Brussels, Belgium – July 23, 2020 – Long hours, employee concerns, and questionable labour practices emerged as dominant themes in recent hearings investigating global online retailing giant Amazon.
July 23, 2020
TORONTO — Ontarians are being urged to join a growing call for profound changes to the province’s long-term care system that would end profit-making in the provision of residential care. Today, SEIU Healthcare, CUPE, and Unifor, unions that represent workers across the long-term care sector, invited families to demand reforms from Premier Doug Ford so money goes to better care for seniors, not profits for corporate shareholders.
Beginning with impactful television advertising, Care not Profits calls on Ontarians to urge the province to use funding, currently going to profit, for direct reinvestment in what matters most - increased resident care and an end to profit in long-term care.
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” will first air during the Toronto Blue Jays season opener on July 24th against the Tampa Bay Rays.
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, will be available for media to download here: https://bit.ly/39lxVfU
“In the worst crisis the long-term care sector has ever faced, for-profit companies chose money for shareholders over better care for seniors. The $58 million dollars in dividends for-profit nursing home companies sent to shareholders is money that should have gone to better wages for low-paid workers, more full-time employment and higher staffing levels, adequate supplies of PPE, air-conditioning for residents, and improved infectious disease protocols. That it didn’t is cause enough to phase these companies out of the care sector. Healthcare workers and families deserve better.” – Sharleen Stewart, President, SEIU Healthcare
“The crisis at the bedside has been ignored for far too long. The care conditions of residents, and the working conditions of their care givers, are simply unforgivable. We need staffing standards. We need accountability and we need a commitment from Doug Ford’s government that change will happen—that they will improve conditions—by putting in place proper regulation, proper inspection, and adequate funding. But his government must also guarantee that every single public dollar put into long-term care is used to enhance the quality of life for residents and the working conditions of the staff. And that means putting an end to for-profit long-term care.” – Candace Rennick, Secretary-Treasurer, CUPE Ontario
“Following the tragic events in nursing homes across Ontario during the pandemic, the general public now knows what unions, long-term care workers and resident families have known for many years: for-profit care puts lives in danger. We can no longer turn a blind eye to the millions of dollars lining executives’ pockets and rewarding shareholders as residents and overworked staff are left without the dignity and respect they deserve. We must learn from this crisis and that starts with Doug Ford taking action to put people before profits.” – Jerry Dias, National President, Unifor
For media inquiries, contact:
UFCW Calls on Federal Trade Commission for Action to Hold Amazon Accountable for Anti-Competitive Practices Putting Workers at Risk
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), America’s largest retail union with 1.3 million workers, joined a coalition of major labor unions filing a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission alleging Amazon is exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to further entrench its market dominance and calling on authorities to take action to halt the company’s growing anti-competitive behavior.
UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:
“Amazon represents a clear and present danger to American workers and our economy. The company has not only refused to acknowledge the full impact of COVID-19 on its workers, it has exploited this pandemic to increase its market dominance as well as its power over employees throughout its distribution centers.
“With more than one-third of all warehouse workers in the U.S., Amazon has a responsibility to be a leader, and to be setting strong safety standards. Instead, Amazon has chosen to ignore the dangerous working conditions its workers continue to face every day. The simple fact is that a union is the most effective counterweight to protect workers and their families from irresponsible corporate actors like Amazon, especially during a pandemic.
“As COVID-19 continues to endanger tens of thousands of these warehouse workers, federal and state government leaders must hold Amazon accountable for the dangerous working conditions in these facilities and do much more to ensure the health and safety of all of our country’s frontline workers.”
Joining UFCW in the new complaint to the Federal Trade Commission is a broad coalition of groups which includes the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the Communications Workers of America, and Change to Win.
“We are highly alarmed by Amazon’s conduct during the unprecedented crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic,” write UFCW and the coalition in the complaint to the FTC. “Amazon is taking advantage of the economic desperation and upheaval caused by COVID to engage in new or intensified conduct that further entrenches its market power and dominance.”
“The situation is urgent,” the complaint reads, as “COVID-19 allowed Amazon’s role in the economy to metastasize.” Specifically, the unions highlight:
- Amazon’s power has grown in ecommerce as the pandemic has accelerated a decades-long shift towards online retail;
- Amazon is leveraging its pandemic-strengthened position to further exploit its power over sellers, who did not abandon the company during the crisis;
- Amazon now directly employs one-third of all warehouse employees in the country, up from one-quarter before the pandemic, positioning it to further exploit workers; and
- Amazon has moved aggressively to scoop up start-ups and established companies weakened by the pandemic.
“The crisis has resulted in new weaknesses in our economy, and Amazon has not hesitated to exploit these weaknesses in ways that further bolster its hold on consumers, small businesses, and workers,” the complaint continues.
Thursday’s submission follows a sweeping petition filed by the five labor organizations in February, calling on the FTC to investigate Amazon’s anticompetitive practices.
Amazon’s Market Share Grows
The domestic e-commerce sector grew at an accelerated pace during the pandemic and Amazon stands to benefit disproportionately from that growth. Because the offline retail sector has contracted drastically, and is unlikely to recover, Amazon will hold at least 12 percent of domestic retail—offline and on—in only four years even without further growth in its market share.
The company’s overall retail market share, while notable in its own right, does not reflect Amazon’s even starker dominance in individual product categories—a more traditional metric for judging whether the company satisfies the legal definition of a monopoly. For example, Amazon was already a dominant player in electronics, with 45 percent of the domestic ecommerce electronics market in 2019. But its position has strengthened as ecommerce electronics sales have grown at the expense of in-store sales, during the pandemic, increasing 58 percent in April, according to Adobe Analytics, as all in-store sales dwindled.
Exploiting Sellers as the Pandemic Raged
The pandemic has strengthened Amazon’s grip over sellers, who have not turned to its competitors despite the company effectively cutting them off from online retail entirely during the height of the pandemic.
Amazon’s unilateral decision-making process around essential items was neither predictable nor transparent, kept sellers from accessing and earning income on their own inventory and left them with thousands of “pending” orders placed by impatient customers. Yet in spite of the enormous hindrances Amazon placed on the operations of sellers in the United States, sellers did not shift to competing platforms.
The complaint cites one possible explanation: in response to pandemic-related demand, Amazon increased its “suggested” product inventory levels for third-party sellers. If they did not maintain their “suggested” inventory levels, their products were demoted in search results and lost the “best seller” label that leads to improved sales. As a result, sellers sent all available inventory to Amazon, to the detriment of grocery and other retailers who do not disfavor sellers’ products based on their inventory levels, a ProPublica investigation cited in the complaint revealed.
“Amazon’s actions represent an extraordinary flexing of market muscle and true peril to a free market,” the complaint reads. “A company that will amass all available supplies of certain goods begins to look alarmingly like a monopsonist exercising market power. “Action such as this during a national pandemic would exploit desperate companies and people for considerable gain.”
Gaining Even More Power Over Warehouse Workers
Amazon already held a dominant share of many local warehousing and storage labor markets before it announced the hiring of 175,000 new warehouse workers, including 125,000 permanent ones, during the pandemic. As a result of its rapid expansion at a time the overall national labor market was contracting, the company gained even more power over vulnerable workers.
The company took full advantage of this power imbalance. According to a nationwide survey of 4,348 Amazon workers that Change to Win conducted between April 29 and May 9, more than a third of all Amazon workers surveyed—including those employed by Whole Foods grocery stores, and those employed by contractors staffing Amazon warehouses—specifically reported receiving no training about hazards associated with COVID-19; among warehouse workers surveyed, this proportion reached 41 percent. This was the case despite the fact that, according to the survey respondents, six in ten Amazon workers were aware of confirmed COVID-19 cases at their workplaces.
“Regulators should be concerned that Amazon’s growth as an employer has outpaced that of the warehouse sector as a whole,” the complaint reads. “Amazon’s clear awareness of its near-absolute power over warehouse workers’ wages and working conditions, exemplified by Amazon’s persistent disregard for the health and safety of these same ‘essential’ workers, indicates the consequences that such growth can have.”
Pouncing on the Weak
In the midst of all of COVID-driven market conditions, Amazon took advantage of several opportunities to acquire companies or otherwise expand its business, in ways that should be expected to further increase its power across a range of markets or market segments.
The company announced that it was acquiring self-driving vehicle start-up Zoox in late June 2020, after the six-year-old company had laid off 120 contractors and 100 employees in April, citing pressures of the pandemic. Three months after shutdowns prevented Zoox from test-driving its cars, Amazon reportedly paid $1.2 billion for the company, far less than its 2018 valuation of $3.2 billion. The acquisition quickly expands Amazon’s capacity in driverless technology, a key area of growth for the company, and one that will serve its existing goals of minimizing delivery costs, time, and reliance on humans, rather than bringing the company into an entirely new industry in which it would have to compete for customers, according to the complaint.
Amazon has reportedly shown interest in other pandemic-distressed firms in adjacent or complementary markets as well, including AMC Theaters and J.C. Penney. And it took advantage of increased pandemic-related cash flow to expand its core business, leasing 12 new Boeing 767s. While many airlines are downsizing due to COVID-19, Amazon’s, “push for faster and cheaper at-home delivery is moving ahead on an ambitious timetable,” reads an academic study cited in the complaint. “Amazon Air’s robust expansion makes it one of the biggest stories in the air cargo industry in years.”
The complaint argues that the pandemic has exposed how Amazon will assert its power when its dominance is largely unrivaled—by either brick and mortar retail or by ecommerce providers with less well-developed fulfillment operations. With the COVID-19 crisis showing no signs of abating, the time to act is now, the unions argue.
“In the absence of immediate and decisive action to curb Amazon’s most abusive practices and its market power, a dominant Amazon—that edges out or undercuts competitors across a wide swath of industries, from consumer merchandise to movie content to delivery technology, and squeezes dry all the various players up and down its vertical supply chain—could be here to stay,” the complaint concludes.
The UFCW is the largest private sector union in the United States, representing 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.
July 23, 2020
TORONTO – Job cuts at Global News operations in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia highlight the need for immediate government action to ensure a future for Canadian journalism.
“COVID-19 caused a massive reduction in recent advertising but the truth is that newsrooms across the country have faced the steady elimination of jobs for years as ad revenue has been permitted to drain out of the country to corporations like Google and Facebook,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. “It’s death by a thousand cuts and without intervention Canadian media is in danger of collapse.”
Today the Corus owned company announced restructuring to eliminate jobs, including union positions, at Global stations in Toronto, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver.
“We are saddened and disappointed that Corus elected to take this action in the midst of a pandemic! The elimination of jobs of both Unifor and non-union editorial staff and workers will diminish Corus’s ability to provide the information Canadians critically need right now,” said Unifor Media One President Simon Boniface. “We call upon the Canadian government to correct the financial inequities that allow the internet giants to siphon much-needed funds out of the Canadian television business and damage the foundation of our democracy.”
As Canada’s largest media union, Unifor has repeatedly asked the federal government to close the loophole in section 19 of the Income Tax Act to end corporate write-offs for buying digital advertising on foreign internet platforms.
“Legislating the so-called “Google Tax” on large foreign digital corporations would help to even the playing field for Canadian media outlets,” Dias said. “It makes no sense to continue to allow international internet companies a free ride while our ability to provide Canadian news and maintain jobs is threatened.”
The union is also demanding that the federal government finance tax credits for TV news by legislating a national news fund with Google and Facebook as its major contributors.
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 a Skype or Zoom interview with Jerry Dias please contact Unifor Communications Representative Kathleen O’Keefe at email@example.com or 416-896-3303 (cell).
July 23, 2020
VANCOUVER—Unifor is urging the British Columbia court overseeing creditor protection hearings for Northern Pulp to ensure the ridiculous squabble between Paper Excellence and the Nova Scotia government doesn’t destroy the forest industry in Nova Scotia. A financing agreement that is good for workers, protects the environment, and supports the continuation of the forestry sector in Nova Scotia must be achieved.
“Following the announcement from the Nova Scotia government to oppose third-party financing to Northern Pulp, it’s clear that more work must be done to reach a mutually-beneficial agreement,” said Linda MacNeil, Atlantic Regional Director. “Tomorrow’s hearing in front of the BC Supreme Court is a defining moment for the future of the forestry sector in this province. We are hopeful the judge will force Northern Pulp and the government to negotiate financing terms that will ensure our members are paid their severance and leave the door open for a future restart of the mill.”
Unifor Local 440 members at the mill are still owed more than $7 million in severance. If the company cannot secure Debtor-In-Possession (DIP) financing, it warned Unifor members it will run out of money by early August and be unable to meet its obligations to workers, forestry contractors, landowners and other service providers.
“If a financing agreement cannot be reached through the BC courts, Nova Scotians are on the hook to pay for cleaning up the mill site and will feel the continued impact of losing a key economic driver in the region,” said Scott Doherty, Executive Assistant to the National President. “The best outcome for everyone involved would be for Paper Excellence to get financing for Northern Pulp’s outstanding debts, and for a future restart of the mill with an environmentally-sound treatment facility in place.”
Unifor has long supported and advocated for a solution at Northern Pulp that supports good jobs, protects the environment, and respects First Nations.
Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing more than 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy, including 24,000 in the forestry sector. 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 contact National Communications Representative Shelley Amyotte at 902-717-7491 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Caledon, Ont. – July 22, 2020 – Despite the difficulties posed by COVID-19, UFCW Local 1006A members working at the Ryder Truck Rental warehouse in Caledon, Ontario have ratified their first union contract.
July 22, 2020
TORONTO – Tomorrow at 10:00 a.m., SEIU Healthcare, CUPE Ontario, and Unifor, unions that represent healthcare workers across the long-term care sector, will unveil the next stage of their joint advocacy, calling for profound change to improve the conditions of work and care through an end to for-profit care.
Media are invited to RSVP to ask questions of the union leaders. A powerful new advertisement will be premiered during the media conference. The complete, high-resolution broadcast and the ad will be available for download following the event.
Sharleen Stewart Candace Rennick Jerry Dias
President Secretary-Treasurer National President
SEIU Healthcare CUPE Ontario Unifor
SEIU Healthcare, CUPE, and Unifor, unions that represent healthcare workers across the long-term care sector, will hold a press conference to unveil the next stage of their joint advocacy to improve the conditions of work and care, and where priorities and investments must be focused going forward.
Virtual press conference event will be streamed live on the Unifor, SEIU Healthcare, CUPE Ontario, and Ontario Coalition of Hospital Unions (OCHU/CUPE) Facebook pages:
Thursday, July 23, 2020
10:00 A.M. ET
Media are invited to RSVP to participate and send questions in advance or during the broadcast to the labour leaders by emailing email@example.com.
Macdonald Youth Services (Alternative Parent Home Program) - Local 369, recently went to arbitration to settle the outstanding terms of their collective agreement. This morning the arbitrator issued their decision and imposed wage increases over the two-year collective agreement.
Windsor, Ont. – July 21, 2020 – UFCW Canada recently presented to the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit to advocate for better health and safety protections for migrant workers labouring in the Windsor, Ontario area as it grapples with multiple COVID-19 outbreaks at local farming operations.
“Canada must honour its commitments to human rights for all and take immediate steps to intervene in this situation.” — Larry Brown, NUPGE President