Mine Mill & Smelter Workers - Local 598 / C.A.W.

   19 Regent Street South,

Sudbury, Ontario  P3C 4B7



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McGuinty Government Is Committed To Safe And Healthy Workplaces

Published: September 17, 2008

Ontario is seeking input to determine if current protections against workplace violence under the Occupational Health and Safety Act should be enhanced or clarified.

A consultation paper has been released outlining the issues around workplace violence. Comments are being requested from labour and employer stakeholders, as well as from the general public.

Currently, the Ministry of Labour deals with issues of workplace violence that fall within the jurisdiction of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Ministry inspectors are trained to address complaints of workplace violence, and proactively check for procedures to address workplace violence where the risk of violence is higher due to the nature of the work.

The closing date for comments on this consultation is October 17, 2008.


“We want Ontario workers to enjoy safe and healthy workplaces,” said Labour Minister Brad Duguid. “At the same time, we must make sure that our occupational health and safety legislation protects them from workplace violence in a balanced way that reflects the realities of today’s workplaces.“


  • Violence against workers is most likely to arise from clients, customers, or other members of the public.
  • The risk of violence is higher in certain sectors, such as health care, social services, retail, hospitality, education, transportation, police, security agencies, and correctional services.
  • A number of work activities are associated with an increased risk of workplace violence, including: handling cash, protecting or securing valuables, transporting people and goods, a mobile workplace (such as a vehicle), public or community contact, working alone or with just a few people, or working late nights or very early mornings.


Read the Consultation Paper on Workplace Violence Prevention.

Susan McConnell, Minister’s Office, 416-326-7710
Bruce Skeaff, Communications Branch, 416-326-7405
Source: ontario.ca/labour-news

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In Memory of Jack Quenville

On Friday June 27, late evening, Brother Jack Quenville died at his home, Copper Cliff Manor.  Jack was the last of the original Mine Mill 598/CAW union organizers.  We had representation from our local at the service on Monday held at the Legion in Copper Cliff.  There was a beautiful flower arrangement from Buzz Hargrove and Jim O’Neil and John Aman, National Director of Organizing joined us at the funeral service on Tuesday.  Jack was paraded to the church by members of the Legion and Alison and Angel (bargaining committee members at Copper Cliff Manor) proudly carried and marched in the parade with our Mine Mill 598/CAW flags.

Jack contacted our local in October of last year and spoke about the workers at Copper Cliff Manor with pride, compassion and concern.  An activist, all his life, he knew how a union would protect the people who cared for him, their families and community.  At our delegate convention in Toronto in December, we honored Jack and his contribution to our society and this was mentioned at his funeral service as well.

I had the privilege to spend quality time with Brother Jack and his partner Lillian.  Jack has left a little bit of himself in all of us and we will miss but will never forget his smile, stories and determination for fairness and equality.

In Solidarity
Anne Marie MacInnis
Mine Mill 598/CAW
Community Based Organizer

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Camping Weekend

July 2, 2008

On Saturday June 28th we had an open invitation to all members and their families to spend an evening at our campgrounds.  Approximately 35 folks showed up.  The Aboriginal Youth Group had an opening ceremony at the tee-pee they have on our grounds and our children were invited to participate.  Winnie, an Aboriginal Elder, spoke to the children about their culture and how important it is for all races and creeds to support and work with together.

The Métis of Ontario have a large tent up on the campgrounds for their events.  They offered the use of the large tent and our members set up their tents under the shelter.  The Métis, purchased two prospector tents, cots and sleeping bags with some of the money received from the Trillium Grant and offered that equipment to our members.

We went swimming, shared a meal together, played sewer pitch, practiced our batting and set off fire works in the evening.  Everyone had a good time and they wish to set up another weekend soon.

In Solidarity
Anne Marie MacInnis
Mine Mill 598/CAW
Community Based Organizer

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Human rights complaint filed over seniors left in old diapers

Ontario Federation of Labour says institutions are failing to fully follow law, contracts, bill of rights

Thomas Walkom

November 24, 2007

The Ontario Federation of Labour is filing a formal complaint with the province's Human Rights Commission on behalf of nursing home residents forced to sit or lie for hours at a time in urine-soaked diapers.

Federation president Wayne Samuelson said yesterday that the umbrella union organization decided to take the commission route because, after raising this issue with legislators for months, it has still received no satisfactory response from Premier Dalton's McGuinty's government.

It is also filing a second formal complaint on Monday with the provincial ministry of health, charging that long-term care institutions are failing to live up to the law that regulates them, to their service contracts with the government, and to a new nursing homes bill of rights that promises "to fully recognize the residents' dignity and individuality."

In a letter to be sent Monday to chief Ontario human rights commissioner Barbara Hall, the OFL charges that the government's policy of scrimping on incontinence products for nursing home residents has led to discrimination on the basis of age, disability and sex.

In most cases, the letter says, nursing homes refuse to change a resident's adult diaper until a strip on the pad changes colour to show that it is 75 per cent full. Those long-term care workers who disobey are liable to discipline from their employers.

Even after bathing, residents may be forced to put back on urine-soaked diapers if the pads are not yet three-quarters full, the letter states.

"Such policies and practices impose harmful, disrespectful and undignified effects on residents who are incontinent, elderly and dependant on care," it reads.

At the core of the complaint is money. The government allots only $1.20 per resident per day to nursing and old age homes for so-called incontinence products. It also does not require nursing homes to provide a fixed number of hours of personal care for each resident – since this would require more staff.

When asked about the problem last month, a health ministry spokesperson says $1.20 per person is not as chintzy as it might seem, since not all residents are incontinent. He also said that anyone who felt hard done by could file a formal complaint

But family members and nursing home staff who have spoken to the Star about residents sitting in their own waste say they are afraid to complain for fear of retaliation.

The letter to Hall asks that her commission set up an inquiry and make recommendations. Mary Cornish, the federation's lawyer, said that if the commission does follow this route it won't be able to force nursing homes to change their ways. But it could put political pressure on the government.

Samuelson said if the federation's latest two-prong attack doesn't work, it will lay formal complaints nursing home by nursing home.

Reprinted fromThe Toronto Star

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South Korean trade deal 'heavy lifting'

Negotiations are moving slowly and aren't expected to close this year, Trade Minister David Emerson says


November 17, 2007

OTTAWA -- Canadian International Trade Minister David Emerson says hopes have faded on reaching a free trade deal with South Korea this year, adding that talks are moving more slowly than once envisioned.

He says the terms of auto sector trade with South Korea - a major vehicle maker - are a key sticking point.

"[It's] probably the number one issue that needs to be dealt with in an appropriate way and it will be heavy lifting to get where we would want to be on that one," he said in an interview yesterday while on a Middle East trade mission.

Back in April, after the United States reached its own trade agreement with South Korea, Mr. Emerson had said he hoped to wrap up a deal for Canada by year's end.

"I don't expect one this year," Mr. Emerson said yesterday. "Maybe six months ago I thought we would be able to move more quickly."

Nearly all auto makers in Canada have warned they will not accept a deal that opens the market to more vehicle imports from South Korea, but doesn't open up the South Korean market to shipments of finished vehicles from Canada.

Critics such as the Canadian Auto Workers Union, which forecast Canada is headed this year for its largest automotive trade deficit yet, have warned a deal with South Korea could cost the country more than 33,000 jobs.

Ottawa and Seoul have already held at least 10 rounds of trade negotiations and another one will occur in a few weeks, but Mr. Emerson said he doesn't think this will be the last set of talks.

"That negotiation is moving forward but it's not moving forward at breakneck speed," he said.

"As there always is when you get down to the ten-yard line, that's when the tough stuff has to be dealt with and we've got a little way to go."

Canada's negotiations with South Korea are Ottawa's top trade talks right now and many had expected deliberations would accelerate after the United States reached a free-trade agreement with the Asian country.

The United States has not yet ratified its deal with South Korea and U.S. auto makers have expressed concern about the agreement.

Still, Mr. Emerson expects the United States to eventually ratify - and enact - its deal with South Korea, which would make it incumbent on Canada to ensure it doesn't get left behind.

"People are saying the U.S. will not ratify. Well, I will bet anything the U.S. does ratify - and it may not be until a change of [presidential] administration, but I believe they will ratify it."

Mr. Emerson acknowledged that a Canada-South Korea deal would be controversial but said critics have gone overboard in their attacks.

"It's been appalling - some of the ludicrous economic claims about the dangers of a trade agreement with Korea."

He said there has to be a "more extended public debate" to assure Canadians of the benefits of a deal with South Korea.

The consequence of failing to clinch a trade deal is that Canada would miss out on preferential access to the South Korea market, Mr. Emerson said.

Reprinted from The Globe and Mail

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Nursing Home Care In Crisis

January 08, 2005

Community Based Organizer, Anne Marie MacInnis pictured with Sudbury NDP Candidate Gerry McIntaggart

Until 1996, nursing home operators in the public and private sector, received money from the Ministry of Health to provide 2.25 hours of care per resident per day.  In 1996 the Conservative Government under the leadership of Mike Harris developed a new funding structure.  Nursing Home operators in our province would receive funding based on CMI’s (Case Mix Indexes) and CMM’s (Case Mix Measures.)  This structure is based solely on documentation.  This structure was implemented in British Columbia for only a couple of years and then abolished because residents were not receiving the quality of life that they deserve.

When a family member places a loved one in a nursing home it is usually their last resort because they are unable to meet their needs.  

As health care workers we are suppose to provide physical, emotional, phycological and spiritual support.  We provide the best possible care with the resources allocated by our Employers.

A Nursing “Home” is generally the last place this person will live.  A resident is a person who, at one time, was young vibrant and worked/contributed in their communities and payed taxes.

At the very least, a person residing in a long term care facility should received quality care and dignity at all times!

In Sudbury, residents have been transferred to Parry Sound, Espanola and The Island because nursing home beds have not been available.  Residents are placed in facilities, away from their families.  They become depressed and feel isolated.  This kind of treatment must stop and we need more nursing home beds in Northern Ontario to deal with this crisis!  

In Solidarity

Anne Marie MacInnis

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November 1, 2005


I want to thank the Sudbury District Labour Council for offering me the opportunity to attend the two-day symposium that the Ontario Health Coalition organized on the weekend.  The sessions were very informative and honestly at time overwhelming.  Our health care system as we know it will continue to be chipped away if we don’t mobilize our members and the public in an effort to sustain and improve our Medicare system.

 Saturda y October 29, 2005

 Natalie Mehr’s Updates

1.   Bill 8 Hospitals.  This bill was introduced to cut budgets. We saw this happen in the West where workers collective agreements were scrapped and private companies began to bid for contracts in the dietary and housekeeping departments.  The workers once enjoyed a decent living wage and are now receiving low wages in the ranges from $10 to $12 per hour.  The hospitals began to load shed staff that were working in the social work and therapies departments etc.  The private support services were and still are behind a curtain of secrecy.

2.   MRI/CT Clinics.  Again there is a lot of secrecy shrouded around this program.  There were 8 private clinics under the Tory government.  McGuinty promised to bring them back into the public system.  Only 3 were turned into non-profit corporations.  These 3 corporations are paying a management fee and are paying a fee to deliver the MRI’s.  These clinics are truly not brought back into the system.

3.   Long-Term Care.  George Smitherman indicated there would be a revolution in long-term care.  He has not put this into place.  It was suppose to be introduced in the spring session and now the fall session.  We need to demand that this be in the Regulations and not simply introduced as a Bill.  The Liberal government wants to roll all the current Acts into 1.  Currently there are 42 CCAC (Community Care Access Centers) and soon there will only be 14.  This means there will be a loss of community input.  The Ministry of Health with the assistance of Eleanor Kaplan has a 9-year plan. 

NOTE:  Years ago, Eleanor Kaplan owned shares in the Extendicare Nursing Homes. 

4.   Private Hospitals.  The McGuinty government has a 5-year plan.  There are now 23 hospitals slated to become P3’s.  Private corporations will have mortgages from 30 to 60 years.  Additional private hospitals and new hospitals are at risk for becoming P3’s.  More money will be taken away from staff and there will be 20% fewer beds.

5.   Our Medicare system is becoming more of a business (core business.) We are seeing more competitive bidding, services are being removed from hospitals and put into the communities and information between providers.  More hospital services are given to regional companies and there are cuts to local health services.  Hospitals are bidding against each other and services are no longer local but are becoming regionalized.  Eleanor Kaplan is reviewing at the moment and there is a real embrace for the competitive model.

6.   Natalie said there would be graphs on the web page soon.  Spending today in health care is the same as spending in 1993.  The government is trying to privatize the workforce and decrease wages.  Cost drivers are not wages, wages are only tracking inflation.  Drugs, medical equipment and supplies are the cost drivers.  This is 18% to 24% of the provincial budget.  This has grown 130%


1.     Bill 8

2.     LHINS

3.     Wait list strategy and information systems

4.     P3’s

5.     Service privatization

6.     Movement of clinics out of hospitals

Jack Layton told the participants that the NDP wants to negotiate with the Liberal Party.  The focus is on privatization and 41 billion is spent on our health care system.  There is a concerted all points press from those who want to privatized.  Kirby (former Liberal) is pushing forward the incentive of privatization; he believes this is a good thing.  Layton wants the Prime Minister to support in house needs and agree that what is happening in health care is wrong.

We need new rules for Federal/Provincial fiscal transfers.  Cannot be used for growth of privatized services.  This was done when extra billing was a threat.  Layton had a meeting with Jean Crowder last week and he said it was disappointing because most don’t believe it’s a threat.  He may have another meeting on Monday.  Layton suggests that we contact Jean Crowder and express our concerns at crwdj@parl.gc.ca.  We need people to speak out about the issues.  “We are battling values of this country, these are our fundamental Canadian values” said Jack Layton.

On Saturday, there were approximately 60 participants who were introduced by the chairs of the committee.  We did an analysis of political context and health spending review.  The message was loud and clear.  The Liberal government under the leadership of Dalton County has not lived up to their promises to eliminate the ideology of P3 hospitals and have only continued to push forward the Tory agenda.  We reviewed the local and central activities of 2005.  Participants shared their experiences, thoughts and future possible actions. 

We received briefing on key types of campaigns:

1.   Lawn sign and door-to-door.  Save Medicare signs were very effective.  When committee people began to collect the signs many people wanted to keep them because they felt this was an important campaign and began to understand what could happen to our Medicare system if we did not remain involved.  Door-to-door campaigns have been successful but the public feels more apt to get involved if actions are mobilized in shopping malls.

2.   Plebiscites.  This action has been successful in Brampton and Ottawa.  A plebiscite is the public expression of a community’s opinion, with or without binding force.  Natalie Mehra, President of the Ontario Health Coalition discussed the possibility of organizing a plebiscite in our community because we have been designated a prime P3 location.

3.   Organizing within diverse communities.  The city of Toronto, for example, is a diverse community and in order to be able to get information into the communities they have support people who understand their culture and can speak the language.  Materials have been translated. 

While discussing community groups it was raised that we should be targeting the youth.  Some coalition members have been speaking to the youth in the Civics and Economic courses with much success.  They are letting them know that now its health care next it will be the education system and so on.

We received the presentation of draft action plan and had debate and discussion of the action plan.  I will include the package received on Saturday and the action plan is part of the correspondence.  Natalie will be sending us additions and/or amendments in the next following weeks, which will be forwarded.

The Ontario Health Coalition presented the Daniel Benedict Award.  Brother Benedict was a UAW member and then a CAW member who worked tirelessly in the union/social movement.  Brother Corey Vermey, CAW Research Department, shared with the participants that Brother Daniel was our founding father of the CAW Paid Education Leave program. 

There was a lot of discussion regarding the Chaoulli case and the possible impact this may have on our public Medicare system.

 In Solidarity

Anne Marie MacInnis

Mine Mill 598/CAW

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Labor Day (the rest of the story) 

by Dwight Harper

 Labor day is a holiday that is so much a part of Canadian culture that one rarely pauses to consider its true purpose and meaning. It is more associated with the kids returning to school, putting the boat up for the season or the last weekend at the cottage than what it was meant to be - a celebration of workers and their families.

Labor Day began in Canada on April 15th, 1872. On that historic day the Toronto Trades Assembly organized the country’s first significant ‘workers demonstration.’ At that time trade unions were still illegal and authorities tried to repress them, even though laws against “criminal conspiracy” to disrupt trade had already been abolished. Despite these obstacles the Assembly spoke out on behalf of working people, encouraged union organization and acted as a watchdog, occasionally mediating disputes between employers and employees.

By the time the parade was organized in 1872, the Assembly had a membership of 27 unions, representing wood workers, builders and metal workers, plus an assortment of others trades ranging from bakers to cigar makers. The prime reason for the demonstration was to demand the release of 24 leaders of the Toronto Typographical Union, who had been imprisoned for the “crime” of striking to gain a nine-hour working day.

Held on Thanksgiving Day, which was then observed in the spring, the parade featured throngs of workers, four bands and a crowd of Torontonians estimated at 10,000. It was a defining moment in Canadian labor history that inspired the labor movement over the next decade and sowed the seeds of what is now an annual workers’ holiday celebrated around the world.

Following a similar march in Ottawa, Sir John A. MacDonald, the prime minister at the time, made a promise to sweep away “such barbarous laws” as those invoked to imprison the ITU workers in Toronto. He kept his word and before years end the hated laws were gone from the statute books of Canada. (The Toronto Trades Assembly was replaced in 1881 by the Toronto Trades and Labor Council, which in turn played a major role in founding the Canadian Labor Congress in 1883)

Initially Labor Day was celebrated in the spring but that didn’t last long. After it was declared a legal holiday by the Parliament of Canada on July 23, 1894, it was moved to the early fall, where it has remained ever since.

Around the world today Labor Day is celebrated at different times, but whenever the day, the purpose remains the same. It remains a day that affirms the dignity and honor of working people everywhere.

Now you know the rest of the story!

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Labour Day - 2005

History, as it is taught to our children in the schools, is not the story of how this country was built. It is for all intents and purposes the continuation of a myth. What they study are the stories of the wealthy and the ruling classes. Our children are taught that they need to know all about the “Captains of Industry”, and how they built this country. They are taught about the lives and policies of long dead politicians. They are taught that this country is great and strong and that these people, whom they have studied in class, are to be honoured and respected. This view is reinforced in the media where politicians and business leaders receive most of the coverage on the nightly news.

The reality is that none of the great projects that have been built in this country could have become reality without the sacrifice, skills, and sweat of working people. In our society it is all too easy to take for granted the things that make life as comfortable as it is. When you turn on the tap, you take for granted that you will be getting clean safe water. You seldom consider all of the people that make that happen from the water treatment plant down to the crew that dug the hole and repaired the water main that froze and broke on Christmas Eve. You probably didn’t consider the miners who made the copper pipe and stainless steel fixtures possible. Possibly you failed to realize just how much you rely on the people who maintain the electrical systems that our society has come to be so dependent upon. Our society wasn’t built by a man who arranged the financing to build a railroad. Our society was built by workers; workers with skills, dedication and dreams of a better life.

Yet, in our culture we revere the businessman who became impossibly wealthy in our history books, and still ignore the people who made it possible, working people. As a society, we set aside one day a year, to pay lip service to the workers who built this country and made it what it is, Labour Day. It is a day that in modern society that has become less and less relevant as people are drawn into the premise that everything they have achieved, they have achieved on their own. They have come to believe the mantra that taxes are a bad thing and if they could just get another break things would get better. But that is the flaw in the logic of the political right. Many believe that if they could just work harder or longer things would improve, but cannot quite escape the uneasy feeling that we are somehow walking on very thin economic ice and could break through without warning.

In Canada today, approximately 30 percent of the workforce enjoy the benefits of union membership. Generally union members are paid higher wages; enjoy a benefits package, and pensions. They work under collective agreements that afford them protections from unfair practices and have a measure of job security that is simply not available to unorganized workers.

For unionized workers the status quo cannot be good enough. We must work for democratic reform. We must continue our fight for improved social programs, and justice in a wide range of areas from poverty, violence against women, and human rights. For those in the Union Movement, the struggle for a better society will never end.

On this Labour Day, we must resolve to remember why we set aside this day. We need to build bridges to bring together those workers who are still unorganized, and we must dedicate ourselves to educating young workers so that they can continue the work to build a better a quality of life for all Canadians.

Bob Beck

Unit Chair – Falconbridge

Mine Mill / CAW – Local 598

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Which Side are You On?

My daddy was a miner,
And I'm a miner's son,
And I'll stick with the union
'Til every battle's won.

Which side are you on?
Which side are you on?
Which side are you on?
Which side are you on?

(Excerpt from the lyrics of “Which Side Are You On” by Pete Seeger)

 The other day, during my drive to work, I heard that the NDP had made a deal with the Liberals that would remove a large part of the odious corporate tax-cuts proposed by the government in the federal budget. I also heard that the Conservatives and most business organizations were very upset with the idea that the corporate tax breaks were being cut. The Chamber of Commerce claimed these breaks were needed to create jobs and that Canada is sending a message that this country is abandoning its program of job creation. Steven Harper stated, "I'm flabbergasted at the amount of taxpayers' money these guys are prepared to throw around” Thomas d’Aquino of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives whined that the deal, “would sacrifice Canada's ability to foster more high-paying jobs and to ensure that our economy grows fast enough to pay for the massive federal commitments to expanding social programs.”

Let’s examine this. First, who would actually benefit from increased the money placed into education, social housing, and gas taxes for cities. It would not be unreasonable to expect that it would be ordinary working Canadians who pay taxes. Remember that this would come at only the cost of a delay in tax cuts for major corporations.

In the last twenty-five years, it has become increasingly apparent that the working class in our society are having to work harder and harder for less and less of the economic benefits produced by their labour. Between 1984 and 1999 the net assets of the wealthiest increased by 43%. The rest of us saw our net worth slip by 51%. Many Canadians who used to see themselves as middle class are now living below the poverty line.

Business argues that it needs the tax cuts in order to continue to create jobs. The statistics clearly show that the very people, who claim to be creating jobs, are in fact engaged in a program of creating low quality employment in order to increase their personal wealth. The push, by business, is in the direction of greater worker vulnerability in terms of income, job security, health and safety. It is now the norm to reduce or eliminate benefits in the name of cost management. Part time low wage work has taken over from high quality, good paying union jobs. The facts are clear; the business of Business is to increase its bottom line. The business of government should be to insure the quality of life for the citizens of the society. Government ought to be concerned about the welfare of ordinary Canadians. In the past twenty-five years it is apparent that government has been too busy worrying about the business elite to worry about the general population.

While in power the Liberals and Conservatives have done little for the working people of this country in well over a generation. When the opportunity came along for the NDP to grab a few crumbs from the economic table for the ordinary working people of Canada, Steven Harper immediately sided with the corporate elite and cried foul. Paul Martin is no white knight in this scenario either, he only grudgingly agreed to Jack Layton’s proposals in an effort to hang on to the reins of power.

What working people have to decide in the next election, whether it is this spring or next fall is, who is on your side? Canadians have to make up their minds and vote to benefit themselves. Neither the Liberals nor the Conservatives provide a clear option to the other; remember Brian Mulroney…

Bob Beck

Unit Chair - Falconbridge

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April - Health & Safety Newsletter

April 25, 2005

Smelter H & S Report

By:  Dwight Harper

A once-thought, unattainable milestone has just been reached at the Smelter.  You the Smelter workforce, have managed to remain lost-time injury-free for the longest stretch in the past ten years, and as of the time of writing this article, that stretch continues.  This is an achievement of which all Smelter workers should be proud. Smelter management in a private conversation, recently asked me what I thought were the reasons for our recent success?  A few ideas came to mind immediately.  The new chemistry of the P&M JHSC has had the greatest single positive impact, here at the Smelter.  We are now a group that is far less adversarial than we were in the past and things are getting accomplished.   

Also, all levels of management, the JHSC’s and both P&M and OCT workers are more knowledgeable when it comes to identifying and rectifying immediate hazards (may not be quick enough for some, but it’s a marked improvement). 

But with all the positives, comes some negatives.  As good as we are at dealing with immediate hazards, mechanical and electrical, we fail miserably when it comes to identifying and correcting physical and environmental hazards (noise, vibration, ergonomics, fugitives, etc).  Because these issues are not viewed as immediate health and safety risks and they are not given the same priority, they often take a backseat.  Fixes and awareness are arduously slow in coming. 

Now as we move quickly toward another maintenance shutdown and are about to do work that we may not have done for some time, I want to remind everyone that their personal safety is more important than any timelines for task completion.   

Don’t cut corners!  Don’t be too proud to ask for help, if you need it!  If you are uncertain or uncomfortable about something, ask questions!  If you see a safety hazard, correct it or report it!  And always look out for yourself and for others.

Continue to do exactly what you are doing; the results are worth celebrating. 

 T/L Health & Safety Report

By:  Eugene Czaja

 One has to wonder why our safety record at T/L Mine has deteriorated to the level we are currently experiencing.  Just across the hall from our Joint Health and Safety office is a white board where we keep track of injuries, both current and year-to-date.   

When I go to work each day, I check this board and I have to admit, I get frightened by what I see.  Not only are the numbers continuing to spiral out of control, but the severities of the injuries are also on the rise. 

If this trend is allowed to continue to the end of the year, 51% of the work force will have an injury. 

That’s right, half the workers on each crew will be injured by the end of this year.  The trend we are seeing also tells us that some of these injuries will be debilitating or life altering in some form or fashion.  So when you are in the headframe, waiting for the cage, keep this in mind.  Who will the next injured worker be?  Your partner, or will it be you?  How can you know for sure who the next injured worker will be? 

There is only one way we can possibly know for certain that we won’t be the next victim of an unfortunate accident or injury.  This is to make a commitment each and every day to work safe and use Stop and Correct every time we see something that is substandard in our workplace. 

 We have to remember that even though the substandard condition that we fail to correct may not affect us during our shift, by not taking the time to Stop and Correct, we may be leaving a trap for our cross shift.  We have to remember to put a restraining cable on when we are working in an area where there is a danger of falling.  We have to remember to clean up our work area when it gets messy, so we don’t trip and fall, or twist an ankle or, even worse, break one of our limbs. 

There are a few workers within the Company who, unfortunately, have suffered a life altering injury.  Take the time to speak with these workers when you see them.  Listen to their story and how their lives have been affected as a result of their injuries.   

I spoke with one worker who suffered a severe back injury.  I watched the tears swell in his eyes as he told me about having to turn his little granddaughter away when she wanted to climb up on his lap, because the pain in his back was too unbearable when he held her. 

I spoke with another worker who told me about the financial hardships he faces on a daily basis because his salary was literally cut in half due to the limitations to the type of work he can do as a result of an unfortunate accident. 

 When you go to work each day, remember the reason why you are there.  You are there to provide for your family, who love you and want you back safe and sound at the end of the workday.

 Having said this, remember to work safely and to ‘BE CAREFUL FOR THEM”!

Fraser Mine H & S Report

By:  Terry McCormick 

Summer is upon us and with it, comes slippery ramps and heat.  Dust is an on-going issue, which we are addressing with the Company and we will keep our members informed of the on-going water spray installations in both the nickel and copper zones.

 Have a safe summer!

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Overtime and the Hours of Work

March 30, 2005

As many of you are no doubt aware, the union has had issues with the hours of overtime and Employment Standards Act as amended by Bill 63. This act came into force on March 1st and limited the time an employee could work to 48 hours per week. In addition the Act requires that an employee be given an 11 hour break between shifts and 24 consecutive hours free from work each week.

The 48-hour cap on the workweek caused problems for the company in that it effectively eliminated overtime for anyone working on an extended shift schedule. It also caused problems with some of our members who wished to work overtime for personal reasons.

The original agreement proposed by the company was unacceptable to the union as it tied the overtime hours to the collective agreement. We do not believe that the C.A. gave the company the right to schedule overtime beyond what was mandated in the Employment Standards Act. At the time the last collective agreement was signed, the parties did not contemplate any possible changes in legislation with regard to the hours of work. As such article 35.01 would have come into play.

Late last week, the company received a letter from the Ministry of Labour effectively denying them a permit allowing the workforce to work overtime from 48 to 60 hours per week. The company again proposed an agreement that your Bargaining Committee felt was unacceptable and did not answer their concerns. They drafted an agreement that would cover off their concerns about the language in the company proposal. The company accepted our proposal:

  • This agreement is not tied to the language in the collective agreement.

  • It provides for voluntary overtime above the regularly scheduled workweek up to a maximum of 60 hours, and voluntary overtime in excess of the regularly scheduled workday.

  • The company and union have mutually agreed to a series of meetings to work towards improving our working relationship and to resolve our outstanding differences. The first of these meetings is scheduled for April 7th.

  • The agreement makes provision for either side to cancel the agreement by providing two weeks notice in writing to the other party.

We are fully aware that not all of the problems we have with the company’s attitude to its workforce will be resolved in the short term and some issues may have to be sent to a third party for a decision. We have put the company on notice that in our dealing with them we will demand respect and honesty and an open dialogue. We feel that we have made the first step and are expecting the company to follow suit. Let’s wait and see what develops.

Bob Beck

Unit Chair - Falconbridge

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Thoughts on the Workforce Optimization Program

October 8, 2004

 Although the peak season for vacations has past, I am still receiving several calls a day from employees with issues related to time off the job. This usually is now related to shorter-term issues such as appointments that cannot be rescheduled etc. The company maintains that they require as many people on the job for as much time as possible. Although we can understand their argument, we cannot agree with the faulty logic behind it. The goal behind the workforce optimization program is to maximize the hours each employee spends on the job, and thereby maximizing production and reducing costs. That is the theory at any rate. The union’s position is that a worker who has been coerced into showing up to work on a statutory holiday will not necessarily be a productive worker. People need time off work to unwind. People need to spend time with their families. People who are required to burn the candle at both ends, are soon burnt out. It is a well-documented phenomenon that people will pace themselves in order to get through their work assignments. If they have to work 42 hours in a rotation they will expend the energy required to get through that cycle. If they have to work 52 hours, they will not expend significantly more energy. At some point in time it becomes apparent that an ever-increasing workload and ever-increasing schedule will not yield ever-increasing results. In the animal kingdom, a lion will not expend more energy than is necessary to catch an antelope, and if the antelope is too fast it won’t waste the energy in a futile chase. It is a matter of survival for the lion.

A number of years ago a psychologist named Abraham Maslow developed a theory of motivation and human needs. Many of you probably are familiar with the pyramid shaped depiction of this theory. Essentially there are five levels of needs that people will strive to attain. The lowest level is the need to fulfill person’s basic needs, food, shelter and the like. The second level is the need for security and safety. People want an organized and predictable world for themselves and their families. The third level is more complicated but essentially is the need people feel to belong, the desire for love, (family) etc. In Falconbridge’s plan for its employees, they have constructed a wall between the second and third levels and until they see the error of the current policy, there is virtually no chance of labour peace. The company will seem like it is perpetually at war with its employees. In our opinion management must rethink the current workforce optimization program so that both management and the worker see a benefit. With current policy, there is no profit for either side.

Bob Beck

    Unit Chair - Falconbridge

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Labour Must Become a Force for Positive Change

For many Canadians, Labour Day marks the last weekend at the cottage and the start of the new school year for the kids. Many simply look forward to having a long weekend and all that that might entail. Those of us fortunate enough to belong to unions, (18 % of Canadian private sector workers, and 72% of public sector workers in 2002), may take time to reflect on the past accomplishments of organized labour. These would include historic landmarks such as the forty hour week, a defined pension plan, benefits for ourselves and our families and a measure of financial security that will allow us to put down roots in a community. These are the things that working people wish for.

Yet for a growing number of Canadians these are dreams that are slipping out of their reach. A living wage, dignity, fairness, and safety on the job are goals that many are finding may not be within their grasp. A growing segment of our population is finding that they have to work harder and harder for less and less of the economic pie. On the other hand this era of globalization is proving to be a financial bonanza for a small segment of our society. In 1984 the poorest 20% of the population, (approximately six million people) held –0.3% of the privately held wealth in Canada. In other words their net assets had a negative value. Eighty per cent of Canadians held only 31.2 % of the wealth and the top 20% of that group controlled two thirds of that amount. Clearly, the working classes, who produce the wealth, are not getting a fair return on their labour.

Since 1984 gap between rich and poor has increased. Between 1984 and 1999 the top wealthiest Canadians boosted their net incomes by 43% while those at the bottom of the scale saw their net wealth slip by more than 51%. That is true locally, as well as nationally. Can we, as a society, continue to allow the numbers of Canadians living below the poverty line to continue to increase? Can we continue allow our youth to be unemployed or underemployed? Can we continue to pretend that the economic well being of Canadians is improving when we can clearly see our jobs being exported offshore at an alarming rate? Can we continue to pretend that education and training are costs we cannot bear as a society rather than investments in our own future? How can Canadians, continue to allow almost 300,000 children to rely on food banks every month? (From the sixth annual report from the Canadian Council on Social Development).

There are those who would argue that the laws of economics dictate that business must pursue the lowest costs in order to remain competitive and that we must lower our expectations in order to keep our jobs. This is a simplistic view that places the wage earner on a downward economic spiral that can lead only to financial ruin on a personal as well as a national level. Canadians are seeing the results of these policies in the continuing erosion of our social programs. We as a working people will only see our economic situation deteriorate if we wait for someone to come along with promises to sort out our financial problems. We must act collectively to turn things around. The solutions of the past can be a part of the answer to our future. Working people organizing into unions, and striving to achieve the goals every Canadian wants can be a force for positive change in this country. Canadians have a vision of a just society; those who would downsize our government, destroy our social programs, and break up our trade unions cannot be allowed to prevail.

It is absolutely essential that Labour reinvents itself from a group of dues collecting, contract negotiating organizations into a Labour Movement that takes up the challenge for positive change for ordinary people and moves into the future with a new vision. A vision based on what was accomplished by collective action in the past, and a new view of what must be done in the future. What we wish for ourselves, we must desire for all.

At Mine Mill / CAW - Local 598 our intention is not only organize the unorganized, but to recreate ourselves as a force for social change for the benefit of our community. Mine Mill is no longer just the union representing the workers at Falconbridge; we have grown to become a dynamic amalgamated local representing a diverse group of workers in the Sudbury area. Our affiliates now include:

Falconbridge Limited Production and Maintenance Workers,

Finlandia Nursing Home

The Northern Regional Recovery Continuum

Mansour Mining Supply Inc.

Midas Muffler Shop, Barrydowne and Long Lk. Rd.,

and recently:

Finlandia Care Services and

The University of Sudbury Support Staff.

Mine Mill is also deeply involved in areas that affect the well being of a broad sector of our community such as the Sudbury Soil Study project, the Diesel Emissions Reduction program etc. We are also involved in numerous community projects funded by our Social Justice and Solidarity Funds.

On this Labour Day, I would encourage all working people to consider how they might improve their lives by working together and consider what a union can do for you, and the community you call home.


Bob Beck               

Unit Chair, Falconbridge   

Mine Mill / CAW – Local 598

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August 24, 2004

Recently, while doing a little research on the issues surrounding time off the job here at Falconbridge, I came across a new word to add to my vocabulary, “karoshi”. It is the Japanese word for death by overwork. A dozen years ago that would have seemed like an unlikely concept in our industry. It is no longer appears so unlikely. At most of the company’s operations the normal shift is now the 4 on and 4 off shift rotation. On the surface this is an appealing concept. It promises half of your time off the job. Sure you give up a few weekends with the family, but you get 4 days off after only working four days. The concept of all of that time off really appealed to workers who spent their working lives in less than ideal environmental conditions. For the past several years it has seemed a good option in the minds of many Falconbridge workers.

Then, along came the concept of workforce optimization. From the company’s viewpoint the upside of the equation seemed simple: reduced costs, increased production, and increased profits. There was no obvious downside. The first step down the slippery slope was to allow the workforce to gradually move to almost unlimited overtime opportunities. As a result, some people quickly became dependent on the increased income.  Since then there has been a freeze on hiring. With everyone working overtime, there was no need to hire, and the company began to run its operations with chronic levels of understaffing. Last fall we were told that the company planned to introduce a new holiday scheduling policy. The new policy severely restricts the hours of time off the job for vacations, paid holidays, bank time etc. In fact, the MMBU has plans to operate for 363 days in 2005.

What does this mean? Is there a downside?

The overtime report for July showed that in the first six months of 2004 there were 73,000 hours of overtime logged by P&M employees. There were 88 employees who had worked over 200 hours of o/t already. So what is the problem? What is the downside when our people are making a lot of money?

The downside is stress. Workplace stress is a killer. Workplace stress destroys families, and ruins lives. If you think back, stress was not a big issue a number of years ago. The overtime was a nice kicker in your pay packet. Overtime is now becoming more and more prevalent. Time off the job is getting harder and harder to schedule. The crisis surrounding vacations and time off the job is a manufactured issue, but necessary in the opinion of the company. Lately, there have been rumours of layoffs circulating about the worksites.

In a recent issue of Hazards Magazine it states,

Workers exposed to stress for at least half their working lives are 25 per cent more likely to die from a heart attack, and have 50 per cent higher odds of suffering a fatal stroke. Also, blue-collar workers are more prone to such illnesses than executives.

Vacations are being downsized by the same forces that brought us soaring work weeks: labor cutbacks, a sense of false urgency created by tech tools, and fear. Managers use the climate of job insecurity to stall, cancel and abbreviate paid leave. The message is that it would be a burden on the company to take all your vacation days - or any.”

When was the last time you heard the catch phrase, “Efficiency of operations”, when you requested time off the job. Time off that we negotiated in our Collective Agreement.

Fear of job redundancy, layoffs due to an uncertain economy, increased demands for overtime due to staff cutbacks act as negative stressors. Employees who start to feel the "pressure to perform" can get caught in a downward spiral of increasing effort to meet rising expectations with no increase in job satisfaction. The relentless requirement to work at optimum performance takes its toll in job dissatisfaction, employee turnover, reduced efficiency, illness and even death. Absenteeism, illness, alcoholism, "petty internal politics", bad or snap decisions, indifference and apathy, lack of motivation or creativity are all by-products of an over stressed workplace.

(From: Canadian Mental Health Association, "Sources of Workplace Stress " Richmond, British Columbia)

Not only have studies found that short vacations are bad for productivity, but they're also bad for your health: Overwork doesn't just cost employees. The tab paid by business for job stress is $150 billion a year, according to one U.S. study.

Yet vacations can cure even the worst form of stress - burnout-- by re-gathering crashed emotional resources, say researchers. Another study concludes that it takes two weeks for this process to occur which is why long weekends aren't vacations. Furthermore, an annual vacation can reduce the risk of heart attack by 30 per cent in men and 50 per cent in women.

The downside for the company is a real although yet unrecognized issue. Recently, Jim Fisher, Associate Dean of U of T’s Rotman School of Business stated: “Everbody works at a sustainable pace, increased face time reduces the pace workers work at. All of the evidence shows that increased vacation time leads to improved productivity.” The issue for the Company then is that beyond a certain point, increasing the “face time” of its employees is not going to increase the overall productivity of the workforce. Past a certain point you are just spinning your wheels.

The issues surrounding workforce optimization, vacations, time off the job and workplace stress are issues of quality and quantity of life for the employees and productivity and profitability for the company. There is a need to take a step back and analyze what is really value added here for both sides. The unfortunate alternative may be increasingly, “karoshi”.

Bob Beck

Falconbridge Unit Chair 

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