Friday, 28 December 2007

A Christmas gift for Canadian workers?

The Canadian Labour Congress recently reported that Workers finally have a new law to protect their wages:

"December 14, 2007

OTTAWA – Canadian workers have finally won new legal protection for their wages and their pension contributions when their employer goes bankrupt. Bill C-12, a series of amendments to existing insolvency and wage protection laws, was approved by the Senate last night and received Royal Assent today. This was accomplished after an intensive three-year campaign by the Canadian Labour Congress and its affiliated unions to change bankruptcy laws that unfairly put workers last in line to get paid."

Monday, 17 December 2007

IWW Toronto - Next Meeting Saturday Jan.19th, 2008

Toronto IWW (Wobblies) Union an opportunity for Toronto workers who want to improve their working conditions

IWW is the union of choice for progressive enterprises that put workers at the centre of enterprise. As part of the Libra Co-op TorontotheBetter workers are IWW union members and part of the only unionized worker co-op in Toronto. To find out more anyone is welcome to join our monthly meetings. Find out about a worker friendly union, and maybe join us, hear about our Food Workers campaign and keep up with international Wobbly initiatives like the Starbuck's workers union.

Members meet the 3rd Saturday of each month usually.
NEXT MEETING is on January 19th, 2008 at 3pm, at 519 Church St.

Call 416-707-3509 for room number and other details.

And we want to hear from you - know any problem workplaces, or industries, that need
some activist attention, solidarity pickets, or research? Let us know by leaving a comment. We're particularly interested in the food industry, knowledge workers and occupational health and safety issues. And 2008 will be a big year, with the IWW Organizing Conference set for Toronto in April.

To be added to the IWW mailing list contact:

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Special Holiday Appeal from MSN

Dear Friends and Supporters,

As we send this Special Holiday Appeal to you, workers at the
Vaqueros Navarra blue jean factory in Tehuacan, Mexico are wondering
whether they will have a job and the hope of a better future when
they return from their holiday break.

Can you donate $50, $100, or $250 for apparel workers' rights?

For the past six months, these young women and men have been fighting
for a very simple objective - the right to be represented by a union
of their own free choice. For doing so, over a hundred of them have
been fired and many more have been pressured to sign resignation
letters. Those that remain were told the factory would be closed if
they failed to vote for a company-supported union.

Throughout their long and difficult struggle, MSN has been mobilizing
international support for the workers and for their right to be
represented by an independent union rather than an "official union"
endorsed by their employer.

On November 23, I was privileged to act as an official observer of
the union representation vote. Rather than voting by secret ballot,
the workers had to go one-by-one to a table where factory management
watched them as they publicly declared which union they supported.

Despite this blatantly undemocratic process, the workers, most of
whom are young, indigenous women, stood up to their employer and
voiced their support for the independent September 19 Union.

After celebrating this precedent-setting victory with our friends in
Tehuacan, we have had to turn our attention to the more difficult
task ahead of convincing the employer to accept and negotiate with
the new union, rather than closing the factory. Preserving this
fragile victory will require months more hard work.

But funding for this kind of concerted campaign work is drying up.
This year, for example, MSN's largest single funder in 2007 advised
us it could not continue to support our work because labour rights is
no longer one of its priority focuses. To carry out these vitally
important solidarity campaigns, we count on your support now more
than ever.

We know you may already be a regular contributor to MSN. If so, we're
asking you to make a special gift this holiday season - above and
beyond that contribution - to help workers who make our holiday gifts
win decent wages and working conditions.

Please consider making a generous holiday contribution and becoming a
sustaining monthly donor to MSN.

Yours truly; Lynda Yanz, Coordinator

P.S. Unlike charitable organizations that issue tax receipts, much of
our work is deemed "advocacy," and we are unable to provide a tax
receipt for your donation. This limit on our fundraising options
makes your donation all the more crucial. Please donate today.

The Maquila Solidarity Network (MSN) is a labour and women's rights
organization that supports the efforts of workers in global supply
chains to win improved wages and working conditions and a better
quality of life. | (416) 532-5854 |
606 Shaw Street, Toronto, ON; M6G 3L6 Canada

TorontoTheBetter News from the Canadian Co-Operative Association

Three related items from the most recent Canadian Co-Operative Association News Brief:


David Labistour, presently Mountain Equipment Co-op’s senior
manager of buying and design, has been appointed CEO of Canada’s
leading outdoor retailer. This marks the first time in the organization’s 36-year history that the top job has been awarded internally. Mr. Labistour will assume the
CEO position at MEC on January 2, 2008.

Mr. Labistour has headed up MEC’s buying and design teams since
2003. He has spearheaded a product sustainability initiative aimed at
reducing the ecological footprint of MEC-brand products. Mr.
Labistour’s professional experience spans over 25 years working for
companies such as Adidas, Woolworths and Artizia.

Mr. Labistour will take over from Peter Robinson, who has led the
co-op since 2000 and is moving to the chief executive position at the
David Suzuki Foundation.


The Co-operators’ fleet of more than 400 vehicles will now follow
new guidelines in a move that is expected to improve fuel economy by
over 20 per cent without increasing cost. The PHH GreenFleet program
was developed to guide organizations through choosing more efficient
vehicles, upgrading vehicle maintenance programs and providing
additional training to drivers. All fleet vehicles The Co-operators
group of companies acquires will now meet its new fuel economy
requirements and help achieve its goal of significantly reducing
greenhouse gas emissions.


The Ontario Co-operative Association (On Co-op) has put together a
Co-op Holiday Guide to help Ontarians source all their holiday
needs through the co-op sector. The Holiday Gift Guide highlights
co-operative products available in Ontario (via retail or web

Ontario co-ops can still add their products or services to the
list. E-mail the details to

Several TorontoTheBetter businesses and partners are included in the guide: The Big Carrot, Come As You Are, Common Ground Co-operative, Fair Trade Clothing Co-op, La Siembra, and Mountain Equipment Co-op.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Belated Notice of Shopping Fair at Native Canadian Centre of Toronto

Cedar Basket Gift Shop is located with the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto...


Saturday December 8/07; 11:00am to 3:00pm

Lots of great items for gifts or d├ęcor!

Loads of fun!

• Rummage Sale
• Food
• Penny Auction

I realize this reposting is too late, but don't let that stop from considering this Toronto First Nations Owned and Operated Store if you're looking for any gifts sometime soon...

Friday, 7 December 2007

Toronto Selected for IWW Organizing Conference!

The proposal by the Toronto branch of the Industrial Workers of the World to host the 2008 Organizing Conference has been approved.

The conference takes place in late March or early April. The next meeting of the Toronto IWW is December 15th.

More information to follow.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

TorontotheBetter encourages sale of art with social commentary

"An African Grandmother" drawn by Sallie Thayer of Colouration. The card was designed for one of the Ontario branches of WOMEN FOR AFRICAN GRANDMOTHERS, a group associated with the Stephen Lewis Foundation.

In the drawing, an African grandmother holds one of her many grandchildren -- all of whom are now being raised by her since her adult children have all died of HIV/AIDS.

The bowl at her side is empty and she is tired. She -- and her "children" -- need our help in order to survive.
However, like the tree behind her, she may be bowed, but she is still green, still unbroken -- still a strong African woman.

I entitled this one "We Shall Overcome, Someday" after the protest song of the 1960's. These are, obviously, three Burmese monks representing all the monks and people of Burma who started off with such hope for change this past fall. As we know, those hopes have been cruelly crushed.
The monks are carrying a banner which we can't see. We can imagine what it must say and how great their determination was in the beginning.
The background is a drawing from a battle in the Second World War -- war and oppression never change, the weapons just get more sophisticated!

If you are interested in seeing additional drawings of this type, go to my blog at

TorontoTheBetter businesses at Green Enterprise Holiday Sale Market Place

GET (Green Enterprise Toronto) has organized a Holiday Sale Market Place happening this Friday:

"Come & discover, meet & buy green and environmentally friendly services & products."

WHERE?: the Centre for Social Innovation; 215 Spadina Ave, Suite 400

WHEN?: Friday, December 7th, 2007; Lunchtime, 12-3 PM

Free Admission!!

In addition to GET, several TorontoTheBetter members & partners are participating:

Annarres natural Health
Dandelion Food & Herb
Fertile Ground Bookstore
Merchants of Green Coffee

Monday, 3 December 2007

MSN Seeks Your Advice in Cleaning up Apparel Industry

From the latest post on the Maquila Solidarity Network homepage:

"In 2007, our staff and our network fought on many fronts to hold international apparel brands accountable for the labour rights abuses in their supply chains. Some of them responded positively, and some of them lagged behind – severely. But all of them could use improvement. So MSN has assembled a list of New Years resolutions we think the apparel industry must make – and keep – in 2008.

But you know how it is – if you don’t make priorities, things don’t get done. So we’d like your help in prioritizing these resolutions for the apparel industry. Please tell us which 3 resolutions should be the top priorities for the apparel industry in 2008."

Visit Help the Apparel Industry Start 2008 on Clean Footing for more information and to provide your feedback.

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Consider Colouration for Christmas Cards

Colouration, a recent TorontoTheBetter member and partner, has a variety of hand designed greeting cards that are ideal for the holiday season. Contact Libra Information Services or Colouration by email for more information.

coffee tasting at java mama

Thought i would let you know about a seasonal coffee tasting at Java Mama \
1075 Bathurst street
on dec 15 and 16
from 2-5
serving up the rarest most expensive coffees obtainable globally  at
an affordable 5$ a cup
each cup hand dosered with 3 tablespoons of home roasted beans
i opened my shop in august of 2006 in the annex
i will serve up Kopi Lowak,Jacu Bird and C.O.E. (cup of
excellence)panama hacienda la gesha-the coffee served at Manic for $15
a cup recently
this is to thank my clients for their patronage and to also welcome
other home roasters to share in the bounty-i have home roasted now for
6 years
the kopi lowak -the monkey poo stuff-was sold last xmas at $1000 a
pound roasted at Pusiateri's- fyi...
you can call me from 1-7 every day but Tuesday at Java Mama
sincerely yours
Susan Oppenheim