Unifor

Coast Mountain Bus Company members conduct strike vote

Unifor Coast Mountain Bus Company members will conduct a strike vote today after negotiations for a new collective agreement broke off on October 3, 2019. 

“Months of talks have failed to produce any meaningful mandate to address wages, benefits and working conditions,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. “Our members have been working without a contract since March 31 and Coast Mountain has still to come to the table with an offer that addresses the key issues.”

More than 5,000 Unifor members work in the lower mainland at Coast Mountain Bus Company, with Unifor Local 111 representing transit operators in conventional and community shuttle and Unifor Local 2200 representing maintenance and Seabus workers. 

“Our members know that the public relies on them and it is our sincere hope that Coast Mountain comes back with a serious offer to avoid strike action and inconvenience to transit riders, but we are determined to obtain a fair deal for the workers,” said Mike Smith, Unifor Local 2200 President.

Coast Mountain Bus Company is a subsidiary of TransLink, which was recently named the best public transportation system in North America.

“TransLink won this award in part because of the on-time service of our members, but what the company isn’t recognizing is that level of service was achieved due to lack of proper breaks and recovery time between trips,” said Unifor Western Regional Director Gavin McGarrigle. “Coast Mountain is also failing to address a serious understaffing issue, with overcrowded bus trips increasing 36 per cent between 2016 and 2018.”

Negotiations between Unifor and Coast Mountain are set to resume on October 15, 2019.

“TransLink ridership is on the rise, making it increasingly difficult for our members to properly deliver quality service to the region’s growing population” said Balbir Mann, Unifor Local 111 President. “Improved working conditions and increased compensation will be a priority for us during these negotiations.”

 

Hogarth Riverview Manor workers to protest employer

Health care workers at Hogarth Riverview Manor will held a rally outside the facility after contract negotiations came to a standstill.

“Safe working conditions are at the heart of this round of bargaining,” said Local 229 Vice President Suzanne Pulice. “This facility is dysfunctional and understaffed. Over-worked Unifor members needing a break are having difficulty booking earned time off the job”.

Since December 2017 Hogarth Riverview Manor has been under third party management, but nothing has been done to address the fact that the facility is operating short-staffed on an almost daily basis.

“Although working short-staffed is a systemic problem in long-term care homes across Ontario, the situation at Hogarth Riverview Manor takes it to a new level,” said Katha Fortier, Assistant to Unifor President, Jerry Dias. “Unmanageable workloads and burn out are deterring young workers from seeking employment in the long-term care sector.”

The Union has been steadfast in demanding that any increased investments for health care staffing must include commitments to improving patient-to-staffing ratios.

“The solidarity rally is part of our Care Takes Time campaign aimed at the Ontario Government to set provincial staffing standards that establish appropriate staff-to-resident ratios,” said Fortier.

To learn more about the campaign please visit www.caretakestime.ca

Unifor National Council 4000 ratifies deal with CN transportation Ltd.

CNTL members voted overwhelmingly to adopt a new collective agreement.

“The members of Unifor Local 4000 at CNTL work long, thankless hours to deliver the goods that Canadians rely on. I congratulate them, and the bargaining committee for this collective agreement that recognizes their worth,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President.

The new deal builds on strong benefits including a leading fuel subsidy, bonuses for safety and fuel conservation, and increased bereavement leave. Owner-operators will also see mileage and wait time increases in every year of the agreement.

“CNTL owner-operators are asked to drive great distances, delivering cargo right across our country,” said Scott Doherty, Executive Assistant to the Unifor National President. “A contract like this one not only raises the bar for Unifor members, but lays down the gauntlet in the trucking industry, asking employers to deliver more for drivers.”

Unifor represents 1006 CNTL members who are dependant owner-operator truck drivers who haul cargo for CN’s Intermodal business, including local pick-up and delivery service, regional and long-haul delivery across Canada, and truck service at Canada’s ports in Vancouver, Montreal and Halifax. 

CNTL membership is truly pan-Canadian, with members based in Newfoundland and Labrador to Vancouver Island.

Poll shows Sask residents want wages to rise with inflation

These are the findings of a survey conducted by Unifor from September 30 to October 3, 2019 with a representative sample of 800 online Canadians who are members of the Angus Reid Forum. The poll is accurate to within +/- 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

The Angus Reid Forum is Canada’s most well-known and trusted online public opinion community consisting of engaged residents across the country who answer surveys on topical issues that matter to all Canadians.

For more information about bargaining at Saskatchewan Crowns, visit myCrowns.ca.

Metro workers ratify new collective agreement

Enhanced wages and new full-time jobs mark milestone improvements in a new collective agreement for Metro stores across Ontario, the second group of supermarkets to renew agreements with the grocery chain this year.

“I’m proud of the work we’ve accomplished at the bargaining table. We entered this round of negotiations with a clear vision: to improve conditions for our members” said Gord Currie, Local 414 President. 

Creating good full-time jobs, increasing wages and improving pension benefits was a priority for the bargaining committee.

The new four-year contract follows the pattern agreement Unifor established earlier this year for the grocery retail sector, which prioritizes the creation and protection of good full-time jobs. This new agreement at Metro (formerly Dominion Sav-A-Centre stores) also includes leave and return-to-work protections, the elimination of wage tiers for department managers, and a new paid personal day for senior part-time workers. 

“Over the past four years, our union has laid the foundation for high-standard wage and working conditions in a sector that has become notorious for low-pay, precarious work,” said Christine Connor, Unifor National Staff Representative. “The tireless work of our bargaining committee continues to ensure substantial gains for our members.”

The new agreement also contains an improved student leave of absence, an expanded shoe allowance, and a renewed commitment to Unifor’s Women’s Advocate program, to assist members and their families facing domestic violence.

The new collective agreement covers more than 500 workers at four Metro locations in Ontario. Members ratified the agreement by 90 per cent.

Unifor members at Vopak to return to work with heads held high

Unifor members at Vopak have voted 80 per cent in favour of their new collective agreement, putting an end to just over three months of strike action.

“We can be proud of this outcome and of our members’ unwavering commitment and support for their bargaining committee throughout the labour dispute,” said Renaud Gagné, Unifor’s Quebec Director. “We were able to obtain significant improvements in our working conditions, bringing them into line with those in the industry. I want to thank all the local unions that offered financial and moral support to our members at Vopak,” he added.

Highlights of this agreement include a salary increase from $27.55 to $35.20 an hour for employees with three or more years of service, which represents 85 per cent of the workforce. More junior employees will join their co-workers on a salary scale spread over three years. This is a four-year labour contract, with more than two years already elapsed. It runs from June 1, 2017 to June 30, 2021. A signing bonus of $12,000 for full-time employees was obtained, while part-time and probationary employees will receive $4,000. Other important gains include:

  • Double time for overtime starting July 1st, 2020;
  • Contribution of $0.05/hour for the Paid Education Leave (PEL) program;
  • Increase to 5 per cent (from 4 per cent) for the employer’s contribution to the pension plan upon signing, rising to 6.5 per cent as of July 1st, 2020.

Vopak Terminals of Eastern Canada employs some 30 Unifor members working at the company’s oil terminals in Montreal and Quebec City.

Former Marystown Shipyard workers excited for a ‘new beginning’ as aquaculture hub

Members of Unifor Local 20 at the Marystown Shipyard in Newfoundland and Labrador are excited a deal with new owners has finally been approved by the province.

“I’m proud of how Local 20 worked tirelessly and diligently to secure a fair working agreement for the reopening of the long-dormant former shipyard facility,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “It took years of perseverance and solidarity, but now we see real opportunity for the workers, the people of Marystown and the entire Burin Peninsula.”

The shipyard was a Crown asset for over twenty years and then changed owners many times after it was privatized. The yard has been idle for the past four years.

Local 20 negotiated and ratified a collective agreement with this new company, Marbase, back in January of this year.

“The sale to Marbase hit a few roadblocks since we signed the new agreement, but Premier Ball gave the government’s blessing and funding for additional cleanup, which means we can look forward to getting members back to work,” said Rick Farrell, President of Unifor Local 20.

Marbase will turn the site into a service hub for the province’s growing aquaculture industry that will include a lumpfish hatchery. Lumpfish have been proven to help farmers deal with sea lice infestations in their salmon sea cages, avoiding pesticide use.

The company expects 100 workers will be employed initially, and then grow to about 300 people in two to three years. The announcement comes at a good time, as it coincides with the construction of the largest fish hatchery in the world in Marystown.

Star reporter first journalist in Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame

Legendary Toronto Star reporter Randy Starkman, whose generous spirit during a lengthy strike at the paper helped many of his co-workers endure the dispute, will be the first journalist inducted into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame.

“He was so fond of the people he was covering in amateur sports,” said his wife, Mary Hynes, host of CBC Radio’s Tapestry. “An accomplished athlete makes it look so easy, and it was important to him to make readers understand what’s involved.”

Starkman covered 12 Olympic Games during his 30-year career, turning down opportunities to cover professional teams to focus on amateur sports. He was loved by the athletes and their families for his ability to tell the human side of their efforts, and the complexities of their sports.

“He humanized us to the Canadian public,” Olympian Clara Hughes, who remains a close friend of Hynes and daughter Ella, told the Toronto Star.

Starkman was covering an amateur swim event in Montreal in 2012 when he fell ill, and died days later in a Toronto hospital at age 51.

At the London Olympics that summer, the Canadian Olympic Committee held a breakfast in his honour, and “Flat Randy” dolls made by his sister were taken around to events at the Games by fellow journalists and athletes, since no one there could imagine the Games without him.

Seven years later, Hynes – who met her husband covering amateur sports more than 30 years ago – said she still receives photos of Flat Randy at amateur events, and notes from athletes about their memories of him. At Starkman’s encouragement, many athletes also became fans of her show.

During a lengthy strike at the Toronto Star 1992, Starkman would prepare breakfast on the picket line, propping his mother’s grill on the tailgate of his Jeep to cook bacon and eggs or serving up bagels, cream cheese and lox.

“That was his self-appointed role, to keep spirits up,” Hynes said. “It was unexpected and such an affectionate way for him to show support.”

Former Star columnist Joey Slinger once wrote in the paper that Starkman was a “prince among colleagues, a diamond among craftspersons” whose morning efforts helped many cope with the stresses of the picket line.

Starkman won two National Newspaper Awards, one for reporting that Ben Johnson has tested positive again for ban substances and another for his pioneering work on concussions in hockey, and authored or co-authored three books.

The Canadian Olympic Committee also announced the Randy Starkman Award recognizing a Canadian national team athlete who has used their sporting excellence to benefit the community, with $5,000 going to the athlete and $5,000 to a charity of their choice.

Video highlights Unifor’s organizing efforts

Unifor’s Organizing Department is looking for ways to better reflect a modern workplace, adapting our organizing strategies to help more workers join the union.

 “We need to reflect the diversity of a changing workplace. We need to target new employers, highlight the bargaining power that we have and the influence we have and really demonstrate why Unifor is the union for workers,” Organizing Director Kellie Scanlan said in a video about Organizing.

That video was shown at Unifor’s Constitutional Convention in August, and highlights the diverse methods used by the department to bring more workers into the union.

One of the workplaces featured in the video is the Chaleur Sawmills in Belledune, N.B., where workers became interested in joining Unifor after seeing the advances that Unifor has been able to make for forestry workers across the country. Unifor was certified as the union at Chaleur shortly after the video was shown at the convention.

It was a similar story in Lac St-Jean, Quebec, where workers at Résolu Normandin voted to join Unifor so they could be part of pattern bargaining in forestry.

“It was unanimous. Unifor, from a forestry point of view in the Bois-du-Lac, is stronger. We noticed immediately that we were better off with Unifor,” said Marc Jobin, president of Local 512 at the mill.

The video highlights organizing drives across Canada and efforts to tailor drives to each workplace.

For example, the department has drawn on Unifor airline workers to help organize workers at WestJet as part of a drive that stretches across the country.

At the casinos in Niagara Falls, Unifor casino workers are an integral part of the effort, where the department is also reaching out to Chinese language workers in their own language.

In British Columbia, Unifor used a unique fisheries labour law to organize fishers there. That law had been on the books for years, but no other union had used it.

“We used it,” Scanlan said.

Unifor joins global strike to demand climate justice

Unifor members joined thousands of climate activists across Canada to demand immediate climate action in a historic global strike. Strikes were held across Canada to demand urgent action be taken to address the climate crisis.

Climate change disproportionately impacts workers and youth, whose futures are uncertain without strong government commitments to a just transition to a low carbon economy. 

“Unifor is at the forefront of a worker-centered just transition. We have the tools at hand to address the climate crisis while creating good new jobs that prioritize workers,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President.



Unifor stands in solidarity with students worldwide, inspired to take action by sixteen-year old Greta Thunberg, who has been the face of the youth movement in recent months. Thunberg made an impassioned speech to the UN in New York on Monday.

“We are on the brink of planetary disaster – we call on all levels of government to act immediately,” said Naureen Rizvi, Ontario Regional Director at the rally in Toronto. “We have to tame corporate greed and work together to put workers at the centre of economic transition.”

Unifor sees the transition to a low carbon economy as an opportunity for broad green job creation and vows to fight for displaced workers to ensure that no worker gets left behind.

Strike organizers have issued a series of demands, calling for Indigenous rights and sovereignty; collective effort to maintain and protect land, water, and life; government commitment to reduce emissions; universal public service and infrastructure, and more. See their demands here.

Unifor auto members impacted by UAW strike

The impact of the United Auto Workers strike is being felt in General Motors operations and its related supply chain on both sides of the border. 

Following the expiration of their collective agreement, 49,000 UAW members began strike action early on September 16 bringing production at 55 factories and parts centers in the U.S. to a halt.

Within the week vehicle production at Oshawa assembly stopped and the ripple effect then spread to St. Catharine’s engine production and many independent part suppliers, leaving approximately 2,600 GM and 1,800 independent parts supplier members on temporary layoff in Canada.   

“Unifor supports the UAW in its negotiations to get a fair contract settlement for its GM members, so that auto workers on both sides of the border can return to work,” said xxx.

On September 17, Unifor Local 444 sent a delegation of members to Detroit to stand in solidarity with striking UAW workers.

“The fight by the UAW GM members is a fight for all manufacturing workers including Canadian workers,” said David Cassidy, President Unifor Local 444.  

“When a company like GM has made billions in profits in the last two years and the CEO takes home more than $20 million in yearly compensation, it’s unjust, unethical and outright disrespectful to all of those UAW members who are fighting for a fair share in those profits.”

Major bargaining issues for the UAW include the closure of GM plants in the U.S., the use of temporary workers and a path to make them full time, as well as a faster track for getting newly hired workers to the top wage.

Unifor shares concern over the stability of good paying auto jobs and the treatment of workers, issues that will be raised when negotiations between GM and Unifor on behalf of Canadian autoworkers commence next year. Collective agreements between Unifor and General Motors will expire in September 2020 and September 2021.

Unifor celebrates great gains made at bargaining tables this year

Unifor continues to make strong gains for members at bargaining tables across the country. This year’s accomplishments are being celebrated in a new video that highlights innovative language for inclusivity, pushing back against intrusive and sometimes demeaning employer programs, and achieving wage gains for hard-working members.

“We bargain 700 collective agreements per year – this is what we do and we’re good at it. Strike actions, social media, news papers, TV ads, we do whatever it takes,” said Scott Doherty, Unifor’s Executive Assistant to the National President

The union is committed to doing whatever it takes to make workplaces better for members. Through collective action at the bargaining table and with every level of government, Unifor bargaining committees leverage their collective strength to create a better society for all – and it works.

At the recent Constitutional Convention in August 2019, Unifor set new bargaining priorities and outlined the challenges ahead, including the need for better public health care, education systems, just transition supports for workers adjusting to market changes, and robust investment in public and social infrastructure. As always, the goal is to raise the floor for everyone; in effect, building a stronger economy and more prosperous Canada.

“The recipe for success at Unifor is people like myself who come up through the ranks and we fight. We know the industry, we know the culture, and we also know what we’re entitled to,” said Laura Hazlet, Regional Representative of Local 4002. “We bear down until we get it.”

Unifor will continue to push back against corporate greed and competing government interests to fight for gains for members. One of these gains included Unifor succeeding in getting rid of stacked ranking in the Sales Group at Bell.

“Essentially at Bell Canada, there’s this system called stacked ranking and it ranks people against each other, pits them against each other, and then the bottom 25% are declared to be underperformers” said Chris MacDonald, Assistant to the President at Unifor.

The union put an end to the unfair practice.

Unifor also earned improved pattern setting wages at Suncor; and at Loblaws, mandated work was eliminated and a new diversity and inclusion committee was formed to address issues in the workplace.

Watch the Strength in Bargaining video here:

 

Trench Electric workers ratify collective agreement

Members of Unifor Local 303 at Trench Electric Limited in Pickering, Ontario have ratified a 3-year collective agreement with their employer.

 “We wanted to see improvements across the board for our members and that’s exactly what we got,” said Anand Boodhai, Unifor Local 303 President. “The results clearly show the strength our union has when it comes to bargaining.”

The new contract was ratified by 92% and it replaces the previous one which had expired in March 2019, and brings a round of difficult negotiations to a close. The new contract includes gains in virtually all areas of the members’ collective agreement. They include wage increases of 6% over the term of the contract as well as improvements to paramedical, vision and dental care benefits, shift premiums, and funds for safety boots and uniforms.

“I wish to thank the bargaining committee members for all their hard work in achieving the improvements won in this round of negotiations,” said Boodhai.

Workers at Trench Electric manufacture electrical products for use in power utilities, engineering, procurement and construction companies and high energy usage industries.

Unifor members make plans for worker-centred Just Transition

More than 150 Unifor members and staff gathered in Saskatoon from September 22–24 to convene the inaugural Just Transition conference.

Just Transition is the term used to describe progressive policies that protect workers during an industry’s transition to a more sustainable model. It is most often applied to sectors with heavy greenhouse gas emissions, but Just Transition can apply to virtually any sector.

“The transition to a more sustainable economy is the critical challenge of our lifetime, but it will not be done by casting workers aside,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor Western Regional Director in opening remarks to participants. “So much of the discussion so far has simply been about targets and about reducing emissions—workers are often an afterthought. That’s wrong. We must fight to be at the very centre of these discussions and fight for good jobs for all going forward.”

Following McGarrigle, the conference opened with a presentation by former Unifor Senior Economist Jim Stanford on what a Green New Deal could look like in Canada. Stanford emphasized that Canada has been through resource boom and bust cycles too many times before, and the environmental imperative to reduce fossil fuel dependence can ultimately lead to better jobs in a more stable economy.

Unifor National Secretary Treasurer Lana Payne opened the second day of the conference with remarks on the importance of unity among workers. She said false narratives of scarcity by employers threaten to pit workers against each other, but building a just society will rely on solidarity to keep all workers’ concerns front and centre.

Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili spoke about his party’s work in opposition to Premier Scott Moe’s conservative government. He pointed to specific examples of the ways that the government’s malaise and corruption has hurt the province’s workers and has actively blocked green jobs efforts.

Meili was followed by a diverse panel of guests invited to discuss “Getting it Right”, focusing on principles and examples of democracy and working peoples’ involvement in decision-making. “Nothing about us, without us” was the common refrain among both panelists and Unifor member discussions on the issue.

Later in the day, participants heard from the Alberta Federation of Labour’s Gil McGowan and Steelworker Roy Milne about the experience in Alberta working with the NDP government on Just Transition initiatives.

McGowan stressed that while many more “doors were open” in the worker-friendly government of Rachel Notley, unions still had to drive the agenda and play a key role in policy development and pushing aggressive timelines. Milne said that what was accomplished under the Notley government in coal transition was truly unique and could have never been accomplished under Liberal or Conservative governments.

On the final day of the conference, participants heard from University of Saskatchewan professor Priscilla Settee, who discussed the often ignored but essential perspectives of Indigenous communities and the role of partnerships in making green economic transitions truly just. She stressed that building meaningful relationships with Indigenous groups is mandatory and that unions should join in opposing resource grabs that ignore land and title of First Nations.

The remainder of conference time was spend in various group discussion exercises that let participants share experiences from their own lives and how the lessons and principles from speakers could be integrated into Unifor’s next steps.

Atlantic Women’s Conference spurs personal connections and political action

“I have always come to my activism through a place of knowing and loving myself.”

Candy Palmater’s opening address at the first Unifor Atlantic Women’s Conference set the stage for a weekend of self development and union-building for the more than 130 delegates.

The conference was held in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on unceded Mi'kmaq territory September 20-22.

Women from across the region gathered under the themes of taking back power and building political action, but a string of storytelling linked the delegates’ own experiences to the panels and presentations.

“We know that our stories have power. And we all have stories to tell,” said Lisa Kelly, Unifor Women’s Director, “We get deterred by feeling like we need to be an expert, but the stories that are being told- those are the ones that impact us and that we will remember.”

Participants identified systemic barriers and violence that prevents women from taking power and being treated equally, as well as systems of oppression that further divide women based on race, class, ability, or religion.

The overwhelming majority of participants were at their first union conference, thanks to a new structure that replaces every second annual women’s conference with a regional conference. Atlantic Canada was the first region to host.

Lana Payne, Unifor’s newly-elected Secretary-Treasurer greeted the room full of Unifor women on Saturday evening.

“Welcome to the Unifor sisterhood. It’s a movement filled with trade union women who know our power comes not only from the strength of our union, but from our bonds as women,” said Payne, highlighting the collective nature of Canada’s feminist trade union activism.

“Trade union women fought the battles with the knowledge that it wasn’t about them. It’s for the next generation to benefit,” she continued.

As participants learned how to find their voice and organize within committees and local unions, the goal of political change was ever-present.

Unifor led the campaign for paid domestic violence leave in Canada. This work began at the bargaining table, but was brought to provincial and federal politicians to demand and win paid leave for survivors of intimate partner violence.

Gains like this one were presented in stark contrast to the ongoing struggle to end the genocide of Indigenous women and girls in Canada, and for government implementation of the recommendations of the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

The conference took place just four weeks from October 21, when Canadians will head to the polls.

“This election is so important for so many reasons. But especially for women,” said Linda MacNeil, Unifor Atlantic Director. “We’ve learned this weekend to not sit back and let someone else speak for us, so I’m looking forward to campaigning with so many women in this election!”

 The next Unifor women’s conference will be a national conference in at the Unifor Education Centre in Port Elgin in 2020. To engage with the work of the Women’s Department today, visit www.unifor.org/women, or email women@unifor.org.

BC government support for forestry workers is welcomed and much-needed

On September 17, the BC NDP government announced they are investing $69 million in support programs for forestry workers in the Interior of the province. The area has been hard-hit by recent mill closures and shift reductions, and the sector as a whole has faced many challenges over the past decade.

“Entire communities in the BC Interior have been threatened because of the challenges facing the forestry industry and the 16 years of poor forest policy under the previous BC Liberal government,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Western Regional Director. “Between raw log exports, years of raging forest fires, the pine beetle infestations, and the U.S. tariffs on softwood lumber, it’s been an incredibly challenging time. We’re thankful the government is focusing on workers and providing them with much-needed support.”

Premier Horgan announced the programs would include establishing early-retirement bridging for older forestry workers, new short-term employment focusing on fire prevention, new worker training, and short-term financial assistance to communities hit hardest by mill closures.

“We know the forestry sector can thrive if corporations, communities and all levels of government work together to create a forward-looking strategy,” said McGarrigle. “Right now, we’re having to deal with years of mismanagement under the previous government so this support for workers and their families is essential as we focus on revitalization.”

Unifor has been outspoken on issues facing the forestry sector, including softwood lumber tariffs that have recently been put under review by a NAFTA panel.

Visit the BC government’s website for more information on the support programs for forestry workers.

Health care workers pave the way forward to protect public health care

Unifor health care members gathered in Port Elgin September 13-15 to learn more about the issues facing health workers in Ontario and Nova Scotia.

“We come together at this conference to build our power, to educate each other, and to use this collective power to advocate for every health care worker in the country,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President.  “More than ever, our health care system needs defending and our health care workers need respect and support.”

Representatives from the Canadian Health Coalition, Ontario Health Coalition and the Nova Scotia Health Coalition shared the focus of their activism and how Unifor members can plug into these campaigns to fight back against privatization, to advocate for a national pharmacare program and to save our public health funding.

The conference also provided a space to discuss the daily struggles of working in health care. Delegates broke up into their respective sub-sectors and shared the challenges they face, like dealing with violent patients and residents, the lack of training for dealing with mental health issues, and chronic under-staffing and under-resourcing.

Ontario Regional Director Naureen Rizvi spoke of the attacks on health care from the Ford Government and what Ontarians have been doing to fight back. 

“It's been a year riddled with challenges, but marked by great fightbacks,” said Rizvi. “We have put Doug Ford’s government on notice. We will not sit idly by and allow our pubic services to be gutted.”

Atlantic Regional Director Linda MacNeil reported on her presentation to the Nova Scotia Expert Panel on Long-Term Care. The Panel's process allowed stakeholders to offer suggestions to the government on how to improve long-term care in the province.

The union consulted with members in homes across the province and submitted a full report directly to the Expert Panel and spoke with their years and years of experience in the system. The union’s report recommended the Expert Panel address the issues holistically, realizing that recruitment and retention is so difficult largely due to under-funding and already overworked current staff.

“In January, the panel made loose recommendations and what amounted to a bunch of stop-gap measures like having unskilled, untrained, low-wage workers supporting CCAs,” said Linda MacNeil, Atlantic Regional Director. “That was nine months ago. Our members haven't seen any improvements in workload. Recruitment is still horribly low. Retention is still incredibly low. So we have to continue to fight. And we will.”

FFAW-Unifor fish harvesters speak out on processing company cartel

ST. JOHN’S, NL - Fish harvesters gathered in St. John’s today to speak out against the cartel-like behaviour of the province’s fish processing companies. As a result of coordinated efforts by some of the largest companies who refused to buy species such as northern cod and squid for several weeks this season, harvesters are calling on the provincial government to issue new processing licenses and develop a strategy to attract more competition and investment within the industry.

“FFAW will not stand by while corporations dictate the terms of the inshore fishery. What we saw this fishing season was a clear pattern of cartel-like behaviour from companies who refused to by northern cod and squid and who have a monopoly on our industry,” said Keith Sullivan, FFAW-Unifor President. “The processing company actions are not just illegal; they threaten the very foundation of our coastal communities.”

Over the past seven years, just five large companies - Ocean Choice International, Barry Group, Beothic Fish Processors, Royal Greenland and Quinlan Brothers – have purchased dozens of smaller processing companies in the province. Some of those smaller companies purchased remain in operation, while many are shuttered.

“This corporate monopoly has meant that processing capacity, market development and rural economic development has taken a back seat to the profits of a few corporate executives,” continued Sullivan.

In August, processors staged an illegal lockout at the opening of the northern cod stewardship fishery by refusing to purchase fish. Companies blamed an influx of capelin, however that was proven categorically false.

In recent weeks, buyers have refused to purchase squid at the negotiated price, even after a new price was set when the provincial Standing Fish Price Setting Panel accepted the Association of Seafood Producer’s final offer of a lower price.

“It’s extremely frustrating to have access to an abundant, high-quality resource, whether it be cod or squid, and not have a buyer for it. Inadequate capacity to process turbot, capelin, cod and squid fisheries have cost our communities millions of dollars this year alone,” said Tony Doyle, Bay de Verde fish harvester and FFAW-Unifor Inshore Council Vice-President.

Despite market demand and significant quantities of high-quality product landed by inshore harvesters, many plants are not operating at full capacity and others do not make arrangements to process when multiple fisheries are open at once. Many fisheries are unable to be prosecuted to their full potential because there is no processing capacity.

“The fishery on the northeast coast has been booming in the last number of years. The problem right now isn’t the lack of fish, it’s the lack of a buyer. We need processors to reliably buy our product at a fair price,” said Nancy Bowers, fish harvester from Beachside and FFAW-Unifor Inshore Council member.

Upwards of 20 million pounds of seafood is landed on the Baie Verte peninsula each year, most of which is trucked long distances due to little processing capacity in the area. This impacts the overall product quality, price and the value of NL seafood on the international market.  

“For long-term sustainability in the fishing sector, we need less corporate concentration, more processing licenses in the hands of different companies and more competition in the industry. These are changes that will provide long-term results for our members,” concluded Sullivan.

Parkland refinery workers ratify energy pattern agreement

Unifor Local 601 members have ratified a new four-year collective agreement with Parkland Fuel Corporation. The new agreement is in line with the energy sector pattern agreement negotiated by Unifor in May 2019.

“Unifor is Canada’s energy union,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Right across the country, Unifor is defending good jobs for energy workers.”

The national pattern set between Unifor and Suncor established a framework for local negotiations for wages, severance, and a structure new to the energy sector for addressing domestic violence. The pattern covers 8,500 energy workers in five provinces.

“This contract is a giant leap forward for Local 601 members,” said Russ Day, Unifor Local 601 President. “Among other gains, new classifications mean that workers’ seniority will be better respected.”

The contract includes wage increases of 2.5, 2.75, 3, and 3.5 per cent over the life of the agreement and new banked overtime provisions.

Local 601 represents 160 skilled tradespersons, operators, and maintenance staff at the Parkland refinery in Burnaby, British Columbia.

Support the Global Climate Strikes

Delegates at our Constitutional Convention in August unanimously adopted a resolution supporting the Global Climate Week of Action taking place from September 20 to 27, 2019. Unifor locals are encouraged to take part in these important events.

As the planet faces some of its most pressing challenges, young people are leading the charge for their right to a future. Sixteen-year old Greta Thunberg from Sweden is inspiring a global movement for collective action on climate change, by using one of the oldest union tools: she’s going on strike. Across Canada and all over the world, young people and students are expected to follow her lead later this month.

It is working people and the most vulnerable communities who will suffer most from the impact of climate change. But here’s the thing: Canada has the tools to address climate change and build for support good jobs. As a union, Unifor has always fought to put working people at the heart of our climate policies to build positive change, more security for workers and a stronger economy.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Check the Global Climate Strike website for events near you. Participate and encourage Unifor members and activists to join in.
  2. Attend Unifor’s Just Transition Conference that will gather activists from across the country interested in taking climate action while prioritizing workers and building a program for good jobs in Canada.
  3. Organize a workplace action and let your union know what you’re planning during the global week of action from September 20 to 27 by emailing politicalaction@unifor.org
  4. Sign up to receive Unifor updates on health & safety and the environment, and stay tuned for updates on other climate actions.

Climate Actions Friday, September 27

Victoria

12:00pm

BC Legislature. 501 Belleville St Victoria, British Columbia 

 

Vancouver

1:00pm

Vancouver City Hall. 453 W12th Vancouver, British Columbia

 

Kamloops

12:30pm

Thompson Rivers University. 805 Tru way Kamloops, British Columbia 

 

Edmonton

12:00pm

Alberta Legislature Grounds. 10800 97 Ave NW Edmonton, Alberta 

 

Calgary

12:00pm

Calgary City Hall. 800 MacLeod Trail SE Calgary, Alberta 

 

Saskatoon

12:00pm

Saskatoon City Hall. 222 3rd Ave N Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

 

Regina

12:00pm

Saskatchewan Legislative Building. 2405 Legislative Dr Regina, Saskatchewan 

 

Winnipeg

12:00pm

Manitoba Legislative Building. 450 Broadway Winnipeg, Manitoba 

 

Ottawa

11:30am

Confederation Park. Laurier Ave W & Elgin St Ottawa, Ontario 

 

Toronto

11:00am

Queen's Park. 111 Wellesley St Toronto, Ontario 

 

Montreal 

12:00pm

Statue de George-Étienne Cartier, Parc du Mont-Royal. Park Ave Montreal, Quebec 

 

Québec

12:00pm

l'Assemblée nationale. 1045 Rue des Parlementaires Québec, Québec 

 

Moncton

12:00pm

Centre Avenir Centre. Canada Street Moncton, New Brunswick 

 

Halifax

11:00am

Victoria Park, K'jipuktuk Halifax. South Park St Halifax, Nova Scotia 

 

St. John’s

11:00am

MUN clocktower to Confederation Building. 1 Arctic Avenue St Johns, Newfoundland and Labrador 

 

 

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