Unifor

Bargaining Update – EDEN VALLEY POULTRY

On Sunday, November 18, Local 2216 ratified a new collective agreement with their employer, Eden Valley Poultry. Unifor represents 345 workers at the poultry processing plant in Berwick, Nova Scotia.

The three-year contract sees annual wage increases of 2 per cent, an additional sick day, overtime after eight hours’ work as well as other language changes.

Bargaining Update – MWF Local 1 ABCO Inc.

Members at MWF Local 1 ratified an agreement with ABCO Inc. on November 26. The 4-year contract includes wage increases, increased boot allowance, stronger health and safety language and a boost to their pension.

There are 30 workers at the Lunenburg, Nova Scotia facility that manufactures aluminum boats, industrial and food service equipment.

Bargaining Update – EDEN VALLEY POULTRYY

On Sunday, November 18, Local 2216 ratified a new collective agreement with their employer, Eden Valley Poultry. Unifor represents 345 workers at the poultry processing plant in Berwick, Nova Scotia.

The three-year contract sees annual wage increases of 2 per cent, an additional sick day, overtime after eight hours’ work as well as other language changes.

Unifor ratifies collective agreement with Nutrien

LANIGAN—Unifor Local 992 members will enjoy solid wage gains and pension benefits under a new collective agreement ratified on November 21.

“Unifor members make a significant contribution to the mining sector in Saskatchewan,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “This contract makes progress towards sharing the gains in this sector with workers.”

The three-year contract includes wage increases of 2.5 per cent in year one and 2.25 per cent in years two and three. Local 922 also achieved a pension plan enhancement and increases to several wage premiums.

“We couldn’t have done this without the support of the membership,” said Shawn Wolfe, Local 922 President. “Unifor members keep Nutrien working, and this contract recognizes our important role.”

Globe and Mail workers ratify new collective agreement

Unifor members at the Globe and Mail have ratified a new two-year collective agreement. 

Local 87-M represents 320 reporters, editors, plus staff in circulation, operations and advertising sales across Canada.

The agreement was reached after members voted in favour of strike action two weeks earlier. 

The main issues were pension security and a perceived gender pay gap. 

The new contract contains a commitment from the employer to make its “best effort” to address a wage gap between men and women.

It also includes a commitment to investigate a more secure, multi-employer, defined benefit pension plan leading up to the next round of bargaining starting in about 15 months.

 

Members participate in largest child care lobby to date

Unifor members were on Parliament Hill on Monday, lobbying for universal, affordable, inclusive and high quality child care.

“Everyone relies on someone who relies on child care, and Canada’s child care system is in crisis,” said Lisa Kelly, Unifor Director of Women’s Department. “We know that investing in child care is an important economic driver and it strengthens our local communities.”

Advocates spoke with MPs and Senators and highlighted the ways in which accessible child care enables parents to work or get the education and training they need to secure good jobs. In particular, members focused on how accessible, high-quality child care opens up opportunities for families, improves women’s equality, helps reduce poverty and benefits everyone involved.

On the other side of the equation, child care workers also shed light on the low wages, and precarious, stressful working conditions that increase the likelihood of burn-out and high turnover in this female-dominated sector.

“As residents and citizens of Canada, we have a right to make our voices heard and it is critical that we use this voice to make a difference in our communities,” said Erin Howell Sharpe, Women’s Advocate, Local 506. “This is how we can ensure issues that greatly impact our lives are on decision-makers’ minds. It’s how we can set the agenda and call for action by elected officials.”

Activists called for the child care that is:

  • Universal, because every family in Canada deserves access to child care no matter where they live, regardless of a parent’s employment status or a child’s spoken language.
  • Affordable, as cost should not be a barrier for any family to access child care. 
  • Inclusive, in that it is flexible and has the resources to accommodate the needs of all children, including those with physical or mental disabilities.
  • High quality, where children are engaged in stimulating activities in a safe environment, with highly-skilled and appropriately compensated staff.

The lobby day was held in partnership with Child Care Now, a non-profit, membership based organization that advocates for a publicly funded, inclusive, quality, non-profit child care system.

Show your support for universal child care - send a message to your MPP and sign this petition to the Office of the Prime Minister

Widow of GE Worker Wins 24 Year-Old Claim

After multiple denials, Workplace Safety and Insurance Board concedes that toxic chemicals played a key role in the premature death of an Ontario employee at General Electric.

Ron Lebeau worked in one of the most toxic areas of the GE Peterborough plant for 20 years, and was constantly surrounded by carcinogens during his time there. By the time improved protective gear was introduced in 1990, he has speculated to his family that it may be too little too late. He was right.

“He would come home every day with small pieces of some type of glass in his hair, his clothes destroyed from dumping liquid into the tanks, dipping the armatures into the tanks and removing them and using asbestos gloves to put armatures into a hot oven to be baked,” said Sandy Lebeau, Lebeau’s widow. “They also used blankets of asbestos to cover the ovens and keep the heat in.”

Ron died of stomach cancer at just 39 years old, leaving behind his wife and two daughters. Sandy filed for compensation from WSIB, knowing in her heart that Ron’s death was caused by the toxic chemicals at work. “He would say, ‘I’ll never retire from GE, the chemicals there will kill me first.’ Working at GE took his life away.”

For more than two decades, WSIB denied any connection between his death and the chemicals at the plant. Then, in May 2017, a group of researchers reported that the chemicals at GE had in fact caused several cancer cases in the community, supporting numerous workers’ claims.

The details of the settlement are yet to be determined, but WSIB’s approval of the claim has left Lebeau’s widow and her daughters relieved that justice is finally being meted out.

Although Lebeau and her family and friends were at the heart of this, many people and organizations contributed, including Unifor, Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers Inc, Office of the Worker Adviser and the GE Retirees Advisory Committee. This group put together the breakthrough report on the extraordinary range of toxic exposures suffered by workers in the GE plant and the many supporters and activists in the Peterborough area. 

"We are so pleased to see that after 24 years Sandy will finally see justice and compensation for her late husband Ron,” notes a spokesperson from the GE Retirees Advisory Committee.We will continue to fight this fight and be a voice for our brothers and sisters who have died and who are still suffering the affects of multiple carcinogens in the workplace.”

Over the last 14 years, 662 past and present employees of GE in Peterborough have filed claims. 255 claims were for cancer. 71 have been allowed, 61 were abandoned, and 119 have been denied.

Delegates mark B.C. Council with a push for progress

Unifor members in British Columbia are not slowing down.

At the British Columbia Regional Council meeting held in Vancouver during November 20 and 21, delegates discussed shared workplace challenges and adopted plans to escalate Unifor’s social justice work.

National President Jerry Dias and Western Regional Director Joie Warnock welcomed delegates on the opening day and laid out the challenges ahead for workers in B.C.

“We’re upping our activism,” said Dias. “It would be easy to sit back and criticise outcomes from the side-lines—but that’s not Unifor. We have the ability to shape social change and we do that at every turn.”

Warnock recognized the continuing activism of B.C. members. “It’s been such a great year. We’re exceeding expectations and it’s because of your hard work.”

She pledged to continue the push for justice for all members, including those whose livelihoods are under threat from Trump’s tariffs, “Our fight back mobilization is going to be strong and successful.”

Delegates were presented with honest and raw experiences from keynote speakers Max FineDay and Kevin Chief. They talked about the intergenerational trauma of colonialism in Canada, and challenged all delegates to directly engage in reconciliation in all aspects of their lives.

Throughout the course of the Council, delegates debated resolutions about lobbying the government for decent work and addressing workplace challenges ranging from pay equity to mental health supports. The Council is the first in the country to adopt a resolution pledging to pressure governments to end the practice of carding and racial profiling in policing.

A full list of adopted resolutions and recommendations will be posted on the B.C. Regional Council page.

The imminent deadline of the province’s Proportional Representation referendum was discussed throughout the meeting. Simka Marshall, an organizer with the Vote PR BC coalition, delivered a presentation and asked delegates to make a final push to encourage friends and family to vote for a more representative electoral system.

The two days before the Council were jam-packed with organizing and leadership development. A one-day Aboriginal and Workers of Colour conference welcomed nearly 50 delegates, many of them at their first union event. On the following day, young workers from across the province met to strategize on building power in their local unions.

In the weeks and months ahead, the plans made at the B.C. Regional council will be put into action by Unifor locals, committees and activists in every region the province.

Unifor B.C. Council starts with activist momentum

Unifor members from across British Columbia are gathering at the Hyatt Regency Hotel to discuss current issues in workers’ rights and make strategic plans for the year ahead.

“From fighting for a higher minimum wage to tireless work for electoral reform in British Columbia, our members are leaders on the front lines of change,” said Joie Warnock, Unifor Western Regional Director.

Unifor National President Jerry Dias opened the Council speaking about how strength and solidarity helped Unifor shape USMCA negotiations and ended deadlocked strikes and lockouts that threatened to normalize scab labour in Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Using the example of Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s “false majority”, he told B.C. delegates that their efforts to win the first proportionally representative government in Canada is critical to expanding workers’ rights.

“Unifor activists are making incredible gains at the bargaining table and they’re also doing the hard work to shape politics in British Columbia,” said Dias, Unifor National President.

During the council, delegates will discuss several resolutions, ranging from federal election strategy to opposing racial profiling and “carding” in policing.

Pictures from council will be added to the union’s Facebook page.

Unifor Local 4003 drivers demand clean up of CN’s Brampton rail yard

Members of Unifor Unifor Local 4003 who drive trucks for Canadian National Transportation Limited are demanding an end to unacceptable working conditions at the Brampton rail yard.

“This protest is about access to sanitary washrooms and respect in the workplace,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Our members have had enough and are taking a stand against this employer.”

290 drivers say the portable washrooms they are expected to use have no running water or heat and they are not emptied or cleaned regularly.  The independent owner-operators who are members of Local 4003 began an information picket four weeks ago and are holding a rally November 21 outside the yard.

“Other rail yard employees and managers have access to proper indoor washrooms,” said Kirandeep Gill, Local Chairperson who has worked for CNTL for 24 years in Brampton. “But the porta potties that we drivers must use are disgusting and unsafe, this has to stop.”

“The yard is congested and these drivers can be waiting to load for two hours and it is inhumane not to have access to proper washroom facilities,” said Wesley Gajda, Unifor Council 4000 Regional Representative.

Workers are also protesting unsafe working conditions. For example, in dry conditions, the dust is so thick drivers must wear masks when they pick up loads, and large potholes are left unrepaired and cause injuries and vehicle damage. They are also concerned about electrical wires connecting heated containers being left on the ground in wet weather.

“When you have a workplace with this laundry list of complaints it is time for the employer to take immediate action. These conditions will not be tolerated,” said Naureen Rizvi, Ontario Regional Director.

The workers say management is unwilling to address these issues, and workers are also concerned about bullying and intimidation in the workplace as drivers who complain feel targeted.

More Photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/uniforcanada/sets/72157700501412982

Green Life Environmental Services workers negotiating first contract

Workers seek wage improvements and better employer relations at Green Life Environmental Services (GFL) in Windsor as they pursue a first agreement contract with the employer.

On October 22, Unifor filed a no board report and will be eligible to set a strike deadline late in December.

GFL has been contracted to collect garbage by the City of Windsor from 2010 to 2024. When that contract ends, it will be put out to tender.

“Outsourcing good, municipal unionized jobs was a bad idea to begin with. The city put themselves in this position. They outsourced their garbage collection and this is all part of the process," said Doug Boughner, Local 444 Third Vice President. “We are doing our best to reach an agreement that meets our members’ needs and gives them the job security they deserve.  Our intention is to get a deal with this company and build a relationship with them," he said.

44 workers at GFL joined Unifor last May as Local 444 members.

Unifor members at Saskatoon Radisson ratify new contract

SASKATOON—Members of Unifor Local 650 will see economic and safety gains after ratifying a four-year collective agreement with the Radisson Hotel Saskatoon on November 7.

“Unifor is a union for hotel workers,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Right across the country, Unifor members like these skilled negotiators at the Radisson are making real gains for hotel workers.”

The new agreement includes wage increases of 7.5% and clearer guidelines for treatment of banquet staff gratuities. Unifor was also successful at negotiation stronger protections against harassment and benefits gains including paid days off, crisis leave, and improved optical coverage.

“New limits on housekeeping workloads and improved scheduling language are welcomed news for our hardworking members,” said Kelly Ries, Unifor Local 650 President. “Should the minimum wage raise during the life of the collective agreement, the employer agreed to discuss all wage classifications​.”

Radisson workers also gained new access to a workplace Women’s Advocate.

Unifor Local 650 represents 123 workers at the Radisson in housekeeping; banquets, kitchen and in-room dining; front desk; the Aroma Resto Bar; maintenance; and the fitness facilities.

Unifor members at Saskatoon Radisson ratify new contract

SASKATOON—Members of Unifor Local 650 will see economic and safety gains after ratifying a four-year collective agreement with the Radisson Hotel Saskatoon on November 7.

“Unifor is a union for hotel workers,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Right across the country, Unifor members like these skilled negotiators at the Radisson are making real gains for hotel workers.”

The new agreement includes wage increases of 7.5% and clearer guidelines for treatment of banquet staff gratuities. Unifor was also successful at negotiation stronger protections against harassment and benefits gains including paid days off, crisis leave, and improved optical coverage.

“New limits on housekeeping workloads and improved scheduling language are welcomed news for our hardworking members,” said Kelly Ries, Unifor Local 650 President. “Should the minimum wage raise during the life of the collective agreement, the employer agreed to discuss all wage classifications​.”

Radisson workers also gained new access to a workplace Women’s Advocate.

Unifor Local 650 represents 123 workers at the Radisson in housekeeping; banquets, kitchen and in-room dining; front desk; the Aroma Resto Bar; maintenance; and the fitness facilities.

National Skilled Trades Council brings together delegates in Peterborough, On.

The National Skilled Trades Council brought together more than 100 delegates for its triennial meeting. Held on November 9-11 in Peterborough, Ontario, the event was hosted by the Oshawa and Eastern Ontario Skilled Trades Area Council. Diane Therrien Mayor-Elect of Peterborough offered welcoming remarks to delegates.

Delegates spent part of the Council reporting out on issues facing skilled trades members in their workplaces, including new technology, collective agreements, work ownership rules, apprenticeships and much more.

The Council was chaired by Dave Cassidy, Skilled Trades National Chairperson and featured a presentation by Ken Bondy, National Staff Representative, which included a discussion ­­­on the campaign for further recycling of automotive parts. In addition, John Breslin, Director of Skilled Trades, provided a report on issues facing trades. On November 11, delegates also participated in a Remembrance Day ceremony and presented the Bob Cherneki Charity of Choice to Cystic Fibrosis Canada.

For more information, visit www.uniforskilledtrades.ca

Building solidarity across borders

More than 140 union leaders and activists from several countries gathered for the first ever North American Solidarity Project Conference at Unifor’s family education centre this weekend.

“If we are going to continue renewal of the labour movement we have to be bold. The rich are getting richer and working people need us to collaborate and fight back,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor’s National President.

The conference came about as a result of an in depth study and solidarity building project that began in 2017 when Unifor signed a Cooperation Agreement with the United Electrical Radio and Machine Workers Union (UE)

"It is great to be in a room with more than a hundred like-minded trade unionists from the U.S., Mexico, Australia, and Canada, who are clear that as workers and as a class, we have more in common with each other than we do with the employer," said Peter Knowlton, president of UE.

The group leading the project also reached out to other unions including National Nurses United, Lecturer’s Employees Organization, Utility Workers of America, United Voice of Australia and six independent Mexican unions.

Delegates from all over the globe attended workshops to brainstorm on how to fight back as right wing governments continue to attack workers across North America.

The conference ended with a joint statement from all the unions that says: “In the face of right-wing populism, anti immigrant rhetoric, and rising inequality, unions must act to counter balance the forces that attack workers’ rights and undermine equality for all... We believe that it is time for unions to present a bold vision for social change and union renewal that unites the working class.”

Unifor Social Justice Fund donates to Typhoon Mangkhut relief

Picture courtesy of the Philippine Red Cross

The Unifor Social Justice Fund has donated $27,397 to the Canadian Red Cross to aid Typhoon Mangkhut relief efforts in the Philippines. On September 15, 2018 the super typhoon left over 2.9 million people affected with 31 provinces impacted, 8 of which have declared state of calamity.

“In the wake of events such as Typhoon Mangkhut there is a long recovery and rebuilding process,” said Unifor International Director Mohamad Alsadi. “The Canadian Red Cross is working to support the Philippines Red Cross Society in their efforts to ensure those who need help are able to find it.”

The Red Cross has provided services including search and retrieval in landslide-hit areas and distribution of relief items including water containers, sleeping mats, blankets, mosquito nets and hygiene kits.

To date, the Red Cross had served 18,700 hot meals, over 207,000 litres of safe water, psychosocial support to 11,680 and hygiene promotion to 5,010.

The Red Cross aims to continue supporting those impacted by the typhoon by focusing on shelter, livelihood and basic needs, health, water, sanitation, hygiene, protection and gender inclusion, migration, and disaster risk reduction.

For more information or to make a donation visit www.redcross.ca

Picture courtesy of the Philippine Red Cross

Unifor aluminum workers lobby for tariff removal

Unifor aluminum sector workers from Quebec and British Columbia joined forces in a two-day Parliament Hill blitz to urge MPs to take action to remove a punitive tariff imposed on exports to the United States by the Trump administration.

"The duties are based on false claims that Canadian aluminum is a threat to U.S. security," said Unifor Québec Director Renaud Gagné. "We're worried about our jobs. Secondary and tertiary processing companies are particularly vulnerable as they lack the necessary financial resources to absorb the cost of these tariffs." 

Gagné and Unifor Western Regional Director Joie Warnock joined members from Locals 2301 and 1937 to meet MPs and political stakeholders in more than 50 meetings held in Ottawa on November 7 and November 8. 

"The elected officials we've met with have been very receptive. They seem to have a clear understanding of what's at stake with these tariffs. These are good jobs in regions that badly need them," said Alain Gagnon, President of Local 1937.

The aluminum lobby delegates met both government and opposition MPs to demand the full removal of U.S. aluminum tariffs on current Canadian exports without any quantity restrictions or limitations on Canadian export growth.

“It’s key that any resolution of this issue doesn’t include conditions that will hobble future investment or growth in the aluminum sector,” said Martin McIlwrath, President of Local 2301.

The aluminum lobby took place immediately after a midterm election that changed the U.S. political landscape as the Democrats gained control of the House of Representatives.

“In our meetings we’ve urged MPs to renew action as the political change in the U.S. provides a fresh opportunity to end all of the unjust tariffs that have been imposed, including those on aluminum, steel and softwood lumber,” said Warnock. “Unifor has made it clear that we will back all necessary measures to defend the interests of Canadian workers.”

For more information and to view a video on the devastating affect that these tariffs are having on Canadian aluminum workers visit unifor.org/stoptrumptariffs.

Ontario workers fight back

The conservative government of Ontario is levelling its first major attack on workers through Bill 47. But Unifor members are showing that the rights that workers have fought for in Ontario will not be taken away so easily.

“We’ve seen this before. Whenever they take power, conservatives don’t waste any time in trying to take away workers’ rights,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “As the workers of this province, we are the strongest opposition to the majority government’s attacks.”

Every Friday, and every day in between, Unifor members plan and execute targeted actions in their workplaces and communities across Ontario. In Ottawa, members visited the offices of MPP Fullerton where they rallied with workers from across the riding and left a note on the MPP’s locked office door asking if she would oppose Bill 47.

A similar weekly action in Woodstock resulted in MPP Ernie Hardeman finally responding to constituents’ requests for a meeting, after ignoring those requests for two weeks. These Unifor members will meet with their MPP on Thursday, November 8 and let him know where they stand on Bill 47.

“We’re not letting anyone off the hook,” said Josh Coles, Unifor Director of Membership Mobilization and Political Action. “If you’re an employer or an MPP who lobbied for or plans to support this bill, you can be sure we’re going to hold you responsible for those actions.”

In Ajax, at Loblaw-associated Logistics in Motion, organizers raised awareness at a shift change, speaking with hundreds of workers about how Bill 47 is an attack on their rights.

The proposed legislation attacks workers in three major ways.

  1. By freezing the minimum wage at $14 and eliminating key employment standards, the government is dropping the floor for workers in Ontario, pushing millions into more precarious, worse paying jobs.
  2. By making it harder to join a union or keep the union of your choice, the Ford government is telling current workers and next generation that they should settle for less fairness at work.
  3. By taking over and closing the independent Ontario College of Trades and degrading apprenticeship training, the Ford government is taking power away from this body of united workers, threatening the future of high quality apprenticeship training, and possibly endangering skilled trades workers. 

Members across the province are encouraged to participate in Fridays of Action in workplaces and communities.

“The workers’ resistance to this government’s attacks will be a marathon. Together we can speak with union members and non union workers across the province to show the ways that conservative politicians are no friend to working people,” said Naureen Rizvi, Ontario Regional Director.

The opposition to the conservative government will grow through member-to-member conversations. Here’s how you can participate:

On Fridays, wear red.

Print and distribute the leaflets and posters from unifor.org/Bill47

Speak with your coworkers about how the bill will affect them! Ask them to take photos with the posters, and share your photos with the national union online.

Want to take the next step? Review the changes on the campaign website, and then call your MPP’s office. Ask them to vote no on Bill 47, and explain that workers in their riding strongly oppose the change.

Local 2458 member wins Excellence in Care award

Sarah Heuston, Local 2458 won the Excellence in Care of Older Ontarians Award, presented by the Registered Practical Nurses’ Association of Ontario.

“This award goes to demonstrate that as nurses, we go the extra mile in patient care, even in the face of budget cuts and ever-increasing workload for health care workers,” said Heuston. “In Ontario, we need to redouble our efforts to address the threat of privatization, if we are to continue to provide patients with the high quality care they deserve.”

The Excellence in Care of Older Ontarians Award is dedicated to Martha Thumlert, an older adult who died unnecessarily from a hospital-acquired infection. This award celebrates the dedication of an RPN who provides exceptional care to our beloved older adults in a manner that is respectful, compassionate, professional and exemplifies nursing excellence. In particular, the award acknowledges a nurse who is focused on the improvement of safety and well-being of older Ontarians by demonstrating knowledge, innovation and leadership.

 “Local 2458 extends congratulations to Sarah for the recognition of her work,” said Tullio DiPonti, Local 2458. “We must continue to advocate for adequate funding in health care, in order to protect health care workers’ right to a workplace that facilitates the provision of such award-winning care.”

Unifor represents nearly 30,000 health care workers and advocates for greater investment in public health care.

Hotel-Dieu Grace hospital workers make gains in bargaining

Unifor members at the Windsor, Ontario hospital Hotel-Dieu Grace Health Care have made gains in wages, benefits and vacation entitlements.

“We’re pleased for our members in the service and skilled trades units who achieved solid gains over the life of this agreement,” said Tullio DiPonti, President of Unifor Local 2458.

Both units voted 100% in favour of the collective agreements, showing their strong support of the work done by the bargaining committee.

In addition to wage increases of more than 6% over four years, workers will reach vacation thresholds sooner.

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