Workers have learned to flex
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May 6, 2023

Hey Shift Workers,

A national general strike of 155,000 federal public sector workers wrapped up this week. Over 120,000 Treasury Board workers obtained a tentative agreement May 1, and 35,000 CRA workers followed with a similar tentative agreement May 4.

The federal government raised its offer from 9% to 10% wage increases over three years, plus an additional 2.5% raise for a fourth year. The tentative agreement for TB workers also includes a one time lump sum payment for workers approaching retirement, market adjustments for certain positions and an increase to shift premiums.

“The total compounded wage increase is one of the highest negotiated in the public sector. So while it failed to keep pace with inflation it represented a much higher number than we’ve seen in recent rounds of negotiation," labour professor Larry Savage told PressProgress.

PSAC also won improved language around remote work policies in a Memorandum of Understanding. The MOU states that remote work arrangements must be decided on a case-by-case basis, instead of a one-size-fits-all policy for the entire workforce. While it seems like a minor change, labour experts note it sets an important precedent to build upon for a new era of work.

“What PSAC members say about the deal is what matters most,” Savage notes.

The reactions appear to be mixed. The Canada Employment and Immigration Union (CEIU) is asking its 36,000 members to vote no on the deal, disappointed that wages weren't higher and remote language wasn't stronger.

The ratification votes will take awhile to schedule and carry out. Workers will have a lot to debate and consider.

It is worth noting how delicately politicians handled this strike, including Poilievre's union-busting Conservatives, who avoided answering direct questions about whether the workers should get a raise.

Tim Powers wrote in The Hill Times:

"I can’t think of a time in the last 20 years when all the major federal political parties were less inclined to have a racket with PSAC and more inclined to find a way to appease them."

If anything, 155,000 workers across Canada - many striking for the first time in their lives - learned they can force the government's hand through collective action.

The strike is a muscle. Workers have learned to flex.

Emily Leedham
Shift Work Editor

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Top Headlines
PSAC rally in Toronto, April 28, 2023. Photo via PSAC.

New Organizing

Writers Guild of America workers on strike. Photo via Philip Iscove.

  • Thinking of organizing your workplace? Here's what you need to know!

Strikes & Lockouts
Solidarity rally for CUPE 233 workers at Toronto Metropolitan University. Photo via Unite Here Local 75.

  • NEW: Grand River Transit workers and Unifor Local 4304 members are on strike for higher wages.

  • Custodian and maintenance workers and CUPE members at Toronto Metropolitan University are on strike for higher wages and pension plan equality.

  • ENDED: Carleton University teaching assistants and contract instructors, members of CUPE 4600, have ended their strike winning wage increases.

  • Unifor members working for Autobus Longueuil are on strike for higher wages

  • ENDED: University of PEI Faculty Association workers have ended their strike winning higher wages.

  • Iqualit Housing Authority workers are on strike for higher wages.

  • 250 Windsor Salt workers are on strike for higher wages.

  • Société québécoise du cannabis workers and CUPE members are on strike for higher wages.

  • First Transit drivers and CUPE members in BC are on strike for higher wages.

  • Port du Quebec longshore workers and CUPE members remain locked out.

  • ACTRA performers have been locked out by the Institute of Canadian Agencies, launch boycott.

  • Ontario Timberland Equipment workers and USW members are on strike to fight weakened pensions.

  • Quebec's Coop Lanaudière workers remain on strike.

  • BC Pacific Gateway hotel workers and Unite Here Local 40 members have been on strike for two years.

Graphic via Spring Magazine.
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