Friday, January 15, 2010

nickel and dimed, but at least it's by the best

a few days ago the united steelworkers union filed a bad-faith bargaining complaint against vale inco, "challenging the company's refusal to engage in genuine, good-faith negotiations to end the six-month strike by 3,500 canadian workers."

the steelworkers lawyer brian shell said that “the ontario labour relations act requires that employers and unions make every reasonable effort to reach a collective the minimum that means meeting with a union committed to a full exploration of all issues and together endeavouring to find an acceptable way forward.”

vale inco is a subsidiary of vale of brazil, the second largest mining company in the world.

sudbury is a city in northern ontario where a lot of nickle is mined. since the early 1900's sudbury has basically been a nickle bomb and made so much money mining that it recovered faster from the great depression than any other city in north america. it was also the first canadian city to install parking meters(fun fact).

the sudbury mines are also the site of some of the most vibrant and catalytic labour disputes in canadian history. unionized for the first time in 1944 as the mine, mill and smelter workers local 598 and striking for the first time in 1958, the sudbury worker's have been instrumental in shaping and developing canada's labour/union movement.

so when "inco"(one of the original nickle mining firms in sudbury) was purchased by vale in 2006 and became vale inco it was kind of a big deal.

vale(and now vale inco) are notorious for violating human rights and environmental codes and was removed from the FTSE4GOOD index for failing to meet their human rights criteria.

despite its seedy labour, environmental, and human rights practices vale inco brands itself as a "socially responsible" and environmentally awesome company. according to their website they are committed to sustainable practices:

"it is recognized that sustainable development includes commitments to health, safety and the environment through a balanced approach to economic, technical and social issues."

images of greenery are plastered all over their website and they smatter on about how great they are.

as we can see, they aren't that great. so they must have killer PR.

enter jennifer sloan.

according to a recent press release, jennifer led "global corporate affairs team responsible for public affairs, stakeholder relations, government relations, corporate branding and emergency management" at vale inco.

she did a damn good job and from the sound of it, vale inco needed a lot of "corporate branding and emergency management."

so where does one go, after vale inco? who could best use these mad lying skills? who needs emergency managment and a little suave corporate re-branding?

york university!

starting january 12, jennifer sloan will be the new vice-president university relations for york university.

(as a corporation, this isn't the first time inco has had university related experience. inco has a long and controversial history at memorial university, where it had its name branded on a research facility. usually corporations pay to build/renovation such facilities, but inco received $20 million dollars in tax refunds for the project. so in reality the money for the research facility came out of tax payers pockets. was the building re-named "taxpayers centre for research"? naaaaaah. call it the inco innovation centre.)

only at york university(or any other corrupt institution) would working for vale inco be considered positive experience on a resume. lucky for jennifer sloan she picked a job working for a corporation as seedy as her former employer.

in correspondence with united steelworkers reps they expressed that they hadn't had contact with jennifer(maybe because she left before the strike). such is PR in major multinational corporations, where they are excellent at hiding the strings behind the puppets.

well, i guess i'd just like to formally welcome jennifer to york university and give her a little warning: here at york, the puppet masters are idiots so don't expect your strings to remain invisible.

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