Latest Labour News

Local 594 and the Lost History of Oil Worker Unionism

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By Doug Nesbitt and Andrew Stevens With near unanimous support from the membership, Unifor Local 594 provided the Co-operative Refinery Complex (CRC) with job action notice on December 4, 2019. The employer immediately responded by locking out over 700 workers – from process operators, building trades, lab technicians, to administrative support workers. The battle is Continue readingLocal 594 and the Lost History of Oil Worker Unionism

The search for University of Montreal’s new president must be open

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(Ottawa – December 12, 2019) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) is expressing concern over the University of Montreal’s decision to choose a closed search process for its new president.

In a letter (in French only) to the Chancellor, CAUT President Brenda Austin-Smith notes that it is very disturbing that the short list could include candidates who will be kept secret from the University community. “It is also troubling to see that the Senate will not be consulted before establishing this short-list and that there will be no public forum for the community to question the potential candidates or for the candidates to present their program and vision,” writes Austin-Smith.

CAUT is calling on Chancellor Louis Roquet to revoke the decision so the Senate can be part of the process to short-list candidates, and to make the list of candidates publicly available. CAUT is also urging the University to organize a public forum with each candidate so that the University community can learn about each candidate’s vision for the future of the University of Montreal.

For more information, please contact:

Valérie Dufour, Director of Communications, CAUT, 613-293-1810 or dufour@caut.ca

Unifor continues annual donation and support to women’s shelters across Canada

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Leading up to December 6, Unifor members across the country delivered donations from Unifor’s Social Justice Fund to women’s shelters to mark the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. Donations of $2,000 were given to 74 shelters nation-wide for a total of $148,000.

“Unifor takes the commitment to ending gender-based violence very seriously,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “We’ve stepped up to fill a great void with these donations and direct initiatives such as assisting with shelter renovations through our skilled trades members. This supplements the broader work the union does through political advocacy, collective bargaining and grassroots collaborations and coalitions to support survivors and create workplaces and communities safe from gender-based harassment and violence.”

Members from coast to coast presented cheques to shelters to fund crisis services to assist women and children fleeing domestic abuse.

“We all long for a day when refuges and domestic violence survivor programs are no longer needed,” said Lisa Kelly, Unifor Women’s Director. “Our members’ activism gets us closer to that day through their continuing work to promote greater awareness and education and win stronger workplace and legislated supports like paid domestic violence leave.”

In addition to continuing to bargain Women’s Advocates and other workplace resources, Unifor will be pushing for Canada’s ratification of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention to eliminate violence and harassment in the world of work. This new global standard recognizes the right of everyone to a world free from violence and harassment and sets bold goals for workplaces everywhere.

See photos of this year’s cheque presentations on the Unifor Canada Facebook page.

Paccar lock-out ends as members accept the company’s last offer

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Members of Unifor Local 728 voted 86 per cent in favour to accept the offer recommended by their bargaining committee, bringing an end to the labour dispute at the Paccar plant.

“We made good gains during this round of bargaining but unfortunately we were unable to deliver on one of our priorities, which was the elimination of two-tier pension plans,” said Unifor’s Quebec Director Renaud Gagné. “It makes no sense that employees had to face a lock-out and risk their jobs to do away with a measure that is now considered illegal.”

It should be noted that workers at the plant are covered by two different defined benefit pension plans depending on their date of hire. Group A, composed of workers having more seniority, receives higher benefits than Group B. Since June 2018, it is illegal to negotiate this type of provision in Quebec as it constitutes wage discrimination based on the employee’s hiring date. The problem is that the law does not ban such clauses in collective agreements negotiated before this amendment.

“Paccar makes a ridiculous amount of money, but it still refused to settle this issue. Even though we succeeded in reducing the gap in pension benefits between these two groups, there is still a difference of $15 per month per year of service. That’s a considerable amount. It should also be pointed out that the employer raised the possibility of moving production to other plants,” Gagné said.

The new collective agreement nonetheless offers numerous gains, including a 15 per cent wage increase over five years, the elimination of Group A and B in seniority calculations, an increase in pension benefits, including those in Group B, which are increased by 35 per cent (reducing the gap with Group A to 27 per cent), the addition of a second prevention representative for occupational health and safety, an increase in shift premiums and an increase in maximum group insurance earnings, which was also a bargaining priority.

The fact that the union was able to get more out of Paccar than what was in its final offer is without a doubt a significant victory. Another substantial gain to emerge from this dispute is the solidarity between members generated by the lock-out. As Gagné pointed out, “You could just feel how much solidarity and mobilization there was between everyone present at the ratification meeting.”

“It’s time for the Legault government to pass legislation to help us resolve these unfair and inequitable situations, but while making sure that it’s not done to the detriment of pension plan conditions. We need to raise the bar, not lower the bar,” the Quebec Director concluded.

Paccar employs 1,400 Unifor members who manufacture Peterbilt and Kenworth trucks. The employer declared a lock-out on December 1st.

 

A new collective agreement for 2,400 members at Bombardier

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Members of Local 62 ratified a tentative agreement with Bombardier on December 8 with 75 per cent support.  

“This is a good labour contract. We made significant gains in terms of wages, but also in terms of work-life balance, both of which were priorities in the negotiations,” said Renaud Gagné, Unifor’s Quebec Director. “For the first time in its history, this group had obtained a strike mandate even before starting negotiations last September. Once again, mobilization made a big difference.”

Highlights of the deal include:

  • Pension benefit increases of $6 over the term of the three-year agreement ($77 as of January 1st, 2020, $79 as of January 1st, 2021 and $81 as of January 1st, 2022 – calculated on the base rate per year of service and per month),
  • An increase of $2 in the monthly bridging benefit over the term of the three-year agreement ($24 as of January 1st, 2020, $25 as of January 1st, 2022);
  • The possibility to accumulate 48 hours in a renewable hour bank, changes to work schedules: the day shift will start earlier (6:00 and 6:15 a.m.);
  • Evening shift over four 10-hour days; night shift over four 9-hour days;
  • Improved job stability with a letter of agreement providing for the repatriation of outsourced work before imposing lay-offs;
  • Wage increases of 2.5 per cent for each year of the three-year collective agreement.

The Bombardier unit of Local 62 represents 2,400 members who perform interior completion work on Global business jets.

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