work&labour news&research

from the cirhr library

Twelve Healthy Ways to Brighten Up Your Fall Back-to-Work Attitude

"As summer gives way to September, children get new backpacks and crisp notebooks that signal a fresh start to school. Meanwhile, envious adults dig out more serious work attire and prepare to return to desks heaped with a summer backlog (and a wall of new projects). While the air is charged with anticipation, it’s easy to lose track of personal and professional goals in the busyness of it all. How do we imbue our grown-up September with the same jet fuel that kids seem to have? The Globe’s Health Advisors offer tips on how to stay on track and make the most of the potential of the season.”

Tip #4: “DON’T JUST SIT THERE: We’re hearing it more and more: Sitting is the new smoking, and more people are ‘smoking’ than ever, thanks to computer-based jobs. When I first retired from competing, I got the closest thing I’d ever had to a desk job. And I noticed it right away. My mood shifted and I felt lethargic. So, I took control. I made sure I did something active every day, and I also got rid of a chair that made me slouch. I asked myself: Would I ever be a smoker? And when the answer came back as never, I started to look at my desk differently. Then I stood up and stretched.”

The Globe and Mail, August 31, 2014: “Twelve healthy ways to brighten up your fall back-to-work attitude”

Canada’s Union Advantage


"The Canadian Labour Congress is releasing this study to show just how much better the union advantage truly is – both nationally and in 50 communities across the country. This study shows that on average, unionized workers across Canada earn $5.17/hour more than non-union workers, that women with unions earn more ($6.89/hour) and get paid more fairly, and that young workers (aged 14 to 24) earn more when they work under the protection of a collective agreement.”

"But this advantage doesn’t just belong to union members. It benefits everyone.

"Workers in unions are an important part of the local community and economy because that’s where they spend their paycheques. Their incomes support local businesses (who create local jobs) and bolster the local tax base, which supports public works and community services that add to everyone’s quality of life."

"The benefits enjoyed by unionized workers (dental insurance, extended health care coverage and legal insurance, to name a few) attract and support dentists, opticians, chiropractors, therapists, health specialists, and family lawyers whose services are available to everyone in the community."

"When unions stand up for fairness, they raise the bar for everyone. Many of the things first won by unions are enjoyed by all workers today – minimum wages, overtime pay, workplace safety standards, maternity and parental leave, vacation pay, and protection from discrimination and harassment."

Canadian Labour Congress, 2014: “The Union Advantage Across Canada”

Government of Canada, Labour Program, Workplace Information and Research Division, June 11, 2014: “Union Coverage in Canada, 2013”

CTV News, September 1, 2014: “Labour movement redefining its role as face of Canada’s workforce changes”

Health Officials Starved of Census Data Pay for Local Info of Their Own

Public health bodies across Canada, starved of census data, are paying for pricey surveys to collect their own local info but say they’re still flying blind on decisions that affect public health and taxpayer dollars.”

"As predicted, the national household survey that replaced Statistics Canada’s long-form census had flawed data that becomes more flawed the more granular you get."

“‘As you start looking at some of these results for smaller populations, the smaller areas, you might see a little bit more volatility in the information. So we are cautioning users,’ Marc Hamel, Director General of Statistics Canada’s Census Management Office… ‘We don’t have [comparative] sources at the small level, very small towns. So we can’t say if the information is in line with reality in these locations.’”

"That leaves local governments and health officials in the lurch. In many cases they’re still relying on eight-year-old data from the 2006 census, because that’s the most recent, reliable data they have."

"They need these numbers to evaluate existing programs and plan new ones; to determine how to reach marginalized populations and decide who needs targeting for which services."

"Some public health bodies are collecting their own info in an attempt to fill that gap – even though they know it’s still not as good and the costs are so prohibitive they can’t keep it up indefinitely."

For example, “British Columbia’s Fraser Health Authority is in the midst of analyzing data it collected from 15,000 people within the Lower Mainland health region (its partner, Vancouver Coastal Health, collected data on a similar sample size in its own area). The health bodies hope to use the information to create an interactive ‘health atlas’ with everything from diabetes to immunization information.”

Global News, August 27, 2014: “Health officials starved of census data pay for local info of their own,” b

Saving Horatio Alger: Equality, Opportunity, and the American Dream


"On a warm spring evening in Washington, D.C., a fleet of limousines and town cars delivered hundreds of guests, bedecked in black tie and long gowns, to a gala celebration of the American Dream: the annual awards night for the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans."

"Twelve new members (11 men, one woman) were honored for having risen from childhood poverty to positions as captains of commerce or celebrated public servants. Colin Powell, a 1991 award recipient, was among those in the audience. The new members’ speeches were brief, striking a balance between pride and humility, and all hewing to the rags-to-riches theme: ‘Who would have thought that I, from a farm in Minnesota/small town in Kansas/Little Rock, raised in an orphanage/with no indoor plumbing/working multiple jobs at 16, would end up running a $6 billion firm/a U.S. ambassador/employing 10,000 people. Only in America!’”

"Vivid stories of those who overcome the obstacles of poverty to achieve success are all the more impressive because they are so much the exceptions to the rule. Contrary to the Horatio Alger myth, social mobility rates in the United States are lower than in most of Europe. There are forces at work in America now—forces related not just to income and wealth but also to family structure and education—that put the country at risk of creating an ossified, self-perpetuating class structure, with disastrous implications for opportunity and, by extension, for the very idea of America."

Brookings Essay, August 20, 2014: “Saving Horatio Alger: Equality, Opportunity, and the American Dream,” by Richard V. Reeves

Brookings, August 21, 2014: “Saving Horatio Alger: The Data Behind the Words (and the Lego Bricks),” by Richard V. Reeves and

Depression, Stress, and Anxiety Among Non-Tenure Track Faculty


From the abstract: “Nationwide in the United States, 70% of faculty members in higher education are employed off the tenure-track. Nearly all of these non-tenure-track (NTT) appointments share a quality that may produce stress for those who hold them: contingency. Most NTT appointments are contingent on budget, enrollment, or both, and the majority of contingent faculty members are hired for one quarter or semester at a time. Significant research has investigated the effects of contingency on teaching, students, departments, colleges, and universities; however, little research has focused on the psychological experiences of NTT faculty. The current study examined perceptions of workplace stressors and harm, organizational commitment, common coping mechanisms, and depression, anxiety and stress among NTT faculty using a longitudinal design that spanned 2–4 months.”

"Results indicate that NTT faculty perceive unique stressors at work that are related to their contingent positions. Specific demographic characteristics and coping strategies, inability to find a permanent faculty position, and commitment to one’s organization predispose NTT faculty to perceive greater harm and more sources of stress in their workplaces. Demographic characteristics, lower income, inability to find a permanent faculty position, disengagement coping mechanisms (e.g., giving up, denial), and organizational commitment were associated with the potential for negative outcomes, particularly depression, anxiety, and stress. Our findings suggest possibilities for institutional intervention. Overall, we argue that universities would be well-served by attending to the needs of NTT faculty on campus in order to mitigate negative outcomes for institutions, students, and faculty."

Frontiers in Psychology, July 8, 2014: “Predictors of depression, stress, and anxiety among non-tenure track faculty,” by Gretchen M. Reevy and Grace Deason (17 pages, PDF)

The Shifting Economics of Global Manufacturing

"For the better part of three decades, a rough, bifurcated conception of the world has driven corporate manufacturing investment and sourcing decisions. Latin America, Eastern Europe, and most of Asia have been viewed as low-cost regions. The U.S., Western Europe, and Japan have been viewed as having high costs."

"But this worldview now appears to be out of date. Years of steady change in wages, productivity, energy costs, currency values, and other factors are quietly but dramatically redrawing the map of global  manufacturing cost competitiveness. The new map increasingly resembles a quilt-work pattern of low-cost economies, high-cost economies, and many that fall in between, spanning all regions."

Cost Competitiveness: A Country View

Read and learning more by browsing this article:

bcg perspectives, August 19, 2014: “The Shifting Economics of Global Manufacturing: How Cost Competitiveness Is Changing Worldwide,”by Harold L. Sirkin, Michael Zinser, and Justin Rose

Made in America, Again [website]

UWindsor Faculty Vote to Strike, Fall Classes in Question

"If the University of Windsor can’t reach a contract deal with its faculty by Sept. 4, students arriving on campus could be greeted by picket lines."

"On Thursday [August 14, 2014], the Windsor University Faculty Association voted 81.4% in favour of a strike. Talks between the teachers’ union and the university broke down last month, prompting management to impose a new contract on faculty.”

"The main sticking point in negotiations appears to be wages. The university has demanded teachers accept a two-year wage freeze with a three per cent bump in the third year. Faculty have instead pushed for increases in line with other Ontario schools."

“‘We’re not asking for the moon,’ [WUFA president Anne] Forrest said, noting faculty is looking for annual wage increases of between 1.7 and two per cent.”

"UWindsor president Alan Wildeman has repeatedly called teachers’ demands ‘unrealistic’ and out of step with ‘the fiscal realities of the university.’"

Metro News, August 15, 2014: “UWindsor faculty vote to strike, fall classes in question,” by Luke Simcoe

 Windsor University Faculty Association — Bargaining 2014 [website]

Study: Net Worth of the Household Sector: A Canada-United States Comparison, 1970 to 2012


"Canadian household net worth per capita reached 77% of the United States’ level in 2012, according to a new study, ‘Net Worth in the Household Sector, 1970 to 2012: A Canada–United States Comparison,’ released today in the Economic Analysis Research Paper Series.”

"The report compares household net worth per capita in Canada and the United States from 1970 to 2012 using data from the Canadian national balance sheet accounts and the Flow of Funds published by the United States Federal Reserve."

"Similar studies are also available in the Update on Economic Analysis module of our website.”

Statistics Canada’s The Daily, August 20, 2014: “Study: Net worth of the household sector: A Canada–United States comparison, 1970 to 2012

Statistics Canada, August 2014: “Net Worth of the Household Sector, 1970 to 2012: A Canada–United States Comparison,” by Amélie Lafrance and Ryan Macdonald

The Millennials Are Generation Nice

"Suddenly, as you may have noticed, millennials are everywhere."

"The word ‘millennial,’ whether as noun or adjective, has monopolized the nonstop cultural conversation, invariably freighted with zeitgeisty import."

"But first, what besides youth sets millennials apart from their elders — the wizened silent generation, the graying boomers, the midlife Gen-X’ers?"

"The usual answer seems to be ‘narcissism’ — self-absorption indulged to comical extremes."

"But a very different picture of millennials emerges from what may be the most illuminating literary project of our era, the Pew Research Center’s sequence of reports on millennials.”

"What Pew found was not an entitled generation but a complex and introspective one…"

"…[I]n a range of areas, millennials have not only caught up, but have jumped out in front."

"Consider the approach many take to the workplace. Thanks to the 2008 economic crash, millennials know how fleeting wealth can be. Their solution? For many, it is to acquire not more, but less. ‘Almost two-thirds (64 percent) of millennials said they would rather make $40,000 a year at a job they love than $100,000 a year at a job they think is boring,’ the Brookings Institution recently noted in a report by Morley Winograd and Michael Hais titled ‘How Millennials Could Upend Wall Street and Corporate America.’”

"The generation that gave us Occupy Wall Street has embraced its own modes of entrepreneurship, found across the broad spectrum of ‘creatives,’ from stylists to techies, who reject the presumed security of the corporate job and riskily pursue their own ventures, even if it means working out of their parents’ basement. At the same time, record numbers of new college graduates are applying for jobs in the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps or Teach for America.”

"Consider millennial shopping habits. Even in the realm of fashion, many are indifferent to prestige brands and lavish ad campaigns…."

"The Brookings report says millennials overwhelmingly ‘responded with increased trust (91 percent) and loyalty (89 percent), as well as a stronger likelihood to buy from those companies that supported solutions to specific social issues (89 percent).’"

"And consider food. The new generation may have had health-consciousness drilled into them at home or in school. But they have raised it to a new level. ‘For millennials, food isn’t just food. It’s community,’ The Washington Post reported last year in an article on the Silver Diner chain, which has developed an up-to-the-minute locavore menu and ‘started actively catering to those on vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free diets.’”

"Taken together, these habits and tastes look less like narcissism than communalism. And its highest value isn’t self-promotion, but its opposite, empathy — an open-minded and -hearted connection to others."

The New York Times, August 15, 2014: “Generation Nice: The Millennials Are Generation Nice,” by

These Numbers Will Make You Want to Join a Union

"Still have lingering doubts about whether or not there’s a union advantage?”

"Well, get ready for this:

  • Unionized workers in Canada earn, on average, 22.9% more than their non-unionized friends, working out to an average hourly wage of $27.71 compared to $22.54. In other words, a union will get you an extra $5.17 per hour on average.
  • Unionized women earn, on average, $6.89 an hour or 34.3% more compared to non-unionized women.
  • Among landed immigrants, unionized workers earn $26.75 per hour while non-union workers earn $22.10 (or 21% more).
  • Unionized young workers earn, on average, $20.13 an hour compared to $13.53/hr among non-unionized young workers — a difference of 23.3%”

"Among the more interesting patterns teased out by CLC [Canadian Labour Congress] is that the places where unions offer the greatest advantages happens to be in small town Canada."

The union advantage of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island is $10.64.

PressProgress, August 18, 2014: “These numbers will blow your mind and make you want to join a union

Temporary Foreign Worker Program Misuse Sanctioned by Harper government, Union Says

"Documents show the Harper government allowed Alberta companies to pay thousands of foreign workers less than Canadians in 2013, the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) says."

"Details of the internal government documents, obtained through an Access to Information request, were shared by the group at a news conference Friday [August 15, 2014] morning in Calgary."

"The labour group says the goal of sanctioning the underpayment of thousands of workers helped drive down wages in many industries, especially in fast food services."

“‘The truth is that for many, or perhaps even most employers, the Temporary Foreign Worker Program has never only been about filling vacant jobs. It’s also been about driving down wages, not only for temporary foreign workers, but for Canadians broadly speaking,’ [said AFL president Gil McGowan].

"For part of 2013, the TFWP allowed employers to pay foreign workers five to 15 per cent less than the prevailing wage in the sector. That was changed partway through the year, making it illegal to pay them less than what a Canadian would earn in the same position."

"McGowan would not say how many of the thousands of cases the AFL highlighted Friday morning took place during the time when underpaying foreign workers was legal, and how many took place after the practice was banned."

"For that reason, it’s not clear at this point how many temporary foreign workers may have been illegally underpaid. But the AFL says the documents show rampant misuse of the program."

CBC News, August 15, 2014: “Temporary Foreign Worker Program misuse sanctioned by Harper government, union says”

Government of Canada, July 21, 2014: “Overhauling the Temporary Foreign Worker Program: Putting Canadians First” (41 pages, PDF)