Latest Labour News

Biden Call for National Mask Mandate Highlights Push by America’s Largest Food & Retail Union to Protect Workers on Frontlines of COVID-19 

UFCW Press Releases -

Union for Grocery and Meatpacking Workers Facing Daily Risks in Pandemic Urges Governors to Mandate Masks Nationwide to Combat Spread of COVID-19 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, which represents 1.3 million workers in grocery stores, meatpacking plants, and other essential businesses, welcomed Vice President Joe Biden’s call for a national mask mandate for the next three months to protect workers and combat the spread of COVID-19. Biden cited health expert estimates that a national mask mandate would save over 40,000 lives. UFCW has made public mask mandates a priority since the beginning of the pandemic. 

UFCW International President Marc Perrone​ released the following statement: 

“Vice President Biden’s call for a national mask mandate underscores the need for immediate action to protect millions of America’s frontline workers. As COVID-19 spikes across the country continue to put our communities at risk, it is time for governors to step up and make a public mask mandate the law in all 50 states.  

“In every grocery store in America, frontline workers are continuing to put themselves in harm’s way to make sure our families have the food we need. Every day that governors hesitate to enact mask mandates that are fully enforced, millions of American workers and shoppers will continue to be needlessly put in danger of being infected by COVID-19.  

“It’s time for our nation’s leaders to put the safety of the American people first by enforcing public mask mandates nationwide. Our country’s workers and families cannot wait any longer.” 

Background 

UFCW has been a leading national voice in the push for public mask mandates to combat the spread of COVID-19 and protect millions of America’s frontline workers. In July 2020, UFCW joined over 100 health experts to call for a national mask mandate in a full-page New York Times advertisement. 

A recent USA Today report shows that over 40 percent of governors still refuse to enact public mask mandates, including in states like Arizona, Florida, and Georgia which have seen COVID-19 cases continue to increase at alarming rates. 

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UFCW International is the largest private sector union in the United States. UFCW International represents 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

 

Inadequate school bus health and safety protocols put students and drivers at risk

Unifor -

August 13, 2020

TORONTO–With less than a month until a scheduled return to the classroom, woefully inadequate school bus health and safety protocols put students and drivers at risk Unifor says.

“Drivers are still lacking basic information on how many students are allowed on a bus, how far they should sit apart, the supply and use of personal protective equipment, protocols for cleaning the bus, and for that matter details on who is cleaning the bus,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. “There is a hodgepodge of systems and regulations from school board to school board and the Ontario government has done nothing to standardize health and safety aboard school buses.”

Today Unifor, as Ontario’s leading school bus driver union, released a statement on behalf of drivers calling on the Ford government to take immediate action to guarantee access to PPE, limit the number of passengers and ensure proper sanitation of busses by professional cleaners. Read the statement here.

“Why are the safety precautions so different for school buses? Ontarians are told to socially distance, that anyone over the age of 2 should wear a mask indoors, and to not gather in close cohorts exceeding ten people but there is no set distance or mask requirement for kids on a bus that could hold upwards of 70 students,” said Debbie Montgomery, President of Unifor Local 4268. “School bus drivers are feeling pretty disposable right now to say the least.”

Last month Unifor warned that urgent action was needed in order for school bus service to resume in September. Now, as parents prepare to return their children to the classroom, it is still unclear if students will be transported in a safe manner.

Unifor is disappointed at the complete lack of consultation with drivers and warns that safety concerns may prevent some drivers from returning to their routes.

“Many of these drivers are senior citizens who in addition to being asked to put themselves on the frontline to safely transport an unknown amount of passengers each day are also worried about the responsibility of cleaning and sanitizing buses,” said Unifor Ontario Regional Director Naureen Rizvi. “In some situations they’re being asked to perform the work of industrial cleaners, expected to use a variety of heavy-duty cleaning products. That is not part of their job description.”

With added pandemic protocol responsibilities, many drivers may be asked to work upwards of ten hours a day as some local school boards are suggesting route configurations may be altered dramatically. Additional COVID-19 driver responsibilities also include taking attendance, enforcing pre-approved seating plans, and ensuring designated students wear masks.

These extra duties are added to the driver’s core responsibility of safely driving a large commercial vehicle during the busiest times of traffic congestion. While the drivers are tasked with providing safe student transport, they remain classified as part-time workers with no health and welfare benefit protections.

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

 

UFCW and allies provide PPE, food donations to migrant workers in Leamington

UFCW Canada -

Leamington, Ont. – August 12, 2020 – In response to the series of COVID-19 outbreaks that have impacted farming operations across Southwestern Ontario, UFCW Canada and the Agriculture Workers Alliance (AWA) have partnered with ConquerCOVID19 and Legal Assistance of Windsor (LAW) to distribute personal protective equipment (PPE) and food donations to temporary and migrant farm workers in Leamington, Ontario.

Negotiations underway between Unifor and Detroit Three auto makers

Unifor -

August 12, 2020

TORONTO– Unifor opened formal contract talks with Fiat Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors in Toronto today telling automakers the theme of these talks is The Future is Made in Canada.

“There is no secret our members are looking to secure and manufacture new products to build this industry and create good jobs for the future," said Unifor National President Jerry Dias after handing the union’s proposals to the companies’ Canadian-based officials while wearing a red Unifor mask with the theme.

“It is not lost on us that auto sales were slowing before COVID-19 forced plants to shut down but we also see opportunity here to find a Made in Canada solution as the industry rebounds.”

Dias also urged the federal government to expedite a manufacturing strategy, pointing out that auto assembly jobs help stimulate the economy, as every job on an assembly line creates or supports approximately 10 additional jobs.

“As we sat down today with the Detroit Three we were very emphatic about what needs to happen in this set of negotiations if we are going to have successful conclusions to this bargaining,” said Dias during a news conference streamed live on Unifor’s Facebook page. “We understand the industry, we understand where it’s heading, and we do not intend on having this industry and our members be left behind as we are heading to more global consolidations and major investments into electric vehicles.”

“Our plants in Windsor, Brampton, Oakville, and Oshawa all present an opportunity to increase volume and capacity and the pandemic exposed the fact that Canada has a well-established infrastructure, secure supply chain, along with research and development expertise that must be built upon,” said Dias.

Unifor will continue its long-standing practice of pattern bargaining. The union is expected to choose which automaker it will negotiate with to establish a pattern that the remainder of the contracts will be based on.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, strict safety protocols are in place for the duration of the negotiations and high-resolution photos of today’s exchange of proposals are available here. Video of today’s live stream news conference is available for 4K download for accredited media by emailing kathleen.okeefe@unifor.org. A digital media kit including contact information, background on Canada’s auto industry and details on plant locations, products produced and number of workers can be found on this website which will be updated regularly.

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector and represents 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy, including twenty thousand autoworkers and thousands more who work in the auto parts 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.

To arrange interviews via phone, zoom, Facetime or Skype please contact Unifor Communications Representative Kathleen O’Keefe at kathleen.okeefe@unifor.org or 416-896-3303 (cell).

 

Parks Canada resumes bargaining August 24

PSAC -

Following the successful conclusion of bargaining for several Treasury Board bargaining groups, the Parks Canada bargaining team will be returning to the table to negotiate with agency representatives from August 24 to 28.  The union is...

Kamala Harris As Biden Running Mate Applauded by America’s Largest Food & Retail Union

UFCW Press Releases -

UFCW Praises Harris As National Voice for COVID-19 Hazard Pay, Unbreakable Champion for Millions of American Workers on Frontlines of Pandemic  

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, which represents 1.3 million workers, announced its support for U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (California) as the running mate for Vice President Joe Biden. From fighting for hazard pay for grocery workers to her championing of the bread and butter issues that matter most to hardworking families, UFCW said that Senator Harris has proven her unbreakable support for all those who work at America’s grocery stores, meatpacking plants, pharmacies, hospitals and other essential businesses on the frontlines of COVID-19. 

UFCW International President Marc Perrone​ released the following statement: 

“This historic ticket will bring the real change our country needs. Senator Kamala Harris’ record and actions prove that she is a strong champion for America’s hardworking men and women. During this pandemic, both Vice President Biden and Senator Harris have highlighted the dangers our country’s frontline workers continue to face. Together, they have made clear that our nation’s CEOs and elected leaders must put these workers first by reinstating hazard pay, expanding COVID testing, and strengthening access to the protective gear these brave workers need to do these essential jobs.  

“As millions of America’s frontline workers continue to put themselves in harm’s way during this pandemic, Vice President Biden and Senator Harris will bring the strong and moral leadership that our nation desperately needs. Most importantly, they will put politics aside, and will do what is necessary to protect all workers, and rebuild our economy so that every hardworking family has the opportunity to succeed.” 

Background: 

U.S. Senator Kamala Harris has been a strong partner for UFCW and a champion for its 1.3 million workers in grocery stores, meatpacking plants, and other essential businesses who have been on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic since day one.

 In a recent CNN op-ed, Senator Harris joined UFCW in calling for restoring hazard pay for America’s 3 million grocery workers who continue to put themselves in harm’s way during the pandemic to ensure families have the food they need.

 In October 2019, Senator Harris joined UFCW members in Iowa to speak about the challenges facing workers across the country. Senator Harris told UFCW members that she would increase accountability for companies that rely heavily on automation and want to do business with the federal government, pledging that she would hold public hearings outlining the impact of automation on the workforce.

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UFCW International is the largest private sector union in the United States. UFCW International represents 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

UFCW 401 members at Safeway locations across Alberta vote in favour of new union contract

UFCW Canada -

Calgary – August 11, 2020 – UFCW Local 401 is pleased to announce that Safeway members across Alberta have voted overwhelmingly in favour of a new collective agreement. With more than half of the Local’s nearly 8,000-strong Safeway membership participating in the contract proposal and ratification processes, 90 percent voted to accept the company’s offer for a new union contract at Alberta Safeways.

International Youth Day 2020

NUPGE -

The message that institutions should be broadcasting on International Youth Day is that young people are already here. They’ve showed up. They’re doing the work. They’ve been doing the work for years.

Media Advisory: Unifor negotiations with Detroit Three begin tomorrow

Unifor -

August 11, 2020

TORONTO– Unifor will begin formal contract talks with the Detroit Three automakers, Fiat Chrysler, Ford and General Motors, to reach collective agreements for nearly 20 thousand members on August 12, 2020.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, strict safety protocols will be in place for the duration of the negotiations to ensure compliance with Ontario health directives. Unifor will make every effort to provide media with all necessary materials to allow for safe, remote coverage.

Journalists wishing to join the afternoon news conference participate in the Question & Answer portion of the media conference by phone must register by 3 p.m. today by emailing Kathleen.okeefe@unifor.org.
In-person attendance will be restricted for opening photo ops but we will have space for one pool videographer and one pool still photographer. The news conference will be open to accredited media and will also be streamed live on Unifor’s Facebook page. Broadcast quality 4K footage will also be available for download upon request.

A digital media kit including contact information, background on Canada’s auto industry and details on plant locations, products produced and number of workers can be found on this website which will be updated regularly.

WHAT: Media conference and photo opportunities, opening of Detroit Three negotiations
WHEN: Wednesday August 12, 2020
9:30 a.m. Fiat Chrysler opening photo op (pool coverage) - Grand Ballroom
11:30 a.m. General Motors opening photo op (pool coverage)- Grand Ballroom
2:00 p.m. Ford opening photo op (pool coverage) - Grand Ballroom
3:15 p.m. News Conference - Dominion Ballroom and live on Facebook
WHERE: Sheraton Centre, 123 Queen Street West, Toronto
WHO: Unifor National President Jerry Dias and Unifor Master Bargaining Committee representatives

For media inquiries please contact Unifor Unifor Director of Communications Natalie Clancy: Natalie.Clancy@unifor.org or (416) 707-5794.

Unifor members ratify major gains at Residence Inn

Unifor -

VANCOUVER—Members of Unifor Local 433 voted 96 per cent in favour of a new three-year contract that improves the recall notice for laid off workers.

“The hospitality industry has struggled during the pandemic, but Unifor members have worked hard to fight for their rights to be recalled fairly,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Unifor collective agreements help ensure income security and lead the hospitality industry.”

The new agreement increases the temporary recall period from 18 months to 24 months, paid benefits during COVID-19, and increasing the severance provisions in the agreement. This extension provides certainly for jobs during a time where other hotels are refusing to extend these provisions. Other gains include wage increases of more than two per cent, panic buttons for workers at risk of harassment, and stronger protections in the event of any residential conversion of the hotel.

“No worker should have to go on strike over their recall rights. No employer should get away with using COVID as an excuse to get rid of loyal workers,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor Western Regional Director.

While Unifor is making recall notice gains at the bargaining table, the union is also pushing the B.C. government to improve provincial employment standards for all workers. Unifor’s policy effort is also aimed at improved provincial standards for paid sick leave and workers’ compensation benefits.

“Unifor isn’t just satisfied with making important gains at the bargaining table,” said McGarrigle. “We are a social union that demands fairness and economic security for all working people.”

“The Residence Inn contract builds on the recent success of negotiations at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver and will carry forward to upcoming negotiations at the Hotel Grand Pacific and the Coast Coal Harbour,” said Mario Santos, the Unifor National Representative that lead the negotiations.

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).

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