Surveillance of Railway workers – the Degradation of Work

Originally posted on teamstersrail.ca

Ottawa, February 17, 2017 – Canadian Pacific has launched a campaign to legitimize constant video surveillance of its workers, alleging that this measure would improve safety in the rail industry.

The rail carrier explains on a unilingual English website that the current legislation – which allows for the installation of onboard video and voice recorders on locomotives – prevents railways from using the recordings to adopt proactive safety measures. CP adds that legislative amendments would make it possible to prevent accidents and ultimately, maybe even save lives.

“This initiative by management would be used as a tool to intimidate workers and advance a culture of fear under the guise of safety,” states the President of Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) Doug Finnson. “We intend to take any and all actions necessary to fight this unconstitutional assault on the rights of our members and all workers in Canada because the precedent this would create could have far reaching consequences on the privacy rights of all Canadians.”

The TCRC continues to support it’s documented position that allows for the installation and use of this technology under the protected status of the existing legislation which safeguards the data for Transportation Safety Board use only. The union views CP’s meaningless marketing and lobbying campaign is another attempt by their strongly American influenced management team to weaken laws that protect Canadians and move toward the less restrictive legislative requirements they enjoy in their US operations.

Cockpit audio recorders have been in use in the airline industry for decades, however, safeguards are in place in that industry that do not violate privacy rights and have consensus support.

“Why is this approach good for air transportation but bad for rail transportation?” questions the union leader. “Our members offer their full collaboration when it comes to health and safety, but cameras fixated on them with continuous monitoring for their entire tour of duty will in no way prevent accidents from happening. The real solution is for government to put an end to the self-regulation and commit sufficient resources for inspection, compliance and enforcement of legislation designed to protect the health and safety of workers and the Canadian public.”

The fundamental notion of protecting worker’s rights to privacy will quickly become meaningless if the government gives in to what the rail carrier is demanding.

The data necessary to continue improving safety performance is all readily available through less intrusive tools already at the railways disposal. Consequently, this attempt to manage operations remotely is disrespectful for workers in an already toxic workplace.

“I invite the federal government to reflect on the impacts of what Canadian Pacific is asking for,” concludes Mr. Finnson. “Rail disasters like the one that struck Lac-Mégantic stress the need to more closely oversee the rail industry. Transport Canada must extend its reflection to include existing practices and systemic issues that could be improved before considering anything that would affect workers’ right to privacy and strip Canadians of their dignity.”

It should be noted that a CBC report sheds very interesting light on the documented disregard for safety displayed by CP managers:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/cp-rail-bc-mountain-train-1.3930258

The Teamsters represents 115,000 members in Canada in all industries. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, with which Teamsters Canada is affiliated, has 1.4 million members in North America.

Information:

Stéphane Lacroix, Director of Public Relations
Telephone: 450 682-5521
Cell: 514 609-5101
Email: slacroix@teamsters.ca

Laval, Qc, February 13, 2017 – Teamsters Canada is praising the Canadian government on meeting with the Trump administration, and is hopeful that both countries will continue working together to build on the current mutually beneficial trade relationship.

“Millions of workers owe their jobs to the free flow of goods between Canada and the United States,” stated François Laporte, the President of Teamsters Canada. “Hundreds of thousands of good Teamster jobs on both sides of the border, especially in manufacturing and cross-border transportation, were created thanks to a stable trade relationship.”

Teamsters broadly support the Canadian government’s position on trade, which is understood to put the interests of workers and the middle class first. The union also supports Canada’s willingness to retaliate should the U.S. impose new tariffs, as these would be mutually harmful.

Canada and the United States are each other’s biggest customers; 35 states have Canada as their largest export market and the opposite is true of all Canadian provinces. There is no significant trade imbalance between the two countries.

Labour shut out of meetings

Teamsters salute initiatives like the roundtable discussion on women in the workforce. However, the union was alarmed that company bosses were the only ones invited to participate in the day’s meetings.

“I’d remind our leaders that a significant portion of the workforce is represented by unions,” commented Laporte. “Keeping us out of the loop is guaranteed to lead to policies that worsen inequality and hurt working families.”

Teamsters represent 115,000 members in Canada in all industries. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, with which Teamsters Canada is affiliated, has 1.4 million members in North America.

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Information:

Stéphane Lacroix, Director of Public Relations
Cell: 514 609-5101
slacroix@teamsters.ca

Earlier this week, close to 75 workers at Robert Q Airbus in London, ON voted to join Teamsters Local Union 879.

The new members include drivers who shuttle travellers to the Detroit and Toronto Airports, and detailers who clean and detail the buses. According to organizers, making the workplace fairer and more structured was especially important to the staff at Robert Q Airbus.

Local Union 879 asked that this short blurb mention the hard work of Teamsters Canada Organizer Fitos Vritsios. “To Fitos, my partner in crime, thanks for all your help. We would have struggled without you,” posted the local union’s membership development coordinator, Jim Killey.

To the drivers and detailers at Robert Q Airbus, welcome to the Teamsters!

To all Teamster members at Purolator:

On the afternoon of Friday, February 3rd, the company presented a final offer to your bargaining committee after a week of intense negotiations.

Your bargaining committee has agreed to bring the offer back to Teamster members without recommendation.

Your local unions will be scheduling information meetings where the details of the final offer will be made available to you. We urge you to attend these meetings. If you have any questions whatsoever, please contact your local union.

Once all local unions have completed their information meetings, members will decide on the final offer though online and telephone voting.

Further details to come soon. Be sure to check back on this site and to like Teamsters Canada on Facebook to stay up to date on the latest developments.

In solidarity,

Gary Kitchen
Chairman of the negotiating committee

For more information, please contact your local union. You can also click here to view our previous update.

Toronto, February 2, 2017 — K-BRO workers represented by Teamsters Local Union 847 have been locked out. The fourteen truckers who deliver laundry and linen to many Toronto hospitals could lose their jobs to non-union companies.

The employer wants to add an outsourcing clause to the collective agreement, allowing them to ultimately eliminate every good, union job at their Toronto facility. K-BRO would instead hire third party workers that would not be entitled to vacations or sick pay.

“We think K-BRO wants to get rid of union jobs and that just infuriates our members,” said the President of Local Union 847, Fernanda Santos. “It’s as though they think they can treat us as second-class citizens!”

In a letter to workers, K-BRO management stated that unless their demands are met, workers would be locked out as of 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, January 31. As a group, these courageous workers are refusing to give in to their employer’s threats.

The number of drivers has fallen from 21 to 14 in the last few years, making the local union leader fear the worst. The seven workers who left were never replaced.

“The employer is trying to impose unacceptable conditions on our members, which makes them feel completely disrespected,” added Santos. “These workers are behind the company’s success and we demand that they be treated fairly.”

The collective agreement at K-BRO expired on December 31, 2016.

Teamsters represent 115,000 members in Canada in all industries. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, with which Teamsters Canada is affiliated, has 1.4 million members in North America.

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Information:

Stéphane Lacroix, Director of Public Relations
Cell: 514 609-5101
slacroix@teamsters.ca

The recent shooting at the Québec City Islamic Cultural Centre has profoundly shaken us. The hatred behind this attack is plainly and clearly a hatred of the diversity that is the strength of our union and our country.

Each and every one of us has a Muslim friend, neighbour, or co-worker. These good, honest, hard-working people deserve as much respect as any other Canadian.

Muslims and residents of Québec City account for thousands of our members. We stand in solidarity with them and all those who feel affected by this tragedy.

Finally, on behalf of all Teamsters, I would like to wish a speedy recovery to those who were injured, and offer our sincerest condolences to the victims’ families and loved ones.

Thank you,

François Laporte
President
Teamsters Canada

Laval, January 25, 2017 — Negotiations for the renewal of the collective agreement for the 700 or so workers at the Molson plant on Notre-Dame Street in Montreal are expected to be difficult.

A visit by Teamsters Union representatives to workers on the picket lines at Molson’s Toronto plant does not bode well for labour relations.

Éric Picotte, the union president of the Notre-Dame Street brewery, visited his 300 or so brothers and sisters affiliated with the brewery workers’ union (NUPGE) in a show of solidarity and to get an idea of what to expect in the upcoming bargaining.

These workers have been on strike since January 12. The concessions requested by the employer were deemed unacceptable and are the reason behind the labour dispute.

Molson wants to make workers pay more for their pension plan, significantly reduce benefits and eliminate them for future retirees as of 2019. This is an unfair decision since these men and women have been working all their lives for these benefits.

Conditions deteriorated so much that the workers had no choice but to strike.

Construction of a new plant in Montreal and industrial peace

The potential construction of a new plant in Montreal could have a direct impact on industrial peace between the brewer and its workers affiliated with Teamsters Local Union 1999. In addition, Molson’s recent switch to cans has already had a major impact, namely, the elimination of nearly 71 jobs at the Notre-Dame Street plant, a situation that has angered union members.

Teamsters fought against the shift to canned beer by launching an advertising campaign in December 2015, in which they pointed out that cans are not as environmentally friendly as capped brown bottles. The union also launched a campaign to make elected officials aware of the economic and ecological impact resulting from the brewer’s decision.

Negotiations to renew the Montreal workers’ collective agreement will begin in the fall. The current employment contract will expire in December 2017. The rumour is that the brewery will announce its decision regarding the possible construction of a new plant in the spring. The workers’ biggest fear is that the brewer will shift its entire production to cans, a move that will lead to many job losses.

Based on discussions with union leaders at the Toronto plant, Éric Picotte fears that Molson will bring the same requests to the bargaining table in Montreal.

“We will not have Molson’s executives force the same concessions on us as on the Toronto workers,” warned Éric Picotte. “We are willing to negotiate in good faith and with an open mind but only if the quality of our members’ work is recognized for its value and their jobs are preserved.”

Since the merger with Coors and the takeover of Miller, it’s become clear that talks are being led by U.S. business leaders who want to dictate working conditions rather than negotiate fairly. Workers in which workers’ demands are simply rejected out of hand.

“The employer has repeatedly told us that its plants are competing with each other across North America,” added the union leader. “We believe this is a ploy to divide workers in order to make it easier for them to impose unacceptable conditions. We will not fall into this trap; that’s why we went to encourage our brothers and sisters in Toronto.”

Teamsters will be keeping a close eye on the negotiations to renew the Montreal plant’s collective agreement.

The Teamsters represents 115,000 members in Canada in all industries. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, with which Teamsters Canada is affiliated, has 1.4 million members in North America.

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Information:

Stéphane Lacroix, Director of Public Relations
Cell: 514 609-5101
slacroix@teamsters.ca

To all Teamster members at Purolator:

Today we’ve sent a strong message of solidarity by voting 97.4% in favour of strike action. While the membership has authorized strike action, the bargaining committee has not set a strike deadline. The bargaining committee will determine if and when such a deadline is set.

Our hope is that management will now rethink their positions on the issues that brought bargaining to a standstill. Many of the company demands are not acceptable to Teamster members.

We started this process trying to find common ground with Purolator. We remain committed to negotiating in fairness and good faith, and this vote makes it clear that we expect the same from the company. Hopefully negotiations will resume in the near future.

You, the members, are the strength of this union. As Teamsters, we will continue our efforts to bargain a fair and decent contract.

In solidarity,

Gary Kitchen
Chairman of the negotiating committee

François Laporte
President of Teamsters Canada

For more information, please contact your local union. You can also click here to view our previous update.

When talking about the armoured car industry in public, other organizations need to show more respect for trade secrets and for the safety of workers. Too much security information is being openly discussed online and in the press – information that can mean the difference between life and death for the members we serve in this industry.

The safety of armoured car guards is, and has always been, a top Teamster priority. I’m tired of seeing other organizations release sensitive security information right after blabbing about how much they care for workers. They are blatantly placing their own agendas before the safety of the industry.

Armoured car is a dangerous profession and no condition will ever be perfect. Instead of going to the press, it’s important that we deal with potential issues through the proper channels. Teamsters take work refusals and complaints very seriously, and we’re always listening to our membership. It’s precisely because of feedback I got from members that I’m posting this.

We will bring our fight for safety to Parliament and do everything we can to make our voices heard by decision makers. And you can be sure that we’ll do it without putting anyone at risk.

By Jason Sweet, Director of the Teamsters Canada Armoured Car Division

Working with other unions under the umbrella of the General Presidents’ Maintenance Committee for Canada (GPMC/NMC), we’re proud to report that we helped raised $300,000 for the Northern Lights Health Foundation.

Click here to read a thank-you letter from the Northern Lights Health Foundation which highlights the importance of this donation.

The Northern Lights Health Foundation serves to inspire philanthropy and secure funds to improve health and promote wellness in the Wood Buffalo region in Alberta. The foundation and the communities it serves were severely impacted by the Fort McMurray wildfires.

The GPMC/NMC is an alliance of International Building Trades Unions, including Teamsters Canada, that negotiates and administers labour agreements tailored for maintenance work at industrial plants in Canada.

The system provides a stable, long-term maintenance solution for industry and a reliable source of secure employment for unionized construction tradespeople.

Donations like these are proof that unions are committed to helping Alberta fully recover from last year’s wildfires.