Latest Labour News

Join the Global Climate Strike!

PSAC -

People around the world will be hitting the streets September 20 and again on September 27 to draw attention to the growing climate crisis. PSAC encourages any members who are able, to show support for and join the Global Climate Strike. Download the...

Bargaining continues for OPSEU educational workers

NUPGE -

“Like most front-line public service workers, the last thing our members want to do is go on strike or endure a lockout. What we want is simple: a fair deal that puts students ahead of irresponsible slashing of services." ― Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU President

BC government support for forestry workers is welcomed and much-needed

Unifor -

On September 17, the BC NDP government announced they are investing $69 million in support programs for forestry workers in the Interior of the province. The area has been hard-hit by recent mill closures and shift reductions, and the sector as a whole has faced many challenges over the past decade.

“Entire communities in the BC Interior have been threatened because of the challenges facing the forestry industry and the 16 years of poor forest policy under the previous BC Liberal government,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Western Regional Director. “Between raw log exports, years of raging forest fires, the pine beetle infestations, and the U.S. tariffs on softwood lumber, it’s been an incredibly challenging time. We’re thankful the government is focusing on workers and providing them with much-needed support.”

Premier Horgan announced the programs would include establishing early-retirement bridging for older forestry workers, new short-term employment focusing on fire prevention, new worker training, and short-term financial assistance to communities hit hardest by mill closures.

“We know the forestry sector can thrive if corporations, communities and all levels of government work together to create a forward-looking strategy,” said McGarrigle. “Right now, we’re having to deal with years of mismanagement under the previous government so this support for workers and their families is essential as we focus on revitalization.”

Unifor has been outspoken on issues facing the forestry sector, including softwood lumber tariffs that have recently been put under review by a NAFTA panel.

Visit the BC government’s website for more information on the support programs for forestry workers.

Solidarity with the Week of Climate Action

CAUT -

(Ottawa – September 19, 2019) September 20 marks the beginning of the Week of Climate Action, an international grassroots movement of student activists demanding that world leaders be held accountable for and take immediate steps to combat the climate emergency facing the planet. A week of activities around the world will culminate in a Global Climate Strike on September 27. The Canadian Association of University Teachers stands in solidarity with all those taking part in the Week of Climate Action and the Global Climate Strike, and we join in demanding strong, immediate and effective action on climate change from governments in Canada and around the world.

Climate change is the crisis of our generation. CAUT encourages all its members to take part in the Week of Climate Action by joining local protests and events, supporting students who participate in the climate strike, pressing our institutions to adopt climate-friendly policies and practices, and raising awareness about the science of climate change and the role academic staff as researchers and teachers are playing in finding solutions.

Health care workers pave the way forward to protect public health care

Unifor -

Unifor health care members gathered in Port Elgin September 13-15 to learn more about the issues facing health workers in Ontario and Nova Scotia.

“We come together at this conference to build our power, to educate each other, and to use this collective power to advocate for every health care worker in the country,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President.  “More than ever, our health care system needs defending and our health care workers need respect and support.”

Representatives from the Canadian Health Coalition, Ontario Health Coalition and the Nova Scotia Health Coalition shared the focus of their activism and how Unifor members can plug into these campaigns to fight back against privatization, to advocate for a national pharmacare program and to save our public health funding.

The conference also provided a space to discuss the daily struggles of working in health care. Delegates broke up into their respective sub-sectors and shared the challenges they face, like dealing with violent patients and residents, the lack of training for dealing with mental health issues, and chronic under-staffing and under-resourcing.

Ontario Regional Director Naureen Rizvi spoke of the attacks on health care from the Ford Government and what Ontarians have been doing to fight back. 

“It's been a year riddled with challenges, but marked by great fightbacks,” said Rizvi. “We have put Doug Ford’s government on notice. We will not sit idly by and allow our pubic services to be gutted.”

Atlantic Regional Director Linda MacNeil reported on her presentation to the Nova Scotia Expert Panel on Long-Term Care. The Panel's process allowed stakeholders to offer suggestions to the government on how to improve long-term care in the province.

The union consulted with members in homes across the province and submitted a full report directly to the Expert Panel and spoke with their years and years of experience in the system. The union’s report recommended the Expert Panel address the issues holistically, realizing that recruitment and retention is so difficult largely due to under-funding and already overworked current staff.

“In January, the panel made loose recommendations and what amounted to a bunch of stop-gap measures like having unskilled, untrained, low-wage workers supporting CCAs,” said Linda MacNeil, Atlantic Regional Director. “That was nine months ago. Our members haven't seen any improvements in workload. Recruitment is still horribly low. Retention is still incredibly low. So we have to continue to fight. And we will.”

UFCW: New USDA Pork Plant Rule Endangers Safety of American Workers and Consumers

UFCW Press Releases -

Union Representing 30,000 Pork Workers Across the Country Condemns New USDA Policy Increasing Line Speed

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) condemned the new rule issued by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that allows for unlimited line speed increases at swine slaughter plants which will endanger the safety of workers and our food. UFCW President Marc Perrone, who represents thousands of meatpacking workers across the country, released the following statement:

“Today’s USDA rule sends a clear message that this administration values corporate profits more than the safety of America’s food and workers. Increasing pork plant line speeds is a reckless corporate giveaway that would put thousands of workers in harm’s way as they are forced to meet impossible demands.

“This new rule would also dramatically weaken critical protections that Americans depend on to be able to select safe, healthy food to feed their families every day. We urge the USDA to put the safety of American workers and consumers first and stop this dangerous rule.”

BACKGROUND

In May 2018, more than 6,500 UFCW members who work in pork plants submitted comments to the USDA in opposition to the proposed rule that would increase the line speeds where they work, threatening both them and the consumers they serve.

The Modernization of Swine Slaughter Inspection rule proposed by the USDA would hurt workers and consumers across the country.

Hazards of Modernization of Swine Slaughter Inspection Rule:

  • The Modernization of Swine Slaughter Inspection rule removes all limitations on line speeds in hog slaughter plants which will endanger the health and safety of tens of thousands of workers in the hog slaughter industry.
  • Even at current line speeds, swine slaughter and processing workers face many job risks that can lead to severe injury, illness and death.
  • There is no evidence that the increased line speeds can be done in a manner that ensures food and worker safety.
  • In 1997, the USDA created a pilot program called the HACCP-Based Inspection Models Project (HIMP) which allowed five hog slaughter plants to test a new food safety program.  The hog slaughter pilot program revealed serious safety issues including a Clemens food plant in Pennsylvania which reported injuries severe enough that two workers were hospitalized, and one suffered an amputation.
  • The Modernization of Swine Slaughter Inspection rule includes no requirement or funding to train plant employees on inspection techniques that were previously performed by USDA inspectors and are now their responsibility.
  • Increased line speeds will disproportionately hurt women and people of color.

Key Facts About Swine Workers:

  • Meatpacking workers in hog slaughter plants work in cold, wet, noisy, and slippery conditions making tens of thousands of forceful repetitive motions on each shift.
  • Research shows that the fast pace in pork plants, coupled with the forceful and repetitive nature of most of the jobs, leads to high rates of injuries and health issues.
  • Meatpacking workers are injured at 2.4 times the rate of other industries. These injuries result in lost time or restrictions at three times the rate of other industries and they face illness rates at 17 times the rate of other industries.
  • The current maximum line speed for swine is 1,106 hogs per hour.
  • The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) represents 30,000 workers in the pork slaughter industry
  • UFCW members handle 71 percent of all hogs slaughtered and processed in the United States.

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The UFCW is the largest private sector union in the United States, representing 1.3 million professionals and their families in grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries.

Our members help put food on our nation’s tables and serve customers in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico.

Learn more about the UFCW at www.ufcw.org

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