All Posts Tagged With: "labour"
Campus pubs suffer from costly servers and low prices
Ask a pub owner to describe a dream location and it would have to be where thousands of thirsty twentysomethings pass by each day. That’s why Noah Davis-Power is dumbfounded that the Breezeway, the bar run by his student union, has lost roughly $120,000 a year for two years. Its owner, the Memorial University of Newfoundland Student Union, has a total budget of $1.2 million, most of which comes from mandatory student fees. “If you worked it out real quick,” says Davis-Power, “each student’s losing $10 a year [at the bar]. That’s two beer poured down the drain.”
Campus pubs propped up by student fees are surprisingly common, due to bad management, high labour costs and pressure from students for artificially low prices. By the time the University of Windsor’s Thirsty Scholar pub shut down in April, it was more than $1 million in debt.
Parties agree to arbitration
WINNIPEG – A strike by professors at the University of Manitoba has been averted.
The university and its faculty association reached a last-minute deal Monday night about half an hour before professors were to hit the picket line.
As a result, classes will continue as scheduled.
The three-year agreement on all major issues will ensure there will be no work stoppage.
The parties have agreed to have the remaining issues sent to arbitration.
Faculty association say it’s not about wages
Professors at the University of Manitoba may go on strike on Tuesday putting nearly 30,000 students’ semesters in jeopardy.
In an open letter published on its website and copied below, the University of Manitoba Faculty Association says a strike would not be about wages, “although University of Manitoba academics, at virtually all ranks, are at the bottom of any list of average salaries for comparable universities in Canada.” (The average salary in Canada is $138,853 for a full professor and $89,681 for an assistant professor compared to an average at Manitoba of $133,073 for a full professor and $80,319 for an assistant.) Instead, they say, the main issue is academic freedom.
The university’s administration has set up the page umanitoba.ca/strikeinfo to offer information. In an e-mail to all students, the administration wrote it will, “support the continuation of classes and services in the event of UMFA strike action,” and that, “sessional appointees, teaching assistants and certain members of the Faculty of Medicine…. will continue with academic duties.” However, it’s unclear whether any sessional appointees or teaching assistants would cross picket lines to teach.
Faculty strikes can drag on for months and students often lose class time and tuition money. After Brandon University’s 45-day strike ended in 2011, the term was pushed into May but students still lost class time. After York University’s 85-day-long strike of contract professors, teaching assistants, and graduate assistants in 2008-09, which ended only after a special bill passed in Ontario’s legislature, students were allowed to choose between dropping courses and getting refunds or a condensed semester that stretched as late as June 2nd.
Here is the rest of UMFA’s letter to students:
We are at a serious impasse on several matters: academic freedom; privacy of email and other correspondence; whether the administration can use evaluative measures to restrict the kind of research that will be valued here; and whether collegial governance principles will be respected when setting promotion and tenure criteria and weightings. There has been a steady erosion of collegial governance over the last few years and a decreasing respect for the opinions, views, and beliefs of the academic community here at the University of Manitoba. We are fighting that trend.
Academic freedom is one of the pillars of a good university. UMFA Members want to have the Collective Agreement clearly state that we have the right to criticize the university administration, and that we have the right to contribute to social change through the free expression of opinion on all matters of public interest without fear of reprisal or repression by the university administration. The administration refuses to put these changes into the Collective Agreement.
The administration has said that it is not attempting to reduce rights under the UMFA Collective Agreement. But the truth is that this administration is taking new initiatives outside the collective bargaining process that undermine academic freedom. It has proposed what it calls “performance management systems” that would control what research a professor could do, where that research could be published, and how it could be funded. Researchers would have to meet targets set by administrators, instead of having the academic freedom to choose research projects according to their best professional judgment.
These restrictions on research essentially undermine the idea of the university. A good university has scholars who are immersed in, and passionate about, their subject areas. They strive to expand their fields, not to narrow them into easily “manageable” categories. Protecting academic freedom is essential to maintaining a high quality of education for students.
The administration is also amalgamating and discontinuing faculties in ways that undermine fundamental principles of collegial governance. While the administration asks for the opinions of academics and students, it is clear that it does not take these views into consideration and is not going to change the direction that it has set. We can’t bargain for students, but we must bargain for our Members’ rights to have a real influence on the administration’s decisions and for our rights to be respected when these changes do go forward.
The administration is using its vast public relations resources, including its student listserv, to send you, the students, its perspective on the current state of negotiations. We will do our best to provide you with information from our perspective. We are proposing a mediation process to the university in the hopes of reaching an agreement at the table.
We hope that we can reach a settlement and avoid a strike. But if a satisfactory settlement cannot be reached, a strike will begin on the morning of Tuesday, October 22.
If there is a strike, we hope you will support and respect UMFA’s picket lines. The Manitoba Human Rights Code covers the University of Manitoba and prevents discrimination against students on political grounds. Therefore, students who refuse to cross picket lines must be accommodated and cannot be subject to academic penalty or disadvantage. If there is a strike, picket lines will be up from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. at all Fort Garry campus entrances, with one on the Bannatyne Campus as well.
Experts say more Canadians should consider skilled trades
VANCOUVER – The current shortage of skilled tradespeople in Western Canada is so dire that the B.C. Construction Association is returning to Ireland this month to hire 600 people, said the group’s vice-president.
In fact, even if one-in-five students graduating from high school in B.C. during the next three years were to pursue a trade, there still wouldn’t be enough workers to fill shortages in the province’s construction industry, said Abigail Fulton.
Not everybody agrees with the recruitment drive, especially the province’s labour leaders who argue employers can find skilled, unionized Canadian workers to fill immediate, vacant positions.
Yet, a consensus is developing that there will be a shortage of skilled workers in the coming decade, as proponents of the liquefied natural-gas industry, hydro-electric projects and oil and gas pipelines push their proposals forward.
“There’s lots of evidence to suggest we’re not doing enough to train construction workers in skilled trades in British Columbia, and if even half these projects come through we’re going to have a crisis unless we start now to deal with the problem,” said Jim Sinclair, president of the BC Federation of Labour.
The provincial government’s own statistics indicate there will be more than one-million job openings over the next decade, and more than 153,000 of those will be among trades, transport, equipment operators and related occupations. Retirements will be responsible for two-thirds of the vacancies, and new economic growth will be behind the remaining third, states the British Columbia Labour Market Outlook 2010-2020.
Air conditioning unfixed despite 34 degree heat
A strike that began Sunday at the University of Windsor has caused some class cancellations today, according to reports on Twitter. Professors have been dismissing lectures inside buildings where failed air conditioning won’t be fixed by striking workers or contractors, who refused on Tuesday to cross picket lines. Temperatures reached 34 degrees on Tuesday and 31 degrees by Wednesday afternoon. The university’s Facebook page says A/C was off in half of classrooms Tuesday but, “Mother Nature will bring her own relief on Thursday.” Those who walked off the job include roughly 300 lab technicians, IT workers, plumbers, carpenters, graphic designers and nurses. The strike has caused a long list of events to be cancelled, including 50th anniversary celebrations. Some are making the best of a bad situation.CUPE 1393, the union, is handing out cool treats while some instructors have held classes outdoors. Here’s how students have reacted so far on Twitter:
— katy webb (@_kwebb) September 11, 2013
Couldn't handle the heat today, had to skip class, how is anyone supposed to learn in conditions like that? @UWindsor
— Tarah Sellars (@canis_teasella) September 11, 2013
— Heidi Lamb (@heidilamb) September 11, 2013
— Bernard Wu (@bnardwu) September 11, 2013
— neec xx (@nicole_topliffe) September 11, 2013
@alijaworsk come to uwindsor: where we cook our students for $3000 a semester
— daniela ice (@dvp93) September 11, 2013
I was told engineering would be hell, this is the fire and brimstone I expected! Crank the heat up; see what @UWindsor students are made of!
— Brandon Baioff (@Baiogg) September 11, 2013
— lanie-joy smith (@laaniejoy) September 11, 2013
The affordability problem is hard to address
Ryerson University has dropped its food contract with Aramark, which was paid $5.6 million over five years just to cover losses. Now the downtown Toronto school is promising “a new era of food” with more local, sustainable, gluten-free, vegan and halal options from a new corporate partner, Chartwells. The Ryerson Students’ Union isn’t happy. It would have preferred an in-house co-op.
But I doubt the switch to Chartwells or a co-op could address Ryerson students’ main complaint.
When I spoke to Ryerson students last fall about food, they said their biggest concern wasn’t finding more vegan or halal. The reason they packed lunches or frequented the Pizza Pizza across the street was the high prices on campus. Indeed, a turkey wrap, milk and melon cup cost a painful $14.28. It was $13.33 with a meal plan.
Universities worried about damage to Canada’s reputation
The unprecedented job action Monday by Canada’s striking diplomats sparked recriminations in the tourism sector as an estimated 150 visa officers walked off the job in 15 foreign missions.
The Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers escalated the rotating job action after an attempt to seek binding arbitration with the federal government broke down last week.
Canada’s tourism association blamed the diplomats for walking away from binding arbitration.
“We are disappointed the union has walked away from the mediation process, just as we were profoundly disappointed that they purposefully chose this time of year for their action — when we have the highest volumes of both visitor and student visas,” David Goldstein, president of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada, said in an emailed statement.
Student union says it’s standing up for young workers
“How does a bar in the middle of a university in the middle of Newfoundland lose money?,” says Noah Davis-Power. “That is absolutely astounding.”
Last year when Davis-Power was running for a spot on the Memorial University of Newfoundland Students’ Union executive, he pushed to see its budget. At first he was first told he couldn’t have it, because he might take it out of context. That’s an argument often used by Canadian student unionists who don’t want their budgets publicly available. Mid-election, MUNSU relented. It turned out the $1.1-million organization, financed mostly by a mandatory $40-a-semester fee, had lost $120,000 that year at The Breezeway, a campus bar it owns. This year it budgeted for a $161,000 loss.
Davis-Power says he expects future losses to be even higher now that MUNSU has decided to boycott Labatt’s beer to show solidarity with about 45 striking brewery workers in St. John’s.
More university graduates working as baristas: labour leader
Coffee shop workers in Halifax are leading a push to unionize in what could serve as a model for baristas elsewhere in Canada, one national union says.
In recent months, employees at one cafe joined a union and workers at two others have launched efforts to do the same.
“We’re seeing a real phenomenon in Halifax of coffee shop workers coming together and organizing,” said Tony Tracy, Atlantic representative for the Canadian Labour Congress.
“In terms of the coffee shop industry, Halifax has been a bit of an anomaly.”
Employees at a Just Us! coffee shop in Halifax successfully joined Local 2 of the Service Employees International Union. The unionization came amid an allegation carried in local media reports that two workers were fired for trying to form a union, an accusation the employer denied, saying it had not been aware of a bid to unionize.
Workers at two Second Cup outlets in the city also recently voted whether to join the same union, though the Labour Board has yet to release their results.
It’s paid work that leads to job offers, high starting salaries
The debate over unpaid internships usually goes like this. Those in favour say they’re a necessary evil and that students who take them on are getting job free training and a foot in the door to a paid job. Those opposed argue the gigs exploit desperate people who are willing to work for free just for a foot in the door to a job, and besides that, there’s also the fact that most are probably illegal.
That debate may soon be over. New data suggest unpaid internships aren’t leading to jobs.
The National Association of Colleges and Employers surveyed 9,200 U.S. students in their graduating year this spring. Among those who did paid internships, 63.1 percent had at least one job offer, compared to 37 per cent of those who did unpaid internships and 35.2 per cent of those who did none. That suggests unpaid gigs only boosted job prospects a tiny bit, if at all.
Skills mismatch may mean 1.5 million vacancies by 2016
On a recent February evening, Karl Eve received an emergency call from a restaurant owner in Canmore, Alta. The busy eatery had suddenly found itself with no hot water, even though the basement hot water tanks appeared to be working fine. A plumber with 10 years’ experience, Eve eventually traced the problem to a malfunctioning dishwasher and got the hot water flowing again—much to the owner’s relief.
It’s the sort of detective work Eve says he loves about his job. He also likes that his plumbing business, which he runs with his wife in nearby Exshaw, provides his family with a comfortable middle-class lifestyle. But it was a career he very nearly missed. Never a fan of textbooks, Eve ended up toiling in a southern Ontario gypsum mine after high school. It was only after moving to Alberta years later that he considered a career in the trades. A chance meeting at a church potluck led to a ride-along with a local plumber and, ultimately, an apprenticeship. “I discovered there was a lot to learn, especially when it came to math,” Eve says of his four years of training, which included eight weeks a year in a classroom. “The amount of education was very surprising to me, but in a positive way. I grasped it with both hands, so to speak.”
Eve’s story is more rare than it should be in Canada. Many consider the trades to be low-paying, go-nowhere jobs, if they consider them at all. But it’s a perception not grounded in reality, as Eve’s healthy hourly rate of $90 to $135 suggests. Nor is it one Canada can afford to maintain. Numerous studies warn Canada is facing a massive shortage of skilled workers over the next few decades as millions of baby boomers hit retirement age and exit the workforce.
Colleges create programs in response to industry demand
Amy Gordon was in the middle of completing her second university degree when she decided to go to college instead. Gordon already had a degree in biology from the University of Alberta, and was studying chemical engineering at the University of Calgary. “I was getting really tired of learning lecture-style theory. I had an itch to get more hands-on and learn more,” says the 29-year-old.
So she left U of C, and is now nearing the end of a two-year diploma program in instrumentation engineering at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) in Edmonton. Gordon has been getting the hands-on training she wanted in labs supported by—and named after—Spartan Controls Ltd. The company has poured about $8-million worth of equipment into the program since 2007, essentially creating labs that replicate what it’s like to work in a refinery, giving students access to training on new technology.
What students are talking about today (February 22nd)
1. Students at Brandon University were excited for some metal after KISS frontman Gene Simmons posted earlier this month on his website that the band would play July 18th in the Wheat City. Both The Quill and the Brandon Sun reported the news but now the date has now disappeared from Simmons’ website and it’s unclear whether they’re even coming. This may not seem like a big deal to most of us, but it shows how desperate students in small cities are for entertainment.
2. Here’s disturbing news. Daniel Younis, 24, was Recruiting Coordinator and Running Back coach for the York University Lions football team when he was arrested this month for luring a child under 18 and attempting to make child pornography following Internet chats with a 16-year-old boy.
What students are talking about today (February 19th)
1. Brandon University student Mason Kaluzniak left this weekend’s basketball game with free tuition to his Manitoba school. In the season’s final Shoot-out for Tuition contest he was drawn at random and asked to either take a half-court shot himself or assign it to someone else. He choose to give Bobcats Head Coach Gil Cheung a try, who sunk it and won the big prize for Kaluzniak. The video has been shared around the globe and has more than 1.3 million views on YouTube.
2. University of British Columbia Athletics has mandated sensitivity training for 29 student athletes who participated in the @UBCDimeWatch Twitter account that surfaced in 2012, reports The Ubyssey. DimeWatch posted creepy photos of UBC women—a “dime” is slang for a female with looks that are ‘a perfect 10′—and disappeared after being linked to a hockey player in October. Eight of the 29 were deemed in breach of the Student Code of Conduct and some have been suspended from their teams. Athletics isn’t releasing names, however. Litsa Chatzivasileiou, a gender instructor, criticized that choice. “I don’t understand why there’s so much secrecy behind it,” she told The Ubyssey. “If you don’t publicize this, the broader community still feels unsafe.”
3. Here’s another creepy story. A hidden camera was discovered in a co-ed washroom at Queen’s University’s Victoria Hall on Feb. 13, reports the Queen’s Journal. The camera was disguised as a towel hook inside a shower. It was removed, all other residence washrooms were checked and Kingston Police are investigating. No Secure Digital card was found in the camera and an e-mail to staff said it would be “inappropriate” to disclose whether any images were found by police.
4. Students at St. Francis Xavier University are back in class today after a three-week strike that started on Jan. 28. The tentative deal for staff includes an eight per cent salary increase over four years and improvements to job security and health benefits for part-time contract workers and full-time employees, according to CTV News. The student union is already looking for some kind of compensation for missed time. The deal includes five teaching days added to the school year.
5. The University of Regina has opened 10 gender-neutral washrooms on campus by tacking signs on wheelchair accessible single-stall bathrooms that read: “This washroom may be used by any person regardless of gender identity or expression.” Mikayla Schultz, president of the TransSask Support Services, supported the partly symbolic change. Schultz is undergoing a gender transition and told CBC News that the women’s washroom was never comfortable. Other universities in Canada, including the University of Victoria, have a limited number of gender-neutral stalls.
Students pay the price for high compensation
As Canadian universities continue to pay the most generous compensation to their professors in the world, something is going to have to give. Mix this with pensions that are sometimes worth more than the paycheque of professors in the U.S. and U.K. and it’s a recipe for budgetary disaster.
St. Francis Xavier University is the most recent university staff to go on strike, cancelling classes for more than 4,000 students. Pay and the contracting of term professors are some of the justifications offered by the Association of Nova Scotia University Teachers (ANSUT).
According to Statistics Canada’s 2011 report, assistant professors at St. FX made a median of $74,377 in 2010-11 while full professors earned a median of $123,673. The average assistant professor’s salary nationwide was $91,035 and the average full professor’s salary was $143,366. That’s far higher than most Canadians will ever earn.
As the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance reported in a 2011 study, new funds for teaching staff there are mostly going to current professors, so it’s not as if students are benefiting.
See the 20 occupations with projected worker shortages
Much has been written about the plight of the recent university graduate. She is over-educated, underemployed, and staring down an uncertain job market; the promise of a stable position was the last generation’s reality, not hers.
A newly-released report from the American non-profit Center for College Affordability and Productivity suggests almost half of all graduates work in jobs for which they are overqualified.
In Canada, the situation doesn’t seem quite as dire, but during the last year for which there are numbers, 2006, about one in four university-educated workers was in a position that didn’t require a degree. As Chris Sorensen and Charlie Gillis pointed out in “The New Underclass”, this proportion is believed to be even higher now.
But there must be jobs somewhere, right? In 2011, The Canadian Occupational Projection System (administered by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada) developed a detailed, 10-year labour market projections report that focuses on the estimated trends in labour supply and demand between 2011 and 2020.
Broken into occupational groups, the report determines which jobs are projected to have an excess of positions and which will have an excess of workers. The chart below details 20 of the occupations expected to see the greatest worker shortages between now and 2020. Note: They are not the positions where there are the most jobs, but the areas in which the chances of getting a job (due to the number of job openings exceeding the number of job seekers) are greater. Interestingly, only three require university-level education.
While the projections provide hope for some, they also reveal occupations for which the number of job seekers far outweigh the number of positions. To those seeking employment in the following fields (just to name a few): consider becoming a tailor.
- Management in communication.
- Managers in art, culture, recreation and sport.
- Physical science professionals.
- Athletes, coaches, etc.
- Machine operators and related works in pulp and paper production, wood processing, and workers in fabric, fur and leather.
- Machining, metalworking, woodworking and related machine operators.
Classes cancelled as professors picket over pay
“We want to reclaim this university,” says St. Francis Xavier Association of University Teachers president Peter McInnis. That’s the message that faculty members carried as they took to the picket lines Monday commencing an unprecedented strike at the campus in Antigonish, N.S.
After eight months of talks, the administration and union failed to reach an agreement on pay and other issues. In the last round of bargaining faculty proposed a 9.3 per cent wage increase over three years, according to the AUT. The administration offered 6.2 per cent over four years.
According to Statistics Canada’s 2011 report, assistant professors at St. FX made a median of $74,377 in 2010-11 while full professors earned a median of $123,673. The average assistant professor’s salary nationwide was $91,035 and the average full professor’s salary was $143,366.
Professors, lab instructors, librarians and writing center workers all hit the pavement at 7:30 a.m. Monday forcing the postponement of classes for the foreseeable future and causing uncertainty for the school’s more than 4,000 students.
What students are talking about today (January 3rd)
1. Canada Goose coats are a staple on cold Canadian campuses, but an a new campaign is trying to make them unfashionable. Furtrimisatrap.com, an activist website, says that coyotes are “stolen from their families and homes, these sensitive, intelligent animals often spend hours or even days stuck in cruel traps where common injuries include broken bones and teeth, gashed eyes and severe internal bleeding.” Kevin Spreekmeester, Vice President of Global Marketing of the Toronto-based company,* defended the product to the Winnipeg Free Press, saying Canada Goose is proud to support the people of the north “for whom [trapping] is their livelihood.” He also notes that coyotes are not endangered and that their fur protects against frostbite.
2. Green Party leader and MP Elizabeth May knows a thing or two about hunger strikes, having mounted one for 17 days in 2001 while demanding the government move families living near the Sydney tar ponds in Cape Breton. Now she tells iPolitics.ca that Attawapiskat chief Theresa Spence, on Day 24 of her hunger strike, should meet with Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan, whom Spence has refused to see since starting her starvation diet on Victoria Island on Dec. 11. Spence has said she will not eat until Prime Minister Stephen Harper and a representative of the Crown agree to a “nation-to-nation” meeting to discuss treaties. Meanwhile, a two-week old rail blockade by Aboriginal protesters in Sarnia, Ont. has ended. However, the tone of the “Idle No More” debate is getting uglier. After John Ivision at the National Post dared call Spence “hapless,” Gerald Taiaiake Alfred—a political science professor at the University of Victoria—responded by calling him a “racist p—k” and threatened to kick his “immigrant ass” back to Scotland.
Study shows which occupations are in high, low demand
A CIBC report released Monday suggests Canada’s economic prosperity is at risk due to a labour market split that sees high-demand positions go unfilled while lower-skilled workers languish in unemployment.
“We have people without jobs and jobs without people,” said author and deputy economist Benjamin Tal.
The mismatch of companies unable to hire and people unable to find work is “simply big enough to impact the economy as a whole, our productivity, our potential growth and therefore our standard of living in the future,” Tal said.
The CIBC report breaks down the labour market divide into 25 “have” and 20 “have-not” occupations.
It says the health and science fields, natural resources extraction, plumbing, social work, psychology and even the clergy are among the sectors that have openings, but not the people to fill them.
SAIT’s two-drink limit, bedbugs & Transgender Day
1. In case you needed more evidence that binge drinking is a pervasive problem on Canadian campuses consider this: SAIT in Calgary is imposing a new rule on the student-owned pub that limits patrons to two drinks before 3 p.m. and outlaws mid-day shooters, reports CBC.
2. Ryerson is the latest school to deal with a bedbug epidemic in student residences. The university has eight confirmed cases so far this year, reports The Ryersonian. As Maclean’s discovered two years ago, the problem is fairly common across Canada. Here are five things you should know about these biting beasts.
3. Despite the fact that Hamas, the terrorist group that runs Gaza, celebrated the bombing of a city bus in Tel Aviv that injured 22 people, a cease-fire with Israel was announced Wednesday in Cairo.