Privatization of education could be next, warns head of Ontario high school teachers union

Ontario teachers need to pay attention to the Ford government’s move to allow more private delivery in the public health care system because education could be next, warns the president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation.

But Karen Littlewood, speaking Saturday to members gathered in downtown Toronto for their annual provincial meeting, said the recent union solidarity during CUPE education worker talks, as well as big union wins in court, show the “extent of this collective power” in fighting the provincial government.

“Last year, when (Premier Doug) Ford tried to bypass the bargaining process and use the notwithstanding clause to force a contract on CUPE’s 55,000 education worker members, we were there with all of labour … There with unions and labour activists from coast to coast to coast,” she said.

“We were united by a just cause,” she added. “And we did not waver. Our collective power and solidarity made all the difference. And we won. Ford was forced to back down” and withdraw the controversial legislation.

She also noted the “significant wins” unions have had in challenging government legislation, including Bill 124, which capped public sector raises at 1 per cent each year for four years and was recently ruled unconstitutional.

Last week, her union and the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario and the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Federation celebrated after Bill 307, which limited spending by unions and other third parties, was also found unconstitutional.

“The court found that Bill 307 ‘unjustifiably infringed’ on the rights of Ontarians to meaningfully participate in our province’s political processes,” Littlewood said. “This was not only vindicating for us, but a win for democracy and freedom of expression. And I want to point out the pattern that is developing here — Ford introduces oppressive, unconstitutional legislation (and) we challenge it, we win, and then they appeal. And more taxpayer dollars are wasted.”

Teachers are currently involved in negotiations with the provincial government, after contracts expired last August.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce told the Star last week that “we’ve had good faith negotiations” and “we’ve been working very hard, really since the summer for all education unions that were willing to meet with us — some were not available.

“We started early on the basis of we want to get these deals done, to create some stability … I think there’s been constructive undertones.”

He said the government wants to “get a deal that is fair to the workers and to keeps these kids coming to school after years of difficulty. So I look forward to getting these deals done.” He said private mediation could help.

Littlewood said the union was unhappy about government announcements last week that came without any notice to teachers.

“Just this week, again no consultation with us or any education union, they announced a fast-track program for students to head into apprenticeship (in Grade 11) leaving teachers completely out of the equation,” she said.

That move is meant to help boost the number of teens choosing careers in the skilled trades, allowing them to take on apprenticeships in Grade 11 and still earn a high school diploma.

On Friday, Lecce announced that all high school students, starting with those in Grade 9 in 2024, will have to earn a technology credit in order to graduate.

The Ontario Principals’ Council has said there aren’t enough tech educators in the system to teach all the additional courses required.

by Kristin Rushowy of The Toronto Star as published in The Standard of St.Catharines.

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IAM District 78 delegates help shatter another glass ceiling.

Toronto, ON – International Women’s Day was celebrated in a special way at IAM District 78 Thursday evening. On 9 March, in the offices of the IAM District Lodge 78, history was made. Vivianne Simon, a member of IAM Local 1295, was acclaimed as Business Representative (BR), becoming the first woman of colour to hold this position in Canada and only the second woman at District 78 to become a servicing representative.

Delegates from eight locals represented different parts of Ontario as well as visitors, staff, executives and retirees were in attendance for the event. Historical events have always been noted, talked about and even taught to future generations to come, but to have the privilege of witnessing an event like this in person is something most members rarely get to experience.

“I want to thank all staff at the District, God, family and friends for their help and support. I couldn’t have done this without them. I know I have much to learn, but I also know my colleagues will support me all the way,” said Simon after she was acclaimed to the position. “I personally want to thank Kim Valliere, the first-ever female Business Representative at DL78 for her mentorship/femtorship,” she added.

“We are so happy that Vivianne has joined our team,” said Eric Johnston, Directing Business Representative of District 78. “Vivianne has been actively involved in her local and the district for some time now as we are all glad she stepped forward at this crucial time. We look forward to working together and continuing to represent our members.”

Chartered in 1953, District 78 represents a variety of job classifications in many sectors throughout Ontario.

For more information:

Eric Johnston, IAM DL78 DBR

Frank Saptel
IAM Canada Communications

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Enough is enough: It’s time to put workers and pensioners before big banks and CEOs.

No matter who we are, most of us want financial security for ourselves and our families when we retire. We give our all and spend decades dedicating our time and energy to our employers. When we retire, we depend on our hard-earned pensions to provide financial security after a lifetime of work.

But when companies restructure or go bankrupt, too often, we see workers being forced to wait at the back of the line, where they stand to lose everything they worked for their entire life.

We have seen companies pay out creditors and hand out bonuses to executives and shareholders. Pensioners are not the culprits when employers become insolvent, but they are frequently made the scapegoat. Thousands have faced poverty in retirement as a result.

It is important to keep in mind that workplace pensions are not gifts from the employer. Defined benefit pensions are deferred wages. They are earned and paid for by workers. Next to their homes, pension savings are one of the most important pools of assets that workers accumulate over their lifetimes.

However, current federal pension and insolvency laws fail to adequately address pension losses in insolvency. Many of us know someone that ended up with the short end of the stick in one of the recent high-profile insolvency cases.

Workers from Nortel waited seven years to see any part of the pension they were owed. In the case of Sears’ bankruptcy, 17,000 workers saw their pensions significantly reduced—a pension they earned and relied on. With changes to their pension, a retired worker’s income is impacted for the rest of their life.

We say: Enough is enough.

After months of scrutinizing and several debates in Parliament, our elected officials finally agreed that it was time to put workers and pensioners before big banks and CEOs—something Canada’s unions have demanded for decades—and passed Bill C-228 (Pension Protection Act) unanimously.

The bill would amend the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act and the Pension Benefits Standards Act. Once adopted, it would ensure workers’ and retirees’ pensions receive super-priority status in bankruptcy and insolvency cases.

Now the bill is in the hands of the Senate. After improvements in the House, Bill C-228 passed the Senate Banking Committee unamended. In the coming weeks, senators will have a final opportunity to debate and vote on Bill C-228, and we are urging them to act quickly and pass this much-needed and long-overdue legislation. Protecting pensions is about fairness for workers and pensioners. Bill C-228 will ultimately provide financial security and peace of mind to millions of families.

As it stands, workers are often left without compensation because they were last in line for repayment, after big banks and creditors. Some workers have even lost their entire pension, which is unacceptable. After a lifetime of hard work, no retiree should have to struggle to make ends meet. Workers should always be the first priority, not the last.

Our ask to senators is simple: pass Bill C-228 into law without further delay.

By Bea Bruske, President of the Canadian Labour Congress as published iThe Hill Times

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Canada’s unions: Urgent action required to rein in corporate greed.

Bruske: Wealthy grocery CEOs must be held to account for Canadians’ skyrocketing grocery bills.

OTTAWA –– Yesterday, Loblaw CEO Galen Weston Jr., Empire CEO Michael Medline and Metro CEO Eric La Flèche testified before the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food about sky-high food prices. Canada’s unions are now urging the federal government to crack down on corporate greed and make life more affordable for millions of hard-pressed workers and their families.

“We welcome the long-overdue decision to make Galen Weston Jr. and other wealthy CEOs answer for their company’s outrageously high prices. Throughout the pandemic and subsequent cost-of-living crisis, we have seen grocery giants celebrate monster profits while jacking up the price of essentials,” said Bea Bruske, President of the Canadian Labour Congress. “Exorbitant grocery bills, on top of inflationary pressures, high interest rates and stagnant wages, mean workers and their families are being pushed to the brink.”

In the first two quarters of 2022, grocery stores made around twice as much as their pre-pandemic profits. Grocery retail in Canada is heavily concentrated, with about 80 per cent of sales controlled by five major chains, including Loblaw, Empire and Metro.

Since the beginning of 2023, we’ve seen inflation decreased to the lowest rate since early 2022, yet food prices continue to soar. In January, the price for fresh vegetables was up 14.7 percent while pasta increased by 19.5 percent.

“Just last month, Loblaw predicted its profits would grow faster than sales this year. That means workers are going to take another hit, paying more for essentials like eggs and bread,” added Bruske. “Food prices show no signs of slowing down, while these grocery giants continue to report super-sized profits. This begs the question: Why does the government continue to allow these wealthy executives to gouge Canadians for essential goods, like food?”

Workers’ pay cheques are stretched further with every grocery bill, leading to tough decisions. Bruske pointed to a recent StatCan study indicating that low-income Canadians are being forced to borrow money from friends or relatives or take on additional debt to meet daily expenses due to rising prices.

A University of Saskatchewan study from October revealed that one in five Canadians skips meals because of high food costs.

“Rich CEOs cannot be allowed to continue accumulating excessive wealth at the expense of regular Canadians. Canada’s unions call on the federal government to rein in corporate greed by tackling corporate concentration, making corporations pay their fair share and redistributing proceeds to support low-income households,” said Bruske. “We also need political leadership to take strong and urgent action to make life more affordable by funding vital public services like Pharmacare, long-term care, mental health care, child care and public transit.” 

Courtesy of Canadian Labour Congress

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Canadian Airport shamefully enabling contract-flipping.

Montreal, QC – Earlier this month, Aéroports de Montreal announced that Menzies Aviation, Samsic Assistance and Trans-Sol Aviation Services are the successful companies that will be granted ground handling licenses to operate at Pierre Elliott Trudeau airport (YUL) resulting in a loss of hundreds of International Association of Machinists (IAM) jobs.

Contract-flipping, which is what is happening at the Montreal Airport, is the practice of awarding service contracts for work, and then changing providers every few years. The successful bidder for the contract is generally the one with the lowest bid. This has the effect of lowering wages and benefits, and creating great uncertainty in the lives of workers and their families.

“The IAM was at the forefront in pushing for contract-flipping legislation changes. It is incredibly frustrating that one of the biggest airports in Canada has given airlines a vehicle to flip these contracts to keep workers’ wages low. It’s a disgusting practice. Each time a contract is flipped, workers must reapply to the new employer, only under different work rules and pay structure,” said David Chartrand IAM General Vice-President Canada.

Last week, the IAM was made aware that our members at Airport Terminal Services (ATS) and Swissport would be losing their jobs later this year. Not all of the new companies have any experience working at the Montreal Airport, nor do they have any infrastructure or staff. They must hire workers to fulfill the contract.

In the past, there was no limit on ground handlers operating at Pierre Elliott Trudeau (YUL) airport. Until recently, where Aéroports de Montreal decided to limit the licenses to ground handlers and go to a request for proposal process (RFP). Aéroports de Montreal then allowed a committee of airlines who operate at YUL, to review, set parameters and ultimately decide who is awarded the licenses.

Continued Chartrand “It’s shameful that Airports de Montreal has set up this process to stagnate worker wages. Airport workers at YUL deserve better. Swissport and Airport Terminal Service are long-tenured employers at YUL. It’s not lost on the IAM that the airlines committee chose three non-unionized companies as the successful applicants for the licenses. The IAM is currently reviewing all avenues to protect these workers earned rights.”

The IAM represents the largest amount of workers at Canadian airports.

The IAM has long advocated for legislation to end contract-flipping to protect Canadian workers in air transportation. Follow this link for just a sample of this advocacy: IAM Position Statements by Industry – IAMAW.

Courtesy of IAMAW Canadian Office

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Union women: Stronger than ever

Union women across Canada are marking International Women’s Day by celebrating our collective victories and preparing for the coming challenges in the ongoing fight for women’s rights and gender equity. Canada’s unions are lifting up women’s voices, highlighting examples of how women have organised to win, and pledging to continue to be a driving force for progress in workplaces and in society.

“So much of what we have accomplished when it comes to women’s rights and gender justice at work in Canada is a direct result of union women working together to push for change; sector by sector, workplace by workplace, in our communities and on the national stage. It’s time we celebrate what we can achieve when we work together,” said Bea Bruske, President of the Canadian Labour Congress.

Union women are not strangers to being on the frontlines of advocating for and achieving victories in the name of working women, victories that ultimately benefit all workers and their families. These wins include the introduction of paid maternity and parental leave in Canada back in 1971 legislated paid domestic violence leave, and progress in organising new bargaining units  in women-dominated sectors like retail. Union women have been leading the charge delivering results for gender justice at work. 

Since the launch of #DoneWaiting, thousands of activists have taken action and committed themselves to championing women’s rights and gender equity in workplaces across Canada. We demanded – and won – progress at all levels of government to end wage discrimination, end sexual harassment and violence, fix the child care crisis and make work fair for women. In the last five years, we won some incredible victories, including: 

  • The adoption of federal pay equity legislation in 2018;
  • 30 billion dollars pledged in the 2021 federal budget to spend over five years on a new national child care system;
  • The introduction, in 2022, of federal child care legislation; and
  • Canada finally ratifying ILO C-190 in 2023, committing to a world of work free of harassment and violence, in particular gender-based violence.

“From coast to coast to coast, union women have blazed the trail in the fight for a more feminist and equitable Canada. We are emboldened by our victories to keep pushing the envelope as gender justice champions in every workplace and community,” added Siobhán Vipond, Executive Vice-President at the CLC.

As we look ahead, Canada’s unions are committed to continuing to push decision makers to take further actions to #EmbraceEquity from coast to coast. Our vision includes:

  • A commitment to value women’s work by creating a national care strategy to train, recruit and retain workers in care sectors so we can end wage discrimination in a sector that disproportionately employs women, especially racialized and newcomer women;
  • Action to end gender-based violence and harassment at work and collaborate with unions, employers and all levels of government to implement ILO C-190 and make work safer for women, trans and gender non-conforming workers;
  • Support for the calls of child care advocates and sector workers to advance Bill C-35 on respecting early learning and child care in Canada until the right of every child to accessible, affordable, inclusive and high quality child care becomes enshrined in Canadian law;
  • Investments from our federal government into a Care Economy Commission that will: examine paid and unpaid care work and develop a roadmap to meet the increasing demands for care; reduce and redistribute women’s unpaid care work, including by improving access to public care services for children, the elderly and people living with disabilities; and build a broader and more inclusive labour market strategy to achieve high-quality, equitable care jobs across all care sectors. 

Courtesy of Durham Labour

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Congratulations to Brother Frank Krasavec for receiving the 35th Year Veteran Award!

Congratulating Brother Frank Krasavec for receiving the Thirty-Five Year Veteran Award is IAM Local Lodge 905 Trustee Rasheed Houssain.

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Message from David Chartrand, IAM Canadian General Vice-President



Sisters and Brothers,

Today marks the beginning of my term as IAM Canadian General Vice-President. I am honoured and privileged to be able to count on your confidence and to work alongside you for the benefit of workers, our communities and our Union.

The 15 months of the global pandemic that we have just experienced have spared no one and I want to show solidarity with all those who have suffered or are still suffering from the consequences of this crisis. There are encouraging signs on the horizon and together we have the strength, courage and resilience to rise above this ordeal and build for the future.

With the health restrictions easing, we can soon begin to work together again in our workplaces, in our executives and in our union gatherings, for the greater good of our union and ourselves.

We all have a role to play in repositioning our union in a post-COVID-19 reality and in pursuing our mission to improve the working and living conditions for all of us. As Canadian General Vice-President, I will listen, coordinate, advise, mobilize and support my IAM sisters and brothers and as we fight together for a better future for all.

The success of a union depends on unity and the development of a strong sense of belonging. To strengthen our ties, we must be aware of the realities and needs of our members across Canada.

To make the IAM an even stronger union capable of leading the fight for justice in the workplace and in society at large, we must use our energy wisely. We need to see our different ways of thinking and acting as our most valuable assets, not as potential dividers. This is how we will build a strategy that respects the particularities and capabilities of each of us.

Before I conclude this message, I would like to thank outgoing GVP Stan Pickthall for all that he has done for us. Stan has always had the well-being of the IAM and its members at heart. Despite the sacrifices and difficult choices he had to make during his life as a trade unionist, his involvement and dedication to his sisters and brothers and to his organization remained exemplary. He was an important part of our union as well as a great activist who always gave his best. I wish him a well-deserved retirement, rest, pleasure, health and serenity, filled with good times surrounded by his wife Donna, his family and his friends.

Finally, I look forward to meeting you and working with you to strengthen our union in a sustainable way and to promote and defend the interests of our Machinist sisters and brothers, their families and their community.

David Chartrand
Canadian General Vice-President

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Farewell from GVP Stan Pickthall


Sisters and Brothers of the Machinists Union:

Today marks the end of my career as a full time Representative for the IAM. Considering that this constitutes some 27.5 years of my life, I rise on a point of personal privilege, and I ask your indulgence through a few moments of solidarity and sentimentality. I wish we could celebrate one another in person, but circumstances prevent an in-person gathering at this time.

I started in my role as a Business Representative for the membership of Northwest District 250 in Vancouver, Canada on January 1, 1994. I later became Directing Business Representative and then Canadian Chief of Staff. I conclude my career as the General Vice-President for the Canadian Territory based here in Toronto.

Those 27 years have been a truly remarkable opportunity, and one for which I owe so much to the officers and members of the IAM – most especially the Canadian membership that I was blessed to serve. Along the path, I have had opportunity to meet in person with many of you across both of our nations; we have become solid colleagues and true friends in our efforts to advocate for the benefit of working people across North America.

In the latter part of the 80’s (yes kids, some of us started back before the internet!) I was invited by one of my mentors to become a shop steward and executive board officer in Local Lodge 692. I could never have imagined the journey from there. Or the truly remarkable gifts that Union advocacy would bestow upon me. I learned so much, about the law of Collective Agreements and Labour, about dealing with people on both sides of a bargaining table, and about the organization I have come to love.

My Union gave me training, so that I would be better able to represent and fight for our members. My Union gave me resources, and enabled me to undertake positions that I could not undertake alone. My Union allowed me to serve on the IAM Committee on Law for two terms, where I learned so much about our Constitution and process.

But mostly, my Union gave me the Solidarity and backing of the most amazing team of Representatives and Advocates and Members who walked alongside me through this journey.

I will not put forward names, as it would be a longer list than this page will allow; our solid Union Team knows who they are, and I hope they know I am forever grateful for their work and their devotion to the membership. Let me simply say that all the great things we have accomplished are achieved through those Representatives, Advocates, and Members. I cannot thank them enough, for although I have often been the recipient of high praise and accolades, they did the work:

Two years ago, I had the privilege of standing on a stage to receive the International President’s Organizing Awards. Let me clearly state that the work was done by Canadian IAM Organizers in the Field; without them, there was no stage, and there was no award. They did the work.
When I report to the Executive Council on the results of successful negotiations, or high-powered legislative lobbying sessions, or a precedent-setting arbitration ruling, I am reporting on the great work of IAM Representatives in the field. They did the work.
It has been my absolute privilege and opportunity to lead the Canadian Territory over the past 5 years, and I will be forever grateful to the Canadian membership for providing me with that opportunity. I have worked on the Executive Council of the IAM for these past 5 years, and I am forever grateful for their solidarity, their support, their wisdom, and their guidance. Another privilege that was accorded to me.

As I move out of this office, I remind you all that the Canadian membership have elected a new leader to replace me. They have elected a leader who will take the IAM to greater heights and successes over the coming term and beyond; he will lead us out of the pandemic experience, and I know he will build the IAM in Canada into a stronger and more successful Union than ever before.

I ask you all to accord to David Chartrand every assistance and support that you gave to me. I am certain he will be a stronger and more effective leader for the Solidarity you all put behind him. Keep on doing the work.

Finally, and most importantly, I must thank my wife, Donna Marina Pickthall, for the love and support she has shown me throughout this career. Donna gave up her own career when she joined me in Toronto, and I am forever grateful. She has been my confidant, my partner, my lover, and my very best friend.

I also thank my two daughters, Amanda and Vanessa, for their understanding and graciousness when I left Vancouver and moved to Toronto for these past eight years. And I must not forget Donna’s two sons, Danny and Tyler, who supported her when she joined me here over this phase of our lives.

Donna and I had two grandchildren (1.5 and 3 years old) when we departed in 2013. Today those two are aged 9 and 11, and we now have three more grandchildren to enjoy. We are moving back to our home in Vancouver at the end of this week, where we will get to know them better than ever. Life is good!

This transition is bittersweet, and I depart with a mixture of regret and anticipation. I will be forever grateful to the IAM and to the hundreds and thousands of activists and members I had the opportunity to meet. I will remain a forever friend and spokesperson of the Great Machinists Union, and I will always be no more than a phone call or a video chat away. I know that those who follow me and those who continue on will grow our great Union and build back better than ever before. Stay Rock Solid, always!

In Solidarity and Friendship,

Stan Pickthall
General Vice-President
IAMAW Canada

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Happy Lunch gathering on a Friday afternoon!



A nice gathering of some retirees and friends for a lunch!

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