Is there really a labour shortage?

Jean
Jean Chartrand, President of Teamsters Local Union 106

Not a day goes by that we don’t hear about the labour shortage in the media.

According to some commentators, the lack of workers in the trucking sector, in retail, in seniors’ residences and in agriculture, namely, is threatening the foundations of our society.
What these commentators aren’t saying is that appalling working conditions are at the root of this problem in a number of industries.

UNPREDICTABLE SCHEDULES

In the trucking industry, for example, it’s not uncommon for drivers to have to work 60-70 hours per week for about $50,000 a year. Besides the stress of dealing with constant traffic jams and driving through one construction site after another, not to mention coping with unreasonable delivery deadlines and harsh weather c

onditions, drivers’ long hours mean they often come home late from work.

As a consequence, they don’t get enough sleep, particularly when their work schedules change at the last minute and without warning. Because of these deplorable conditions, young workers are reluctant to get into trucking, while older drivers leave the business before they even reach retirement age.

A REVOLVING DOOR

In a number of seniors’ residences, apart from a core group of workers (mostly women in this sector), the “revolving door” phenomenon has been increasing for the past several years.
There are many reasons for this: full-time jobs in this field are not always available; wages in private residences are $4 to $6 lower than wages in the public sector; and the needs of seniors are constantly increasing. It’s not surprising then that orderlies, patient attendants and other workers in this industry come home from work exhausted or look for jobs in other industries.

And yet, if employers hired a few more workers to spread the work out more evenly, if they paid reasonable wages and offered decent working conditions, these employers would no longer be dealing with this so-called labour shortage.

The value that we place on certain trades is also a contributing factor. We know that truck drivers work hard to deliver all the goods we have in our homes and that workers in our seniors’ residences are devotedly taking care of our parents and grandparents… so why are they so often treated like second-class workers?

Is there a real labour shortage in certain industries, or are we looking at the consequences of an unwillingness to treat workers fairly? One of these days, we will have to take an honest look at this question … and give an honest answer.

JEAN CHARTRAND
PRESIDENT OF TEAMSTERS LOCAL UNION 106

Laval, August 7, 2018 — Labour disputes have been resolved at the five Résidences Soleil where workers had been on strike since July 17. Meetings with a conciliator in the last weeks helped remove roadblocks to bargaining at the seniors’ residences in Saint-Hilaire, Granby, Laval, Pointe-aux-Trembles and Saint-Laurent.

Once again, some 300 members of Teamsters Local Union 106 led the way in obtaining some of the best working conditions in the industry. Their courage was rewarded as they blazed a trail for all other workers in this industry, both unionized and non-unionized.

Pay increases, which vary by worker occupation, will reach $2.21 per hour. The collective agreements will cover four or five years, depending on the residence. A majority of the members who attended the union meetings voted in favour of the tentative agreements.

This development narrows the gap between private and public sector workers in this industry. Until recently, workers in the public sector earned as much as $6 per hour more than workers at Résidences Soleil.

“Our members have fought the good fight and won some encouraging increases, but there are still unfair discrepancies between the private and public sectors,” noted Teamsters Local Union 106 president Jean Chartrand. “Now it’s up to the provincial government to address the situation and close the gap by setting minimum standards for the men and women who work in this industry.”

The Couillard government, which wanted to eliminate joint labour-management committees in a number of industries this past spring, now needs to set up a new joint committee to set standard conditions for all the dedicated workers who take care of seniors. Otherwise the care provided to seniors living in private-sector residences could deteriorate rapidly.

“The potential class-action suit against the Quebec government, citing elder abuse in longterm health care facilities, sounds an alarm that should be a wake up call for civil servants and elected representatives,” added Chartrand. “A society as prosperous as ours cannot squeeze savings out of elder care and workers. Right after the election this fall, the government will have to take decisive action.”

Most of the previous collective agreements in these residences expired in 2017. Resolving the conflict required several meetings with the employer and with a conciliator.

The Teamsters Union represents the interests of nearly 40,000 men and women workers in Quebec, more than 1,000 of whom work in seniors’ residences and long-term health-care facilities. Teamsters Quebec is affiliated with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which has 1.4 million members across North America.

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For information:
Stéphane Lacroix, Director, Communications and Public Affairs
Cell: 514-609-5101
slacroix@teamsters.ca

Teamsters support B.C.’s new approach to construction work. It gives workers and the community just as much importance as employers and government interests. That is crucial when it comes to projects paid for by our tax dollars.

Last week, the government of British Columbia announced they’re taking a new approach to public-sector construction projects. Under the new framework, government construction contracts will have to take the form of something known as a community benefit agreement.

What is a community benefit agreement (CBA)?

Community benefit agreements in B.C. will ensure that the greatest number of people benefit from a construction project.

That means workers will be paid union wages and enjoy union representation, which will lead to safer work sites and a stronger economy.

That also means apprentices, local residents, indigenous people and women will have priority access to jobs on a construction project, rather than temporary foreign labour.

Finally, contractors will enjoy continuous work thanks to a no-strike clause.

Why are CBAs important?

The first projects to be delivered under the new community benefits framework are the new Pattullo Bridge, and the four-laning projects on the Trans-Canada Highway between B.C. and Alberta.

In an era of stagnant wages and rising inequality, making sure everyone benefits from the billions of dollars spent by governments on construction work has never been more important. Community benefit agreements, like the ones in the new British Colombian framework, will go a long way to make sure local workers can get the good, high-paying jobs that are the foundation of our economy.
Moreover, it also tackles another problem facing British Columbia: the severe shortage of skilled labour. One cause of the labour shortage is how difficult it is for apprentices to find job opportunities. B.C.’s new construction framework will go a long way toward helping them find opportunities on government construction projects.

A strong building trades labour force is critical to our future. Canada has big infrastructure challenges ahead of it, be they about fighting climate change, repairing our roads and developing public transportation, or building new ways to get our resources to market.

This new approach will help the province meet its challenges, in a way that benefits all British Columbians.

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TEAMSTERS SUPPORT NATIONALIZATION OF TRANS MOUNTAIN

Laval, QC, July 20, 2018 – Members of the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) at Canadian Pacific (CP) voted 64.7% to ratify a four-year agreement covering over 3000 conductors and locomotive engineers. Approximately 25 workers of the Kootenay Valley Railway (KVR) also ratified a five-year agreement by 91.7%.

This comes after a short strike by CP train crews last May. Union officials are now focused on implementing the new collective agreement and moving forward with the company.

“Our members demonstrated incredible solidarity during the negotiations and the strike,” said Doug Finnson, President of the TCRC. “Workers won a fair deal from CP. Moving forward, we hope to continue working with the company to improve job conditions and ease labour relations.”

Fatigue was one of the major issues behind the recent strike. Under the new collective agreement, workers will be able to book 48-hour rest periods three times a month instead of only twice. There was also improved rest provisions for yard employees in the agreement.

The new contract also addressed other equity issues, improvements to work rules, benefits and provides a 9% increase over the term of the agreement. Both the main agreement and the KVR agreement expire on December 31, 2021.

Teamsters would like to once again thank the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) and Labour Minister Patty Hajdu for helping parties find common ground, as well as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for standing up for workers’ right to negotiate.

Teamsters represent close to 125,000 workers in Canada in all industries, including over 10,000 in the rail sector. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, with which Teamsters Canada is affiliated, has 1.4 million members in North America.

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Media requests:

Christopher Monette
Director of Public Affairs
Teamsters Canada
Cell: 514-226-6002
cmonette@teamsters.ca

Laval, July 19, 2018 — Tomorrow morning at 5:00 o’clock at the Maax plant, some 120 men and women workers represented by the Teamsters Union will go on strike. The main issues are wages and vacation seniority.

Negotiations have been ongoing since March 2018. Despite two bargaining sessions and 15 meetings with a conciliator, no agreement has been reached. The Teamsters Union is asking for a $1-an-hour pay increase in each year of the future collective agreement. The employer has proposed less. Pay at Maax is around $16 per hour.

“Frankly, on that kind of pay you don’t have a high-flying lifestyle,” Teamsters Local Union 106 President Jean Chartrand pointed out. “It’s the same thing for the workers at the five Résidences Soleil that are on strike right now: we’re dealing with an employer that doesn’t pay its workers decent wages.”

Aggravating this unacceptable situation is the fact that the employer refuses to set up a pension plan, unless it lowers its already inadequate wage offers. The Teamsters have proposed setting up a pension plan with the Fonds de solidarité du Québec.

“Working at Maax is physically demanding, and our members are entitled to a reasonable pension plan,” Chartrand added. “Our members are central to the success of this business; they deserve more than the federal and provincial pension plans when the time comes for a well-earned rest.”

Teamsters spokesman Stéphane Lacroix will be on site tomorrow to give interviews to the media.

Maax is a leading North American manufacturer of bathtubs and shower enclosures, bases and doors. The last collective agreement expired on December 31, 2017.

The plant is located at 160, boulevard Saint-Joseph, Lachine QC H8S 2L3.

The Teamsters Union represents the interests of nearly 40,000 men and women workers in Quebec. Teamsters Canada is affiliated with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which has 1.4 million members across North America.

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For information:

Stéphane Lacroix, Director, Communications and Public Affairs
Cell: 514-609-5101
slacroix@teamsters.ca

Workers at five Résidences Soleil retirement homes will go on strike tomorrow morning. Wages are the main sticking point for members of Teamsters Local Union 106; they are $6/hour behind their sisters and brothers in public sector homes.

Laval, QC, July 16, 2018 — Strikes are planned tomorrow morning at 8 a.m. at five Résidences Soleil retirement homes. Facilities in Granby, Laval, Saint-Hilaire, Pointe-aux-Trembles, and Saint-Laurent will be affected by the labour dispute. At this time, no further meetings with the company have been set.

Wages are the main sticking point. Workers at Résidences Soleil retirement homes are $6 behind those in public sector homes, despite doing exactly the same work and caring for seniors with the same passion and dedication.

Teamsters Local Union 106, the union representing the workers, fears a labour shortage its predicting in the senior care industry could worsen. A shortage is guaranteed to have consequences on the quality of care offered to seniors over the coming years.

The walkout will not affect residents at the homes as essential services will be entirely maintained. Picket lines will nevertheless go up at each location.

Interviews

A spokesperson for the Teamsters, Stephane Lacroix, will be available to give interviews tomorrow morning as of 7 a.m. He will be at the Résidence Soleil retirement home in Laval, located at 1455, boulevard de l’Avenir, Laval, Qc H7N 0A1, until 9 a.m.

Who: 300 workers at Résidences Soleil retirement homes

What: Unlimited general strike

When: As of July 17 at 8 a.m.

Why: To significantly improve wages and issues related to workload

Where: Résidences Soleil retirement homes in Laval, Saint-Hilaire, Pointe-aux-Trembles, and Saint-Laurent

Teamsters represent over 40,000 workers in the province of Québec, including over 1000 workers at retirement homes and CHSLDs. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, with which Teamsters Canada is affiliated, represents 1.4 million members in North America.

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Media requests:

Stéphane Lacroix
Director of Communications and Public Affairs
Cell: 514 609-5101
slacroix@teamsters.ca

Brother Josh Alexander and his daughter.

When life throws you a curveball, it helps to have people backing you, be they friends, family or your fellow union members. Just ask Josh Alexander, a truck driver and member of Local Union 879 at Moe’s Transport in Windsor, ON.

Life threw Brother Alexander a curveball in 2016. Josh was driving back to Canada from Michigan on the last leg of an international run when he pulled over to get some rest before arriving at the border. He was awakened 30 minutes later by the local sheriff, who wanted to know about a recent nearby fatal motorcycle accident.

Josh knew nothing about what had happened, but was nonetheless accused of being involved in a deadly collision and fleeing the scene. The young single father was ultimately detained, charged, and thrown into a legal nightmare.

The police tested the truck for signs of an accident and found nothing, besides some animal blood stains and paint scratches that did not match the motorcycle. Moreover, an expert who examined the truck’s onboard GPS concluded that Josh was parked almost 10 km away from the accident site at the time of the crash.

The only evidence against him was an “eyewitness” who said he may have seen a white Moe’s Transport truck leaving the scene of the crime.

Despite the sketchy case against him, Josh was banned from entering the United States pending his trial. His wages plummeted. A judge labelled him a flight risk and levied a US$100,000 bond against him. His legal feels quickly started piling up.

Teamsters Local Union 879 set up a Go Fund Me page early on in the process. His Teamster sisters and brothers, co-workers, friends and family gave thousands of dollars. Teamsters Canada, other local unions and Josh’s employer also donated money outside of the online campaign.

The Teamster-led fundraising effort brought in over $40,000, enough to offset almost half of Josh’s legal bills.

The aftermath

Suddenly, just before Josh was scheduled to go to court, the “eyewitness” was himself accused of fabricating the whole thing. The case against Josh collapsed and charges were dropped.

Josh recently wrote to John McCann, president of Local Union 879 and the man behind the fundraising effort, to give him an update. In his email, we learnt that the so-called “eyewitness” is now facing charges of perjury and lying to police.

“The union helped me with […] legal costs,” wrote Josh. “I appreciate everything that you and the brothers and sisters in the local have done for me. My family and I will never forget it.”

Life can sometimes be unfair, especially on the job. That’s why union solidarity is so important, and why Teamsters are proud to stand for justice and fairness at work.

Brother Alexander has been fully exonerated. While his legal troubles are over, the financial impact remains. Please donate to help him further offset his legal costs.

Donate

Joint Council 52 President Craig McInnes presents Variety CEO Karen Stintz a $120,000 cheque. 

Yesterday, union reps from Ontario and across the country took part in the annual Teamsters Ontario Invitational (OTI) for Variety, The Children’s Charity of Ontario, a charity for children with disabilities and their families.

This year, Teamsters raised $120,000 for Variety.

“Ontario Teamsters have been supporting Variety Village for almost 30 years. This year’s tournament was another huge success,” said Craig McInnes, the President of Joint Council 52, which organizes the OTI. “A big thank you to all the sponsors, golfers, and our amazing volunteers.”

For François Laporte, President of Teamsters Canada, being a Teamster is about more than grievances and collective agreements. It’s also about helping those in need and building up a better country.

“Unions, companies and individuals have a duty to support their communities and our country,” explained Laporte. “Every year Teamsters across the country raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for charities and non-profit organizations. Groups like the Canadian Red Cross, United Way, Camp Papillon and more.”

Since 1989, Ontario Teamsters have raised close to $2 million to help children facing adversity achieve their dreams.

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Laval, QC, July 9, 2018 – Members of Teamsters Local Union 106 are on a mission to improve conditions in their workplaces and raise wages in their industry.

Five groups of workers at Résidences Soleil retirement homes in Granby, Laval, Saint Hilaire, Pointe-aux-Trembles and Saint-Laurent will go on strike at 8 am on July 17, unless their employer can put forward a fair and acceptable contract offer. Their latest offers, which were submitted in the presence of a mediator, were massively rejected by some 300 members of Local Union 106 at various union meetings over the last few weeks.

Wages and workload are the main sticking points for the Teamsters.

Wages in private sector retirement homes are $6 behind those in public sector homes, despite staff doing exactly the same work and caring for seniors with the same passion and dedication.

“We need to improve working conditions in order to limit – maybe even stop completely – the labour shortage in retirement homes that we’ve noticed over the past years,” explained the president of Teamsters Local Union 106, Jean Chartrand. “We’re talking about women and men who care for our seniors. It’s an important job, and they deserve to be paid accordingly.”

Teamsters have noticed that employees at some Résidences Soleil retirement homes are even quitting their jobs to work at fast food restaurants, citing higher wages.

“I’m calling on union members across the sector to support their sisters and brothers at these five Résidences Soleil retirement homes,” concluded the union leader. “Teamsters are fighting a battle that will affect retirement homes across the province; only by sticking together will we succeed.”

For their part, workers at the Résidences Soleil retirement home in Boucherville voted 74% to accept management offers at a union meeting last June, thereby averting a strike at that location.

Teamsters represent over 40,000 workers in the province of Québec, including over 1000 workers at retirement homes and CHSLDs. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, with which Teamsters Canada is affiliated, represents 1.4 million members in North America.

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Media requests:

Stéphane Lacroix
Director of Communications and Public Affairs
Cell: 514 609-5101
slacroix@teamsters.ca

Stéphane Lacroix, directeur des Relations publiques du syndicat des Teamsters
Stéphane Lacroix, Director of Public Relations, Teamsters Union

By Stéphane Lacroix, Director of Public Relations, Teamsters Union

On July 24, 2013, I visited the Lac-Mégantic town centre. I found overwhelming sadness and sorrow, but also, a great deal of resilience. At the time, the Teamsters Union raised and provided money to the Red Cross, not only to assist this lovely small town, but also to assess the extent of the damage and console our fellow citizens who, on July 6, 2013, at 1:14 a.m., were afflicted by Canada’s worst rail accident.

Readers will recall that the derailment of a train of 72 tanker cars full of crude oil caused explosions and fires that destroyed nearly 40 buildings in a two square kilometres area, leaving 47 dead and an entire community devastated.

Five years later, the Lac-Mégantic disaster still resonates in the collective imagination. The tragedy, which plunged an entire community into bewilderment and grief, will never be forgotten, by residents or by rail workers.

For years, the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, which represents the interests of more than 10,000 workers in this industry, has urged federal elected representatives to allocate more resources to overseeing rail companies and their tracks. Regrettably, both Conservative and Liberal governments have opted for superficial solutions, like onboard video cameras to keep an eye on rail workers, this in spite of the fact that the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, and all the unions directly and indirectly involved in this industry condemn the use of these devices.

In fact, if the government wants to do an effective job of protecting the health and safety of workers and the public, it should no longer allow rail carriers to be self-regulated. On the contrary, Transport Canada must hire enough resources to conduct the necessary inspections and enforce existing laws.

Aside from the dreadful human loss, the one thing we need to remember from Lac-Mégantic five years later is this: rail safety in this country must not be left in corporate hands. We owe it to the victims and their families, to the workers in this industry, and ultimately, to all Canadians.

The Teamsters Union we will keep moving toward this goal, for as long as it takes.

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