work&labour news&research

from the cirhr library

Tipped Workers Minimum Wage


"The federal minimum cash wage for tipped workers has been frozen at $2.13 per hour for 23 years, and now represents less than a third of the federal minimum wage ($7.25 per hour)—its lowest share on record.  The inadequate tipped minimum wage is particularly detrimental to women, who represent two-thirds of tipped workers nationally. Increasing wages for the predominately female workers at the bottom of the pay scale can reduce poverty and help close the wage gap."

National Women’s Law Centre September 4, 2014: States with Equal Minimum Wages for Tipped Workers Have Smaller Wage Gaps for Women Overall and Lower Poverty Rates for Tipped Workers.(4 pages, PDF)

National Women’s Law Centre Blog, September 4, 2014: Five Reasons to Raise the Minimum Wage for Tipped Workers

"For the millions of workers who rely on tips, the federal tipped minimum wage is grossly inadequate, according to new research from the Economic Policy Institute.The federal sub minimum wage for tipped workers, or the “tipped minimum wage,” is currently set at $2.13 an hour and, unlike the minimum wage, has not been increased since 1991. The erosion in value of the tipped minimum wage has led to drastically different economic conditions for tipped workers compared to the overall workforce."

The New Climate Economy


  The New Climate Economy Report 

The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, September 16, 2014: Better Growth, Better Climate: The New Climate Economy Report: The Synthesis Report (71 pages, PDF)

"The report from the international commission concludes that making progress on the climate would not come at the expense of the global economy, but that there will have to be a sharp shift away from carbon-intensive fossil fuels if the world is going to avoid the worst impact of a changing climate. Those impacts would in turn impose devastating costs on the global economy."

The Globe and Mail, September 16, 2014: Oil-reliant firms at risk as world moves toward low-carbon future: report

Tackling climate change can be a boon to prosperity, rather than a brake, according to the study involving a roll-call of the globe’s biggest institutions, including the UN, the OECD group of rich countries, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and co-authored by Lord Stern, one of the world’s most influential voices on climate economics.

The report comes ahead of a UN-convened summit of world leaders on global warming next week at which David Cameron has pledged to lead calls for strong action.

"Reducing emissions is not only compatible with economic growth and development – if done well it can actually generate better growth than the old high-carbon model," said Stern.

It is his most significant intervention in climate politics since the landmark 2006 Stern review of the economics of climate change, which made the case that tackling climate change as a matter of urgency will be cheaper than attempting to deal with the effects of the problem decades in the future. That report marked a revolution in thinking on global warming, and was a major factor in the agreements forged in Copenhagen in 2009 by which developed and major developing countries for the first time set out joint measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Guardian, September 16, 2014:  Climate change report: prevent damage by overhauling global economy: Reducing emissions can generate better growth than old high-carbon model, says co-author of report, Lord Stern

Say on Pay


"Major shareholders are becoming more sophisticated in their use of say-on-pay votes, increasingly casting their ballots with a close eye on the alignment between a company’s executive pay and its stock market performance, a new review has found."

The Globe and Mail, September 5, 2014: ”Say-on-pay votes increasingly tied to performance.”

BNN, Business News Network, September 2014: Video: “Canadian Investors Say More on Pay.”

BNN, Business News Network, September 2014: Video: ”Executive Pay becoming more Transparent.”

Global Governance Advisors, September 2014: With the launch today of the second annual CEO Pay for Performance Survey with the Miami Herald, GGA’s three major surveys of Pay for Performance can now be viewed interactively.

"The interactive results for the Calgary Herald, focused on the top 100 Calgary companies by market cap, can be viewed here.

The Globe and Mail, June 1, 2014: ”How does Canadian CEO pay compare to their performance?”

The Price We Pay

"Arriving so soon after the first reports of Burger King’s corporate maneuvering to enjoy a whopping big tax break by establishing a new legal address in Canada, “The Price We Pay” seems all the more timely, if not prescient. This well-crafted documentary from director Harold Crooks (“Surviving Progress”) offers a concise, engrossing and occasionally infuriating overview of the ways multinationals avoid taxes by stashing profits in offshore havens  and in the process, according to several onscreen interviewees, seriously undermine the ability of governments to provide services and safety nets for citizens.” 

To provide background, connect dots and, yes, stoke outrage, Crooks has assembled an impressively diverse array of talking heads, many of whom repeatedly emphasize that the tax-dodging and loophole-exploiting practices examined here are, for the most part, perfectly legal. With the system so cunningly rigged, an interviewee pointedly asks, “Why bother with illegalities?”

Variety, September 5, 2014: Toronto Film Review: ‘The Price We Pay’

"Crooks is trying a tricky thing: telling a story with many competing voices and no consistent narrator. The only overarching voiceover intones at the beginning of the documentary, as beautifully ominous storm clouds float by: “Throughout the world, inequality is soaring to new heights, and the wealth of nations that once provided prosperity for the majority has gone missing.”

BNN Business Network,September 5, 2014: “‘Price We Pay’ film puts focus on tax avoidance in inversion age.”

While Canada stalls, other countries are moving ahead with various efforts to preserve their tax base and block multinationals from shifting profits offshore, including Britain and the United States. The United States, for example, has signalled that it may retroactively clamp down on so-called tax inversions. That’s the strategy of purchasing a company in a lower-tax jurisdiction, and then moving to the home country of the acquired business.”

"It’s a trade-off between what’s good for companies and what’s good for the the country. Get the balance wrong and Canada risks becoming a big open-pit mine, surrounded by a hollowed-out shell of an economy."

The Globe and Mail, September 14, 2014: “Corporations vs. Canada: The threat of treaty shopping,”By Barrie McKenna

B.C. Teachers’ Strike: Minister Calls Union Move to End Strike ‘Silly’

B.C. Education minister Peter Fassbender said Monday [September 8, 2014] … that the position of the striking teachers’ union ‘is absolutely silly.’”

"Fassbender was responding to an announcement earlier in the day by B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) president Jim Iker, who said teachers will vote Wednesday [September 10, 2014] on whether to end their strike and return to work in the event that the government agrees to binding arbitration."

“‘Arbitration is not in the cards, period,’ Fassbender said, suggesting that the BCTF made the proposal knowing the government would not agree to anything that could have implications for taxpayers.​”

"Fassbender said the teachers have offered nothing new, and that he has nothing new to say…. He said the BCTF was pushing for binding arbitration to ‘make them look reasonable’ and that the union’s preconditions for arbitration were ‘non-starters.’"

“‘They want something [the E80 clause] taken off the table, that is exactly what they want to do — negotiate class size and composition. It’s absolutely silly. I do not understand it.’”

CBC News, September 8, 2014: “B.C. teachers’ strike: Minister calls union move to end strike ‘silly’”

The Globe and Mail’s Politics Live feed — B.C. Teacher’s Strike

Dignity: Fast-food Workers and a New Form of Labor Activism


"In recent months, Fast Food Forward and its many partners—Fight for 15 (Chicago), Stand Up KC (Kansas City), STL Can’t Survive on $7.35 (St. Louis)—have been rhetorically thrashing their corporate opponents. The Berkeley-University of Illinois study, commissioned by Fast Food Forward, found that American fast-food workers receive almost seven billion dollars a year in public assistance. That’s a direct taxpayer subsidy, the activists argue, for the fast-food industry."

"Taxpayers are also, by that logic, grossly overpaying the industry’s top management. According to the progressive think tank Demos, fast-food executives’ compensation packages quadrupled, in constant dollars, between 2000 and 2013. They now take home, on average, nearly twenty-four million dollars a year. Their front-line workers’ wages have barely risen in that time, and remain among the worst in U.S. industry."

"The differential between C.E.O. and worker pay in fast food is higher than in any other domestic economic sector—twelve hundred to one. In construction, by comparison, the differential is ninety-three to one."

The New Yorker, September 15, 2014: ”Dignity: Fast-food workers and a new form of labor activism,” by William Finnegan

USA Today, September 4, 2014: “Thousands of fast-food workers strike; arrests made,” by  Bruce Horovitz

Exploitation in the Ivory Tower


"It is a black mark on the ivory tower, a story of insecurity, fear, jealousy, thwarted ambition, poverty and inequality. And it’s a reality that university presidents, and many professors, don’t like to talk about."

"Universities in Canada — which threw open their doors this week to almost a million undergraduates — are propped up by a huge army of part-time teachers, who are highly qualified and poorly paid. They have no job security or pension, and little hope of ever getting a full-time position. They go by many titles: sessional lecturers, contract academic staff, adjunct faculty."

"Today more than half of Canadian undergraduates are taught by these very precarious workers, not by the big-name — and well-paid — academics that universities like to feature in their recruiting ads. The institutions simply couldn’t function without them."

"Higher education has a new business model. And it affects everyone on campus — the administration, the high-end ‘professoriate’, the lowly sessionals and the students."

"Ira Basen’s documentary is called ‘Class Struggle.’"

Listen to the podcast here

CBC, The Sunday Edition, September 7, 2014: “Exploitation in the ivory tower”

PBS Newshour, August 29, 2014: “Why the backlash against adjuncts is an indictment of the tenure system,” by Denise Cummins

Variety, June 13, 2014: “Film Review: ‘Ivory Tower,’” by Justin Chang

University Affairs, January 2013: “Sessionals, up close: Sessional instructors are now a crucial part of the teaching equation at most Canadian universities. Some say it’s time to include them more fully in the life of the institution,” by Moira MacDonald

And in the United States adjunct professors are unionizing

"Point Park University Adjunct Facility have voted to unionize and the administration seems to be ready to let that happen."

"Following the 172-79 vote, the University responded with a written statement, which read in part, ‘This is long over due,’ said PPU adjunct English and French teacher Rebecca Taksel. ‘We adjuncts… have been marginalized for so long.’"

USW Adjunct Faculty Association, June 26, 2014: “Organizers Hope Point Park Is Just The First to Unionize,” by Mark Noobar

Why Aren’t Women Advancing At Work? Ask a Transgender Person.


"Trans people are bringing entirely new ways of approaching the discussion [of gender bias in the workplace]. Because trans people are now staying in the same careers (and sometimes the very same jobs) after they change genders, they are uniquely qualified to discuss the difference between how men and women experience the workplace. Their experience is as close to the scientific method as we can get: By isolating and manipulating gender as a variable and holding all other variablesskill, career, personality, talentconstant, these individuals reveal exactly the way one’s outward appearance of gender affects day-to-day interactions. If we truly want to understand women at work, we should listen carefully to trans men and trans women: They can tell us more about gender in the workplace than just about anyone.”

"Ben Barres is a biologist at Stanford who lived and worked as Barbara Barres until he was in his forties. For most of his career, he experienced bias, but didn’t give much weight to itseeing incidents as discrete events. (When he solved a tough math problem, for example, a professor said, ‘You must have had your boyfriend solve it.’) When he became Ben, however, he immediately noticed a difference in his everyday experience: ‘People who don’t know I am transgendered treat me with much more respect,’ he says. He was more carefully listened to and his authority less frequently questioned. He stopped being interrupted in meetings. At one conference, another scientist said, ‘Ben gave a great seminar todaybut then his work is so much better than his sister’s.’ (The scientist didn’t know Ben and Barbara were the same person.) ‘This is why women are not breaking into academic jobs at any appreciable rate,’ he wrote in response to Larry Summers’s famous gaffe implying women were less innately capable at the hard sciences. ‘Not childcare. Not family responsibilities,’ he says. ‘I have had the thought a million times: I am taken more seriously.”

Click here to continue reading.

New Republic, August 28, 2014: “Why Aren’t Women Advancing At Work? Ask a Transgender Person.,” by Jessica Nordell

CTV News, September 1, 2014: “Transgender woman says community faces employment discrimination,” by Clare Clancy

Fortune, August 26, 214: “The abrasiveness trap: High-achieving men and women are described differently in reviews,” by

Journal of Applied Psychology, April 28, 2014: “Gender and Perceptions of Leadership Effectiveness: A Meta-Analysis of Contextual Moderators,” Samantha C. Paustian-Underdahl, Lisa Slattery Walker, and David J. Woehr (18 pages, PDF)

OECD Employment Outlook 2014

"The 2014 edition of the OECD Employment Outlook reviews recent labour market trends and short-term prospects in OECD and key emerging economies. It zooms in on how the crisis has affected earnings, provides country comparisons of job quality, examines the causes and consequences of non-regular employment, and estimates the impact of qualifications and skills on labour market outcomes."

Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, September 3, 2014: “OECD Employment Outlook 2014” (294 pages, PDF)

"Unemployment will remain well above its pre-crisis levels next year in most OECD countries, despite modest declines over the rest of 2014 and in 2015, according to a new OECD report."

"The Employment Outlook 2014 says that average jobless rates will decrease slightly over the next 18 months in the OECD area, from 7.4% in mid-2014 to 7.1% at the end of 2015. Almost 45 million people are out of work in OECD countries, 12.1 million more than just before the crisis. Globally, an estimated 202 million people are unemployed, with many more in low-paid and precarious jobs.”

"The Outlook also analyses the impact of the crisis on wages. It finds that real wage growth has come to a virtual standstill since 2009 and wages actually fell in a number of countries by between 2% and 5% a year on average, including in Greece, Portugal, Ireland and Spain."

"This slowdown has been fairly evenly spread across the earnings distribution. However, slower real wage growth, and cuts in wages in some cases, result in real hardship for low-paid workers, the report warns."

OECD Newsroom, September 3, 2014: “Jobs recovery to remain weak in 2015, says OECD”

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