Unifor

Grocery heads fail grocery workers, again

TORONTO - Today the heads of Canada’s largest grocery store chains faced sharp questions from MPs about their treatment of frontline workers during the pandemic, but industry must make lasting changes to correct declining working conditions in the retail sector.

“It’s not that complicated. Workers are supporting these grocery chains through a pandemic that still isn’t over,” Dias said.

“As President of Loblaw, Sarah Davis took home $6.7 million and her company is making record profits. To see her sit there and talk about how much she respects the workers, but then cut their pay, it’s disgusting. Retail workers deserve better, and Canadians expect better.”

Today’s appearance before the House Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology was a chance for the heads of Loblaw, Metro and Sobeys to show true respect for their workers, and admit they were wrong to cut pandemic pay last month, Dias said.

“What we got instead was highly-paid grocery executives insisting they did not collude, and then going on to say – remarkably – virtually the same thing over and over again,” Dias said.

“The executive all admitted to exchanging `courtesy emails’ and `courtesy calls’ on pandemic pay, and yet insist there was no collusion. I look forward to the committee’s ruling on that.”

With strike votes beginning Monday at Loblaw-owned Dominion stores in Newfoundland and Labrador, Dias pledged to take the fight for good grocery jobs to the bargaining table.

“The fact is, good jobs build strong communities. We will stand up for good full-time jobs and pay rates that recognize the vital role these workers play in our communities,” Dias said.
Lawn signs are being delivered and put up across Newfoundland and Labrador in support of Dominion workers as they prepare for strike votes and a return to the bargaining table.

Dias appeared before the same committee Monday with Local 597 President Carolyn Wrice and Local 414 President Gord Currie. All three encouraged the committee to recommend a more sweeping study of declining working conditions in the retail industry.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy, including 20,000 in the retail and wholesale sector. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

To arrange interviews via Skype, FaceTime or Zoom, please contact Unifor Communications representative Stuart Laidlaw: stuart.laidlaw@unifor.org or 647-385-4054 (cell).

Unifor meets with Minister Garneau to review air transportation sector priorities

TORONTO—Unifor leadership representing air transportation workers met with federal Minister of Transportation Marc Garneau and representatives from his office today via videoconference to discuss the importance of ensuring the airline industry is able to weather the storm until Canada is able to return to successful travel and tourism after COVID-19.

“Unifor is a union for air transportation workers. Keeping the industry healthy is a priority during this unprecedented crisis,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Governments must listen to the voices of airline workers, remain vigilant and continue relying on science-based health and safety guidelines as a roadmap to economic recovery.”

Unifor members presented Garneau with a policy paper containing several recommendations to preserve and support the industry where travel restrictions remain in place, and lift travel restrictions where it is safe to do so. Unifor is recommending the development of a national aviation plan, an industry specific corporate support package, adjustments to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, and a national plan for a return to travel that prioritizes health and safety protocols.

Unifor works with many employers in the travel and tourism industry including hotels, airlines, and airports to implement health and safety protocols that will increase the safety of workers and the travelling public. These protocols include: ensuring workers have access to appropriate PPE, enhanced cleaning and sanitization measures, appropriate social and physical distancing measures, the development of a pandemic response plan, and much more.

Unifor leadership on the call included National President Jerry Dias, Local 2002 president Euila Leonard, Sunwing Pilots Local 7378 president Barret Arman, Air Traffic Controllers Local 5454 executive vice president Doug Best, Air Traffic Specialists Local 2245 president Elizabeth O’Hurley, and Local 2002 Bargaining Committee chair Frances Galambosy,

Unifor represents more than 16,500 workers in the Canadian air transportation sector, including pilots, customer service representatives, air traffic controllers, flight service specialists, aircraft mechanics, airport workers, and flight attendants.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

To arrange for interviews, in-person or via Skype/Facetime, please contact Unifor Communications Representative Ian Boyko at ian.boyko@unifor.org or 778-903-6549 (cell).

Widespread VIA Rail layoffs reveal deep failure of CERB program rules

July 8, 2020

OTTAWA – More than 1000 VIA Rail workers received layoff notice today, along with news that Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s CERB rules still deny them employer-paid income top up.

“The CERB rules step all over longstanding income security practices that workers and employers have held for decades,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Many rail workers showed up throughout the early weeks of the pandemic, and continue to deliver service despite the risk to their own health. The least that workers deserve from the federal government is to honour their hard fought collective agreement benefits.”

VIA Rail, as a crown corporation, is unfairly barred from accessing the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy for its workers, despite a massive downturn in passenger rail service. The corporation paid its employees who did not have work due to the pandemic 70 per cent of wages until this point.

While on temporary layoff, the affected members will be able to apply for the CERB, but are denied the negotiated supplemental income plan (SUB plan) that is in their collective agreements.

 “Instead of allowing employers to hold up contractual obligations that are negotiated specifically for situations like this - the federal government prohibits it,” said Renaud Gagné, Unifor Quebec Director.

“More than 4000 Unifor members have already emailed Morneau and Minister Qualtrough demanding that this policy be revoked. How many thousands of workers need to lose their income and benefits before the government corrects this awful policy?” continued Gagné.

Unifor alone has negotiated SUB plans for about 50,000 members in many sectors. SUB plans are no cost to the public treasury, and are part of a contract that a worker, or their union, makes directly with an employer.

Unifor has a member-driven petition to ministers Morneau and Qualtrough, demanding that they stop denying SUB plans. Visit www.unifor.org/SUBplans for more information.

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

To arrange interviews via Skype, Facetime or Zoom contact Sarah McCue, Unifor National Communications Representative at 416-458-3307 (cell) or sarah.mccue@unifor.org.

For French interviews, please contact Unifor Quebec Communications Representative, Marie-Andrée L'Heureux at marie-andree.lheureux@unifor.org or 514-916-7373 (cell).

Severance payment for Northern Pulp workers must be priority

July 8, 2020

HALIFAX—Unifor is urging the Nova Scotia government to work with Northern Pulp to secure Debtor-In-Possession (DIP) financing amid the company’s restructuring.

“As one of the largest creditors to Northern Pulp, the Nova Scotia government is the one holding the purse strings and they will determine if the company can honour its obligations to the workers and maintain the facility during hibernation,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “There is no reason the government should object to DIP financing, especially considering the hundreds of families relying on severance to see them through job loss and a pandemic.”

Northern Pulp notified the union on Tuesday, July 7 that it would not be able to make the second planned severance payment to workers scheduled for the end of July if the company and province could not come to an agreement to allow for third party financing. The company advised members that government had requested more time to review financing terms prior to  the July 3 court date, pushing a decision back to a hearing on July 24.

“Unifor members at the mill received a paltry $650 from the government’s $63.5 million Forestry Transition Fund, so this promised severance is even more essential to them,” said Linda MacNeil, Atlantic Regional Director. “We expect the parties to come to a financial agreement that allows our members to be paid and all responsible maintenance and cleanup at the mill site to continue during shut down. Now is not the time to leave families in the lurch financially.”

Northern Pulp parent company Paper Excellence has reassured Unifor and its members that it is committed to supporting employees and maintaining the opportunity for long-term employment at the mill.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing more than 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy, including 24,000 in the forestry sector. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

For media inquiries contact National Communications Representative Shelley Amyotte at 902-717-7491 or shelley.amyotte@unifor.org.

Kenney’s attack on unions makes corporate bosses even more powerful

July 7, 2020

EDMONTON—Premier Jason Kenney’s Bill 32 attempts to undermine the voice of Alberta’s working people while ensuring corporations remain as powerful and unaccountable as ever, says Unifor.

“When unions use free speech rights to speak out against injustice, we’re standing up for all workers,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Combined with criminalizing protest under the new Critical Infrastructure Defence Act, Jason Kenney is using the power of big government to silence the voices of working people.”

Bill 32 proposes to limit unions’ public advocacy campaigns with a government-imposed “free-loader” union dues model that lets union members benefit from union advocacy without paying for it, says Unifor. The union also says that Bill 32 would hamstring Kenney’s most effective critics and consolidate his own power.

“In this new attack on working peoples’ rights, Jason Kenney is using government regulations to benefit his friends in big business,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor Western Regional Director. “Fixing the rules to give even greater power to the rich and powerful will only hurt Alberta’s economic recovery. Working people must be heard if we’re going to build a more fair and sustainable society.”

Unifor says that, much like is expected with the undemocratic Critical Infrastructure Defense Act, Bill 32 will eventually be ruled unconstitutional by courts.

“Rather than admitting that his weak economic plan has made matters worse, Kenney would rather pick ideological fights using bad laws that will be thrown out by courts,” said McGarrigle.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

To arrange for interviews, in-person or via Skype/Facetime, please contact Unifor Communications Representative Ian Boyko at ian.boyko@unifor.org or 778-903-6549 (cell).

Unifor and Gateway Casinos announce return to operations agreement

July 7, 2020

BURNABY— After weeks of discussions, Unifor and Gateway Casinos are pleased to announce a return to operations agreement was reached between both parties.

“The COVID-19 crisis has hit Canada’s gaming industry particularly hard, all but shutting down this vital sector affecting thousands of workers and their families,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “This agreement with Gateway Casinos is an important step in the right direction towards providing our members with certainty in these uncertain times.”

The scope of the agreement includes hundreds of Unifor members at Gateway Casinos properties in Ontario and British Columbia including:

Ontario:

  • Cascades Chatham
  • Starlight Point Edward
  • Gateway Casinos Sarnia
  • Gateway Casinos Sudbury
  • Gateway Casinos Innisfil Security
  • the Centralized Technical Operations

British Columbia:

  • Chances Kamloops
  • Chances Williams Lake
  • Grand Villa Burnaby Surveillance

The agreement provides an extension of benefits while also improving job security. As part of the agreement, Unifor members will also have an option to elect a retroactive paid leave partially funded by the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS).

“Gateway has taken an approach to leverage CEWS to offer employees paid leave during this crisis,” Tony Santo, CEO of Gateway Casinos. “We are very pleased that we have been able to work together to offer this significant opportunity to gaming employees working for these Gateway operations.”

Additionally, the agreement includes a number of items to assist Gateway’s business to more quickly and efficiently return to operations and to get as many Gateway employees and Unifor members back to work as soon as possible. Both parties look forward to working together on preparing the businesses to re-open as soon as provincial governments deem it safe to do so.

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector and represents 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

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

For media inquiries or to arrange an interview via Skype or FaceTime, contact Unifor National Communications Representative David Molenhuis: David.Molenhuis@unifor.org or (416) 575-7453.

Media Contact for Gateway Casinos & Entertainment:

Tanya Gabara, Director, Public Relations at 604-296-5052 or tgabara@gatewaycasinos.com

Unifor welcomes Northwood COVID-19 government review

HALIFAX—Unifor welcomes the announcement by Nova Scotia’s Health and Wellness Minister Randy Delorey of a review of the COVID-19 outbreak at Northwood’s Halifax campus.

“For years front line health care workers have demanded the employer address the lack of adequate staffing levels at the home," said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “This review gives health care workers and residents another opportunity to go on record, voice concerns, offer solutions to address poor staffing at the home. I expect Northwood to take the recommendations from Minister seriously and immediately act upon them.”

Minister Delorey appointed infectious disease consultant Dr. Chris Lata and former British Columbia associate deputy minister of health Lynn Stevenson to analyze the outbreak and the response to determine what factors contributed to the spread of COVID-19 at Northwood.

“The review allows the long-term care sector to be better prepared for a possible second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Linda MacNeil, Unifor Atlantic Regional Director. “I believe all health care workers and residents are looking forward to the seeing the recommendations and improvements to the home and generally to all LTC facilities.”

The Northwood review will consider if preparedness for and response to COVID-19 infections were appropriate and timely. It will also look at staff scheduling practices and best practices during each stage of the outbreak. Staff will be interviewed about how to effectively control and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in long-term care settings.

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector and represents 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

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

For media inquiries or to arrange an interview via Skype or FaceTime, contact Unifor Director of Communications Natalie Clancy: Natalie.Clancy@unifor.org or (416) 707-5794.

Canada’s telecom workers urge Bell to bring the work home

July 1, 2020

OTTAWA- On this Canada Day, Unifor demands that Bell follow the example set by Rogers, and bring all offshore customer service work back to Canada permanently.

“Yesterday’s announcement by Rogers along with our experience with Bell during the past several months has shown that Canada's telecom workers are able not only to step in and do the work, but can provide better and more reliable service to customers in Canada,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “This crisis has caused many Canadians to rethink their priorities, and I urge Bell Canada leadership to do the same today. Bring the work home, and help rebuild our economy that better supports workers in Canada.”

Unifor commends Roger’s decision yesterday to bring all remaining customer service jobs back to Canada, and set a path that others should follow.

At Bell, work was brought home on a temporary basis during the pandemic as a result of low wage call centres in the Philippines, India, and Tunisia that were forced to close, while workers in Canada stepped up to do work here.   

Bell and BTS technicians quickly retrained to handle the massive increase in customer support calls and they continue to provide service to customers today.

“After COVID-19, Canadian companies will have to help rebuild our capacity to not only manufacture in Canada, but fix the damage that’s been done to telecom and customer service by decades of outsourcing,” said Renaud Gagné, Unifor Quebec Director. “Unifor members have fought back against years of decline in the industry and it’s time for Bell to refocus on workers in Canada and stop the race to the bottom.”

On June 24, Unifor released its Road Map for a Fair, Inclusive and Resilient Economic Recovery. Our bold plan focuses on five key economic areas to not only rebuild the economy, but also to support Canada’s workers.

Employees of Bell Canada and Bell subsidiaries have long campaigned against contracting out and other forms of job erosion and will continue to do so.  For current updates about this campaign, visit bellrealtalk.ca.

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

To arrange interviews via Skype, Facetime or Zoom contact Sarah McCue, Unifor National Communications Representative at 416-458-3307 (cell) or sarah.mccue@unifor.org

For French interviews, please contact Unifor Quebec Communications Representative, Véronique Figliuzzi at Veronique.Figliuzzi@unifor.org  or 514-212-6003.

 

Workers at Jazz Aviation and Exploits Valley Air Services oppose service reduction accouncement

June 30, 2020

TORONTO - Jazz Aviation and EVAS represented by Unifor Local 2002 are disappointed with Air Canada’s major reduction in services announcement

 “Airline workers should not have to continue to bear the burden of this global pandemic’s economic effects due to ongoing travel restrictions,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “What workers need is for the federal government to take immediate action to develop an effective airlines strategy that preserves Canadian jobs.” 

The reduction in service was announced because of ongoing COVID-19 travel restrictions as part of the government’s pandemic response. Air Canada announced today that approximately thirty routes have been cancelled and eight airport stations will be closed indefinitely.  

“We fully understand the difficult situation the pandemic has created for the global industry, but our airline workers are counting on the Prime Minister to take leadership to support and preserve Canada’s airline industry, said Euila Leonard, President of Unifor Local 2002.

On March 28, 2020, Unifor joined with other Canadian airline unions in sharing concerns and providing solutions to help bring stability and prosperity back to the industry. Unifor has specifically called on the government to ensure that any aid package delivered to any sector, including air travel, must be accompanied by strong, enforceable conditions that ensure funds are dedicated to maintaining current workers’ income and creating new opportunities for employment.

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector and represents 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

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

For further information: For media inquiries or to arrange an interview with Jerry Dias via Skype, FaceTime or Zoom contact Hamid Osman, Unifor National Communications Representative at 647-448-2823 (cell) or hamid.osman@unifor.org

Unifor disappointed as Kenney presents support for corporations and slim pickings for workers

June 29, 2020

EDMONTON – Unifor urges Premier Kenney to change course and invest in workers instead of further padding corporate profits. 

“Alberta’s workers are looking for leadership, and instead, Kenney launches an incomplete plan that squeezes education, and school boards, and proposes two-tiers of minimum wage. That’s not going to cut it,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “While Albertans are supporting one another, the least he can do is recognize that this crisis is the time to invest in Albertans, not funnel more profit off of workers’ backs into the pockets of corporate bosses.”

In the June 29 announcement, Premier Kenney floated possible changes to labour relations legislation that would no doubt take from workers, and refused to commit to not making deeper cuts to public services that are supporting the province through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While details are sparse, his message is clear. Kenney is still turning his back on workers in order to hold the hands of corporate Alberta,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor Western Regional Director. “A fair economic recovery can build public services that this province needs, and protect labour standards while providing the conditions that business needs to grow. Don’t let anyone tell you that we cannot achieve both.”

On June 24, Unifor released its Road Map for a Fair, Inclusive and Resilient Economic Recovery. Our bold plan is available at buildbackbetter.unifor.org, and focuses on five key economic areas to not only rebuild the economy, but also to support Canada’s workers.

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change

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

Unifor condemns WestJet outsourcing scheme

June 25, 2020

CALGARY—Unifor is disturbed by WestJet’s plans that will eliminate more than 3,000 jobs in an outsourcing scheme revealed earlier this week. 

“It is disgraceful and downright un-Canadian that WestJet would punish the workers who made this historic Western Canadian start-up so successful. This is pandemic capitalism at its worst,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “I find it disturbing that WestJet is using the pandemic to justify its outsourcing scheme as so many of the workers who will lose their jobs were in the process of signing union cards with Unifor.” 

WestJet’s plans were announced by its parent company, Onex Corporation, one of the largest private equity firms in Canada. At the time Onex acquired WestJet in 2019, Unifor warned workers and the public of its reputation as a predatory takeover specialist with a long history of devastating cost-cutting and restructuring.

“Up until the time Onex’s takeover, WestJet employees were considered owners,” said Kellie Scanlan, Unifor’s Director of Organizing. “But after this week’s announcement, it’s clear that at WestJet, management does not want workers to have a voice.”

Unifor has a proven record of securing collective bargaining language that specifically protects airline workers from outsourcing schemes. While Unifor has been working hard to organize workers at WestJet it has faced an aggressive management-led campaign to undermine card signing efforts. In recent weeks, Unifor organizers have noted a substantial increase in the number of WestJet workers reaching out to sign union cards.

“This outsourcing scheme at WestJet shows what happens when workers do not have a union to protect them,” added Dias. “We will continue to fight for frontline WestJet workers and stand with them during this difficult time.”

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

To arrange an interview via FaceTime or Skype, please contact Unifor Communications Director Natalie Clancy at Natalie.Clancy@unifor.org 416-707-5794 (cell).

Unifor releases Road Map for a Fair, Inclusive and Resilient Economic Recovery

June 24, 2020

OTTAWA – Unifor calls on governments to #BuildBackBetter and reveal a detailed plan to rebuild the economy in a virtual news conference live on Facebook.  

“Tomorrow’s economy cannot look like the one that we left behind, where essential workers could barely get by on low wages, could not access sick pay, and where the social safety net failed them,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Eventually this crisis will end and we want to ensure that a more fair, inclusive, and resilient economy takes shape on the other side.”

Built on the principles of economic justice, the new recovery plan is based on consultation with rank-and-file members and includes dozens of recommendations targeting all levels of government.

The plan organizes policy recommendations into five themes:

  • Build an income security system that is accessible
  • Build sustainable green jobs and decarbonization
  • Build critical physical and social infrastructure
  • Rebuild domestic industrial capacity
  • Set strong, enforceable conditions on corporate support packages

“The steps that governments take in the coming months and years will define workers’ well-being and progress for a generation,” said Renaud Gagné, Unifor Quebec Director. “It is vital that we get it right, and rebuild the economy not to what it once was, but to an economy that meets people’s needs no matter the crisis.”

Visit buildbackbetter.unifor.org to read the recommendations and download the Road Map for a Fair, Inclusive and Resilient Economic Recovery.

Watch the digital media conference on www.fb.com/uniforcanada to see Jerry Dias and Unifor members from across the country present the vision.

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

For French interviews, please contact Unifor Quebec Communications Representative, Véronique Figliuzzi at Veronique.Figliuzzi@unifor.org or 514-212-6003.

Canada must oppose any reimposition of unfair aluminum tariffs

June 23, 2020

TORONTO—Unifor is calling on the federal government to strenuously oppose any reimposition of punitive tariffs on Canadian aluminum exports to the United States by President Donald Trump.

“I urge you, Prime Minister, to reject any concessionary demands the U.S. requests of Canada on this matter,” wrote Unifor National President Jerry Dias in a letter sent today to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “We must not allow these bullying tactics to succeed. I urge you to stand strong in the face of this misinformation campaign and reject any quotas that would disrupt the Canadian aluminum industry once again and lead to unnecessary layoffs.”

There are reports that the United States is planning to re-impose a 10% tariff on Canadian aluminum unless Canada accepts strict export quotas on primary aluminum. This follows a request from the American Primary Aluminum Association (APAA) to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Secretary Wilbur Ross to repeal Canada’s exemption to the Section 232 tariffs that occurred one-year ago in May 2019.

Canadian aluminum was subject to national security tariffs imposed by the Trump Administration between May 2018 and May 2019 when Unifor launched a campaign against the unfair tariffs.

“Section 232 tariffs were bogus the first time and it’s nothing short of an outrage for the APAA or the Trump administration to pretend once again that Canadian aluminum is somehow a threat to U.S. national security,” said Dias. “We simply cannot allow the tantrums of small-scale American producers to threaten Canadian jobs and the communities that rely on them a second time.”

The APAA claims that primary aluminum exports from Canada have “surged” since the lifting of U.S. tariffs, which breaches an agreement struck between the parties. The “surge” claim is entirely arbitrary, and based on trade flows over a short period. The APAA’s claim also fails to account for headwinds facing the industry, including the economic downswing caused by COVID-19 along with a dramatic rise in non-Canadian foreign imports from places like China and Russia over the past decade.

The reported policy move comes even after the main U.S. industry group, The Aluminum Association, stated in a May 2020 letter to Lighthizer that “even if every U.S. aluminum smelter was operating at full capacity, aluminum manufacturers would still require a mix of domestic and imported primary aluminum as well as secondary production to meet the demands of U.S. manufacturers and consumers for aluminum products.”

“What the APAA neglects to mention is that the U.S. aluminum industry has a domestic capacity problem that is leading American manufacturers to look elsewhere for their aluminum,” wrote Dias. Dias also warned Trudeau that strong reciprocal measures may be warranted and must be considered should the U.S. act against Canada’s aluminum sector.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

For media inquiries or to arrange a Skype, Zoom or FaceTime interview with Jerry Dias please contact Unifor Communications Representative Kathleen O’Keefe at kathleen.okeefe@unifor.org or 416-896-3303 (cell).

Unifor unveils economic recovery plan to #BuildBackBetter

June 23, 2020

TORONTO – Unifor will unveil its strategy to #BuildBackBetter with the release of the union’s comprehensive ‘Road Map for a Fair, Inclusive and Resilient Economic Recovery’.

“Unifor’s plan is designed to build a more strategic and self-reliant economy that can both withstand and prevent future crises,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. “This is an ambitious road map but I think ambition is what our country and its workers need right now.”

Built on the principles of economic justice, the new recovery plan is broad in scope with dozens of recommendations targeting all levels of government. The plan organizes policy recommendations into five themes of income security, green jobs and decarbonization, critical infrastructure, rebuilding domestic industrial capacity, and strong, enforceable conditions on corporate support packages.

For an embargoed copy of the report please contact Kathleen O’Keefe at Kathleen.okeefe@unifor.org

  • WHAT: Virtual media conference to release Unifor’s economic recovery plan
  • WHO: Speakers will include Unifor National President Jerry Dias, President of Unifor Local 6005 Shinade Allder, President of Unifor Local 4276 James Griffin, and Local 2215 Unit Chair Matt Blois
  • WHERE: Live streamed on Unifor Facebook page
  • WHEN: Wednesday, June 24 at 1 PM ET

Media are invited to submit questions ahead of or during the media conference by emailing communications@unifor.org and they will be answered live.

For media inquiries or to arrange a follow up Facetime, Zoom or Skype interview in English please contact Unifor Communications Representative Kathleen O’Keefe at kathleen.okeefe@unifor.org  or 416-896-3303 (cell).

For interviews in French with Renaud Gagné, Unifor’s Quebec Director please contact Véronique Figliuzzi: Figliuzzi@unifor.org or 514 212-6003 (cell).

 

 

Refinery workers ratify tentative agreement with Co-op

June 22, 2020

REGINA—Unifor Local 594 members have ratified a tentative agreement with Co-op Refinery, ending a six-month lockout of 730 workers by Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL).

“Our members and their bargaining committee held firm throughout a difficult, protracted and often bitter negotiation process,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “In the end we were successful in protecting their retirement security and in achieving the national wage pattern but this result could have been reached far earlier if the mediator recommendations had been enforced by Premier Scott Moe.”

The new collective agreement maintains the defined benefit pension plan and the company matched employee savings plan for existing workers. Wage improvements in the new collective agreement match the National Pattern.

“We didn’t seek this work stoppage. Now that it’s finally been resolved our members are looking forward to returning to their jobs and getting back to work,” said Unifor Local 594 President Kevin Bittman. “This was the first, and hopefully last, work stoppage in our local’s 78 years of faithfully providing the Co-op Refinery with our dedicated labour. It will be hard going back into the workplace for some of us, but we will do it with our heads held high because we stood in solidarity for one another. This has been the toughest period in our history, but we will be stronger because of it.”

Unifor Local President Kevin Bittman will hold a media availability at 4 p.m. outside the union hall at 200 Hodsman Road, Regina.

To arrange for interviews with Kevin Bittman please contact Local 594 Chief Shop Steward Richard Exner at chiefshopsteward@unifor594.com or 306-530-9965.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

For more information please contact Unifor Communications Representative Kathleen O’Keefe at kathleen.okeefe@unifor.org or 416-896-3303 (cell).

Pallister’s public sector cuts continue as Manitoba Hydro layoffs put frontline service at risk

June 22, 2020

WINNIPEG – Unifor is raising the alarm over Premier Pallister’s most recent attempt to chip away at Manitoba Hydro.

Twelve of only 221 frontline workers for Manitoba Hydro’s natural gas division have been placed on layoff effective Monday, June 22, 2020 despite no financial need or decrease in work.

“Pallister looks for any way to squeeze public services, from health care to education. Today’s layoffs may look small in number, but could have a dramatic impact on Manitoban’s safety,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Workers have seen this before, governments that cut away at public services in order to contract out and privatize. That’s not going to happen here, Unifor members are fighting these cuts.”

Unifor members at Manitoba Hydro are the first to respond to explosions, gas leaks, carbon monoxide alarms, fires and other natural gas emergencies, as well as perform appliance inspection. These recent layoffs added to job vacancies not filled since 2018 has eroded the gas division’s ability to respond to emergencies by 25 per cent.

Since announcing layoffs for highly-trained, unionized staff, Manitoba Hydro has hired approximately 10 contractors and posted a contract for a new supervisor.

“Creeping cuts to public services weaken those services, and that’s exactly what Pallister’s goal is here. His record is clear, cut services that the public relies on, and attempt to bully Manitoba’s workers by contracting out,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor’s Western Regional Director. “Now is the time to invest, not make risky cuts that will harm the province.”

Unions entered good-faith discussions with Hydro about unpaid days off in lieu of layoffs, but when the company rejected a guarantee to limit layoffs, Unifor walked away. Unifor says the company’s position suggests that the layoffs are part of a longer-term strategy to further emaciate the popular publicly owned utility.

To arrange for interviews, in-person or via Skype/Facetime, please contact Unifor Communications Representative Sarah McCue at sarah.mccue@unifor.org or 416-458-3307.

Unifor welcomes cancellation of proposal to end statutory holidays

June 19, 2020

TORONTO – Unifor welcomes the decision by the Ontario government to cancel its proposal to eliminate all but three statutory holidays for retail workers.

“We are pleased that the Ford government has changed its mind on this issue. Retail workers have been a vital part of getting our communities through the pandemic, and have been working incredibly hard to keep food on our tables,” Unifor National President Jerry Dias said.

“Coming just days after their pay was cut by major grocers, the possibility that they would lose their statutory holidays just added insult to injury.”

Dias spoke with Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Labour Minister Monte McNaughton this morning, who confirmed Ontario would not go ahead with the proposal to eliminate all statutory holidays for retail workers except Christmas, Good Friday and Canada Day.

“This is obviously good news, but the pay cuts are still in place and shows that we must remain constantly vigilant to stand up for the rights of all workers,” Dias said.

Loblaw was the first to announce it would end the $2 premium paid to workers in its grocery stores, and was soon followed by other major retailers, including Metro and Sobeys.

Unifor is leading efforts to make fair pay permanent as the country slowly emerges from the pandemic. The Fair Pay Forever campaign calls for historic inequities in the sector to be corrected. Many workers are forced to take more than one part-time job to get by.

Unifor will hold a virtual rally today, livestreamed on Facebook from four different cities, at 1pm (ET). Speakers at the rally will include Dias, Ontario Regional Director Naureen Rizvi, Atlantic Director Linda MacNeil and grocery store workers in Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador.

For media inquiries, or to arrange interviews via FaceTime, Skype or Zoom, please contact Unifor Communications representative Stuart Laidlaw:  stuart.laidlaw@unifor.org or 647-385-4054 (cell).

Unifor welcomes cancelation of proposal to end statutory holidays

June 19, 2020

TORONTO – Unifor welcomes the decision by the Ontario government to cancel its proposal to eliminate all but three statutory holidays for retail workers.

“We are pleased that the Ford government has changed its mind on this issue. Retail workers have been a vital part of getting our communities through the pandemic, and have been working incredibly hard to keep food on our tables,” Unifor National President Jerry Dias said.

“Coming just days after their pay was cut by major grocers, the possibility that they would lose their statutory holidays just added insult to injury.”

Dias spoke with Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Labour Minister Monte McNaughton this morning, who confirmed Ontario would not go ahead with the proposal to eliminate all statutory holidays for retail workers except Christmas, Good Friday and Canada Day.

“This is obviously good news, but the pay cuts are still in place and shows that we must remain constantly vigilant to stand up for the rights of all workers,” Dias said.

Loblaw was the first to announce it would end the $2 premium paid to workers in its grocery stores, and was soon followed by other major retailers, including Metro and Sobeys.

Unifor is leading efforts to make fair pay permanent as the country slowly emerges from the pandemic. The Fair Pay Forever campaign calls for historic inequities in the sector to be corrected. Many workers are forced to take more than one part-time job to get by.

Unifor will hold a virtual rally today, livestreamed on Facebook from four different cities, at 1pm (ET). Speakers at the rally will include Dias, Ontario Regional Director Naureen Rizvi, Atlantic Director Linda MacNeil and grocery store workers in Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador.

For media inquiries, or to arrange interviews via FaceTime, Skype or Zoom, please contact Unifor Communications representative Stuart Laidlaw:  stuart.laidlaw@unifor.org or 647-385-4054 (cell).

Unifor calls for fair pay forever for grocery workers

June 19, 2020

TORONTO – Unifor members from across Canada came together for a virtual rally this afternoon in support of grocery workers who have seen their pay cut this past week.

“It has become clear, based on governments, based on the employers, that the respect that our members are shown by consumers is certainly not shown by the corporations,” Unifor National President Jerry Dias said in the rally, streamed live on Facebook from four different cities.

“We are fighting to make sure the pandemic pay stays.”

News of the pay cuts this week was quickly followed by word that the Ontario government was considering taking away all but three statutory holidays for retail workers, leaving only Christmas, Good Friday and Canada Day. The proposal was quickly dropped in the face of negative reaction from the public on social media.

“Think about who we are talking about,” said Unifor Ontario Director Naureen Rizvi.

“It’s your neighbors who often work there, your friends, children of those you know, these are who we are talking about today. Those workers got up each and every day, they came into work, despite the fear and despite the risk of contracting COVID-19, to keep our food supply system moving.”

Loblaw was the first to announce it would end the $2 premium paid to workers in its grocery stores, and was soon followed by other major retailers, including Metro and Sobeys.

“These are workers just doing their jobs, doing their duty. They remind us what it is to be selfless. And to act for the greater good,” Unifor Atlantic Regional Director Linda MacNeil said.

Unifor is currently in negotiations with Loblaw-owned Dominion Stores in Newfoundland and Labrador, attempting to reverse a 2019 company decision to eliminate one in five full-time supermarket jobs. 

“The fact is, we always work hard. Harder and harder every year, to keep this company profitable. Yet our wages barely move. Our benefits hardly improve. Our jobs grow more precarious,” said Carolyn Wrice, Unifor Local 597 President in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy, including 20,000 in the retail and wholesale sector. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

For media inquiries, or to arrange interviews via FaceTime, Skype or Zoom, please contact Unifor Communications representative Stuart Laidlaw:  stuart.laidlaw@unifor.org or 647-385-4054 (cell).

Refinery workers reach tentative agreement with Co-op

June 18, 2020

REGINA—The bargaining committee of Unifor Local 594 has reached a tentative agreement with the employer at the Co-op Refinery, 197 days after Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL) locked out 730 workers.

“There was always a path to a deal,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “The provincially appointed mediators’ report provided a basis for a new contract, but this dispute was protracted thanks to interference from the Regina Police Service and the incompetence of Premier Scott Moe.”

In February, Moe appointed Vince Ready and Amana Rodgers to mediate a deal that was accepted by 98 per cent of the members yet rejected by FCL. Despite repeated calls from constituents, the Premier refused to step in and support the refinery workers.

“Wealthy corporations have been allowed to act with impunity for too long, exerting their power on workers in order to profit, while eroding wages, pensions, and benefits,” continued Dias. “Unifor members took a stand against this aggression, and Co-op locked them out in the cold. In this fight, we showed that Canada’s workers are united and will fight to defend good jobs, even when governments and police services choose to side with the rich.”

The tentative deal hopefully marks the conclusion of an historic labour dispute. After the aggressive arrest of 14 union members on a legal picket line on January 20, including National President Jerry Dias and Western Regional Director Gavin McGarrigle, hundreds of union members came to Regina from across the country to bolster the picket line, and workers around the world voiced their support. 

“I am so proud of the solidarity, strength and courage of our membership,” said Kevin Bittman, Local 594 President. “They never wavered throughout this nasty dispute, and we will always be grateful for the support we received from our Unifor family and the entire labour movement. This was union-busting from an employer that has made billions off of our backs and together we fought and defended our collective agreement.”

Details about the tentative agreement will not be released until members of Local 594 hold a ratification vote. The union worked to ensure the “return to work” protocol protected members and local union leaders from retribution from Co-op.

“The tentative agreement would have been signed weeks ago but Co-op showed their true colours by punitively continuing the lockout, now they will have to try and build back a dedicated and committed workforce that will not forget the disrespect they felt from this profitable employer,” said Scott Doherty, head negotiator and Executive Assistant to Unifor’s National President.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

To arrange for interviews, in-person or via Skype/FaceTime, please contact Unifor’s Director of Communications Natalie Clancy at  Natalie.Clancy@unifor.org or 416-707-5794 (cell).

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