Latest Labour News

Hockey stars Coyne, Spooner and Poulin thank Unifor for supporting women’s sports

Unifor -

Three hockey superstars thanked Unifor and its members for their support of the newly-formed Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA), a players’ union fighting for pay equity for women’s hockey.

Kendall Coyne and Marie-Philip Poulin spoke in person at Convention and CWHL great and Team Canada Olympian Natalie Spooner joined the 3rd Unifor Constitutional Convention on Thursday morning by pre-recorded video. The three hockey players said Unifor’s support has been invaluable in allowing players to continue to train after the Canadian Women’s Hockey League disbanded suddenly earlier this year.

“After the league disbanded, the leadership at Unifor stepped in and immediately made an impact assisting us in securing ice facilities across the country,” said Spooner in the video. “I want to say to all the delegates and you, Jerry, thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your support and solidarity. Women's hockey is in a better place because of Unifor.”

When the women’s league disbanded, players took action, with many opting to sit out the upcoming season to protest the shocking state of professional women’s hockey. The players launched the #forthegame movement and formed the PWHPA with the goal of creating a viable professional North American women’s league.

Part of ensuring equal pay for women hockey players is raising the profile of women players. Coyne made huge waves when she became the first woman to compete in the NHL Skills Competition, finishing with the second-best time in the Fastest Skater match.

“It was after that moment that I realized the power that we have,” Coyne said to delegates. “When I was getting messages from thousands of young girls, and young boys telling me they wanted to skate as fast as me, I knew that moment had an impact on the sport.”

Members spoke at the microphones to share personal stories of their daughters and other young girls who are fighting for recognition, ice time and funding in sport. Jerry Dias presented Coyne and Poulin with Unifor hockey jerseys and, sporting one himself, cheered them on and promised Unifor would stand alongside them in their campaign for equity.

“Now, when you ask kids their favourite players, it isn’t always Sidney Crosby, but now it can be Kendall Coyne and other women players,” said Poulin.

The PWHPA members look forward to the creation of a WNHL one day, where women’s hockey can be equally valued, supported and watched.

 

 

Unifor fundraises $150,000 for Quebec City women’s shelters

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Delegates to Unifor’s 3rd Constitutional Convention being held in Quebec City collectively raised $150,000 for La maison des femmes de Québec and other smaller shelters across the city.

“No woman should ever have to experience violence, let alone in her own home,” said National President, Jerry Dias. “Unifor is proud to make this contribution to the work of La maison. It is the least we can do.”

During the convention’s proceedings, Dias asked male delegates to stand and take an oath to play an active role in stopping violence against women. The convention also featured a keynote address by Tarana Burke, the founder of the #MeToo movement.

After raising more than $90,000 from local union donations and ticket sales to a Wednesday fundraiser, Dias pledged to top up the amount to $150,000 from the union’s Canadian Community Fund. The first $100,000 will go to La maison des femmes de Québec, and an additional $50,000 will be divided among a number of smaller shelters in the Quebec City area.

“I was very heartened by the collective effort to support this important cause. Unifor is clearly a union that wants to make a real impact in communities,” said Dias.

The mandate of the Quebec City Women’s Shelter (La maison des femmes de Québec) is to create and maintain a safe and stimulating environment where women who are victims of violence can seek refuge with their children and regain control of their lives. The organization also promotes and defends the interests and rights of women and fights against the oppression they face, particularly the violence experienced in their intimate relationships and in society in general.

Quebec Director’s report emphasizes commitment and activism

Unifor -

The devoted commitment of our members and local unions is, without a doubt, a central theme of the report presented by Quebec Director Renaud Gagné today at the convention. Starting with the federal election that’s just around the corner, Brother Gagné stressed the importance of making sure we elect a government that listens to our demands. “The coming months will be crucial for the future of our organization, our jobs, our members, our families, our children and grandchildren,” he said.

On a more sombre note, Brother Gagné also spoke about the suicides of co-workers in recent months, including that of François Beaudoin, a National Representative in the Organizing Department. But this tragic story also brought to light a wonderful community-based project involving local unions in Abitibi that pooled their efforts to raise $16,000 and create an application to help teens struggling with suicidal thoughts. In addition, thanks to a donation from Unifor, $10,000 was granted to develop a similar application for adults.

Mobilization is another factor that makes a huge difference in the daily battles we wage, including labour disputes such as the conflicts at Vopak in Montreal, Old Castle and Delastek. Mobilization also made a real difference in struggles such as that involving the GM plant in Oshawa and in protecting forestry and aluminum workers against unfair duties imposed by the Americans. Mobilization allows us to make major gains when negotiating and renewing our collective agreements. To cite just one example, we succeeded in negotiating 10 days of leave in cases of domestic violence for the Intercontinental Hotel unit of Local 62, not to mention several clauses providing for the position of women’s advocate in our workplaces.

Another current issue that has us very concerned is the announcement by Groupe Capitales Médias, which owns six newspapers in Quebec, that it is launching a major restructuring of its business. Unifor represents nearly 100 GCM employees working at La Tribune in Sherbrooke and Le Quotidien in Saguenay. Although the news came as no surprise – just last week, we submitted a request for emergency financial assistance to the Quebec government – it is imperative that we find a long-term solution in order to protect our media industry.

And, last but not least, Brother Gagné brought us up to date on Unifor’s lengthy battle in the fisheries sector in Gaspésie. He took the opportunity to break the news that an agreement had been reached with Crustacés de Gaspé after intensive negotiations last week. This plant, you will recall, was shut down for the 2019 season in the midst of the bargaining process to establish the first collective agreement. There is no question that it’s thanks to the mobilization put in place by Unifor in the Grande-Rivière region that we were able to achieve this outcome. Since June, hundreds of members from all regions took turns crisscrossing the region to raise awareness about the issue among the local population. A petition demanding the reopening of the plant and a review of fisheries industry regulations to ensure a more equitable distribution of fishing revenues gathered over 7,000 signatures in just a few weeks! “This is yet another huge victory for Unifor, just as we’re celebrating the 100th anniversary of the fishermen’s revolt in Gaspésie,” the Quebec Director concluded.

Our 2019 federal election toolkit is out!

CAUT -

Canadians will head to the polls on October 21 and CAUT prepared tools for its member associations to be able to make a difference. CAUT’s For Our Future campaign is an issue-based and non-partisan campaign with two goals:

1. To raise awareness about the positive role the federal government could play in strengthening

the post-secondary education (PSE) system; and

2. To get out the student vote for education.

Once the Fall academic semester starts, we will have just under two months to make post-secondary education an election priority. It is essential that we hit the ground running in September.

In the kit, you will find:

  •   Key messages about the campaign;
  •   Steps to help develop your campaign;
  •   Action ideas, tips and resources for engaging members and students in the federal election, and reaching out to candidates; and

Access the kit here.

Home care workers to meet in Ottawa

NUPGE -

"We have hundreds of members employed in this sector, and most are struggling to serve their clients properly without adequate resources and training while earning bottom-of-the-barrel wages. For work this important, there need to be massive improvements. We want to talk about how we can effect this kind of change for everyone involved." — Larry Brown, NUPGE President

Le Service du recrutement lance son plan stratégique

Unifor -

Alors que le monde du travail change et que l'économie évolue, le Service du recrutement d'Unifor lance un nouveau plan stratégique de recrutement pour intégrer de nouveaux groupes de travailleuses et travailleurs dans le mouvement syndical.

« On ne peut pas rester coincés dans les mêmes méthodes. On ne peut pas continuer à regarder en arrière. Nous devons être prêts à nous adapter aux nouvelles opportunités, à l'évolution des lieux de travail et des paysages politiques », a déclaré Kellie Scanlan, directrice du Service du recrutement d’Unifor, au congrès cet après-midi.

Le nouveau plan repose sur quatre piliers : instaurer une culture de recrutement, développer les ressources, attirer de nouveaux travailleurs et travailleuses au sein du syndicat en leur montrant ce qu'Unifor a accompli dans des milieux de travail similaires et en identifiant des objectifs stratégiques de syndicalisation.

« Nous avons tous un rôle à jouer, qu'il s'agisse des déléguées et délégués syndicaux, des militantes et militants locaux, des conseils sectoriels ou des dirigeantes et dirigeants élus », a déclaré Kellie Scanlan.

Depuis sa fondation, Unifor a consacré d'importantes ressources au recrutement et à la constitution d'une équipe solide et diversifiée de représentantes et représentants, et de militantes et militants, qui aident les non-syndiqués à se joindre à Unifor.

« L'élément vital d'un syndicat est la syndicalisation, et nous avons créé Unifor pour en faire un syndicat axé sur le recrutement », a déclaré Chris MacDonald, adjoint au président.

Les travailleuses et travailleurs dans les lieux de travail autres que ceux représentés par Unifor ont remarqué que les membres d'Unifor dans des milieux similaires ont de meilleures conditions de travail et de meilleurs salaires, et qu'ils veulent réaliser des gains semblables. C'est ce qui s'est produit récemment chez Scieries Chaleur, au Nouveau-Brunswick.

« Les travailleuses et travailleurs chez Scieries Chaleur connaissaient de première main les avantages d'avoir une convention collective, simplement en discutant en personne avec les membres d'Unifor dans une usine voisine », a déclaré Kellie Scanlan.

« Ces membres d'Unifor ont alimenté cette campagne de recrutement. Ils incarnent le genre de culture de recrutement que nous devons encourager partout. »

En même temps, Unifor n'attend pas simplement que les travailleuses et travailleurs se présentent pour demander à adhérer au syndicat. Le Service du recrutement d'Unifor identifie des cibles stratégiques pour de nouvelles campagnes, comme chez WestJet, où Unifor aide les travailleuses et travailleurs de première ligne des aéroports à adhérer au syndicat.

« Nous avons vu à quel point l’élan de syndicalisation prenait de l’ampleur chez WestJet. Nous n'avons pas attendu d'avoir des appels téléphoniques ou des recommandations sur le terrain », a déclaré Kellie Scanlan.

« Nous sommes un syndicat pour des milliers et des milliers d'employés de compagnies aériennes. Nous nous sommes donc positionnés stratégiquement dans les aéroports, d'un bout à l'autre du pays. Et nous avons commencé à parler aux travailleuses et travailleurs. »

Un plan stratégique de recrutement est nécessaire pour contrer les attaques coordonnées des employeurs contre le mouvement syndical, a déclaré Kellie Scanlan.

« Les travailleuses et travailleurs ont besoin de nous, ils comptent sur nous, et nous sommes prêts à relever le défi. »

 

 

 

Organizing Department releases strategic plan

Unifor -

As the world of work changes and the economy evolves, Unifor’s Organizing Department is launching a new organizing strategic plan to bring new groups of workers into the labour movement.

“We can’t get stuck in grooves. We can’t get stuck looking backward. We have to be ready to adapt to new opportunities, changing workplaces, changing political landscapes,” Unifor Organizing Director Kellie Scanlan told the Unifor convention this afternoon.

The new plan is based on four pillars: building a culture of organizing, developing resources, attracting new workers to the union by showing them what Unifor has achieved in similar workplaces and identifying strategic organizing targets.

“All of us play a role, from shop stewards and local activists to industry councils and the elected leadership,” Scanlan said.

Since its founding, Unifor has dedicated great resources to organizing, building a strong and diverse team of staff and activists who help non-union join Unifor.

“The lifeblood of a union is organizing, and we created Unifor to be an organizing union,” said Assistant to the President Chris MacDonald.

Workers in non-Unifor workplaces have been noticing that Unifor members in similar workplaces have better working conditions and wages – and want to achieve similar gains. This happened recently at the Chaleur sawmill in New Brunswick.

“Chaleur workers knew first-hand the benefits of having a collective agreement, simply by having face-to-face conversations with Unifor members at a nearby mill,” Scanlan said.

“Those Unifor members fuelled this organizing drive. They embodied the exact sort of organizing culture we have to foster everywhere.”

At the same time, Unifor is not simply waiting for workers to come to it asking to join the union. Unifor’s Organizing department identifying strategic targets for new drives - such as at WestJet, where Unifor is helping frontline airport workers join the union.

“We saw how quickly momentum was building at WestJet to unionize. We didn’t wait for phone calls, or hot shop tips,” Scanlan said.

“We are a union for thousands and thousands of airline employees. So we positioned ourselves strategically in airports, right across the country. And we started talking to workers.”

A strategic plan for organizing is needed to counter the coordinated attacks on the labour movement by employers, Scanlan said.

“Workers need us and they are depending on us, and we are ready for the challenge.”

 

 

 

Labour can and must do more about sexual assault says Me Too founder

Unifor -

The founder of the Me Too movement told Unifor Convention Delegates that organized labour has been a strong force behind advancing diversity in the workplace and the role of women.

“Diversity is being invited to the dance. Inclusion is being asked to dance,” said Tarana Burke, who founded the Me Too movement long before Hollywood scandals made the #MeToo hashtag go viral.

Burke founded the movement in 2006, inspired by a young girl at a youth camp who gathered up the courage to tell her about the horrific assaults she had suffered as a child. It was a story the girl had never shared before.

“In that moment I could not muster up the courage of this child,” Burke said.

“These nightmares, this triggering, this fear, this anxiety, this pain, this shame that she carrying in the pit of her stomach, I carried it the same way because it happened to me too,” she said.

“I carry the courage of that child in my heart every day.”

Burke said Me Too grew from that experience into a worldwide network that supports survivors in their healing while working to end sexual violence.

Such work goes well beyond a hashtag, Burke said, while crediting #MeToo with exposing the epidemic of sexual violence faced by women and girls.

Burke said sexual violence is a workplace issue, pointing out that 19 per cent of working women in Canada report being sexually harassed at work, and 40 per cent have experienced some form of sexual assault since the age of 16.

“This is not about just changing policies. This is not about giving lip service.,” said Burke, whose mother was a UAW shop steward for 22 years.

“It’s about the sanctity of our humanity.”

Burke received a standing ovation before attending a meet and greet meeting with Unifor delegates.

Analysis of France’s “yellow vest” movement

Unifor -

Julien Tourreille, a PhD in political science with the Raoul-Dandurand Chair in Strategic and Diplomatic Studies at the Université du Québec à Montréal, presented an analysis of the “yellow vest” movement in France. He focused notably on the real impact of this crisis on the different political parties and social institutions, including trade unions. Where did this movement come from? Does it reflect a fundamental shift? What legacy will it leave, if any? These are just some of the questions he touched on.  

“It seems to me that all the main ingredients of this yellow vest crisis can be found in the mixture of a feeling of being left behind, the unpopularity of political decision-makers and a deep discontent with government decisions,” explained Mr. Tourreille.

Despite the spectacular aspect of the numerous protests that have swept the country, the researcher considers that it is still a relatively modest social movement. He attributes this to several factors, starting with the violence that has marred many of the protests and alienated many people. That is why the movement has been unable to build capital and rally more people around it. Another explanation lies in the movement’s inability to produce a recognized leader.

The French context and what Mr. Tourreille calls the “doom and gloom” and typically defiant attitude of the French people have also acted as catalysts of this movement. 

Nonetheless, the yellow vest protesters have managed to wring concessions worth some 10 billion Euros from the government. In doing so, they have at the same time helped reinforce the perception that labour unions have lost much of their power, since they not won any major victories in a long time.

Thus, while the yellow vest movement may not have benefited trade unions, nor has it succeeded in reshaping the French political landscape. For example, the movement has not garnered mass support; in fact, the contrary is true, as is reflected in the outcome of the European elections. Sympathizers of the movement have mainly thrown their support behind the Rassemblement National, a right-wing party.

But does this mean that the yellow vest movement is just a flash in the pan? No, according to Mr. Tourreille, who says that the phenomenon of the “yellow vests constitutes a serious warning to both the political establishment and other organizations, including unions.”

More fundamentally, Mr. Tourreille believes that “the yellow vest movement could herald the potential slide toward populism of French democracy, similar to what happened in the United States with the Tea Party, which paved the way for the election of Donald Trump.”

Analyse du mouvement des gilets jaunes en France

Unifor -

Julien Tourreille, a PhD in political science with the Raoul-Dandurand Chair in Strategic and Diplomatic Studies at the Université du Québec à Montréal, presented an analysis of the “yellow vest” movement in France. He focused notably on the real impact of this crisis on the different political parties and social institutions, including trade unions. Where did this movement come from? Does it reflect a fundamental shift? What legacy will it leave, if any? These are just some of the questions he touched on.  

“It seems to me that all the main ingredients of this yellow vest crisis can be found in the mixture of a feeling of being left behind, the unpopularity of political decision-makers and a deep discontent with government decisions,” explained Mr. Tourreille.

Despite the spectacular aspect of the numerous protests that have swept the country, the researcher considers that it is still a relatively modest social movement. He attributes this to several factors, starting with the violence that has marred many of the protests and alienated many people. That is why the movement has been unable to build capital and rally more people around it. Another explanation lies in the movement’s inability to produce a recognized leader.

The French context and what Mr. Tourreille calls the “doom and gloom” and typically defiant attitude of the French people have also acted as catalysts of this movement. 

Nonetheless, the yellow vest protesters have managed to wring concessions worth some 10 billion Euros from the government. In doing so, they have at the same time helped reinforce the perception that labour unions have lost much of their power, since they not won any major victories in a long time.

Thus, while the yellow vest movement may not have benefited trade unions, nor has it succeeded in reshaping the French political landscape. For example, the movement has not garnered mass support; in fact, the contrary is true, as is reflected in the outcome of the European elections. Sympathizers of the movement have mainly thrown their support behind the Rassemblement National, a right-wing party.

But does this mean that the yellow vest movement is just a flash in the pan? No, according to Mr. Tourreille, who says that the phenomenon of the “yellow vests constitutes a serious warning to both the political establishment and other organizations, including unions.”

More fundamentally, Mr. Tourreille believes that “the yellow vest movement could herald the potential slide toward populism of French democracy, similar to what happened in the United States with the Tea Party, which paved the way for the election of Donald Trump.”

Unifor delegates adopt new bargaining priorities at 2019 Convention

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Delegates at the third Constitutional Convention adopted the 2019 Unifor Bargaining Program, Stronger Together. This program outlines the challenges ahead, assesses progress made toward achieving the overarching goals of the union and sets specific goals for the years ahead.

“From the earliest days of the labour movement workers have always aimed to establish common wages and working conditions - in their workplaces, industries and even across the economy,” said Unifor Research Director Bill Murnighan.

“The goals have been to raise the floor for everyone, and make sure employers cannot pit workers against one another.”

Since its founding, Unifor has provided in-depth market analysis, observed developing trends in workplaces across the country and used its considerable expertise to inform, guide and support bargaining committees large and small.

At Unifor, nearly half of our members bargain in some form of coordination within their sector, often known as master or pattern bargaining. These coordinated efforts add to the strength of individual committees and offer incredible opportunities for sharing best practices, innovative language and important advances for workers.

This year’s priorities reflect current challenges such as the steady decline of “good jobs” as companies move to out-source and replace full time workers in favour of part time workers. We are also watching  as technological change and automation continues to threaten jobs.

“No one has felt the uncertainty of these economic and trade-related headwinds more than Canadian workers,” Unifor Researcher Angelo DiCaro said.

The priorities for 2019 also build on the incredible work done since 2016.

Key achievements toward equity include having 375 active Women’s Advocates across Canada through our internationally-recognized Women’s Advocate Program; targeting incidences of unpaid internships and increasing employment opportunities for young workers.

The union has also negotiated Paid Education Leave (PEL) and encourages participation in education courses for equity-seeking groups; and continues to develop joint labour-management committees and processes to investigate and deal with workplace harassment.

More and more agreements are also adopting gender-neutral language, and important job security provisions.

Read the full 2019 Bargaining Program adopted at Unifor’s third Constitutional Convention for full details on the 2019 priorities.

 

 

 

Ford plans many more healthcare cuts

Rank and File - latest news -

By Doug Allan The Financial Accountability Office of Ontario (FAO) Economic and Budget Outlook review has identified planned government spending savings that come via (1) announced program changes (program cuts like the government’s cut to OHIP+), (2) announced efficiency targets (identified areas where the government hopes it will… Read More

Budget 2020: Academic & research staff are ready to solve Canada’s emerging problems 

CAUT -

Post-secondary education changes lives and Canada for the better. Through teaching, research and service to the community, Canada’s academic staff, scientists and researchers are key partners in addressing the climate emergency and other economic and social challenges. Canadians need a strong federal partner to work with the provinces to make sure that we have a sustainable research ecosystem, and affordable education for all. 

Read our submission here.

 

Academic & research staff are ready to solve Canada’s emerging problems 

CAUT -

Post-secondary education changes lives and Canada for the better. Through teaching, research and service to the community, Canada’s academic staff, scientists and researchers are key partners in addressing the climate emergency and other economic and social challenges. Canadians need a strong federal partner to work with the provinces to make sure that we have a sustainable research ecosystem, and affordable education for all. 

Read our submission here.

 

Academic & research staff are ready to solve Canada’s emerging problems 

CAUT -

Post-secondary education changes lives and Canada for the better. Through teaching, research and service to the community, Canada’s academic staff, scientists and researchers are key partners in addressing the climate emergency and other economic and social challenges. Canadians need a strong federal partner to work with the provinces to make sure that we have a sustainable research ecosystem, and affordable education for all. 

Read our submission here.

 

Convention delegates pay tribute to Bob Orr

Unifor -

More than 2000 convention delegates an guests gave outgoing secretary-treasurer Bob Orr an emotionalstanding ovation for his life-long commitment to Unifor and the labour movement.

“My individual achievements would not have been possible without the will and strength of our membership,” said Bob Orr, National Secretary-Treasurer. “When we formed Unifor, the membership set out to change the labour movement, and we have done just that!”

As a son of trade union activists, Orr started his working life in a union shop in 1978 in St. Catharines, Ontario. After being laid off, Orr went on to work at the GM Windsor Transmission plant.

Orr became active in his union, and passionately defended the rights of his co-workers, He was elected to ten positions over 14 years. In 1999, former National President Buzz Hargrove appointed Bob to a staff position at the CAW. Since then, he has worked in the Windsor, London, Chatham, Kitchener and Toronto offices. He quickly rose through the ranks  and was appointed National Coordinator, National Staff Representative in Organizing and Service, and he served as Assistant to National Secretary-Treasurer’s Jim O’Neil and Peter Kennedy and later was apoointed Assistant to President Ken Lewenza and Jerry Dias.

“The pride Bob puts into your work and the commitment you’ve made to this unionis unmatched,”said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “For more than 35 years, you have shown us that through integrity and humanity, a better world is possible. Bob, thank you for being a tremendous leader and for all your service to our union.”

Before his speech, convention delegates watched a farewell tribute video that included heartfelt testimonials from members, elected and former officers  tofurther illustrate Orr’s life-long commitment in fighting for the rights of workers across Canada.

Watch the video here.

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