Unifor continues annual donation and support to women’s shelters across Canada

Leading up to December 6, Unifor members across the country delivered donations from Unifor’s Social Justice Fund to women’s shelters to mark the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. Donations of $2,000 were given to 74 shelters nation-wide for a total of $148,000.

“Unifor takes the commitment to ending gender-based violence very seriously,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “We’ve stepped up to fill a great void with these donations and direct initiatives such as assisting with shelter renovations through our skilled trades members. This supplements the broader work the union does through political advocacy, collective bargaining and grassroots collaborations and coalitions to support survivors and create workplaces and communities safe from gender-based harassment and violence.”

Members from coast to coast presented cheques to shelters to fund crisis services to assist women and children fleeing domestic abuse.

“We all long for a day when refuges and domestic violence survivor programs are no longer needed,” said Lisa Kelly, Unifor Women’s Director. “Our members’ activism gets us closer to that day through their continuing work to promote greater awareness and education and win stronger workplace and legislated supports like paid domestic violence leave.”

In addition to continuing to bargain Women’s Advocates and other workplace resources, Unifor will be pushing for Canada’s ratification of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention to eliminate violence and harassment in the world of work. This new global standard recognizes the right of everyone to a world free from violence and harassment and sets bold goals for workplaces everywhere.

See photos of this year’s cheque presentations on the Unifor Canada Facebook page.

Paccar lock-out ends as members accept the company’s last offer

Members of Unifor Local 728 voted 86 per cent in favour to accept the offer recommended by their bargaining committee, bringing an end to the labour dispute at the Paccar plant.

“We made good gains during this round of bargaining but unfortunately we were unable to deliver on one of our priorities, which was the elimination of two-tier pension plans,” said Unifor’s Quebec Director Renaud Gagné. “It makes no sense that employees had to face a lock-out and risk their jobs to do away with a measure that is now considered illegal.”

It should be noted that workers at the plant are covered by two different defined benefit pension plans depending on their date of hire. Group A, composed of workers having more seniority, receives higher benefits than Group B. Since June 2018, it is illegal to negotiate this type of provision in Quebec as it constitutes wage discrimination based on the employee’s hiring date. The problem is that the law does not ban such clauses in collective agreements negotiated before this amendment.

“Paccar makes a ridiculous amount of money, but it still refused to settle this issue. Even though we succeeded in reducing the gap in pension benefits between these two groups, there is still a difference of $15 per month per year of service. That’s a considerable amount. It should also be pointed out that the employer raised the possibility of moving production to other plants,” Gagné said.

The new collective agreement nonetheless offers numerous gains, including a 15 per cent wage increase over five years, the elimination of Group A and B in seniority calculations, an increase in pension benefits, including those in Group B, which are increased by 35 per cent (reducing the gap with Group A to 27 per cent), the addition of a second prevention representative for occupational health and safety, an increase in shift premiums and an increase in maximum group insurance earnings, which was also a bargaining priority.

The fact that the union was able to get more out of Paccar than what was in its final offer is without a doubt a significant victory. Another substantial gain to emerge from this dispute is the solidarity between members generated by the lock-out. As Gagné pointed out, “You could just feel how much solidarity and mobilization there was between everyone present at the ratification meeting.”

“It’s time for the Legault government to pass legislation to help us resolve these unfair and inequitable situations, but while making sure that it’s not done to the detriment of pension plan conditions. We need to raise the bar, not lower the bar,” the Quebec Director concluded.

Paccar employs 1,400 Unifor members who manufacture Peterbilt and Kenworth trucks. The employer declared a lock-out on December 1st.


A new collective agreement for 2,400 members at Bombardier

Members of Local 62 ratified a tentative agreement with Bombardier on December 8 with 75 per cent support.  

“This is a good labour contract. We made significant gains in terms of wages, but also in terms of work-life balance, both of which were priorities in the negotiations,” said Renaud Gagné, Unifor’s Quebec Director. “For the first time in its history, this group had obtained a strike mandate even before starting negotiations last September. Once again, mobilization made a big difference.”

Highlights of the deal include:

  • Pension benefit increases of $6 over the term of the three-year agreement ($77 as of January 1st, 2020, $79 as of January 1st, 2021 and $81 as of January 1st, 2022 – calculated on the base rate per year of service and per month),
  • An increase of $2 in the monthly bridging benefit over the term of the three-year agreement ($24 as of January 1st, 2020, $25 as of January 1st, 2022);
  • The possibility to accumulate 48 hours in a renewable hour bank, changes to work schedules: the day shift will start earlier (6:00 and 6:15 a.m.);
  • Evening shift over four 10-hour days; night shift over four 9-hour days;
  • Improved job stability with a letter of agreement providing for the repatriation of outsourced work before imposing lay-offs;
  • Wage increases of 2.5 per cent for each year of the three-year collective agreement.

The Bombardier unit of Local 62 represents 2,400 members who perform interior completion work on Global business jets.

Operation Christmas Cheer brightens spirits at Voith picket line

Operation Christmas Cheer brightened spirits as volunteers brought gifts and good will to striking Local 252 members at the Voith Hydro picket line.

“All of the members are grateful to Operation Christmas Cheer for helping to alleviate some of the hardships that the strikers are facing right now on the picket line,” said John Harte, Local 252 Financial Secretary.

Operation Christmas Cheer (OCC) is a non-profit organization driven by volunteers from the labour movement and the community. For 15 years, its mission has been to make sure every worker walking a picket line in Ontario during the holidays receives some cheer.

With the holidays rapidly approaching, Casandra Robinson, Founder of OCC, hand delivered a truckload of toys along with grocery and other gift cards to the striking members on December 9 as they picketed their Voith Hydro workplace in Mississauga, Ontario.

“When you first go out on strike people honk and stop by, but as time extends over the holidays when everyone is not here and you’re walking this picket line it’s real easy to feel cold, to feel alone, to feel forgotten,” Robinson told the strikers. “I bring you a message today that you are not forgotten. There are more than 240 different locals, individuals and councils that support OCC so we can do what we do every single year.”

Members began strike action at Voith Hydro on November 14, 2019 after the company tabled concessions that would reduce benefits, hurt pensions, and eliminate the Cost of Living Adjustment.

To learn more about Operation Christmas Cheer, or to get involved, visit operationcheer.com or follow them on Facebook.

Ontario Regional Council delegates empowered

Delegates at Ontario Regional Council were empowered to defend good jobs, healthcare, education, and women’s rights in an era of Ford government austerity.

“Now more than ever, we have to come together to carve out our path forward as we continue to fight off this very dangerous government,” Ontario Regional Director Naureen Rizvi told delegates

Council convened on December 6, the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. To mark the 30th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre delegates held up their cell phone flashlights in a moving tribute as a candle lit procession carried purple ribbons bearing the names of the victims through the hall. 

Delegates discussed the union’s work to eradicate misogyny and to fight for equality both in our workplaces and in society. The power of women was further emphasized, as Canadian Olympians Sarah Nurse and Natalie Spooner and high school hockey player Danika Gravelle shared their experience fighting shocking inequality in the game.

“When we unite and stand up for what we believe in, then nothing is impossible,” said Sarah Nurse. “Thanks for your support for women in sport and for equality.”

As delegates discussed and debated an action plan for the upcoming year they passed Director’s Recommendations calling on the Ford government to end inaction on climate change, enact better protections for temporary workers and to provide better care for patients and safer working conditions in long-term care facilities.

In an emotional speech Unifor National President Jerry Dias shared his mother's experience in long-term care as he called for action from Premier Ford.

“This time Doug I’m asking you respectively as a man for the people. I want you to join me for just one shift in the long-term care facilities so we can fix once and for all the inherent disrespect of our seniors,” said Dias. 

The hundreds of representatives from Locals across the province also united in a show of public support for education workers as National President Jerry Dias was joined on stage by Harvey Bischof, OSSTF President, Sam Hammond, ETFO President, Liz Stuart, OECTA President and Smokey Thomas, OPSEU President.

“This is personal. It’s personal when they attack our kids,” said National President Jerry Dias. “It was the government’s plan to cut ten thousand teachers jobs.”

Amid chants of “solidarity”, the five union leaders raised arms before the more than 850 Council attendees.

Hammond called for workers and unions to stand together join forces.

“We are being attacked in the education sector and we need you with us as each affiliate starts to move to take a greater stand to protect children and public education in this province,” Hammond said.

Unifor offered its support to Ontario’s teachers and education workers in the fight against budget cuts that will increase class sizes, eliminate education options and career paths for students, and result in the loss of frontline jobs.

“The Minister of Education says we can fix the class size but the teachers and the workers have to pay for it,” said Stuart. “He’s stealing the money from the pockets of your children and he expects them to pay for it.”

Bischof told delegates that workers will not stand by as the Ford government attacks the future of the province.

“We will not allow this government to create a bargain basement education system,” said Bischof. “The only solution will be found at the bargaining table. If not we will work with you and we will drive them out of office.”

While Thomas sounded the alarm of looming threats to the broader labour movement.

“I feel it in my bones, I feel it in my heart that once Doug is done with the teachers he’s coming for the rest of us,” said Thomas.

Delegates voted to support a Ford Fightback Campaign to oppose any austerity measures that slash and burn labour regulations, social services, health care and education, and to continue to win back the provisions that the government removed from employment standards as the union negotiates new contracts with employers.

“We have held fast against this Premier. We have fought back,” said Rizvi. “But our work now is only getting started. We’re here to recommit to the next phase of this campaign and ensure that Doug Ford is a one-term Premier.”








Unifor members at Gesco ratify new collective agreement

Members of Unifor Local 462, representing warehouse workers at Gesco Industries in Brampton, have voted overwhelmingly to ratify a new three-year collective agreement.

“Unifor is Canada’s leading union for warehouse workers – we’re ensuring that workplace standards keep up with this rapidly growing industry,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “I’m proud of the gains the bargaining committee has made for workers at Gesco.”

The new agreement, ratified on November 30, 2019, includes milestone improvements on emergency and sick leave, enhanced language on equal pay for equal work, adoption of Unifor’s Women’s Advocate Program, new harassment and accident/incident investigation processes, and wage increases.

“We made breakthrough gains during this round of bargaining – importantly, we enhanced sick and emergency leave benefits that go well beyond what the Ford government had recently revoked,” said Charles Redden, Local 462 President. “We’re fighting back against Ford’s attack on workers at the bargaining table.”

In October 2018, the Ford government eliminated mandatory paid sick days. Unifor is advocating for change through federal and provincial lobbying and has adopted a province wide bargaining program to enhance sick and emergency leave benefits in collective agreements.

“The bargaining committee greatly exceeded our bottom line on language and wage improvements in this round of bargaining,” said Larry McIntyre, Local 462 Unit Chair.

The addition of the Women’s Advocate Program in this new three-year agreement means specially trained members will assist members and their families facing domestic violence, and the agreement includes new language that secures up to 26 weeks of domestic violence leave.

12th Quebec Council: A call for commitment from Unifor members

Over 400 members from across the province gathered in Quebec City on November 23 and 24 as Unifor held its Quebec Council. In his report to delegates, Quebec Director Renaud Gagné delivered a positive assessment of Unifor’s actions during the federal election of October 21. However, he reminded delegates that “even though the election is over, it doesn’t mean our work is finished. Far from it. Our job now is to build strong ties with newly elected officials and to push forward our demands.”

Gagné also provided an update on the main negotiations currently in progress, including talks at Bombardier, Paccar and VIA Rail, as well as on the labour disputes at Vopak and Crustacés de Gaspé. He also reminded members of the numerous lobbying campaigns under way.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: without mobilization, nothing is possible. We need our members actively at our side to make our demands heard,” declared Gagné.

National Secretary-Treasurer Lana Payne made a visit to the Council, offering an impressive report on the union’s accomplishments country-wide in the past months. In drawing attention to the incessant attacks by right-wing governments in Ontario and Alberta, she reminded delegates that “we have to be more ambitious than those who are trying to dismantle workers’ rights across Canada. We have to organize people both inside and outside our union. The current context leaves us no other choice.”

During the Council, elections were held for the members of the Quebec Council’s Executive and standing committees. The results of the elections can be found on the Unifor Quebec website. It should be noted that the duration of the Council was short due to the fact that the triennial convention of the Quebec Federation of Labour (QFL) was set to start in Quebec City the next day, running from November 25 to 28.

Unifor members on strike at Voith in Mississauga

After reaching a dead-end in negotiations to renew their collective agreement and dealing with a stubborn employer, workers at Voith Hydro went on strike last week.

“Unifor bargained up until the deadline but unfortunately it became clear that the employer was just unwilling to make a fair offer,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. “The members are united and we are determined to obtain an agreement that addresses the workers’ key issues.”

The 35 workers represented by Unifor Local 252 had delivered an overwhelming 100 per cent strike mandate and began strike action on November 14, 2019.

“The employer has to understand that we are determined to make legitimate improvements to our members’ working conditions,” said Wilson Stowel, Unifor Local 252. “Under the circumstances, we had no other choice but to withdraw services because the employer just wouldn’t listen.”

The employer tabled several concessionary proposals that would have negatively changed the entire collective agreement.  Voith’s monetary proposals included reducing benefits from 100 per cent to 80 per cent, the elimination of the Cost of Living Adjustment and no increases to pension during the life of the collective agreement.

“We want to send a clear message to the employer. This work contract can only be renewed on the basis of negotiating in good faith and respecting our members,” continued Dias.

Despite several possible solutions put forward by the union, the employer has been steadfast in their demands on the union to accept concessions.

Voith manufactures hydro power station equipment, primarily for hydro dams around the world. The facility also repairs and maintains the equipment that it manufactures.

Le thème du Conseil régional de la C.-B. : Debout et au combat!

Le militantisme syndical a été grandement célébré ces derniers jours alors que les déléguées et délégués représentant les sections locales de toute la province participaient au Conseil régional de la Colombie-Britannique, tenu à Whistler du 22 au 24 novembre 2019.

« Au cours des dernières décennies, on a menti aux travailleurs, on a freiné leurs ambitions et on a minimisé leurs combats, a déclaré Gavin McGarrigle, directeur de la région de l’Ouest d'Unifor. Nous devons nous tenir debout et nous battre, c'est le thème du Conseil régional de la C.-B. 2019. »

Gavin McGarrigle a rappelé les principales campagnes que le syndicat a entreprises au cours de la dernière année, y compris la campagne de membre à membre à l’occasion des élections fédérales, qui a été très efficace en Colombie-Britannique.

« Nos membres recruteurs se sont réunis, se sont formés, ont appris à travailler ensemble... ils se sont portés volontaires dans des circonscriptions ciblées, plusieurs fois par semaine, a souligné Gavin McGarrigle aux déléguées et délégués. Unifor était là en force et nous avons tenu bon chaque jour de la campagne, en parlant à nos membres, en visitant les lieux de travail et en faisant du bénévolat. »

Le conférencier invité Don Davies, député néo-démocrate de Vancouver Kingsway, a également fait l'éloge des efforts déployés par les membres lors de la campagne électorale.  

« Unifor a été là pour moi dans ma campagne lorsqu’on cherchait ma défaite, a dit Don Davies. La campagne d'Unifor de membre à membre était visible, elle a été remarquée, et ce fut un succès. »

Le deuxième jour du Conseil, le président national d'Unifor, Jerry Dias, a poursuivi sur le thème de la riposte et du militantisme syndical.

« Nous pouvons exprimer tout ce que nous voulons. Nous pouvons être audacieux, nous pouvons tenir à nos principes, a déclaré Jerry Dias aux déléguées et délégués. Nous pouvons faire pression sur les gouvernements, sur les entreprises, ou nous pouvons garder le silence. Mais juste en regardant cette assemblée, je sais qu'il n'y a aucune chance qu'on se taise. »

Jerry Dias a souligné l'appui du syndicat aux questions autochtones lorsqu'il a invité les membres à se joindre à lui dans le cadre de la Marche pour la réconciliation sur la fameuse autoroute des larmes de la Colombie-Britannique, où de nombreux meurtres et disparitions de femmes autochtones ont été commis.

« Quand nous marchons sur l'autoroute des larmes, nous sommes tous ensemble. Nous allons bien faire les choses, pour nos consœurs, pour nos membres et pour nos enfants parce que nous devons le faire », a dit Jerry Dias.

Les déléguées et délégués ont voté pour l’adoption de résolutions en faveur de la marche de réconciliation et du lobbying auprès du gouvernement provincial de la Colombie-Britannique afin qu'il adopte et mette en œuvre les appels à la justice inclus dans le rapport final de l'Enquête nationale sur les femmes et les filles autochtones disparues et assassinées.

Unifor a aussi exprimé son engagement envers la réconciliation par un don de 250 000 dollars à la B.C. Aboriginal Child Care Society (BCACCS) fait conjointement par le Fonds de justice sociale d’Unifor et le CN. Les fonds serviront à étendre un programme novateur de développement de la parole et du langage destiné aux enfants de tout le Canada.

« En investissant dans le développement du langage, vous permettez à nos enfants d'avoir une voix pour provoquer des changements lorsqu'ils seront plus âgés », a déclaré la présidente du conseil d'administration de la BCACCS, Mary Teegee, aux déléguées et délégués lorsqu'elle a accepté le chèque. 

Les déléguées et délégués ont également adopté des résolutions et des recommandations visant à mettre fin au contrôle des entreprises sur les quotas de pêche de la côte ouest, à réclamer une aide en cas de catastrophe liée aux changements climatiques pour les pêcheurs et les travailleurs assimilés, à aider les sections locales à promouvoir une « transition juste » dans les industries où les émissions de CO2 continuent à augmenter, et à faire pression sur tous les paliers gouvernementaux pour que des mesures dynamiques soient prises pour lutter contre les changements climatiques.


Stand up and fight back theme of B.C. Regional Council

It was a celebration of union activism as delegates representing locals from across the province participated at the B.C. Regional Council, held in Whistler November 22-24, 2019.

"For the past few decades, workers have been sold a lie, their ambitions have been held back, and their struggles have been minimized," said Unifor Western Regional Director Gavin McGarrigle. "We need to stand up and fight back - that's the theme of B.C. Regional Council 2019."

McGarrigle highlighted major campaigns that the union undertook in the past year including the federal election member-to-member campaign, which was highly effective in British Columbia.

“Our member organizers came together, trained, learned how to work together…they volunteered their hearts out in targeted ridings, multiple times each week,” McGarrigle told delegates. “Unifor was there in force and we continued for every day of the campaign, speaking to our members, visiting workplaces, and volunteering.”

The members’ election campaign efforts were also praised by guest speaker Don Davies, the NDP MP for Vancouver Kingsway.  

“Unifor was there for me in my campaign when I was targeted for defeat," said Davies. “Unifor’s member-to-member campaign was visible, it was noticed, and it was a demonstrated success."

On day two of Council, Unifor National President Jerry Dias continued the theme of fighting back and union activism.

“We can be anything we want. We can be bold, in your face, principled,” Dias told delegates. “We can push governments, we can push corporations, or we can be silent. As I look across this room I know the chances of us being silent are zero.”

Dias highlighted the union’s support of Indigenous issues as he invited members to join him on the Unifor Walk for Reconciliation on B.C.’s notorious Highway of Tears, the location of many murders and disappearances of Indigenous women.

“When we walk the highway of tears you are all joining me. We’re going to do it right - for our fellow sisters, for our members for our kids because we have to,” said Dias.

Delegates voted to pass resolutions in support of the Reconciliation Walk and to lobby the B.C. provincial government to fully adopt and implement the Calls for Justice included in the final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

Unifor backed up its commitment to Reconciliation with a $250,000 donation to the B.C. Aboriginal Child Care Society (BCACCS) made jointly by the Unifor Social Justice Fund and CN Rail. The funds will be used to expand an innovative speech and language development program for children across Canada.

“We know comes from people speaking up so by investing in language you are allowing our children to have the voice to make changes when they are older," BCACCS Board President Mary Teegee told delegates as she accepted the cheque. 

Delegates also passed resolutions and recommendations to end corporate control over west coast fish quotas, to call for climate change disaster assistance for fish harvesters and allied workers, to assist locals to promote “Just Transition” language in industries where CO2 emissions counts continue to rise and to lobby all levels of government to take aggressive action to combat climate change.


Unifor and CN Rail donate $250,000 to the BC Aboriginal Child Care Society

Unifor and CN Rail have donated $250,000 to the BC Aboriginal Child Care Society (BCACCS) to support the expansion of an innovative program that uses Indigenous toys and stories to enhance language development in children.

“Unifor is proud to partner with CN to assist BCACCS’s work to deliver a spiritually enriching, high quality, early learning program that is based in the child’s Indigenous culture, language and history,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias.

BCACCS plans to adapt and expand its popular Moe the Mouse™ Speech and Language Development Program to meet the cultural and linguistic needs of on and off reserve Indigenous early childhood development programs in the six regions of Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Yukon, and the Maritime Provinces.

“As a long-time leader in the creation of Indigenous early learning and child care resources like the Moe the Mouse Speech and Language Development Program, the BC Aboriginal Child Care Society is honoured to receive this generous donation from the Unifor Social Justice Fund and CN Rail,” said Mary Teegee, BC Aboriginal Child Care Society Board President.

Unifor represents approximately 6,000 CN employees. The donation was jointly presented by Jerry Dias, Unifor National President, and Tristan Jenkin, CN Account Manager, at Unifor’s BC Regional Council in Whistler.

In the coming months, BCACCS will network with its regional partners and community sites to integrate local Indigenous culture and language content while maintaining the integrity of the Moe the Mouse curriculum.

“This funding will support our joint efforts for social justice and strengthen collaboration across Canada. It will help Indigenous children, families and communities strengthen early learning and child care programs, revitalize Indigenous languages, and promote the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action," said Teegee.


Stand! A movie inspired by Winnipeg General Strike set to premier in Canada on November 29

Set against the backdrop of the Winnipeg General Strike, the new movie Stand! features an immigrant Romeo and Juliet story, as they fight for love amidst social upheaval, and Unifor members are encouraged to check it out this weekend.

“Stand! Is a reminder of the importance of collective action and community building,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “We’re in the fight of our lives for equality, acceptance, and the protection of unions, just like we were 100 years ago.”

Stand! Is the screenplay adaption of acclaimed stage musical Strike!, inspired by the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike – one of the most influential strikes in Canadian history where more than 30,000 workers left their jobs, put economic activity in the region to a standstill, and stood together in solidarity for labour reform.

Unifor proudly sponsored the production of the feature film that is set to open across Canada on November 29.

“This movie inspires a new generation to fight for workers’ rights and reminds us where those basic rights came from and that solidarity and friendship are powerful tools to unite workers,” said Lana Payne, Unifor National Secretary-Treasurer. “We can never take our right to a union for granted, the moment we do is the moment these rights are lost.”

Stand! centers around Stefan Sokolowski (played by Marshall Williams), who fled to the New World from Ukraine with his father Mike Sokolowski (played by Gregg Henry), and Rebecca Almazoff (played by Laura Wiggins), his Jewish suffragette neighbor. They take action as the impoverished conditions of the city’s working class become unbearable.

The 1919 Winnipeg General Strike has reached its centennial, reminding audiences across the globe that the power of collective action and solidarity are essential to sparking long-haul change. Workers to this day are faced with prevailing social inequalities including poor wages, rising costs of living, and unstable employment.

Here’s how you can get tickets to the opening weekend of this timely new film. Opening weekend is November 29 – December 1, with group tickets available for Local Unions or more than 8 people.   

  • Group tickets (with 20 or more participants) can be specially purchased by calling 1-800-313-4461 or via email at groupsales@cineplex.com

For more information about Stand!, visit stand-movie.com.

Unifor members proudly help restart the Nordic Kraft pulp mill in Lebel-sur-Quévillon

Our members are proud to participate in the reopening of the Nordic Kraft pulp mill in Lebel-sur-Quévillon, officially announced on November 8.

“What is happening in Quévillon is no small feat,” explained Unifor Quebec Director Renaud Gagné. “Imagine restarting a mill that’s been shuttered since 2005. Even though it wasn’t dismantled for its metal, it’s easy to understand that time and the elements have affected the facility,” he added.

“I’d like to highlight the fact that we devoted a great deal of time and energy over the past few years to various projects aimed at getting this mill back up and running. Today, we are extremely proud and pleased that this project is finally moving forward,” said brother Gagné.

In April, the members ratified a new collective agreement with wage conditions comparable to those negotiated in other pulp mills such as the Saint-Félicien facility owned by Resolute Forest Products.

“We weren’t able to talk publicly about the reopening before the official announcement because there were still some loose ends to tie up,” said the Quebec Director.

Unifor has long advocated for the need to develop new niche markets for the use of forestry products – a renewable resource – in order to ensure the future not only of jobs in the industry, but also of entire regional communities that depend on it for their livelihood. In that sense, the Nordic Kraft projects corresponds exactly to what the union has been demanding for so long.

The mill is scheduled to start producing pulp in 2020. Ultimately, it is expected to provide jobs for hundreds of Unifor members. Local 1212 currently represents about 100 members who are working on recommissioning the mill’s production equipment.

Hundreds rally against Doug Ford’s health care cuts

On Saturday November 9, hundreds of Unifor members and retiree’s joined with coalition partners at the latest Ontario Health Coalition rally to protect public health care from Doug Ford’s reckless cuts to hospitals, long-term care, and ambulance services. 

“Doug Ford says he’s for the people but he’s proved that he’s only for the rich people,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “They offer tax breaks to the wealthiest in our society, to rich corporations, and slap all sorts of cuts on us to pay for their gifts to the rich. This is an attack on our children and grandchildren.”

Dias spoke at the mass public rally to denounce the cuts by the Ford Conservatives. Dias took the opportunity to remind supporters that residents in nursing homes receive just six minutes of care each morning, and that we must keep fighting to make sure conditions are improved so we have better care and safer work.

“Doug Ford’s government has been a complete disaster for Ontario’s public services. All told, he has cut billions of dollars from sorely needed funding for vital social programs that help Ontario’s most vulnerable, the sick, children with autism, and our seniors,” said Katha Fortier, Assistant to National President Jerry Dias. “Ford’s cuts amount to a cut of more than $1,100 per person in Ontario on everything from hospitals and schools to vital social and public services including water and food safety, and even vaccinations.”

The government plans to cut funding for and eliminate 25 out of 35 local public health units ,49 out of 59 local paramedic & ambulance services, and eliminate 12 of 22 local dispatch units. They have also imposed real-dollar cuts to local hospitals, and impose real-dollar cuts to long-term care homes, including cancelling two special funds that contribute to resident’s well-being.

While the province is experiencing a severe shortage of personal support workers, Ford has also implemented public sector wage restraint legislation that will disproportionately affect women who work in health care and social services, earning very modest wages.

Unifor is monitoring leaked information that suggests home care services will be privatized in local communities and more major cuts are coming to care provision staff in the provincial agencies including the LHINs.

“What type of government would attack children with autism, cut $17 million from women’s programs, and then cut funding and give less care to the sick, to our seniors, and to the most vulnerable in our society?” asked Dias. “Doug Ford’s conservative government is attacking health care workers and patients alike and it’s up to us to put a stop to his conservative agenda.”

The November 9 day of action came as part of four regional actions across Ontario supported by labour unions and social partners working with the Ontario Health Coalition to fightback against the Ontario government’s health care cuts.

Unifor has launched the Stop Ford Cuts campaign in September to fightback against the government’s conservative agenda. The campaign calls for an end to the government’s slashing of public services and municipal spending, and instead invest in public services that lift up all workers and ensure a brighter future for all.

You can take action now and tell Premier Ford to stop his reckless cuts by visiting stopfordcuts.ca.

Unifor assists Indigenous newspaper to rebuild following arson attack

Unifor has donated $10,000 to the Turtle Island News to assist in rebuilding efforts following an arson attack at the newspaper’s office in Six Nations Territory in Southern Ontario.

“The attack on Turtle Island News caused physical destruction but it is also an assault on media and the journalists’ ability to deliver important local coverage to their community,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias.

Turtle Island News is the only published national Indigenous weekly newspaper in Canada. The paper reported that a stolen truck rammed the newsroom before unidentified individuals doused the vehicle and the structure with gasoline and set them ablaze in a pre-dawn attack on October 28, 2019. Luckily, no one was injured in the incident.    

Damages are estimated at $150,000 as the fire caused structural damage and the loss of computers and cameras. While insurance is expected to cover most of the costs, flames devastated the paper’s photo archive, incinerating irreplaceable images that documented a quarter century of community history.

As soon as the flames were extinguished, the dozen staff employed at the paper immediately set to work in order to make the deadline to get the weekly edition out the next day.

"The paper always has to come out. We all know that," she said Lynda Powless, publisher and editor of the Turtle Island News. "If we hadn't put it out they would have won."

Unifor supports the Committee to Protect Journalists call for a prompt and thorough police investigation into the incident, which was recorded on building security cameras.  

“Sadly, this is not the first threat that journalists at Turtle Island News and other Canadian media outlets have had to face,” said Jake Moore, President of Unifor Local 79M and chair of the Unifor Media Council. “Acts of violence against media are often motivated by the desire to intimidate and silence the free press. This crime, and others against media, need to be taken seriously as an attack on democracy.”


Final day for submissions to support Northern Pulp jobs

Public consultations on the replacement effluent treatment facility project at Northern Pulp in Pictou, Nova Scotia, closes tomorrow, Friday, November 8.

“We have one last chance to get our members, particularly our 23,000 forestry members, to write supportive comments and save 230 good-paying, rural, Unifor-members’ jobs,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “This replacement facility will be an improvement the community needs and will support more than 2,700 jobs in the forestry sector across the province.”

Members are encouraged to read the Member Guide to Submitting Comments in the Northern Pulp Environmental Assessment for a quick how-to, and read our campaign page at unifor.org/NSforestry for more details.

“Without this new facility, the mill will be forced to close,” said Linda MacNeil, Unifor Atlantic Regional Director. “Unifor solidarity is incredible and right now our members in Pictou need that support.”

Comments can be submitted until midnight November 8 on the Nova Scotia Environment website, or by email at ea@novascotia.ca.

Unifor growing in hospitality sector

Unifor continues to grow in the hospitality sector, with more than 150 workers at two hotels in the Toronto area voting to join the union in just two days.

“These workers have stood up and said they want a voice in their workplace, and that they believe Unifor is the best way to get that voice,” Unifor National President Jerry Dias said. “The momentum is clearly with Unifor in the hospitality sector.”

The 111 workers at the Broadview Hotel, a boutique hotel in east Toronto, voted to join Unifor on October 30. The new members include servers, bartenders, kitchen staff, front desk and housekeeping staff.

The next day, 40 workers at the Hilton Garden hotel in Mississauga, including kitchen, maintenance, laundry, banquet, server, bartender and housekeeping staff, also voted to join Unifor.

 “Hospitality workers are joining Unifor because they know we have the depth in the industry to address their top concerns, including job security and compensation,” said a Unifor Organizing Director Kellie Scanlan.

Unifor represents more than 10,000 workers in hospitality and gaming across Canada.

Unifor to sponsor Special Olympics 2020 Canada Winter Games

Unifor, Canada’s largest union in the private sector, will be platinum sponsors of the Special Olympic 2020 Canada Winter Games, in support of the incredible contribution the athletes bring to their communities and their sports.

“Unifor is honoured to support the Special Olympic 2020 Canada Winter Games,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Our union believes in championing inclusivity, removing barriers to participation, and in the transformative power of sport to bring people together. Our sponsorship will help celebrate the achievements of Special Olympians and the work being done by Special Olympics Canada.”

The National Games are held every two years, alternating between Summer and Winter. This year, the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games will be held in Thunder Bay from February 25 to 29, 2020. The games will welcome more than 1,200 athletes, coaches and mission staff from across Canada.

“It is exciting to be involved with the Special Olympic Canada Winter Games,” said Lana Payne, Unifor National Secretary-Treasurer. “Unifor supports the values that guide Special Olympics Canada and that bring each athlete to these games and to the world stage: empowerment, excellence, respect, diversity and inclusion.”

Unifor is encouraging locals and members to support the Draft an Athlete program. The program allows supporters of the movement to fund a Special Olympics athlete’s journey to a regional, provincial, national or world competition.

The cost of sending athletes to competitions is high. Through the Draft an Athlete program, more athletes are able to attend a competition through direct support.

Athletes qualify for National Games based on their results from Provincial Games. These National Games are the qualifying event for athletes to become members of Team Canada attending the Special Olympics World Winter Games.

The Games will include competition in eight official Special Olympics sports: alpine skiing, five-pin bowling, cross country skiing, curling, figure skating, floor hockey, speed skating and snowshoeing.

For more information visit http://specialolympics2020.com/draft-an-athlete/

5,000 Unifor transit workers on strike in Metro Vancouver

Members at Unifor Locals 111 and 2200 began job action on November 1 after the employer balked at improvements to working conditions, benefits, and wages.

“There has not been a serious offer from the company since we served strike notice,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “In other words, the company feels very comfortable with system-wide job action.”

Unifor represents 3,800 transit operators and nearly 1,000 skilled trades and maintenance staff at Coast Mountain Bus Company, the firm contracted by the regional transit authority, Translink. The first phase of job action included a uniform ban for operators and an overtime ban for maintenance workers.

Contract talks have been underway for months, but no attempt has been made by the employer to address the most core concerns of Unifor members. Unifor says that the system is under stress, and Unifor members are bearing the brunt of it with assaults on the rise and schedules planned too tight for bathroom breaks.

“Metro Vancouver is undergoing a historic transit expansion, but it can’t leave workers behind,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor Western Regional Director. “It’s not a world-class transit system if operators are treated like second-class citizens.”

McGarrigle says that, without progress on core issues, nearly 5,000 members will escalate job action in the coming weeks.

There are no further talks scheduled.

Purchase your exclusive Unifor Toronto Rock tickets today!

Unifor is excited to partner with the Toronto Rock Lacrosse Club for its season opener and offer members, family and friends an exclusive fun-filled night on Saturday, December 7, 2019.

The game starts at 7 p.m, but doors will open early at the Scotia Bank arena for an exclusive Unifor tailgate party that includes many family-friendly activities.

Tickets for the game are $37 each.

Included with the tickets for each attendee:

  • $10 food and drink voucher
  • Early premium access to the Scotia Lounge
  • Dedicated seating for Unifor members and family.

Tickets can be purchased by clicking on this link.

Tickets are selling out as fast, please make sure to purchase your tickets early before they are all gone.

If you have any questions, please contact John Aman at 416-495-6650 or john.aman@unifor.org