In Ontario, People Support Education

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Educators in Ontario are currently on rolling strikes because the provincial Conservative government has chosen to weak havoc on the education system. Since they’ve been elected they’ve sliced and diced all that matters to ensure Ontario has a functioning education system (they’ve even cited chronically-underperforming Alabama as an educational state to follow). You can see a full list of cuts by the Conservatives here.

It’s clear that people are sick of the Conservative’s incompetence and are actively supporting the education system. The government launched a propaganda campaign to pay parents for days their kids missed school due to labour actions. This campaign has utterly backfired and parents receiving the money are donating it back to the school system and educators – where the money should go in the first place.

“It’s amazing that while the Ford gov. is trying to win a public relations battle against teachers, they essentially proved they could provide real childcare subsidies if they have the interest and willpower to do it,” wrote MPP Chris Glover on Twitter earlier today.

Some parents are even choosing to take the money and donate it back to the education system.

“Show our educators your support & Stephen Lecce and Doug Ford your displeasure. Let them know that as a province, we do NOT accept their decisions,” reads an online petition started by parent Amy Llewellyn.

“We want money in our schools, not our pockets.”

Read more.

Governments Reacting to the Failures of the Gig Economy

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According to economists the economy is the labour market is fine as unemployment is relatively low. The truth is different from the on-paper measurements. High employment numbers don’t mean much if the jobs don’t pay well and the working conditions are miserable. The modern “gig economy” is to blame for this counterintuitive economic situation. Governments are starting to catch on that these “modern” jobs aren’t nearly as beneficial to workers or the economy as more traditional jobs were. As a result new laws are being passed to prevent workers from being exploited by the likes of Uber and other gig economy giants.

AB 5’s reclassification provision would also allow gig workers to unionize, granting them a modicum of protection. Big Tech greeted previous unionization efforts with outright hostility. In November, Google publicly fired five engineers involved in union activity. Other companies, like Uber, use antitrust law to bar drivers from collective action to address their concerns.

A more radical approach would be to break up the Big Tech monopolies that have such a tight grip on California and its economy, making it more difficult for these companies to dictate the terms of employment. Presidential candidates such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have vowed to dismantle giants like Facebook and Google if elected. Sanders’s plan, arguably the most ambitious, would order companies to offer workers more benefits and higher wages and pensions. Workers would also need to make up at least 45 percent of companies’ board memberships, ensuring that they would have a seat at the table when executives make decisions that affect their livelihood.

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A Union in the Kitchen will Improve Your Life

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Thanks to the efforts of billionaires, and other corrupt individuals, union workers have been portrayed as lazy and inept. If anything, the opposite is true. Workers in unions have different goals than business owners insofar that workers just want to earn a good living while owners want to extract profit from consumers. Young workers today have noticed that the profit motive has left behind has the cost of living increase and wages remain stagnant. This has forced many young workers to unionize, and that unionization push is starting where a lot of young people end up working: kitchens.

Public opinion has recently swung in the other direction. Just over 10 percent of Americans are in a union now, considerably less than the 34 percent in 1954. However, more than half of Americans now say they view unions favorably, a number that has risen from around 41 percent since the recession. If there’s a silver lining to the ongoing decline of unionization, it’s that now, “membership in unions has gotten so low that people don’t even have a negative view of unions anymore,” Rogers says. There’s less of the cultural baggage associated with being in one, the slate has been wiped clean. Many of the organizers I spoke to said they’d never been in a union before, and either had no idea what they were about until recently, or a positive impression based on a dictionary definition of a union as a group of people with common cause arguing for their rights.

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May Day: When Rules Don’t Apply

Unions have got a bad reputation in North America for reasons I don’t understand. Counterintuitively, large corporations have convinced millions of workers that their jobs are negatively impacted by workers helping each other. It’s been proven that when CEOs talk about how much they make their average wage goes up; those same CEOs don’t want their own workers doing the same. Indeed, silicon valley CEOs went out of their way to ensure that the people they hire cannot even get paid more at other companies.

Today is May Day and a good chance to think about the history and value of the labour movement. We still need to work together today for a better tomorrow and this is a chance to celebrate our successes.

Top executives of leading tech companies secretly agreed among themselves not to hire each other’s employees, thereby restricting wages and job opportunities of the very people to whom they owed their success.

Government investigators discovered the conspiracy and brought charges against the companies, using antitrust law to protect labor rights.

Read more and check out the film.

Unions Help Every Worker Earn More

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Unions have a bad reputation thanks to years of corporate lobbying and companies blaming workers for executive-induced problems. Despite the negative view of unions they have helped all workers get paid more and get more benefits. Research out of the University of Illinois concludes that unions are directly connected to broader worker rights and better wages throughout the economy, meaning that if you’ve never been part of a union you have benefitted from their work.

The unionization-inequality connection remains even when looking only at nonunion members, or at union members in only public or only private sectors, VanHeuvelen said. For instance, the study suggests that nonunion workers would have seen 3 to 7 percent higher wage growth over their careers if not for the decline in the indirect power of unions.

The connection also remains when looking only at workers who have moved – or only those who have not moved – between either industries or regions of the country. It also remains when looking only at the last three decades or only at workers born since 1960.

Read more.

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