“This situation is only going to get worse unless things change. We need to see a different strategy in dealing with these rival gangs, whether that is isolating them more, providing more high-security areas, providing more staff to prevent altercations, or changing their programming so these factions are kept apart at all times.” Bob Bymoen, President SGEU
“I have always come to my activism through a place of knowing and loving myself.”
Candy Palmater’s opening address at the first Unifor Atlantic Women’s Conference set the stage for a weekend of self development and union-building for the more than 130 delegates.
The conference was held in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on unceded Mi'kmaq territory September 20-22.
Women from across the region gathered under the themes of taking back power and building political action, but a string of storytelling linked the delegates’ own experiences to the panels and presentations.
“We know that our stories have power. And we all have stories to tell,” said Lisa Kelly, Unifor Women’s Director, “We get deterred by feeling like we need to be an expert, but the stories that are being told- those are the ones that impact us and that we will remember.”
Participants identified systemic barriers and violence that prevents women from taking power and being treated equally, as well as systems of oppression that further divide women based on race, class, ability, or religion.
The overwhelming majority of participants were at their first union conference, thanks to a new structure that replaces every second annual women’s conference with a regional conference. Atlantic Canada was the first region to host.
Lana Payne, Unifor’s newly-elected Secretary-Treasurer greeted the room full of Unifor women on Saturday evening.
“Welcome to the Unifor sisterhood. It’s a movement filled with trade union women who know our power comes not only from the strength of our union, but from our bonds as women,” said Payne, highlighting the collective nature of Canada’s feminist trade union activism.
“Trade union women fought the battles with the knowledge that it wasn’t about them. It’s for the next generation to benefit,” she continued.
As participants learned how to find their voice and organize within committees and local unions, the goal of political change was ever-present.
Unifor led the campaign for paid domestic violence leave in Canada. This work began at the bargaining table, but was brought to provincial and federal politicians to demand and win paid leave for survivors of intimate partner violence.
Gains like this one were presented in stark contrast to the ongoing struggle to end the genocide of Indigenous women and girls in Canada, and for government implementation of the recommendations of the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
The conference took place just four weeks from October 21, when Canadians will head to the polls.
“This election is so important for so many reasons. But especially for women,” said Linda MacNeil, Unifor Atlantic Director. “We’ve learned this weekend to not sit back and let someone else speak for us, so I’m looking forward to campaigning with so many women in this election!”
The next Unifor women’s conference will be a national conference in at the Unifor Education Centre in Port Elgin in 2020. To engage with the work of the Women’s Department today, visit www.unifor.org/women, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Toronto – September 21, 2019 – UFCW Canada is proud to commemorate Orange Shirt Day on September 30.
Edmonton – September 20, 2019 – Warehouse workers at JLM Supply in Edmonton, Alberta are the newest members of UFCW Canada Local 401 after recently voting to join the union.
Premier Brian Pallister lays out his 100-Day Plan to media, which includes further job cuts and selling off public assets.
After being elected to a second term last week, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister unveiled plans for his next 100 days in office yesterday. And in what may seem like déjà vu for many MGEU members, the Pallister government is looking to continue to cut jobs and services in its newly-minted mandate.
Toronto – September 19, 2019 - The lessons and era of the Winnipeg General Strike will soon come alive to 500,000 high school students – thanks to “Stand,” a new movie musical that was made possible in part with the support of UFCW Canada, other labour allies, and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.
“The bottom line is the Premier’s cannabis plan is awash in $42 million in red ink. This would not have happened if the Conservatives had stuck to the previous government’s plan to have the LCBO handle cannabis sales.” - Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President OPSEU
“Like most front-line public service workers, the last thing our members want to do is go on strike or endure a lockout. What we want is simple: a fair deal that puts students ahead of irresponsible slashing of services." ― Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU President
On September 17, the BC NDP government announced they are investing $69 million in support programs for forestry workers in the Interior of the province. The area has been hard-hit by recent mill closures and shift reductions, and the sector as a whole has faced many challenges over the past decade.
“Entire communities in the BC Interior have been threatened because of the challenges facing the forestry industry and the 16 years of poor forest policy under the previous BC Liberal government,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Western Regional Director. “Between raw log exports, years of raging forest fires, the pine beetle infestations, and the U.S. tariffs on softwood lumber, it’s been an incredibly challenging time. We’re thankful the government is focusing on workers and providing them with much-needed support.”
Premier Horgan announced the programs would include establishing early-retirement bridging for older forestry workers, new short-term employment focusing on fire prevention, new worker training, and short-term financial assistance to communities hit hardest by mill closures.
“We know the forestry sector can thrive if corporations, communities and all levels of government work together to create a forward-looking strategy,” said McGarrigle. “Right now, we’re having to deal with years of mismanagement under the previous government so this support for workers and their families is essential as we focus on revitalization.”
Unifor has been outspoken on issues facing the forestry sector, including softwood lumber tariffs that have recently been put under review by a NAFTA panel.
Visit the BC government’s website for more information on the support programs for forestry workers.
(Ottawa – September 19, 2019) September 20 marks the beginning of the Week of Climate Action, an international grassroots movement of student activists demanding that world leaders be held accountable for and take immediate steps to combat the climate emergency facing the planet. A week of activities around the world will culminate in a Global Climate Strike on September 27. The Canadian Association of University Teachers stands in solidarity with all those taking part in the Week of Climate Action and the Global Climate Strike, and we join in demanding strong, immediate and effective action on climate change from governments in Canada and around the world.
Climate change is the crisis of our generation. CAUT encourages all its members to take part in the Week of Climate Action by joining local protests and events, supporting students who participate in the climate strike, pressing our institutions to adopt climate-friendly policies and practices, and raising awareness about the science of climate change and the role academic staff as researchers and teachers are playing in finding solutions.