2017 Student Bursaries

The Kamloops and District Labour Council (KDLC) is offering five (5) $1,000 (one thousand dollar) bursaries (two in an academic field and three [one of these is the Jack Kerrsens bursary] in a trades field of study) to students who are members or relatives of members of unions that are affiliated to, and in good standing with, the KDLC.

Who is eligible?

  • Members or relatives of members, of unions affiliated to and in good standing with, the KDLC.
  • Definition of a relative: a spouse of same or opposite sex, parent, child, including step-child or foster child, brother, sister, grandchild, niece or nephew.
  • Applicants must be registered in a full-time or part-time post secondary program at a PUBLIC education institution in 2017/2018.

All of the following information MUST be included in your submission to the KDLC Bursary Committee.

1.  Application form: 2017 KDLC BURSARY APPLICATION

2.  Transcript of your grade standing

3.  Confirmation of your enrollment in a PUBLIC education institution in 2017/2018. If you are waiting for enrollment confirmation, please send a letter stating you are waiting for the confirmation and if you are chosen for a bursary, the confirmation will have to be shown before you will receive the bursary

4.  A double-spaced typed essay of 750-1000 words on the following topic. This essay shall be the basis for awarding the bursary.

What impact do you feel the “Fight for $15” campaign will have?

5.  Please submit all of the above information to the address below before May 12, 2017.

The Committee will ONLY accept Bursary applications by mail to:

Bursary Committee
Kamloops and District Labour Council PO Box 369 STN MAIN
Kamloops, BC
V2C 5K9

Please ALSO send a copy of your bursary application and your answer to the question to chblma@telus.net. This is to make sure we get all of the applications in a timely fashion.

 

Why we Need International Women’s Day

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Article submitted by KDLC executive member, Harmony Raine

Even though I was among a group of enlightened, progressive, likeminded people at last night’s regular meeting of the Kamloops and District Labour Council, I felt compelled to speak out about why we need International Women’s Day.

My short address was inspired partly by an uncomfortable incident that occurred in my workplace several months ago, and partly by recurring questions (and snide comments) about why we have International Women’s Day but not International Men’s Day.

______

One day, two male CUPE members came into the CUPE 3500 office where I was working at my part-time job and wearing my awesome Rosie-the-Riveter T shirt.

Without even saying “hello,” one of the guys pointed to my shirt and blurted out, “This is exactly the problem, right here.” I asked what he meant, to which he unapologetically replied that “the reason there are no jobs for men is because there are too many women in the workforce taking all the men’s jobs.”

Surprisingly, this inflammatory statement wasn’t even accompanied by the all-too-familiar “just kidding” intended to legitimize bad behaviour. The second man shot me a look that can only be described as wide-eyed horror and shrunk into a mortified little ball, but did not come to my defense.

I calmly offered my opinion that the real threat to all of our jobs has been globalization – outsourcing, temporary foreign migrant workers being imported and used as slave labour, contracting out, and privatization. The member, obviously opposed to having a meaningful dialogue on the subject, continued to berate and blame women for all of working men’s woes.

I considered the source – an ignorant person who was unwilling to engage in a fruitful discussion – decided to ignore his remarks, and changed the subject.

Myth #1: Women have achieved equality with men

Unfortunately individual attitudes, such as the one above, are the reflection of a systemic problem.

If you are think women and men have equality in Canadian society, please consider as just one tangible aspect of inequality, the indisputable fact that it is 2017 and women still don’t have wage parity (equal pay for work of equal value) with men. In fact, Canadian women who work full-time still earn only about 73.5 cents for every dollar men make. Canada has one of the largest wage gaps in the world, and the gap is even greater for Indigenous women and women of colour.

But wage disparity is not a women’s issue or a feminist issue. Paying women lower wages has serious negative impacts on the lives of women, men, and children. It is a blow to families and local economies.

It is not difficult to imagine that our high divorce rate (conservatively 40% in Canada), has resulted in an immeasurable number of single-parent families. About 80% of single parent households are headed by women; but even in two-parent families, many women are the primary or sole wage earner. Continuing to pay women lower wages is not just about inequality as an abstract concept; it hurts families and children and keeps them trapped in poverty. As one KDLC delegate duly pointed out, wage-gap related poverty is greatly exacerbated in same-sex partnerships where both parties are women. Another member related that he earns double what his wife earns, which is not only unfair in principle, but places an undue amount of pressure on him to provide financially for his family.

Myth #2: Feminism (aka the “F word”) is pro-women and anti-men

It is disturbing enough when our peers and fellow members exhibit sexist and misogynist attitudes, but is much more disheartening to know that there are people in positions of power, leadership and influence who share the same sentiments. I have witnessed this in the form of such comments as “feminists are a bunch a radicals” and “women don’t want equality with men, they want more” (just kidding, can’t you take a joke?).

If you think these types blanket statements represent a valid opinion, are benign, non-discriminatory, or that women are over-sensitive, try subjecting them to the litmus test by substituting the word “women” or “feminist” with the name of any other group. If you wouldn’t call people of colour “a bunch of radicals” on the basis that it is racist, then it is sexist. For some reason, micro-aggressions against women are part of mainstream culture, and more acceptable than discrimination against other marginalized groups.

I believe that anti-women/anti-feminist rhetoric has its roots in early attempts to discredit feminists by right-wing politicians and media. Fear mongering and accusations that feminists were man-haters and that feminism was destructive to men, the family, and society took hold and continues to thrive today (as illustrated by our friend’s opinion at the beginning of this article). Feminist-bashing has woven itself into our culture and feminism is still considered “the F word,” which is why so many women are reticent to identify as feminists. We can and must change the dialogue.

True feminism is decidedly not anti-men, but rather is grounded in the belief that men and women should have equal social, political, and economic rights and opportunities. True feminism strives for equality and fairness for both sexes, which involves the elimination of prescribed gender roles. Just as feminism advocates for women’s social, political and economic equality outside the home, it is also about encouraging and supporting men to take on a more prominent role within the home and in raising their children.

Myth #3: If we observe International Women’s Day, we should also have a special day dedicated to men

Questions are often raised (with more than a hint of indignation) regarding why we celebrate International Women’s Day, have women’s committees, etc. and why men don’t also get a special day.

The primary reason we don’t have International Men’s Day or men’s committees is simply because men don’t need them. Men are not a historically oppressed group. This is not to say that individual men are not marginalized on the basis of race, disability, sexual orientation, or poverty; but as a group they do not face discrimination, oppression, or violence on the basis of their gender the way women typically do.

Secondly, we celebrate International Women’s Day for the same reasons we observe the International Day for Persons with Disabilities, World AIDS Day, Black History Month, Pride Parades, and so on. These days serve as a valuable form of consciousness-raising and visible support for our marginalized brothers, sisters and friends; they are a celebration of our progress, successes and achievements as well as a means by which to shed light on areas that still need a lot of work; they keep important issues alive, allowing us to examine our troubled collective history so that we can learn how not to repeat it.

Myth # 4: I’m not a woman, so I can’t possibly be a feminist

Feminism is not for women only, is not pro-women and anti-men, and does not operate on the basis that women should have more than men. Feminism strives for fairness and equality and acknowledges that we need men as allies, partners, and advocates. As a mother, it is inconceivable that I would want more my daughter than my sons. We want our sons and daughters to have equal rights, equal opportunities, and an equal shot at success, fulfilment, and independence.

If you believe that all people – women and men – deserve equal access to social, political, and economic opportunities, spoiler alert: you are a feminist.

If you have a mother, grandmother, daughters, sisters, aunts, nieces, female friends and co-workers, or a female partner, you had better be a feminist or at least work toward becoming one.

As a society, we have come a long way. Women’s rights have long been protected under the law and by human rights and labour legislation, but we can’t legislate or enforce individual attitudes. The sad reality is that in almost every society, including our own, women are treated as second-class citizens either overtly or insidiously.

The encounter I had with my co-worker is just one small example of why we need to change our culture. Acknowledging and celebrating International Women’s Day is one way of doing this. It is an important part of our ongoing activism and consciousness-raising, and represents a meaningful step toward building a just and equitable society for men, women, families, and members of all marginalized groups.

Poverty in BC Costs Us All

 

 

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Article by Harmony Raine, Sergeant at Arms for the KDLC, after attending the Poverty Reduction Summit in November.

According to Seth Klein, Director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), overcoming poverty is not impossible – it’s not even that difficult. We just have to have the political will to act on it.

The Poverty Reduction/Living Wage Summit, organized jointly by the Poverty Reduction Coalition of BC and the Living Wage for Families Campaign, was all about collective political will. The meetings brought together almost 100 engaged community partners from across BC, all concerned with improving policies that affect people living in poverty.

The summit was more than just a forum for like-minded people to brainstorm ideas and preach to the already-converted. It was a highly instructive and collaborative effort designed to strengthen relationships, share ideas, increase capacity, and build momentum for poverty reduction and living wage initiatives. Participants learned the most effective ways to raise awareness, communicate, engage their communities, identify target audiences, lobby governments, and run successful campaigns.

Poverty is Political

Poverty is a complex social issue that encompasses more than simply a lack of money. It is the lack (or the denial) of economic, social, and cultural resources people need in order to have a decent quality of life and meaningful (economic, social and political) participation in the community.

Poverty equates to a distinct lack of power, political influence, media control, decision-making, and the ability to save money and create wealth. Wealth inequality leads to social dysfunction, increased health and safety problems, and higher rates of crime, domestic violence, illiteracy, teen pregnancy, and discrimination of all kinds (racism, xenophobia, sexism, homophobia, ageism, ableism, and so on).

Poverty is a serious social and political concern and a key election issue for the upcoming provincial election. As such, the Summit focused upon skill-building, leadership development, and issued a call for collective political action (aka change in government) in order to bring about much-needed policy changes.

Poverty and Wealth Inequality in BC: Some Facts and Figures

  • BC has the highest cost of living in Canada;
  • BC has the greatest gaps between rich and poor: 1% of people hold 75% of the wealth
  • BC has the second highest rate of poverty in the country: 451,000 BC residents are currently living below the LICO (1 in 10);
  • BC has the second highest rate of child poverty in the country – 1 in 5 (20%). That’s 167,810 children living in poverty, with thousands more whose parents are just barely above the poverty line;
  • Child poverty rates for children from marginalized groups is much higher: First Nations children 48%, other aboriginal children 28%, recent immigrants 34%, and visible minorities 22%;
  • 33% of BC children living in poverty are vulnerable or not meeting developmental milestones. This has life-long consequences; * See the 2015 child poverty report card;
  • Housing
    • BC has serious crises in housing availability / affordability and homelessness. Low housing availability drives up the cost of shelter and creates problems such as an increase in discrimination of all types and women being unable to leave abusive situations.
    • Waitlists for BC Housing (subsidized units) remain over two years long. And although the BC Liberal government insists that thousands of private market housing units are available for $375 per month, current data from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) states otherwise;
  • Most of the poor are working;
    • BC has the highest percentage of working poor in the country. The BC Liberals “jobs plan” has created a very low-wage work force with the lowest minimum wage in the country (recently increased to $10.85 per hour, $9.60 per hour for liquor servers);
    • Privatization, contracting out, and the exploitation of temporary foreign migrant workers drives wages down and forces people to go on social assistance or take a second job (leading to negative health impacts and the fracturing of families)
  • 1 in 3 poor children lives in a household where at least one adult works full time;
    • Half of all single parent households are living in poverty, 80% of which are households headed by women (poverty is gendered);
    • The average annual cost of child care for a toddler in British Columbia (2012) was $9,900. That’s double the $5,015 average cost of university tuition fees (2012/13). By contrast, the province of Quebec boasts a successful $7 a day flat rate child care program and tuition in Quebec is also more affordable: an average of $2,774 in 2012/13 for undergraduate tuition.
  • Income assistance rates remain dramatically below the most conservative poverty measures.
  • Welfare rates have not increased since 1997: $610 per month ($375 of which is allotted for shelter). And while social assistance rates for persons with designated disabilities recently increased by $77 per month, $52 per month (and $48 annually) was clawed back to cover a ‘transportation subsidy’ that had previously been included in monthly benefits. Meanwhile, the cost of living has risen an average of 20% (cross-Canada) during the same time period.

Income Assistance Rate Table

Support Rate Shelter
Maximum
Unit
Size
A B C D E F G H
1 *$235.00 $282.92 N/A $531.42 N/A N/A N/A *N/A *$375.00
2 $307.22 $452.06 *$375.58 $700.56 $949.06 *$672.08 *$423.58 *$396.22 *$570.00
3 $401.06 *$546.06 *$375.58 *$794.56 *$1043.06 *$672.08 *$423.58 *$490.06 *$660.00
4 $401.06 *$546.06 *$375.58 *$794.56 *$1043.06 *$672.08 *$423.58 *$490.06 *$700.00
5 $401.06 *$546.06 *$375.58 *$794.56 *$1043.06 *$672.08 *$423.58 *$490.06 *$750.00
6 $401.06 *$546.06 *$375.58 *$794.56 *$1043.06 *$672.08 *$423.58 *$490.06 *$785.00
7 $401.06 *$546.06 *$375.58 *$794.56 *$1043.06 *$672.08 *$423.58 *$490.06 *$820.00

 

The asterisk indicates the most recent rate table changes
Key Effective April 1, 2007, rates for:
A Employable singles, couples, and two-parent families where all adults are under 65 years of age.
B Singles, couples, and two-parent families where all adults meet the Persons with Persistent Multiple Barriers (PPMB) criteria and all are under 65.
C Employable one-parent families where the parent is under 65.
D Singles, couples, and two-parent families where one adult is aged 65 years or older.
E Couples and two-parent families where both adults are aged 65 years or older.
F One-parent families where the parent is aged 65 or older.
G One-parent families where the parent meets the Persons with Persistent Multiple Barriers (PPMB) criteria and is under 65.
H *Couples and two-parent families where one adult meets the PPMB criteria and all are under 65.

(Source)

*Note: The $375/month shelter allotment is included in the basic monthly calculation – not in addition to basic benefits.

  • 40-60% of people on welfare and disability pensions are living below the poverty line;
  • The “breadth of poverty” includes all people living in poverty, not just those on social assistance (welfare, disability, OAS, EI). 75% of people living in poverty are non-senior adults (61% between 40 and 60 years). The rest are seniors and children.

BC is the ONLY province without a poverty reduction strategy or a plan for universal child care

The Cost of Poverty in BC

According to the CCPA, the cost of poverty in BC is $8-9 billion per year not including lost potential. The cost of a comprehensive poverty reduction plan (including investments into health care, education, the justice system, increases in social assistance rates, job creation, affordable housing, etc. would cost about half as much at approximately $3-4 billion per year.

It would only take $5.8 billion to bring everyone living below the poverty line in BC to above it. This is only 2.6% of BC’s GDP ($230 billion).

Poverty costs us all:

  •  Additional $1.2 billion per year for health care (mental and physical)
  • Crime, $745 million per year
  • Lost income, lost potential costs $7.3-$9 billion per year.

The bottom line is that we cannot afford poverty, and surveys show that 78% of British Columbians want a poverty reduction strategy.

So, What Would a Comprehensive Poverty Reduction Plan Include?

  • A living wage (beginning with increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour)
  • Job creation (ethical, sustainable, environmentally conscious, living wage)
  • Substantial increases to social assistance and disability rates
  • Affordable, appropriate, safe housing  (new construction and renovations)
  • Universal, affordable, quality child care
  • Increased funding for health care and education (K-12 and post-secondary)
  • Elimination of MSP premiums
  • Vision and dental care included in MSP
  • Enhanced, affordable public transportation
  • A strong focus on the needs of marginalized people

 

What is a Living Wage?

 The idea of a Living Wage is not new. The movement began at the turn of the century with a campaign for 8-hour work days (based on the “8 hours work / 8 hours sleep / 8 hours for what we will” model). Low wages, however, have increased the number of hours we must work just to survive, while reducing the number of hours we can sleep, let alone do “what we will.”

The Living Wage Policy is a practical tool for reducing poverty by engaging all sectors of the community in actions that will increase the number of families making a living wage, and certifying a critical mass of employers who pay a living wage (and who also ensure that their contractors are paying a living wage).

Living wage rates are calculated annually based on cost of living (inflation), and are designed to reflect what two working parents with two young children would need to earn in order to cover basic expenses including rent, child care, food, and transportation (after taxes, credits, deductions and subsidies have been applied). Some problems in trying to calculate an accurate living wage include the fact that we are experiencing a combination of cost of living policy failures such as MSP payments, lack of affordable housing, no universal child care, and so on.

In Kamloops, the current living wage has been calculated at $17.21 per hour, down 74 cents from 2014. This reduction is a direct result of the federal government increasing the child tax benefit. Maximum benefit amounts (for families earning less than $30,000 per year) are $533 per month for each child under the age of six, $450 per month for each child aged 6 to 17, and an additional $2,730 per year if your child qualifies for the disability amount. As household income goes up, benefits go down accordingly. It seems that families could live better by consistently earning decent wages rather than having to rely on fixed monthly or yearly tax benefits which could be discontinued at any time.

One of the challenges to employers who wish to implement a living wage policy is that there may not be a recent calculation. This is where measures such as stepped implementation and allowances for certain exemptions might be used for large employers in the interim (ie: begin with a $15/hour minimum wage, fair wage policy in which contractors earn the same rate as unionized workers for equal work, and adopt a local procurement policy).

Another barrier for large employers is multiple wage rates (different rates for different regions). Adverse effects of a universal / non-regionalized living wage include a type of ‘brain drain,’ in which workers relocate from lower living wage areas to higher ones. This does not take certain costs like transportation and housing into account and points to the need for regional wage rates instead of a universal rate. Regional living wage rates are more realistic and can help promote equity.

A living wage policy as part of a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy is a provincial election issue; and in order for campaigns to be successful they must engage municipalities, health authorities, and school districts as well as businesses that are influential in the community. Living wage municipalities and employers can then be used as models and advocates for decent wages and safe, stable work.

Some steps for running a successful Living Wage Campaign:

Get municipalities on board, otherwise the campaign is not likely to be successful. Appeal to council and staff; use their interests to engage them. “Adopt” a councillor. Don’t bring forward a motion until you are fairly confident it will pass (do it right the first time). A failed motion makes your campaign difficult-to-impossible.

Step 1:           Lobby council and staff, educate (use New West model), be confident, bring in expertise;

Step 2:           Request report from staff on the implications of a living wage policy. Allow time for decision-making;

Step 3:           Assume the report won’t be positive and work to support council in asking questions;

Step 4:           Optional – Request another staff report (via motion);

Step 5:           Pass a living wage policy, get certification;

Step 6:           Celebrate

 

*Labour Councils are vital to campaigns because they endorse candidates who support a living wage policy, providing mapping. This information needs to be shared among the coalition.

Create a campaign messaging by developing a message box. A message box is a set of statements you want to see and hear repeated in the media over and over again:

  1. a) Us on us
  2. b) Them on them
  3. c) Them on us
  4. d) Us on them

Use the “us on us” (what we’re doing and why it’s important) to create the primary message(s) in your campaign. ie: HEU’s Care Can’t Wait campaign. “There are 1500 care aides in the province, more than half have no time to meet patient needs. 4 out of 5 care homes are understaffed.” The campaign slogan / tag line / catch phrase comes from brainstorming facts in “us on us”.

Steps to creating “us on us” message:

F          Frame the issue

R         Reframe the opponent’s story (them on them) and Reinforce your own (us on us)

A         Accessible to audiences

M         Memes, make it memorable

E         Emotional

S         Short and simple

  • Decide on the goal of the campaign and intended audiences before choosing key slogan;
  • Ideas can then be focus-group tested, and the message can be made more impactful by using members’ faces and voices;
  • Include human interest stories whenever possible to generate emotion and reinforce the point of the campaign;
  • Use social media (with caution and respect). *New media is more about engaging than imposing/dumping information on audiences; tool for mobilizing, dealing with negative press, etc.
  • Social media messages should be short and simple: 80 words or less, positive only. Be specific, not vague *Include an “ask” – ask people to like, share, and tag.
  • Take good photos and share the best. Use video – periscope, Twitter, Facebook Live
  • Free graphic design program for infographics: Canva.com

Jobs (or Lack Thereof…)

 The BC Liberals Jobs Plan is failing British Columbians. Newly created jobs have been primarily temporary, part-time, precarious positions in numbers that have not kept up with BC’s growing population. The Jobs Plan was supposed to stimulate private sector job creation, but the private sector actually lost 12,000 jobs in the first 10 months of 2013. It’s very rare for the private sector to shed jobs outside of a recession. In the last 40 years in B.C., it has happened only once, in 2001, and then only about 2,700 jobs were lost.

Virtually all the recent job growth has been in the Lower Mainland and Southern Vancouver Island, driven by the housing boom. In contrast, there has been no job growth this year in the regions that were specifically promised jobs courtesy of the ‘LNG pipe dream.’

Rather than desperately looking to Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and other environmentally risky or minimally processed natural resources as the province’s panacea, a viable job-creation plan should be strategically linked to our most pressing collective challenges:

  • climate change;
  • inequality (in both income and regional);
  • the erosion of tax fairness;
  • the affordability crises in housing and child care

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(Source)

Seth Klein states that tens of thousands of new, green, sustainable jobs could be created in the renewable energy sector through:

  • A major buildings retrofit program (where public, commercial and residential buildings and homes are renovated to maximize energy efficiency and conservation);
  • New investments in renewable electricity generation (solar, wind, tidal and geothermal energy), and renewable neighbourhood energy utilities;
  • Large-scale investments in public transit and high-speed rail; and
  • Climate adaptation infrastructure (such as sewer and dike upgrades).

Forestry could be revitalized through reforestation, value-added manufacturing, and the processing of diverted wood waste and raw logs – potentially creating over 20,000 new jobs.

Building social and co-op housing at the rate of 10,000 units per year could yield well over 16,000 direct jobs in construction per year, plus another 12,250 indirect jobs (based on current construction employment calculations).

Implementing a universal child care program would create approximately 8,000 new jobs for child care workers and allow about 40,000 women to enter or re-enter the paid labour force. These estimates don’t include the creation of construction jobs for building new child care spaces, or indirect jobs in related services such as supplies and food. Nor do they include about another 8,000 existing child care jobs where workers in the informal sector move into the public regulated child care sector. This shift would not increase the number of jobs, but these workers will see an improvement in their education, wages, benefits and job stability.

These public investments can be paid for through fair taxation, carbon taxes and regular infrastructure funding, and such a jobs plan would reach every corner of BC, make a substantial difference in people’s lives, and promote equality.

Bolster Local Campaigns through Highlighting  Models of Success

  • Poverty reduction strategies in Newfoundland and Labrador have lifted 11,000 people out poverty.
  • In New Brunswick, 25,000 have been lifted out of poverty and dental care for all children is now covered by MSP
  • Quebec’s  $7/day child care plan has enabled 70,000 women to enter or re-enter the workforce (an increase of women’s participation in paid labour of 3.8%)  and is paying for itself. The program also created 8,000 new jobs in child care and construction. Quebec’s GDP increased by 1.7% (approximately $5 billion) as a result of the program.

The poverty rate among seniors is down slightly due to policy changes around CPP, OAS, low income supplement, etc.

In the budget announced Feb. 17th – after months of pressure from single parents, advocates and the opposition NDP – the government reversed the policy that stopped families headed by a single parent from keeping any child support payments from the non-custodial parent. Support payments were subtracted dollar for dollar from the family’s monthly welfare cheque. This poverty-creating policy had been taking $13 million away from 6,000 of BC’s poorest kids every year under the BC Liberals simply because their single parents received income assistance or disability.

Any of us could slip into deep poverty at any time, but the elimination of poverty is achievable where there is political will.

We need a comprehensive poverty reduction plan now – for all of us, especially for the 167,810 children who deserve better. We all deserve better, and a change in government will help BC to do better.

 

Submitted by Harmony Ráine

Kamloops and District Labour Council

Women’s Committee are Packing Purses

dsc_0347-2The Women’s Rights Committee of the Kamloops and District Labour Council marked the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women by filling gently used purses with basic necessities for women fleeing violence. Donations poured in from affiliates and community groups and included scarves, gloves, hair brushes, make up, soap, shampoo, perfume, feminine hygiene products and more.

“We were expecting to put together 50 purses but with the overwhelming inpouring of donations, we ended up with around 140,” says Barb Nederpel, President of the labour council. The purses were happily received by the Kamloops Y Women’s Shelter.

Nederpel says that this is a small gesture to help out the shelter and the women who depend on it. “Violence against women is an increasing concern and this government isn’t doing enough to provide the services and supports that women and families need. What does exist, does not meet demand, and services are often funded year-to-year, with no long term commitment from the B.C. government.”

Nederpel, also the candidate for the Kamloops North Thompson NDP, reflected on her own personal history facing and fleeing intimate partner abuse.

“I was trapped in this relationship as a teenager through young adulthood. Every single day was a struggle to exist and I made wrong choices as a result. I imploded my career, I couldn’t afford to leave, even if I had somewhere to go or family to lean on, and I had a young baby I needed to protect,” says Nederpel. “It was only through social programs that existed at that time that I was finally able make my way out.”

Nederpel laments that it shouldn’t have to be as arduous or dangerous as it is for women to leave.

Last spring, NDP MLA, Maurine Karigianis introduced a private members bill to protect the job security of victims of domestic violence. The Employment Standards Domestic Violence Leave Amendment Act would guarantee that those fleeing domestic violence have the ability to take a leave of absence from work, giving them the time that they need to move their family to safety.

“The Christy Clark government refused to support it. I was very disappointed because I know how dramatically that legislation could have altered my life.”

In March 2016, the Province of Manitoba amended their employment standards to afford workers who are victims of domestic violence with eligibility for five days of paid, protected employment leave. Ontario is looking at a private members bill that would grant 10 days.

Poverty disproportionately impacts women and children and BC has the worst child poverty in the country. “Poverty traps women in dangerous relationships and yet, BC is the only province without a poverty reduction plan. Raising the minimum wage and providing affordable childcare would go a long way to give women the opportunity to stand on her own two feet and live independently,” says Nederpel.

“We really need to do more to address violence against women in our province with stronger education and awareness, prevention and community support initiatives.”

The Kamloops Shoe Memorial commemorating the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women will be held December 6th, at St. Andrew’s on the Square. Speakers will begin at 12:15 and will include Barb Nederpel.

Hockey Players Denied Due Process

KDLC logoAfter much consideration and deliberation, our executive and membership has democratically decided to not participate in Union Night with the Kamloops Blazers.

We had been excited to work with the Blazer organization as many of our members are season ticket holders or fans and it would have been an excellent opportunity to show the density and commonality of union members in our community.

Unfortunately, just as we had launched the event and had a very positive response from affiliates, it came to our attention that hockey players in the Canadian Hockey League across this country are in a battle for recognition as employees and are seeking compensation at least at the rate of minimum wage.

A $180 million class action law suit against the CHL has been filed and still remains to be certified by the judge before it can proceed.

Junior hockey players work 5 – 7 hours a day beyond their time spent on their education, on training, playing and community obligations, are required to follow stringent guidelines and rules, and relinquish rights to their name and image.

In return, they are provided varying levels of compensation such as a pay cheque between $35 – $50 per week, room and board, and assistance towards tutoring fees and post secondary courses. This amounts to far less than minimum wage being paid by these profitable businesses, not only the local hockey club, but through revenue sharing with the NHL and Rogers SportsNet.

A recent FOI request by the Vancouver Sun has revealed that hockey club owners, who have been substantial BC Liberal donors, have successfully lobbied the government to circumvent any unfavourable court decision.

The BC Liberals quietly passed an order-in-council last February that considers the players on the 6 BC teams as “student-athletes,” are excluded from protections by the Employment Standards Act, including the right to minimum wage, and have been denied due process and recourse.

The labour movement is profoundly devoted to upholding due process, worker’s rights, fair wages, and safe working conditions, and we simply cannot, in good conscious, participate under the umbrella of our organization in these circumstances.

We are not seeking to call on our membership to withdraw their individual participation at Blazer games. But we stand in solidarity with the players who deserve respect and appropriate compensation and are committed to calling on the next provincial government for a full review of employment standards.

Labour Day 2016

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For Canada’s unions, Labour Day is our time to celebrate our work and the everyday victories we win to make life better for everyone. This year we have even more reason to celebrate as we gather on our 60th anniversary of the Kamloops and District Labour Council.

At the KDLC, making life better for working people is, to put it simply, a labour of love. Values like fairness, equality and working together are what drive us to make a difference and is why we work hard to tackle issues like poverty, precarious work and the shrinking number of good jobs.

For nearly a decade, we advocated for stronger public pensions as we believe after a lifetime of work, no one should have to struggle just to make ends meet. Finally, for the first time in 50 years, the federal government and most of Canada’s premiers have agreed that it is time to expand the Canada Pension Plan.

While today’s seniors still need help to avoid falling into poverty, it is young workers who will benefit most from this change. Already faced with a hostile jobs market and record levels of debt, today’s young workers needed a new way to save for retirement. Planning for the future isn’t possible when you can’t count on a steady income and predictable work hours, let alone finding a job in the first place.

Federal and provincial governments need to restore the conditions required to grow and sustain good jobs in a diverse economy. It’s fair and simple to request, but it’s yet another uphill struggle that Canada’s unions are ready to help push forward.

Increasing the minimum wage is an important starting point. The KDLC has been an active participant in the largest international grassroots movement of our time, the Fight for $15, holding rallies and petition signing in our community.

But it is not just young workers that would benefit from an increased minimum wage. Over 80% of minimum wage workers are over the age of 20 and two out of three of those are women. Even when working full time, the current rate leaves workers $6,000 below the poverty line.

History, including recent history in Seattle, Los Angeles, San Fransisco and Alberta, have proven that raising the minimum wage stimulates the economy as businesses thrive. This is because people are better able to spend money in their community rather than just struggle with basic necessities.

While we wait for our provincial government to enact a poverty reduction plan, our labour council is proud to contribute where possible with the largest donation in our history to the Food Bank of 1,680 cans of salmon and the largest group donation to the Coldest Night benefiting New Life Community Kamloops.

Canadian unions have also called on the federal government to formally and finally ban asbestos. In Canada, 2,000 people die each year from diseases caused by asbestos exposure. It is the leading cause of workplace-related death. Yet, imports of asbestos products, from construction materials to brake pads, are on the rise and buildings contaminated with asbestos remain unregistered, keeping the people who use them and work in them at risk.

A comprehensive ban will save lives and prevent the pain, suffering and heartache endured by too many today.

Good jobs, safe workplaces, fairness and equality are the basic ingredients of a better future. These are the things that union leaders like me believe in and work for every day. For us, it truly is a labour of love and it’s what motivates us to march in the streets and celebrate in the parks, playgrounds and community spaces across Canada this weekend.

Please join our celebration this Labour Day at McDonald Park, between 11 and 2, to enjoy great music, food, and prizes. There are lots of free activities for the kids including bouncy castles, face painting, soccer with the TRU Wolf Pack, science experiments with the teachers, dunk tank with the Steelworkers and so much more.

Happy Labour Day, Canada!

Wai to Go!

FullSizeRenderI recently had the distinct pleasure to meet a local entrepreneur, motivational speaker and author.  He had emailed me through the KDLC website, asking me if we would be interested in participating in a local fundraiser for the Kamloops Y Women’s Shelter.  I was definitely interested but lacked the spare time to respond that day, and promised myself I would get back to him as soon as I could.

But this gentleman was persistent, which you have to be when you are trying to raise money for any good cause. And within 24 hours, he decided not to wait for me and called to follow up.  At first I wasn’t sure what this was all about, but he carefully and patiently explained who he was and why he was calling.  And soon, without even having all of the answers, he had me hook, line and sinker on his fundraiser, “Swim all the Wai.”

It is a clever play off of his name, Wai Hung Ma, and he has challenged himself to swim 2 kms on August 19th to raise money for the Women’s Shelter.

For some, a 2 km swim might not seem like much, but for Wai, who has cerebral palsy, it is rather epic.  CP is a disorder that affects muscle tone, movement, and motor skills and Wai has always pushed himself beyond these so-called limitations in everything he does.

As a motivational speaker in schools, hospitals and at conferences, Wai uses a power point presentation, voice recordings, and hand gestures to assist in communicating his message. And then in 2007, he published a compilation of his speeches into his first book called, “Breaking Limitations.”

He has developed a 20 minute DVD, “How to be a Better Bully,” aimed at kids in Grades 6 – 10 focusing on raising awareness and making better choices.  His second book in e-book format, “Motivation,” is based on Wai’s life and how you can find inspiration to live your life to the fullest just as he does.

And he has physically challenged himself as well previously training for and completing the Kamloops Cattle Drive. From his Facebook post:

In 1994 I pushed my body to the limit train my body to sit on horse for five to six hours a day to get myself for Kamloops Cattle Drive. The first day of the cattle drive I rode ten hours. The process of the training for the ride was painful and emotionally but I did it. 23 years later I find myself sitting here putting a support team together and pushing my body to the limit once again. Trying to swim 40 laps by midsummer and raise fund for a good cause. Man what I get my self into. I know it will be painful and emotional More details yet to come.”

Within a couple of days I was meeting him for coffee and he thought I was just there to talk to him about his fundraiser.  But in truth, I had to tell him how inspired he made me feel.  He’s already done so many things that I have never dreamt to do.  And he did it with the drive, determination and positive attitude of an Olympic athlete.

He has been training hard, increasing his swimming strength, coordination, and endurance at the Kamloops Y with the help of his coaches, and he posts his results on Facebook on a regular basis.

But this time, he isn’t satisfied with just challenging himself.  He laid out the challenge for all of us at the Labour Council.

He wants people to donate a MAXIMUM $5 (yeah, he got all Bernie Sanders like) to the Kamloops Y Women’s Shelter and it couldn’t be easier than clicking on the donate button here: http://www.kamloopsy.org/y_womens_shelter.htm

He wants us to share his Facebook event with members, friends, family and co-workers, so they can join the challenge too webcal://www.facebook.com/ical/u.php?uid=720511910&key=AQDWttEGHN3J0A7A

Or meet his challenge by swimming, running, walking, biking, climbing whatever you are able bodied to do, as a team or by yourself, but pledge to challenge yourself somehow on August 19th.

At the end of this challenge, Wai already knows his next steps.  He will write his third book on this experience and I am hoping that he will have an incredibly successful story to tell.

2016 Day of Mourning Calls for Asbestos Ban

 

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Written by Harmony Raine

This April 28th, Canadian unions are calling for a comprehensive national ban on asbestos , a known killer that causes disease, suffering and death—all of it preventable. We want the federal government to pass legislation that outlaws the use, exportation, and import of asbestos.

More than 2,000 people die every year in Canada from diseases caused by exposure to asbestos, such as mesothelioma,1 lung cancer and asbestosis.2 Asbestos exposure is the number one cause of occupational death in Canada, and since 1996, asbestos-related diseases have accounted for about a third of the workplace deaths recognized by workers’ compensation boards.

Deaths from mesothelioma increased by 60 percent between 2000 and 2012. Despite these disturbing facts, imports of items that contain asbestos, like brake pads and cement pipes, are on the rise (in 2014, imports of asbestos brake linings and pads hit a seven-year high, valued at $3.6 million that year alone). These products, as well as the lack of a formal registry of buildings known to contain asbestos, increase workers’ risk of exposure to a known killer.

Safer alternatives

This risk of asbestos exposure is preventable and completely unacceptable given that there are safe alternatives. Asbestos-free brake pads are manufactured in Guelph, Ontario, and asbestos-free ceiling tiles are produced in Langley, BC. Substituting these safer alternatives for deadly asbestos also creates Canadian jobs and support Canadian industries. Plans for new spending on infrastructure at all levels of government make it even more urgent that an asbestos ban be put in place now to guarantee that projects such as construction and upgrades to roads, transit stations, and other public places remain asbestos free.

National Day of Mourning Background

The National Day of Mourning, held annually on April 28, was officially recognized by the federal government in 1991, eight years after the day of remembrance was launched by the Canadian Labour Congress. The Day of Mourning has since spread to about 80 countries around the world and has been adopted by the AFL- CIO and the International Confederation of Free Trade. Every year since, local unions and labour councils have marked the day with ceremonies of remembrance for colleagues, friends and family who have been killed, injured, or suffered serious health consequences because of workplace-related hazards and incidents.

Each year, approximately 1,000 Canadian workers are killed on the job (more than 2.5 workers per day). In the 20 year period from 1995 to 2014, 18,039 people lost their lives due to work-related causes (an average of 918 deaths per year). Hundreds of thousands more are injured, and countless thousands become permanently disabled or die from work-related diseases.

Honouring these individuals not only demonstrates our respect and support for affected workers and their families, but is also a vital means of creating public awareness of workplace hazards and toxins. It helps us to reinforce our ongoing commitment to fighting for safer workplaces and demanding that negligent employers are held accountable.

Unions have already made a difference over the past year by reducing the hazards people face when working in confined spaces and helping to make the workplaces of Canadians (not just union members) much safer and healthier. Through labour councils, the BC Federation of Labour, and the Canadian Labour Congress, unions have also fostered workplace protections for victims of domestic violence, with changes to provincial laws moving forward in Alberta, Manitoba, and Ontario. Recognizing that not all injuries are physical, unions are also taking on the stigma of mental illness and factoring it into what makes a workplace healthy and safe.

This year, Canada can take a giant step forward with a comprehensive ban on asbestos that will help to make all of our workplaces, homes and public spaces safer and healthier.

 

Kamloops Day of Mourning Ceremony

The Kamloops and District Labour Council will host a Day of Mourning ceremony On April 28, 2016 (6:00 pm) at St. Andrew’s on the Square and invites everyone to attend. The event will include guest speakers, a sidewalk march to lay the wreath, lighting of memorial candles, and music provided by Gail Ovington (piano), Jake Dogteron (trumpet), and Lorne Bailey (bagpipes).

Workers are also encouraged to observe a moment of silence and fly flags at half- mast at their worksites on April 28th.

An injury to one is an injury to all.

For more information about the Kamloops event, please contact Jim Waldie at waldiejames@gmail.com.

To learn more about the National Day of Mourning, visit dayofmourning.bc.ca. If you would like to leave a note in honour a fallen family member or worker, please visit the Day of Mourning commemoration site at dayofmourning.bc.ca. You can also request complimentary Day of Mourning decals and posters through this website.

1 Mesothelioma: mez-oh-thee-lee-oh-ma A rare form of cancer that develops from cells of the protective lining that covers the internal organs of the body. Signs and symptoms include shortness of breath due to fluid between the lung and the chest wall, chest wall pain and constitutional signs such as unexplained weight loss. Mesothelioma is most commonly caused by exposure to asbestos (Sources: wikipedia.com and merriam- webster.com).

2 Asbestosis: az-bess-toe-sis A chronic inflammatory and scarring disease affecting the tissue of the lungs. People with the condition may experience severe shortness of breath and are at an increased risk for certain cancers, including lung cancer. Asbestosis specifically refers to fibrosis within the lung tissue from asbestos, and not scarring around the outside of the lungs. It is caused by the breathing in and retention of asbestos fibres (Sources: wikipedia.com and merriam-webster.com).

Kamloops Joins the National Call for $15

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Written by Barbara Nederpel

On April 15th, the Kamloops District Labour Council, workers, students, progressive political parties, and concerned citizens in Kamloops, join the national call for a $15 minimum wage.

Around 40 people rallied at the North Shore transit exchange to demand that anyone who works full time should be able to live above the poverty line.

This national day of action is the first of its kind in Canada ad follows a groundswell movement to a $15 minimum wage that is sweeping across North America — Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Francisco prompted a commitment from the entire state of California, as well as New York and the province of Alberta.

But here in British Columbia the minimum wage is the lowest in the country at $10.45. The only long term commitment by the BC Liberals ties any future increase to inflation. Where Alberta will reach $15 in 2018, at this rate, BC will not reach it until 2034.

This low rate means a full time worker will make $6,000 below the poverty line, despite working as hard and diligently as higher waged workers, and with no prospects of improvement in their situation unless they are able to secure better work.

However, the statistics of low wage workers paints a picture oDSC_0488f a huge portion of the population that likely will be in the same low wage situation for the long term.

Over half of a million people earn less than $15 an hour in BC— that’s one-quarter of all working people.

Eighty-two per cent are 20 or older. These are students drowning in debt load and studying full time, and young people in precarious work trying to stand on their own 2 feet.

Nearly two-thirds are women, many unable to access affordable, quality childcare, which may explain why we have amongst the worst child poverty rates in the country.

And 15,500 are over the age of 65. These are people who are forced to work because they are unable to pay for rent, food or medications otherwise.

Right winged economists decry that raising the minimum wage will hurt job creation and stall the economy. However, statistics have shown that it actually stimulates growth in local businesses and economy.

Why? When people are able to live above the poverty line, they can afford to spend every penny in their community.

Real job creation comes from people spending money in local business, not from big corporations who hide their money in offshore accounts to avoid paying taxes.

According to a study done by the BC Federation of Labour, 83% of British Columbians agree with increasing the rate to $15. Also in agreement are 5 economists at the International Monetary Fund.

Unfortunately, the BC Liberals do not agree, citing the need to protect a delicate economy while they tout that BC has the strongest economy in the country. But how can we have the strongest economy when we have the highest cost of living, the worst wage gap, and the worst child poverty?

A strong economy is one that works for everyone and a minimum wage increase to $15 is a vital step needed to get there.

 

2016 KDLC Bursary Application

The Kamloops and District Labour Council (KDLC) is offering four (4) $1,000 (one thousand dollar) bursaries (two in an academic field and two in a technical (trades) field of study) to students who are members or relatives of members of unions that are affiliated to, and in good standing with, the KDLC.

Who is eligible?

Members or relatives of members, of unions affiliated to and in good standing with, the KDLC.

Definition of a relative:  a spouse of same or opposite sex, parent, child, including step-child or foster child, brother, sister, grandchild, niece or nephew.

Applicants must be registered in a full-time or part-time post secondary program at a PUBLIC education institution (for technical field of study – must be sponsored from a recognized trade union) in 2016/2017.

All of the following information MUST be included in your submission to the KDLC Bursary Committee.

  1. Application form
  2. Transcript of your grade standing
  3. Confirmation of your enrollment in a PUBLIC education institution (for technical field of study – must be sponsored from a recognized trade union) in 2016/2017.  If you are waiting for enrollment confirmation, please send a letter stating you are waiting for the confirmation and if you are chosen for a bursary, the confirmation will have to be shown before you will receive the bursary.
  4. A double-spaced typed essay of 750-2000 words on the following topic.  This essay shall be the basis for awarding the bursary.

The Kamloops and District Labour Council (KDLC) was founded 60 years ago by the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) to promote the rights of working people in the Thompson-Nicola region.  What impact has the KDLC had in meeting its mandate in our region during the past 60 years?

Please submit all of the above information to the address below before May 13, 2016.  The Committee will ONLY accept Bursary applications by mail to:

Bursary Committee
Kamloops and District Labour Council
PO Box 369 STN MAIN
Kamloops, BC
V2C 5K9

Please include: KDLC Bursary Application