Unifor

Analysis of France’s “yellow vest” movement

Julien Tourreille, a PhD in political science with the Raoul-Dandurand Chair in Strategic and Diplomatic Studies at the Université du Québec à Montréal, presented an analysis of the “yellow vest” movement in France. He focused notably on the real impact of this crisis on the different political parties and social institutions, including trade unions. Where did this movement come from? Does it reflect a fundamental shift? What legacy will it leave, if any? These are just some of the questions he touched on.  

“It seems to me that all the main ingredients of this yellow vest crisis can be found in the mixture of a feeling of being left behind, the unpopularity of political decision-makers and a deep discontent with government decisions,” explained Mr. Tourreille.

Despite the spectacular aspect of the numerous protests that have swept the country, the researcher considers that it is still a relatively modest social movement. He attributes this to several factors, starting with the violence that has marred many of the protests and alienated many people. That is why the movement has been unable to build capital and rally more people around it. Another explanation lies in the movement’s inability to produce a recognized leader.

The French context and what Mr. Tourreille calls the “doom and gloom” and typically defiant attitude of the French people have also acted as catalysts of this movement. 

Nonetheless, the yellow vest protesters have managed to wring concessions worth some 10 billion Euros from the government. In doing so, they have at the same time helped reinforce the perception that labour unions have lost much of their power, since they not won any major victories in a long time.

Thus, while the yellow vest movement may not have benefited trade unions, nor has it succeeded in reshaping the French political landscape. For example, the movement has not garnered mass support; in fact, the contrary is true, as is reflected in the outcome of the European elections. Sympathizers of the movement have mainly thrown their support behind the Rassemblement National, a right-wing party.

But does this mean that the yellow vest movement is just a flash in the pan? No, according to Mr. Tourreille, who says that the phenomenon of the “yellow vests constitutes a serious warning to both the political establishment and other organizations, including unions.”

More fundamentally, Mr. Tourreille believes that “the yellow vest movement could herald the potential slide toward populism of French democracy, similar to what happened in the United States with the Tea Party, which paved the way for the election of Donald Trump.”

Analyse du mouvement des gilets jaunes en France

Julien Tourreille, a PhD in political science with the Raoul-Dandurand Chair in Strategic and Diplomatic Studies at the Université du Québec à Montréal, presented an analysis of the “yellow vest” movement in France. He focused notably on the real impact of this crisis on the different political parties and social institutions, including trade unions. Where did this movement come from? Does it reflect a fundamental shift? What legacy will it leave, if any? These are just some of the questions he touched on.  

“It seems to me that all the main ingredients of this yellow vest crisis can be found in the mixture of a feeling of being left behind, the unpopularity of political decision-makers and a deep discontent with government decisions,” explained Mr. Tourreille.

Despite the spectacular aspect of the numerous protests that have swept the country, the researcher considers that it is still a relatively modest social movement. He attributes this to several factors, starting with the violence that has marred many of the protests and alienated many people. That is why the movement has been unable to build capital and rally more people around it. Another explanation lies in the movement’s inability to produce a recognized leader.

The French context and what Mr. Tourreille calls the “doom and gloom” and typically defiant attitude of the French people have also acted as catalysts of this movement. 

Nonetheless, the yellow vest protesters have managed to wring concessions worth some 10 billion Euros from the government. In doing so, they have at the same time helped reinforce the perception that labour unions have lost much of their power, since they not won any major victories in a long time.

Thus, while the yellow vest movement may not have benefited trade unions, nor has it succeeded in reshaping the French political landscape. For example, the movement has not garnered mass support; in fact, the contrary is true, as is reflected in the outcome of the European elections. Sympathizers of the movement have mainly thrown their support behind the Rassemblement National, a right-wing party.

But does this mean that the yellow vest movement is just a flash in the pan? No, according to Mr. Tourreille, who says that the phenomenon of the “yellow vests constitutes a serious warning to both the political establishment and other organizations, including unions.”

More fundamentally, Mr. Tourreille believes that “the yellow vest movement could herald the potential slide toward populism of French democracy, similar to what happened in the United States with the Tea Party, which paved the way for the election of Donald Trump.”

Unifor delegates adopt new bargaining priorities at 2019 Convention

Delegates at the third Constitutional Convention adopted the 2019 Unifor Bargaining Program, Stronger Together. This program outlines the challenges ahead, assesses progress made toward achieving the overarching goals of the union and sets specific goals for the years ahead.

“From the earliest days of the labour movement workers have always aimed to establish common wages and working conditions - in their workplaces, industries and even across the economy,” said Unifor Research Director Bill Murnighan.

“The goals have been to raise the floor for everyone, and make sure employers cannot pit workers against one another.”

Since its founding, Unifor has provided in-depth market analysis, observed developing trends in workplaces across the country and used its considerable expertise to inform, guide and support bargaining committees large and small.

At Unifor, nearly half of our members bargain in some form of coordination within their sector, often known as master or pattern bargaining. These coordinated efforts add to the strength of individual committees and offer incredible opportunities for sharing best practices, innovative language and important advances for workers.

This year’s priorities reflect current challenges such as the steady decline of “good jobs” as companies move to out-source and replace full time workers in favour of part time workers. We are also watching  as technological change and automation continues to threaten jobs.

“No one has felt the uncertainty of these economic and trade-related headwinds more than Canadian workers,” Unifor Researcher Angelo DiCaro said.

The priorities for 2019 also build on the incredible work done since 2016.

Key achievements toward equity include having 375 active Women’s Advocates across Canada through our internationally-recognized Women’s Advocate Program; targeting incidences of unpaid internships and increasing employment opportunities for young workers.

The union has also negotiated Paid Education Leave (PEL) and encourages participation in education courses for equity-seeking groups; and continues to develop joint labour-management committees and processes to investigate and deal with workplace harassment.

More and more agreements are also adopting gender-neutral language, and important job security provisions.

Read the full 2019 Bargaining Program adopted at Unifor’s third Constitutional Convention for full details on the 2019 priorities.

 

 

 

Convention delegates pay tribute to Bob Orr

More than 2000 convention delegates an guests gave outgoing secretary-treasurer Bob Orr an emotionalstanding ovation for his life-long commitment to Unifor and the labour movement.

“My individual achievements would not have been possible without the will and strength of our membership,” said Bob Orr, National Secretary-Treasurer. “When we formed Unifor, the membership set out to change the labour movement, and we have done just that!”

As a son of trade union activists, Orr started his working life in a union shop in 1978 in St. Catharines, Ontario. After being laid off, Orr went on to work at the GM Windsor Transmission plant.

Orr became active in his union, and passionately defended the rights of his co-workers, He was elected to ten positions over 14 years. In 1999, former National President Buzz Hargrove appointed Bob to a staff position at the CAW. Since then, he has worked in the Windsor, London, Chatham, Kitchener and Toronto offices. He quickly rose through the ranks  and was appointed National Coordinator, National Staff Representative in Organizing and Service, and he served as Assistant to National Secretary-Treasurer’s Jim O’Neil and Peter Kennedy and later was apoointed Assistant to President Ken Lewenza and Jerry Dias.

“The pride Bob puts into your work and the commitment you’ve made to this unionis unmatched,”said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “For more than 35 years, you have shown us that through integrity and humanity, a better world is possible. Bob, thank you for being a tremendous leader and for all your service to our union.”

Before his speech, convention delegates watched a farewell tribute video that included heartfelt testimonials from members, elected and former officers  tofurther illustrate Orr’s life-long commitment in fighting for the rights of workers across Canada.

Watch the video here.

Roméo Dallaire presented with Unifor Nelson Mandela Award

Retired Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire, whose warnings of a coming genocide in Rwanda went unanswered 25 years ago, is the 2019 recipient of the Unifor Nelson Mandela Award.

“No one is worthy of a Nelson Mandela award. No one is worthy of comparison to that human being,” said Dellaire. “I am more than humbled to receive such an award, particularly as a soldier, to receive a peace award.”

Dellaire was head of a United Nations mission in Rwanda in 1994. He repeatedly tried to warn the UN Security Council that action was needed in the weeks leading up to the genocide, but was denied permission to act.

In just under 100 days that year, more than 800,000 Rwandans were killed by the Rwandan military and Hutu militia. Most of those killed were Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

Dellaire wrote about his experiences in Rwanda in his 2003 book, Shake Hands with the Devil, and has spoken openly about his post-traumatic stress disorder, helping to bring the condition into the open.

“Twenty-five years ago yesterday, I came back from Rwanda. Well, my body came back, but part of the man I was is still there,” said Dellaire, as he called on delegates to support colleagues facing mental illness.

“Peer support within your organization is crucial to saving lives.”

Dellaire is also founder of the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, which works to end the use of child soldiers. The organization receives funding from the Unifor Social Justice Fund.

“It is darn near supernatural the way General Dellaire has managed to corral the most recalcitrant, often bloody-minded governments and militias into preventing the use of child soldiers,” former Canadian Ambassador to the UN Stephen Lewis said as he introduced Dellaire.

Lewis called Dellaire a perfect recipient of the Nelson Mandela award, because both men emerged from atrocities with a determination to build a better world.

“Nothing can move his optimism. He looks for the best in everyone he meets, and somehow he finds it.”

The Nelson Mandela Award is named in honour of Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa from 1994-1999 and an anti-apartheid revolutionary. This award recognizes the struggle, courage and achievement of Mandela to advance human rights and social justice. Recipients are recognized for their human rights and social justice efforts.

Strong unions needed in Canada, Freeland tells convention

Strong unions are not only vital to protecting good jobs and the middle class, but to fending off the rise of the radical right in Canada and around the world, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland told the Unifor Convention today.

"When it comes to defending workers’ rights and supporting the middle class, one thing is certain. No political force is more essential or more effective than strong unions,” Freeland said.

Freeland said a strong middle class is the best protection against the rise of right-wing populism.

“Populism develops where the middle class is eroding, where people are losing ground and hope,” Freeland said.

“When people feel that their economic future is threatened, when they believe that their children have fewer opportunities than they had in their youth, this is where people are vulnerable to the demagogue.” 

The rise of such leaders around the world poses a real threat to smaller countries such as Canada, saying we cannot survive in a world with no rules and where only the law of the jungle prevails.

When it came to renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement and fighting the U.S.’s 232 tariffs on steel aluminum, then, it only made sense to treat it as an opportunity to fix what was wrong with the original NAFTA, Freeland said.

Unifor National President Jerry Dias was a consultant to the NAFTA talks, a role that Freeland said was key to the new deal containing significant improvements to worker protections, including a requirement for major changes to Mexican labour laws.

“None of this would have been possible were it not for our very strong partnership with labour unions and labour leaders, including the amazing Jerry Dias and his team,” Freeland said. 

“We all stood shoulder to shoulder in the fight over NAFTA and 232. You were fighting for your own jobs, of course, but you also knew you were fighting for your whole country.”

Joie Warnock highlights incredible work for equity, fair contracts in western region

Outgoing Western Regional Director Joie Warnock gave a passionate update on activities in the western region to Unifor Convention delegates on Tuesday, highlighting the commitments to reconciliation with First Nations.

“As usual, it is our members on the ground making the biggest difference toward reconciliation,” said Warnock.

Crediting the testimony and wisdom coming from Indigenous communities, she urged members across Canada “to listen and act upon what we have heard.”

Activists in Manitoba earned thanks for leading Unifor’s fight for paid domestic leave. In May 2016, the province became the first to pass legislation mandating paid time off for those fleeing domestic violence.

“Now, there is domestic violence leave legislation in every province and territory,” said Warnock. “Our success has served as a valuable example of what’s possible through our mobilizing and political action.”

Warnock spoke directly to Saskatchewan Crown workers who are preparing to take job action.

“We are fighting against a premier who saw fit to increase MLA wages by 2.3 per cent and offer nothing to front-line workers – needless to say, we’re not accepting this,” said Warnock. “We’ve held rallies, days of action in our workplaces and launched an advertising campaign to get the message out there, so we’ll do whatever it takes to achieve fair collective agreements.”

The 100th anniversary of the Winnipeg General Strike reminded all workers of their collective power.

“Many things have changed since 1919, but workers’ collective power is still the most important political force in our society,” said Warnock. “Capital knows damn well that we pose a direct threat to their unfettered ability to mistreat workers and concentrate their wealth even further.”

She closed her speech with special recognition of union organizers and a call to every member to deepen their involvement in the union.

Warnock has been appointed to work in the President’s office as an assistant following Convention.

Watch Joie Warnock’s entire speech here.

Ontario Unifor members face challenges head on

Across Ontario, Unifor members rallied in support of one another and for all workers and their communities whenever and wherever needed, Unifor Ontario Regional Director Naureen Rizvi said.

“In Ontario, we are being tested every single day,” Rizvi said in her address to the Unifor Constitutional Convention today. “The story of Ontario in the last year is one where Unifor members have truly, openly, and honestly come together.”

When General Motors threatened the jobs of Unifor members, the union pushed back by rallying the community behind the workers and an aggressive publicity campaign.

“The entire country stood with us, while we took back GM headquarters, while we welcomed Sting and the cast of The Last Ship, and we felt solidarity from workers across the province when we brought the fight to Windsor, across from the Detroit headquarters,” Rizvi said.

“We don’t accept that this engine of Ontario’s economy should be allowed to slowly fall idle.”

The same solidarity was shown when Casino Rama announced layoffs, prompting a rally at the facility in support of the Unifor members there.

“Every sector, every corner of the province was in Rama to support gaming workers. That’s how we do it in Ontario,” Rizvi said.

Unifor also pushed back when Premier Doug Ford rolled back workers’ rights. Using the power of collective bargaining, Unifor put those rights on every bargaining table across the province.

“Since implementation seven months ago, close to 9,000 Unifor members have gotten back what was legislated away from them,” Rizvi said.

When staff ratios at long-term care centres fell, Unifor rallied members and the public with an award-wining campaign spoofing the ads used by long-term care centres to point out the poor working conditions in the industry.

“In typical Conservative style, the Ford government pushed for privatization, and a wage cap,” Rizvi said. “This, in a sector where many make minimum wage, for a backbreaking, exhausting, and vital job.”

Unifor is working hard to make sure Ford’s first term in office is his last, including having a nine-member team of on the ground organizers across the province. In the past year alone, they have pulled together more than 600 events, including member meetings and rallies.

“They have built local coalitions, supported parents of children with autism, made their Members of Provincial Parliament squirm, and inspired new activism across the province,” Rizvi said.

Such activism will be vital as Unifor pushes back against Ford’s cuts and in the coming federal election, she said.

 

Lana Payne inspires delegates in last speech as Atlantic Regional Director

Unifor Atlantic Regional Director Lana Payne delivered an inspired address to the 3rd Unifor Constitutional Convention delegates, stressing the importance of fighting back and building solidarity. 

“When you consider what’s ahead of us as working-class people – climate change, automation, and right-wing populism – we are going to be tested in new and profound ways,” said Payne. “We can respond with our hearts, with passion and by using the power of our solidarity to win even in the toughest of times.”

As an example of strength in tough times, Payne reflected on the hundreds of Unifor members, staff and leadership who descended on the town of Gander in Newfoundland and Labrador in September and October to support 30 aerospace sector workers who were locked out by their greedy employer.

“It didn’t matter that it was 30 workers, or 300 workers or 3,000; what mattered is that our union, the right to a union, was under attack,” she said. “We sent the strongest of messages to bosses everywhere that we will resist every attempt to try to break us and our union.”

The lock out in Gander played out for as long as it did largely due to weak labour laws, and this is why Unifor demanded stronger protections for workers in the Newfoundland and Labrador election this past Spring.

“That’s why, even when we don’t always get the political outcomes we wish for, that we work for, we must never stop fighting for governments that work for workers,” said Payne. “Even though politics has failed the working class, political decisions affect our working lives and in order to fully defend our members, we can’t sit politics out.”

Payne congratulated the work of activists in New Brunswick during their fall 2018 election and emphasized the importance of member mobilization during the upcoming federal election. With Ontario and Alberta as startling examples of anti-worker governments taking hold across Canada, she said it is more important than ever to push for policies and laws that protect and support workers.

“Friends, as we stare down a vicious assault on trade union freedoms, we must turn every obstacle into an opportunity to build solidarity and to organize and strengthen worker power,” said Payne. “We know what bosses and their political allies want. They want to push us out of politics because they want to run the country as they see fit. Well, this country doesn’t work without workers, and it won’t work without unions.”

Payne is standing for election as Unifor’s National Secretary Treasurer at the convention.

For more details on the incredible work in sectors across the Atlantic and impactful wins at bargaining tables, watch Lana Payne’s full speech.

Pushing back is a victory for all workers, Dias tells convention

When you take on Unifor, whether government or an employer, you can expect a fight, Unifor National President Jerry Dias said in his opening address the Unifor Constitutional Convention today.

“Unifor is not getting pushed around. Not now. Not ever,” Dias said as the convention began in Quebec City.

“There will be a fight, I can promise you that - and if what we did forces employers to take a pause, to take a step back, and think twice before attacking our members, then that’s a victory for this union. That’s a victory for all workers.”

Across Canada, employers and governments have learned that lesson as Unifor has mobilized members, staff and entire communities when the interests of workers are challenged.

And we haven’t been shy about it, Dias said.

In Gander, Unifor sparked some controversy with a video naming and shaming scabs at DJ Composites, where workers were locked out for almost two years. Some people told Unifor they were outraged by the video.

“Let me tell you what’s outrageous. Twenty-one months on the picket line. Scabs doing our work. Scabs dragging this out. Scabs keeping food off our members tables,” Dias said.

“You know what’s outrageous? A government that sat and twiddled their thumbs, while workers suffered.”

The government of Newfoundland and Labrador wasn’t the only one to sit on its hands while workers and communities were threatened. In Ontario, Dias said. Premier Doug Ford was ready give up when GM said it planned to shut its Oshawa assembly plant.

“Big, tough-talking Doug Ford, threw in the towel on GM even before he stepped in the ring,” Dias said. “In less than 24 hours, the premier threw up his hands, saying – and I quote – ‘The ship has left the dock.’”

Ford might let corporations roll right over him, but Unifor never will, Dias said.

Whether it’s long-term care facilities undercutting the services and the wages of its workers, a salt mine or a doctor’s office taking a hard stand on negotiations, a rich grocery store chain cutting hours while taking government subsidies, Conservative governments in Alberta and elsewhere attacking the rights of workers, the search for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, trade deals, and more, Unifor will not only fight hard, Dias said, we will show others how it’s done.

“We bargain. We fight. We don’t back down. We do whatever it takes,” Dias said.

Author Nancy MacLean issues call-to-action to convention delegates to save democracy

Keynote speaker Nancy MacLean addressed the Unifor 2019 Convention and shared her research into the political maneuvering of the super-rich, and the tactics they use to undermine workers across the United States and Canada.

In her book Democracy in Chains, she takes readers behind the scenes of today’s political establishment – led by billionaires – and reveals their decades-long strategy to change the rules of democracy itself in their favour. She outlined key points of her book to delegates and highlighted the role of unions such as Unifor in fighting back.

“When future historians look back on this moment 50 years from now and try to make sense of it, I don’t think they will focus on Donald Trump the way most journalists are now,” said MacLean. “I think they will be much more interested in a quiet transformation underway that this president’s conduct distracts our attention from.”

In describing this ‘quiet transformation’, MacLean emphasized that it is not yet complete. Their endgame would mean citizens would be left to fend for themselves and, of course, those who don’t fare well would be left without government benefits and protections.

MacLean quoted leaders of this far-right ideology as saying they aim to create a system of winners and losers where even the quality of water “might not be what citizens are used to” and where “partial shantytowns” would satisfy the need for cheaper housing as wage inequality grows and government shrinks.

MacLean urged that progressive voices must work together, preserve our public services, and fight for our rights and the gains we’ve made over many decades of principled work.

“One lesson we can draw is not to let ourselves get distracted by the daily circus, which is often quite intentional,” she said. “We need to work on democracy beyond elections – on year-round involvement of the people in our workplaces, schools, communities and governments at all levels.”

MacLean left delegates with hope and even evoked the convention theme, telling delegates that we must do “whatever it takes” to win and reform democracy to save it.

Unions vital to a strong society, Trudeau tells convention

No government can claim to be standing up for average Canadians if it is not willing to work with unions, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in his address to Unifor’s Constitutional Convention today.

“The labour movement deserves fairness, not a government that sees it as an enemy,” Trudeau said.

“When Andrew Scheer spoke at a labour event in Ottawa recently, he couldn’t even say the word union. Canadians serve better. We all deserve better.”

This is not the first time Trudeau has spoken at a Unifor Convention. Three years ago, he pledged to delegates at the convention in Ottawa that his new government would work with Unifor and other unions to improve the lives of working Canadians.

“To have a strong middle class, you have to have strong unions.”

Soon after coming to power, Trudeau’s Liberals repealed the anti-union legislation brought in by the previous Stephen Harper Conservatives. When the North American Free Trade Agreement came up for renegotiation, Unifor played an active role.

“Millions of families were counting on us to get the new NAFTA right, and together we put the interests of Canadian workers at the very heart of our negotiating strategy,” he said.

Unifor National President Jerry Dias was a consultant to the Canadian negotiating team throughout the talks, which resulted in significant improvements to worker protections than those established in the original deal, including a requirement for major changes to Mexican labour laws.

 “In other words, we created a new standard,” Trudeau said. “That, my friends, is the power of solidarity. That is the power of putting people first.”

Trudeau said the labour movement has a long history of standing up for fair wages, reasonable working hours, and safe workplaces and for women, LGBTQ workers, disabled workers and for Indigenous communities.

“You can continue to count on our government,” Trudeau said. “We know the only way we will make real progress is by investing in people – not by cutting services.”

The labour movement is vital to that effort, Trudeau said.

De Luxe Paper Products members reach new labour agreement

Members of Local 1103 voted 92.5% in favour of their new collective agreement at a union meeting held on August 4, 2019.

 The following are the main highlights of the agreement:

 Three-year term;

  • Across-the-board salary increase of 2 per cent per year;
  • Wage adjustment for several positions;
  • Employer’s portion of group insurance premium increased to 70 per cent and employees’ portion reduced to 30 percent (instead of 50-50);
  • Starting rate increased by 9.5 percent;
  • Addition of one year for each block of vacation and reinstatement of a 6th week of vacation;
  • Wage rate guaranteed at all times;
  • Reinforcement of clauses for the training committee and prevention representative;
  • Hour bank increased to 80 hours instead of 40 hours;
  • Increase in evening, night, trainer and group lead premiums;
  • Increase in the amount paid annually into the Paid Education Leave program.

 De Luxe Paper Products Inc. makes specialized packaging for use mainly in the food industry. The plant employs 70 Unifor members.

Auto parts workers hold solidarity rally and picnic in Oshawa

On August 10, hundreds of members of Unifor Locals 222, 444, and 1090 as well as members of the general public, gathered at Memorial Park in Oshawa for a rally and picnic in solidarity with independent auto parts supplier workers facing plant closures and ongoing negotiations of restructuring agreements.

The family-friendly event featured live music, entertainment, and a public address from Unifor Local 222 President Colin James, Unifor Ontario Regional Director Naureen Rizvi, Oshawa Member of Provincial Parliament Jennifer French, and Ontario Federation of Labour President Chris Buckley.

“This rally brought together Unifor members, elected officials, and the public in solidarity with the 1,700 women and men who deserve fair and just severance for their years of hard work and sacrifice,” said Colin James, Unifor Local 222 President. “All of us need to come together and stay strong as we use every tool available to us to get the best possible deal for auto parts supplier workers.”

The announced closure of the assembly line at General Motors Oshawa has meant thousands of additional auto parts workers and support staff are facing job losses. The rally helped draw attention to the uphill battle faced by Oshawa workers as Unifor continues to pressure employers to fund a just transition to new employment including enhanced severance agreements, extensions to heath plans, and employer contributions to an adjustment centre.

“More than anything, we want all the independent parts supplier workers to know that through your resiliency you have become an inspiration to all workers across Ontario,” said Naureen Rizvi, Unifor Ontario Regional Director, addressing the rally’s attendees. “You took the fight in to the streets and because of that you have been a motivation and provided encouragement for all Unifor members facing similar circumstances.”

Since the auto parts supplier park and feeder plants for General Motors Oshawa was created, Unifor estimates it saved the company more than $2.7 million in annual operating costs each year. Efforts to pressure parts supplier companies and General Motors to provide workers with fair compensation are ongoing, however, greater efforts by the provincial and federal government are needed to prevent further closures in the near future.

“We’ve been trying to convince the provincial and federal governments that the bleeding has to stop,” said Chris Buckley, former Unifor Local 222 President and President of the Ontario Federation of Labour. “This community was built on strong, good paying manufacturing jobs and we have been bleeding and bleeding for far too long. Our governments have a moral obligation to protect workers’ jobs.”

Unifor will continue to use every option available to negotiate the best possible deal with independent parts supplier companies so that workers are given fair compensation.  As well, Unifor will continue to pressure governments at all levels to create an automotive and parts supplier industrial strategy that will prevent future manufacturing job losses as multinational corporations continue to receive generous public subsidies while moving jobs to low-wage jurisdictions.

View photos from the auto parks worker solidarity rally and picnic on Facebook here.

Get more out of convention with the mobile app

For the fourth consecutive year, Unifor members can download our mobile app to aid delegates in getting the most out of convention.

Available in both languages, the app is designed help delegates connect with each other, follow the agenda, access convention documents, navigate the convention centre, learn more about speakers, and find social media channels. It is accessible from all devices with an Internet browser: smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktops.

Download here for Android

Download here for iPhone

View web browser version

The password to the app’s splash page is 2019QUEBEC.

Delegates should then log in to the app using the email address with which they registered for convention. If you don’t know what address was used or if you have any questions, a help desk will be located near the registration table.

Presentations and keynote speakers, including National President Jerry Dias, will all be streamed on Unifor’s Facebook page beginning on August 19.

As always, social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram will help connect the events at convention to Unifor members and allies across the country. The Twitter hashtag for convention is #Unifor19 and #WhateverItTakes, which is this year’s theme.

Fish Harvesters Call for Action on Illegal Lockout by Processors

Fish harvesters in Newfoundland and Labrador held two demonstrations on Monday in response to an illegal lockout from fish processing companies. In Old Perlican, fish harvesters came together to protest processors’ refusal to purchase cod the opening week in 3KL. Both Quinsea (Royal Greenland) and Quinlan’s refused a fresh catch landed at the wharf in Old Perlican. At the St. John’s waterfront, harvesters offered their catch free to the public rather than let the cod go to waste. Both events garnered significant attention from the media and the general public, and as a result of these actions provincial Fisheries Minister Gerry Byrne announced the province would open up the cod fishery to outside buyers.

On Friday, FFAW-Unifor submitted a formal request to Minister Byrne to use all available legislative and regulatory tools to prevent this lockout from occurring as well as to discourage future action by issuing new processing licenses and opening the cod fishery up to buyers outside of the province.

“This cartel-like behaviour by processing companies sets a dangerous precedent that must be addressed so that these actions cannot be replicated in the future. FFAW-Unifor will pursue all possible remedies to resolve this blatant violation of the Master Collective Agreement. The livelihood of fish harvesters cannot be held hostage by the actions of a few large fish processing companies,” says David Decker, FFAW-Unifor Secretary-Treasurer.  

The only member of the Association of Seafood Producers that is confirmed to be buying cod this week is the Labrador Shrimp Company, which provides no relief to the thousands of harvesters on the island that planned to start fishing this weekend.

Of particular concern is Icewater Seafoods in Arnold’s Cove, which received nearly $6 million in provincial and federal funding last year for new groundfish equipment only to ship in frozen cod for processing this week while refusing to purchase fresh, local product.

“It’s appalling that a company would receive millions in taxpayer dollars for investment in their plant only to turn around to take illegal action that shuts out Newfoundland and Labrador fish harvesters,” says Decker.  “It seems like processors want a fishery of 50 years ago, where merchants ruled and unilaterally dictated how the fishery was prosecuted. We will not go backwards.”

Countdown to Unifor’s 2019 Convention

Convention 2019 is only a few days away and it promises to be a jam packed week of union building in Quebec City. The packed agenda includes keynote speeches by Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, the founder of the #metoo movement and renowned author Nancy Maclean, a Duke University professor.  General Romeo Dallaire will receive the Nelson Mandela Award presented by Stephen Lewis and members of the Canadian women’s hockey team will share their struggles for pay equity.. Plus caucus meetings, elections, and of course a few surprises. Topping it all off, Blue Rodeo will perform at a gala on Thursday night.

Those who cannot make it to Quebec City August 19 to 23 can watch all the keynote speakers, streamed live on Unifor Canada’s Facebook Page, or just follow @UniforTheUnion on Twitter. Daily updates will be posted on www.Unifor.org.

Social Justice Fund supports Doctors Without Borders in priority areas

A Unifor Social Justice Fund donation of $200,000 is supporting Doctors Without Borders, or Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), deliver lifesaving medical treatment in four priority areas.

“MSF is providing front-line care to vulnerable populations in zones of conflict and/or humanitarian crisis,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. “The contribution by the Unifor Social Justice Fund will bring direct aid to patients in Yemen, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bangladesh and Venezuela.”

In Yemen, Unifor’s support is helping MSF reduce deaths due to conflict in the Abs and Haijjah city districts and surrounding areas. Away from the bullets and bombs at the frontlines, MSF staff deal with the secondary implications of the war as they operate mobile clinics to provide consultations, vaccinations, and referral to the MSF-supported hospital in Abs. In addition, the teams provide mental health activities to children and water to refugee camps.

Photo ©Al Hareth Al Magaleh/ MSF

“The Unifor Social Justice Fund's support helps MSF provide life-saving medical care to people in need. Thanks to donations like yours, we can deliver independent medical aid and save lives,” said Flavia Tenenbaum, Fundraising Director, MSF Canada. “We are so grateful for your compassion and commitment to MSF.” 

With the Social Justice Fund’s support, MSF is continuing ongoing medical care in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Medical teams deal with a wide range of health needs in addition to conducting malnutrition, malaria and measles campaigns. In the first five months of 2019, more than 1,500 measles-related deaths were recorded in what is likely to be the deadliest epidemic since the disease made a strong resurgence in the country in 2011. So far this year, MSF has vaccinated 361,079 children and provided medical care for 14,785 patients.

Photo ©Pablo Garrigos/MSF, MSF nurses prepare vaccines against measles at the health center of Lungonzo, Kamwesha health zone (Kasai).

In addition to relentlessly fighting the measles epidemic, MSF personnel are treating patients displaced by violence in the Moyen Plateau and nearby Haut Plateau, with over half of those seen presenting with malaria.

MSF is also tackling malaria in Venezuela, where there has been a significant increase in cases due to the decline in the country’s health system following years of economic and political crisis. The Social Justice Fund donation will support expansion of MSF work encompassing treatment for physical wounds incurred during ongoing social unrest, including emergency surgery, in addition to psychosocial intervention and health promotion. 

Photo ©Esteban Montaño/MSF

“Médecins Sans Frontières core values include independence and neutrality and this impartiality allows its teams to deploy quickly to where the medical need is greatest to provide free medical care to patients, regardless of citizenship, religion or political affiliation,” said Mohamad Alsadi, Unifor International Director. “It’s wonderful that the Unifor Social Justice Fund donation is able to support such diverse treatment and preventative measures by MSF around the globe.”

In Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar, MSF has stepped up to provide multiple services to Rohingya refugees living in crowded camps with limited access to medical care, including surgery. MSF programs also focus on inadequate provision of secondary healthcare, including comprehensive obstetric and neonatal care, pediatric services, treatment for non-communicable diseases, and chronic illnesses. Furthermore, support from the Social Justice Fund enables MSF to address critical gaps in health services provided to the refugees, including access to sexual and reproductive health services.

Photo © Nitin George/MSF, Gaziur Rahman is nurse supervisor of MSF at the Goyalmara Green Roof hospital in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh

For more information visit: https://www.doctorswithoutborders.ca/

https://www.medecinssansfrontieres.ca/

Multi-award winning author Nancy MacLean to speak at Unifor convention

What led to the rise of libertarianism and the radical right in the United States?

According to award-winning American historian Nancy MacLean, the rich and powerful are trying to fundamentally alter the rules of democratic governance in the U.S.  In her latest book, 'Democracy in Chains', MacLean says that behind today’s headlines of billionaires taking over U.S. politics is a secretive political establishment with long, deep, and troubling roots.

MacLean is a Professor of History and Public Policy at Duke University. Her research focuses on race, gender, labor history and social movements in 20th century U.S. history.

Although she has written a handful of other books, 'Democracy in Chains' caused an uproar among republicans and media pundits. On Mises Wire, one commenter wrote, "No doubt she’s a rabid feminazi, anti-Southerner, socialist and pathologically focused on race and gender. She’s a historical victimologist who produces nothing of value."

MacLean said she was shocked by the vicious attacks and “such rhetorical bullying would be laughable if it weren’t part of a pattern on the right.”

Delegates will be sure to enjoy her speech and for those who can’t make it to the convention, she’ll be live on the Unifor Facebook page August 19.

 

Vancouver’s container truckers open negotiations

Unifor has begun a new round of collective bargaining with several employers servicing Port Metro Vancouver.

“Unifor constantly pushes for fair treatment of container truckers. Our efforts have led to drivers receiving millions of dollars in compensation illegally withheld by unscrupulous company owners,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor B.C. Area Director.

As the largest union in Metro Vancouver’s container trucking industry, Unifor has a very successful record. Container truckers shut down Port Metro Vancouver for nearly four weeks in March 2014 as a result of wage undercutting by trucking companies and long wait times at the Port.

Despite facing back to work legislation, Unifor members refused to back down and truckers only went back to work after a plan was negotiated between the truckers, the Port, the B.C. government, and the federal government.

Unifor was also responsible for a trucker-friendly Container Trucking Act (2014) that has created a Container Trucking Commissioner who investigates companies for wage theft and issues heavy fines for non-compliance with the new law and rates.

Since 2014, Unifor has collected hundreds of thousands of dollars owed to drivers. The Commissioner has levied fines and awarded over $2.3 million in wages to drivers.

With the election of the NDP government in B.C., Unifor successfully fought for further gains including 4.6 per cent hauling rate increases over the past two years and more resources for the Office of Container Truck Commissioner for enforcement and auditing.

 

 

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