Latest Labour News

UFCW: Amazon CEO Sells $3.4 Billion in Stock Before Market Collapse While Failing to Protect Workers from Coronavirus  

UFCW Press Releases -

America’s Largest Private Sector Union Condemns Jeff Bezos for Putting His Own Profits Before Worker Health and Safety During Outbreak 

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), which represents 1.3 million workers in grocery, retail, and other industries, condemned Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos for failing to protect the company’s workers during the coronavirus outbreak even as the Wall Street Journal reported that he protected his own wealth by selling $3.4 billion in stock in the first week of February, before the market collapsed.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“As the Wall Street Journal reported, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has now been exposed for putting his wealth first on the eve of the coronavirus outbreak, even while the company refuses to do enough to protect Whole Foods employees and other Amazon workers from this pandemic.

“It was already outrageous that Amazon refuses to provide any paid sick leave until after they test positive for the virus. That may now be explained by the fact that Bezos is apparently more concerned with adding to his personal wealth than protecting the health and welfare of his workers, their families, or the public.

“Make no mistake, union and non-union grocery workers are literally on the front lines of this national coronavirus outbreak. They are putting themselves at risk every day to help feed America’s families. Is it really so much to ask that billionaires and non-union employers, like Amazon and Whole Foods, do more to protect their workers and the public?

“The America people, our elected leaders, and especially Whole Foods and Amazon customers, have the right to demand to know why Bezos sold this stock when he did, and more importantly, why he isn’t doing more to protect workers and this nation from this terrible pandemic that has impacted every single American.”

Background:

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos sold $3.4 billion in Amazon shares in the first week of February, shortly before the stock market peaked, allowing him to avoid losses of roughly $317 million if he had held the stock through March 20. Bezos sold almost as much stock during the first week in February as he sold during the previous 12 months.

Earlier this month, UFCW called out Amazon and Whole Foods for failing to provide any paid sick leave to employees until after they tested positive for COVID-19 and suggesting that employees “donate” their paid time off (PTO) to coworkers facing medical emergencies during the coronavirus outbreak. With coronavirus testing incredibly scarce, this leaves Whole Foods employees – and all Amazon employees covered by the policy – at great risk before they are able to get tested.

UFCW has been a vocal critic of Amazon’s aggressive move to devalue and degrade grocery jobs at Whole Foods. In September 2019, UFCW slammed the company for cutting medical benefits for hundreds of part-time workers. In March 2019, UFCW condemned actions by Whole Foods to reduce employee hours just months after Amazon announced a wage increase that was supposed to be an investment in Whole Foods workers.

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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.

 

MOA on Lab Redeployment to Cadham

Manitoba Association of Health Care Professionals -

As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, Laboratory professionals are on the front line of keeping Manitobans safe from this growing threat.

We are now seeing the media and public take a greater interest in the life-saving work you do every day.  I will continue to do my part to make sure people understand the critical role you serve in health care, and not just during a pandemic.  We recognize that these are extraordinary times, and some Laboratory professionals are already being called upon to serve where you’re needed most during this crisis.

I am writing to MAHCP Laboratory members across the province to advise that MAHCP has signed an additional MOA – Redeployment of Staff Between the SHEO and CPL Relating to COVID-19.  This MOA is specific to redeployment of Laboratory staff in order to effectively respond to the COVID-19 pandemic as the situation evolves in Manitoba and the need for testing grows.  Please be advised that the attached MOA is now in effect.

This new MOA is nearly identical in language and intent to the MOA signed previously between all health-care unions and Regions regarding redeployment of staff between Employer organizations.  However, that previous MOA did not cover redeployment to Cadham Provincial Laboratory as it is operated directly by the Government of Manitoba, so an additional MOA was required.

I would like to remind everyone that MOAs are commonplace in preparation for events such as natural disasters and pandemics.  The MOA ensures that your rights are protected and that any member who is temporarily transferred to Cadham will receive additional compensation to cover costs related to travel, meals and hotel accommodations as needed.  It is important to note that the MOA ensures the terms of your current collective bargaining agreement will continue to apply if you are redeployed, and you will continue to be represented by MAHCP.

If you have any questions regarding the terms of this MOA or transferring to Cadham, please contact your Labour Relations Officer or email info@mahcp.ca.

On behalf of MAHCP, thank you again for the work you do every day to keep Manitobans safe and healthy, especially during this difficult time.  I know all Allied Health Professionals have concerns of your own right now, and yet you continue to do whatever you can to serve.  All MAHCP members are heroes in my book, and you deserve the gratitude of every single Manitoban.  Thank you.

In solidarity,

Bob Moroz

MAHCP President

“We are dropping like flies,” says Ontario home care nurse

Rank and File - latest news -

By Zaid Noorsumar Protective equipment shortages in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis are causing panic among home and community care workers and placing them on the verge of quitting, says an Ontario nurse who works in the sector.  Janice Ackerman*, a registered practical nurse (RPN), says personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, masks, Continue reading“We are dropping like flies,” says Ontario home care nurse

Employers sabotage worker access to EI benefits, Great Canadian Casino workers speak out

Unifor -

March 24, 2020

TORONTO – Unifor calls on all employers to adhere to Service Canada’s demand that COVID-19 related work shortages be coded appropriately, instead of blocking workers’ access to EI.

“Some employers are sabotaging workers’ access to EI benefits and it has to stop,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Workers from across Canada are being delayed access to EI benefits because employers are miscoding Records of Employment.”

Unifor has received dozens of complaints from workers, notably those recently laid off from Great Canadian Casinos, that ROE forms are being miscoded. Service Canada has stated clearly that all ROEs must be coded as “shortage of work.” Employers who improperly code forms are causing excessive delays for workers trying to access EI.

“Workers are suffering as this crisis evolves and this error is only hurting workers and their families, and employers need to fall in line, and stop listening to a handful of law firms giving bad advice” said Dias.

The advice on Service Canada’s website to employers is very clear that workers laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic must be coded “shortage of work.”

Unifor recently urged all Members of Parliament to act quickly to address issues facing workers; including radical EI reform and emergency measures to ensure that wage loss is minimized.

“Emergency measures are needed immediately. Workers cannot wait another day while the EI system continues to fail those who need it,” continued Dias.

Unifor launched a comprehensive hub for information about the pandemic at unifor.org/COVID19 and encourages all members to visit the site regularly for updates.

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 National Communications Representative, Paul Whyte at Paul.Whyte@unifor.org or 647-221-9343 (cell).

Ford must re-invest $1 billion in health care to fight COVID-19

Unifor -

March 24, 2020

TORONTO—Unifor is urging the Government of Ontario to strengthen its COVID-19 strategy, restore $1 billion in health spending and adopt a series of policies to protect the health and economic security of Ontarians in advance of tomorrow’s economic update.

“By all estimations, the pandemic will get worse before it gets better. We need the Ontario government to abandon its piecemeal approach to this crisis,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Doug Ford’s slow-moving approach to this crisis will bring a whole host of economic perils for Ontarians that his government has not begun to address.”

The Ontario government previously cut an estimated $2.7 billion in health spending in its 2019 budget, including $13-million to Public Health Ontario which directly affected the province’s capacity to test for infectious diseases. As reports continue to show long wait times and delays for testing Ontarians for COVID-19, Unifor is calling for the province to immediately reverse health care cuts by a minimum of $1 billion. The funding must also be prioritized for long-term care as seniors are among the most vulnerable population to the effects of COVID-19 and the province has yet to address the Personal Support Worker (PSW) shortages across the province.

“There can be no doubt that the government’s funding cuts to health care made it much more difficult to adequately protect Ontarians from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Naureen Rizvi, Unifor Ontario Regional Director. “The Ford government is risking the health and safety of Personal Support Workers and long-term care facility residents in this province if funding isn’t restored by March 25.”

Unifor has called on the Ontario government to implement broad-based measures to protect Ontarians’ income and their health, as well as implement specific protections for seniors and health care workers. The union’s letter to the premier can be viewed here.

Unifor accounts for the dramatic economic disruption caused by the pandemic in its recommendations to government. As a significant number of laid off workers face potentially insurmountable financial pressures and a lack of relief from Employment Insurance payments, workers, especially gig economy, contract, and precarious workers, will require direct emergency income assistance. Unlike various other provinces, the Ontario government has so far provided no income support to workers that do not qualify for EI benefits and are either waiting, or ineligible, for pending federal supports. 

While the Ford government has implemented some protections already, a Toronto Star report released on Friday revealed that Ontario’s health authorities have been critical of Ontario’s COVID-19 strategy describing it as slow, incremental and ineffective.

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 an interview, please contact Unifor Communications National Representative David Molenhuis at david.molenhuis@unifor.org or 416-575-7453 (cell).

All PSAC Regional Conventions Postponed

PSAC -

In keeping with recommendations from both local and national health authorities regarding COVID-19, PSAC has made the difficult decision to suspend the remaining four PSAC Regional Conventions. All seven PSAC Regional Conventions are now postponed...

2020 Prairie Provincial Budget Review

Rank and File - latest news -

What do the prairie budgets say about the values of our provincial leaders? In a time of such uncertainty, how can we formulate a vision of a society that values people over profits? Joel French, Simon Enoch, and Lynne Fernandez discuss the Prairie budgets and what they mean for workers’ futures. AUPE asks for immediate Continue reading2020 Prairie Provincial Budget Review

Behind the work refusal by Hamilton sanitation workers

Rank and File - latest news -

By Doug Nesbitt At least half of Hamilton’s sanitation workers initiated a health and safety work refusal on Monday March 23 at 7am. By 11:30am, the Ministry of Labour was contact to address the ongoing work refusal. The seventy sanitation worker involved are members of CUPE Local 5167, the union representing City of Hamilton employees. Continue readingBehind the work refusal by Hamilton sanitation workers

Ottawa has stalled too long on EI reform, new action needed

Unifor -

March 23, 2020

TORONTO - Unifor is calling on MPs to use the special Tuesday Parliamentary session to move quickly on reform and pass emergency measures to ensure all workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic have a reliable, decent paycheque.

“We are facing a crisis of catastrophic proportions that requires fast action from government. Despite promising first steps, federal progress on worker supports has stalled and I’m afraid our opportunity for quick action may have passed,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President.

Unifor is calling on Parliament to pass emergency measures on Tuesday to expedite the delivery of paycheques to displaced working families, through whatever means necessary, including via existing employer payroll systems or direct payments to households. 

“Canada’s workers were feeling the squeeze before they were forced out of a job by this pandemic. Without a dramatic change of tack, in a few more days laid-off workers will be left with empty cupboards and bare dinner tables,” said Dias.

In December of last year, a survey by MNP found that nearly half of Canadians were $200 or less away from financial insolvency. Federal funding announcements to date have not addressed the immediate need of Canadian families to cover necessities.

Two-thirds of the of the federal support package announced by government on Wednesday, March 18, 2020 is not income support but will instead be delivered in tax deferrals to business and individuals, while new income support programs for those who do not qualify for E.I. will take weeks to even begin accepting applications.

“Last week, more than 500,000 individual E.I. claims were filed and there is no reason to expect that number to slow down,” said Lana Payne, Unifor Secretary-Treasurer. “Millions more will have their work interrupted by this pandemic. The E.I. system, once overwhelmed, is now completely under water.”

Canada sits on the lower end of the spectrum as governments around the world such as New Zealand, Sweden, and America have already pledged four to six per cent of GDP towards immediate fiscal support. Canada should consider adopting creative solutions as the UK has done in pledging income replacement to be paid out to businesses that keep employees on payroll instead of forcing layoffs.

“Members of Parliament need to be prepared to make an immediate decision about how they plan to fund income replacement for Canada’s workers tomorrow. If the E.I. system cannot handle these claims in a timely way, an immediate and temporary alternative is needed to ensure hardworking Canadian families do not fall into financial ruin,” continued Dias.

Information about the union’s response to the pandemic, as well as resources for members can be found at unifor.org/COVID19.

For further information, contact Sarah McCue, Unifor National Communications Representative at 416-458-3307 (cell) or sarah.mccue@unifor.org.

Refinery workers overwhelmingly endorse independent mediator’s recommendations

Unifor -

REGINA—Unifor Local 594 members have voted in 98 per cent favour of the recommendations made by a Vince Ready and Amanda Rogers, the government-appointed mediators asked to help end the 109-day lockout at the Co-op Refinery.

“Premier Scott Moe appointed Ready and Rogers to resolve this dispute. They did their part. The union has now accepted the recommendations. The only thing standing in the way of an end to this lockout is an employer that demands new concessions to this day,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “We asked the premier for this process to be binding because clearly Co-op cannot be trusted to act in good faith. We were right.”

In addition to snubbing the recommendations of Moe’s appointed mediators, Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL) used the COVID-19 crisis as an excuse to try to leverage even more concessions from oil and gas workers.

Ready and Rogers tabled eight recommendations on March 19, 2020 that included sweeping changes to the refinery workers’ pension plan, which FCL said were needed. The mediators’ terms would have saved the employer millions of dollars, as workers would have contributed up to eight per cent to their pensions, in addition to other major concessions the company had been seeking. 

“Refinery workers didn’t endorse the mediators’ recommendations because they gave us everything we wanted. We endorsed them because they represent a reasonable compromise that the company has little excuse to reject,” said Kevin Bittman, Unifor Local 594 President.

Unifor remains concerned that this lockout and use of scabs from out of province in a crowded work camp is dragging on amidst a public health crisis that threatens the provincial economy.

“We need Premier Moe to legislate an end to this and force FCL to accept the now-ratified deal,” said Dias.

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 Communications Representative Ian Boyko at ian.boyko@unifor.org or 778-903-6549 (cell). Unifor National President Jerry Dias is available for video interview FaceTime or Skype.

Media must be included in COVID-19 emergency plan: Unifor

Unifor -

March 23, 2020

TORONTO – Unifor is calling on the federal government to ensure that Canadian media organizations survive the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to provide vital information to the public.

“Almost every Canadian newspaper and television news outlet was teetering on the brink before the pandemic hit,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. “Our media companies are experiencing unprecedented dips in advertising revenues, resulting in catastrophic losses.”

Dias commended media workers for their continued work to deliver crucial facts to Canadians during this time of crisis. Dias also applauded the many news organizations with pay-walled websites that have offered COVID-19 related information for free.

“The news industry is giving away its most sought after content because it’s the right thing to do, the only thing to do,” said Dias. “We have a long way to go to recovery so the federal government has to act now and include news organizations as part of the emergency plan.”

Dias proposed that the federal government increase the 25 per cent labour tax credit for written journalism passed in the 2019 Budget. It should also expand the program to include television companies, which the CRTC reports have been running annual losses of up to eight per cent since 2013.

Dias cited the report of the expert committee to reform the Broadcasting Act, which made the same recommendation at the end of January before the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was known.

Unifor represents 11,000 Canadian journalists and media workers, part of the 315,000 workers represented by the union in every major area of the economy. As Canada’s largest union in the private 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 please contact Unifor Communications Representative Kathleen O’Keefe at kathleen.okeefe@unifor.org  or 416-896-3303 (cell).

Video game sales are up while testers work in dangerous conditions

Rank and File - latest news -

by Lana Polansky Game workers employed at Keywords Studio, the largest Quality Assurance studio in Montreal, say they are pressured to work on-site through the COVID-19 pandemic while senior staff and management are allowed to work from home. As public health officials recommend self-isolation and social distancing to limit the spread of COVID-19, digital video Continue readingVideo game sales are up while testers work in dangerous conditions

Weekly labour news digest – March 22 2019

Rank and File - latest news -

Federal government to legislate $82bn aid package The federal government announced a $82 billion aid package as a temporary measure to provide relief to businesses and workers, as Canada reacts to unprecedented job losses. The package includes $55 billion in tax deferrals for businesses alongside direct payments of $27 billion. The latter includes $10 billion Continue readingWeekly labour news digest – March 22 2019

Unifor watching closely as Ontario hospitals given emergency powers

Unifor -

TORONTO— Unifor health care members understand the need for the Ontario government’s temporary order giving hospitals extraordinary emergency powers to prevent the spread of COVID-19 but the union cautions employers to not to exert unnecessary force, and show respect for front-line workers while enacting the order.

“Unifor recognizes that this is not business as usual but we will be watching closely how hospitals use these special powers to manage this pandemic,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Health care workers understand the motive and goals of this temporary order. However, let me be crystal clear, we will monitor every workplace change and will not allow employers to abuse their powers with this order to cut front-line health workers or infringe upon workers’ rights.”

The temporary order allows hospitals to cancel and postpone services to free-up space and valuable staff, set staffing priorities, and develop, modify and implement redeployment plans for the next 14 days. It also allows volunteers to do work normally performed by unionized workers.

“This temporary order may over ride certain provisions of the collective agreement, but rights under the Occupational Health and Safety Act remain intact,” said Naureen Rizvi, Ontario Regional Director. “Health care members will continue to be engaged and bring any health and safety concerns to their joint occupational health and safety committees. Our members continue to be resilient and steadfast in their fight against the spread of COVID-19, and they bravely show up at work every single day.”

Prior to the temporary order being enacted, the union raised several concerns about the temporary order to Ontario Minister of Health Christine Elliott.

“We informed Minister Elliott that hospitals should only enact these directives in response to a demonstrated need,” said Andy Savela, Unifor Health Care Director. “This order should not be ‘open season’ on the terms and conditions of our collective agreements.”

Unifor will continue to provide updates as information becomes available at unifor.org/COVID19.

Unifor leading call for retail worker protections and wage premiums

Unifor -

March 23, 2020

TORONTO – Unifor calls on all retailers to match wage premiums and enhanced health and safety protocols in recognition of front-line service workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.



“We recognize the tremendous risk workers are taking and thank them for their dedication during these unprecedented times,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Unifor continues to call on retailers to recognize the importance of their front-line workers and to compensate them fairly during the crisis.”



The union’s advocacy efforts for adequate protective gear, wage premiums, and sick leave benefit improvements have created a ripple effect across the country. Unifor members working for Rexall were the first to receive wage premiums and shortly thereafter Unifor worked with Loblaw, Metro, and Sobeys who announced similar initiatives. Now, more than 15,000 Unifor retail workers will receive a $2 dollar wage premium and enhanced health and safety protocol for front-line staff. New protocols include plexiglas protective barriers, social distancing measures and commitment to wage and benefit protection during layoffs.



“The voice of unions is clearly crucial to ensuring workers’ rights are protected during the COVID-19 crisis,” said Lana Payne, Unifor Secretary-Treasurer. “Too often we hear about workplace injury as a result of employers cutting corners – now more than ever, the risk is too high for complacency.”



Unifor encourages all employers choosing to remain open to follow-suit and provide workers with wage premiums and appropriate health and safety measures. Front-line workers are taking extraordinary risk while performing their crucial services in order to serve Canadians.



“All employers choosing to remain open during the outbreak have a legal responsibility to provide a safe working environment,” said Dias. “Retail workers deserve recognition and gratitude for their brave service during this pandemic. The actions employers take now will impact what’s to come, and we are all watching.”



The union published a list of necessary policy recommendations to address workers’ safety and well-being as sweeping layoffs and the threat of exposure continues to climb. While government programs are a start, Canada still lags behind many other countries in providing income top-ups and development of a robust economic response to COVID-19.



Safety is top priority, particularly in sectors that require exposure to the public. Unifor released a series of information sheets outlining the unique impacts COVID-19 is having on sector-specific workforces.



Unifor launched a comprehensive hub for information about the pandemic at unifor.org/COVID19 and encourages all members to visit the site regularly for updates.

For media inquiries please contact National Communications Representative, Paul Whyte at Paul.Whyte@unifor.org or 647-221-9343 (cell).

Unifor shocked by Co-op rejection of independent mediator’s recommendations

Unifor -

REGINA—Unifor is shocked that Federated Co-op has rejected the recommendations of the independent mediator and is using the COVID-19 crisis to leverage even more concessions from oil & gas workers.   “FCL CEO Scott Banda’s tactics get more disgusting by the hour,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Western Canada needs a secure fuel supply and the skilled operation of the Regina refinery. Instead, Scott Banda wants to use a public health crisis as bargaining leverage on his own employees.”   Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe appointed respected mediator Vince Ready in February 2020 to find a solution to the now 108-day lockout. Ready tabled his recommendations on March 19, 2020 and the bargaining committee of Unifor Local 594 reluctantly agreed to accept the terms on March 20.    The recommendations included sweeping changes to the refinery workers’ pension plan, something cited by FCL as the primary issue leading to the lockout. Ready’s terms would have put millions of dollars back into Co-op coffers, as workers would have contributed up to eight per cent to their pensions, in addition to other major concessions the company had been seeking.    “Refinery workers entered Premier Moe’s mediation process in good faith, only to be slapped in the face again with the underhanded approach from the company,” said Kevin Bittman, Unifor Local 594 President.   “The evidence is now staring the Premier in the face: Co-op has never wanted a fair deal. There is only one option left, and that is legislation to end this shameful lockout,” said Dias, who will be making a formal request to the provincial government to intervene.   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 Natalie.Clancy@unifor.org or 416-707-5794 (cell). Unifor National President Jerry Dias is available for video interview FaceTime or Skype.

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