Latest Labour News

UFCW 1518 urges Uber, regulatory board to recognize drivers as employees

UFCW Canada -

New Westminster, B.C. – September 11, 2020 – On September 9, Uber announced that they will seek approval to expand into Victoria and Kelowna, British Columbia. The company has applied to the province’s Passenger Transportation Board for the right to operate in these cities, and the union for Uber drivers in B.C. – UFCW 1518 – is urging Uber and the board to recognize drivers as employees.

America’s Largest Meatpacking Union Condemns Trump Admin. For Failure to Hold Smithfield Accountable for Outbreak of COVID-19 Worker Deaths and Infections

UFCW Press Releases -

Union Calls New Trump Admin. Meatpacking Fine a “Slap on the Wrist” After Plant Failed to Protect Workers, With Multiple Deaths and Nearly 1,300 Worker Infections

Nationwide: 122 Meatpacking Worker Deaths, Over 18,000 Workers Infected or Exposed

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, which represents 1.3 million workers in meatpacking plants and other essential businesses, condemned the new U.S. Department of Labor fine on Smithfield Foods as completely insufficient in the wake of the company’s failure to protect meatpacking workers at its Sioux Falls, South Dakota which reported nearly 1,300 COVID-19 infections and at least four deaths among its employees. As the union for Smithfield workers at this plant, UFCW called today’s fine by the Trump Administration insulting and a slap on the wrist that will do nothing to help those already infected or prevent future worker deaths.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone​ released the following statement:

“How much is the health, safety, and life of an essential worker worth? Based on the actions of the Trump Administration, clearly not much. This so-called ‘fine’ is a slap on the wrist for Smithfield, and a slap in the face of the thousands of American meatpacking workers who have been putting their lives on the line to help feed America since the beginning of this pandemic.

“OSHA has been asleep at the switch throughout this pandemic and this is just the latest example of the agency failing to do their job and take responsibility for worker safety. If we truly care about protecting workers and our nation’s food supply during this pandemic, the federal government must take action, beginning with an enforceable national safety standard, increased access to PPE and COVID-19 testing, and rigorous proactive inspections.

“Smithfield is a multi-billion-dollar corporation that failed to protect its workers, with multiple deaths and more than a thousand infections on their watch. This response by OSHA confirms that the company will not face any real consequences. The failure by the Trump Administration to hold Smithfield accountable makes clear that this White House cares more about industry profits than protecting America’s essential workers. Our country’s meatpacking workers, and the millions of American they serve, deserve and expect better from those sworn to protect us.”

Background:

As the largest North American meatpacking union, UFCW has been a leading national voice in the call to protect meatpacking workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

UFCW represents employees at the Smithfield plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota that reported at least 1,294 meatpacking worker infections and four worker deaths from COVID-19. UFCW sounded the alarm early in the pandemic about the risks these workers faced, calling from for action from public officials, and company leaders to provide the critical safety equipment and measures needed to protect employees as the virus devastated meatpacking plants across the country.

UFCW confirmed today that there have already been at least 122 meatpacking worker deaths and over 18,000 meatpacking workers infected or exposed to COVID-19. These numbers only include workers represented by UFCW. As the New York Times reported, many meatpacking companies have refused to release internal numbers on worker deaths and infections, meaning that total number of meatpacking workers impacted by the virus is likely much higher that current public figures.

Meatpacking workers at Smithfield’s Sioux Falls, South Dakota plant are members of UFCW Local 304A.

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UFCW International is the largest private sector union in the United States. UFCW International represents 1.3 million professionals and their families in healthcare, grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries. Our members serve our communities in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico. Learn more about the UFCW at ufcw.org.

Court delivers major blow to for-profit health care

NUPGE -

This is one of Canada's most momentous legal victories as it has preserved our cherished public health care system against this attack. Governments must now act to directly address the unchecked proliferation of extra-billing and queue-jimping in for-profit clinics that undermine our public system. This fight is not over.  You can be sure those who seek profit from health care will try to take this all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada. We must be ready to continue the fight. — Larry Brown, NUPGE President

Cambie private clinic ruling supports fair and equitable access to public health care

Unifor -

September 10, 2020

VANCOUVER – Unifor is relieved that the B.C. Supreme Court has dismissed a constitutional challenge by a private health clinic attempting to make for profit, private health care legal.

"Today public health care won and this is a victory for everyone who uses health care in Canada,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Even though this attack was launched by a greedy doctor in British Columbia, it took aim at the very heart of the Canada Health Act. Justice Steeves decision ensures our health care system will continue to be based on need not on ability to pay.”

Cambie Surgery Clinic CEO Brian Day launched a decade long constitutional challenge after he learned his private for-profit surgical centres were going to be audited by the B.C. Government. The Cambie clinic sought to make health care more profitable by striking down the key sections of the British Columbia Medicare Protection Act. In particular, Day wanted the ability to charge patients beyond the public plan, allow paying patients to jump the queue and allow doctors to give preferential treatment to wealthy patients with private insurance or those willing to pay out-of-pocket.

“Today’s ruling sends a strong message to those wanting to privatize our health care system – Canada’s public health care is here to stay,” said Katha Fortier, Assistant to Unifor National President. “Canadians want improvements to their health care system and that starts with all levels of government providing adequate funding and support.”

In the court’s ruling, the Honourable Mr. Justice Steeves dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims that the B.C. Medicare Protection Act violate their rights under ss. 7 and 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector and represents 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

Information about the union's response to the pandemic, as well as resources for members can be found at unifor.org/COVID19.

To arrange for interviews, in-person or via Skype or FaceTime, please contact Unifor Communications Representative Hamid Osman at hamid.osman@unifor.org or 647-448-2823 (cell).

Unifor condemns new Torstar owners for sending jobs to U.S.

Unifor -

September 10, 2020

HAMILTON– Only 37 days after NordStar Capital took over Torstar, the new owners are closing down the Hamilton Spectator classified call centre and sending 24 good Canadian jobs to a firm in Buffalo, New York.

“Instead of sending more jobs out of the country, Unifor is proposing that Torstar invest in Canadian workers first and keep people in their readers’ communities employed,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias, who is requesting an immediate meeting with NordStar owners Jordan Bitove and Paul Rivett, to explore solutions.

The eight full-time and 16 part-time positions, predominately women workers, are scheduled to lose their jobs on October 19, a week after Thanksgiving.

“We are stunned by the speed of this aggressive outsourcing move,” said Paul Morse, President of Unifor Local 87-M, which represents employees at the Spectator. “Less than three months ago when they were trying to buy Torstar, Bitove and Rivett promised shareholders they would invest in the Canadian media giant if they sold their shares to them and let them take the company private. This is the antithesis of that promise.”

Torstar owns the Hamilton Spectator, Toronto Star, Waterloo Region Record, St. Catharines Standard, Niagara Falls Review, Welland Tribune and Peterborough Examiner daily newspapers, and a large number of weekly community newspapers.

The union plans to bring forward a proposal that could position Torstar as a leader in classified services and keep media jobs in Canada. Under the Hamilton Spectator collective agreement, the union has six weeks to present an alternative to layoffs.

“There is no doubt the pandemic has negatively impacted revenue, but it has also highlighted the need for Canadian-owned businesses to support Canadian workers as we build back together from COVID-19,” Dias said.

For media inquiries please contact Unifor Communications Representative Kathleen O’Keefe at kathleen.okeefe@unifor.org or 416-896-3303 (cell).

Schitt's Creek and Workin' Moms cast members add their voice in support of the “CARE NOT PROFITS” long-term care campaign

Unifor -

Canadian actors Annie Murphy, Noah Reid, and Dani Kind latest to support the campaign to reform Ontario’s long-term care system

TORONTO — SEIU Healthcare, CUPE Ontario, and Unifor, unions that represent healthcare workers across the long-term care sector, are proud to welcome Annie Murphy (Schitt's Creek), Noah Reid (Schitt's Creek), and Dani Kind (Workin' Moms) to the “Care Not Profits” advocacy campaign. They are the latest Canadian artists taking to social media to add their names to the growing chorus of voices calling on Premier Ford to end for-profit senior care.

“Care Not Profits” is an invitation to everyone in our province to call on Premier Ford to end the failed experiment of for-profit long-term care delivery. As COVID-19 numbers begin to rise again and we approach the upcoming flu season, our deepest appreciation goes out to these Canadian actors for using their voices for good. Along with Chantal Kreviazuk, The Sheepdogs, Basia Bulat, Born Ruffians, Tokyo Police Club, and Sarah Harmer who last month performed a “Care Not Profits” Facebook Live session for nearly 80,000 viewers in support of long-term care reform, their voices are making an immense impact.

QUOTES:

“The effects of the pandemic on our long-term care system have been nothing short of tragic. It's time that we advocate for safer conditions for our aging parents, grandparents, and the workers who care for them: we must act urgently to end for-profit long-term care now.” - Annie Murphy

“In Canada, we pride ourselves on a health care system that leaves no one behind, and yet some of our most vulnerable citizens and their caregivers have been living and working and dying in unthinkable circumstances during this pandemic, while companies who own the long-term care facilities are profiting at an alarming rate off their backs. Our elders and the people who look after them deserve better.” - Noah Reid

“This campaign is important to me because our seniors paved the path for so many of us and it’s our job to advocate for them at this stage in their lives.” - Dani Kind

“Culture and the arts have a way breaking through and reminding us what’s important as a society—and when it’s time for change. When it comes to long-term care, the time for change is now, and we’re so excited to welcome these talented actors to our advocacy campaign. Annie Murphy, Noah Reid and Dani Kind are using their platform to shine a light on the change we need to finally put senior care before the profits of big nursing home corporations. COVID-19 has opened our eyes to what really matters in society. It’s time for Premier Ford to listen and choose whose side he’s on: the side of families working and living in long-term care, or the side of wealthy executives and shareholders profiting from Ontario’s broken system.” – Sharleen Stewart, President, SEIU Healthcare

“This pandemic has only exposed and deepened an existing crisis in long-term care. And one thing it revealed is that the for-profit homes were the most dangerous sites for our elders. We need to do better – we need a complete overhaul of the system so that this never happens again. That’s why I’m so happy to see that the message is spreading and that more artists are joining us in this effort. Together, we will end for-profit care and create a system that our elders deserve.” – Candace Rennick, Secretary-Treasurer, CUPE Ontario

“The support that our Care Not Profits campaign has received from Canadian musicians and actors has been incredible to say the least. The Ontario government and particularly Premier Doug Ford needs to start making concrete changes to Ontario’s long-suffering long-term care system to end for-profit care for our most vulnerable.” – Jerry Dias, National President, Unifor

BACKGROUND ON THE “CARE NOT PROFITS” CAMPAIGN:

During the COVID-19 crisis, Ontario’s worst hit nursing homes were all for-profit facilities. Data tells us that for-profit long-term care corporations have 17 per cent fewer staff than non-profit nursing homes. Yet, while families and care staff were dying throughout the pandemic, three of the largest long-term care businesses combined paid shareholders more than $58 million in dividends in the past three months alone. These are facts.

The new, 60-second ad called “Care Not Profits” originally launched on July 23rd.

To view the ad and learn more, visit carenotprofits.ca

The full, high-definition broadcast from this morning’s campaign launch, including the 60-second ad, is available for media to download here: https://bit.ly/39lxVfU

For media inquiries, contact:

Corey Johnson, SEIU Healthcare at c.johnson@seiuhealthcare.ca or 416-529-8909

Daniel Tseghay, Communications Representative, CUPE at dtseghay@cupe.ca or 647-220-9739

Hamid Osman, National representative – Communications at Hamid.Osman@unifor.org or 647-448-2823

Unifor selects Ford Motor Company to set pattern in auto talks

Unifor -

September 8, 2020

TORONTO—Unifor National President Jerry Dias has chosen Ford Motor Company as the union’s strike target to set the pattern agreement with the Detroit Three automakers.

“I selected Ford because we think the company is prepared to reward our members, make a commitment to continue manufacturing in Canada, and has a vision that we think is in the best interest of the industry and the economy,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President, speaking at a news conference streamed live on Unifor’s Facebook page. “Worldwide we have seen more than $300 billion dollars announced for electric vehicle production and not one dime is destined for Canada. Our members want that to change.”

For decades, it has been the union’s practice to strategically choose which of the three Detroit Three companies the union will negotiate with first—setting a pattern agreement for auto workers in Canada. There are multiple factors considered by the union, in consultation with the master bargaining committees, in making this decision, based on two key goals: building Canada’s auto industry and achieving the union’s bargaining objectives.

Once an agreement with the target company is ratified by members, bargaining shifts to a second company, and then the third. 

“The Oakville assembly plant is the last of Ford’s assembly plants left in Canada and has no firm product commitment beyond the current generation of the Ford Edge. This is a significant problem for our members and it should be a concern for all levels of government,” said Dias.

“Our members are pleased to go first and want to forge their own destiny, which is why we have worked hard to build a productive relationship with this employer,” said John D’Agnolo, Chair of the Ford Master Bargaining Committee and President of Unifor Local 200.

Unifor represents 6,300 workers at Ford Motor Company, 9,000 workers at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and 4,100 at General Motors.

Unifor opened formal contract talks in Toronto on August 12th, with the theme The Future is Made in Canada. The union has repeatedly urged the federal government to create  a comprehensive manufacturing strategy for the auto sector, given that every auto assembly job creates or supports as many as 10 additional jobs throughout the economy.

A digital media kit be found on this website and a downloadable 4K version of today’s news conference is available to media upon request.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

For media inquiries or to arrange interviews via Facetime, Zoom, or Skype please contact Unifor’s Director of Communications, Natalie Clancy at  Natalie.Clancy@unifor.org or 416-707-5794 (cell).

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