Unifor

Support the Global Climate Strikes on September 20

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.

 

Federal election success depends on collective action

On Wednesday, September 11, 2019, the writ was dropped in the 2019 Federal Election. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau went to the Governor General’s residence and asked for Parliament to be dissolved, walking back out as leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.

At that same time, in cities and towns across the country, Unifor member organizers were already out knocking on doors, talking with fellow workers about the importance of the federal election.

Unifor launched its member-to-member campaign on September 4. On that day, approximately 120 member organizers knocked on the doors of 2,500 Unifor members, bringing information about the issues that matter to Canada’s workers, and a reminder to vote on October 21.

“Our goal with this campaign is to ask all Unifor members to stand strong, and elect a government that has a real plan for workers,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “We’ve heard from members that it’s getting harder to afford a decent standard of living in this country. In order to change that, we need to elect a progressive government that puts workers’ rights first, to raise wages and stop putting profits before people.”

At the Unifor Convention in August of 2019, members voted to adopt a bold advertising campaign to Stop Conservative leader Andrew Scheer.

Unifor Assistant to the National President Katha Fortier presented that vision to delegates, highlighting the division of the federal Conservative message that seeks to pit workers against each other, scapegoating immigrants and refugees, and falsely asserting that we must choose between addressing the climate crisis or growing good jobs.

“Dividing Canada’s workers, and blaming oppressed people will never solve the problems that we face. We can only win when we turn to stand against those who hold the power head on, together,” Fortier said in her address.

All members are encouraged to directly participate in the campaign. Organizing meetings are scheduled across the country in the coming weeks. Find one in your region here.

“Canvassing is a great way to learn about the union and get to know Unifor members in my community. What I’ve found, knocking on doors in the lead up to the election, is that Unifor members are tired of being squeezed by Ford’s conservative cuts in Ontario. They’re looking for relief, for a government that will put worker’s priorities first,” said Nancy Brissett, Unifor Kitchener-Waterloo member organizer.

Over the campaign, tens of thousands of conversations will occur between Unifor members as the union continues to deliver a message to vote for workers’ rights in the federal election.

For more information visit StopScheer.ca

Disaster relief needed for coastal communities facing salmon crisis

VANCOUVER—A united front of fishers and allied workers from across British Columbia’s coast called for a government response to the disastrous salmon fishing run unfolding in 2019.

“Coastal communities cannot wait any longer. The results are clear and families are suffering,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “The worst commercial salmon fishing season in fifty years demands an immediate government disaster response.”

Unifor’s fish and allied workers local was joined at a news conference by representatives of the Native Brotherhood of B.C., the Lax Kw’alaams nation, the Kwakiutl nation, and the former Vice President of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs. All speakers sounded the alarm about the economic hardship being experienced in all coastal regions as a result of unprecedented salmon run numbers.

Net fisheries on the north and central coasts are closed and no fisheries are expected for the Fraser River stocks on the south coast.

“There is a very real danger that the record low salmon runs we’re experiencing will have a ripple effect across other species and all that rely upon salmon for survival,” said Bob Chamberlin, former UBCIC Vice President and NDP candidate for Nanaimo—Ladysmith. “The government needs to rush assistance for fishers and develop a plan for truly sustaining wild salmon and industry, for the betterment of BC’s economy.”​

2019 Retired Workers Council

Approximately 200 were in attendance at the Annual National Retired Workers Council which was held at the Family Education Center from September 1-6.

2,500 union members participated in the Annual Unifor / Grey Bruce Labour Council Labour Day Parade as thousands of adults and children lined the street to view the parade in Port Elgin, Ontario. Following the parade everyone returned to the Centre for a BBQ lunch which featured remarks from affiliate labour leaders, retired CAW National President Buzz Hargrove, Deb Tveit, Unifor Assistant to the National President and Councilor Mike Gade on behalf of the Town. Activities for the children included face painting and balloon animals, puppet and antique classic car show. Retirees also traveled from London, Kitchener, Woodstock, Oakville, and Oshawa to join the festivities.

The Council provided the retirees an opportunity to hear from a number of guest speakers including; Deb Tveit, Assistant to the National President Jerry Dias, Frank Graves President from EKOS Research providing current polling data, Maureen Dawson Political Action presenting Unifor’s strategy in the upcoming Federal Election and Fred Wilson author of ‘A New Kind Of Union’, they were also joined by Erin Little from Liv-A-Little Foundation.

Elections were held for the Retired Workers Council Executive and Council committees and delegates debated and voted on 31 resolutions ranging from National Pharmacare, Environment, Politics, Housing, Suicide Prevent and Pension Funding Protection.

Delegates also celebrated Gary Parent RW Local 444, this year’s recipient of the 19th Outstanding Retired Worker of the Year Award.

Unifor title sponsor of Women’s Hockey Dream Gap Tournament

Unifor is excited to be the title sponsor for the first stop of the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA) Dream Gap Tour taking place in Toronto at the Westwood arena on September 21 – 22, 2019.

“Unifor’s partnership with PWHPA is about creating equity for Canada’s elite women hockey players so that women and girls across the country can play the game, earn a living wage, and receive the dignity and respect they are owed,” Jerry Dias, Unifor National President.

The Toronto stop of the tour titled “Unifor Women’s Hockey Showcase” will be a four-team exhibition tournament over two days and feature professional women’s players, including  Hilary Knight, Marie-Philip Poulin, Brianna Decker, Natalie Spooner, Brianne Jenner, Rebecca Johnston and Kacey Bellamy, among others.

The PWHPA Dream Gap Tour was created to draw attention to the fact that there currently is not a league that consistently showcases the best product of women’s hockey in the world, pays its players a living wage and has the infrastructure to set the game up to succeed. 

As the title sponsor for the tournament, Unifor officials will be at the opening ceremony and participating in the official puck drop.

To help promote the tournament, please print this poster and use social media shareable.

Tickets can be purchased online at pwhpa.com/events/unifor-showcase.

Unifor is a force for change in Manitoba election

Unifor members are pulling out all the stops to help elect a worker-friendly government in Manitoba.

Even before the election was called on August 12 (more than a year ahead of fixed election dates), Unifor was busy organizing activist book offs and training sessions for a broad member-to-member campaign. The campaign is active in 45 ridings right across Manitoba.

“Brian Pallister is hoping that Manitobans will be too busy with summer vacation and back-to-school preparation to take a close look at his troubled record as premier,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President.

The grassroots organizing is complimented by a significant advertising campaign in both the pre-writ and writ periods of the election. Billboards, bus shelter ads, radio ads, and newspaper ads are designed to defeat Pallister by raising the profile of his record on health care and mis-managing Manitoba Hydro.

“Brian Pallister has undermined Manitoba Hydro and closed emergency rooms,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor Western Regional Director. “He’s been a disaster for Manitoba and we’re now helping lead the province-wide fightback to elect a premier that stands with working people.”

The advertisements have gotten the attention of Brian Pallister, whose PC Party has twice accused Unifor of third party spending violations—something that is simply a distraction from Pallister’s problematic record as premier.

“Brian Pallister realizes that when he talks about his record, the NDP goes up in the polls,” said Dias. “Pallister is panicking and taking out his frustrations on his toughest critics.”

From the beginning, Unifor has fiercely criticized the Pallister government’s weakening of workplace rights, undermining of Manitoba Hydro, and cuts to social programs.

Election Day is on September 10.

International journalism award accepting entries

Journalist members of Unifor are invited to enter a new international journalism award that aims to encourage reporting on social justice, peace and the environment.

“Unifor is proud to be participating in this award program. Journalism is vital to a strong democracy and the stories reporters write play an essential role in helping us understand the complex and important issues facing us today,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias.

Unifor Communications Representative Stuart Laidlaw, a journalist for 25 years and past unit chair of the Toronto Star and vice-president of Local 87-M, is a member of the expert panel for the awards. He will help select the shortlist of stories eligible to win the top prizes.

The Fetisov Journalism Award (FJA) was set up is 2018 and is accepting entries for the first time this year. The deadline for submissions is October 1, with prizes awarded in four categories:

  • Outstanding Contribution to Peace
  • Contribution to Civil Rights
  • Outstanding Investigative Reporting
  • Excellence in Environmental Journalism

First prize is 100,000 Swiss Francs (about $130,000 Canadian, second prize is $20,000 Swiss Francs ($27,000) and third prize is 10,000 Swiss Francs ($13,000). Winners will be announced at a ceremony is Lucerne, Switzerland in January.

Stories published in a newspaper, magazine, journal or online between from June 1st, 2018 to May 31st, 2019 are eligible for entry. Complete rules and entry procedures are available on the FJA website.

New Brunswick sawmill workers join Unifor

Workers at the Chaleur Sawmills in Belledune, N.B., have joined Unifor after seeing the advances that Unifor has been able to make for forestry workers across the country.

“Workers see what Unifor is doing in this sector. They look at our contracts and how much we are able to achieve through collective bargaining, and they want to be part of it,” said Unifor Organizing Director Kellie Scanlan.

The 180 workers at the mill, which was recently purchased by the Kilmer Group, join more than 22,000 forestry workers who are already part of Unifor. The workers joined Unifor through automatic certification, meaning that once a majority of workers at the plant signed a Unifor card, the union was certified at the mill.

The New Brunswick Labour and Employment Board certified Unifor as the union at the mill on the Friday before Labour Day weekend.

“What a great way for these workers to celebrate Labour Day - by joining a union,” Linda MacNeil, Atlantic Regional Director said.

Scanlan said the Chaleur drive was a good example of a key pillar of the department’s new strategic plan, which was presented at the Constitutional Convention last month.

“We work with servicing reps, and take the collective agreements they have negotiated to non-union workplaces to show workers what a union can do for them,” Scanlan said.,

Workers from the nearby Fornebu lumber mill in Bathurst, N.B., members of Local 102, assisted in the effort to help the Chaleur workers join Unifor. Scanlan said having workers from the same industry as part of an organizing drive is a big help.

Quebec members secure commitment to reopen fish plant for 2020 season

During a union meeting, held in Chandler, Quebec on August 28, 2019, members of Local 1044 at the Crustacés de Gaspé plant learned of their new work contract which includes significant gains.

“We look forward to finding common ground. Certainly, we will work closely with the employer to ensure the sustainability of the jobs and the plant," said Renaud Gagné, Unifor Quebec Director.

Following negotiations, the employer has undertaken a commitment to reopen its plant for the 2020 fishing season.

In the new three-year contract, wages will increase by $0.75 an hour as of January 1, 2020 and by $0.50 an hour the next two years.

"By January 2021, all salaries will be over $15.00 an hour," explained Gagné.

Several other benefits were achieved, including a $0.90 an hour night bonus, an evening premium of $0.60 an hour, the establishment of a labor relations committee and the recognition of seniority.

No one is left behind, as members who were not able to requalify for employment insurance will now be able to participate in an Emploi Québec program to do so, at the expense of the employer.

Since the announcement of the closure of the plant last March, Unifor has engaged in a public campaign to keep it active. Meetings were held with elected officials from the region as well as a host of organizations and members of the Quebec government. For weeks, Unifor also ensured local mobilization as members from across Quebec traveled to lobby for the reopening of the plant.

It is thanks to this mobilization that a meeting was finally possible between the Unifor Quebec Director and company management, including Jean-Marc Marcoux.

This meeting allowed the parties to establish the climate of confidence necessary for the beginning of negotiations that led to the settlement of the conflict. It should be noted that this agreement was confirmed by the first collective agreement arbitrator.

In addition, Unifor continues its campaign for a better sharing of wealth in the fisheries sector.

"We believe that the regulations must be reviewed and we intend to continue our representations to the governments of Quebec and Canada. This issue is one of the issues we are promoting in the federal election campaign," concluded Gagné.

Unifor is the largest private sector union in Quebec and Canada representing more than 315,000 members in all sectors of the economy. Unifor advocates for all workers and their rights. It strives for equality and social justice at home and abroad and aspires to bring about progressive change for a better future. In Quebec, Unifor represents nearly 55,000 members and is affiliated to Quebec's largest labor union, the Quebec Federation of Labor (QFL).

Regina delegate’s missing Indigenous cousin hits close to home at Unifor Convention

The tragic story of Canada’s missing and murdered Indigenous women hit close to home during Unifor’s Constitutional Convention, when Local 651 Vice President Jo-El Cheekinew told delegates about the disturbing case of his missing cousin.

“Janaya went missing in April. She is a mother. She has a five year old daughter and we are very worried,” said Cheekinew.

22-year-old Janaya Wapemoose was last seen in Regina on April 7. Her family, friends, and community volunteers have combed the area for any sign of her but so far, they have turned up nothing. In June, the Regina police issued a statement saying it had conducted an extensive investigation into her disappearance and asked anyone with information to come forward.

Cheekinew works as a porter at the Delta hotel in Regina. He is new to the Unifor executive and this was his first convention. With support from his national union, he handed out flyers with a picture of Janaya at the convention hall entrance.

Cheekinew said he is hoping for the safe return of his cousin, and that much more needs to be done about the ongoing tragedy of all missing and murdered indigenous women.

On June 3, Canada’s National Inquiry on Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women released an extensive final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. It described the situation as a ‘cultural genocide.’

Some estimates have suggested that as many as 4,000 Indigenous women have been murdered or have disappeared over the past few decades.

Unifor remains fully committed to pushing for the full implementation of the recommendations of the MMIW Inquiry.

Truro area members throw one last celebration for laid-off Tandus Carpets members

On Saturday, August 24, members from Truro and other Nova Scotia communities gathered to throw one last celebration for the laid-off Tandus Carpets workers. Members and their families gathered at the event to reminisce and celebrate their many years of working together.

Some members at Local 4612 have been working since the plant’s closure in July to prepare the facility for shut-down and transfer to new owners.

“These members have shown such courage and determination in the face of an employer who showed them such disrespect and did nothing but the bare minimum after moving the profitable business elsewhere,” said Linda MacNeil, Atlantic Regional Director, who attended the event along with National Representative Darlene McIvor. “The members worked incredibly hard to fight for a fair severance, which the American company ultimately denied them.”

The party included a bouncy castle and face-painting for kids as well as a BBQ, live band and a raffle.

 

Celebrate Labour Day with your union!

In communities across the country, Unifor members and local unions are set to host celebrations and community events on Monday, September 2.

“Labour Day is about appreciating the gains that we have won as Canada’s workers,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “I always look forward to spending the day with Unifor members outside of the workplace.”

From family fairs, to picnics and parades, Unifor’s Labour Day celebrations are diverse. One important feature is the time taken together on this statutory holiday, won by working people.

“As a union, we defend conditions that allow us to be safe at work, and have a happy life at home,” said Lane Payne, Unifor Secretary-Treasurer. “With a rising cost of living for Canadian families, workers are being squeezed. Days like this one remind us of the joy that we’re fighting to preserve.”

Find an event near you below, or connect with your Local Union for more information:

British Colombia

Vancouver

Monday, September 2 from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. 

Notre Dame Regional Secondary School (2880 Venables Street) 

Free event at the PNE for Unifor members and families who have registered in advance.

Saskatchewan

Regina

Monday, September 2 from 12:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. 

Wascana Park – West Lawn

The event is hosted by the building trades and supported by Trade Unions of Regina. Local 1-S , 649, 594, 651 will be in attendance with swag Frisbees and water bottles ( water coolers to fill the water bottles and remove plastic as a greener option) – crown postcards. 

Manitoba

Winnipeg

Monday, September 2 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. 

Bronzed Streetcar on Main Street in Winnipeg

The Labour parade will start at 11:00 am at the Bronzed Streetcar on Main Street in Winnipeg and end at the Legislature. There will be some speeches and should be over by 1pm.

Ontario

Kitchener-Waterloo

Monday, September 2 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Waterloo Park – Westmount Entrance (99 Father David Bauer Dr, Waterloo, ON)

Waterloo Regional Labour Council Labour Day Picnic. Free hot dogs, hamburgers and corn-on-the-cob with a donation to the United Way! Children’s area with face painting, play area and balloons! Live Music! Everyone welcome!

Ottawa

ODLC Event and March

Toronto

Monday, September 2 at 8:00 a.m.

Nathan Phillips Square for a rally, and march.

Speeches and entertainment will be starting at 8:00 am, including National President Jerry Dias. The parade start time is 9:00 am sharp. Then, explore the Toronto Harbour on a family-friendly boat cruise! Contact your Local for cruise wristbands and for more information.

Windsor

Monday, September 2 at 9:00 a.m.

Parade will start at Unifor Local 200/444 Union Hall and end at Fogolar Furlan Club with a picnic

Windsor and District Labour Council Labour Day Parade and Picnic. Bouncy castles, free hot dogs, free drinks, face painting, car show, and special guests. Parade will start at 10:00am with marshalling beginning at 9:00am from Local 200/444 Union Hall The parade route will have us walking along Walker Rd. and turn on E.C Row Service Road to the Fogolar Furlan Club.

Nova Scotia

Port Hawkesbury

Monday, September 2 from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Unifor Local 972 Union Hall (323 Reeves Street, Port Hawkesbury, N.S.)

Join Unifor Local 972, 4600 and 2107 as we celebrate Labour Day with a free BBQ and entertainment Sept.2 at 12:00pm. This is a community event and everyone is welcome.

Rise of the right a major focus at convention

Delegates to the third Unifor Constitutional Convention committed to pushing back against the rise of right-wing populists by taking an active role in elections, at the bargaining table, in organizing drives and in the fight for gender equity.

“We will always spend a lot of time talking about politics because it affects our lives each and every day,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias in his closing address to the convention, held in Quebec City.

Delegates adopted a new Political Action Program and released Unifor’s plans for the coming federal election, including a dedicated website and an aggressive advertising campaign.

“We’re going to get involved in the tough debates. We’re going to stick our nose in the political arena,” Dias said.

Social media will be a big part of Unifor’s election effort, which get a big boost at Convention with a Twitter storm of delegates posting selfies with signs reading “I am voting to stop Scheer.”

Both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland spoke to the convention, stressing the vital role unions play in social justice and building the middle class – especially in the face of increasing right-wing populism.

Dias was acclaimed to his third and final term as President. Lana Payne became Unifor’s first female Secretary-Treasurer. Renaud Gagné was elected at Quebec Regional Council and was acclaimed by the membership as one of the top three officers of Unifor.

Replacing Payne as Atlantic Regional Director is Linda MacNeil. Gavin McGarrigle was chosen as Western Regjonal Director, replacing Joie Warnock, who is now an Assistant to the National President and will lead Unifor’s efforts on Indigenous issues. Naureen Rizvi, former Toronto Area Director and Director of Telecommunications, will continue as Ontario Regional Director.

A tribute was held for Bob Orr, who retired as secretary-treasurer after 35 years of union activism.

Delegates adopted several resolutions, including supporting greater rights for migrant workers, a call to ensure a faster start to contract talks for new bargaining units and an increase in financial and volunteer support for LGBTQ refugees.

Constitutional amendments included increased representation for retirees on Local union executives at former CEP Locals, an increase in strike pay and provisions to give equity seeking groups a stronger voice.

Thousands of delegates rallied outside the Bell Canada building in Quebec City demanding that the phone company maintain good jobs in Canada’s telecommunications industry, and not outsource the jobs of tomorrow.

The same political climate that is fueling Unifor’s political action plan is also behind a new bargaining strategy adopted at the convention to ensure the rights of workers are not only protected, but expanded.

Similarly, a new Organizing Strategic Plan was launched at Convention. The rise of the right and the growing number of Conservative governments in Canada puts unorganized workers most at risk, and Unifor is committed to bringing more workers into the union.

Just weeks after Jason Kenney’s election in Alberta, for example, Unifor successfully organized a hotel in Calgary. In the face of a government attacking their rights, including making organizing more difficult, workers at the hotel voted overwhelmingly to join Unifor, Organizing Director Kellie Scanlan said.

Throughout the week, gender equity was the focus of much of the discussion, from the work of women hockey players fighting for pay equity to a moving address to delegates by Me Too founder Tarana Burke.

“Diversity is being invited to the dance. Inclusion is being asked to dance,” said Tarana Burke, who founded the Me Too movement long before it came known as a hashtag.

A Wednesday night fundraiser sponsored by Unifor raised $150,000 for local women’s shelters.

 

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