Latest Labour News

COVID-19: Human rights resources

PSAC -

Equity seeking groups continue to face higher rates of precarious work, homelessness, poverty, under-employment, unemployment and social isolation. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the inequalities marginalized individuals typically face. Physical...

Why I’m voting NO for OSSTF tentative agreement

Rank and File - latest news -

By Rick BeerOSSTF member, Toronto District School Board Some people believe that education workers should be grateful to have kept their jobs and their paycheques under the current circumstances – education workers should have gratitude for another contract containing real wage cuts. Some people believe that education workers should be fearful that the government would Continue readingWhy I’m voting NO for OSSTF tentative agreement

Western Unifor locals donate more than $50,000 to food banks

Unifor -

May 1, 2020

VANCOUVER—Unifor locals from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia have marked International Workers’ Day by making donations to local food banks across Western Canada.

“Layoffs resulting from the pandemic means workers everywhere are hurting. From lobbying to improve safety at work and government emergency programs to community donations, Unifor is working to help all workers, union and non-union,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor Western Regional Director. “At the local level, Unifor members have taken action to help reduce hunger during this challenging time.”

A total of $50,000 was pledged from more than 20 locals across the prairies and B.C.

Unifor local unions representing workers in many sectors participated, including transportation, forestry, media, manufacturing, telecommunications, mining, rail, energy, and aerospace.

“When crisis strikes, workers come together to support other workers, whether they are unionized or not,” said Leanne Marsh, chairperson of Unifor’s B.C. Regional Council.

Unifor’s Social Justice Fund and Canadian Community Fund pledged the seed donations to start the May Day project. The B.C. Regional Council and Prairie Regional Council followed suit by pledging their own donations.

“Many Unifor local unions have suffered from layoffs during the pandemic, but they’re still digging deep to contribute to the community-wide effort to help struggling families,” said Guy Desforges, chairperson of Unifor’s Prairie Regional Council.

Earlier this month Unifor’s Canadian Community Fund donated commercial-grade refrigerators to the Bear Clan Patrol’s food security project in Winnipeg’s North End.

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

Mr. Furnace serves lockout notice to workers during pandemic

Unifor -

May 1, 2020

ST. CATHARINES—Members of Unifor Local 1999 working at Mr. Furnace have been served notice that they could be locked out of their jobs on Monday, in the midst of a public health and economic crisis.

“It’s a new low for labour relations to see an employer issue this notice during a pandemic,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “COVID-19 is already responsible for hundreds of thousands of layoffs. Locking out workers that still have their jobs is an especially heartless move right now.”

Mr. Furnace, a subsidiary of Right Time Heating and Air Conditioning Canada, has been bullying workers since bargaining began says Unifor. The employer filed for conciliation before a single bargaining meeting had taken place. The bargaining offers from the company attempt to re-write virtually every clause of the collective agreement by erasing seniority and established wage structures.

“Mr. Furnace is using the pandemic to try to break the union,” said James Tauvette. “Before bargaining even started, the company was overturning seniority rights and contracting out. This company was spoiling for a fight and had no interest in good-faith bargaining.”

Unifor points to the 13 outstanding grievances for a company of 19 workers as an example of the company’s disrespectful behaviour.

“The way a company treats their workers tells you a lot about the values of the owners,” added Dias. “Mr. Furnace customers should consider other providers if this is going to be a pattern at Mr. Furnace and Right Time Heating and Air Conditioning.”

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).

MGEU requests Workplace Safety Health Branch intervention

Manitoba Government & General Employees Union -

MGEU has made repeated efforts to ensure that community support workers in Prairie Mountain Health and Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority have the personal protective equipment necessary to safely do their work. Despite this, these employers continue to restrict the appropriate use of PPE and they often provide unclear and contradictory direction on PPE usage.

Regina City Council endorses binding arbitration for Co-op Refinery

Unifor -

April 30, 2020

REGINA—Pressure is growing for Premier Scott Moe to end the Co-op Refinery lockout with binding arbitration after the Regina City Council endorsed the idea today by a near unanimous vote of 9-1.

“City councillors out-flanked the mayor to show real leadership with this extraordinary endorsement of binding arbitration,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “After Co-op snubbed the province’s mediators, a legislated solution is the best path to ending the lockout.”

Moved by councillor Andrew Stevens, the motion calls on the provincial government to seek binding arbitration to end the 147-day lockout at the Co-op Refinery. The refinery attempted to impose a final offer on Unifor Local 594 but workers voted 89 per cent against the contract. The union has already ratified the compromise proposed by two independent mediators in March 2020.

“Premier Moe’s appointment of mediators was a welcome step, but now we need the premier to follow through and impose the compromises proposed by the mediators,” said Kevin Bittman, president of Unifor Local 594.

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.

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).

MAHCP on New Public Health Order for PCHs

Manitoba Association of Health Care Professionals -

MAHCP has been in ongoing discussions with Employer representatives and other health care unions regarding the issue of limiting health care providers to operating in only one licensed personal care home (PCH) in order to limit the risk of spreading COVID-19 to vulnerable PCH residents.

The new government policy limiting employee movement between PCH sites was officially announced by Shared Health officials earlier this week and is due to take effect this Friday, May 1, 2020.

MAHCP has been awaiting details on which, if any, Allied Health staff may be affected by this new policy. Today we received a copy of the new public health order, click here for your review, that will govern the policy.

The order confirms that most Allied Health staff are exempted from the policy. In other words, most MAHCP members should not be limited to one PCH site. The exceptions for specific Allied Health professions are listed on page four of the attached order and are as follows:

  • Dietitians;
  • Laboratory Technicians [outdated term, but we assume this applies to MLTs and MLAs];
  • Paramedics;
  • Pharmacists;
  • Other health professionals who visit personal care homes to provide health care services, such as Physiotherapists and Occupation Therapists;
  • Social Workers;
  • Chaplains and Spiritual Care Providers.

If you expect you will need to work in more than one PCH and you are not included in this list, please ask your manager for clarification. If you believe you are being limited to one PCH site in error, please request clarification from your manager.

If any questions remain, please feel free to contact your Labour Relations Officer for assistance.

Your MAHCP Team

UFCW Calls on All U.S. Governors to Enforce CDC Guidelines to Protect Food Supply and Meatpacking Workers From Coronavirus Outbreak

UFCW Press Releases -

Union for 250,000 Meatpacking Workers Calls on All States for Immediate Enforcement of Safety Standards As Trump Order Mandates Plants Remain Open 

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, which represents more than 250,000 meatpacking and food processing all across the country workers, sent a letter to National Governors Association as well as every state’s governor in the country, calling on governors to protect meatpacking and poultry workers during the coronavirus outbreak. The letter was sent as it was reported that President Trump was taking executive action to mandate that meatpacking and poultry plants remain open.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“Meatpacking and poultry workers have been working tirelessly through this health crisis so that millions of Americans continue to have access to the food they need. President Trump’s executive order now mandates that they continue to do so, without any language that ensures their safety. Let me be clear, the best way to protect America’s food supply, to keep these plants open, is to protect America’s meatpacking workers.  

“Every governor has the ability to take key steps and additional safety actions to protect these workers and it is imperative that they do so immediately. To protect our food supply and workers, strong, enforceable safety standards must be implemented in every meatpacking plant. These safety standards must ensure all workers have access to testing and personal protective equipment, social distancing is enforced, and paid sick leave is provided to all workers so that no one comes to work sick.  

“In order to protect our nation’s food supply as President Trump is calling for us to do, we must work together to keep the hard-working men and women in these plants safe. Now, more than ever, this must be a priority for all of our state and national leaders” 

Background:

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued guidelines on April 26 for meatpacking and poultry workers and employees. In the new letter to governors, UFCW calls the guidelines a step in the right direction but asks governors to both enforce those guidelines and issue additional protective measures.  

The complete letter which can be seen here calls on U.S. governors to enforce CDC guidelines and to issue the following additional measures to protect:

  • Enforce Physical Distancing: Plants must reconfigure the workplace to achieve physical distancing of at least 6 feet, between workers, both on the production floor and off.  Barriers, such as plexiglass barriers, should be used only to reinforce the 6 feet distancing, not as a substitute for 6 feet distancing.  CDC/OSHA does not make this statement, but this type of distancing may require the speed of the line to be reduced, in order to achieve a reduction or minimization in the spread of the virus.
  • Provide Respirators: All workers on the production floor should be provided with N-95 respirators, which will provide the level of protection needed to protect workers from inhaling virus particles.  Employers must additionally do the following to maintain the integrity of the respirators;
      1. Provide a new respirator at the beginning of every shift.
      2. Provide fit-testing.  Replace respirators if damaged or contaminated.
      3. Follow the current CDC guidelines for disinfecting and storing respirators, if respirators are reused.
      4. Provide training on proper donning and doffing procedures, in languages workers understand.
      5. Provide additional time for hand hygiene and for proper donning and doffing of respirators.
  • Provide Testing: All workers, including management, who are currently working in the plant, should be tested for COVID-19.  Ideally, rapid testing of workers, as they enter the workplace, would ensure that workers carrying the virus are not entering the workplace.
  • Provide Mandatory Paid Quarantine: Should a positive case of COVID-19 be identified in the workplace, those in close contact with the infected individual should be identified as well and paid to stay home for the full two weeks.  This would ensure more workers are not infected, or exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.
  • Protect Workers From Retaliation: The UFCW believes that strong, anti-retaliation protections must be in place in order to ensure that workers who feel ill, or who are suffering from COVID-19, can remain at home, in quarantine for the full period of time recommended by the CDC, until it is safe to return to work.  Workers must be encouraged to report any symptoms of illness, or of COVID-19, while at work, as well as any other safety and health hazards, and not suffer any negative consequences for doing so.  

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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.

UFCW Canada observes Asian Heritage Month – May 2020

UFCW Canada -

Toronto – April 29, 2020 – May marks the celebration of Asian Heritage Month, a time when we recognize the invaluable contributions of people of Asian descent to Canada’s social, political, economic, scientific, and cultural landscape. It is also a moment in which we acknowledge the resistance of people of Asian descent in Canadian history.

UFCW Canada observes Asian Heritage Month – May 2020

UFCW Canada -

Toronto – April 29, 2020 – May marks the celebration of Asian Heritage Month, a time when we recognize the invaluable contributions of people of Asian descent to Canada’s social, political, economic, scientific, and cultural landscape. It is also a moment in which we acknowledge the resistance of people of Asian descent in Canadian history.

COVID-19 Update #10: Premier continues to talk about work reduction scheme with few details

Manitoba Government & General Employees Union -

The only new information available about the Premier's proposals comes from his comments in the news media. Last week, he talked about 25% of public workers being impacted by his layoff and work reduction scheme. Yesterday, he told media: "I don't expect it to be anywhere near 10 per cent impact. The fact of the matter is, it'll be less than that, and it will vary by department."

Refinery workers reject Co-op’s so-called final offer

Unifor -

April 28, 2020

REGINA—After Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL) snubbed the premier’s mediators and unilaterally forced a final contract vote on refinery workers, Unifor Local 594 members have voted 89 per cent against the contract.

“Co-op had every reason to be satisfied with the mediators’ recommendations, but they got greedy,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Regina’s refinery workers have sent a clear message to Premier Moe: impose the mediators’ recommendations and end this dispute.”

In March 2020, Premier Scott Moe appointed two independent mediators to review submissions from the union and the company and develop recommendations for a fair contract that should bring the lockout to a close. Members of Local 594 subsequently voted 98 per cent in favour of the mediated contract.

“The premier hired the most experienced mediators in the country. The premier should take the next logical step and implement the mediators’ recommendations,” said Kevin Bittman, President of Local 594.

More than 700 highly skilled refinery workers were locked out of the jobsite on December 5, 2019 for trying to bargain the same contract enjoyed by energy workers across Western Canada.

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.

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).

Unifor welcomes expanded access to emergency child care in Ontario

Unifor -

April 29, 2020

TORONTO—Unifor welcomes the Ontario government’s announcement today that it will expand access to emergency child care for essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In this pandemic, we’ve seen how crucial access to child care truly is to make it possible for essential workers to get to work, and keep the rest of us safe," said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “The Ford government is doing the right thing by listening to workers and health experts in this pandemic who have specifically called for these measures to be implemented as quickly as possible.”

In a letter sent to Premier Ford and Minister of Education Stephen Lecce, Unifor called on the province to expand the list of workers eligible for emergency child care services including grocery workers, cleaners, public transit workers, taxi drivers, telecommunications workers, and other critical supply chain workers.

Today’s announcement includes truck drivers and workers in the food supply chain, retirement homes, interpreters and intervenors who support people who are deaf, deafened, hard of hearing and deafblind, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) emergency personnel, Provincial officers and onsite staff in Ontario courts, Canadian Armed Forces and Department of National Defence staff working in Ontario, and additional workers supporting public safety and correctional services.

“We have been asking for this measure because our members have told us from day one of this pandemic that this support was needed and the best way to show respect for essential workers is to listen to them,” said Naureen Rizvi, Unifor’s Ontario Director.

To arrange an interview via FaceTime or Skype, please contact Unifor Communications National Representative David Molenhuis at david.molenhuis@unifor.org or 416-575-7453 (cell).

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