Latest Labour News

Justice for Zara Alvarez


Alvarez was an educator and a rights defender. She was a member of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers-Philippines (ACT) and a prominent activist with the Negros Island Health Integrated Program and Karapatan, a human rights coalition.

Grim report predicts closures of radio and TV stations due to COVID recession

Unifor -

TORONTO—An expert report released today by the Canadian Association of Broadcasters paints a grim future for Canadian democracy, predicting more newsrooms to close as broadcasters bleed revenue to foreign giants such as Facebook, Netflix and Google.

“The COVID-recession is poised to kill off more media jobs at TV and radio stations, and it’s time for urgent action by the federal government, which we have been saying for years,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. “Our newspapers are already in a downward spiral, so the question is who is going to be left watching the politicians and the powerful to preserve our democracy.”

The detailed report prepared by respected media expert Ken Goldstein found the COVID crisis may vapourize $1 billion in broadcasters’ expected ad revenue in the next two years. He projects the continuation of massive business losses leading to closures of radio and TV stations across the country. Rural stations and independently owned news organizations are especially at risk according to the report. Radio stations have experienced revenue drops of 63% while television ad revenue is down 44% as advertisers conserve cash due to the pandemic.

“COVID has sped up the unravelling of media’s business model, thanks to Google and Facebook sucking ad dollars out of Canada,” said Dias. “Just in television local news, we’ve seen a 23 per cent decline in editorial and operations jobs since 2014. The numbers in print journalism are worse, more like 44 per cent.”

The key insight of the report is not only that small independent stations are in peril, but radio and TV outlets owned by big media companies like Bell, Rogers, Quebecor and Corus are losing their ability to transfer profits from sports and entertainment programming to cover losses in their perennially unprofitable news operations that Canadians rely on, especially during a pandemic. Western and Atlantic provinces are home to the greatest number of unprofitable TV stations which makes them vulnerable, and more at risk of closing predicts the report.

Dias is again calling for the federal government to deliver short-term financial relief to Canadian media outlets, and long-term solutions to stop the erosion of the advertising revenues that pay the bills to fund local journalism. 

“The place to start for the federal government is by implementing the recommendations of the report of the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Legislative Reform committee tabled last January,” said Dias.

The report calls for sweeping reform, and companies like Netflix would have to invest in Canadian content.

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 please contact Unifor’s Director of Communications, Natalie Clancy at or 416-707-5794 (cell).

FPSE statement on the passing of former CIEA President, Ed Lavalle

Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC -

Aug 25, 2020 FPSE News

This month, our federation received some sad news. Ed Lavalle, former president of our organization (see footnote), passed away on Friday August 7. Ed is survived by his partner Susan and daughter Michelle.

Former FPSE President George Davison wrote about Ed’s long history as a labour activist and political educator in the piece below.

In Memoriam: Ed Lavalle

Ed’s career as a post-secondary educator and union activist spanned 44 years, from his hiring as a Political Studies instructor at Capilano College in September 1973 to his retirement from Capilano University at the end of April 2017. Ed’s achievements were many, primarily at the local and provincial level, but they also set the stage for our provincial federation to take a prominent place amongst our union and post-secondary allies provincially and nationally. 

Ed was involved in just about every round of bargaining at his local since he started – 15 rounds by my count. He was a moving force in the 1970s within the College Faculties Federation[1], a provincial organization of newly-organized faculty unions that had eight locals, 709 members, a volunteer executive and a budget of $11,000. At Capilano, he set up the Labour Studies Programme, a college-based worker education program developed in cooperation with trade unions. Through this program, Ed led workshops on how arbitrations and strikes could be used to defend collective agreements. In the late 70s, Ed was the driving force to create a provincial union, the College-Institute Educators’ Association, which was established in May 1980.

Ed used to say that bargaining was everything, whether it was with your colleagues, the employer, union allies, or the government. Bargaining was also a continuum: one needs goals to attain and the patience to work towards those goals over time. Ed helped mould CIEA into an effective provincial federation in the 1980s and ‘90s. A provincial defence fund was established in 1986 to support striking locals, and CIEA set up new standing committees for women and non-regulars, our contract academic staff, who had just been organized into what had been full-time faculty unions. Ed was elected Vice-President in 1987, was re-elected in 1988, and became President in 1989. He served as president for 7 terms, from 1989-92, and again from 1995-99.

In the 1990s, Ed oversaw the process to get legislative changes to the Colleges and Institutes Act that resulted in the establishment of Education Councils and constituency (faculty, support staff and students) representatives on institutional Boards of Governors. He was one of the key stakeholders who worked with representatives of institutional presidents, ministry officials, students and the B.C. Government & Service Employees’ Union: in September 1996 they produced Charting A New Course: A Strategic Plan for the Future of British Columbia’s College, Institute and Agency System that involved setting up a number of system agencies to support post-secondary education. These were designed to make post-secondary education better for students, for faculty and staff, for institutions, for the government, and for British Columbians.

Ed’s goal of coordinated bargaining was finally achieved in 1998, when the entire post-secondary system outside the research universities and BCIT came together to bargain.  After almost three months of bargaining in the spring, a summer hiatus and strike vote in September, the provincial negotiating committee achieved a tentative agreement hours before a province-wide strike was set for late October. The agreement included clauses on harassment, one-quarter release for union-employer relations, prior learning assessment, copyright and intellectual property, regularization, leaves, benefits and a joint committee on benefits administration, pensions (the first joint-trusteed pension plan amongst public sector plans in BC), early retirement incentives, a provincial salary scale and secondary scale adjustment, and a clause protecting superior benefits in a local agreement.

Ed became Provincial Secretary to the BC NDP from 1999 to 2003. He returned to Capilano College after that, and continued to teach labour studies and political studies. He developed an exchange program with the European Parliament that saw Canadian students travel to the Hague, and European students come to Canada.

Former BC Minister of Education, Skills and Training (and former CIEA president) Paul Ramsay said “"Ed was a force and (for me) a mentor. He did so much to strengthen education, unionism, and government in B.C. Few have done as much. I will deeply miss his intelligence and wit."

In short, Ed was instrumental in laying the groundwork for the collective agreements we all enjoy today, and for building the federation into what it is today: an organization with two full-time officers and 12 staff, 20 locals, 10,000 members, affiliated to the BC Federation of Labour, the Canadian Association of University Teachers and the Canadian Labour Congress through the National Union of CAUT.

As one of Ed’s colleagues wrote to me, “it would take a book to document the full history of his contribution. At the level of Cap College/University…[he demonstrated] patience, acumen, knowledge, strategic vision and determination to serve the best interests of the faculty [and] inspired in all of us a cheerful courage to achieve success…[He] always kept his own ego in check, suffered the occasional slings and arrows flung his way with equanimity and without rancour, and soldiered on…[He was] An exemplary comrade-in-arms, a wise and dedicated and selfless leader.”

He will be missed.


[1] The Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC has been re-named multiple times over 50 years, motivated both by changes to post-secondary institutions, as well as the membership of the organization. In 1970, the organization consisted entirely of college faculty associations, thus was created under the name College Faculties Federation (CFF). The CFF was re-constituted as the College and Institute Educators’ Association (CIEA) in 1980, largely in response to the SoCreds introduction of Bill 82, the Colleges and Provincial Institutes Act. Finally, CIEA became the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC in 2004 when the BC Liberals changed the University-College of the Cariboo into Thompson Rivers University.

School bus drivers call for standardized COVID-19 safety protocols

Unifor -

August 25, 2020

TORONTO – Unifor school bus driver members are calling on the Ontario government to implement standardized COVID-19 safety protocols in order to protect both themselves and the students onboard.

“Drivers are very concerned about pandemic safety measures, or lack thereof, that are supposed to come into effect in just a few short weeks,” said Debbie Montgomery, President of Unifor Local 4268.
“Right now many of these drivers are not getting information on how they will be kept safe.”

Today a group of frontline drivers came forward to warn that COVID-19 regulations shift from school board to school board with no mandated regulations on passenger limits, social distancing, mask requirements or bus sanitization procedures.

As Ontario’s largest school bus driver union, Unifor sent a statement on behalf of drivers to Premier Doug Ford, Education Minister Stephen Lecce, and Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney on August 13, 2020 with five key demands.

• Properly mandate the use of facemasks, shields, gloves and gowns and ensure that all bus operators provide drivers with proper personal protective equipment to protect both workers and passengers.

• Treat buses like any other confined space and limit the number of students per route to ensure proper social distancing. School buses cannot be loaded with 74 students (as one driver’s September 2020 manifest route log revealed). This is both risky and unacceptable.

• Provide extra government funding to support driver hiring and retention to increase the number of buses and routes, as well as additional resources such as paid adult school bus monitors to assist drivers that transport younger children or students with extra needs.

• Students must be mandated to wear masks at all time inside the bus for self-protection and the protection of others.

• Buses need to be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized at the end of each run. This must be done by professionally trained cleaners. Drivers must not be tasked with this job or have this included as part of their normal duties.

“As return to school dates approach our drivers want to return to work to do their jobs but they want to keep safe, to keep their small passengers safe and to keep our communities safe,” said Montgomery. “We’re willing to work to find a solution, we know how important it is to get kids to school but we don’t want to be the weak link in the system. We don’t want an outbreak in our communities to start on a school bus.”

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.

Unifor pushing federal government to plan for safe reopening of borders

Unifor -

July 25, 2020

TORONTO – Unifor continues to lobby the Federal Ministers of Health and Transportation to discuss a plan that eases travel restrictions while not comprising the health and safety of the travelling public.

“The air travel sector has arguably been hit the hardest because of the Pandemic and easing travel restrictions start by putting the health and safety of workers and passengers at the forefront,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President after speaking with federal officials yesterday. “Canadians are demanding all levels of government to start implementing measures that ease travel restrictions and provide funding to help the travel industry survive this unprecedented downturn.”

Unifor representatives outlined the need for government to establish clear criteria for opening borders to safe countries and corridors and reducing some quarantine requirements using science-based alternatives. The union believes that travelers arriving from countries and jurisdictions that have controlled the virus should not be subjected to the same protocols as countries where the virus is not contained.

“As the world is opening up, countries are coming to realize that blanket travel restrictions no longer make sense and in turn only hurt our economy, especially the travel and tourism sector,” said Barret Armann, President of Unifor Local 7378. “We need to recognize that if other countries are willing to accept Canadian travellers based on how we have controlled the virus we should do the same. The solution here is not simple but manageable and the government must act now.”

The union also highlighted its continued workwith many employers in the travel and tourism industry including hotels, airlines, and airports, to implement health and safety protocols that will increase the safety of workers and the travelling public.

To read Unifor’s “Air Transportation in Canada: Industry Preservation and Recovery” submission click here.

Information about the union’s response to the pandemic, as well as resources for members can be found at

For further information: For media inquiries or to arrange an interview with Jerry Dias via Skype or FaceTime, contact Hamid Osman, Unifor National Communications Representative at 647-448-2823 (cell) or

Media Advisory: School bus driver media availability on lack of COVID-19 protocols

Unifor -

August 24, 2020  

TORONTO – Unifor school bus driver members will hold a media availability to express concern on the lack of COVID-19 protocols at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday August 25, 2020.

“With weeks to go drivers still do not have information on measures to protect them and the students onboard from COVID-19,” said Unifor Local 4268 President Debbie Montgomery. “Many of our drivers are senior citizens, more vulnerable to the virus, and right now they’re telling me that they feel like sitting ducks.”

Montgomery will be joined by frontline drivers at a media availability in front of St. Kevin’s elementary school in Scarborough. A school bus will also be on site for media to get footage illustrating the confined space between rows and if wanted b-roll of the bus driving can be shot from outside or inside the bus with masks and social distancing in place as bus will be a full size vehicle.

WHAT:                              School bus drivers express concerns on COVID-19 protocols

WHEN:                              Tuesday August 25, 2020 at 10:30 a.m. ET

WHO:                                Debbie Montgomery, President of Unifor Local 4268

                                            Rob Robson, School Bus Driver Bowmanville

Michelle Lavallee, School Bus Driver Bowmanville

Frank Perrone, School Bus Driver Ajax/Whitby

Hira Khan, School Bus Driver Ajax/Whitby

Angela Sarjeant, School Bus Driver Ajax/Whitby

Safwat Elmor, School Bus Driver Toronto

Stanfield Duverney, School Bus Driver Toronto

WHERE:                         15 Murray Glen Dr, Scarborough M1R 3J6.  Access via Lawrence Ave. E, north on Gooderham Dr. then west on Murray Glen. Note - you cannot access using Murray Glen off Warden Ave as street does not go through for traffic (which may not appear on some maps).

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.

Media inquiries call Unifor Communications Representative Kathleen O’Keefe at  or 416-896-3303 (cell).

Striking grocery workers offer to help Dominion donate perishable food

Unifor -

August 24, 2020

ST. JOHN’S– Striking grocery workers have offered to help Dominion to donate perishable food from Newfoundland stores to local food banks.

“We are aware that there are perishables in the stores and there are people in need across Newfoundland,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. “Unifor has reached out to Loblaw Companies Limited to inform that our frontline grocery members are willing to assist any way we can to get the perishables out of the stores and into the hands of not-for-profit organizations that would distribute the food.”

More than 1,400 workers at 11 Dominion locations across Newfoundland began strike action on Saturday August 22, 2020 after voting to overwhelmingly reject the contract offered by Dominion parent company Loblaw Companies Limited.

Negotiations between Unifor and Loblaw have been ongoing for eight months, beginning shortly after the company’s decision to eliminate more than 60 full-time positions, approximately one in five full-time jobs, at Newfoundland Dominion locations. Today more than 80 % of the remaining workers are part-time, with more than half earning less than $12 an hour.

“Ironically some of Dominion’s own workers utilize local food banks so we are keenly aware of the need in our communities,” said Unifor Local 597 President Carolyn Wrice. “The workers are taking a stand to raise working conditions for themselves and to draw attention to the poverty wages that profitable grocery giants like Loblaw continue to pay.”

The frontline workers at the Dominion stores have been working without a contract since October 2019 and have not received a wage increase since the spring of 2018.

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector and represents 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 please contact Unifor Communications Representative Kathleen O’Keefe at or 416-896-3303 (cell).


Dominion workers on strike in Newfoundland

Unifor -

August 22, 2020

ST. JOHN’S– Unifor Local 597 members at Dominion grocery stores across Newfoundland will begin strike action at 10:01 p.m. Saturday August 22, 2020.

"Our Dominion members do not take this decision lightly. They would much rather be serving their communities but as frontline workers they felt they could not accept the contract put forth by the company," said Unifor National President Jerry Dias.

The workers, who have been without a contract since October 2019, voted to overwhelmingly reject the contract offer from Dominion's parent company Loblaw Companies Limited.

“There were gains in some areas but in the end the monetary offer fell short, last month Dominion clawed back two dollars an hour pandemic pay from their workers then offered just half of that back over the entire life of the three-year contract,” said Dias.

In 2019, Dominion eliminated more than 60 full-time positions at Newfoundland stores. Currently more than 80 % of the workers are part-time, with low pay and limited access to benefits, and have not received a pay raise since the spring of 2018.

"These are the very workers who supported us all during this pandemic and I hope that the public will support them now," said Unifor Local 597 President Carolyn Wrice.

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector and represents 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 please contact Unifor Communications Representative Kathleen O’Keefe at or 416-896-3303 (cell).

Dominion workers vote on tentative agreement

Unifor -

August 21, 2020

ST. JOHN’S–Unifor Local 597, representing Dominion workers at Newfoundland grocery locations, will announce the result of the ratification vote on the tentative agreement offered by Loblaw Companies Limited at 10:00 p.m. NDT on Saturday August 22, 2020.

Ratification meetings for the 11 stores across the province began on August 6 with the final meeting and vote count scheduled for August 22.

In the event that the tentative contract is turned down strike action will commence at 10:01 p.m. NDT August 22, 2020. 

For media inquiries please contact Unifor Communications Representative Kathleen O’Keefe at or 416-896-3303 (cell).