Latest Labour News

UFCW: Trump Order to Keep Meatpacking Plants Open Must Include Immediate Action to Strengthen Coronavirus Testing and Safety Measures

UFCW Press Releases -

America’s Largest Meatpacking Union Calls on White House to Immediately Increase Worker Testing, Access to Protective Equipment, and Federal Oversight to Ensure the Safety of All U.S. Meatpacking Plants  

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), America’s largest meatpacking union with 250,000 members across the industry, called on President Trump to take immediate action to support his new order that all meatpacking plants remain open during the coronavirus outbreak.  

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:  

“To protect America’s food supply, America’s meatpacking workers must be protected. The reality is that these workers are putting their lives on the line every day to keep our country fed during this deadly outbreak, and at least 20 meatpacking workers have tragically died from coronavirus while more than 5,000 workers have been hospitalized or are showing symptoms. For the sake of all our families, we must prioritize the safety and security of these workers.  

“While we share the concern over the food supply, today’s executive order to force meatpacking plants to stay open must put the safety of our country’s meatpacking workers first. Simply put, we cannot have a secure food supply without the safety of these workers. We urge the Administration to immediately enact clear and enforceable safety standards that compel all meatpacking companies to provide the highest level of protective equipment through access to the federal stockpile of PPE, ensure daily testing is available for workers and their communities, enforce physical distancing at all plants, and provide full paid sick leave for any workers who are infected. Additionally, to protect the food supply and ensure these safety standards for workers are enforced, these plants must be constantly monitored by federal inspectors and workers must have access to representation to ensure their rights are not violated. 

“All of our country’s elected leaders – federal and state – must work together to ensure that we keep these essential workers safe and our country’s food supply secure.” 

Background:  

In the last week, UFCW sent a letter to Vice President Pence urgently calling 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. 

Today, new internal UFCW estimates have confirmed 20 worker deaths in meatpacking and food processing. In addition, at least 5,000 meatpacking workers and 1,500 food processing workers have been directly impacted by the virus. Those directly impacted include individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19, missed work due to self-quarantine, are awaiting test results, or have been hospitalized, and/or are symptomatic. 

UFCW announced today that new estimates show 22 meatpacking plants have closed – including union and non-union plants – at some point in the past two months. These closures have resulted in over 35,000 workers impacted and a 25 percent reduction in pork slaughter capacity as well as a 10 percent reduction in beef slaughter capacity

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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 www.ufcw.org.

 

UFCW Releases Statement on Workers Memorial Day & Announces Worker Deaths from Coronavirus 

UFCW Press Releases -

America’s Largest Retail & Food Union Announces 72 Worker Deaths in Grocery, Retail, Meatpacking, and Other Industries; and Over 5,000 Workers Directly Impacted by Coronavirus During Outbreak

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), America’s largest food and retail union with 1.3 million members in grocery stores, pharmacies, meatpacking plants, and other essential businesses, released a new update on the growing number of frontline workers who have been exposed, sick, and died from COVID-19.

According to the UFCW’s internal reports, which were released on Workers Memorial Day, there have been at least 72 worker deaths and 5,322 workers directly impacted among UFCW members. This covers grocery, retail, pharmacy, meatpacking, and other essential industries and those directly impacted include workers who tested positive for COVID-19, missed work due to self-quarantine, are awaiting test results, or have been hospitalized, and/or are symptomatic.

On Workers Memorial Day, UFCW is calling on America’s elected and corporate leaders, as well as American shoppers, to take immediate steps to protect these workers before more lives are lost.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“America’s frontline workers in grocery stores, pharmacies, meatpacking plants, and many other essential businesses are putting their lives on the line every day to ensure families have the food and medicine they need to stay safe during this crisis. These workers never signed up to be first responders in an emergency, but that is exactly what they are now and they need protections immediately before more lives are needlessly lost.

“The human cost to America’s food, retail, and commercial workers is real and growing. From grocery stores to meatpacking plants, from senior care facilities to pharmacies, the impact on workers’ lives from this coronavirus is beyond tragic – and this crisis must be stopped before it gets worse.

“As we remember all of America’s brave frontline workers, across every industry, who have died from COVID-19, we are calling on all of our country’s leaders in the White House, in Congress, and states across the country to strengthen safety standards and take immediate action to protect the millions of workers who are keeping our communities strong throughout the crisis. American lives are on the line. We cannot wait any longer. We need action now.”

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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 www.ufcw.org.

CAUT marks Day of Mourning

CAUT -

(Ottawa – April 28, 2020) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) stands with unions and employee associations across the country to observe this year’s National Day of Mourning in recognition of workers killed or injured on the job.

Nearly five million workers in Canada have been deemed essential during the COVID-19 pandemic, with a number of frontline workers already losing their lives to the virus. The crisis has starkly revealed inequities in our workplaces, with many of those who risk their lives daily working for minimum wages, with few benefits, and in insecure positions.

Every employee has a right to safe working conditions, and fair compensation. On this Day of Mourning, CAUT calls on governments and employers everywhere to use the lessons being learned during this extraordinary time to rebuild a more equitable and better world.

UFCW: Tyson and All Meatpacking Companies Must Act Immediately to Protect American Workers & Food Supply

UFCW Press Releases -

Union Representing 250,000 Meatpacking Workers Calls for Industry to Strengthen Safety and Transparency, Support First Responder Status for These Workers on Frontlines

Union Announces New Numbers on Increase in Meatpacking Worker Deaths and Plant Closures During Coronavirus Outbreak  

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), America’s largest meatpacking union, called on Tyson and all companies in the industry to make good on the promise of the Tyson New York Times advertisement with immediate action to protect these frontline workers across the country. UFCW is calling on the meatpacking industry to strengthen transparency on plant safety and immediately join the union in calling for these workers to be designated as first responders during the outbreak.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“America’s meatpacking workers and our nation’s food supply are in greater danger every day that companies and leaders fail to act during this outbreak. It is clear that our food supply chain is threatened, and that is why our country’s elected and corporate leaders must act now.

“Tyson and every company across this vital industry, must immediately join with UFCW in calling for federal and state elected leaders to designate these frontline workers as first responders. Temporary first responder status ensures these workers have priority access to the COVID-19 testing and protective equipment they need to continue doing these essential jobs. Our federal leaders must enforce clear guidelines to ensure every employer lives up to the high safety standards these workers deserve and the American people expect.

“Meatpacking companies must increase transparency around their safety efforts to ensure that meatpacking workers, elected leaders, and the communities they serve know exactly what steps they are taking to keep workers safe and our food supply secure. Simply put, given the nature of this COVID-19 crisis, words are not enough. American workers and families across the country cannot wait any longer. Our elected leaders and companies across the industry must act now.”

Background:

In the last week, UFCW sent a letter to Vice President Pence 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.

UFCW recently released new updates on the serious and deadly impact of the Covid-19 virus on meatpacking plants across the country, but those numbers have increased in recent days.

Today, new internal UFCW estimates have confirmed 20 worker deaths in meatpacking and food processing. In addition, at least 5,000 meatpacking workers and 1,500 food processing workers have been directly impacted by the virus. Those directly impacted include individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19, missed work due to self-quarantine, are awaiting test results, or have been hospitalized, and/or are symptomatic.

UFCW announced today that new estimates show 22 meatpacking plants have closed – including union and non-union plants – at some point in the past two months. These closures have resulted in over 35,000 workers impacted and a 25 percent reduction in pork slaughter capacity as well as a 10 percent reduction in beef slaughter capacity.

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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 www.ufcw.org

 

Locked out Unifor members hold car rally at Saskatchewan legislature

Unifor -

April 28, 2020

REGINA—Locked out members of Unifor Local 594 will hold a car rally at the legislature grounds on Wednesday to pressure the provincial government for a legislated solution to the 145-day lockout at the Co-op Refinery.

“By snubbing the report from the premier’s mediators, Co-op has demonstrated that it cannot be trusted to bargain nor end the lockout in good faith,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “We’re encouraging Premier Moe to show leadership and bring an end to this dispute.”

What: Rally for refinery workers and media availability

Who: Kevin Bittman, Unifor Local 594 President; locked out refinery workers, their families, and supporters

When: Wednesday, April 29 at 10 a.m. 

Where: The car rally will begin outside the Conexus Arts Centre and proceed to the Legislature. Media availability to take place in front of legislature.

Please note that rally organizers will be practicing strict social distancing. Members of the media who join for the media availability at the legislature are encouraged to use boom microphones.

Information about the union’s response to the pandemic, as well as resources for members can be found at unifor.org/COVID19.

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).

FPSE statement on private post-secondary institution layoffs | Immediate Release

Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC -

Apr 27, 2020 FPSE News

Hundreds of BC private post-secondary workers are among those included in Statistics Canada’s unemployment numbers released Thursday, April 9. Already, some private post-secondary institutions have said that they can no longer operate given the significant decline of international students attributed to COVID-19. Inlingua Vancouver, whose employees are unionized, will be closed effective May 29, 2020.

In response, FPSE Local 21 (Education and Training Employees’ Association – ETEA) and FPSE President Terri Van Steinburg are supporting these workers during this difficult time.

FPSE Local 21 – ETEA immediately met with private sector employers to ensure workers’ rights were protected. At every ETEA worksite, the union either achieved commitment from the employer to follow the collective agreement, or a variance was negotiated as a Letter of Understanding. The union has held regular meetings to keep members informed of developments.

FPSE has provided labour relations support and advice to ETEA and all FPSE locals as they engage employers in COVID-19 emergency work adjustments.

FPSE is calling on the federal government to protect workers now and in the future during this disruption to the private post-secondary sector.

The recommendations from FPSE to the federal government regarding support for unionized post-secondary institutions, are:

1. Prioritize funding and support for private post-secondary institutions with unionized instructors, as this is the most efficient metric by which to measure fair and equitable treatment of instructors and students.

2. Establish a federal tri-partite committee to determine sector-wide practices regarding international education with compliance with collective agreements mandated at the outset.

 

FPSE President, Terri Van Steinburg:

FPSE is working with our private sector union, ETEA, to do everything we can to protect these workers and the rights they have won over the past decades. This is an extraordinarily difficult situation, but I credit ETEA leadership and members for taking immediate action when the crisis hit. ETEA is working to ensure teachers are being treated fairly.

“I, like other leaders, am looking at what these short term indicators can mean for this sector in the future. Workers fought for decades to unionize, and then achieve higher wages and benefits. It does not bode well for workers or students if these gains are lost when this crisis comes to an end. I’m calling on the federal government to take action now to prevent this worst-case outcome later.”

 FPSE Local 21 - ETEA President, Kevin Drager:

“This will likely be the toughest challenge to have hit private post-secondary institutions and educators since they’ve been in operation. The reality is that most of my coworkers are losing their jobs, including myself – and I know this is true for many people these days. Global events like this affect all of us, whether we’re unionized or not. That being said, in tough times it is especially helpful to have someone on your side. I’m proud that ETEA is 100% committed to looking out for workers the same way workers look out for their students.

Unionization ensures that employers must consult with our teachers when determining how to respond in a crisis like this. Employers and unions were able to quickly reach a fair agreement about how to respond to the crisis in a way that respects workers’ rights. Educators were paid for their time when they moved classes online. The layoff process means that when and if people are re-hired it will be at the same pay rate. None of that is true for non-unionized workers, so they’ll be hurt now and potentially suffer again in the future. That’s why we support FPSE’s private post-secondary system recommendations to the federal government.”

Day of Mourning | April 28, 2020 | President’s Comment

Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC -

Apr 27, 2020 FPSE News

On Tuesday April 28, working people across the country will mark the Day of Mourning. This is a day to remember those workers who have been injured or killed on the job, and to renew our efforts to prevent these tragedies from happening. In short, it is a day to mourn for those who have lost their lives and fight for the living.

The COVID-19 pandemic underscores that proper workplace health and safety can make the difference between life and death. The 140 workers who died in 2019 from workplace injury or disease demonstrate that we need to improve work environments in every sector. Every working person deserves to return home safe at the end of the day.

Employers need to provide the proper workplace equipment, training, and appropriate staffing levels to maintain worker safety in every sector, period. We know now that resources are available to ensure workplaces are safe and healthy and it needs to be spent. This crisis has clearly shown what has always been true: when corners are cut, workers are hurt – often with life-altering consequences.

Post-secondary institution employers are not exempt from their responsibility for faculty and staff safety. Our federation has supported our member unions in successfully bargaining for Joint Occupational Safety and Health committees. These committees bring the employer and workers together to raise safety concerns in order to prevent workplace injuries before they happen. In addition, two of FPSE’s 12 standing committees are devoted to workplace safety and worker rehabilitation, the Workplace Health, Safety & Environment Committee and the Disability Management & Rehabilitation Committee.

These are just a few of the ways we fight for the living. As COVID-19 has shown, vulnerable workers – those who are precarious, underpaid, and lack full healthcare benefits – fare much worse during a crisis, both financially and physically. That’s why we work to improve working conditions and address inequalities in every round of bargaining. It’s why we call for enough public funding to properly pay and protect the educators working at our colleges, teaching universities and institutes. It’s why we recognize that racism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism and bigotry exist and why we look for solutions that specifically address pre-existent inequalities. Just as we are sadly all not treated equally in our workplaces, we are not suffering equally during this pandemic.

This is something I’ll be thinking about tomorrow. I invite you to join me in marking this year’s Day of Mourning by joining virtual actions and an online ceremony to honour our lost or hurt coworkers, and to commit ourselves to eliminating workplace death and injury in the future.

Day of Mourning BC | https://www.dayofmourning.bc.ca/

Join us here in a moment of silence on April 28 at 10:30 am to remember the 140 B.C. workers who died last year from a workplace injury or disease. We will be posting messages from our partners and a video to recognize the day, and those we lost.

Other ways to observe the day:

Our work must continue beyond the Day of Mourning, and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. The health crisis motivated support for workers that has been necessary for years. Provincial and federal government responses have rightly focused on providing immediate help. However, long term decisions will soon be made that will either return us to the inequalities of the past or start to eliminate the hardships too many have experienced for far too long. We all have a role to play in determining what this future looks like.  Labour unions and federations are demanding that all employers provide workers with sick leave coverage in order to prevent illness and death. This is just one of the many opportunities we have to address the health, safety, and wellbeing of all workers.

This is how we will honour the spirit of the Day of Mourning: by remembering those we have lost and using what we have learned from this crisis to fight for the living. We owe our coworkers past, present, and future nothing less.

In solidarity,

Terri Van Steinburg

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Additional funding builds Canada’s COVID-19 research capacity

CAUT -

(Ottawa – April 27, 2020) Last week’s announcement that the federal government will provide more than $1 billion for medical research will help ensure that researchers working across the country have the funding they need to continue their crucial work necessary toward the road to recovery from COVID-19, says the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT).

“It is encouraging to see additional funding for research and science,” said CAUT Executive Director David Robinson. “Across the country, university-based researchers have been stepping up to help understand and fight this virus.”

The new funding includes the creation of an Immunity Task Force and increased data monitoring, as well as an additional $114.9 million for the Canadian Institute of Health Research for projects developing and implementing medical and social countermeasures to help mitigate the health and social impacts of COVID-19. The University of Saskatchewan's Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization-International Vaccine Centre; the National Research Council; the Canadian Immunization Research Network, and Genome Canada also received additional funding.

“This additional funding reinforces how crucial our research community is in Canada, and the important role they play in improving and protecting the lives of all Canadians,” said Robinson.

Sunwing joins other airlines applying for COVID-19 wage supplement

Unifor -

TORONTO-Sunwing becomes the third airline to apply for the Canada Emergency Wage Supplement (CEWS) in an effort to maintain as much of their workforce as possible.

"We're pleased to see more employers joining the effort to keep Canada's airlines working," said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. "Economic recovery is impossible without taking care of workers first."

On April 8, 2020 Air Canada announced that it would use CEWS funding to top up the wages of more than 3,000 workers on lay-off due to COVID-19. Jazz Aviation made a similar announcement on April 9, 2020.

Sunwing Airlines is a Canadian-owned airline specializing in international vacation travel. On March 17, 2020 it announced it was laying off all 470 pilots because of the pandemic travel downturn. Since the passing of the government emergency legislation over the weekend, today's announcement will mean the recall of all employees on layoff. The company will allow employees to stay at home while receiving 75 per cent of their wages to a maximum of $847 weekly for up to 12 weeks.

"Today's announcement is a demonstration of the positive partnership between Sunwing and pilots," said Barret Armann, President of Unifor Local 7378, representing Sunwing pilots. "It shows the commitment to the employees that have helped build the company and their willingness to do the right thing for Canadian workers."

On March 28, 2020, Unifor joined with other Canadian airline unions in sharing concerns and providing solutions to help the industry return to economic health and prosperity. Unifor has called on the government for financial support for industries, including air travel and insists economic stimulus must be accompanied by strong, enforceable conditions that ensure financial aid is tied to maintaining income for current employees and creating employment.

Unifor says close the scab loophole to federal wage subsidy

Unifor -

April 27, 2020

TORONTO—Unifor is calling on the federal government to close a loophole in Bill C-14 that will allow unethical employers using scab labour to qualify for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS).

“Companies that have chosen to use scabs to prolong labour disputes should not benefit from the scarce emergency funds designed to help legitimately struggling businesses and organizations,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “COVID-19 financial support should not be used to weaken workers’ bargaining power.”

Bill C-14 will enact the CEWS, a program designed to provide employers with a subsidy of up to 75 per cent of wages, capped at $847 per week for each employee. April 27, 2020 is the first day that the federal government will begin accepting applications for CEWS.

Unifor points to the example of Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL) in Saskatchewan, where the company has locked out refinery workers for 144 days and has flown in scab labourers and housed them in cramped conditions. The local community has expressed concern that the scab camp is a health risk during the COVID-19 pandemic.

FCL recently rejected recommendations to end the dispute from independent mediators appointed by the provincial government. Unifor says employers like these can’t be rewarded with federal CEWS funds.

“Co-op’s repeated refusal to compromise has been made possible by its use of scabs,” said Dias. “If those scabs are subsidized with federal CEWS cash, the government will further tip the balance in favour of a company that saw over $2 billion in profits between 2018 and 2019.”

While the CEWS appears to disqualify companies using independent contractors, FCL “management” ranks doubled leading up to the lockout, meaning Co-op may qualify for CEWS. There is also nothing in Bill C-14 to prevent the firm supplying Co-op with scabs (such as Sterling Crane, Stuart Olson, Brock Group, or Agilus Work Solutions) from applying for the CEWS.

Unifor is also calling on all employers to maintain workforces or recall laid off workers under CEWS.

Information about the union’s response to the pandemic, as well as resources for members can be found at unifor.org/COVID19.

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).

Stop & Shop and UFCW Issue Joint Statement Calling For Grocery Workers To Be Classified As First Responders

UFCW Press Releases -

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Stop & Shop and the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) issued a joint statement calling on federal and state governments to designate associates at grocery stores as “extended first responders” or “emergency personnel.”

Stop & Shop and UFCW additionally announced that a 10 percent increase in pay for union hourly store associates would be extended through May 30. Stop & Shop and UFCW first announced the pay increase on March 22, along with flexible hours for associates and up to two weeks of additional paid sick leave for associates required to quarantine by government authorities or by the company.

Stop & Shop President Gordon Reid and UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“Stop & Shop workers, who are also UFCW members, across Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York have worked to make sure that families have the food and groceries they need during these difficult times. Make no mistake, Stop & Shop associates are essential workers and they deserve essential protections.

“Stop & Shop and UFCW have worked together to provide these workers with benefits and protections during this health crisis, including emergency pay raises, additional paid sick leave, and access to KN95 masks and face shields, but even more can be done for these workers.

“We are urgently requesting our nation’s state and federal leaders temporarily designate these workers as first responders or emergency personnel. This critical status would help ensure our state’s essential grocery workers have priority access to testing, emergency childcare, and other protections to keep themselves and their families safe and healthy.

“For the sake of workers, their families, and our nation’s food supply, this action will provide grocery workers with the vital protections they deserve.”

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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 www.ufcw.org

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