“The pandemic has shown the critical importance of protecting and strengthening labour rights.” — Larry Brown, President, NUPGE
(Ottawa – September 7, 2020) This Labour Day, the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) joins in celebrating the contributions of the trade union movement to improved working conditions, health and safety protections, and social programs.
COVID-19 has amplified inequities in society and within our own post-secondary workplaces. Today, we urge academic staff to take this Labour Day to reflect on what has been achieved through our collective action and on what more needs to be done to get through this crisis and to build better universities and colleges.
“We need to move forward to a more just and fair post-COVID Canada for all workers. In the academic workplace, this means putting an end to casualization and discrimination, and improving working conditions for all,” noted CAUT Executive Director David Robinson.
“We are stronger together. Only through collective action will we improve working conditions for all and address the issues of precarity and inequity in the academic workplace and in our communities,” says CAUT President Brenda Austin-Smith.
Montreal – September 5, 2020 – Restaurant workers at La Cage Brasserie Sportive on Côte-Vertu Boulevard in Montreal are the newest members of UFCW Local 500 after recently saying “Yes!” to joining the union. The employees’ application for union certification was approved by Quebec’s Tribunal administratif du travail (TAT) on August 25.
Mississauga, Ont. – September 4, 2020 – Across Ontario, school bus companies have been scrambling to establish plans that meet the framework put forth by Doug Ford’s Conservative government and the reopening arrangements of local school boards, while keeping the health and safety of the students, drivers, and monitors as the top priority.
USDA’s Relentless Push for Faster Line Speeds Further Endangers Poultry Workers and Food Supply Already At Risk During Pandemic
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), America’s meatpacking union with 1.3 million workers, along with U.S. Senator Cory Booker (New Jersey) and Representative Marcia Fudge (Ohio), announced their opposition to a proposed United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulation increasing line speeds in poultry plants across America.
“The hard-working men and women of America’s poultry industry deserve safe workplaces,” said UFCW International President Marc Perrone. “As our country’s poultry workers have been battling a pandemic, they should not have to also battle USDA seeking to make their workplaces less safe. Slower line speeds keep workers safer from injuries and ensure safe social distancing to stop the spread of coronavirus. The USDA must end its reckless efforts to increase line speeds, and instead put the safety of America’s workers and food supply first.”
“Fast line speeds worsen already unsafe conditions on slaughter lines and make it nearly impossible for workers to socially distance,” said Rep. Marcia Fudge. “In fact, nearly all of the poultry plants that USDA allowed to operate faster line speeds this spring have been cited for worker safety violations or experienced COVID outbreaks. In the middle of a pandemic, USDA should be prioritizing worker safety. Congress must act now and pass my Safe Line Speeds in COVID-19 Act to block USDA from increasing poultry line speeds and putting the health and safety of the meatpacking workforce at greater risk.”
“Despite a surge of COVID-19 outbreaks in meatpacking plants across the country, the USDA continued to grant line speed request waivers that threatened the health and safety of workers, their families, and consumers,” said Senator Cory Booker. “The USDA has now proposed to permanently increase line speeds in poultry plants—an action that is both dangerous and irresponsible. Now is the time, more than ever, that we pass the Safe Line Speeds in COVID-19 Act and protect workers and communities from the harm of these reckless giveaways to corporate agribusiness.”
UFCW, the top union for American meatpacking and poultry workers, has been a leading national voice for strengthening safeguards in these plants, which have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
UFCW reports that COVID-19 continues to threaten frontline food workers across the country, with more than 250 food worker deaths and over 36,000 food workers infected or exposed. This includes at least 115 meatpacking worker deaths and over 17,700 meatpacking workers infected or exposed to the virus.
Poultry Plant Regulation
The USDA regulates poultry line speed in plants across the United States for both worker safety and to allow for food inspection. Current line speeds are about 140 birds per minute and the proposed regulation allows plants to operate at up to 175 birds per minute.
In 2017, the USDA considered a petition from the National Chicken Council to eliminate line speed limits. That effort was ultimately rejected after an outpouring of opposition from workers and consumers.
Since then, the USDA has continued to approve record numbers of waivers to allow individual plants to operate at dangerously fast speeds, despite the coronavirus pandemic.
Union and Legislative Action
The UFCW and Public Citizen have filed a lawsuit to stop this dangerous practice and prevent further line speed waivers in the poultry industry.
Senator Cory Booker along with Representative Fudge have introduced “The Safe Line Speeds in COVID-19 Act” to ensure that USDA protects worker safety by ending this practice.
Toronto – September 3, 2020 – Each year in September, workers, union activists, and our community allies join together on Labour Day to celebrate the hard-fought gains of working people and to advocate for improvements to the lives of all Canadians.
September 3, 2020
TORONTO – On Labour Day, Unifor members across Canada will take action against Loblaw Co. to demand the company negotiate a fair contract with striking members in Newfoundland, and support fair wages for all retail workers.
Media are invited to attend or stream the action that features Unifor leadership and activists across the country.
“In the past six months we have seen a transformation like no other,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Canadians have realized that when the going gets tough it’s not the CEOs and billionaires who stepped up to the plate, but frontline workers in health care, retail, transportation - the list goes on - who played a vital role in helping us all get through the pandemic. Monday’s actions are to show these COVID heroes the respect, love and solidarity that they rightfully deserve.”
Who: Jerry Dias, Unifor National President in Toronto
Naureen Rizvi, Unifor Ontario Regional Director in Toronto
Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor Western Regional Director in Vancouver
Linda MacNeil, Unifor Atlantic Regional Director in St. John’s
When: Monday, September 7, 2020 at 1:00 p.m. E.T.
Where: Info pickets across Canada – exact locations announced Monday morning
Live-streamed to fb.com/UniforCanada
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 in-person, phone or video conference interviews or for more information, please contact Unifor Communications Representative Shelley Amyotte at firstname.lastname@example.org or 902-717-7491.
September 4, 2020
TORONTO—On Tuesday September 8, 2020 Unifor’s National President will announce live on Facebook which Detroit Three automaker will be selected to establish the pattern agreement for 2020 auto bargaining.
“On Tuesday I will announce the company that I believe will give Unifor the best chance to address our bargaining agenda and our vision for the industry, including job security issues, new product allocations and economic progress for our members” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. “We will also continue to push provincial and federal governments to be active participants in support of our efforts to secure our auto industry’s future. A future made in Canada.”
The expiring collective agreements cover approximately 17,000 Unifor members at the Detroit Three.
Last weekend workers voted overwhelmingly to authorize strike action should negotiations fail to reach a settlement with the target employer by the Sept 21st strike deadline.
WHAT: Media conference and photo opportunities with bargaining committee members
WHEN: 11 a.m., Tuesday, September 8, 2020
WHERE: Dominion Ballroom, Sheraton Centre, 123 Queen Street West, Toronto
WHO: Unifor National President Jerry Dias and Unifor Master Bargaining Committee representatives
Journalists wishing to participate in the Question & Answer portion of the media conference by phone must register by 10 am Monday September by emailing Natalie.Clancy@unifor.org
In-person attendance will be restricted due to the COVID-19 pandemic in compliance with Ontario health directives. Those wishing to attend in person must also register in advance via email. A pool camera arrangement would be ideal.
The news conference will be open to accredited media and will also be streamed live on Unifor’s Facebook page. Broadcast quality 4K footage of the event will also be available for download upon request. A digital media kit be found on this website. Unifor represents 9000 workers at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, 6300 at Ford Motor Company, and 4100 at General Motors.
For media inquiries or to arrange interviews via Facetime, Zoom, or Skype after the event please contact Unifor’s Director of Communications, Natalie Clancy at Natalie.Clancy@unifor.org or 416-707-5794 (cell).
“I commend the Canadian government for taking leadership on this issue. We all have a responsibility to take action to stop the Rohingya genocide, and Canada is uniquely positioned to intervene and to support grassroots struggles.” ― Larry Brown, NUPGE President