Mistreated, marginalized, migrant

Charting the wins and losses of migrant agricultural workers in Ontario during seven months of COVID-19.

“Any time a migrant worker says they’re sick, it’s like they’re not supposed to be sick.”

These are the words of Maria,* a migrant agricultural worker from the Caribbean who is currently working at a farm in Windsor-Essex County. Maria did not want to share her name, country of origin, or employer, out of fear of being punished. 

Maria is one of thousands of migrant farmworkers across Ontario. These workers come from the Caribbean, Latin America, and Asia, most via the federal Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). 

Read the full story in Briarpatch Magazine.

Shared Risk? OMERS indexing dispute fits pattern of attacks

The Ontario Municipal Employee Retirement System (OMERS) Sponsors Corporation Board of Directors will be voting on whether or not to scrap guaranteed indexing for members in favour of a proposal they call “Shared Risk,” on June 24.

OMERS is a defined benefit plan for about half a million municipal workers in Ontario, including school board and Children’s Aid Society employees, library workers, police, firefighters and paramedics. This is not the first time the plan have tried to push this cut on Ontario workers. In 2018, Rankandfile.ca reported on a previous attempt by the pension fund to push for conditional indexing. The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) campaigned against this change then, and they are fighting again now.

CUPE members represent 45% of the OMERS pension plan membership. Rankandfile.ca spoke to the CUPE about their current campaign and what this change would mean for Ontario municipal workers.

Read the full story at rankandfile.ca.

Union drive at WeedMD takes another twist

An effort to unionize workers at Ontario cannabis company WeedMD just got more complicated for the labour movement.

The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) has been trying to organize at the medpot company’s Strathroy and Aylmer facilities.

Kevin Shimmin, a national representative with UFCW, says workers contacted the union a few weeks ago over working conditions. He says allegations against the company include that it “terminated one or more employees for exercising their rights” to sign union cards.

Read the full story in NOW Magazine.

Essential but precarious: Toronto bike couriers fight for a union

Since Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced restaurants would stay open for takeout and delivery during the COVID19 pandemic, bicycle couriers have ben deemed “essential” workers.

Already a dangerous job, bicycle couriers working for food delivery apps like Foodora, Uber Eats, Doordash and Skip the Dishes have no sick leave, no health insurance. Now they’re part of a newly front line fleet of workers whose job helps people stay at home, and therefore contain the spread of the coronavirus. 

Rankandfile.ca spoke with two Toronto couriers about what it’s like to work at this time.

Read the full story at rankandfile.ca.

Ontario teachers begin one-day strike against Ford’s cuts

Today, members of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF) walk off the job to protest ongoing attacks to the education system by Doug Ford’s government. Key issues for the teachers’ job action include preserving jobs, lowering class sizes and rejecting mandatory e-learning courses for students.

The one-day province-wide walk-out will close secondary schools across the province. Though this is only a one-day strike, further job action is still “on the table” if an agreement is not reached with the province.

According to the OSSTF, this strike has been a long time coming.

Read the full the story at rankandfile.ca.

Ontario’s education workers inch closer to strike position

Last week, negotiations between the Canadian Union of Public Employees’ (CUPE) bargaining agent the Ontario School Board Council of Union (OSBCU) and the province move to mediation as bargaining makes no progress for the 55,000 education workers CUPE represents across Ontario.

RankandFile.ca spoke with OSBCU President Laura Walton about the role of the government and Council of Trustees’ Associations (CTA) in the lack of progress in negotiations.

“We have done as much as we possibly can,” she says. “We have come up with solutions, we have heard concerns, we have offered alternatives. But we’re not willing to take less for our members who are already making less than they were making five years ago. We’re not willing to do that. And I don’t think the public undervalues us in the same way that we’re seeing from the government and or from the [CTA].”

Read the full story at rankandfile.ca.

Bargaining stalled for Ontario’s education workers

On July 31, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) filed for conciliation after 10 days of bargaining with the Council of Trustees’ Associations (CTA) and the provincial government. RankandFile.ca spoke with Laura Walton, President of CUPE’s provincial bargaining agent, the Ontario School Board Council of Unions (OSBCU), to discuss bargaining so far and the issues at stake for the 55,000 education workers they represent across Ontario.

Read the full story at Rankandfile.ca.

Human rights support centre workers fight back against provincial cuts

“Our thing is that, as front line work is being cut, overall it affects the people of Ontario being served. I mean, what are they to do? If they’re being discriminated [against] in a human rights matter, what do they do? It’s not just impacting our front line people, it’s impacting the people of Ontario. That’s why our slogan is Human Rights Matter because it should matter. It should matter to all Ontarians, to all people.”Angela Huynh-Chew, Legal Case Coordinator at the Ontario Human Rights Legal Support Centre (HRLSC), in an interview with Rankandfile.ca.

Read the full story at Rank and File.

Victory at OMERS

On November 15, representatives from employers and unions with members in the OMERS pension plan came together to vote on changes proposed in June. The result was 50% plus one in favour of the changes, a thin majority that fell short of the two-third majority required to make changes to the OMERS pension plan.

Read the full story at Rank and File.

CUPE fighting scare tactics at OMERS

In June, the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS) announced it would be voting on a number of changes that would hugely impact the 500,000 workers that contribute to it across Ontario in November.

According to Fred Hahn, President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees Ontario, at the latest OMERS sponsors meeting the plan presented skewed numbers to convince union representatives that changes to the pension plan are necessary to protect workers.

“It’s all about the math!” he explains. “The math is like an equation and if you plug various pieces into an equation the output will be whatever you plug in. If you plug in a bunch of terrible looking variables, then the outcome could make it look like the plan’s in trouble. That’s not true.”

Read the full story at Rank and File.