history, you may not be as familiar with this important labour landmark.

On June 11, 1925, William Davis was killed during a mining strike, when police opened fire on a crowd of unarmed strikers. The strikers and their families were marching to the mining company power facilities near New Waterford to demand that their utilities be turned back on. The company had shut them off in an attempt to starve out the strikers. From that day on, Cape Breton miners vowed to never work on June 11, and this remained the case for many years.

It's still a major event in Cape Breton, and one that's surely worth remembering as we survey the state of labour this week. 

  • The Manitoba Labour Relations Board made a landmark decision this week, which granted union certification to 35 workers at a Tim Hortons restaurant in Winnipeg. The franchise owners admitted to violating the labour rights of their workers in an effort to squash the union drive.
  • Several school boards in the Toronto Area have announced that they will not be handing out report cards this year. As part of their legal work-to-rule job action, elementary school teachers will not be writing comments for student report cards and will not be inputting marks electronically to protest the slow pace of negotiations, and the school boards' willingness to increase class sizes.  Teachers will, however, be submitting marks to school principals. Some school boards have decided that they do not have the capacity to send out the report cards. "How ironic that the Ontario Public School Boards' Association (OPSBA) wants more management control of teachers at the bargaining table, yet is now saying its school boards might not be able to manage to get report card marks out by the end of this school term," said Elementary School Federation of Ontario President Sam Hammond.
  • Also in the education sector, a new report shows that Black teachers in Ontario still face racism on the job, mostly from other staff members and employers.
  • Despite widespread opposition from labour groups, lawyers, and well, virtually everybody, Bill C-51 has passed in the Senate. Now what?
  • Alberta's Agriculture Minister Oneil Carlier has announced that the NDP government will bring in regulations to protect farm workers, who are currently excluded from provincial occupational health and safety (OHS) laws, the workers' compensation act, labour relations code and the employment standards code. It is not yet clear what those changes will be.
  • Queen's Park is poised to enact new legislation that will require contractors to hire apprentices and develop local recruitment programs for all major infrastructure projects. These Community Benefit Agreements will guarantee that the $130 billion earmarked for Ontario infrastructure will come hand-in-hand with skilled trades training.
  • And finally, one woman's story of harassment and her struggle for justice and equality at work in Nova Scotia.


Ella Bedard is'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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