Tagged: labour

Ronald’s bad timing

In a recording of the call given to the CBC, McDonald’s Canada CEO John Betts discusses recent CBC stories on the company’s use of temporary foreign workers and his resulting meeting with federal Employment Minister Jason Kenney.​

“This has been an attack on our brand. This has been an attack on our system. This is an attack on our people. It’s bullshit OK! I used those words when I described my conversation with the minister last week. He gets it.”

McDonald’s Canada CEO calls foreign worker controversy ‘bullshit’ – CBC News Apr 24, 2014

Meanwhile, earlier that day…

Changes to the temporary foreign worker program that made it easier for employers to hire from abroad in recent years were a factor in rising unemployment rates in B.C. and Alberta, according to a C.D. Howe Institute report released today.

Low-skilled workers with some high school education were hardest hit by the changes, according to the report by Simon Fraser University public policy professor Dominique Gross titled Temporary Foreign Workers in Canada: Are They Really Filling Labour Shortages?

A change to the program between 2007 and 2010 accelerated rising unemployment levels by 4.8 percentage points in B.C. and 3.1 percentage points in Alberta, the report said.


“This suggests that … by lowering employers’ constraints on hiring TFWs, the federal government reduced the incentives for employers to search for domestic workers to fill job vacancies.”

Foreign workers drove unemployment higher in B.C.: C.D. Howe report – Vancouver Sun, Apr 24, 2014.

I think John Betts might convene a crisis meeting tomorrow.

Bonus Betts:

“Yes, they are disenfranchised. Some of them don’t work for us anymore. But in the scheme of things, it doesn’t matter.

Temporary Foreign Workers are vulnerable.

B.C.’s Employment Standards Branch and the restaurant chain launched an investigation after Filipino Richard Pepito, a former employee, went public with accusations that the franchise owner gave him paycheques that included overtime, but then required Pepito to pay the owner the overtime back in cash.

He told The Sun last year he wasn’t alone in being denied overtime pay, and staff were led to believe that if they complained they would lose their status under the temporary foreign worker program and be sent back to live in poverty in their home country.

“I felt discriminated against, harassed and bullied,” said Pepito.

They are being exploited to undercut Canadian workers, breeding resentment.

Immigrants to citizens, not disposable serfs.

UPDATE: The CFIB’s Dan Kelly weighs in unwisely again:

You’d think one would have get the data first before offering full-throated support, but that’s just me.



Notable Linkage: The Decline of Unions is Your Problem, Too | TIME.com


First, the fact is that when unions are stronger the economy as a whole does better. Unions restore demand to an economy by raising wages for their members and putting more purchasing power to work, enabling more hiring. On the flip side, when labor is weak and capital unconstrained, corporations hoard, hiring slows, and inequality deepens. Thus we have today both record highs in corporate profits and record lows in wages.

Second, unions lift wages for non-union members too by creating a higher prevailing wage. Even if you aren’t a member your pay is influenced by the strength or weakness of organized labor. The presence of unions sets off a wage race to the top. Their absence sets off a race to the bottom.

Unfortunately, the relegation of organized labor to tiny minority status and the fact that the public sector is the last remaining stronghold for unions have led many Americans to see them as special interests seeking special privileges, often on the taxpayer’s dime. This think…

The Decline of Unions is Your Problem, Too | TIME.com

Notable Linkage: The legal side of the union dues disclosure dispute | Canadian Lawyer Magazine


Since British Columbia MP Russell Hiebert tabled the union dues disclosure bill, every politician and commentator with an opinion on Canada’s unique labour structure has taken it as an excuse to air their views. Every topic from mandatory dues to privacy rights has been aired — raising controversy in an area that has been relatively stable and peaceful for the last 40 years. Now lawyers are weighing in on whether this political dispute has any credence in law.

The most obvious dose of legal reality is there is already a legislative requirement for financial disclosure to union members in every jurisdiction in the country. In fact, bill C-377 overleaps provincial jurisdiction by amending the Income Tax Act. The long list of items to be disclosed does not stop at mere financial information but requires identification of the name and address of the payer and payee, the purpose and description and amount of every transaction paid or received over $5,000…

The legal side of the union dues disclosure dispute | Canadian Lawyer Magazine



This guide provides a simple introduction to various common measurements of the labour market: employment, unemployment, and the labour force. It also discusses some of the problems with conventional measurements of unemployment.


Notable Linkage: Unions, Equality and Democracy


At their best, unions have fought not only for their members, but also for fundamental social reforms which benefit all working people, such as universal public health care, decent pensions, paid time off the job, and accessible and affordable education. Canada’s unions have never been politically monolithic, but they have been a consistent force for a more progressive Canada.

The OECD, the IMF and the World Bank have recognized that unions promote more equitable societies without undermining good economic performance. Countries with strong unions have less extremes of rich and poor, and stronger public services and social safety nets.

Some advanced industrial countries with still strong labour movements, such as Germany and the Nordic countries, enjoy very high productivity and very low unemployment. And some of the most successful developing countries in terms of both growth and poverty reduction, notably Brazil, have strong a

Unions, Equality and Democracy

District 12

I saw The Hunger Games a few days ago. It was okay. A bit clichéd. In the movie/book, the protagonist Katniss Everdeen comes from “District 12” which is strongly alluded to be in the Appalachians. Like the rest of the Districts in the fictional far-future nation of Panem, the coal-producing District 12 is ruled with an iron fist by the “Capitol” via violent intimidation and a deliberate policy of keeping the inhabitants impoverished. Erik Loomis has more:

They rule District 12 like a fiefdom, murdering resistance organizers and forcing workers into generations of endemic poverty. Panem uses prisoners as slave labor, leading to major labor uprisings. District 12 erupted into war after workers, tired of decades of oppression, took up arms when a sympathetic guardian was murdered by Capitol agents; over 100 residents were murdered in the weeks to follow. Thousands of miners, whose labors fuel the lavish lifestyle of the Capitol, die of black lung disease.

Oh wait…my mistake, that’s a description of conditions in the real-world Appalachians a few generations ago. Only slightly altered.

The past. And possible future.

He forgot everything he learned in school

Memo to Daniel: Provinces and the Federal government can adopt “net-zero” stances in contract negotiations. Municipalities can’t. Why? The Feds and Provinces have the ability to create back to work legislation – a required chess piece for this bargaining stratagem. Not so municipalities. One would think you’d have known this.

Charted: BC Teacher Wage Increases vs. Consumer Price Index 1998-2010

BC Teachers - Annual Wage Increases vs. Consumer Price Index

As you can see, those “greedy” unionized teachers had 0% increases in 4 of the 13 years shown losing ground – sometimes significantly – vs the CPI, matched the CPI in another, made modest gains in 6 years, and one substantial gain (2009). UPDATE: By my calculations, teachers wages have declined 0.8% vs. the CPI over the last 13 years.

Consumer Price Index Source: BC Stats.

The Battle of Ballantyne Pier

On this Labour Day, it’s important to remember the battles fought and sacrifices made by union members and labourers for many of the benefits we all enjoy today.

In Vancouver, one of those was the Battle of Ballantyne Pier.

The deeply serious Rob Ford

The Mayor of Canada’s largest city, Rob Ford, is seeking to “trim the fat” off the City of Toronto’s civil service. He knows he can maintain current service levels without [modestly] raising taxes – even though an external audit by KPMG suggests draconian cuts would be necessary. However Mayor Ford, being an observant and intelligent man, knows otherwise. He knows it’s bloated. He knows because he visits the cafeteria at Toronto’s City Hall:

“I go down there this morning,” he said. “And I see like 20 bureaucrats at 10 o’clock [editor’s note: 10 o’clock is the typical time for morning coffee break in large organizations]. I don’t know if they’re having a party for somebody. And I’m thinking like what’s going on here. They didn’t see me. But I’m going to look into this. If they’re having a breakfast party or whatever it is, that sort of culture, they should be at work at 10 o’clock in the morning…I might have to make an example of a few people.”

And that means breaking a campaign pledge and layoffs! Of course, it’s almost 99.9% certain that the people who will get laid off will not be the same ones Mayor Ford observed in the cafeteria enjoying their coffee break (and my, isn’t it nice they’re spending their coffee money in-house). But if that’s what it takes to stop the gravy train…