Latest Labour News

Unifor reviewing the Northern Pulp focus report, preparing submission

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The Northern Pulp kraft pulp mill in Pictou, Nova Scotia, has filed a 2,600-page report with the Nova Scotia Environment (NSE) responding to additional questions and concerns laid out by the government back in March regarding its proposed new wastewater treatment facility.

“Members at the mill are looking forward to this process being resolved and are hopeful the government will find an appropriate and respectful way for the community to move forward,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Unifor has stood firm for years in demanding government work with stakeholders to find a solution that supports good jobs, protects the environment, and respects First Nations’ rights.”

Unifor Atlantic Regional Director Linda MacNeil spoke to The Todd Veinotte Show on Halifax-based radio NEWS 95.7 about the submission.

“Across Canada, there are 88 pulp and paper mills – approximately 27 of those are Kraft mills just like Northern Pulp – and they get along with their communities, they create jobs and are environmentally responsible,” MacNeil told Veinotte. “This isn’t something new in Canada. The communities coexist, the fisheries coexist, so it is possible.”

NSE has opened a 30-day public consultation period to hear from concerned citizens with regard to the scientific studies.

Unifor is preparing their submission and encourages its forestry locals and members to contribute their support for the approval of the Northern Pulp treatment facility project.

Locals seeking support in submitting their comments should contact the Halifax office at halifax@unifor.org.

Support grows for striking Sask Crown workers

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As the province-wide strike and lockout of Crown workers drags into day seven, support for workers is growing across Saskatchewan and beyond.

“It is always heartwarming to see other unions’ members and even Unifor members from other provinces join our picket lines,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President.

Dias walked the picket lines as the strike began Friday October 4.

By October 7 SaskTel locked out 1600 Unifor members of Local 1S and 2S, while members from five other Crowns and the Water Security Agency remained on picket lines.

“Two point three! Good enough for Moe, good enough for me!” chanted Unifor members at several rallies this week, referring to the 2.3 per cent wage increase Premier Scott Moe gave himself and his MLAs while demanding a two-year wage freeze from Crown workers.

Vote in Advanced Polls this weekend to Stop Scheer

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Are you planning to vote? All across Canada, polling stations are open from Friday, October 11 to Monday, October 14, 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Find your polling location through the Elections Canada website or by checking your Voter Information Card. 

“Canada’s workers must stand strong and elect a progressive government that puts us first, instead of siding with the wealthy and corporate elites,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “We know Andrew Scheer’s plans to cut taxes for the richest will cost hardworking Canadians.”

You can vote almost any time between now and Election Day. Advanced polls are open over the long weekend, but voters can also cast a ballot at any Elections Canada office across the country before October 15, or in person on Election Day on October 21.

To vote, you must be a Canadian citizen, be at least 18 years old on Election Day, and prove your identity and address. Check out the Unifor Votes site for helpful frequently asked questions, or contact Elections Canada directly.

“I’m voting to stop Scheer and choose a better future in this election. But to make that happen, we’re all going to have to do the work, and get out to the polls,” continued Dias.

Unifor members have already knocked on tens of thousands of doors in this election—but with 315,000 members across the country, there’s work to be done all across the country!

Join the team—sign up to volunteer for Unifor’s non-partisan member-to-member campaign or RSVP for an event near you.

Closure of the Fortress mill in Thurso

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Unifor members working at the Fortress pulp mill in Thurso were stunned this week to learn of their employer’s decision to close down for three to four months.

“Obviously, this comes as a shock to everyone. But given the profitability issues facing the mill, we also understand that they can’t keep operating at a loss indefinitely,” commented Unifor Quebec Director Renaud Gagné. “Right now, our priority is to support our members in dealing with employment insurance. But we’re also holding out hope that the employer will be able to develop more promising markets in the middle and long term.”

The employer announced that the main reason for its decision to close the mill was the declining price for the pulp produced at the plant as well as its large product inventory. “It appears that this situation may be due to tensions with China. Given the circumstances, other markets need to be explored in order to ensure greater stability,” Gagné pointed out.

The mill employs more than 200 members of Unifor Local 894. The employer’s plans call for about 20 workers to remain on the job to ensure cogeneration activities, effluent treatment and heating of the mill.

The Quebec government has already announced $8 million in aid for the mill. “But we plan to keep a close eye on this situation to make sure that the governments use all means possible to make sure this mill, which is essential to the local community, remains in operation in the long run,” concluded Brother Gagné.

Tentative Agreement reached at the Unifor Dental Centre

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Unifor members of Local 1136 have reached a tentative agreement with the Unifor Dental Centre in Oshawa.

“The Unifor Dental Centre is one of the few not-for-profit unionized dental centres in Canada,” said Derek Spence, Unifor Local 1136, President. “We have a lot to be proud of in this new agreement."

The Centre was founded in 1976 by former Unifor Local 222 President Abe Taylor and Dr. George Morgan.

“The not for profit model provides the centre with an opportunity to offer good wages, benefits and a pension plan,” said Sam Snyders, National Representative. "This deal came together thanks to a great commitment from our bargaining team.”

The purpose was to provide dental care for workers and their families. Over the years, the centre has expanded to offer service to the public.

Details of the deal will be made available once the members ratify it.

Coast Mountain Bus Company members conduct strike vote

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Unifor Coast Mountain Bus Company members will conduct a strike vote today after negotiations for a new collective agreement broke off on October 3, 2019. 

“Months of talks have failed to produce any meaningful mandate to address wages, benefits and working conditions,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. “Our members have been working without a contract since March 31 and Coast Mountain has still to come to the table with an offer that addresses the key issues.”

More than 5,000 Unifor members work in the lower mainland at Coast Mountain Bus Company, with Unifor Local 111 representing transit operators in conventional and community shuttle and Unifor Local 2200 representing maintenance and Seabus workers. 

“Our members know that the public relies on them and it is our sincere hope that Coast Mountain comes back with a serious offer to avoid strike action and inconvenience to transit riders, but we are determined to obtain a fair deal for the workers,” said Mike Smith, Unifor Local 2200 President.

Coast Mountain Bus Company is a subsidiary of TransLink, which was recently named the best public transportation system in North America.

“TransLink won this award in part because of the on-time service of our members, but what the company isn’t recognizing is that level of service was achieved due to lack of proper breaks and recovery time between trips,” said Unifor Western Regional Director Gavin McGarrigle. “Coast Mountain is also failing to address a serious understaffing issue, with overcrowded bus trips increasing 36 per cent between 2016 and 2018.”

Negotiations between Unifor and Coast Mountain are set to resume on October 15, 2019.

“TransLink ridership is on the rise, making it increasingly difficult for our members to properly deliver quality service to the region’s growing population” said Balbir Mann, Unifor Local 111 President. “Improved working conditions and increased compensation will be a priority for us during these negotiations.”

 

Reducing the stigma of mental health

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Doug Ford has publicly declared that he has “no sympathy” for people who are not criminally responsible for violent crimes due to mental illness. Ford’s solution? Lock ‘em up and throw away the key because they should be “dealt with in jail.”

Another politician found using tax havens

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When the rich and powerful use tax havens to avoid paying their share, the money going into their overseas bank accounts is effectively coming from public services that could be making life easier for people who are struggling.

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