Labour briefs

Beer boycott revs up / Cop fired for urinating on fellow officer / Unions inject millions more into economy: CLC / Controversial law assists in bargaining / N.B. improves its labour force
|Canadian Labour Reporter|Last Updated: 09/03/2013

Support for Labatt beer boycott revs up

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) has joined the boycott against the Labatt Brewing Company plant in St. John’s, where workers have been off the job for almost five months.

In mid-August, the CLC, which represents more than three million workers across the country, endorsed the strike by approximately 50 workers who walked off the job in April. Their union, the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees (NAPE), called for a boycott of imported and domestic Labatt products, including Budweiser, Alexander Keith’s, Stella Artois, Beck’s and Bud Light.

"This is a David and Goliath struggle between about 50 local workers and the world’s largest multi-national brewing corporation trying to force its employees into a race to the bottom," said Ken Georgetti, president of the CLC. "Canadian workers and their unions are not going to stand idly by and allow this to happen."

The brewery’s staff cited unfair collective agreements as a key motivation for the strike, and have urged the brewing company to come back to the bargaining table.

In the meantime, Labatt has hired replacement workers — something which has further miffed striking workers.

First agreement reached through controversial law
Staff at a mental health support centre for youth in Halifax have reached their first tentative agreement through the province’s contentious first contract legislation.

On Aug. 21, about 15 workers at the Laing House, including peer support workers, community support officers, youth speaker and community development co-ordinators, administrative assistants and communications staff, were recommended they approve the agreement by their union. The Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU) and the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) said the tentative deal was reached through first contract legislation.

The hotly-contested legislation passed in Nova Scotia in December of 2011, effectively amending the Trade Union Act. Under first contract legislation, the province’s labour board or a third-party have the power to impose first contracts. That way, contracts can be negotiated without the threat of a strike or lockout. While companies resisted the legislation, saying outside parties shouldn’t dictate internal working conditions, the union applauded the move.

"The possibility of an imposed agreement serves to encourage both the union and the employer to compromise and find solutions," NUPGE said. "It’s clear that first contract arbitration can generate freely bargained settlements that are both beneficial to employees and acceptable to employers."

Details of the tentative collective agreement with Laing House have yet to be released.

Cop fired after urinating on fellow officer

A police officer in Edmonton has been fired for urinating on one of his colleagues.

Const. Robert Furlong was turfed from the force after he relieved himself, while intoxicated, on another officer while attending a training exercise on Sept. 30, 2011.

The victim was in bed, wrapped in a sleeping bag, at the time of the assault.

On the night of Sept. 30, a number of officers from the Edmonton Police Service (EPS) on the training exercise decided to go out drinking. Furlong didn’t go with them, but elected to stay behind with some other officers and drink in the shared accommodation. When the officers who left returned, the drinking continued.

Furlong, according to an Alberta Law Enforcement Review Board ruling, consumed a "substantial quality of alcohol."

At 2:30 a.m., Furlong suggested they should try and rouse sleeping colleagues to join them to drink in the hallway. He went into a room where three officers were sleeping and shouted, "Get the f--- up."

One of the sleeping officers, not amused, said: "Come on, man. We’re sleeping." But Furlong persisted, saying, "I said get the f--- up and get out in the hall." The sleeping officer said, again, he wasn’t getting up and Furlong said, "You get out of your bed or I’m going to piss on you."

The officer responded by telling Furlong off. That’s when things went from bad to worse. From the board’s ruling:

"Not content with this answer, (Furlong) undid his trousers’ zipper and urinated on the officer, who was in his sleeping bag, at approximately waist level. The officer jumped up and pushed (Furlong) backwards. Some urine, either directly from (Furlong’s) urine stream or from the urine that had already been on deposited on the sleeping bag, splashed onto the officer’s leg. The officer got up and left the room and headed in the direction of the washroom."

Furlong delivered a one-arm push to the officer as he left the room. Then, proceeded to loudly tell other officers in the hallway about another incident involving his victim. Furlong said the officer was not a team player and had performed poorly during an operation.

The board determined Furlong had used, "abusive and insulting language" that was damaging to the officer’s reputation among his peers.

When the officer returned after cleaning himself, Furlong came into the room. The officer, not wanting to engage Furlong, opened the door and tried to leave — but Furlong wouldn’t let him. He closed the door and prevented the officer from leaving the room against his wishes.

On March 6, 2012, Furlong was charged with four counts of "conduct prejudicial to discipline or likely to bring the reputation of the EPS into disrepute, amounting to discreditable conduct. The four counts were:

• urinating on the officer while he was lying in bed

• pushing the officer into a wall as he attempted to walk past Furlong

• making derogatory speech about the officer to other unit members standing in the hallway

• confining the officer within his assigned room.

The original board decision noted that Furlong never "made any good-faith attempts to apologize" and in fact continued to drink and socialize with others outside the room.

Furlong was fired, effective immediately, from the EPS.

Furlong appealed the ruling and was successful. The board substituted a penalty of a two-year reduction in seniority within rank.

But Edmonton’s police chief appealed this decision to the Court of Appeal, which sent the case back to the board for reconsideration.

The board found the original order, which terminated Furlong’s employment with the Edmonton Police Service, was appropriate.

Unionized jobs inject millions more into economy
Higher payrolls for employees who belong to a union pump millions of extra dollars into the economy compared to non-unionized workers, according to a report from the Canadian Labour Congress.

The Union Advantage

, released on Aug. 22, looked at union members in different provinces and 30 communities across the country, and how they contribute to the local economy. For instance, in Toronto, unionized workers earned $4.36 more an hour than their non-union counterparts, which translates to almost $90.6 million more per week for the local economy. Over in Calgary, that "union advantage" earns employees an additional $2.67 hourly, which means almost $11 million a week for the economy.

Overall, Canadians belonging to unions (about 32 per cent of all workers) make $4.97 more compared non-union staffers, on average. The CLC said that equals to just under $786 million every week for the economy.

"When workers, through their unions, are able to bargain freely for decent wages, benefits and pensions, there are benefits for the middle class and for society as a whole. Unionized workers spend most or all of their pay cheques in businesses in their local community," said Ken Georgetti, president of the CLC. "We believe that decent wages and decent pensions enrich the community and the country."

The CLC used data from Statistics Canada to put out its report.

New Brunswick unveils 3-year blueprint for stronger labour force
New Brunswick has unveiled its plan for the next three years to ensure the province supports the development of a strong labour force.

The Labour Force and Skills Development Strategy 2013-2016 includes three main themes that consist of 44 priority action items, the province said. Those themes are:

• support the K-12 and post-secondary education systems to prepare students adequately for labour force needs

•support learning and skills development

•support the retention and attraction of highly skilled individuals.

Some of the action items outlined in the strategy are:

•Expand successful pilot projects in schools throughout the province, such as the Teen Apprenticeship Program in Saint John.

•Aggressively pursue the development of a regionally streamlined apprenticeship program through the Atlantic Workforce Partnership.

•The provincial government, with leaders of the private sector, will conduct labour market research on each of the six strategic sectors, as well as the energy, mining and oil and natural gas sectors to assist in identifying which occupations are experiencing labour market imbalances today and forecast the positions required for the future.

•Implement enhanced employer wage incentives for priority group clients to assist in securing labour force attachments and opportunities.

•Work to develop and implement a "women in trades" program, which will target job-ready women interested in pursuing training and/or employment in the trades.

•Fund a First Nations co-ordinator who will facilitate linkages and augment access to literacy, essential skills and apprenticeship services on First Nations communities.

•Revitalize the Population Growth Strategy for fiscal 2013-14.

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