Latest Labour News

UFCW Statement: VICE News Exposes Shocking Depths of Amazon’s & Jeff Bezos’ Disregard for Workers & the American People During Coronavirus Outbreak   

UFCW Press Releases -

America’s Largest Food & Retail Union Demands Amazon Fire Senior Leadership Responsible for Shameful Conduct

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, which represents 1.3 million workers in food and retail, responded to a shocking Vice News story that documents both the ruthless smear campaign against Christian Smalls, the Amazon warehouse worker who organized this week’s safety strike, as well as the high level discussions between Amazon executives on how to best utilize surgical masks for public relations value.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“In the middle of a global pandemic with thousands of Americans sick and dying, today we learned that Amazon’s senior leaders – including CEO Jeff Bezos, Amazon SVP of Global Affairs Jay Carney, and Amazon General Counsel David Zapolsky – were more focused on attacking one of their own workers than actually keeping their employees safe.

“Even worse, these same senior Amazon leaders weighed ‘different and bold’ ways to gain a public relations ‘win’ from their stockpile of surgical masks – masks that are desperately needed by frontline workers and first responders who are putting themselves in harm’s way every day during this unprecedented public health crisis.

“Every American should be outraged by this conduct. Not only should Amazon’s senior leadership be  investigated by law enforcement and federal regulators for these shameful actions, every Amazon executive responsible for this stunning conduct, beginning with Mr. Zaplosky, should be immediately fired.”

Background:

UFCW has been a leading national voice calling for greater accountability of Amazon and its worker mistreatment. In December 2018, the retail branch of UFCW launched acampaign to unionize Amazon warehouse workers at the same Staten Island fulfillment center where this week’s strike took place.

In February 2020, UFCW called Amazon’s new cashierless grocery store “a clear and present danger to millions of good jobs.” In July 2019, UFCW announced its opposition to a $700 million effort by Amazon to push its own workers out of jobs as it relentlessly automates its warehouse operations. And in May 2019, UFCW called out Amazon for using robots to replace thousands of its workers across the country.

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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 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’s work during COVID-19 at ufcw.org/coronavirus

 

MGEU presses for presumptive WCB coverage for workers

Manitoba Government & General Employees Union -

Earlier this week, MGEU President, Michelle Gawronsky sent a letter to the Finance Minister to help anyone who contracts the virus at work. The letter echoes the call from the Manitoba Federation of Labour for the provincial government and Workers Compensation of Manitoba (WCB) to provide presumptive coverage for all Manitoba workers who may become infected with COVID-19 through the course of their employment.

Take Action and Make Your Voice Heard!

Manitoba Association of Health Care Professionals -

 

MAHCP members,

The COVID-19 pandemic is ramping up as expected in Manitoba. All MAHCP members are under incredible stress right now, and we know the situation will get worse before it gets better. I want to thank you for your commitment to keeping yourselves, your patients and your colleagues safe in this difficult time.

We are now seeing confirmed cases of community transmission in Manitoba, and we’re beginning to see front-line health care staff, including a small number of MAHCP members, testing positive for COVID-19. This isn’t cause for panic. We know health care professionals are at greater risk, and that’s why we’ve been fighting hard on your behalf for the Employer and the Manitoba Government to step up and make sure you’re protected and supported. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to be listening.

MAHCP has called on the Manitoba Government to provide paid leave for members who have to miss work because they have to self-isolate or have unavoidable child care issues. For those who contract COVID-19, we’ve called on Government to provide presumptive WCB coverage – you’re at risk because of the work you do, so they should assume you contracted the virus at work unless proven otherwise.

We’re asking MAHCP members to add your voice to these demands by emailing the Premier and Minister of Health at premier@leg.gov.mb.ca and minhsal@leg.gov.mb.ca with this email content, or you can write your own email and share your concerns and calls for action.

If you want to go one step further, you can write or call your MLA:

Step 1) Identify your MLA by typing in your home address at this website.

Step 2) Look up your MLA alphabetically by last name here for their email address and/or phone number.

The more members they hear from, the more they will have to listen to us. Meanwhile, we will continue pushing for these and other measures, including adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), to make sure you’re properly protected and supported.

As always, please stay safe and let us know if you have any questions or concerns by contacting your Labour Relations Officer or info@mahcp.ca.

 

In solidarity,

 

Bob Moroz, MAHCP President

President's Commentary: Every day heroes. Heroes Every Day

NUPGE -

And what about the long list of workers that have been deemed essential during this pandemic? People who work in our grocery and convenience stores, at gas stations, or who provide food delivery.  These are also the heroes we’re hearing about. Would you have seen them that way before the pandemic broke out? 

CFIA Public Interest Commission hearing delayed

PSAC -

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency Public Interest Commission hearing will be delayed. The hearing, originally scheduled for March 30-31, has been rescheduled for May 7-8. Stay tuned as more information will be provided closer to the new...

As Coronavirus Outbreak Increases Demands on Meatpacking Workers, Court Advances Lawsuit to Stop Dangerous USDA Rule that Threatens Food Safety

UFCW Press Releases -

America’s Largest Meatpacking Union and Public Citizen Continue Effort to Halt USDA’s Dangerous New Pork Plant Line Speed Rule

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union and Public Citizen announced that their federal lawsuit to stop the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) new swine slaughter modernization rule has been cleared to move forward following a ruling by the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota.

The lawsuit filed by UFCW International and UFCW Locals 663, 440 and 2, seeks to halt a USDA rule which eliminates the line speed limits in pork slaughter plants and turns inspection of our food over to the companies that produce it.

“America’s pork workers won an important victory with this ruling as our lawsuit moves forward to stop the USDA’s dangerous line speed rule. As we confront the coronavirus outbreak, these workers are more important than ever to protecting our food supply chain,” said UFCW International President Marc Perrone. “Stopping the USDA’s reckless pork lobby giveaway is essential to the safety of our country’s food and the hardworking men and women who produce it. We are proud to continue this fight to ensure food safety never takes a backseat to corporate profits.”

The nation’s union for meatpacking and food processing workers is challenging the rule as unsafe for workers. The court largely denied USDA’s efforts to dismiss claims brought by the unions.

The ruling, by Judge Joan Ericksen of the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, held that the unions adequately alleged that the USDA’s explanations for disregarding the impact on worker safety when issuing its rule were not rational. Read more about the case.

Background:

In 2019, the USDA published a new rule for pork meat inspections which removes limits on line speeds in swine slaughter plants and turns over major meat inspection tasks from federal inspectors to meat companies.

  • The UFCW represents about 250,000 workers in the meatpacking and food processing industries and 30,000 workers in pork plants. UFCW members handle 71 percent of all hogs slaughtered and processed in the United States.
  • 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.
  • All the UFCW locals who are parties in the lawsuit represent pork slaughter workers. UFCW Local 663 is based in Brooklyn Center, Minn.; UFCW Local 440 is based in Denison, Iowa; and UFCW Local 2 is based in Bel Aire, Kan. 

The Modernization of Swine Slaughter Inspection rule will hurt workers 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 line speed increases 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 Pork 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 previous maximum line speed for swine was 1,106 hogs per hour.

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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 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

Party of Profits: Ontario Tories and the profit motive in long-term care

Rank and File - latest news -

By Zaid Noorsumar On March 27, the Ontario government announced an emergency order making “sweeping changes” to staffing, training, and reporting requirements in the province’s long-term care homes. The order was issued in response to COVID-19’s disastrous impact in the sector. As of April 1, 29 deaths in Ontario nursing homes have been linked to Continue readingParty of Profits: Ontario Tories and the profit motive in long-term care

Canada’s workers cannot afford more government delays for wage replacement

Unifor -

April 1, 2020

TORONTO – Unifor warns the Government of Canada against further delays to already overdue financial support for workers and employers.

“Many workers are entering their third week of self isolation, compounded by the most sudden, widespread job loss our country has ever experienced. Now, just days after the federal government presented something close to an inclusive plan, it seems like more roadblocks have been set up,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Now is not the time for partisan shots and delays, it’s time to streamline delivery of the responsible solutions that Canada’s workers need.”

Today Finance Minister Bill Minister Morneau announced that the portal for employers to access wage replacement funds will not be available for an additional 3-6 weeks. Earlier today, conservative politicians were critical of this necessary program and Prime Minister Trudeau announced that Parliament will be recalled again to vote on the economic stimulus package. 

Unifor has advocated for swift, comprehensive measures to protect workers’ jobs, financial interests, and health as early as March 5, 2020. However, many of the new measures have yet to be adopted, and the new benefits that have been announced are still not available for workers to apply for or receive.

“Workers are still waiting for the financial support announced weeks ago, with millions already out of work or laid off,” said Renaud Gagné, Unifor Quebec Director. “Canada’s workers are doing their part to stop the spread of this viral pandemic, it’s time for Ottawa to provide the clarity and leadership to bring us through this crisis together, with a comprehensive plan, not more patchwork announcements and irresponsible delays.”

Ahead of yet another emergency parliamentary session, Unifor urges policymakers to follow through with responsible regulations for employers that receive the expanded wage subsidy public benefit.

This includes the continuation of benefit programs and pension contributions and limits on executive compensation and shareholder payments.

Unifor has produced this Fact Sheet on the CERB and has posted revised information about the union’s response to the pandemic, as well as resources for members at unifor.org/COVID19.

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 FaceTime interview with Jerry Dias,  please contact Unifor’s Director of Communications, Natalie Clancy at Natalie.Clancy@unifor.org or 416-707-5794 (cell).

Wage subsidy plan is full of big problems

Rank and File - latest news -

By Nora Loreto Justin Trudeau announced his government’s most significant aid package for Canadians workers on Friday. The Liberals will subsidize wages by 75% to convince employers to stop layoffs during the coronavirus pandemic. The measure will be available to all businesses, and eligibility criteria are slowly being released. The decision increases his previous promise Continue readingWage subsidy plan is full of big problems

Gawronsky Calls on Premier and Minister to pay education support staff during school closure

Manitoba Government & General Employees Union -

“These workers and their families are worried about their health and safety and paying the bills,” said MGEU President, Michelle Gawronsky. “The government needs to give a clear directive to all school divisions that staff will not be laid off and we are calling on the education minister to provide this directive immediately.”

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