Monthly Archives: March 2010

Ontario’s Budget : Hitting low wage women hard

From the OPSEU Website

OPSEU President Smokey Thomas

TORONTO – Plans by the McGuinty government to freeze public-sector wages in Ontario will hit women workers the most, including many who already work in low-paid jobs, the president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union says.

The large majority of workers in the public sector are women, and scores of thousands of them work in service jobs at the low-end of the wage spectrum,” Warren (Smokey) Thomas said today after Finance Minister Dwight Duncan unveiled his 2010-11 Ontario budget. “While we appreciate the minister’s statement that ‘public servants make a valuable contribution to the health and well-being of this province,’ we are disappointed that the government would declare, without consultation, that thousands of these workers will see their incomes go down for the foreseeable future, or lose their jobs.

It shows disrespect for their work and for their right to be treated fairly by their own government.”

Today’s budget announced that, while the government will not seek to re-open collective agreements, it will not budget for any future increases in overall wage costs that are paid, directly or indirectly, by the province.

Many OPSEU members in children’s aid societies and children’s mental health agencies are already working days for free to keep their employers afloat and to keep providing the services their communities need,” Thomas said. “It doesn’t strike me as right for the Minister of Finance to decree that a $30,000-a-year worker in a group home for the developmentally disabled should take a pay cut or a layoff while the Lexus-drivers on Bay Street are getting big bonuses this year, subsidized by the corporate tax cuts that every Ontarian is paying for.”

Cancelling the Corporate Income Tax cuts which take effect July 1 would save more than three times as much as the planned public-sector wage cuts, according to budget figures.

OPSEU will bargain to mitigate the effects of today’s announcement, Thomas said.

Quite frankly when we go to the bargaining table the employer always says the cupboard is bare,” he said. “We will be creative in negotiating agreements that preserve public services and defend our members’ rights at the same time.”

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Women in the Workforce: Still a Long Way from Equity

By Elizabeth Ha    OPSEU Region 1

Some people see the issue of economic equality for women as rather outdated, out of tune with a supposed new world of opportunity that has opened up with higher education for women and a more equal division of work between women and men. Yet the fact of the matter is that, after many years of progress through the 1970s and 1980s, the gender wage gap in Canada has remained stuck since the mid 1990s at one of the highest levels in the advanced industrial world.

In 2005, the most recent year for which we have figures, women working full-time for the full year earned an average of $39,200, or 70.5% as much as comparable men who earned an average of $55,700. In the mid 1990s, such women earned 72% as much as men. The pay gap is even greater for university-educated women, who earned just 68% as much as men in 2005, down from 75% a decade ago. The gender pay gap in Canada is the fifth greatest in the advanced industrial (OECD) countries and even bigger than in the US.

Strikingly, the pay gap has grown rather than narrowed even as women have become more highly educated than men, and even as most women have decided to have fewer children, later in life. Fully half of women aged 25 to 44 now have a post secondary qualification, compared to 40% of men, and the education gap is even bigger among young people. Women are participating in the paid labour force at higher levels than ever before, and very few women now drop out of paid work for very extended periods of time. But, the pay gap persists and grows.

One key reason for the gender wage gap is that women without high levels of education (or whose credentials are unrecognized in Canada) are much more likely than men to be employed in very low-paid and insecure, part-time and temporary jobs, especially in private sector sales and service jobs. More than one in five women aged 25 to 54, the peak earnings years, make less than $12 per hour, almost double the proportion of men. Working women, especially recent immigrant women of colour, have suffered most from the failure of governments to maintain adequate minimum wages and employment standards to protect low paid and precarious workers.

When it comes to better-paid jobs, women are still largely excluded from blue collar jobs, especially in the skilled trades. But a large and growing layer of women have indeed moved into professional and skilled technical jobs, in education, health care and other community and public services. But these women are still paid less than comparable men, and are significantly under-represented in very well-paid jobs. More than three in four of the earners making at least $89,000 per year (the top 5% of the Canadian workforce) are men, and men are still three times more likely than women to be senior managers.

Public services employ 29% of all women compared to 17% of men (and the gap is even greater if we take account of the community social services sector.) Women have, accordingly, borne most of the impacts of privatization and contracting-out to the private sector, where wages are lower and wage gaps are much greater. Pay equity laws can make a difference, but attempts to equalize wages between male and female-dominated job classifications have generally stalled even though discrimination remains apparent.

In Solidarity,

Court Reporters, have you been paid enough?

Ministry of the Attorney General
Court Reporters

March 17, 2010 from the OPSEU Website

In a March 11th decision Grievance Settlement Board (GSB) Vice-Chair Randi Abramsky has requested that all court reporters who provided transcription work since July 2003 submit a claim for all of the hours that you’ve worked and not been paid appropriately.  As a result of this claim, the Ministry of the Attorney General may actually owe you money.

In 2006, Abramsky issued a decision that said the production of transcripts was bargaining unit work. Therefore, the provisions of the OPS collective agreement applies to that work, such as overtime, fair wage rates, pension entitlement, and benefits.

OPSEU has 45 days to collect this information to submit to the GSB. In order to make a claim at the GSB, we need information on the work you provided from July 2003 onward. For example: Did you work overtime? Did you work on weekends or holidays? If you were unclassified in 2003, did you work enough extra hours to be converted to classified status? We will need this information on a yearly basis since a number of different collective agreements have applied during this period of time.

Please fill out the attached Court Reporters’ Contact Form and we will have someone contact you within the next three weeks to gather further details of your transcript work history. Please click on the link for the form below, print out the form, and fax to (416) 448-7429. You only have until April 16, 2010 to submit your form to be included in our demands for retroactive pay.

If you still have contact with Court Reporters who are no longer employed in the OPS (e.g. retired, terminated) and you know that they were employed from July 2003 to present, please ask them to collect this information on their work and fill out the form as well.

If you have any questions, please call OPSEU Head Office and leave a message at 1-866-433-4633 or (416) 443-8888 ext. 7424. We also have a dedicated email address, courtreporters@opseu.org .

Click HERE to download the Court Reporters’ Contact Form