Student Workers Win Landmark Discrimination Case Against ABI Smelter

Student Workers Win Landmark Discrimination Case Against ABI Smelter

Canada NewsWire

Company will no longer be able to discriminate against student workers and must compensate former employees.

BÉCANCOUR, QC, May 19, 2018 /CNW/ - Student workers have won a major victory in a human rights case against a Quebec aluminum smelter.

The Human Rights Tribunal of Quebec has ruled that the ABI aluminum smelter in Bécancour violated Article 19 of Quebec’s Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, which states: “Every employer must, without discrimination, grant equal salary or wages to the members of its personnel who perform equivalent work at the same place.”

Quebec’s Human and Youth Rights Commission had filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal on behalf of 157 student workers at the ABI smelter who were paid up to 30% less than regular and occasional employees performing the same work.

“The distinction undermines their dignity based on the fact that it did not respect their right to equal pay for equal work, in contravention of Article 19 of the Charter,” Judge Magali Lewis stated in her ruling.

ABI must now compensate former student workers for the discrepancy between the pay they received while working at the smelter and the pay they rightfully deserved. The Human Rights Tribunal also awarded the students $1,000 in moral damages.

“This is a big victory for the ABI students that also could have a major impact in many other workplaces,” said Clément Masse, President of United Steelworkers (Syndicat des Métallos) Local 9700, which represents 1,030 unionized employees at ABI.

“We’re happy for the ABI students who had the courage to challenge a discriminatory practice. As a union, we’re proud to have helped them assert their rights and to have supported them in the complaint process. The union was involved in the case as an interested party and our advocacy was heard loud and clear,” Masse said.

The case is reminiscent of ABI’s initial demand, during the current round of collective bargaining with its unionized employees, to impose a two-tier pension system that would discriminate against new hires. In the same vein, Alcoa – majority owner of the ABI smelter – recently hired a lobbyist to oppose legislation that would prevent companies from paying lower wages to workers recruited through employment agencies.

“This company has made multiple attempts to discriminate against various categories of workers. Let’s hope that this ruling will serve as a lesson. In Quebec, equal pay for equal work is an important principle,” Masse said.

SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)

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Statement by the CBSA President on redeployment of staff

Statement by the CBSA President on redeployment of staff

Canada NewsWire

OTTAWA, May 19, 2018 /CNW/ – The President of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), Mr. John Ossowski, made the following statement in response to recent media stories about redeployment of CBSA staff to address irregular migration.

“As the President of the CBSA, I wish to clarify inaccuracies and misinformation contained in recent media stories.

“The CBSA has a long and rich history of providing border services in an exemplary fashion, and does so through the collective contribution of over 14,000 dedicated and professional men and women. In support of our mandate, and recognizing that the CBSA is an important contributor to Canada’s safety, security and prosperity, we invest significant effort annually to plan and prepare for various peak periods, including the summer travel season. Significant analysis is conducted to inform us on resources that will be required to address projected trends and patterns to ensure alignment of resources to service demand. This approach has served us well in past summers, with facilitative service to clients being effectively balanced against our security and safety responsibilities.

“An article falsely states that ‘…border and customs agents are being pulled from the Greater Toronto Area…’ The reality is that we issued a call letter to identify officers across the country, including the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), to solicit interest from officers who would be mobile and ready to assist our operations in Lacolle, and if needed, elsewhere in the country to address increases in volumes – this is a key part of maintaining a dynamic and flexible workforce that can readily respond to emerging issues.

“As part of our planning, each of our operational regions have initiated the establishment of what we term a “surge capacity workforce” that can be called upon in the event of operational requirements. These officers are typically re-deployed for short periods of time on an as-needed basis. The 800 employees that contributed to the CBSA’s efforts in Lacolle last summer, have described it as an enriching, rewarding and meaningful experience.

“Specifically to GTA, I would like to highlight that the Agency’s resources at Toronto Pearson International Airport have increased by 6% over the last two years, in addition, we have increased our Student Border Services Officer recruitment by 26% for this summer. The student officers do not replace our fully trained officers, they complement our workforce and conduct a subset of functions and activities that support service to travellers. They do not replace border service officers. Only trained officers carry out intelligence and enforcement functions.

“I would also highlight that some of our current officers were previously student officers themselves.

“We have also successfully established innovative processes to enhance the traveller experience and manage volumes, like the International-to-Domestic and the International-to-International programs that significantly decrease connection times and improve services. When combined with existing and new technologies such as Automated Border Clearance, NEXUS and Primary Inspection Kiosks, the CBSA has never had more processing capacity than it does today.

“As for the GTA staff that could be redeployed, not all staff in GTA work at the airport; some of our surge capacity requirements may include administrative staff or non-frontline staff. As of today, the CBSA will be redeploying two non-frontline staff from GTA to Montréal for a 4-week period. This will have no impact on our services at Pearson.

“The CBSA has a long standing, strong and collaborative relationship with the Greater Toronto Airport Authority. We will continue to meet with them regularly to review service requirements, enhancement opportunities, and required resources, so that we can, once again, deliver exceptional service to all travellers through the Pearson International Airport this summer.” 

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Media Relations


SOURCE Canada Border Services Agency

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Union Representing 33,000 Federal Correctional Officers Opposes Prison Reform Bill


Union Representing 33,000 Federal Correctional Officers Opposes Prison Reform Bill

Union stresses need for comprehensive criminal justice reform, sufficient staffing at BOP facilities to fulfill BOP’s mission of offering safe, secured facilities and programming for offenders

PR Newswire

WASHINGTON, May 18, 2018 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The American Federation of Government Employees and its Council of Prison Locals, which represents 33,000 federal correctional workers in the Bureau of Prisons (BOP), expressed their opposition to the FIRST STEP Act, which passed out of the House Judiciary Committee on May 9. The House of Representatives is expected to consider the bill as early as next week.

AFGE Council of Prison Locals stresses the need for comprehensive criminal justice reform, sufficient staffing at BOP facilities to fulfill BOP’s mission of offering safe, and secured facilities and programming for offenders.

The White House held a Prison Reform Summit to highlight its support of prison reform legislation. While there are some positive things in the prison reform bill, the Council of Prison Locals is urging Congress and the White House to support comprehensive sentencing and criminal justice reform that will help reduce the federal prison population.

In a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, AFGE Council of Prison Locals President Eric Young expressed concern that the FIRST STEP bill doesn’t go far enough to overhaul draconian mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines. He believes the current bill as presented could result in unintended consequences.

“By requiring that this new system be developed and implemented quickly, with no guarantee that Congress will actually appropriate the needed funds, this bill essentially creates an unfunded mandate that will drain already scarce resources away from where they are needed most right now – increasing staffing levels at our federal prisons,” Young said.

“Further, the FIRST STEP Act does not authorize any money for the creation of the new risk assessment system, which means that in all likelihood, DOJ may take funds from other parts of the BOP’s already thin budget to fulfill this new directive from Congress.” 

AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. echoed Young’s concerns, saying that the bill would create a hasty and incomplete new system at a high cost, when the BOP has tested and refined its current risk assessment process over decades.

“Writing a $50 million check for a process that hasn’t been tested or even created yet is not what we need right now. What we need is to direct those resources to hiring additional correctional officers,” Cox said. “Creating a new risk assessment process this quickly, with no time to validate or test it, puts our correctional workers and our communities at risk.” This bill comes just months after the administration proposed more than 6,000 job cuts in 122 federal prison facilities. The fiscal 2019 budget currently pending in Congress proposes an additional 1,100 cuts.

While this bill does include the Osvaldo Albarati Correctional Officer Self-Protection Act, which AFGE strongly supports, Young says that we should be investing more resources into staffing our prisons.

The Council of Prison Locals has achieved bipartisan support to reverse these job cuts and end the practice of augmentation to avoid hiring new correctional workers, with more than a dozen Congressional letters having been sent to the President, OMB Director, Attorney General, BOP Director, and to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees.

“Asking fewer correctional officers to supervise more inmates is a recipe for disaster,” Young said. “We’ve already seen the results of lower staffing with our officers paying the ultimate sacrifice,” Young said. “The Council of Prison Locals urges Congress to direct BOP’s already scarce resources to where they are needed most – hiring correctional officers and more inmate program workers who help prepare inmates to return to the community. We have bipartisan and bicameral support for comprehensive sentencing and criminal justice reform for non-violent offenders, and we urge Congress to pass that legislation.”

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union, representing 700,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia, including 39,000 at the Bureau of Prisons.

For the latest AFGE news and information, visit the AFGE Media Center. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube

AFGE logo. (PRNewsFoto/American Federation of Government Employees)

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SOURCE American Federation of Government Employees