May 04, 2009

May 4, 2009

Employee Ownership at GM and Chrysler not the ‘real thing’

The Executive director of the National Centre for Employee Ownership points out that although General Motors and Chrysler are pursuing agreements with the UAW to provide the union with company stock to help fund retiree health-care trusts, what is being proposed is not employee ownership in any meaningful sense. Corey Rosen writes …

“So how does this compare to conventional employee ownership through an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP), broadly distributed stock options, or similar arrangements? Unlike participants in such plans, employees involved in one of these VEBA arrangements do not see personal gains or losses from the share price other than to the extent that if the shares do go down enough, the VEBA may not have sufficient funds for retiree health care programs. Many, and perhaps most, current employees may never benefit from these programs, which very well could be reduced or eliminated in the future if the companies do not recover quickly. If the stock does perform at all well, it will be sold as soon as it meets the VEBA obligation, providing no potential upside.”

National Centre for Employee Ownership, May 2009: At Chrysler and GM, It's Not Employee Ownership, by Corey Rosen, NCEO Executive Director

Globe and Mail, April 28, 2009: Washington, auto union set to take control of GM, Chrysler: Washington to buy 50% of GM, UAW seeks 55% of Chrysler; Ottawa watching U.S. deal closely, Tories considering ownership stake in GM

Globe and Mail, April 29, 2009: The sudden shift from employees to bosses, by Barrie McKenna


Chrysler’s Bankruptcy

“The hope now is that Chrysler will come out of bankruptcy quickly, perhaps as soon as late June, and serve as a model for General Motors, which has to produce its own lifesaving plan in the next 30 days.”

New York Times, April 30, 2009: Chrysler Files to Seek Bankruptcy Protection

Globe and Mail, May 1, 2009: How Walter's dream became a nightmare: Nimble, brash, profitable. Words that were once used to describe Chrysler until a disastrous union with a foreign suitor sowed the seeds of its destruction. Greg Keenan looks at the fallen icon and its lesson to an industry careening toward consolidation., May 6, 2009: Chrysler bankruptcy: Test drive for GM: GM could gain leverage in negotiations with creditors and dealers if Chrysler's reorganization is a success. But it still may wind up filing for bankruptcy by Chris Isidore

CAW website, April 30, 2009: CAW Endorses Chrysler-Fiat Partnership, Commends Government Support for Auto


Alberta and the Exploitation of Foreign Workers

The Alberta Federation of Labour has released a report titled, Entrenching Exploitation, the second report of its Temporary Foreign Worker Advocate. The report provides an update on the living and working conditions of temporary foreign workers in Alberta. It also evaluates government responses to problems in the program and examines the state of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program during the economic downturn.

Report, April 25, 2009 (44 pages, PDF)

Press release (includes recommendations), April 25, 2009


Ontario Bill Protecting Temporary Help Agency Employees receives Royal Assent

The Ontario Legislature has passed the Employment Standards Amendment Act (Temporary Help Agencies), 2009, to ensure that temporary help agency employees are being treated fairly. This legislation amends the Employment Standards Act, 2000 to change a number of provisions affecting temporary help agency employees, and will come into effect six months after Royal Assent.

Bill 139 2009: An Act to amend the Employment Standards Act, 2000 in relation to temporary help agencies and certain other matters , Royal Assent given on May 6, 2009

Legislative Assembly of Ontario website for Bill 139

Background information for Bill 139


Innovative Workplace Practices in 2008

The Labour Program has published an annual overview of workplace innovation practices in the April 30, 2009 issue of theWorkplace Bulletin. Of note is the introduction of a dangerous work provision in the Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, Chalk River and Deep River, Ontario agreement. An employee has the right to refuse work in dangerous situations and work which the employee has reasonable grounds to believe is dangerous to their health or safety or that of any other employee without the loss of wages or being given disciplinary action.

Workplace Bulletin, April 30, 2009: Innovation Workplace Practices in 2008


Recession Packs Biggest Wallop Since 1930s

A paper released by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives titled Exposed: Revealing Truths About Canada’s Recession, by Armine Yalnizyan, examines the previous thirteen economic downturns and discovers two troubling signs: no other recession since the Great Depression has come on this strong and Canadians face greater vulnerability than at any time since the 1940s because of low savings, high household debt and a weakened social safety net.

Paper, April 28, 2009 (28 pages, PDF)


Global Export Forecast Spring 2009

Canada’s exports and the world economy will continue to decline until the latter half of 2010, when Export Development Canada forecasts that the global economy will find its feet and the recovery will begin to kick in. The Global Export Forecast identifies the major forces acting on the world economy and their implications for Canadian exporters. It describes which foreign markets will offer the best opportunities for Canadian exporters for the coming year, and analyzes the sales outlook by sector. It also discusses the major risks faced by exporters.

Global Export Forecast (130 pages, PDF)

Executive summary (8 pages, PDF)

Press release, April 28, 2009


Downsizing Strategies

A recent paper on downsizing titled, Downsizing Your Organization? Lessons from the Trenches by Carol A. Beatty of the Queen’s University School of Business, reviews and summarizes the best practices of organizations and managers who have faced the challenges of downsizing.

Paper, March 2009 (8 pages, PDF)


Mental Health Week 2009 – Anxiety in the Workplace

The Canadian Mental Health Association's 58th Mental Health Week takes place May 4th to May 10th and is sponsored by Desjardins Financial Security. According to the first results of the Desjardins National Health Surveyreleased for National Mental Health Week, a significant number of workers in Canada feel they have lost control of their lives as the economic recession continues, unemployment numbers rise, and financial security appears to be evaporating.

Desjardins Financial Security, May 4, 2009: Recession-Stressed Workers Need Employers’ Support: New study shows increased anxiety in the workplace (2 pages, PDF)

Mental Health Week 2009: click here to order materials

Globe and Mail, May 5, 2009: In low times, anxieties run high; Recession takes its toll on mental health as more Canadians lose sleep over job security and finances by Virginia Galt


Global Stress Levels Up

Difficult economic conditions have had a substantial impact on accounting and finance departments around the globe, according to a new survey of finance and human resources managers. A global survey by Robert Half International focuses on hiring difficulties, retention concerns and other staffing-related issues. Over 4,800 hiring managers in finance and human resources across 21 countries were surveyed. The report also examines the effects of the global economic downturn on financial teams around the world.

Robert Half website, April 30, 2009: Employees' Stress Levels Rising Globally; Majority of Firms Taking Action to Lessen Economy's Repercussions on Staff (click on links at end of article for data), May 5, 2009: Global stress levels increasing: With the economic downturn, most companies are experiencing increased stress and workload according to a recent study


Canada's Top 40 Under 40

Canada's Top 40 Under 40 is a national program founded and managed by The Caldwell Partners to celebrate leaders of today and tomorrow, and to honour Canadians who have reached a significant level of success but have not yet reached the age of 40. The program is designed to promote mentorship and professional development by introducing these leaders to the established business community and by promoting them as role models for young Canadians. One winner is Josh Blair, Executive Vice-President of Human Resources at Telus Corp.

The Caldwell Partners website: Canada's Top 40 Under 40 Partners, May 2009

Globe and Mail, May 5, 2009: 'We can make this work': Despite recession, honorees are 'young people with optimism, energy,' says award founder Douglas Caldwell

Globe and Mail, May 5, 2009: Josh Blair, 35: Executive vice-president, human resources Telus Corp., Vancouver


EU-Canada Economic Partnership Agreement

At the Canada-EU Summit on May 6, 2009 in Prague, Czech Republic negotiations for a comprehensive economic partnership agreement was announced. The first round of negotiations will take place as soon as possible. Canada and the EU have published the results of a joint study into the costs and benefits of a closer economic partnership between the EU and Canada. The study examines how various forms of trade liberalization would impact on both economies, although it makes no policy recommendations. Canada –EU air pact was also announced.

Assessing the Costs and Benefits of a closer EU-Canada Economic Relationship: a joint study by the European Commission and the Government of Canada, October 2008 (192 pages, PDF)

Backgrounder: Canada and the European Union: Towards a comprehensive economic partnership agreement, May 6, 2009

CBC News, May 6, 2009: Canada, EU ink air pact


Book of the Week

The Professional Recruiter's Handbook: Delivering Excellence in Recruitment Practice, by Jane Newell Brown and Ann Swain. Philadelphia : Kogan Page, 2009. 250 p. ISBN 978-0-7494-5396-1

The Professional Recruiter's Handbook is a complete guide to achieving success in recruitment. The authors explore the techniques used by the most successful recruiters, both agency and client-side, to understand what creates excellence in recruitment. Containing practical advice on attracting the right candidates and finding and retaining new clients; it explains how to develop a recruitment strategy to ensure the recruitment professional can successfully fulfil the roles taken on. The book is supported by numerous case studies and interviews with recruitment professionals.


Back to top

This publication is protected by Canadian copyright laws and may not be copied, posted or forwarded electronically without permission.

Questions or Comments: contact us at

Editor: Vicki Skelton
Designer: Nick Strupat

Copyright © 2008 Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources, University of Toronto. All rights reserved.

Date posted: 
Monday, May 4, 2009