Unifor

Unifor proudly recognizes Pink Shirt Day

Unifor proudly recognizes Pink Shirt Day, an annual event on the last Wednesday in February where Canadians across the country come together to support the important commitment to a safe, harassment-free environment at work and school.

Pink Shirt Day began in Berwick, Nova Scotia in 2007 when David Shepherd, Travis Price and a large group of students decided to defend their peer who was bullied for wearing a pink shirt. In a show of solidarity, they, and many students turned up to school the next day wearing pink shirts.

All members are encouraged to participate in Pink Shirt Day, which happens on Wednesday, February 27 this year. Wearing a pink shirt on that day is both an important statement of solidarity to those who have been bullied.  By wearing a pink shirt, and sharing a message or the Unifor image online, you can help to show that the union is committed to speaking out against bullying and harassment.

Download this poster and shareable to promote Pink Shirt Day.

Help to organize your workplace to participate in Pink Shirt Day this year, but do not let it end there. Take time and familiarize yourself with Unifor’s process of addressing harassment and bullying in the workplace. Make a promise to act, speak out against bullying and offer kindness every day.

If you have a Pink Shirt Day story or photo, share it! Email communications@unifor.org or post online at Facebook.com/UniforCanada and use the #unifor hashtag on Twitter.

Unifor sponsors Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters Summit

Unifor is a proud sponsor of the Leading Change Summit, an initiative of the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters, running February 19 – 21, 2019 in Edmonton, Alberta.

“These shelters play an integral role when it comes to primary prevention work, offering crucial support to women, often as the first point of contact,” said Joie Warnock, Unifor Western Regional Director. “We are seeing conversations about sexual harassment, domestic violence, workplace harassment and other forms gender-based violence take place in mainstream media, so it is more important than ever that service providers, such as shelters, are part of that discussion.”

A Unifor delegation of five members are attending summit.

In 2016-17 alone, 9,927 women and children were accommodated by shelters in Alberta. The summit’s theme, “Bold Conversations to End Gender-Based Violence in a Changing World” offers a platform where service providers and users, educators, facilitators, policy makers and leaders in public and private domains can meaningfully engage with each other.

“Consent, gender norms and intimate partner violence are key issues that affect us all and that we must educate ourselves and others about,” said Lisa Kelly, Unifor Director of Women’s Department. “This summit provides an avenue to come together and devise innovative solutions that effectively address gender-based violence.”

Present at the summit is actor, activist, author and 2017 TIME Person of the Year, Terry Crews. Crews will share his own experiences of confronting the pervasive culture of toxic masculinity and will be part of a panel discussion on the topic. Joining Crews on the panel is keynote speaker, Dr. Michael Flood, an internationally recognized researcher on men, masculinities, and violence prevention, and an activist and educator.

About Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters

For 35 years, the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters has worked with shelter organizations in Alberta to help better serve women, children and seniors. For more information, visit: https://acws.ca/leading-change-summit-2019

World Day of Social Justice

On February 20, the World Day of Social Justice is observed around the globe. The 2019 theme chosen by the United Nations is If You Want Peace & Development, Work for Social Justice.

Social justice is the foundation upon which safe and prosperous relationships between nations are built. With an estimated two billion people living in fragile and conflict-affected situations worldwide, the International Labour Organization (ILO) maintains that decent work is key to achieving sustainable development and social justice.

“Unifor believes the creation of new and better paying jobs with greater access to those jobs helps to construct more equitable and peaceful societies,” said Unifor International Director Mohamad Alsadi.   

Unifor advocates for the rights and betterment of workers across Canada and internationally through the Unifor Social Justice Fund, a registered charity predominantly maintained by contributions from Unifor employers negotiated during collective bargaining.

“The Social Justice Fund supports more than 100 projects in Canada and 44 other countries that provide emergency aid, work to alleviate poverty, and promote human rights and equitable development,” said Alsadi. “Through this support, the lives of workers, their families and their communities are improved and advanced.”

For more information visit unifor.org/sjf

 

Campeau school bus drivers ratify first collective agreement

More than 200 members of Unifor Local 4268 driving school buses for Campeau Bus Lines in Whitby, Ajax, Oshawa, Clarington, Bowmanville, Peterborough, Orono, Cobourg, Port Hope, Brighton and the Kawartha region have ratified their first three-year collective agreement.

“We started bargaining in October 2018 with the goals of improving working conditions and compensation for all driving time,” said Debbie Montgomery Local 4268 President. “I am proud of our bargaining committees determination in getting the best deal for our members.”

Previously many of the hours worked by Campeau school bus drivers were unpaid. The new payment methodology in place recognizes all time worked. The new agreement has a clear key-to-key payment formula agreement, daily minimums for standard scheduled work, additional pay language for any additional work performed and paid time off for training and meetings.

The agreement also includes strong anti-harassment and discrimination language, comprehensive Health and Safety provisions, vacation scheduling and levels of vacation pay up to 8%.

BCNDP budget will help low- and middle-income families

VICTORIA—Premier John Horgan’s second budget offers significant funding for initiatives that will primarily benefit working people, says Unifor.

“The BCNDP government is making good on its promises to make life more affordable for British Columbians,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President.

The flagship program launched in the 2019 provincial budget is the income-tested B.C. Child Opportunity Benefit, which will replace the B.C. early childhood tax benefit. The new program is more than twice as generous as the program it replaces, and expands eligibility to families with children up to 18 years old, up from 6 years old.

The budget also makes much-needed investments in health care, poverty reduction, transit, and directs $679 million for the CleanBC climate plan introduced last year with input from Unifor. Finance Minister Carole James also announced the elimination of interest on provincial student loans.

“Families were left out in the cold for more than a decade under the B.C. Liberals, who used their years in power to enrich the province’s wealthy,” said Joie Warnock, Unifor Western Regional Director. “However, workers are still suffering under Gordon Campbell-era labour laws and it’s important that the Horgan government take swift action to restore workers’ rights.”

$100k retirement packages for Domtar Woodlands employees

Domtar and Unifor have just negotiated $100,000 early retirement packages and up to $50,000 in moving allowances for about two dozen woodlands employees near Ear Falls. 

"EACOM's Ear Falls sawmill recently hired dozens of additional Unifor members for increased lumber production and saw log harvesting on the Trout Forest. However, as a result of the EACOM sawmill expansion, Domtar will no longer require its lone chipper operation based in Ear Falls after March 31," said Unifor Local 324 President George Smith.

To minimize the impact of this transition away from bush chipping and more towards saw log harvesting, Domtar and Unifor negotiated $100,000 early retirement packages for senior protected employees throughout all of Domtar's forestry operations. 

“These packages will provide our long-service employees with a dignified retirement option while also helping to reduce potential layoffs of newer employees," Stephen Boon, Unifor National Representative Stephen Boon stated. "Any affected Ear Falls employees wishing to re-locate to Dryden will also be provided with a range of moving allowance options based on years of service up to a maximum of $50,000."

Black History Month: Unifor members speak on activism Week 3

Colin James, President Unifor Local 222, he is an activist and mentor.  Colin was born in Birmingham, England and immigrated to Canada at the age of 13. His parents worked hard to provide for their family and instilled helping and bringing others up without allowing them to bring you down. Martial arts was his passion through his teen years and taught him discipline, determination and respect.

In 1980, Colin started working at General Motors and decided to get active in the community as well as in the union. Colin was elected as an alternate shop steward in 1992, and was elected to the position full time in 1995. He was elected to this position for 4 terms until 2007 when he was elected District Committee person, on the Bargaining Committee, as well as Trustee on the Local Executive Board.

Colin remained in these positions until 2016, when he decided to run for President of the Local and was elected. Colin became the first worker of colour to become President at Local 222 in 2016, and was recently acclaimed for another term as President. Colin remains active in the community and always finds the time to help others.

Doreen Bassaragh is a proud activist, and an actively involved Unifor Local 6008 Member.  She has participated in many strike actions, picket lines, and rallies. Doreen has also lobbied the government around issues including but not limited to $15 Fairness, National Drug Plan, Child Care, Climate Change.  At the local Doreen is an active member on the Women's Committee, and Chair of the Aboriginal & Workers of Colour Committee. She is the elected Women’s Advocate and also a union Steward.  Doreen believes in mentoring and educating young people on union activism and will continue to fight corporate greed at future days of action.

Angela Downey is a proud activist and member of Unifor Local 4606. Angela lives in Lucasville Nova Scotia. She was one of three women who brought the union to her workplace. Angela stands behind her union fully as she believes the union has done a lot for her and all membership since they became unionized. Angela is actively involved in many committees in her local including, but not limited to the Women’s, Education, Human Rights committees and the Aboriginal & Workers of Colour Committee. In Angela's own words she describes the meaning of her union, “through the education and strength of my union family I was able to find my voice, and was able to be a part of my community association and help within my community.”

Angela was receiving push back and felt her Lucasville Nova Scotia community was shrinking.  But through her learned skills in the union and her loving heart, she fought back with her community to re-establish the boundaries and made Lucasville a heritage site.

As a healthcare worker she brought education to the community by having a health fair open to all community members.  The sessions include information on men’s health, high blood pressure and Alzheimer’s. Angela is proud to being apart of Unifor and knowing that she can call on any of the Unifor members and amazing things always happen.

Dana Anne James is a fierce activist at Unifor Local 6006. She always speaks up for others and is deeply involved in her union.  Dana is Chief Steward and Chair of the Human Rights Committee at Local 6006. She is active within her community volunteering for various advocacy groups. Dana serves as a Labour Councillor and is on the Board of Directors for Social Planning Toronto.

Tshweu Moleme was born under Apartheid South Africa, where much of his activism originated. Tshweu is a union Representative at Local 1090 – AWOC, Casino Rama. Apart from his trade unionism, his activism has also touched various areas, such as decolonization, anti-racism education and Afrocentric approaches. He can be found at the grassroots, as a strong advocate for a better, fairer world for all. 

Tshweu enjoys volunteering as researcher and board member with the following organizations: Youth Activism & Community - New College, UofT Couchiching Institute on Public Affairs, Municipal Heritage Committee, City of Orillia Information Orillia. He is also a student, researcher and volunteer at the University of Toronto (HBA - Political Science, and MEd); Research - Workplace Learning & Social Change; Vice President Academic – LHAE, at OISE.

When Tshweu is not working, representing members or volunteering Tshweu can be found spending time with his wife Sarah and two sons Mookodi and Thuto.

Hortense Fletcher is a Production Associate at Cambridge Coatings. She along with a team oversees the daily operation of the E-coat Line. Hortense is also an active member of the union, where she is the union representative. Before this role, Hortense was an Early Childhood Educator in the Bahamas. In her spare time she enjoys reading and spending time with her family.

Dwayne Gunness is a member of Unifor Local 40. Dwayne has been a long-standing member of the former CAW now Unifor. He Currently is the Vice President at Unifor Local 40.  He is servicing units within the local Retail, Language School, and the Not for Profit Sector. At the Local Dwayne is responsible for EI and sits on as a member of Unifor EI/CPP Committee. Dwayne is also a Trustee on Unifor Retail Wholesale Council.

Many are unaware that Dwayne is one of the main reasons Unifor has a section in the Caribana parade.  Celebrating diversity and being an active member of the Aboriginal and Workers of Colour Toronto Caucus and committees has always been a commitment of Dwayne's.

Melrose Cornwall is a proud Unifor Local 112 activist and member.  Melrose was Born in Antigua West Indies, and he moved to Canada in November of 1979 as a Licensed welder.  He has been employed at Toromont formally known as "Crothers" since 1987. Melrose is actively involved in the union. He was first elected as Shop Steward in 1996, and on the bargaining committee in 1999, serving two terms as Committee person. Melrose was acclaimed as Unit Chair in 2005 and served in that capacity until he resigned as Chairperson in 2017.  He was also elected skilled trades Rep for his unit in 2009 and has been a delegate to the National Skilled Trades Council ever since.

Melrose serves on many committees within Local 112 which includes Human Rights, Substance Abuse, Picnic, and the Aboriginal & Workers of Colour Caucus. Melrose has been a Delegate to the CLC, OFL and Unifor Regional Council.

Melrose takes pride in being a delegate to the National Skilled Trades Council and the fact that he has passed all welding tests from 1982 which includes ASME Pressure Vessels, and CWB all.

Melrose uses his favourite quote, “Everyday may not be good, but there's something good in every day" as his daily outlook at work and in his community.

Margaret Olal is a proud activist and member of Unifor Local 3000. Sister Margaret Olal was instrumental in organizing our union into our workplace 22 years ago. Margaret's commitment to her Local and national union has never wavered. Whether it was representing the membership in her workplace at every round of bargaining or becoming Chief Steward, Margaret has always been committed to building Unifor. 

Margaret volunteers her free time to assist the Local and national union whenever she is called upon. She has helped in the Provincial and Federal elections and provided support to volunteers who are new to the campaign process. Margaret is also a member of the Standing Committee for the Aboriginal and Workers of Colour as well as a member of the Equity Advisory Panel. But no matter what Margaret is doing she is never too busy to help the membership, be it in her workplace, on the picket line or members from other workplaces.

Chika Agbassi is a proud determined activist and member of  Unifor Local 5555. Chika is exceptionally passionate about community development through leadership.  In the summer of 2018, Chika noticed the call for the AWOC conference in her Local’s newsletter and decided she wanted to attend.  Barely six months later, Chika has participated at the two weeks AWOC PEL program and has successfully launched Local 5555’s AWOC committee.    Chika also recently ran for and was elected as Trustee on the Executive Board as well as to her Unit Workplace Committee, starting her term January 1, 2019.

Chika hopes to see many more AWOC faces in leadership within the union and the community at large because she firmly believes in the saying, ‘a chain is only as strong as its weakest link’.

Unifor publishes new video on what’s at stake for Crown workers

 

Unifor members in the Saskatchewan Crown corporation sector are fed up with austerity bargaining from the provincial government. They’ve made it clear that a fair contract is the only way to avoid the potential of sector-wide job action later this spring.

As part of their effort to raise the profile of the work they do, Crown workers have released a video about bargaining and what it means to the rank-and-file members of Locals 1S, 2S, 649, and 820.

“I was in Regina to open bargaining for SaskTel in January, and I can tell you, our members are ready to fight for a good contract,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “We’re going to unite our members across the Crown sectors to get the contract our members deserve.”

With SaskTel now formally in bargaining, the majority of the Saskatchewan Crown corporation workers represented by Unifor are negotiating a new contract, something that Unifor intends to use to members’ advantage.

Unifor’s Western Regional Director Joie Warnock says that there has been gridlock in the public sector after years of austerity mandates from the right-wing provincial government, leaving no room for negotiated gains for workers.

“Incompetent governance from the ruling  Saskatchewan Party has left the economy sputtering and public sector workers with meagre compensation increases,” said Warnock. “This spring, that’s going to end.”

Members at Ventra Plastics ratify collective agreement

Unifor Local 195 members at Ventra Plastic plant in Windsor, Ontario voted in favour of a new three-year contract. The 330 members working in auto parts manufacturing at the plant ratified the collective agreement on February 16, 2019.

“I am proud of the skill and determination of the bargaining committee," said Tammy Pomerleau, 1st Vice President of Unifor Local 195. “Our members will greatly benefit from the substantial gains made in the round of bargaining.”

The agreement includes annual wage increases, an extra week of vacation, improved ELOA days, an extra Christmas Holiday and increased benefits.

Sting and cast give big boost to #SaveOshawaGM campaign

A moving performance by Sting and the cast of his musical, The Last Ship, in Oshawa gave a big boost to Unifor’s campaign to convince General Motors to reverse its decision on the Oshawa Assembly Plant.

“You have a duty to support the community that’s worked for you. It should be a mutual support system. It’s about loyalty. These workers have loyally given their lives to the company. It’s a two-way street,” Sting told the crowd as he urged General Motors to do the right thing.

Thousands of Unifor members and the public attended the Valentine’s Day solidarity performance, held in the heart of downtown Oshawa. The legendary musician began with “Message in a Bottle,” and after several numbers from the musical, closed with “Every Breath You Take.”

“We live in a time where people with influence rarely poke out their head,” said National President Jerry Dias as he thanked the British recording artists on stage. “Today is about saying to GM in the strongest terms that we’re not accepting your decision to close down the facility.”

The Last Ship, with music and lyrics by Sting, is based on the closure of the shipyard in the musician’s hometown. The Mirvish musical, playing at Toronto’s Princess of Wales Theatre, tells the empowering story of the worker’s fight against the shutdown.

At a post-performance news conference with Dias Sting told reporters he could see the anxiety in the faces of autoworkers.

“It’s very evident to us, performing on stage. We could see everyone’s face. I can see the worry on their faces, genuine concern about the future. It was very moving for us to see that close up. It’s not a game, this is real.”

It’s been 11 weeks since General Motors made the devastating announcement about Oshawa and Dias said Unifor is not backing down in this fight.

“We are telling your story and it’s important that your story is heard….Canada needs to get behind you. This can’t be buried under the political red carpet,” said Sting.

Click here to see Facebook Album

Locals contribute to $5.5 million telethon fundraiser for B.C. kids

Unifor locals, National and B.C. Regional Council donated $ 11,000 of the grand total of $5.5 million raised at the Variety Show of Hearts telethon in British Columbia.

“The services Variety provides touch the lives of countless children facing serious illnesses or special needs, and their families,” said Joie Warnock, Unifor Western Regional Director. “Members played a central role in this fundraising initiative, fulfilling our union’s broader social mandate to contribute meaningfully to our communities.”

Variety, the children’s charity in B.C., funds medical emergencies, specialized equipment, therapies and out-of-town accommodation and travel costs for children and families all across the province. Locals 114, 2002, 780G, 3000, 2200 and 601 made generous donations towards the cause, which surpassed the 2018 total.

“The Show of Hearts has been an integral part of Variety’s legacy and we are honoured to have been able to contribute towards such a worthy cause,” said Gord McGrath, Unifor Local 114 President.

This year’s eight-hour broadcast featured singer-songwriter Shawn Hook, Canadian fusion group Delhi 2 Dublin, country music trio The Heels and a special appearance by George Takei of Star Trek fame.

While the telethon has ended, donations can still be made online here, toll-free by phone at 310-KIDS, or by texting “KIDS” to 45678 to make an automatic $20 contribution.

Unifor seeking member experiences of Repetitive Strain Injuries

Unifor is inviting members to participate in a survey about Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSIs) they have experienced.

“International RSI Awareness Day is just around the corner, so it’s a perfect time for members to take our survey and share their experiences with these injuries,” said Sari Sairanen, Unifor Director of Health and Safety. “RSIs are not a thing of the past as some employer-funded studies want us to believe. The survey input will help us better advocate to prevent these injuries and stop the continuing attacks on recognizing and compensating workers with RSIs.”

RSI is a generic term used to group a broad number of overuse injuries that affect the muscles, tendons, and nerves of the neck, upper and lower back, shoulders, arms, and hands. These overuse injuries can progress to become crippling disorders that reduce workers’ quality of life.

These injuries affect millions of Canadians each year, taking a tremendous toll on workers and the workforce, with RSIs accounting for between 40 to 50 per cent of all work related illnesses nationwide.

“Members are encouraged to provide feedback through this anonymous survey,”said Vinay Sharma, Unifor National Health and Safety representative. “Our union is always looking to update our health and safety policies and practices to adapt to changing workplace conditions and reflect the lived experiences of workers in every sector of the Canadian economy.”

If you have experienced repetitive strain injuries, please take a moment to share your experience here.

Unifor funds international Indigenous energy collaboration

VICTORIA Unifor’s Social Justice Fund donated $10,000 to the T’Sou-ke Nation as part of an international project with Chilean First Nations to explore locally-run renewable energy projects.

“Unifor members are proud to contribute to an important dialogue about energy independence in the Araucanía region of Chile,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President.

(L-R) BC Regional Council member Leanne Marsh and Unifor Indigenous Rep Gina Smoke present cheque to Chief Gordon Planes, Director of Projects Andrew Moore and Elder Shirley Alphonse of the T’Sou-ke Nation.

The cheque was presented by Unifor Indigenous Liaison Gina Smoke and B.C. Regional Council member Leanne Marsh. They met other First Nation leaders who were opening the B.C. legislature with a ceremony, and met Premier John Horgan, Minister Scott Fraser and Minister Katrine Conroy.

Leanne and Gina meet with John Horgan, Premier of British Columbia.

Leanne and Gina also met Minister Scott Fraser.

“The T’Sou-ke Nation has much expertise to share about sustainable energy and economic independence,” said Gina Smoke, Unifor Indigenous Liaison. “We are thrilled to have the Unifor Social Justice Fund support this initiative.”

T'Sou-ke Nation Chief Gordon Planes will visit the Ayja Rewe Budi Mapuche territory in southern Chile to participate in a nation-to-nation project with the goal of alleviating high residential energy costs while addressing skills training and local employment.

“Indigenous communities globally are likely to be the most affected by climate change because of their traditionally close connection to the land and sea. This much-appreciated financial support from Unifor will help us to share knowledge with the Mapuche people in Chile and build resilience through energy independence, training, jobs and important social justice programs like these,” said Chief Gordon Planes of the T’Sou-ke Nation.

Unifor is dedicated to improving the lives of workers and their families in Canada and around the world. One way we express that commitment is through our Social Justice Fund.

Learn more about the Fund here.

Leanne and Gina receive a gift from Chief Planes in thanks for the SJF’s project support.

 

Black History Month: Unifor members speak on activism Week 2

Keston John is a member of the Local 222. He is born in Trinidad and Tobago, and now a Canadian Citizen. He is a proud father, who believes unity is strength and strength is power and with power comes responsibility.

Keston believes if united we can change the future for the next generation by creating more opportunities for growth while educating members of their rights in the workplace. 

For the past seven years, Keston has been working at CEVA Logistics in Oshawa, Ontario where he is a union representative working towards solidarity amongst our Brothers and Sisters. Educated in Human Rights and Collective Bargaining he looks forward to negotiating a better collective bargaining agreement for all.

Keston’s goal is to see every workplace free of harassment and discrimination and to have equal opportunities for all, no matter colour, creed or race. As a member of the Aboriginal and Workers of Colour committee, he takes on the responsibility of trustee.

Tricia Brown is an activist supporting equity and social justice issues in her day to day work. Currently working as the Peel organizer for the Local Union Task Force, Tricia is also the chair of the Aboriginal and Workers of Colour committee and co-chair for the GTA caucus for several years. She is a trained Discussion Leader for Unifor delivering courses in Human Rights and leadership courses for Aboriginal and Workers of Colour.

In her local community, Tricia has sat on the Peel Regional labour council as the financial secretary and serves as the 2nd VP of the Brampton East Soccer club. As 2nd Vice President Tricia oversees the youth house league program and helping support the development of soccer players and coaches.

Astraea Sam is a committed activist who brings what appears as limitless energy to each of her union roles. Having moved back to Regina Saskatchewan to pursue her passion in the aviation sector work for Jazz in 2009, Sam found herself becoming an active member of local 2002. 

Astraea is an activist with a passion who is always trying to learn more and do more within the Union. After her 3rd child she decided to become a workplace rep, starting as the base Vice Chair Representative. Not long after she became a Bargaining Representative to help combat the inequities and injustices she saw at work.

Astraea is on the Local 2002, Saskatchewan and National Political Action committees. Astraea is also on the AWOC Committee, in her first term on the Local Election Committee, on her second term as Jazz Western Bargaining Committee Representative and most recently appointed to the Prairie Council Executive Board as a member at large.

Highlighting the work of Unifor Black labour activists.

Keston John is a member of the Local 222. He is born in Trinidad and Tobago, and now a Canadian Citizen. He is a proud father, who believes unity is strength and strength is power and with power comes responsibility.

Keston believes if united we can change the future for the next generation by creating more opportunities for growth while educating members of their rights in the workplace. 

For the past seven years, Keston has been working at CEVA Logistics in Oshawa, Ontario where he is a union representative working towards solidarity amongst our Brothers and Sisters. Educated in Human Rights and Collective Bargaining he looks forward to negotiating a better collective bargaining agreement for all.

Keston’s goal is to see every workplace free of harassment and discrimination and to have equal opportunities for all, no matter colour, creed or race. As a member of the Aboriginal and Workers of Colour committee, he takes on the responsibility of trustee.

Tricia Brown is an activist supporting equity and social justice issues in her day to day work. Currently working as the Peel organizer for the Local Union Task Force, Tricia is also the chair of the Aboriginal and Workers of Colour committee and co-chair for the GTA caucus for several years. She is a trained Discussion Leader for Unifor delivering courses in Human Rights and leadership courses for Aboriginal and Workers of Colour.

In her local community, Tricia has sat on the Peel Regional labour council as the financial secretary and serves as the 2nd VP of the Brampton East Soccer club. As 2nd Vice President Tricia oversees the youth house league program and helping support the development of soccer players and coaches.

Astraea Sam is a committed activist who brings what appears as limitless energy to each of her union roles. Having moved back to Regina Saskatchewan to pursue her passion in the aviation sector work for Jazz in 2009, Sam found herself becoming an active member of local 2002. 

Astraea is an activist with a passion who is always trying to learn more and do more within the Union. After her 3rd child she decided to become a workplace rep, starting as the base Vice Chair Representative. Not long after she became a Bargaining Representative to help combat the inequities and injustices she saw at work.

Astraea is on the Local 2002, Saskatchewan and National Political Action committees. Astraea is also on the AWOC Committee, in her first term on the Local Election Committee, on her second term as Jazz Western Bargaining Committee Representative and most recently appointed to the Prairie Council Executive Board as a member at large.

Kamloops casino workers join Unifor

Workers at a casino in Kamloops, B.C., that recently came under new management have voted overwhelmingly to join Unifor.

“This is an important step for these workers. With a new company coming to town to run their casino, having a voice in the workplace is more important than ever,” said Unifor Organizing Director Kellie Scanlan.

The Chances Casino in Kamloops was recently purchased by Gateway, which also owns the Gateway Casino Point Edward and Casino Rama, both in Ontario and both represented by Unifor. Unifor also represents the workers at two B.C. casinos: Parq Vancouver and the Grand Villa.

The 94 gaming, security, bingo callers and other workers at the Chances Casino and Barside Lounge and Grill voted 91 per cent to join Unifor.

The workers join more than 20,000 hospitality and gaming workers, including more than 9,000 gaming workers, who are already members of Unifor.

“Workers across Canada re recognizing Unifor as the union for hospitality and gaming workers,” Scanlan said.

Unifor works to save Alberta forests from the pine beetle

Alberta’s forestry industry faces a serious threat from the mountain pine beetle that could severely damage the industry for years to come.

Forestry is the largest industry in dozens of communities in the West Yellowhead corridor. The industry helps diversify Alberta’s economy and is central to Alberta’s strategy to transition into a low carbon world.

Spread mostly by the wind, the Mountain Pine Beetle feeds on several species of pine trees until they are dead. Pine beetle populations are most effectively contained through extensive surveying and controlled burning around the perimeter of affected areas.

However, the latest infestation started last year in the federally regulated Jasper National Park. Inaction from the federal government let the pine beetle infestation spread and now, in addition to killing thousands of park trees, pine beetles are damaging areas that the forestry sector relies on, from Hinton to Rocky Mountain House.

Unifor members in the area have been active in industry-wide efforts to control the spread, including a key role on the Hinton Mountain Pine Beetle Advisory Committee.

“It is hard to over-state the threat to forestry jobs in West Yellowhead,” said Don Maclean, Unifor Local 855 President and Advisory Committee member. “The federal government needs to wake up and get involved to save jobs in Alberta’s forestry communities.”

The provincial government has allocated $25 million per year to control the spread; the federal government has yet to allocate any funding. Continued federal government inaction will have serious and lasting consequences for not only Alberta forests but also forests across Canada.

The effects of the pine beetle stretch well beyond eviscerating the forestry sector’s wood supply. Dead trees help fuel forest fires and quickly turn a manageable fire into a fast-growing and more unpredictable fire. In turn, dead or burnt forests negatively affect Western Alberta’s outdoor recreation economy.

Unifor has set up an online portal for Canadians to write to their Member of Parliament to demand action on the pine beetle: http://petition.web.net/unifor/node/98

Health care workers ready to defend members both at the bargaining table and on the streets

Unifor’s nursing home bargaining meeting brought together its largest group of Ontario health care workers ever, as more than 120 participants met at the Marriott Courtyard in Toronto from February 4-6.

In addition to discussing bargaining priorities, the bargaining meeting provided delegates with an opportunity to strategize against the possible impacts of Doug Ford's health care privatization agenda,  continue advocating for minimum hours of care and discuss workplace and sector issues affecting health care workers.

Conference delegates had the opportunity to root these issues in their own experience during workshops on maintaining pay equity in nursing homes; PSW sub-classifications, Plan A, staffing levels, and online staffing survey; using social media as health care activists; and developing a long-term care campaign.

The conference also heard from National President Jerry Dias, Assistant to the President Katha Fortier, Ontario Regional Director Naureen Rizvi, and Health Care Director Andy Savela.

"We have a world-class health care system. The problem is it is not adequately funded to succeed," said guest speaker Natalie Mehra, Executive Director of Ontario Health Coalition. Mehra spoke extensively about Doug Ford's privatization threat to health care, the ongoing crisis in long-term care and the coalition’s plans to take action and lobby Members of Provincial Parliament.

The meeting concluded with remarks by Assistant to the President Katha Fortier. "As we enter this round of bargaining not only must we prepare against the employer but also against the PC's inaction of implementing a minimum standard of care in Ontario," said Fortier.

"Workers in nursing homes and long-term care facilities across the province are overworked and fed up with the employers’ inability to attract and sustain personal support workers. I am confident our bargaining committees will defend our members both at the table and on streets."

Black History Month Unifor members speak on activism

Arlette Magbity is a young, passionate activist who has been working for Suncor Energy Inc. since 2013. She is a member of Unifor Local 707a in Fort McMurray, Alberta. The eldest of four siblings, Arlette’s mother is from Rwanda, and her father hails from Sierra Leone. She has travelled extensively in her childhood, due to the nature of her father’s job. This experience has made her very versatile, equipped her with a thorough understanding of diversity and instilled in her a deep appreciation for different cultures.

Travelling has become engraved in Arlette’s identity and even now, she enjoys exploring different countries and making new friends. She has obtained a high school diploma from Louis St. Laurent in Edmonton, Alberta, an undergraduate degree in Chemistry from the University of Alberta, Edmonton and a Master’s degree in Sustainable Engineering from Loughborough University, England, United Kingdom.

Arlette currently works as a Laboratory Technician, directly supporting production by routinely testing samples from the oil sands base plant in Fort McMurray, a role she finds engaging and essential to the day to day operations of the business. Arlette is passionate about the environment and making a lasting impact in the world, spending her spare time volunteering in Canada and Sierra Leone. She is also passionate about feminism, equity and the elimination of poverty.  One of her most significant works at the University of Alberta is a social project about intimate partner violence. The project was notably successful and was featured on her alma mater’s website.

Neville Benjamine is an all-around activist and is a proud member of Unifor local 1859.  Neville is hard working and has been a long-standing member, and has worked at Adient for 30 years.

Andrew Jomo Wickham was born November 18, 1987.  At the age of 8 years old, he immigrated from Georgetown, Guyana.  Andrew has been working as Senior Service Attendant for Via Rail Canada for the last 7 years.

His first experience with Unifor was as the Vice-President of the Election Committee of our Local, and has since taken courses such as “Knowing your syndicate” “Delegate 1” and “PEL Communications.” He is presently holding the position of Trustee.

Being part of the union has given Andrew an amazing experience and he counts himself as very fortunate to have this opportunity.  He is very proud to be part of the Executive of Local 4004 which includes 5 units (Via 1, Via2, CN 5.1, CN 5.5 and CNTL) and about 1400 members.

Nicole Beard is steward of Local 6006 she has been a union activist and chair of the Women’s committee. She is a major supporter of Women’s shelters and rights, and has spent 5 years as a steward and an AWOC and Human Rights committee member for about 3 years.

Megan Nicely is a Registered Practical Nurse whose career spans over 20 years. She currently works full-time in the Inpatient Rehabilitation Department at Grand River Hospital in Kitchener as well as part-time at Sunbeam Center where she works with developmentally delayed adults and children. In 2016, Megan was elected as the part-time representative for Sunbeam Centre and is also on the bargaining committee. Megan is now under the tutelage of Jim Kennedy as the recently elected 1st Vice-President of the Health Care Council Executive. She is also a committee person of Local 1106 RPN, Health and Safety, Environment and Aboriginal and Workers of Colour committees and a Canadian Council delegate.

Bud Jimmerfield Award Nominations open

Nominations are now open for the Bud Jimmerfield Award to recognize a Unifor activist who has shown leadership in helping fellow workers and has participated in activities beyond their workplace to prevent future diseases, death and injuries.

The award winner will be recognized at the 2019 Constitutional Conventional, as the Bud Jimmerfield Award is presented to an outstanding union member to recognize their actions in health, safety, environment or workers' compensation. 

Brother Jimmerfield was a tireless health and safety, environment and workers' compensation activist, not just at his workplace but in communities from coast to coast. He contracted esophageal cancer in 1996 and died 18 months later at the age of 49, due to exposure to metal working fluids in his workplace for decades.

Before he died, Bud charged union activists with an important responsibility, “Don't mourn my death, fight for the living and do your best to try to prevent future occupational diseases, death and injuries from occurring.”

“Every year workers face health and safety challenges in the workplace, challenges in receiving proper workers’ compensation if they have been injured on the job; and we are all concerned with the ongoing changes to our environment which sustains our lives,” says Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “We must give recognition to those that are working hard to make positive changes and encourage everyone to get more involved in these important issues.”

If you know a determined health and safety, environment or workers' compensation activist that is making a difference - nominate them today. 

To nominate a member, fill out this form and submit to the Unifor Health & Safety, Environment Department at healthandsafety@unifor.org by Friday, March 29, 2019.

Pages