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Justice: Supreme Court upholds right to strike

It took a generation and provo­cative “essential services” legislation from Saskatchewan, but 33 years after the Charter of Rights and Freedoms became law, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the right to strike is protected under section 2(d) of the Charter and thereby under the Constitution. The ruling states the right is an essential part of meaningful collective bargaining necessary to help redress the fundamental power imbalance between employers and employees.   

Technology: Rise of the share-the-scraps economy

A new business model used by Uber, TaskRabbit, Amazon’s Mechanical Turks and others harnesses online crowdsourcing to do complex jobs. These corporations parcel out piecework to online users for peanuts, with no employment standards. It’s been called the “share” economy but it’s more like the “share-the-scraps” economy, says policy expert Robert Reich. Corporations claim they’re utilizing people more efficiently. Reich says the economy’s bigger challenge is “allocating work and the gains from work more decently,” and on that front, these services are failing miserably. 

Report: Unpaid family care proves costly

The cost of unpaid care provided by Canadian workers for family and friends with long-term health conditions adds up to $1.3 billion and over 100 million hours per year for employers, according to a new report by a federal employers’ panel and a Conference Board report, Making the Business Case for Investments in Workplace Health and Wellness. With a shortage of supports, including long-term care, more than a third of employees have to juggle work and family responsibilities and take unpaid time off to care for loved ones.

Politics: AB Premier gets a new ride (that you probably can’t afford)

56 Thunderbird

Just as the Alberta government prepared plans to restrain spending and travel, Premier Jim Prentice flew to Arizona to buy a ‘56 Thunderbird in a classic car auction for $60,000. That’s well above Alberta’s average income. While it was on his own coin, he plans to give it to his grandson, and it may look real nice, it doesn’t seem like great optics to have the Premier drop so much on expensive hobbies while telling the rest of the province to restrain themselves.

Wages: One CEO is actually paying attention

Insurance provider Aetna’s CEO Mark Bertolini was so impressed by Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century that he told his executives to read the book and is raising the company’s lowest wages from $12 to $16/hour. His action will give over 5,000 workers a substantial raise, but they still make just a fraction of his salary working for the $50 billion company.