October 26, 2017
Our Security Lies in the Fight for
the Rights of All!
Liquidation of Sears Canada
Hamilton Support Rally for Sears Workers
Gather at MP Bob
Bratina's Constituency Office
40 Centennial Parkway North, Unit 2
www.uswa1005.ca or click
here to read flyer
• Liquidation of Sears Canada Is
Quebec National Week
Unemployed -- October 22-28
• Unemployed Workers Demand Significant
to Employment Insurance
One-Day Strike by
Early Childhood Centre Workers in Quebec on October 30
• "The Government, with its Austerity Measures,
Is Taking Us Back 30 Years. We Are Determined Not to Let this Happen."
- Interview, Louise Labrie, Member of National
ECC-CNTU Negotiating Committee
Faculty Stand Firm for the Rights of All
• Demand that the College Employer Council
Return to the Bargaining Table
• Precarious Contract Teaching Has to Stop!
• Rallies Organized Across Ontario to Support
the College Faculty Strike
• Certain Media Attacking College Faculty's
Right to Strike
• Online Petitions
• Be Vigilant on the Picket Line
Our Security Lies in the Fight for the
Rights of All!
Liquidation of Sears Canada Is Nation-Wrecking
Time for a new direction for the
Join the demonstration in Hamilton on October 27,
to denounce the state-organized attack on Sears Canada workers and
pensioners. The U.S. owned and controlled Sears Canada, in an unholy
alliance with the Canadian state has unleashed a broad assault on the
livelihoods, pensions and other post-employment benefits of 33,000
workers and pensioners.
Using the state weapon of the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act
(CCAA), the U.S. imperialist elite in control of Sears Canada and their
Canadian state accomplices are participating in the wrecking of Canada.
Since June, the U.S. parasites have announced the firing of 17,000
Sears Canada workers and open season on the pensions
and benefits of 16,000 pensioners. Through CCAA, the U.S.
ownership is liquidating the entire fixed assets plus inventory of
Sears Canada comprised of 464 stores, 8 home services
showrooms, over 1,500 catalogue and online merchandise pick-up
locations, 102 Sears Travel offices and a nationwide home
maintenance, repair, and installation network. All livelihoods,
pensions, benefits, severance pay, payments due suppliers and
contractors, extended warranties, and certain malls and neighbourhood
stores are at risk. This nation-wrecking by the U.S. imperialists is
aided and abetted by the Trudeau Liberal sellout government.
Since 2005, the U.S. parasites who control Sears
Canada have sucked $3 billion in revenue out of Canada while
refusing to renew the operations for twenty-first century retailing.
During the same period, and especially since the 2008 economic
crisis, workers report that no revenue has been reinvested in the
instead the parasites have intensified their asset stripping,
euphemistically called cost-cutting.
The Sears Canada disaster
proves again that the current direction of the economy does not work; a
new direction of pro-social nation-building is required. This
nation-wrecking and annexation into the U.S. Empire is a catastrophe in
the making for Canadians. The U.S. parasites view Canadian assets and
resources as easy pickings, constantly
sucking money and material out of the country, as U.S. Steel has done
at Stelco and now with this latest debacle. This must stop!
Canadian workers are charged with the social
responsibility to turn the situation around and bring into being a new
pro-social direction for the economy under their leadership based on
pro-social nation-building not the current sellout anti-people
Canada has the working people and resources to build a
modern nation that meets the needs of all and guarantees their rights
Demonstrate on October 27 to denounce the
liquidation of Sears Canada and the state-organized theft of what
belongs to Canadian workers and pensioners by right!
Join the Movement to Build the New!
All Out for Nation-Building with a
Quebec National Week of the Unemployed --
Unemployed Workers Demand Significant Improvements to
Defence organizations of the unemployed are holding
actions across Quebec during the National Week of the Unemployed,
including demonstrations, information sessions and the launch of a
newspaper. They are calling for immediate measures to improve
unemployed workers' eligibility for benefits, including self-employed
mothers who do not accumulate enough hours of work during the year to
be eligible for benefits because they were on maternity leave. They
also demand significant improvements to broaden the EI regime to lift
the unemployed out of their conditions of poverty and harassment.
The Autonomous Movement in
Solidarity with the Unemployed (MASSE), which unites several defence
organizations of the unemployed throughout Quebec, demands:
- A single eligibility threshold of 350 hours
or 13 weeks, instead of multiple thresholds in different regions
now ranging from 420 to 700 hours.
- A benefit rate of at least 70 per cent of the
wage earned based on the best 12 weeks, rather than the rate
of 55 per cent based on the best 14 to 22 weeks (number
of weeks depends on the official regional unemployment rate).
- A minimum of 35 weeks of benefits instead of a
number that varies according to the number of hours worked and the
official regional unemployment rate (weeks of benefits range
from 14 to 45).
- Abolition of the exclusions of more than six weeks
(for refusing a job offer for example) and the abolition of total
exclusion imposed on workers if they are fired or leave their job for a
reason considered to be unjustified.
- The return of the pilot project of an additional five
weeks of benefits in EI economic regions with particularly high
unemployment rates. This is an important demand especially among
seasonal workers so as to avoid the "black hole," the period of time
when workers have exhausted their benefits and have not yet found
- An EI Fund that is protected so that contributions are
used only for paying benefits. It is also an important demand in order
to put an end to the theft of the fund by the government, which has
created huge "surpluses" in the fund since the 1990s by cutting and
reducing benefits and has transferred these amounts (about $ 60
billion) into its general revenue.
- Abolition of the Social Security Tribunal, part of
the Harper government's reform of EI in 2012 to 2013. The Tribunal
essentially excludes workers, making the appeal process a bureaucratic
nightmare. It should be replaced with an appeal process in which
workers can make themselves heard and present their case by putting
forward real life conditions.
The Trudeau government
promised to abolish the Harper government's anti-social reform of the
Employment Insurance regime. It has removed some of the most punitive
aspects, which were unproductive from the point of view of the
government. It has set for itself the agenda to better align the EI
program with the constant upheavals in the
economy and the need of the biggest employers to have a flexible
workforce that they can move around according to their wishes.
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and
Development (OECD) is one of the most ardent proponents of this kind of
reform, which it calls the search for "the right balance between the
need to allow efficient redeployment of the workforce and the
protection of workers." One of the most active bodies promoting this
type of reform in
Canada is the imperialist CD Howe Institute.
The Trudeau government's Finance Minister, Bill Morneau
was the President of the CD Howe Institute from 2010 to 2014.
The Minister of Family, Children and Social Development, Jean-Yves
Duclos has been an associate researcher for several years. The CD Howe
Institute is a strong proponent of an EI system that relies on
flexibility and mobility of workers, as an eligibility criterion to
receive benefits. Two Institute researchers wrote in a 2011 essay
that the benefits the unemployed receive from the EI program "undermine
the economic benefits that stem from labour mobility."
After his election as Canada's Prime Minister on
October 19, 2015, Justin Trudeau made clear his anti-social
intentions in a mandate letter to the Minister of Employment, Workforce
Development and Labour. Trudeau wrote that one of the top priorities
should be to "Improve our Employment Insurance (EI) system so that it
better aligned with the realities of today's labour market."
Mobility and flexibility of the working class to serve
employers is an integral aspect of the marketing of workers' capacity
to work. The big employers want a constant pool of workers who are
forced to move wherever they are needed and to depress wages through
competition for the available work. The imperialist labour market is
the slave market for human chattel. They both send the human commodity
to wherever it is needed according to the demands of those buying the
commodity and not according to the rights and wishes of the human
person being sold, whether as a chattel slave or a worker's capacity to
Modern workers do not agree
with this forced servitude and violation of their rights as human
beings. They view the continued existence of a labour market as just as
objectionable and backward as a slave market. Contrary to Trudeau's
view, a market for human beings cannot serve both the seller of the
human being and the buyer, whether the
seller is a third party selling chattel slaves or workers, or an agency
selling their capacity to work. The human as a commodity is always in a
subservient vulnerable position.
Unemployed workers demand compensation at a Canadian
standard. Unemployment is not the fault of the unemployed. It is an
integral aspect of the current anti-social system to exploit the
working class. In opposition, workers are uniting to change the
situation, such as during the National Week of the Unemployed. In
addition to demanding
immediate measures to defend themselves while unemployed, workers are
also discussing how to bring into being a new pro-social direction for
the economy without a labour market and unemployment, a modern system
that empowers workers and guarantees their rights and well-being and
security at all times.
One-Day Strike by Early Childhood Centre
Workers in Quebec on October 30
"The Government, with Its Austerity Measures,
Is Taking Us Back 30 Years.
We Are Determined Not to Let this Happen."
One of the many actions by Early Childhood Centre Workers to support
their just demands in their negotiations for a new contract. Picture is
from June action in Val-d'Or in Abitibi-Témiscamingue.
On October 30, 11,000 workers working in more than 400
early childhood centers (ECC) will hold a one-day strike. In voting
across Quebec, these workers voted 94 per cent in favour of a six-day
strike mandate to be used at the appropriate time. The workers are
members of the Confederation of National Trade Unions (CNTU). Their
collective agreements expired on March 31, 2015. Workers' Forum
met recently with Louise Labrie, a member of the national ECC-CNTU
Workers' Forum: How many
Early Childhood Centre workers are currently engaged in negotiations
with the government and employers' associations and how are the
Labrie: There are about 1,500 ECCs in Quebec. We
(CNTU) represent a little over 400 centres, about 11,000
workers. We represent the ECC educators, who make up the majority of
workers in the centres, but also workers from other categories such as
people responsible for food, accounting
secretaries, administrative assistants. The overwhelming majority of
people working in the ECCs are women, about 98 per cent. Aside
from us, the Quebec Federation of Labour and the Quebec Central Trade
Union also have members from the ECCs who are also in negotiations.
Their numbers are smaller than ours. The rest of the workers
are not unionized. The unionization rate in the ECCs is about 40
Dealing with the ECCs, we have a multi-level
negotiation. A bargaining process has been established whereby we
negotiate certain issues at the national level for all the workers who
are unionized with us, such as wages, sick leave, vacations and so on.
Other issues are more regional, for example the recall list. Those
things usually do not
include monetary issues but do include regional particularities. We
also have a local level, where we deal with the concrete organization
of the work, the determination of work schedules, for example. Work
schedules are not the same if the ECC has 80 children compared
So we have national, regional and
local tables. Everything that can be standardized in terms of working
conditions, we are trying to accomplish as much as possible. We started
about fifteen years ago with a situation where our 400 ECCs all
had a different collective agreement. We are gradually standardizing
what can be standardized.
For us it is important because we do not understand why a worker who is
in Fermont on the Quebec North Shore would have a different vacation
pattern than someone working in Montreal. Historically, certain things
we have won have spread to other workers. With wage increases, they
usually become applied to all workers, even non-unionized
ECCs are legal private entities, however about 80
per cent of their funding comes from public funds. The share that
parents pay to use the service represents about 20 per cent of the
budgets. The government is sitting at the negotiating table with
The negotiations are complex. This is one reason why it
takes time. We have been without a collective agreement for more than
two years. The management side has difficulty organizing itself each
WF: What are the main issues
in the current negotiations?
LL: Major issues are still
unresolved. The employers are demanding rollbacks in our pension plan.
We really do not want to go there. The workers are already making only
a modest wage; we are not going to tamper with the pension plan to
lower that even more. The wage issue is still not sorted out and issues
We are also dealing with non-monetary issues such as
the participation of workers in general assemblies and in the boards of
directors of the ECCs. Some job categories are under discussion in
terms of including them in the collective agreement. We want to
integrate the category of special needs educator into the collective
we have children with special needs for whom we need support. The
employers want to hire educational assistants, which does not meet the
needs of those children.
As far as the pension plan is concerned, we have a
defined-benefit plan that was put in place in 2003. It is a fairly
recent plan, which is doing well. However, the employers asked us to
raise the retirement age from 60 to 61 and to pay 50 per
cent of past and future deficits. They also want us to accept
entry into the plan and for workers to contribute to the fund. They
tabled a rule that workers must have worked 700 hours before they
can start contributing to their pension plan, which would begin on
January 1 of the following year. Our workers already have low
incomes. It makes no sense to delay their entry into the plan. Our
workers are contributing to the plan on a 50-50 basis with the
government. The issue of sharing the deficits is new. When we asked the
employers to specify the amounts they want to cut by making changes to
our pension plan, they refuse to give an amount. They are "ideological
issues" according to them. Those kinds of setbacks have been
imposed on other pension funds, so they want the same thing to be done
to our plan, which as I pointed out is doing well.
WF: The workers of the Early
Childhood Centres appear determined to block the rollbacks that are
being demanded and to achieve real improvements in their conditions.
LL: Our workers are
determined. You have seen the results of the strike votes. The turnout
for the vote was also very good, up to 70 per cent in some
regions. There have been cases where a whole work team came to take
their strike vote. In addition, it should be noted that these votes are
taken by secret ballot. Our
workers are ready to strike if necessary.
The government austerity measures
have hurt the ECCs badly. The government changed the funding formula.
It has imposed funding rules that require a certain rate of
participation with respect to the number of children who attend a
Centre. When there are fewer children, the trend is to cut jobs, to
send workers home even for half-days. This
greatly affects services. A worker is taken out; the children who
attend are then scattered into other groups. Children feel insecure.
These are not the conditions we require to prepare our children to
enter school. In the last six years, our ECC budgets have been cut by
over $300 million.
This negotiation is very important. In the past we have
gone through rollbacks and losses. In this negotiation, we do not want
to go back any further but rather make headway. The government, with
its austerity measures, is taking us back 30 years, to the kind of
conditions we used to work under at that time. This is unacceptable. We
are determined not to let this happen.
Ontario College Faculty Stand Firm for
the Rights of All
Demand College Employer Council Return
to the Bargaining Table
Rally outside Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development in
downtown Toronto, October 25, 2017.
Twelve thousand Ontario college faculty members
including professors, instructors, counselors and librarians are
engaged in strike action demanding job security and the right to
participate in academic decision-making. The striking faculty have
entered the 11th day of their job action in high spirits and determined
to carry their struggle through to successful completion. They have won
the support of many students and community members who have often
joined the striking faculty on the picket line.
College management continues to refuse to bargain and
increasingly isolated in public opinion. It clings to unreasonable
demands for unfettered use of precariously-employed and underpaid
contract employees who are denied their rights to compensation
commensurate with the important work they perform and to associate in a
union of their choice.
In its refusal to negotiate, the College Employer
Council has the
support of the Ontario Liberal government of Kathleen Wynne. Wynne
promotes the canard that both sides in the dispute are equally
responsible for the current impasse, when the college faculty have made
it clear from the beginning that they want to negotiate a settlement
the Employer Council refuses.
Premier Wynne said, "What I do believe is that both
sides -- both
the college administration and all of the people not in their
classrooms today -- they want to find an agreement. They really want to
get kids back into the classroom." Wynne said this but refused to put
pressure on the College Employer Council to restart negotiations.
The Premier's position was
echoed by Deb Matthews, Minister of
Advanced Education and Deputy Premier. Responding to an open letter
from the College Student Alliance urging the province to have college
administrators and striking faculty return to the bargaining table,
Matthews refused to demand the Employer Council restart bargaining.
Instead, she said, "This Open Letter is a way students are expressing
their concern and engaging in the democratic process: just as the
collective bargaining process is part of our democratic process. While
the uncertainty students face is challenging, I want them to know that
previous college strikes have not led to students losing their
are hopeful that both parties will find a solution at the table that
gets students back in the classroom where they belong."
Both Matthews and Wynne give the impression that the
Employer Council is an independent body and not a creature of the
Ontario government. In this way the government seeks to avoid its
social responsibility to ensure Ontario colleges operate in a way that
serves the interests and needs of the students and society while
the rights of faculty to make decisions affecting their academic
programs and to job security through an increase in full-time staff,
in doing so put end to the unfettered use of contract employees.
Precarious Contract Teaching Has to Stop!
Faculty bargaining committee chair J.P. Hornick speaks at Humber
campus in Toronto, October 20, 2017.
"This [strike] is really the first time that you've seen
12,000 people get up, vote and then walk on precarious work for their
colleagues," said J. P. Hornick, chair of the faculty bargaining
committee and labour studies professor at George Brown College. The
interests of college faculty are to bring about a fundamental change in
way that Ontario community colleges have operated for the last fifty
years. Their demand is for equitable treatment of contract faculty, the
transformation of part-time work into full-time work and the right to
participate in academic decision-making according to academic criteria.
Faculty are demanding that
the colleges return to the bargaining
table and negotiate a collective agreement that recognizes the rights
of all and solves some of the fundamental problems facing the Ontario
College management has arrogantly refused to negotiate
that faculty accept management's unacceptable last offer. Don Sinclair,
CEO at the College Employer Council, says he does not see the strike
ending anytime soon. Speaking on October 23 he said, "I think
would like to see it resolved soon. I just don't see
it being resolved soon. I think this is going to be fairly protracted."
Exposing the Employer Council's plan to prolong the
Sinclair urged students affected by the strike to realize that they
will "get through" it and advised students to "continue to be patient."
In contrast, J.P. Hornick wants to deal directly with
the issues of
concern to the faculty and find a basis for settlement to move forward.
She said, "We are very frustrated with council's continued position
where they are refusing to negotiate at all. It's an incredible
disservice to our students and also disrespectful to the faculty. I am
that we will someday reach a resolution. It's really up to council to
make the next move."
Hornick said the union
called the mediator on October 20 in the hopes that the council had
changed its position but was told it had not. She called on college
management to "enter into actual negotiations versus a singular path to
settlement. ... The faculty has moved several times. The council has
remained steadfast in its reluctance to address any of these issues."
Dave Fasciano, President of OPSEU Local 673 at
Collège Boréal said,
"The management side has literally refused to discuss anything that
we've brought up since the end of July. We've modified our proposals
many times to try to get them to engage, and they haven't."
Rallies Organized Across Ontario to Support the College
Rally at Mohawk College in Hamilton, October 20, 2017.
Working Class, Students and
Supporters in Action to Support
College faculty have received concrete support from
Not only have the representatives of many unions spoken at rallies
across the province, several have taken concrete action to honour the
faculty picket. In several cities, including Sudbury, unionized transit
employees are refusing to cross the faculty picket lines. At other
colleges, such as Confederation in Thunder Bay and Algonquin in Ottawa,
construction workers have honoured faculty picket lines potentially
leaving completion of some projects until the spring.
Mohawk College, Hamilton, October 20, 2017
In Hamilton, faculty at
Mohawk College held a rally on October 20, to garner support for their
struggle. The union invited all to attend the rally, to talk to faculty
about their strike struggle and to lend their voice to the call for a
better college system. The rally was attended by executives, members
and retirees from Local 1005 USW at Stelco amongst other supporters
from unionized workers.
"What a great rally and turnout," said Jake Lombardo, a
retiree. "[It's] time the Wynne Liberals get their asses back to the
table and negotiate a deal so our teachers and future generations can
get back to their studies."
"We know why we are here. We are here to end the
contract and temporary workers," said Mohawk College OPSEU
President Geoff Ondercin-Bourne.
Solidarity rally at Collège Boréal, Sudbury, October 20,
In Sudbury, OPSEU Local 672, representing faculty at
Collège Boréal, and OPSEU Local 655, representing
Cambrian College Academic personnel held a joint solidarity rally at
College Boreal. More than 100 college faculty were joined by students,
CUPE, the Laurentian University Faculty Association, the International
Brother of Electrical Workers, Catholic teachers and others.
Seneca College, York University Campus, October 19, 2017
College faculty members were joined by hundreds of
allies from across the union movement at a raucous rally on Seneca
College campus at York University in Toronto on October 19.
chanted slogans in defence of their rights and marched throughout the
campus. Speakers included representatives from the
Canadian Federation of Students, the Toronto and York Region Labour
Council, CUPE Ontario, and the Canadian Association of University
Teachers. Chris Buckley, president of the Ontario Federation of Labour,
and J.P. Hornick, chair of the OPSEU college faculty bargaining team,
The Ottawa and District Labour Council organized a
Ontario college faculty and OPSEU Local 415 at Algonquin College
Canadore College faculty picket MPP Vic Fedeli's constituency office,
North Bay, October 19, 2017.
Also on October 19, in North Bay, dozens of
College teachers picketed PC MPP Vic Fedeli's office to bring attention
to their struggle.
Faculty and students held a powerful solidarity rally
on the theme
"Another Day Longer, Another Day Stronger!" at Humber College's
Lakeshore Campus in Toronto on October 20. The rally called for
security for contract faculty, more full-time teaching positions, a
real voice for students, faculty and staff in how our colleges are
run, and a commitment to quality education for the 500,000
all 24 community colleges across Ontario. The rally was attended
representatives of the Toronto and York Region Labour Council, the
Ontario Federation of Labour, and the Canadian Association of
Humber College, Lakeshore Campus, October 20, 2017
College faculty, students and supporters from all over
Toronto Area rallied together outside the Ministry of Advanced
Education and Skills Development offices in downtown Toronto on
October 25, in support of faculty's Better Plan for the Ontario
system. They demanded that the College Employer Council return to
the bargaining table and negotiate a collective agreement with college
faculty that solves many of the problems facing faculty and students.
Rally at Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development,
Toronto, October 25, 2017
Students and faculty have no plans to ease up on their
actions. At Confederation College in Thunder Bay, a rally called
"Students and Alumni Stand with Confederation College Faculty" is being
organized. Another rally is planned for St. Clair College in Windsor.
Students are also organizing
events to support college
bring public attention to the issues affecting the college system. In
Toronto, a Student Rally and March is planned for November 2
noon outside the Office of Deb Matthews, Deputy Premier and Minister of
Advanced Education and Skills Development at
Bay and Wellesley. The rally and march is being organized by Centennial
College Students and OPSEU Local 558. The march will conclude at
A group of students are organizing student solidarity
with the striking faculty at George Brown College. They plan to meet
each week at a local coffee shop and walk over together to join the
faculty on the picket line. They are calling on students and workers to
unite to defend full-time, quality work.
Certain Media Attacking College Faculty's
Right to Strike
A number of media outlets have been stirring up
trouble. Some media
keep talking about "both sides" needing to bargain. This repeats the
irresponsible line of the Wynne government. On this the people should
be clear. The College Employer Council is stonewalling.
One media outlet in Sudbury printed an article on the
second day of
the strike, which spoke of a number of difficulties facing college
students as a result of the job action. Such articles are meant to
destroy public opinion in support of the faculty, dissuade people from
discussing the issues with faculty members and arouse students to
the teachers' just position. The article in question was not factual
but based on a press release put out the week before the strike began
by a group calling itself the College Student Alliance. It warned of
potential student problems if a strike should occur. The media outlet
picked this up to disinform the people.
Another media outlet ran a long article on the
difficulties of international students with their high tuition fees and
potential extra living expenses if the school year were to be extended
because of the strike. The media do not usually dwell on the
difficulties facing international students, which are issues they face
all the time, including the fundamental injustice of charging
international students higher tuition in the first place.
Over 100,000 people have signed an online
demanding a tuition refund for each day missed in the Ontario college
strike. One thousand people have signed another petition demanding that
Don Sinclair, the CEO of the College Employer Council, Sonia Del
Missier, chair of its negotiating committee, and the presidents
of the 24 colleges donate their salaries to a student bursary fund
the duration of the strike. A third petition, originating in Thunder
Bay, calls on faculty to reject any forced vote on management's last
offer at a time dictated by management. This arbitrary power was
extended to management in the 2009 changes to the Colleges
Collective Bargaining Act.
Be Vigilant on the Picket Line
Union organizers remind everyone to watch out for
attacking the picket line. College management's decision not to attempt
to conduct classes without full-time faculty has significantly reduced
tension on the picket lines. Faculty members have demonstrated in three
previous strikes that management cannot operate the colleges
without the full-time faculty.
However, picketing still has its dangers. One picketer
when he was knocked over by a car on October 19, at Northern
Kirkland Lake by a motorist running the picket line. The motorist did
not stop. At Mohawk's Fennell campus on October 23, one teacher
by a car whose driver then got out and
assaulted the picketer. These incidents recall the tragic death of
Professor John Stammers who was killed during the 2006 strike by
someone running the picket line at Centennial College in Scarborough.
No police charges were ever laid in that incident.
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