Latest Labour News

Countdown to Convention 2019

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The countdown is on to Unifor’s third constitutional convention in Quebec City where the union will gather to celebrate our victories and plan for future fightback’s for our members.

“We have had one hell of a year, fighting employers and right wing governments and what we do at convention will set the stage for the next year of action as we fight for workers in the federal election,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President.

Internationally renowned guest speakers and world-class entertainment will round out a week of constitutional debate, resolutions,  and video debuts in the capital of Quebec.

More than 2,000 delegates, dignitaries, staff and guests will descend upon the Quebec City Convention Centre.

Tarana Burke, the founder of the #MeToo movement, will address convention, along with a senior federal government cabinet member, and several other quest speakers.

Blue Rodeo will perform an exclusive concert. Free, onsite childcare will be available, registration is online only and you must sign up by July 20.  Just select “Constitutional Convention 2019” under “Select an event.”

“Whatever It Takes” is the theme of Convention 2019 and members who attend are also in for some fun surprises.

Unifor grows in Kenney’s Alberta

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Within months of the election of the right wing government of Jason Kenney in Alberta, Unifor is growing in the province with a strong vote by workers at the Sheraton Suites Calgary Eau Claire hotel to join Unifor.

“These workers showed real determination to join Unifor, even in the face of anti-union legislation being brought in by Kenney,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias.

Organizing Director Kellie Scanlan said the workers at the hotel showed great strength and solidarity throughout the campaign.

“Thanks to their hard work, supported by the Organizing Department, they have a voice in their workplace at a time when their provincial government is trying to take it away.”

The 170 workers at the hotel voted by a two-thirds majority to join Unifor last week. The votes were counted Tuesday after a dispute over membership was settled with the employer.

Unifor’s newest members in the hospitality sector includes housekeeping, food and beverage, banquet, front desk, maintenance and other staff. They join Unifor’s approximately 20,000 gaming and hospitality members across Canada.

Understaffing, workload and deteriorating working conditions were the top issues in the organizing drive, which was led by many of the original workers at the landmark downtown hotel, build in 1999.

Besides labour law changes limiting overtime and holiday pay, and cutting the minimum wage for young workers, Kenney eliminated automatic certification for new bargaining units introduced by the previous NDP government just two years ago.

Assaults on bus drivers still considered part of the job by WorkSafeBC

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A disturbingly high number of transit operators are assaulted while on the job, but WorkSafeBC routinely denies compensation by claiming that it’s ‘part of the job.’

“More than 100 bus drivers are attacked every year in B.C.,” said Unifor Western Regional Director Joie Warnock. “Assaults are not part of the job. And it’s high time WorkSafeBC recognized that physically and mentally injured workers need and deserve compensation.”

Tana MacKay is a bus driver with Unifor’s Health and Safety Committee in Victoria. She advocates for injured workers and recently spoke at a government review of WorkSafeBC policies.

“I know bus drivers who have been beaten up and then, while still recovering are smothered by forms, paperwork and personal questions, which delays their claim,” she said. “The trauma of an assault can cause PTSD and other mental health problems, but WorkSafeBC frequently denies those claims.”

B.C. Transit has announced it will move forward with installing shields to separate drivers from the public on buses across the province by 2022. While safety barriers are a common feature on European buses, here in Canada, the only other transit authority to equip its buses with barriers is Toronto.

In 2015, federal politicians amended the criminal code to make it harder for judges to give light sentences to offenders who assault workers.

Unifor represents more than 4000 transit operators in Metro Vancouver. In Victoria, Local 333 represents 750 bus drivers, mechanics, maintenance and other workers at BC Transit operations.

If you live in B.C. and want to give your feedback re WorkSafeBC take the online questionnaire until July 19th

Le personnel de la résidence de retraite Chartwell Montgomery Village ratifie une convention collective

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Les membres de la section locale 1285 travaillant à la résidence Chartwell Montgomery Village ont voté à 89 p. cent en faveur de la ratification de la nouvelle convention le 16 juillet 2019.

« Notre campagne Demandez à Hilda visait à faire reculer la demande de gel salarial de Chartwell pour les travailleuses et travailleurs touchés par l'augmentation du salaire minimum de 2018, a déclaré Jerry Dias, président national d’Unifor. Cette victoire en dit long sur le succès de notre campagne Demandez à Hilda. La campagne a obtenu l'appui des résidents, des familles et des membres de la collectivité, ce qui a forcé l'employeur à renoncer à sa demande régressive. »

La nouvelle convention collective de trois ans comprend les gains suivants :

  • Des augmentations salariales minimales de 2 p. cent pour toutes les classifications chaque année de la convention.
  • Un différentiel supplémentaire de 2 p. cent dans la grille salariale du personnel de cuisine et d'entretien ménager.
  • Des rajustements salariaux de 1 p. cent pour les préposés aux services de soutien à la personne et les cuisiniers.

Parmi les gains supplémentaires, mentionnons un congé de maladie payé additionnel, une prime de quart de fin de semaine, des améliorations importantes aux dispositions sur les heures supplémentaires et une rémunération pour les employés à temps partiel au lieu des avantages médicaux.

La campagne comportait une série de vidéos « Demandez à Hilda », basées sur les publicités de Chartwell qui utilisaient une comédienne pour représenter une résidente appelée Edna. Le nom Hilda a été utilisé parce qu'il a toujours été établi que ces travailleuses et travailleurs sont assujettis à la Loi sur l'arbitrage des conflits de travail dans les hôpitaux (LADHT), qui empêche la plupart des travailleuses et travailleurs de la santé de la province de faire grève.  Le rôle de Hilda a été joué par la retraitée d’Unifor, Roxy Baker.

« La victoire d'aujourd'hui montre que lorsque les travailleurs et travailleuses décident d’agir collectivement, ils se font entendre, a déclaré Katha Fortier, adjointe au président national d'Unifor. Nous avons vu des rassemblements contre Chartwell organisés à travers l'Ontario où des milliers de membres de la communauté ont signé des pétitions demandant que les travailleuses et travailleurs reçoivent un salaire équitable. Notre présence en ligne était tout aussi forte, où les vidéos Demandez à Hilda ont été visionnées plus de 200 000 fois sur Facebook. » 

La section locale 1285 représente près de 50 membres qui travaillent à la maison de retraite d'Orangeville, en Ontario. Les sections locales 229, 2458 et 8300 ont également participé à la campagne sur les maisons de retraite Chartwell. On s'attend à ce que ces milieux de travail concluent des ententes en suivant ce modèle.

Chartwell Montgomery Village workers ratify collective agreement

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Local 1285 members at Chartwell Montgomery Village voted 89 per cent in favour of ratification of the new agreement on July 16, 2019.

“Our Ask Hilda campaign was focused on pushing back against Chartwell’s two-year wage freeze proposal for those workers affected by the 2018 minimum wage increase,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “This victory speaks volumes to the success of our Ask Hilda campaign. The campaign garnered support from residents, families and community members forcing the employer to back down from its regressive proposal.”

The new three-year agreement includes the following increases:

  • Minimum two per cent wage increases for all classifications in each year of the agreement.
  • An additional two per cent spread in the grid for dining and housekeeping staff.
  • One per cent wage adjustments for Personal Support Workers and cooks.

Additional gains include an additional paid sick day, a weekend shift premium, significant improvements to the overtime language and monetary compensation for part-time employees in lieu of health benefits.

The campaign featured a series of “Ask Hilda” videos, based on the Chartwell commercials that used an actor to represent a resident called “Ask Edna”. The name Hilda was used because these workers are consistently found to fall under the Hospital Labour Disputes Arbitration Act (HLDAA) that prevents most health care workers in the province from striking.  The role of Hilda was played by Unifor Retiree, Roxy Baker.

“Today’s victory shows that when workers take collective action they are force to be reckoned with,” said Katha Fortier, Assistant to the Unifor National President. “We saw rallies against Chartwell organized across Ontario where thousands of community members signed petitions demanding that workers be paid a fair wage. Our online presence was just as strong, where the Ask Hilda videos have been viewed more than 200,000 times on Facebook.” 

Local 1285 represents nearly 50 members working at the retirement home in Orangeville, Ontario. Local’s 229, 2458 and 8300 were also involved in the campaign for Chartwell Retirement Homes. It is expected that those workplaces will reach settlements based on this pattern.