Latest Labour News

Work standards must change as economy re-opens in wake of COVID-19

NUPGE -

“The economy is gradually re-opening now, but it will take years to rebuild the quantity of work back up to a level that fully occupies Canadian workers. And at the same time, we need to repair some obvious and damaging flaws in the quality of work, if we want that reopening to last and succeed.” — Jim Stanford, labour economist

Closure of Mackenzie mill threatens entire community

Unifor -

VANCOUVER— Unifor is warning of dire consequences for Mackenzie, B.C., as the Paper Excellence mill in the forestry town goes into indefinite curtailment.

“The federal and provincial governments have failed forestry workers in Mackenzie and all across B.C.,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “This shutdown comes after a lengthy battle from both the workers and the owner to address fibre access issues and develop a sustainable plan for the province’s forestry sector. A forestry town like Mackenzie won’t survive if both governments don’t intervene immediately.”

The mill will operate until June 30, and the 182 Unifor Local 1092 members will be kept on payroll through August 6.

“The province says they understand the issues and keep telling us they’ll do something about it, but we’re still waiting – these workers needed action yesterday,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor Western Regional Director. “If this mill can’t count on a reliable supply of fibre, it will be a disaster for the local economy.”

Parent company Paper Excellence has taken extra steps to pay workers fairly, as it did when their Nova Scotia mill, Northern Pulp, was forced to close earlier this year.

“We believe the company has done their part. Now we need government to do theirs,” said McGarrigle.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing more than 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy, including 24,000 in the forestry sector. 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 contact National Communications Representative Shelley Amyotte at 902-717-7491 or shelley.amyotte@unifor.org.

Court rejects Pallister’s attempt to limit collective bargaining

Unifor -

WINNIPEG—A Manitoba court has ruled that the so-called Public Services Sustainability Act violates the right to collective bargaining protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“Free and fair collective bargaining is a right that workers have fought for,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. “That right is a threat to the conservative forces that seek to undermine public services. Today’s court victory is a victory for both workers and the Manitobans that rely on our excellent social programs.”

Unifor joined other unions in a coalition called the Partnership to Defend Public Services (PDPS) to launch this court challenge. Today’s ruling will allow collective bargaining in the public sector to resume without the threat of unconstitutional legislation to undo workers’ gains.

Unifor says that the performance of Manitoba’s public sector workers during COVID-19 underscores their value, and the obligation of the Government of Manitoba to ensure they work under safe and fair conditions.

“Public sector workers have served Manitobans with skill and grace during a very difficult period,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor Western Regional Director. “It is a relief that their rights have been upheld after Premier Brian Pallister did everything he could to undermine their workplace rights.”

In the wake of this ruling, Unifor is calling on the premier to reverse recent layoffs at public institutions such as Manitoba Hydro and the University of Manitoba.

“Premier Pallister should do the right thing and cancel his heartless layoffs. It’s time he sit down with public sector workers on solutions, not cuts,” said McGarrigle.

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.

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).

Loblaws wrong to cut pandemic pay

Unifor -

TORONTO – Unifor opposes the decision by Loblaw Companies Ltd. to end pandemic pay for workers at its retail outlets across Canada.

“The pandemic is not over. The danger has not passed. These workers are no less at risk and are no less essential today than they were yesterday. There is no justification for ending pandemic pay now, or ever,” Unifor National President Jerry Dias said.

“Retail workers have always been essential, and they have always deserved much better. The fact is, the pandemic did not make these workers essential and did not create the inequities in retail, it simply exposed them.”

Loblaw announced that it will be ending the $2 premium paid to workers in its grocery stores effective this weekend, and will pay workers a small one-time bonus in July based on their hours of work. The bonus would be $160 for a worker on a 40-hour week.

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.

“We have seen in long term care how dangerous it is for these essential workers to be bouncing between jobs. It’s no different in retail,” Dias said.

“We have a chance to fix this. We can’t let this opportunity pass.”

Dias pointed out that Loblaw, which has consistently opposed efforts to raise the minimum wage and instead moved more and more to part-time work, rightly continues to limit customers in its stores and enforce social distancing inside.

“Loblaw knows the risk is not over. It’s just trying to boost profits on the backs of its most vulnerable workers, and that’s just wrong,” Dias said.

“Unifor is putting all retail employers on notice – the return to normal for these workers is not happening, because normal was not good enough.”

Unifor is currently in negotiations with Loblaw-owned Dominion Stores in Newfoundland and Labrador, attempting to reverse a 2019 company decision to eliminate one in five full-time supermarket jobs. 

For media inquiries, please contact Unifor Communications representative Stuart Laidlaw:  stuart.laidlaw@unifor.org or 647-385-4054 (cell).

America’s Largest Food & Retail Union Calls on Congress to Protect Essential Workers As Coronavirus Deaths and Infections Increase

UFCW Press Releases -

UFCW Calls on Republicans and Democrats to Pass Legislation to Protect and Support Frontline Workers in Grocery Stores, Meatpacking Plants, and All Essential Businesses

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) is calling on Congress to immediately act to pass legislation to ensure adequate protections for essential workers’ health, safety, and financial security. In testimony to a U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing, the union made clear that it is vital that America’s frontline workers and America’s food supply remain safe and are protected. Click here for full video.

The following is an excerpt of testimony from UFCW International President Marc Perrone, as prepared for delivery:

“All across this country, our healthcare, food, and retail workers are risking their health and safety to ensure that the American people have the food, supplies, and medical care they need during this crisis. Essential workers – as so many of you have called them – have earned essential protections. Jobs that face high risk, as these do in the COVID-19 world we are living in, must be provided the protections, benefits, and wages that reflect that high health risk.

“Our internal estimates have confirmed 225 of our members have tragically died and over 29,000 have been sick or been exposed. Some responsible employers like Cargill and Safeway, have done what is right. Others, including Amazon, Walmart, and even union employers like Kroger, have decided to put profits over people. The brutal reality is that far too many companies are failing to protect workers – and it is time that Democrats and Republicans step up and work together to do more.

“Millions of workers who lack access to paid sick days and paid family and medical leave are facing the devastating choice between risking their own health or risking the loss of a paycheck or job. Strong, anti-retaliation protections must be in place in order to ensure that workers who feel ill, or who are suffering from COVID-19, can remain at home, in quarantine for the full period of time recommended by the CDC, until it is safe to return to work. Without these actions I can promise you that more Americans will needlessly get sick and die.”

UFCW supports legislation to compensate the families of essential workers who die as a result of COVID-19 or related complications and a cash benefit to essential workers who are hospitalized due to the novel coronavirus and recover.  In addition, UFCW supports uniform paid sick leave policies that are accessible to all to flatten the curve and prevent a second wave of infection.

Background:

Today, UFCW President Marc Perrone testified and participated in the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing entitled “No Worker Left Behind: Legislation Honoring Essential Workers.”

In his testimony President Peronne called on Congress to act to protect, support and compensate essential workers by passing legislation that:

  • Compensates the families of essential workers who die as a result of COVID-19 or related complications.
  • Provides a cash benefit to essential workers who are hospitalized due to COVID-19 and recover.
  • Expands the paid sick days and paid family leave benefit that was included in the second stimulus bill, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201).
  • Requires companies to prioritize meatpacking and food processing for COVID-19 testing; provide PPE free of charge; and protect workers from retaliation for speaking out about safety issues.

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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

CAUT calls on the federal government to extend emergency wage subsidy support to universities and colleges

CAUT -

(Ottawa – June 10, 2020) In recommendations presented to the federal Finance Committee, the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) is calling on the federal government to allow universities and colleges to access the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS).

“Universities and colleges, like other organizations, need financial support to retain and pay employees during the COVID-19 pandemic,” says CAUT Executive Director David Robinson. “Academics and staff are taking urgent steps to continue to conduct research and provide education. This vital work will be significantly hampered if institutions cannot retain employees and maintain operations throughout this crisis.”

Whereas private educational institutions are eligible for the federal wage subsidy program, public universities and colleges are not. CAUT is recommending that the government extend eligibility for the CEWS to universities and colleges, and extend the timelines.

“We appreciate the government’s efforts to improve its wage and income support programs,” Robinson adds. “But there are still gaps that need to be closed.”

Iowa Meatpacking Unions Call on Gov. Reynolds, State Leaders to Reject Bill Exempting Businesses from COVID-19 Worker Safety Requirements

UFCW Press Releases -

Union for Thousands of Iowa Meatpacking Workers Call for Defeat of State Legislation Waiving Business Liability for Protecting Workers Threatened by Coronavirus

DES MOINES, IA — Today, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local Unions 230, 431, 617, 440, 1149, 6 and 222 – which represents approximately 15,000 Iowa meatpacking workers across the state – announced its strong opposition to new state legislation that would offer coronavirus liability waivers to irresponsible companies and allow them to ignore critical worker safety issues. 

UFCW Local Unions 230, 431, 617, 440, 1149, 6 and 222 released the following joint statement from their presidents:

“Iowa meatpacking workers across our state have been putting their lives on the line every day to ensure that our families have the food we need during this pandemic. Keeping our communities safe and food supply secure starts with protecting these brave frontline workers. 

“With Iowa meatpacking workers continuing to die and become infected by COVID-19 every week, it is shocking to see state leaders push such a dangerous bill that will allow giant companies to abandon their responsibility to keep these Iowa workers safe. This legislation is a threat not only to these workers, but to our food supply and the millions of Iowa families these workers proudly serve. Governor Reynolds and state legislators must immediately reject this corporate giveaway and put the safety of hardworking Iowa families first above all else.” 

These presidents: Steve Sines of Local 230, Bob Waters of Local 431, Gunther Anderson of Local 617, Leo Kanne of Local 440, Roger Kail of Local 1149,  and Don Von Bank of Local 6 together represent tens of thousands of Iowa workers. 

“For 31 years, I’ve proudly worked in Marshalltown to help families across Iowa put food on the table. This has always been a good job that’s helped me support my family, but with the coronavirus outbreak, I worry every day about getting sick. The last thing we need is a law that gives companies a free pass to ignore safety at a time when we need the strongest worker protections possible,” said Sherry Hart, a member of Local 1149 who works at JBS. “Our leaders should be standing up for Iowa meatpacking workers, not covering for big companies that fail to keep their employees from getting sick.”

“As long as Iowa meatpacking workers like me are getting sick and coronavirus continues to put us at risk, our leaders should be focused on keeping us and our communities safe. I was shocked when I heard that Governor Reynolds is considering letting companies off the hook for protecting workers,” said Memori Cleveland, a member of Local 222 who works at Seaboard Triumph in Sioux City. “In a crisis like this, our families deserve better.”

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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 grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries.

Our members help put food on our nation’s tables and serve customers in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico. Learn more about the UFCW at www.ufcw.org.

 

“We need a public, not-for-profit home care system”

Rank and File - latest news -

By Zaid Noorsumar Ontario’s new home and community care legislation will likely become law by the end of the month with virtually no public consultation, even as it impacts over 700,000 annual care recipients who require personal support services, nursing care, physiotherapy and other services. Instead of addressing the myriad problems that have plagued the Continue reading“We need a public, not-for-profit home care system”

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