Tuesday, 29 April 2008

UFCW calls for national boycoot of Robin Hood products

The Duff Beer Daily email list, from the Beer Store Workers UFCW Local 12R24 recently reproduced two articles reporting on a call for a boycott of Robin Hood products:

Union holds rally in Port and calls for Robin Hood product boycott; From The Welland Tribune

The president of United Food and Commercial Workers Canada called for a
boycott of Robin Hood products when he met with UFCW Local 416P members Thursday.

It marked the one-year anniversary of a labour dispute between the union
and Horizon Milling that started when the company locked out 61 workers on April 24, 2007.

The company and the union last met in November to talk about a plan that
would have secured only 19 jobs.

Talks between the two sides broke off over severances, benefits and
retirement packages and have not resumed.

Local 416P president Fred Cronshaw said UFCW national president Wayne
Hanley led a rally Thursday morning attended by about 60 people at the
picket line on Sherwood Forest Lane, on a road leading to the closed mill.

Cronshaw said he is "frustrated" by the fact Horizon Milling has
"slammed the door" on negotiations and left 33 long-serving employees out of jobs.

"Some of the older guys are doing volunteer work in the community to
keep from going insane," Cronshaw said Thursday afternoon.

"The company could have settled this last November. We're waiting for
the company to do the right thing."

Cronshaw said the union can't control how Horizon Milling wants to
operate the mill going forward, but he stressed the workers who are
losing their jobs should be treated with more dignity when it comes to severance packages.

The company plan would return nine workers to the job immediately and
provide future jobs for up to 19 unionized employees in total, Cronshaw said.

"We have 30 people with 30 years in," he said.

"We're not going anywhere. We are still committed and we are still strong."

A pamphlet being circulated in conjunction with UFCW Canada, the
Canadian Labour Congress and the Ontario Federation of Labour called for
a nationwide boycott of Robin Hood products.

"The company, which refines flour products under the name of Robin Hood,
offered its workers, whose average seniority is 22 years, a reduction in
benefits, salary, pensions, a removal of severance, a downsizing of the
work force as well as a wage freeze for three years," the pamphlet said.

Rob Meijer, director of corporate affairs for Cargill Canada - the
parent company of Horizon Milling - commented on the work stoppage from Winnipeg Thursday.

"Nothing has changed," he said. "We have a package on the table that we
consider is in the best interests of the workers, the community and the
long-term sustainability of the plant."

As for the boycott, Meijer said Horizon Milling does not own the Robin Hood brand.

"Horizon is only one of several companies to pack Robin Hood products," he said.

"A call to boycott Robin Hood products is misleading to consumers
because it unfairly targets a party that is not involved in these negotiations."



Union calls for Robin Hood boycott; From Niagara This Week

A Canada-wide boycott of all Robin Hood products is being called for by
the United Food and Commercial Workers union.

They hope the action will help get 52 locked-out workers in Port Colborne back on the job.

The UFCW Canada National president Wayne Hanley announced the action as
he visited the line at the Horizon Milling refining plant for the first
time on April 24, one year to the day that the work action began.

Several other UFCW locals from across southern Ontario also attended the
rally to support UFCW 416P and its president, Fred Cronshaw, which
represents the workers at Horizon Milling.

"This is not a day of speeches or celebrations. This is a day of
recognition," said Hanley, addressing the about 70 people in the mixed
crowd of workers and supporters. "We have workers here locked out for a
year and there doesn't seem to be an end in sight."

Hanley announced that the nationwide boycott of Robin Hood products,
which includes flour, oatmeal and other baking products, has been
approved by both the Canadian Labour Congress and the Ontario Federation
of Labour. The CLC's convention is upcoming in May and Hanley hopes the
word will spread across the country about the work action and boycott.

"This seems like a proper time to get some support across Canada," said
Hanley to applause. "It might be the catalyst of what might start a settlement."

The work action, now in its second year, began when the UFCW 416P
refused to a new collective bargaining agreement with Horizon Milling's
parent company Cargill, a major wheat-refining corporation based in the
United States. The original agreement expired in November 2006 and
Cargill offered the union, with an average worker seniority of 22 years,
a deal which included reductions in wages, benefits, pensions, a removal
of severance, downsizing and a three-year wage freeze.

The last time the two sides met was Nov. 8, when the company agreed to
give back some severance. Thirty-three people at the mill however, would
still be out of a job. After failing to reach an agreement, the negotiating companies haven't met since.

When the lockout began, 61 people were originally out of work. However, some have retired or passed away.

About seven salaried workers report to the plant every day under heavy video surveillance, said Cronshaw.

"They're cleaning the cleaning," said Hanley.

The plant contains no raw material.

Hanley said the takeover by Cargill has resulted in "U.S. values" being pushed on "Canadian workers, which is really sad."

"It's hardly fair for anybody to point the finger at the union here," he said.

Cronshaw thanked the supporters at the rally for coming out.

"We're kind of isolated back here, so it's nice to know we're not alone," he said.


Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Avaaz appeal: Save the Olympics

Reposted from Avaaz.org:

"Dear Friends,

The Beijing Olympics are a crucial chance to persuade China's leaders to support dialogue and human rights in Tibet, as well as Burma and Darfur, and we need to seize it.

China wants the Olympics to be a coming out party for a newly modern, powerful, and respectable nation. But the Olympics are about humanity and excellence--we can't celebrate them in good conscience while ignoring the suffering of Tibetans and others.

So Avaaz is launching a major new campaign: SAVE THE OLYMPICS. We'll ask China to save the Olympics for all of us, by making specific, reasonable progress in dialogue with the Dalai Lama, securing release of Burmese and Tibetan political prisoners, and supporting peacekeeping in Darfur.

Our appeal will be placed on billboards and ads in major cities, in Chinese overseas publications, and we'll hire a Chinese language team to engage directly on China's lively blogs and in chatrooms. We need 10,000 donations from people from 100 countries to kickstart the campaign this week with a truly global sponsorship--click below to see the ads and donate whatever you can, however small:


Within China, where the Olympics were once seen as a victory for greater openness and internationalism, the internal debate has taken a bitter turn. Most Chinese are now growing angry over Olympic activism, seeing it as biased and "anti-Chinese."

If the games are a fiasco, China's repressive hardliners will win the day--and we could see the worst crackdown yet.

We need to stop this, and fast. So our campaign aims to reach out to China and Chinese people to show that we're not anti-China but pro-humanitarian, and that our desire is to save the 2008 Olympics, not ruin them. Click below to donate now:


The Slogan of the 2008 Olympics is "One World, One Dream". Let's reach across barriers of perception and division, and ask the Chinese to make this dream come true for us this summer.

With hope,

Ricken, Ben, Graziela, Galit, Pascal, Iain, Milena, Sabrina and the whole Avaaz Team.

PS – If you are new to Avaaz, we are a new global campaigning organization launched in January 2007 that has rapidly grown to over 3 million members in every nation on earth. The Economist magazine has written of the power of Avaaz to "Give world leaders a deafening wake up call", and we have been featured on the BBC talkshow HARDtalk. David Miliband, the UK foreign secretary, calls Avaaz "the best of the new in foreign policy". You can see the results of our last campaign fundraiser, on Burma here, and the results of our last campaign on climate change here, as well as other campaign results here. Avaaz Foundation is a legally registered non-profit organization."

Monday, 21 April 2008

TorontoTheBetter Screening of You Can Never Bike Alone

Welcome to the 2008 TorontoTheBetter 3rd Annual Film Series:
Everyday Economic Choices for a Better Toronto and a Better World

Presenting PWYC Movie, Discussion, Action...

- Free TorontotheBetter shopping cards for first 20 to arrive

Date: Wednesday, Apriil 23, 2008
Time: 8:00pm - 10:00pm
Location: 519 Church Street

You Never Bike Alone - A Film produced, written, directed and edited by journalist Bob Alstead for ICYCLE.CA Productions.

Anthony Humphreys (Toronto Cyclists Union)
Herb van den Dool (Community Bicycle Network)

You Never Bike Alone is a documentary that charts the history of Vancouver's Critical Mass
rides from the early "Tame the Lions" rides, that helped bring about better bike facilities on the Lions Gate Bridge, to the wild spectacle of Vancouver's
freak bike collective and the World Naked Bike Ride in more recent times.

As well as a humorous and entertaining look at how city cyclists are mobilizing, You Never Bike Alone looks at the implications of transportation decisions by politicians at municipal and provincial levels and asks are we up to the challenge of making a truly liveable city.

Sponsored by:
Bazant Unique Adornments
Department of Antropology/U of T
Libra Information Co-op c/o TorontoTheBetter
IWW GMB Toronto
The Harvest Room
Thorn Glass Studio

Saturday, 19 April 2008

FREE Workshop, FREE passes to The Green Living Show

Anarres Natural Health BOOTH # 1234 AT THE GREEN LIVING SHOW APRIL 25, 26 AND 27th...

What: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Aromatherapy and Natural Ingredients, But Didn't Get Around To Asking
When: Tuesday, April 22, 6 - 8
Wednesday, April 23, 6 - 8
Where: Anarres Natural Health Clinic, 12 Ossington Crescent, Toronto, ON M6J 2A6

What you'll learn
Natural sun screens: which oils and butters have an SPF of 15 naturally?
Essential Oils: what they do and how they do it! what's safe for the childbirthing year and for kids
Perfumery: "Top, Middle and Base Notes", how to blend them and what they do
Soaps: soap versus detergents, helpful ingredients, soaps for common skin problems
Hair Care: natural ingredients and hair care, what never ever ever to use anywhere near your body
Miracle Minerals: what are dead sea and epsom salts, and what do they do
Lotions, Potions and Creams: the mysteries of cold creams revealed!
Palm and vegetable wax candles: why petroleum makes us and our planet sick, why vege wax is brilliant!
Natural mouth care: why natural toothpaste? natural mouthwash? natural lip balm? cold sore care...
Detoxification: the simple ways, and low cost ingredients and products that help
Treatments: what is reflexology, Thai,massage, lomi lomi, meridian work, lymphatic drainage?
Energy Work: what is polarity therapy, reili, chakra balancing?
How to Reject Plastics: Why Anarres packages in glass and vegetable cellulose instead of petroleum plastics
...and more!!!

Attend one or both workshops.
RSVP required.
Volunteers: FREE see below Non Volunteers $40 per session.
Tea, crystal water and snacks will be provided to tide you over.

As a BONUS, everyone who attends the workshop will receive a free pass to
The Green Living Show - instead of $13 at the door!

Would you like to attend the Green Living Show for free?
Would you like to learn more about natural products,
what they do, and how they do it?

Would you like to receive treatments in exchange for
volunteering at the Anarres Natural Health booth?

After exhibiting at the Holistic Health Show in March, I realized that I needed someone at my booth at all times so that I could do crazy stuff like eat and answer calls of nature. Plus, my two year old was not very articulate with customers.

From time to time, a friend or client would drop by, and it was wonderful! Clients could tell potential customers about my products and what I do. I could run off to sample cocoa nuts.

I thought "I wonder if folks would be willing to help out in exchange for treatments? I wonder if folks would enjoy learning more about what I make, how I make it and what it does and why?"

I can't offer cash, because that is what I do not have
I have knowledge and I have time. So here's the deal:

Volunteer for at least a four hour time slot and I'll give you:

1. A free Exhibitor's Badge. I'll buy you one, and you'll have access to all three days of The Green Living Show. VALUE: @$45

2. A free three hour workshop/training session where you'll learn about essential oils, soaps, carrier oils, clays... everything you need to know about helpful and harmful ingredients, how and why they do what they do. VALUE: $50

3. A 1 hour Gift Certificate for any treatment I offer, to use yourself, or give as a gift, for the first 4 hour shift you help me out in. VALUE: $60-120

4. A 1 hour Gift Certificate for any treatment I offer, to use yourself, or give as a gift, for every hour after your first 4 hours that you help me out in. VALUE: $60-120 every hour after 4 hours.

Once you know about what's in my products, you are most capable of answering questions, and selling products. I don't need high strung sales behaviour - just common sense attentiveness to questions and concerns, an ability to use a calculator, take money, make change, and put things in bags. If you have a vehicle, or are great at packing, you may want to volunteer helping me to set up or clear out. But I expect that if you do volunteer, you'll have a great time!

Let me know ASAP if you are interested or know someone who might be.

Love & RRRevolution, Tracey

Tracey TieF
Certified Natural Health Practitioner
416.535.9620 or anarreshealth@gmail.com

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Starbuck's Union Rep speaking in Toronto - April 18th

Pete Montelbano and Dyamite Plan are coming up to Toronto soon. I know Pete, I met him a year ago, when he last came up to visit. He lives in New York, celebrates Easter with his folks, and is driving up to see us in Toronto on April 18th. Dynamite Plan? - they’re a rap group. Pete and a couple of work buddies are Dynamite Plan. Never heard Pete rap, but I've heard him talk, and he has an important story to tell. Important for all workers.

Maybe they’ll rap about Starbucks. One thing you should know about Pete and his buddies - they work in Starbucks, and three years ago they got that big corporate mother to hand out three big raises to them, and reinstate workers who they’d fired. Maybe they’ll rap about that, but they’ll definitely talk about it.

They’re baristas in a Starbucks store in New York. Like thousands of others in the U.S., Canada, and, I bet, by now, Beijing. But unlike most baristas working for Starbucks and other coffee stores they got the company to do something they usually don’t like to do: give them large raises and reinstate staff they didn’t want around.

So, the question is: How’d they do it? Let me give you some clues. Pete and friends will fill in the gaps. They got together, they publicized the facts - Starbucks, one of the richest corporations in the world was paying wages lower than smaller outfits. Some Starbucks managers were picking on workers. Starbucks health benefits and fair trade coffee appeared more often in their media releases than they did among workers, or customers.

Steve and friend raised a stink. One day in the fall of 2005 80 people gathered in front of an East Village Starbucks in New York and yelled at the company to pay fair wages and reinstate workers who’d been fired. Starbucks workers each told their story to the press. Some customers going in to the store stopped and talked.

And a little while later, all the Union Square Starbucks workers got raises and some who were fired got their jobs back. With little money and no high priced labour lawyers Pete and friends were able to make an ultra rich corporation do what they were asking for. Or some of it. The rest I’ll leave to Pete and friends to fill in.

But one thing I can say, the union had something to do with it. You see, Starbucks Union Square workers are part of the Starbucks’ Workers’ Union and they use a model called “solidarity unionism” to get their message across to companies, who usually don’t want to hear it. And it works without money. What it takes is commitment and work. Solidarity unionism is about workers helping workers to get what they want from employers.

Working in retail food or café yourself, or know someone who does? Or just interested in getting better deals for staff in the new retail workplaces where so many of us are working these days?

You can hear Pete at a panel on "Organizing 21st Century Workers" at the 519 Community Centre (Church @ Wellesley) on Friday, April 19th. They're also be speakers from the Workers Action Centre and Toronto workplaces. Things start at 8pm. Hope to see you there. And tell your friends.

For more information about the Starbucks Workers Union go to: http://www.starbucksunion.org/

A message from the Industrial Workers of the World - Toronto General Membership Branch.

Green Oasis: Unique Greening Project on Broadview

In the April 2008 issue of The Voice of Cabbagetown, Downtown East and Riverdale, Kyla Dixon-Muir reports that "Unique greening project kicks off on Broadview:"

"A new collaboration of green entrepreneurs has set out to quietly transform a set of bland lawns on Broadview into vibrant stands of squah, beans and leafy greens.

The members of Green Oasis on Broadview, each engaged in a green business and partnered with charitable organizations, share a commitment to social justice, community and a sustainable environment."

"The four members are Chris MacLuckie of The Greener Side, Andrew Roy of Green Gardeners Group, Michael Sacco of ChocoSol Traders, and David Walsh of Carrot Cache, which provided the seed money.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

2008 IWW Organizing Summit in Toronto from April 18-20

The 2008 IWW [Industrial Workers of the World/aka Wobblies] Organizing Summit will be coming to Toronto in just under two weeks - see Register Now for the 2008 IWW Organizing Summit for details:

"The second IWW Organizing Summit has arrived and is set to explode! As the IWW engages in more and more workplace battles, our vision for the future must keep pace with our daily struggles. Our resolve is deeper and our wits keener than ever.


Hosted by one of the IWW's most dynamic branches, the Toronto IWW anticipates a blow out 2008 Organzing Summit with IWWs from all overthe continent and farther afield."

Who gets to share tips at Starbucks?

This past Thursday (3 April 2008), Reuters published a short report that Starbucks baristas in N.Y. join battle over tips:

"Starbucks Corp baristas in New York sued the popular coffee chain for more than $5 million on Thursday, joining employees from other regions who say they were unfairly forced to share tips with shift supervisors.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, seeks class action status for more than 2,000 Starbucks hourly employees, who are referred to as baristas.

In March, a San Diego Superior Court Judge ordered Starbucks to pay roughly $106 million to more than 100,000 current and former workers employed at California Starbucks stores since late 2000.

Starbucks in a statement said it would appeal the California judgment, which also required that Starbucks cease letting supervisors share tips."

For some more background and commentary, see Greg Moran's Starbucks Baristas Win California Tip Case at the IWW Starbucks Workers Union blog.

Important Notice from War Resisters

Video screening, Monday April 7, 7 pm

Health Sciences Building, University of Toronto
155 College Street (@ McCaul)

From March 13 to 16 this year, 200 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars testified at Winter Soldier, a conference organized by Iraq Veterans Against the War in Washington.The testimonials were modelled on the original Winter Soldier hearings during the Vietnam War, when returning soldiers told of the reality of the war on the ground and the need to keep organizing to end the war.

Join us on Monday April 7th at 7 pm to watch some of these historic testimonials from both the original Winter Soldier, and Winter Soldier II, and to get an update on the situation of US war resisters who are seeking asylum in Canada.

Sponsored by the U of T NDP and USW Local 1998 Political Action Committee.
For more info call 416.856.5008.

Friday, 4 April 2008

Props from Aka.Alias - Consider Beach Solar Laundromat...

When Taodhg suggested cross-posting Aka.Alias's Felling the Heat in Toronto The Better, I first thought: what, that's nearly a year old!...

But, on further reflection, the promotion of Beach Solar Laundromat bears repeating, and is actually quite topical with summer approaching and the continuing renaissance of green thinking:

"Of course, days like today put a real strain on the power grid, with everyone cranking up their AC. Among the extreme heat and smog warnings being issued, there are also appeals being issued to use less - less AC, less appliances, less cars - anything you can do to help. That leads us to the laundromat at 2240 Queen Street East.
The Beach Solar Laundromat, here in Toronto, is run by Alex Winch, a man on a mission. Winch is after energy efficiency through business and building design. That's why there are solar panels in the laundromat's roof. If you have to catch up on your washing today and you live anywhere near the Beach Solar (think TTC!), load up a laundry bag and head over there."

And, of course, it's nice to hear someone reporting a pleasant experience visiting TorontoTheBetter:

"...by the time you've finished investigating this site, you're likely to need another cup of coffee.If you're not downing fair trade, you can find a business to provide you with same so you never have to brew anything but fair trade ever again.
If you're the intrepid type who hates to quit a site until you've seen it all, you'll need to get the midnight oil burning,..."

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Bolivia Rising; Toronto Dollar Party

Event announcements from the Toronto Social Forum:


DATE: Saturday, April 5th, 7 p.m.
PLACE: Steelworkers Hall, 25 Cecil Street
INFO: boliviarising@gmail.com
COST: Donation of $5 or what you can

An evening of entertainment and solidarity, featuring Melodia de Bolivia,
Fraternidad Kantataki, Rosario Arce, Aztec Sacred Dancers, Gustavo
Saavedra, Las Imillitas, plus greetings from the Bolivian Ambassador.

Bolivia will soon vote on a new constitution. The President of Bolivia,
Evo Morales, describes this charter as a break from a colonial and
neoliberal past and a turn to a new era of indigenous culture and social
justice. Bolivia's pro-US opposition has responded with violence, threats
of separation, and promises of disruption. The situation in Bolivia is
critical. This event will explain the issues and affirm support of
Bolivian democracy.


DATE: Thursday, April 3rd, 6-9:30 p.m.
PLACE: North St. Lawrence Market, Jarvis and Front
INFO: www.torontodollar.com

The first annual Feast of Authors, a gathering of the writing community of
Ontario, will offer a banquet for book lovers. Almost 90 authors,
including Jeff Yosick, James W. Foster, Richard (Dick) Cooper, as well as
members of the Writers' Union of Canada and the League of Canadian Poets,
will be signing their books and meeting members of book clubs and other
readers at this celebration of Toronto Dollar's tenth anniversary.

April is also the tenth anniversary of National Poetry Month, which will
be marked by readings of Poetry Without Borders, funded by the League of
Canadian Poets and the Toronto Arts Council.

Other features of the evening are the Frankly Bob Literary, Art and Music
awards and story time for children. Light refreshments and a cash bar
will be available. The evening includes entertainment, a fashion
show/contest (recyclable materials) and other events and displays from
local community and writers' groups.

CTV's Tom Hayes is MC. Raffle tickets for a $500.00 shopping spree to be
drawn that night are on sale every Saturday at the Toronto Dollar booth in
the St. Lawrence Market.