Teamsters in Calgary Are Making a Difference

Raising the minimum wage in Canada is a polarizing issue, to say the least. Here’s something to read about the labour union from Calgary.

Business owners are concerned about the cost, with CEO’s speaking out against the raise. The latest being Eric R. La Fleche of Metro Inc and Loblaws’ CEO Galen Weston.

According to the Huffington Post, Weston ‘whined to investors about the irritating cost of paying its workers a living wage’ But Loblaws doubled its profits last year.

But others feel that it is time for people working in low wage jobs to be making more, with several provinces committed to raising the minimum wage.

Odds are you know at least one person who’s working a part-time or low wage job or you yourself have. The research shows that the majority of those who work in those jobs are employees of color or women.

According to the Canadian Women’s Foundation, almost 70 percent of part-time employees are women and 60 per cent of minimum-wage earners are female. They also found that most women are working, but ‘can not earn enough to lift themselves from poverty because they are clustered in these precarious and low-paid jobs.’

Workers of color earn 81 cents for every dollar and there is a much wider gap for workers of color that are women, Indigenous or have accessibility difficulties.

Labour laws and raising the minimum wage are both ways to tackle this issue and another tool is unionization.

Unions have to lead the way in regards to fair wages and good jobs for all Canadians including workers and women of color.

In Alberta alone, marriage women earn $7.76/hour longer than non-union workers and Indigenous union workers earned $8.47/hour more than non-union.

Besides fair salary, union workers also have safer workplaces, health benefits, and reasonable scheduling — all things lacking in many low-wage and precarious positions.

Whilst raising the minimum wage is important, unionization has become an important part of assisting workers across Canada.

Teamsters Call on Ontario Teachers Pension Plan to Stop Abuse of U.S. Workers

Teamsters rallied outside the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (Teachers’) offices today, publicly calling on Teachers’ to stop human and worker rights abuses at EXAL Corp., an aluminum bottle manufacturer in Youngstown, Ohio. EXAL is owned and managed by the Canadian retirement plan.

The demonstration took place during Toronto’s morning rush hour. Dozens of Teamsters chanted demands urging Teachers’ to quit using the hard-earned pension assets of Ontario’s unionized teachers to deny U.S. employees their right to organize and collectively bargain.

“Teachers’ proclaims a commitment to socially responsible investing, while actively promoting and funding a vicious campaign of fear and intimidation against workers in the United States at EXAL,” said Robert Bouvier, President of Teamsters Canada. “We are here in order to call on Teachers’ to step up and finish this worker abuse.”

“We are united in the struggle to protect the rights of workers in Canada, the U.S. and around the world. We’ll hold the Teachers’ accountable to their commitments as a responsible investor,” said Randy Doner, President of Teamsters Joint Council 52 in Canada.

After EXAL workers began organizing with Teamsters Local 377 in Youngstown, Ohio, early in 2012, management began aggressively intimidating and retaliating against union supporters.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the federal agency responsible for enforcing labor law in the U.S., found that EXAL unlawfully harassed, interrogated, threatened and spied on workers who support joining the Teamsters.

“I’m not the only one who lost everything. Management wanted to make an example of me for carrying on the role of the union activist,” said Daniel Szenborn, a seven-year EXAL worker in Youngstown who was terminated by the company in February. The NLRB found that Szenborn was harassed and spied on by EXAL administration.

“EXAL Corporation and Teachers’ continue to subject employees to intimidation and harassment, simply because the workers want to enhance their own lives and join the union,” said Ralph “Sam” Cook, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 377. “All we need is for these employees to be able to exercise their right to hold a fair election free from management interference or influence.”

Teachers’ has refused repeated calls from the Teamsters, the Ontario Teachers’ Federation and the Canadian Labour Congress to take action to safeguard EXAL employees. As the controlling owner of EXAL, the pension plan has three agents directly from the ranks of its Teachers’ Private Capital Division serving on the board of EXAL.

EXAL manufactures aluminum bottles for Coca-Cola and Pepsi, as well as Anheuser-Busch InBev manufacturers, such as Budweiser and Bud Light.