March 24, 2008

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26th Annual Sefton Lecture presented by Woodsworth College & The Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources: New Union Strategies for Tough Times: The CAW-Magna Deal, and other Responses, Speakers: Charlotte Yates, Dept of Political Science/Labour Studies, McMaster University and Jim Stanford, Canadian Auto Workers Union, on Thursday, March 27, 2008, 7:00 p.m. at the University of Toronto Multi-Faith Centre 569 Spadina Avenue (Entrance off Bancroft Avenue) ~ Free Admission - All are Welcome ~ Reception Follows the Lecture.

Link: Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources What's New

Human Rights and Accommodation Conference Toronto Presented by Lancaster House & the University of Toronto, Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources, on Tuesday, April 1, 2008 and Wednesday, April 2, 2008, at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, South Building, 222 Bremner Blvd., Toronto, Ontario.

Link: Lancaster House website .

Ontario Budget, March 2008: The Ontario government tabled its budget on March 25th. Included in this budget were funds for job training for the unemployed, for the expansion of apprenticeship programs, and for colleges and universities.

Links: “$1.5B for jobs training” by Robert Benzie, Toronto Star, March 25, 2008. “Strengthening Ontario's Economy by Investing in Skills Training,” Ontario Ministry of Finance, March 25, 2008 (3 pages, PDF ). “Strengthening Ontario's Economy by Investing in Education,” Ontario Ministry of Finance, March 25, 2008 (3 pages, PDF).

Dofasco and the United Steelworkers: ArcelorMittal, the owner of Dofasco, has signed a neutrality agreement with the United Steelworkers that allows the union free access to the plant to organize its workers. Employee anti-union sentiment has been building because of concerns that the company's profit sharing plan will end with unionization. This has been voiced via a blog titled, Dofasco Choiceput up by The Hamilton Spectator.

Links: “A tough union sell at Dofasco,” by Steve Arnold, The Hamilton Spectator, March 25, 2008; “Workers: 'Why join a union?'” by Steve Arnold, The Hamilton Spectator, March 24, 2008; “Carrying a heavy load: Dofasco workers face a weighty choice:” by Meredith Macleod and Naomi Powell, The Hamilton Spectator, March 22, 2008; “Dofasco -- company timeline”, The Hamilton Spectator , March 20, 2008;   " The United Steelworkers gain toehold at Dofasco," by Greg Keenan, Globe and Mai, March 19, 2008; Dofasco Choice blog.

CAW Announces No Concessions for Big Three Bargaining: CAW president Buzz Hargrove and economist Jim Stanford presented their plans for bargaining with the big three automakers this coming fall. The CAW will not agree to a two-tier wage system or any concessions, but will consider cost-savings on retiree health benefits. Efforts to attract new projects and protect current investments will continue.

Links: “CAW vows no concessions in contract talk,” by Greg Keenan, Globe and Mail, March 25, 2008.

Union Withdraws from Toyota: The International Association of Machinists withdrew its certification application with the Ontario Labour Relations Board hours before a certification vote was to take place at the Cambridge Toyota plant.

Link: “ Toyota union vote cancelled, for now,” Nicolas Van Praet, Financial Post, March 19, 2008

Inquiry into Work Stoppages in the Federally Regulated Private Sector: On March 6, the Federal Minister of Labour, Jean-Pierre Blackburn, announced the establishment of an inquiry into the causes and impacts of work stoppages in the federally regulated private sector. The inquiry will be headed by Peter Annis, an expert in mediation and arbitration.

Links: “Minister Blackburn launches study on causes and impacts of work stoppages,” Human Resources and Social Development Canada news release and backgrounder, March 8, 2008;  For information about Peter Annis, go to his website .

Corporate Takeovers in Canada: The Conference Board of Canada has released the second volume of its three-part series on corporate takeovers in Canada. The volume contains 30 case studies of mergers and acquisitions involving Canadian companies.

Link: “Hollowing Out”—Myth and Reality: Corporate Takeovers in an Age of Transformation, Volume II, Case Studies, by Michael Grant and Michael Bloom (246 pages, PDF) available to the University of Toronto community from the Conference Board e-Library.

Ethics and Integrity Programs: A key issue facing organizations today is how to ensure employees act ethically and with integrity. An expert roundtable convened by the Conference Board offers suggestions on what works and what doesn't.

LinkHow to Ensure Ethics and Integrity Throughout an Organization Briefing, by Michael Bassett, March 2008, Conference Board of Canada, (8 pages, PDF).

Employee Surveillance: A recent article from the Globe and Mail looks at surveillance in the workplace and the new technologies are being used to keep track of employees. Studies mentioned in the article include one from the Policy Institute in Great Britain which found that surveillance has a negative affect on employer-employee relations. Also of interest on this topic is a recent issue ofContemporary Sociology which features a number of articles on surveillance.

Links: “Smile, Big Brother's watching: It's worse than standing over your shoulder. New technology, from GPS to biometrics, allows employers to track your every move,” by Craig Silverman, Globe and Mail , March 24, 2008; ICT surveillance stresses British workers, Policy Studies Institute, December 13, 2007; “A Symposium on Surveillance Studies”, in Contemporary Sociology, V. 36, no 2, March 2007, (26 pages, PDF).

Monitor Size Affects Productivity: A study conducted by the University of Utah, and funded by NEC, a company that makes computer monitors, found productivity gains when workers used bigger monitors. The professor in charge of the study recommended that businesses take the time to match employees with the proper size screen based on job requirements.

Links: “Hold the bonus - give me 24 inches of pure joy,” Craig Silverman, Globe and Mail, March 24, 2008; Bigger Computer Monitors = More Productivity, by Ben Worthen, Wall Street JournalMarch 10, 2008; Monitor Size and Aspect Ratio Productivity Research: A Comparison of Single and Dual Traditional Aspect Displays with a Widescreen Display over Productivity, NEC, March 13, 2008 (16 pages, PDF)

Quebec's Labour Shortage: The Quebec government has announced that nearly one billion dollars will be spent over the next three years on job training and recruitment. Employment of the handicapped, welfare recipients and the unemployed will be supported by cooperative initiatives between government, labour and business.

Link: Quebec pledges nearly $1-billion to boost work force, by Rhéal Séguin, Globe and Mail, March 19, 2008.

The Integration of Immigrants into the Montreal Labour Market: A study by the Institute for Research on Public Policy examines the integration of immigrants into the labour market in Montreal. Although Quebec attracts highly qualified immigrants, they often do not find jobs to match their education or skill levels. The authors of the study found that the programs aimed at integrating immigrants are ineffective and they offer a number of policy remedies.

LinksL'Intégration des immigrés sur le marché du travail à Montréal: politiques et enjeux by Marie-Thérèse Chicha and Éric Charest, Institute for Research on Public Policy, March 2008 (64 pages,PDF). An English summary is also available (one page, PDF).

Income Splitting: A paper from the Institute for Research on Public Policy examines income splitting to determine the most equitable taxation arrangement for single and dual earner couples.

LinksIncome Splitting and Joint Taxation of Couples: What's Fair? by Jonathan Kesselman, IRPP, February 20, 2008 (56 pages, PDF); Full Income Splitting for Taxation of Couples a Bad Idea, Says IRPP Study, IRPP News Release, February 20, 2008. “A scholar writes on income splitting,” by Arthur Drache, Financial Post, March 25, 2008.

Implications of Codes of Conduct and International Framework Agreements: A report from the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions analyses the impact of the adoption of corporate codes of conduct and international framework agreements on corporate practices. Such codes of conduct and agreements have taken on increasingly significant roles with the growing influence of multinational companies.

LinkCodes of conduct and international framework agreements: New forms of governance at company level, by Isabelle Schömann, Andre Sobczak, Eckhard Voss and Peter Wilke, European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, March 2008 (105 pages, PDF).

Date posted: 
Monday, March 24, 2008