Latest Labour News

Privatization, two-tiered home care, and the burden on women

Rank and File - latest news -

By Zaid Noorsumar When she first began working as a home and community care nurse twenty years ago, Anne* had a regular 40-hours a week schedule. Today, Anne is working between 12 and 14-hour days at least three times a week and every other weekend.  “I see 12 to 14 patients a day and am Continue readingPrivatization, two-tiered home care, and the burden on women

Canada must oppose any reimposition of unfair aluminum tariffs

Unifor -

June 23, 2020

TORONTO—Unifor is calling on the federal government to strenuously oppose any reimposition of punitive tariffs on Canadian aluminum exports to the United States by President Donald Trump.

“I urge you, Prime Minister, to reject any concessionary demands the U.S. requests of Canada on this matter,” wrote Unifor National President Jerry Dias in a letter sent today to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “We must not allow these bullying tactics to succeed. I urge you to stand strong in the face of this misinformation campaign and reject any quotas that would disrupt the Canadian aluminum industry once again and lead to unnecessary layoffs.”

There are reports that the United States is planning to re-impose a 10% tariff on Canadian aluminum unless Canada accepts strict export quotas on primary aluminum. This follows a request from the American Primary Aluminum Association (APAA) to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Secretary Wilbur Ross to repeal Canada’s exemption to the Section 232 tariffs that occurred one-year ago in May 2019.

Canadian aluminum was subject to national security tariffs imposed by the Trump Administration between May 2018 and May 2019 when Unifor launched a campaign against the unfair tariffs.

“Section 232 tariffs were bogus the first time and it’s nothing short of an outrage for the APAA or the Trump administration to pretend once again that Canadian aluminum is somehow a threat to U.S. national security,” said Dias. “We simply cannot allow the tantrums of small-scale American producers to threaten Canadian jobs and the communities that rely on them a second time.”

The APAA claims that primary aluminum exports from Canada have “surged” since the lifting of U.S. tariffs, which breaches an agreement struck between the parties. The “surge” claim is entirely arbitrary, and based on trade flows over a short period. The APAA’s claim also fails to account for headwinds facing the industry, including the economic downswing caused by COVID-19 along with a dramatic rise in non-Canadian foreign imports from places like China and Russia over the past decade.

The reported policy move comes even after the main U.S. industry group, The Aluminum Association, stated in a May 2020 letter to Lighthizer that “even if every U.S. aluminum smelter was operating at full capacity, aluminum manufacturers would still require a mix of domestic and imported primary aluminum as well as secondary production to meet the demands of U.S. manufacturers and consumers for aluminum products.”

“What the APAA neglects to mention is that the U.S. aluminum industry has a domestic capacity problem that is leading American manufacturers to look elsewhere for their aluminum,” wrote Dias. Dias also warned Trudeau that strong reciprocal measures may be warranted and must be considered should the U.S. act against Canada’s aluminum sector.

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, Zoom or FaceTime interview with Jerry Dias please contact Unifor Communications Representative Kathleen O’Keefe at kathleen.okeefe@unifor.org or 416-896-3303 (cell).

Unifor unveils economic recovery plan to #BuildBackBetter

Unifor -

June 23, 2020

TORONTO – Unifor will unveil its strategy to #BuildBackBetter with the release of the union’s comprehensive ‘Road Map for a Fair, Inclusive and Resilient Economic Recovery’.

“Unifor’s plan is designed to build a more strategic and self-reliant economy that can both withstand and prevent future crises,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. “This is an ambitious road map but I think ambition is what our country and its workers need right now.”

Built on the principles of economic justice, the new recovery plan is broad in scope with dozens of recommendations targeting all levels of government. The plan organizes policy recommendations into five themes of income security, green jobs and decarbonization, critical infrastructure, rebuilding domestic industrial capacity, and strong, enforceable conditions on corporate support packages.

For an embargoed copy of the report please contact Kathleen O’Keefe at Kathleen.okeefe@unifor.org

  • WHAT: Virtual media conference to release Unifor’s economic recovery plan
  • WHO: Speakers will include Unifor National President Jerry Dias, President of Unifor Local 6005 Shinade Allder, President of Unifor Local 4276 James Griffin, and Local 2215 Unit Chair Matt Blois
  • WHERE: Live streamed on Unifor Facebook page
  • WHEN: Wednesday, June 24 at 1 PM ET

Media are invited to submit questions ahead of or during the media conference by emailing communications@unifor.org and they will be answered live.

For media inquiries or to arrange a follow up Facetime, Zoom or Skype interview in English please contact Unifor Communications Representative Kathleen O’Keefe at kathleen.okeefe@unifor.org  or 416-896-3303 (cell).

For interviews in French with Renaud Gagné, Unifor’s Quebec Director please contact Véronique Figliuzzi: Figliuzzi@unifor.org or 514 212-6003 (cell).

 

 

Refinery workers ratify tentative agreement with Co-op

Unifor -

June 22, 2020

REGINA—Unifor Local 594 members have ratified a tentative agreement with Co-op Refinery, ending a six-month lockout of 730 workers by Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL).

“Our members and their bargaining committee held firm throughout a difficult, protracted and often bitter negotiation process,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “In the end we were successful in protecting their retirement security and in achieving the national wage pattern but this result could have been reached far earlier if the mediator recommendations had been enforced by Premier Scott Moe.”

The new collective agreement maintains the defined benefit pension plan and the company matched employee savings plan for existing workers. Wage improvements in the new collective agreement match the National Pattern.

“We didn’t seek this work stoppage. Now that it’s finally been resolved our members are looking forward to returning to their jobs and getting back to work,” said Unifor Local 594 President Kevin Bittman. “This was the first, and hopefully last, work stoppage in our local’s 78 years of faithfully providing the Co-op Refinery with our dedicated labour. It will be hard going back into the workplace for some of us, but we will do it with our heads held high because we stood in solidarity for one another. This has been the toughest period in our history, but we will be stronger because of it.”

Unifor Local President Kevin Bittman will hold a media availability at 4 p.m. outside the union hall at 200 Hodsman Road, Regina.

To arrange for interviews with Kevin Bittman please contact Local 594 Chief Shop Steward Richard Exner at chiefshopsteward@unifor594.com or 306-530-9965.

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 more information please contact Unifor Communications Representative Kathleen O’Keefe at kathleen.okeefe@unifor.org or 416-896-3303 (cell).

Pallister’s public sector cuts continue as Manitoba Hydro layoffs put frontline service at risk

Unifor -

June 22, 2020

WINNIPEG – Unifor is raising the alarm over Premier Pallister’s most recent attempt to chip away at Manitoba Hydro.

Twelve of only 221 frontline workers for Manitoba Hydro’s natural gas division have been placed on layoff effective Monday, June 22, 2020 despite no financial need or decrease in work.

“Pallister looks for any way to squeeze public services, from health care to education. Today’s layoffs may look small in number, but could have a dramatic impact on Manitoban’s safety,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Workers have seen this before, governments that cut away at public services in order to contract out and privatize. That’s not going to happen here, Unifor members are fighting these cuts.”

Unifor members at Manitoba Hydro are the first to respond to explosions, gas leaks, carbon monoxide alarms, fires and other natural gas emergencies, as well as perform appliance inspection. These recent layoffs added to job vacancies not filled since 2018 has eroded the gas division’s ability to respond to emergencies by 25 per cent.

Since announcing layoffs for highly-trained, unionized staff, Manitoba Hydro has hired approximately 10 contractors and posted a contract for a new supervisor.

“Creeping cuts to public services weaken those services, and that’s exactly what Pallister’s goal is here. His record is clear, cut services that the public relies on, and attempt to bully Manitoba’s workers by contracting out,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor’s Western Regional Director. “Now is the time to invest, not make risky cuts that will harm the province.”

Unions entered good-faith discussions with Hydro about unpaid days off in lieu of layoffs, but when the company rejected a guarantee to limit layoffs, Unifor walked away. Unifor says the company’s position suggests that the layoffs are part of a longer-term strategy to further emaciate the popular publicly owned utility.

To arrange for interviews, in-person or via Skype/Facetime, please contact Unifor Communications Representative Sarah McCue at sarah.mccue@unifor.org or 416-458-3307.

National Indigenous Peoples Day

NUPGE -

“This National Indigenous Peoples Day, in the midst of protests by social movements around the world, we must work even harder with our allies to ensure our Indigenous sisters and brothers enjoy the equity and social justice we continue to strive for.” — Larry Brown, NUPGE President

UFCW Statement on Juneteenth 

UFCW Press Releases -

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), America’s largest food and retail union, stood with the 1.3 million workers it represents in grocery stores, meatpacking plants, and many other essential industries to honor the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth – which marks June 19, 1865 when slavery was officially ended in the United States.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“As millions of Americans commemorate the anniversary of Juneteenth and the end of slavery, we must also remember the racism that still plagues the lives of so many African Americans and people of color across our country today. We have not only seen this cruel injustice of racism in the murders of Rayshard Brooks, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and many more across the country, but also in an economic system where large multi-billion corporations continue to exploit African American workers. Now, more than ever, we must say with one united voice that this must end – and that Black lives do matter.

“The simple fact is that as a nation we can no longer tolerate the hate and discrimination that has been permitted to permeate our economic and justice systems. This must end. We must embrace real and substantive change. We can no longer afford to ignore a justice system that is not equal, and we must not accept an economic system where large corporations ignore how their policies and actions negatively impact African American workers.

“Our diverse union family is committed to fighting for real change and an America where all African Americans – and people of color – are able to live a better and more just life. The time has come for all good people to commit to doing the same.”

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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.

Unifor welcomes cancellation of proposal to end statutory holidays

Unifor -

June 19, 2020

TORONTO – Unifor welcomes the decision by the Ontario government to cancel its proposal to eliminate all but three statutory holidays for retail workers.

“We are pleased that the Ford government has changed its mind on this issue. Retail workers have been a vital part of getting our communities through the pandemic, and have been working incredibly hard to keep food on our tables,” Unifor National President Jerry Dias said.

“Coming just days after their pay was cut by major grocers, the possibility that they would lose their statutory holidays just added insult to injury.”

Dias spoke with Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Labour Minister Monte McNaughton this morning, who confirmed Ontario would not go ahead with the proposal to eliminate all statutory holidays for retail workers except Christmas, Good Friday and Canada Day.

“This is obviously good news, but the pay cuts are still in place and shows that we must remain constantly vigilant to stand up for the rights of all workers,” Dias said.

Loblaw was the first to announce it would end the $2 premium paid to workers in its grocery stores, and was soon followed by other major retailers, including Metro and Sobeys.

Unifor is leading efforts to make fair pay permanent as the country slowly emerges from the pandemic. The Fair Pay Forever campaign calls for historic inequities in the sector to be corrected. Many workers are forced to take more than one part-time job to get by.

Unifor will hold a virtual rally today, livestreamed on Facebook from four different cities, at 1pm (ET). Speakers at the rally will include Dias, Ontario Regional Director Naureen Rizvi, Atlantic Director Linda MacNeil and grocery store workers in Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador.

For media inquiries, or to arrange interviews via FaceTime, Skype or Zoom, please contact Unifor Communications representative Stuart Laidlaw:  stuart.laidlaw@unifor.org or 647-385-4054 (cell).

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