Unifor

Unifor members at Vopak Terminals trigger strike

During the night of July 2, members of Local 175C Vopak Unit went on strike. Faced with the impossibility of concluding an agreement for the renewal of their collective agreement and the intransigence of their employer, the members of the section had no choice but to trigger this action.

The stalemate is based on four issues: pension plans, overtime, wages and salary feedback. Members are more determined than ever to stand up. A 100 per cent strike mandate was given to the bargaining committee on May 5, 2019, with the collective agreement expiring back on June 25, 2017. This dispute affects some 30 members working at the oil terminals located in Quebec City and Montreal.

Bell workers raise community support through outreach at Ontario farmer's markets

When a new telecommunications project is announced in your hometown, it should be good news for workers.

Bell’s Wireless to the Home rural internet service has been completely outsourced, meaning that Unifor member’s jobs are put at risk while their work is given to unaccountable, poorly paid contractors.

Members of Unifor Locals 29-X, 31, and 41 attended farmers’ market events on July 5 and 6, to speak with community members about this wrong.

Making hundreds of connections in Fenelon Falls and Owen Sound, members set the record straight, and began to build community support behind Unifor’s call to reverse the outsourcing, and protect the future of good jobs in telecommunications.

“Bell is also out in these communities promoting the new service but leaving out a huge piece of information. That’s the fact that every single installation is being done by a contractor instead of a Unifor member,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President.

Jobs in the telecommunications sector, and at Bell Canada, should be good jobs that adapt and grow with new technology.

Instead of including unionized technicians, Bell hid this project from employees during the last round of contract negotiations.

Add your voice to the growing call to tell Bell to stop the outsourcing and send Wireless to the Home back to unionized technicians.

Leafletting events will continue across the province to share the real story of Bell Canada, and how the company chose to toss employees aside in the name of profit.

Private school staff join Unifor

Teachers, janitors, administration and other staff at a Toronto private school have voted to join Unifor, seeking greater job security, transparency and a voice in how they are compensated.

“All those who work to teach our young people deserve to be treated with respect and to have decent working conditions,” said Unifor Organizing Director Kellie Scanlan.

Some 40 teachers and staff in administration, information technology, fundraising, custodian services and extended care at The Mabin School, a not-for-profit alternative private school in Toronto’s Annex area, voted overwhelmingly last month to join Unifor.

The school serves 150 students from junior kindergarten to Grade 6 and was founded in 1980.

Among the first tasks for the new Mabin School union’s bargaining committee is to determine the members’ priorities and bargain a first collective agreement with the employer.

The staff will be members of Unifor Local 87-M, a composite Local of knowledge workers across southern Ontario, including ESL teachers EC Toronto, newspapers such as the Toronto Star and Globe and Mail, and House of Commons broadcast and IT employees.

“We are thrilled to welcome The Mabin School employees as new members into Unifor and our Local,” said Paul Morse, president of Local 87-M.

Collective agreements ratified at Enbridge Gas Inc.

Nine Unifor locals in the energy sector across Ontario have ratified new three-year collective agreements with Enbridge Gas Inc. (formerly Union Gas). The new contract includes a two per cent wage increase in each year.

“I’m proud of how these Unifor members came together to use their collective strength to fight back concessions and get a fair contract,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President.

Three bargaining tables were aligned over the last 18 months to work collectively towards six collective agreements that protected the pension plans and benefited members across the company.

In addition to the wage increases, the agreement includes domestic violence leave, a signing bonus, the elimination of a North-South wage discrepancy, a Women’s Advocate, and an employer contribution to Unifor’s Social Justice Fund.

“We couldn’t have gotten this deal if we tried to approach the employer separately,” said George Light, President of Local 38-O. “With the help of the Unifor national office and the solidarity of nine locals, we were able to block concessions and get a better collective agreement.

The contract covers more than 950 members across Southwestern Ontario working in clerical, field operations, and transmission:

  • North: Local 38-O (Kingston), Local 790 (Thunder Bay), and Local 795 (Timmins)
  • Storage, Transmission, and Operations: Local 999 (Chatham and area)
  • South: Local 56 (Brantford), Local 758 (Windsor), Local 914 (Sarnia), Local 938 (London), Local 999 (Chatham, Simcoe, Dunville), Local 8833 (various Southwestern Ontario)

Louisiana-Pacific hardboard mill workers ratified agreement by 97 per cent

Members at Local 434 at Louisiana-Pacific Canada Ltd, a hardboard mill in East Chester, Nova Scotia, ratified a new collective agreement with a solid 97 per cent vote in favour.

The five-year agreement sees wage increases for the skilled trades and general workers in every year of the deal.

“Our bargaining committee was pleased we were able to hold off the company concessions and secure a strong deal for our members,” said Roger Collicutt, President of Local 434. “Forestry is a vibrant and renewable industry and our members contribute so much to this community, so it’s rewarding to see their work recognized.”

The group achieved considerable language updates including company-paid negotiation committee time, a shop steward, enhancement of Health and Safety articles and, for the first time, annual Paid Education Leave (PEL). The agreement also includes a safety footwear premium and health benefit increases.

Louisiana-Pacific sawmill workers ratified agreement by 97 per cent

Members at Local 434 at Louisiana-Pacific Canada Ltd, a hardboard mill in East Chester, Nova Scotia, ratified a new collective agreement with a solid 97 per cent vote in favour.

The five-year agreement sees wage increases for the skilled trades and general workers in every year of the deal.

“Our bargaining committee was pleased we were able to hold off the company concessions and secure a strong deal for our members,” said Roger Collicutt, President of Local 434. “Forestry is a vibrant and renewable industry and our members contribute so much to this community, so it’s rewarding to see their work recognized.”

The group achieved considerable language updates including company-paid negotiation committee time, a shop steward, enhancement of Health and Safety articles and, for the first time, annual Paid Education Leave (PEL). The agreement also includes a safety footwear premium and health benefit increases.

The deadline is fast approaching to register for Unifor’s Convention in Quebec City!

Registration is free but you must register by July 20. Unifor’s third Constitutional convention is looking to be the best yet, with exciting speakers including the founder of the #MeToo movement and a Blue Rodeo concert. Bring the kids – there will free, onsite childcare and visiting Quebec City is a great experience for all ages.

Registration is online only (childcare too.) Go to:

https://register1.unifor.org and select “Constitutional Convention 2019” under “Select an event.”

“Whatever It Takes” is the theme of Convention 2019 – get involved and do not miss out!

https://www.unifor.org/en/whats-new/event/unifor-constitutional-convention-2019

Unifor preparing for battle at Saskatchewan’s crown corporations

Bargaining committees at Unifor Locals 1-S and 2-S are preparing to ask for a strike mandate from members at SaskTel, after subsidiary SecurTek voted overwhelmingly in favor of a strike.

“We want to send Premier Moe a strong message,” said Unifor President Jerry Dias. “Workers at the Crown corporations deserve a fair contract and if a 2.3 per cent raise is good enough for MLAs, it’s good enough for our members!”

The Saskatchewan politicians, who make more than $100,000 per year, recently received a 2.3 per cent cost of living increase. Members who face the same rising costs are being offered much less.

Read the latest bargaining update

“A fair wage, job security, mental health provisions and contracting out are worth fighting for,” said Western Regional Director Joie Warnock. "Our members are sitting at home waiting to be called by SaskTel. Yet contractors work full-time with a guaranteed number of hours. So they have a guarantee, but unionized employees don't."

A conciliator has declared a cooling off period, which ends July 12. Mediation is scheduled for July 10 and 11.

“Our goal is to obtain a fair collective agreement without job action,” said Warnock. “In the meantime, we are preparing for a worst-case scenario of strike action.”

For more information: https://www.uniforsaskcouncil.ca/home

Unifor members at GTAA convert DC pension plan to DB

Wage increases and a new defined benefit pension plan are key highlights in a new collective agreement ratified by Unifor Local 2002 members employed by the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) last week.

“As defined benefit pension plans come under attack from employers, it is an impressive achievement to bargain a new one,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President.

The new pension plan replaces the unit’s defined contribution plan, representing a significant boost for members’ retirement security. A pension plan conversion of this type is almost unheard of, and sets a new standard for modern airport worker contracts.

“The Bargaining Committee is to be commended for their determination in negotiating a progressive agreement that addresses members' interests and priorities. From the onset, the clear priority for the membership was that we negotiate a defined benefit pension plan,” said Euila Leonard, President of Unifor Local 2002.

Unifor Local 2002 also made progress on the long-standing campaign for fair wages airport-wide and an end to contract flipping. The new agreement includes a Letter of Understanding with the GTAA that re-tendered contracts must start at the wage level of the existing contract.

The collective agreement also includes 2 per cent wage increases in each year of the four years, which will go into effect on August 1.

At the GTAA Unifor represents more than 1,200 members employed in airside, facilities, operations, professional and support, and skilled trades.

Aboriginal and Workers of Colour conference embraces reconciliation

An Indigenous feast kicked off the first night of the Aboriginal and Workers of Colour conference. Elders, artists and speakers from the Saugeen Nation joined in for the meal, the first of its kind for Unifor. The conference was planned to coincide with National Indigenous People’s Day.

“It is so important that we show respect for our Indigenous elders, Indigenous communities, our Union elders and that we learn from their teachings and from each other,” said Christine Maclin, Unifor Human Rights Director.

The participants enjoyed creative workshops, cultural activities, networking opportunities and challenging discussions about reconciliation and justice in workplaces, within the union and in society.

Unifor President Jerry Dias highlighted the importance of the federal election and how conservative attacks on workers have a direct impact on Indigenous and racialized communities.

“It’s the politics of division, hate, fear and  isolation taking hold of mainstream politics, and driving wedges between workers, based largely on race and  faith,” he said.  

 As part of the ‘Being an Ally’ workshop, the delegates loaded onto buses and walked with Unifor local 2458 members in the Kincardine Pride parade

“We need to be unified to end all forms of oppression and injustice and work with our allies and as allies to ensure we achieve a society where injustice to anyone is unacceptable,” said Dias.

Manitoba NDP MLA Bernadette Smith presented the blanket exercise, which is a unique, participatory history lesson about truth, understanding, respect and reconciliation among Indigenous and non-indigenous peoples. It was emotional for all the delegates and ended with a smudge ceremony.

Win a Vacation (Yes, it’s real)

Unifor is engaging in an exciting contest ahead of the federal election, with the prize of a $5000 Air Canada Vacations voucher.

It’s your last chance to enter! Enter now.

“This type of member contact is important to the political work of the union,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Unifor is respected on the national stage because we boldly demand better standards for members and for all workers. By joining the union’s campaign for good jobs, you make the voice of workers a little louder.”

By entering the contest, members will be looped into Unifor’s efforts to fight for good jobs in Canada and a better future for all workers.

They will also be entered to win a $5000 Air Canada Vacations voucher to use to travel around Canada or around the world!

The deadline to be entered into the draw is June 28 at 5:00 p.m.

Enter now!

Canadian Coast Guard Marine Communications Officers secure tentative agreement with strong gains and a focus on inclusivity

On June 20, the bargaining committee for Local 2182 representing Canadian Coast Guard Marine Communications Officers secured a tentative agreement with strong improvements in language, particularly around issues of inclusivity, and monetary gains in each year of the agreement.

The agreement covers members in regional headquarters and operational stations nationally: Goose Bay, Placentia, Port aux Basques, Newfoundland and Labrador; Halifax and Sydney, Nova Scotia; Les Escoumins and Quebec City, Quebec; Prescott and Sarnia, Ontario; Victoria and Prince Rupert, British Columbia; Iqal​uit, Nunavut; and at the Canadian Coast Guard College located in Sydney, N.S.

“The bargaining committee worked hard to make the new agreement reflect the needs of the membership across several locations,” said Michelle Arruda, National Representative. “It was important to see things like family-related leave, bereavement leave and paid domestic violence leave be made accessible to members in a variety of circumstances.”

Monetary increases amount to 2.8 per cent, 2.2 per cent, 1.5 per cent and 1.5 per cent over the four-year term of the agreement.

There is also a plan to include a new Memorandum of Agreement on Supporting Employee Wellness, and a Memorandum of Understanding on the creation of a Joint Committee to review the agreement’s use of gender inclusive language.

“Strengthening workers’ mental health supports and making the language of our agreement reflective of all genders are necessary steps to ensuring respect for these workers,” said Arruda.

A ratification vote will be held in the coming days.

Promote equity and activism this pride season

Improving equity, and inclusion, and defending the human rights of LGBTQ people are goals of the union. These goals are achieved through bargaining, trough the dedicated work of local union executives and committees, and through events and campaigns that bring us all together.

As Pride Month nears its close, thousands of members have already celebrated at parades, festivals and community events. Throughout the summer these events will continue in communities across the country.

“I was proud to join Unifor members in Toronto at the Pride festival,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “What makes these events special for me is meeting those one or two members who are out for the first time each year, who take that significant step to show their true selves and are happier and more fulfilled because if it.”

“To those members, and to anyone else who is curious about Pride, or about your own identity, come out to an event, have some fun and build community. Your union will support you,” continued Dias.

In addition to messages of pride, the national LGBTQ committee has prioritized pushing back against right-wing racism that has been directed at immigrants recently.

This summer marks 50 years since the Stonewall riots that launched the LGBTQ equity movement. This movement began as a militant opposition to hate and bigotry, a history that’s reflected in these themes of supporting migrants in an increasingly racist political conversation in Canada.

“Members of Unifor’s LGBTQ community are taking a stand this year, and voicing their support for refugees and migrants at these local pride events,” said Christine Maclin, Unifor Director of Human Rights. “That’s what solidarity is all about, reaching across division to unite around our common goal of building a more just and more peaceful world for everyone.”

To find upcoming events in your area, connect with your regional LGBTQ committee chair or see this list of events where Unifor will be present.

Regional LGBTQ Committee Chair people

BC Region: Ron Mill, ronmillunifor@gmail.com

Prairies Region, Krista Wagner, kwagner.unifor649@gmail.com

Ontario Region, Dana Dunphy, ddunphy1@hotmail.com

Quebec Region, Kevork Vahedjian, geoairtravel@yahoo.com

Atlantic Region, Martin Melanson, martin.melanson@unifor.org

National Pride Liaison, Sarah McCue, sarah.mccue@unifor.org

Star Metro reporters with Local 2000 negotiate first contract

Unifor Local 2000 has ratified a first collective agreement for 11 reporters working at Torstar’s StarMetro Vancouver.

“It’s been a long road, and I am proud to say we helped close the wage gap between the top earners and lowest paid reporters,” said Brian Gibson, President of Unifor Local 2000. “We now have a path to ensure these journalists will be paid the same money for the same work.”  We made gains in defined hours of work, and wage increases ranging from two to 10 per cent, with lower-earning reporters seeing most of the gains.

Highlights of the first contract include a defined benefit pension plan.

In recognition of the fact that some members relocated from the Toronto Star, members will be entitled to longer bereavement leave if a death of a close relative is more than 800 km away from Vancouver. The Local also won flex sick days where members can call in sick to take care of family members who are ill.

The bargaining committee also negotiated a four-week notice period of layoff and severance entitlements greater than BC’s employment standards.

“The bargaining committee wants to thank the members for their support and solidarity and the Local looks forward to supporting these new members during the life of this agreement”, Gibson added.  “While you never get everything you want in a first collective agreement, we have made some great strides in this round of bargaining.”

“Although this is a small group of workers, in an industry that is under extreme pressure, it is important journalists have strong representation.”

 

Workers remembered: The 35th anniversary of the Falconbridge mine tragedy

On June 20, 1984, a powerful explosion at the Falconbridge mine near Sudbury, Ontario shook the earth while 200 miners were underground. It claimed the lives of four men.

The 35th anniversary of the tragedy is commemorated every June 20th. This year, over 100 people attended, including Unifor’s Sari Sairanen, National Health and Safety Director.

“Each of us has a responsibility to ensure that the sacrifices of those we mourn today were not for nothing,” she said, adding that workers have a right to work at sites that are safe, respectful and harassment-free.

Retiree Gary Hrytsak of Unifor’s Mine Mill Local 598 was on a coffee break when it happened. “You could feel things shaking under your feet… I thought the smelter had blown up.”

The explosion was actually a massive rock burst at the 4,000 foot level. A rock burst is caused by heavy pressure on brittle rocks, when deep mining has deprived the rock of support on one side.

The Falconbridge mine never reopened and the company was renamed Glencore.

“What has our industry learned from the tragedy?” asked Dave Stewart, Mine Mill Local 598 health and safety co-chair at Glencore’s Nickel Rim South Mine. “Are we making it safer for miners working underground? I would have to say yes. We are making progress, but we still have a long way to go. Ground control people are working to ensure safety. (But) at any moment, Mother Nature could create a rock burst that would bring tragedy to our underground workers.”

Sairanen said Unifor continues to work towards greater safety of workers and also challenged companies and executives to ensure “the safety of your employees never takes a back seat to the bottom line.”

Unanimous Strike Mandate Adopted at Praxair Canada - Aerospace Division

Members of Unifor Union Local 698 voted 100 per cent in favor of a strike mandate to be triggered at a time deemed appropriate.

"The result is unambiguous. Negotiations are dragging on this file and our members are tired of the slow pace. They are also determined to achieve substantial monetary gains. This is exactly what is currently blocking progress as all salary clauses have to be settled," explained Serge Dupont, the Assistant to the Québec Director responsible for the file.

Many issues are at the heart of the dispute including the length of the collective agreement, progression in the salary range, bonuses, overtime, vacation and retroactivity.

"It must be noted that the union bargaining committee and its President Bernard August have done an incredible job of mobilizing. In addition to Local 698 and its President François Arseneault who have also spared no effort to mobilize our members," said Mr. Dupont.

In negotiation since 2018, with six meetings including three in conciliation. The union hopes the file will advance, with meetings planned for tomorrow as well as July 15 and 17.

Praxair employs nearly 60 Unifor union members who manufacture components in the aerospace sector for customers such as Bell Helicopter, Bombardier, Pratt and Whitney, Héroux Devtek, Mécaer, PCC Aerostructure and Safran.

Mandat de grève adopté à 100 % chez Praxair Canada – division aérospatiale

Les membres de la section locale 698 du syndicat Unifor ont voté en faveur d’un mandat de grève à être déclenché au moment jugé opportun dans une proportion de 100 %.

« Le résultat est sans ambiguïté. Les négociations s’éternisent dans ce dossier et nos membres sont excédés de la lenteur. Ils sont aussi déterminés à obtenir des gains substantiels au niveau monétaire. C’est exactement ce qui bloque actuellement alors que l’ensemble des clauses salariales sont à régler », a expliqué Serge Dupont, adjoint au directeur québécois responsable du dossier.

De nombreux points sont au cœur du litige dont la durée de la convention collective, la progression dans l’échelle salariale, les prime, les heures supplémentaires, les vacances, la rétroactivité, etc.

« Il faut souligner que le comité syndical de négociation dont son président Bernard August a fait un travail incroyable de mobilisation. Tout comme la section locale 698 et son président François Arseneault qui n’ont ménagé aucun effort pour assurer la mobilisation de nos membres », a indiqué M. Dupont.  

En négociation depuis 2018, incluant six rencontres dont trois en conciliation, le syndicat espère que le dossier puisse débloquer. Des rencontres sont prévues demain ainsi que les 15 et 17 juillet prochain.  

Praxair emploie près de 60 membres du syndicat Unifor qui fabriquent des composantes dans le secteur de l’aérospatiale pour des clients comme Bell Helicopter, Bombardier, Pratt et Whitney, Héroux Devtek, Mécaer, PCC Aerostructure, Safran, etc.

Unanimous Strike Mandate Adopted at Praxair Canada - Aerospace Division

Members of Unifor Union Local 698 voted 100 per cent in favor of a strike mandate to be triggered at a time deemed appropriate.

"The result is unambiguous. Negotiations are dragging on this file and our members are tired of the slow pace. They are also determined to achieve substantial monetary gains. This is exactly what is currently blocking progress as all salary clauses have to be settled," explained Serge Dupont, the Assistant to the Québec Director responsible for the file.

Many issues are at the heart of the dispute including the length of the collective agreement, progression in the salary range, bonuses, overtime, vacation and retroactivity.

"It must be noted that the union bargaining committee and its President Bernard August have done an incredible job of mobilizing. In addition to Local 698 and its President François Arseneault who have also spared no effort to mobilize our members," said Mr. Dupont.

In negotiation since 2018, with six meetings including three in conciliation. The union hopes the file will advance, with meetings planned for tomorrow as well as July 15 and 17.

Praxair employs nearly 60 Unifor union members who manufacture components in the aerospace sector for customers such as Bell Helicopter, Bombardier, Pratt and Whitney, Héroux Devtek, Mécaer, PCC Aerostructure and Safran.

BC fish harvesters join Unifor with historic vote

In an historic vote that was years in the making, 245 salmon seine boat fish harvesters on Canada’s west coast who fish for the Canadian Fishing Company have voted overwhelmingly to join Unifor.

“Unifor is proud to welcome these workers into the union. Organizing fish harvesters working in dozens of seine boats in a short season was a challenge, but these workers showed determination and came out strong in support of Unifor,” said Unifor Organizing Director Kellie Scanlan.

The vote was an overwhelming 92 per cent to join United Fishermen and Allied Workers Union (UFAWU), a Unifor local. The vote was conducted last summer, but counting was held up until this week due to employer challenges when the British Columbia Labour Board ordered the votes be counted.

This was the first time a unique BC labour law was applied. Traditional labour laws do not apply to seiners because they are not paid wages, but are paid by the weight and price of their catch. A previous NDP government in BC passed the Fishing Collective Bargaining Act allowing unions to become certified to bargain for fish harvesters.

After years of planning and studying the new law, while building relationships with seine boats crews, seiners began signing Unifor cards last July, with a vote held last September.

A turning point came in early 2018 when Canadian Fishing announced that it would no longer pay into the United Fishermen's Benefit Fund. The fund was first negotiated in the late 1940s and paid death and medical benefits to all Native Brotherhood of B.C. and UFAWU members who fished for participating companies.

“This had been quite a wait with years of planning put behind it building relationships and then ultimately the company took away the benefits that everyone counted on - which united the seiners even more and led to the overwhelming results in favour of joining Unifor,” said UFAWU President Joy Thorkelson.

This vote means the seiners are now part of a full-fledged union local, rather than the voluntary membership status they had previously. As the exclusive bargaining unit for seine boat fish harvesters, the UFAWU will now begin negotiations towards a binding collective agreement with the company.

BC fisher harvesters join Unifor with historic vote

In an historic vote that was years in the making, 245 salmon seine boat fish harvesters on Canada’s west coast who fish for the Canadian Fishing Company have voted overwhelmingly to join Unifor.

“Unifor is proud to welcome these workers into the union. Organizing fish harvesters working in dozens of seine boats in a short season was a challenge, but these workers showed determination and came out strong in support of Unifor,” said Unifor Organizing Director Kellie Scanlan.

The vote was an overwhelming 92 per cent to join United Fishermen and Allied Workers Union (UFAWU), a Unifor local. The vote was conducted last summer, but counting was held up until this week due to employer challenges when the British Columbia Labour Board ordered the votes be counted.

This was the first time a unique BC labour law was applied. Traditional labour laws do not apply to seiners because they are not paid wages, but are paid by the weight and price of their catch. A previous NDP government in BC passed the Fishing Collective Bargaining Act allowing unions to become certified to bargain for fish harvesters.

After years of planning and studying the new law, while building relationships with seine boats crews, seiners began signing Unifor cards last July, with a vote held last September.

A turning point came in early 2018 when Canadian Fishing announced that it would no longer pay into the United Fishermen's Benefit Fund. The fund was first negotiated in the late 1940s and paid death and medical benefits to all Native Brotherhood of B.C. and UFAWU members who fished for participating companies.

“This had been quite a wait with years of planning put behind it building relationships and then ultimately the company took away the benefits that everyone counted on - which united the seiners even more and led to the overwhelming results in favour of joining Unifor,” said UFAWU President Joy Thorkelson.

This vote means the seiners are now part of a full-fledged union local, rather than the voluntary membership status they had previously. As the exclusive bargaining unit for seine boat fish harvesters, the UFAWU will now begin negotiations towards a binding collective agreement with the company.

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