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CAUT condemns Alberta education cuts

CAUT -

(Ottawa – January 24, 2020) Deep cuts alongside imposition of an “outcomes-based” approach to funding of post-secondary education in Alberta have prompted CAUT Council to express their unanimous condemnation of the moves to Alberta Premier Jason Kenney.

In a letter sent to Kenney, CAUT President Brenda Austin-Smith and Executive Director David Robinson state: “Your government's short-sighted plan balances a budget on the backs of students and staff. Alberta already has low participation rates for post-secondary education, and these changes will create more barriers, just when many young Albertans, especially those living in rural areas, and older adults who are navigating Alberta's changing industries, need doors open.”

CAUT’s letter takes note of Alberta’s “inspirational and vibrant post-secondary sector with internationally recognized universities, top polytechnics, and an extensive network of regional universities and colleges,” which are jeopardized by the government’s actions, along with the high-quality education and research they provide.

“[Alberta’s] post-secondary system [is] already under undue strain. Whereas system-wide data are important, performance-based funding, wherever it has been operationalized, leads to a narrowing of scholarship, both in teaching and research, limits education choice, and, frankly, results in “gaming”, fundamentally compromising the quality of education.

CAUT calls for Kenney to reconsider his approach.

“Post-secondary education and strong protections for workers sustains good jobs and a high quality of life. On behalf of our members, we implore you to reverse these cuts, reconsider your approach to performance-based funding, and reinvest in post-secondary education to ensure a better future for Albertans.”  

Read the full letter here.

Unifor urges City of Toronto to improve transit, save jobs in Thunder Bay

Unifor -

Unifor delivered a strong deputation to the City of Toronto’s Budget committee to warn that excessive delays in the purchase of at least 60 new streetcars is putting the Thunder Bay Bombardier plant where they are manufactured in jeopardy.

“The Ford conservatives are refusing to act while good manufacturing jobs in Northern Ontario are disappearing,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “All levels of government must work together instead of punishing Northern Ontario for decisions made in Toronto.”

The union has been calling on the City of Toronto and the federal and provincial governments to take responsibility for the worst transit congestion in Canada and protect good paying manufacturing jobs in Ontario by completing the necessary Bombardier streetcar order.

“Jobs are on the line – the Bombardier plant is at risk of closing, there simply isn’t enough work to keep the facility open into 2021,” said Dominic Pasqualino Unifor Local 1075 President. “We can’t wait any longer – trained workers are going to move on and they, and these jobs, will never return.”

The Thunder Bay Bombardier plant is the largest private sector employer in the region. It has a more than 100-year history of providing good jobs that has enriched the lives of Ontarians through fair wages and supply-chain demand.

“Canadian content in government purchases play an important role in Ontario’s economy,” says Kaylie Tiessen, Economist and Unifor National Research Representative. “Jobs at the Bombardier facility support an additional 1.5 to 2.8 job in Ontario, with many in the greater Toronto area. If the plant closes, it is workers across the province who will bear the burden.”

The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) states that new streetcars constitute an urgent and unfunded need in its recent capital budget.

“The city is putting riders and workers through the ultimate stress test,” continued Pasqualino. “If our elected leaders keep shirking responsibility, workers will be out of a job and we’ll have lost one of Canada’s exclusive manufacturers for our city’s streetcars and subway systems.”

Atlantic Director Linda MacNeil urges caution on new NS health professionals registry

Unifor -

Unifor Atlantic Regional Director Linda MacNeil is voicing concern around a plan by the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness to create a new government body regulating health professionals.

“We appreciate the opportunity to talk through what a new registry would mean for health care workers,” said MacNeil. “We aren’t opposed to a new government body for regulated health professionals in the right context but we caution against occupation-based registries as they provide little to no benefit while putting financial strain on lower-paid workers.”

Unifor made a submission to the Nova Scotia Department of Health following meetings held by government with the Council of Health Care Unions in Nova Scotia, of which Unifor is a member. Consultations surround the government’s proposed Nova Scotia Health Professions and Occupations Act which is exploring a registry for Continuing Care Assistants (CCAs) to regulate the profession.

MacNeil is particularly concerned with how a registry would impact the implementation of recommendations from the Nova Scotia Expert Panel on Long-Term Care.

“In our presentation to the government’s Expert Panel last year, we and many other unions, organizations and families made it very clear the sector is in crisis and the government must take urgent action to address low staffing levels, recruitment and retention issues, and working conditions,” said MacNeil.

Unifor suggests there are more effective and comprehensive ways to address systemic recruitment and retention problems in long-term care, as well as alternative ways to collect staffing data for human resource planning in the sector without creating a mandatory registry for CCAs.  

Read the full submission here.

Winnipeg reporter wins International journalism award

Unifor -

Winnipeg Free Press reporter and Unifor member Katie May is one of the first winners of a new international journalism award for her reporting on access to justice in remote areas of Manitoba.

“Unifor is proud that one of our journalist members is being recognized as one of the top journalists in the world with this award,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias.

“Katie May’s work exposing the long delays to justice in Manitoba’s north shows the important role that journalism plays in a functioning democracy by holding our governments and their departments to account.”

May was the only winner in the Civil Rights category of the Fetisov Journalism Awards at a ceremony held January 22 in Lucerne, Switzerland. Her stories “Remote life, rough justice” looked at the long delays in Northern Manitoba for simple court dates such as bail hearings that keeps accused in jail for weeks on end before they can to go before a judge, and the impact this has on the accused and their families.

“I'm honoured to be part of the first Fetisov Journalism Awards. As the only Canadian shortlisted, I feel especially fortunate. I'm looking forward to continuing the work of getting to the truth and telling more stories,” May said after receiving the award.

Unifor Communications Representative Stuart Laidlaw, a journalist for 25 years, past unit chair of the Toronto Star and vice-president of Local 87-M, was a member of the expert panel for the awards, and helped select the shortlist of stories eligible to win the top prizes.

The Fetisov Journalism Awards were set up in 2018 and accepted entries for the first time last year, with prizes in four categories:

  • Outstanding Contribution to Peace
  • Contribution to Civil Rights
  • Outstanding Investigative Reporting
  • Excellence in Environmental Journalism

 

 

 

Vopak members achieve significant gains in new collective agreement

Unifor -

Unifor Local 2003E members at Vopak Terminals of Canada Inc. in Hamilton, Ontario voted to adopt a new collective agreement that includes a large wage increase and other significant gains.  

“The Bargaining Committee worked hard to achieve improvements that will make a real difference to our members,” said Gary Ellis, Unifor National Representative. “For example, in the new contract our Senior Operators received a wage increase of approximately 24 per cent, retroactive to the start of this year.”

The full time terminal operators at the petroleum/chemical tank farm work outdoors in all conditions storing and transferring such chemicals as fuels, de-icing fluids and asphalt from massive holding tanks, trains, ships and trucks.

In 2019, Vopak Terminals in Quebec took strike action for pensions, wages, and overtime. After a long 3 months on the picket line, the members of Unifor Local 175C won major advancements and returned to work.

While the Vopak members in Hamilton had already achieved important gains in prior rounds of bargaining, the Local 2003E Bargaining Committee took the position that the employer had set a wage pattern in Quebec.

“Local 2003E’s Bargaining Committee never waivered in maintaining that while their Collective Agreement was historically a little better than other locations they would not accept anything less than the achievements of Unifor in Quebec,” said Jason Harris, Local 2003E Bargaining Committee Chair. “We would like to acknowledge and thank Unifor Local 175C in Quebec for their efforts.”

Local 2003E members also demanded pension security in the form of a Defined Benefit pension plan as well as other monetary gains. After multiple days of collective bargaining a tentative agreement was reached on January 16 and ratified on January 17.

Highlights include:

Wages

Approximately 24% wage increase effective January 1, 2020

Senior operators will go from $29.96/hr to $36.40/hr

January 1, 2021 – 2.5 per cent

January 1, 2022 – 2.5 per cent

January 1, 2023 – 2.5 per cent

Pension

College of Applied Arts and Technology (CAAT) Defined Benefit Pension Plan with matching contributions of

2020 - 5 per cent

2021 - 6 per cent

2022 - 6.5 per cent

The new collective agreement also contains improvements in overtime calculations, health benefits, bereavement, severance, shift premiums and vacations.

Labour unites around Unifor 594 after police escalation at Co-op Refinery lockout

Rank and File - latest news -

by Emily Leedham In a move that shocked trade unionists across the country, the Regina Police Service arrested Unifor National President Jerry Dias and 13 more Unifor members at Gate 7 of Regina’s Co-op Refinery Complex on Monday, January 20, 2020.  About 730 refinery workers, members of Local 594, have been locked out for the Continue readingLabour unites around Unifor 594 after police escalation at Co-op Refinery lockout

BDM Scholarship helps UFCW 247 member focus on school

UFCW Canada -

Kelowna, B.C. – January 21, 2020 – Krista Buder is one of eighteen winners of the UFCW Canada – BDM Scholarship. Currently enrolled in the Kinesiology program at the University of British Columbia's Okanagan Campus, Krista is a proud UFCW 247 member who works at Real Canadian Superstore.

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