Latest Labour News

Unifor considers escalating complaint against Regina Police

Unifor -

May 20, 2020

REGINA—After revelations that the Regina Police Service kept secret a bomb threat against picketing members, Unifor will examine its options for expanding an existing complaint against the RPS.

“Regina police have been at the beckon call of the company from the beginning of the lockout,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Now there is clear evidence that their loyalty to the refinery has veered into a recklessness that could have cost lives.”

Documents obtained over the weekend by Unifor Local 594 through a freedom of information request showed that a letter outlining a bomb threat against the picket lines at the Co-op Refinery was dismissed by police and no warning was ever issued to union members. On May 19, 2020 Premier Scott Moe called the threats “very alarming.”

Dias added that the union will appeal the redaction of passages in other documents obtained under the FOI request.

“Regina Police Chief Evan Bray has made a mockery of the concept of ‘serve and protect’,” said Dias. “His masters at the Co-op Refinery will be pleased with his performance, but families in Regina should be very concerned about his fitness to lead.”

Dias said Premier Scott Moe’s handling of the file is equally disappointing: “The Chief of Police knew of the threats to me, picketers, and my family. The mayor knew. The Justice Minister knew. Are we supposed to believe that, during the largest labour dispute in modern Saskatchewan history, the cabinet was not informed of a bomb threat at a refinery? If Scott Moe knew, why didn’t he take action to protect refinery workers and their families?”

Unifor is also investigating the possibilities for a civil suit against RPS related to restricting union members’ rights to lawful picketing.

To arrange for interviews, in-person or via Skype/Facetime, please contact Unifor Communications Representative Ian Boyko at ian.boyko@unifor.org or 778-903-6549 (cell).

New Trump Guestworker Policy Exploits Coronavirus Outbreak, Threatens Safety of Workers & American Jobs

UFCW Press Releases -

America’s Largest Meatpacking Union, with 250,000 Workers Across the Industry, Condemns New H-2B Visa Policy That Will Endanger Workers, American Jobs & U.S. Food Supply

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, America’s largest food and retail union with 1.3 million members, condemned a new U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) policy removing limitations on the H-2B program for workers who are deemed essential to the food supply chain during the coronavirus outbreak. The new policy will make it easier for companies to eliminate American jobs and replace current employees with guest workers.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“America’s brave meatpacking workers are not replaceable. They are putting their lives on the line every day, with dozens dying and over 10,000 infected, to make sure millions of Americans have the food they need during this deadly outbreak.

“When the Trump Administration forced meatpacking plants to reopen, but failed to enforce the strong safety standards needed, it put more American workers at risk. This new policy is a betrayal of America’s meatpacking workers, giving companies a free pass to ignore safety and push anyone who gets sick out of a job by replacing them with untrained guest workers.

“America’s food supply depends on our country’s meatpacking workers who have the skills and training needed to keep our food supply chain strong during this pandemic. An American president should be protecting American jobs and the food workers who are keeping our country running, not replacing them or exploiting this crisis to further enrich meatpacking companies.

“At a time when our economy is spiraling and our food supply is already under pressure, this decision is a direct threat to workers and represents a clear and present danger to public health and safety. Our country’s leaders – both Republicans and Democrats – must reject this move and stand up for the American workers helping to feed our families during this crisis.”

Background:

This past week, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced a Temporary Final Rule that will remove limitations on the H-2B program for workers who are deemed “essential to the U.S. food supply chain” and make it easier for employers to obtain guest workers for food manufacturing and processing.

This follows an effort in March 2020 by the National Pork Producers Council to pressure members of Congress and other U.S. Government officials to allow pork producers to hire more guest workers who would displace the hardworking Americans keeping these plants running.

UFCW has been the leading national voice calling for action to increase safety in meatpacking plants to protect workers and keep the U.S. food supply chain secure. In a recent letter to Vice President Pence, UFCW urgently called for the White House Coronavirus Task Force to prioritize five safety actions targeted toward the meatpacking industry, including: (1) increased worker testing, (2) priority access to PPE, (3) halting line speed waivers, (4) mandating social distancing, and (5) isolating workers with symptoms or testing positive for COVID-19.

 

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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.

Secondary picket line goes up at Foam Lake cardlock

Unifor -

May 19, 2020

FOAM LAKE—Federated Co-operatives Limited’s refusal to accept the recommendations of Premier Scott Moe’s mediators has again affected the fuel supply for farmers, says Unifor.

“It will not be business as usual for the refinery while they’ve locked out highly skilled workers,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “This lockout must end with the mediators’ terms.”

Members of Unifor Local 594 have erected a secondary picket line at the Co-op Foam Lake Cardlock in Central Saskatchewan. They are asking farmers to contact their MLA with demands to legislate an end to the lockout.

Local 594 members ratified the mediators’ deal by 98%. Co-op management later rejected it and tabled new concessions. Since then, oil & gas workers have been calling on Premier Scott Moe to legislate the parties back to work with the terms recommended by the two mediators.

“Scott Moe was right to appoint mediators, but now he has to finish the job,” said Kevin Bittman, Unifor Local 594 president.

A vehicle rally was also held this morning at the Co-op Refinery.

Over the weekend the local union made public details of a bomb threat made against the oil & gas workers in February. The threat was known to the Regina Police Service, but the picketers were not made aware of it nor is the RPS making public any details about whether or not it was investigated.

“Regina Police have sided with the company since day one, but it is especially disturbing that they have not fulfilled their role to protect workers against a terrorist threat,” said Dias.

To arrange for interviews, in-person or via Skype/Facetime, please contact Unifor Communications Representative Ian Boyko at ian.boyko@unifor.org or 778-903-6549 (cell).

Support for research welcome but further expansion of the wage subsidy program needed

CAUT -

(Ottawa — May 19, 2020) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) welcomes the recent announcement from the federal government of $450 million in further support to the research community, but remains concerned that public universities and colleges remain ineligible for the federal wage subsidy.

“The funds are good news for health researchers and institutions affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,” says CAUT Executive Director David Robinson. “The health research sector was faced with massive layoffs, and we are pleased to see that the federal government has worked to fix what was a very significant gap in their wage subsidy program.”

The new announcement included extending wage support to university and health research institutes that are funded through industry and philanthropic donations of up to 75 per cent per individual to a maximum of $847 a week. These institutes are also eligible for up to 75 per cent of costs to maintain and restart essential research-related activities such as safe storage of dangerous substances and restarting data sets.

The federal government also announced an expansion of the wage subsidy program to include non-public educational and training institutions. The wage subsidy program still does not apply to public universities and colleges. 

“It is troubling that private educational institutions are eligible for the wage subsidy, but public ones are not,” said Robinson. “Our public institutions across the country are also facing significant challenges. The federal government needs to do more to help the hundreds of thousands of workers that universities and colleges employ and the students they support”.

Industry Snapshot: Canadian meat processing during COVID-19

UFCW Canada -

Guelph, Ont. – May 16, 2020 – New analyses from food manufacturing and retail expert Kevin Grier reveal that prices, production, and profit margins in Canada’s meat processing industry have changed substantially due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with pork prices collapsing, chicken demand increasing, and beef production taking a major hit in April.

Top Supermarket Chains Condemned for Ending COVID-19 Emergency Pay Even As Grocery Worker Deaths Increase

UFCW Press Releases -

In Letter to 49 Supermarket CEOs, America’s Largest Food & Retail Union Urges Walmart, Costco, Whole Foods, and others to Immediately Extend COVID-19 so-called Hazard Pay For Frontline Grocery Workers  

Group Also Releases New Estimate: At Least 65 Grocery Workers Have Died, and 9,810 Have Been Infected or Exposed in COVID-19 Pandemic 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, America’s largest food and retail union with 1.3 million members, sent a letter to 49 CEOs of top U.S. supermarket chains including Walmart, Costco, Whole Foods and many others condemning them for a failure to extend emergency pay and protections for grocery workers who are working on the frontlines of the coronavirus outbreak.  

In the letter, UFCW International President Marc Perrone urged them to reverse the decision to end so-called hazard pay for their employees, and to publicly recognize that the health risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic continue to cost lives all across the country. In fact, new internal UFCW estimates show that at least 65 grocery workers have died, and at least 9,810 have been infected or exposed to the deadly virus.  

In the letter, UFCW called for these CEOs, most of whom continue to work from home even as their workers face dangerous conditions, to do what is right and immediately extend hazard pay until the risk of the virus has abated.  

Today’s letter was sent directly to the CEOs of top supermarket chains across the country, including John Furner (Walmart Supercenters), Dan Bane (Trader Joe’s), John Mackey (Whole Foods), Craig Jelinek (Costco), Kathryn McLay (Sam’s Club), Todd Jones (Publix), and many others. Excerpts of the letter are included below: 

“Millions of American grocery workers have been rightfully called essential by our nation’s elected leaders. Given the daily risks faced, these workers deserve critical protections, benefits, and a higher wage for as long as this public health crisis endures. That your companies are even considering cutting the pay of these frontline workers, while you experience record sales, is shocking in its indifference. 

“Workers are still dying, including many of your own frontline employees. Every one of your grocery workers are still being asked to risk exposure to this virus and work in dangerous conditions that require them to wear protective equipment on the job. You are suggesting that frontline workers should work for less because the threat has diminished even as you and your entire executive teams continue to work from home.  

“If you truly believe that the threat of COVID-19 has passed for your workers, then you should be willing to admit this publicly. Until that day comes, you have a responsibility to provide your workers with essential protections and benefits, including so-called hero/appreciation/hazard pay, until this terrible threat has passed.  

“For the sake of these workers, our families, and our nation’s food supply, we ask you to remember your responsibility to ensure that these workers are receiving the premium pay that they have rightfully earned by facing the very risks that so many Americans—including all of you—have been lucky enough to avoid.”

Background: 

As of today, the UFCW estimates that at least 65 grocery workers have died and 9,810 workers have become sick or exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Please click here to read the full text of the UFCW letter, which was sent to the the CEOs of the following supermarket companies: 

  1. Walmart Supercenters – Bentonville, AR
  2. Costco Wholesale Corp. – Issaquah, WA
  3. Publix Super Markets Inc. – Lakeland, FL
  4. Sam’s Club – Bentonville, AR
  5. H-E-B – San Antonio, TX
  6. Whole Foods Market Inc. – Austin, TX
  7. Aldi Inc. – Batavia, IL
  8. Southeastern Grocers – Jacksonville, FL
  9. Wegmans Food Markets Inc. – Rochester, NY
  10. BJ’s Wholesale Club Inc. – Westborough, MA
  11. Hy-Vee Inc. – West Des Moines, IA
  12. WinCo Foods LLC – Boise, ID
  13. Save-A-Lot – Earth City, MO
  14. Winn-Dixie Stores Inc. – Jacksonville, FL
  15. Sprouts Farmers Markets – Phoenix, AZ
  16. DeMoulas Supermarkets Inc. – Tewksbury, MA
  17. Smart & Final Stores LLC – Commerce, CA
  18. Ingles Markets Inc. – Black Mountain, NC
  19. Golub Corporation – Schenectady, NY
  20. IGA Inc. – Chicago, IL
  21. Lidl US LLC – Arlington, VA
  22. K-VA-T Food Stores Inc. – Abingdon, VA
  23. Brookshire Grocery Co. – Tyler, TX
  24. Grocery Outlet Inc. – Emeryville, CA
  25. Big Y Foods Inc. – Springfield, MA
  26. Gordon Food Service Store – Wyoming, MI
  27. The Fresh Market Inc. – Greensboro, NC
  28. Bashas’ Inc. – Chandler, AZ
  29. Cardenas Markets LLC – Ontario, CA
  30. Fareway Stores Inc. – Boone, IA
  31. Woodman’s Food Markets Inc. – Janesville, WI
  32. Rouses Enterprises LLC – Thibodaux, LA
  33. Marc Glassman Inc. – Cleveland, OH
  34. Lowes Pay and Save Inc. – Littlefield, TX
  35. Redner’s Markets Inc. – Reading, PA
  36. Brookshire Brothers Ltd. – Lufkin, TX
  37. Four B Corp. – Kansas City, KS
  38. Associated Food Stores – Salt Lake City, UT
  39. Niemann Foods Inc. – Quincy, IL
  40. Cosentino’s Food Stores – Prairie Village, KS
  41. All American Quality Food Inc. – Stockbridge, GA
  42. Food Giant Supermarkets Inc. – Sikeston, MO
  43. Harmon City Inc. – West Valley City, UT
  44. Sedano’s Supermarkets Inc. – Hialeah, FL
  45. Stew Leonard’s – Norwalk, CT
  46. Fresh Encounter Inc. – Findlay, OH
  47. B & R Stores Inc. – Lincoln, NE
  48. ABC Stores Hawaii – Honolulu, HI
  49. Aurora Grocery Group – Charlotte, NC 

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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.

Pledge your support for frontline workers

UFCW Canada -

Toronto – May 15, 2020 – We’re UFCW union members and your neighbours on the frontline, working day and night across the country to make sure you have the food, healthcare, security and vital services you need to stay safe during the COVID-19 crisis.

CAUT develops guidelines for re-opening campuses

CAUT -

(Ottawa — May 15, 2020) As the federal and provincial governments consider easing the emergency restrictions put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19, colleges and universities across the country are developing plans for their operations in the fall. The options being considered raise logistical questions about how far campuses can re-open and how courses will be delivered; health and safety considerations about how best to protect all members of the campus community; and academic concerns about how to ensure our institutions can continue to fulfil their core mission of teaching and research under the circumstances. It is crucial that academic staff associations and academic governance bodies be actively involved in all discussions about planning for the 2020-21 academic year.

To assist in these discussions, CAUT is providing the following guidelines for member associations. As with all of CAUT’s advice and resources related to COVID-19, these guidelines will be updated as necessary as more information becomes available.

CAUT Guidelines for Re-opening Canada’s Universities and Colleges
  • The recommendations and guidance of public health authorities should inform all decisions about when and how to re-open campuses safely. The health and safety of students and staff should be the primary consideration.
  • The workplace Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) and academic staff associations must be involved in decision-making around re-opening. The JHSC is responsible for identifying workplace hazards and making recommendations for prevention and mitigation. The administration, academic staff association, other campus unions, and the JHSC must work closely on a comprehensive workplace safety plan until the risks from exposure to COVID-19 are contained, and the workplace and community can resume normal activities.
  • The JHSC and the academic staff association should consider a range of possible ways to reduce the risk posed by COVID-19, including:
    • Establishing recommended physical distancing protocols in classrooms, residences, libraries, and other spaces on campus;
    • Enhancing sanitation protocols and enacting measures to properly train and protect staff who conduct the cleaning;
    • Identifying appropriate and effective Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to be used by students and staff;
    • Establishing criteria and protocols in the event a student or staff member is diagnosed as or suspected of being COVID-19 positive; and
    • Ensuring appropriate resources are in place to support the well-being and mental health of students and staff.
  • Institutions should provide reasonable accommodation for staff who are at high risk or have family responsibilities that require them to remain off-campus. As much as possible, institutions should permit these staff to continue teleworking.
  • Consistent with principles of collegial governance, the appropriate academic governance body should be responsible for all decisions about class cancellations, modifications, or the temporary continuation of remote teaching or blended instruction. As the CAUT Policy Statement on Distance (including Online) Education notes: “Academic staff, through collegial processes, should determine the method of course delivery and workload allocation.”
  • Institutions should negotiate any changes to instructional methods and mode of delivery with the academic staff association. The principle of academic freedom as well as specific collective agreement language provide academic staff with the right to select course materials, determine the pedagogical approach, and choose methods and modes of instruction and assessment within their assigned courses, subject to institutional policies as developed by relevant academic governance bodies.
  • In the event that in-class instruction is not possible, institutions and academic staff associations should ensure that academic freedom is not compromised in a remote teaching environment. Explicit protections should be in place to prevent data sharing, surveillance, and recording of on-line classes. Additionally, academic staff who create distance courses should retain their intellectual property rights relating to the content of those courses.
  • Academic staff, and in particular contract academic staff, should be properly compensated for additional preparation or instructional time that may be required as a result of a continuation of temporary remote teaching. In all cases, academic staff should be provided with sufficient time and resources to further develop skills in remote teaching.
  • All plans for the fall academic year should fully consider equity implications. Lower-income students and those in rural and remote regions may have inadequate or no access to computers or Internet connections to participate in on-line learning. Students and academic staff with disabilities may require specific accommodations. Institutions should provide support structures and programs for all students and staff who are experiencing increased hardship.

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