Unifor

Unifor welcomes announcement that Unifor members at GM Oshawa will produce masks for Health Canada

April 24, 2020

OTTAWA—Unifor’s National President is available to comment on the announcement today that Health Canada has contracted General Motors in Oshawa to begin manufacturing urgently needed masks for health care professionals and for Canadians.

“Unifor members in Oshawa are highly skilled and proud to step up and make whatever our country needs to get through this pandemic,” said Dias. “The fact that Unifor members will help GM produce as many as a million fabric masks a month, for Health Canada at cost, is an example of what we can do when we work together.”

50 Unifor members are expected to begin this work in a few weeks, working at the Oshawa facility in two shifts.

WHAT:                Unifor members to manufacture masks at GM Oshawa plant

WHO:                  Jerry Dias, Unifor National President

WHEN:                Friday April 24, 2020  between 3:30 – 5:00

WHERE:              To arrange Skype, Facetime, or telephone interviews contact Natalie.Clancy@Unifor.org (416)-707-5794

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

For media inquiries and to arrange interviews please contact Unifor’s Director of Communications, Natalie Clancy at  Natalie.Clancy@unifor.org or 416-707-5794 (cell).

Unifor launches legal challenge to Translink layoffs

April 23, 2020

VANCOUVER—Unifor will use the B.C. Labour Code to challenge Translink subsidiary Coast Mountain Bus Company’s lay-off notices issued on Monday, April 20, 2020.

“Transit service rollbacks must be stopped,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “The federal government needs to act fast. It is a mistake to weaken the public transit system while tens of thousands of essential workers rely on it every day.”

Close to 1,000 transit operators and 200 maintenance staff have received layoff notice effective May 18, 2020. Unifor will argue that CMBC breached the Labour Relations Code by not giving 60 days notice. The union will be seeking to have the lay-offs rescinded, or at minimum pay workers during the 60 days.

In the meantime, Unifor is urging members of the public to tell their Members of Parliament that federal emergency funds are urgently needed to keep transit service reliable during the pandemic. Unifor wrote to the Prime Minister this week urging him to provide similar assistance to public transit that has been already granted to the airline industry.

“Other critical transportation networks, such as airlines, have been granted access to federal subsidies,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor Western Regional Director. “Let’s show essential services workers that we are committed to getting them to work safely and efficiently.”

Balbir Mann, President of Unifor Local 111 representing transit operators, said the company should have used proper notice provisions to begin respectful dialogue with the union. “We’re not going to let the employer cut corners when it comes to layoffs of this magnitude. They should know better.”

President of Local 2200 representing Seabus and CMBC maintenance staff, Mike Smith, said TransLink’s approach to the layoffs is causing more delays than it should. “Instead of rushing to put our members out of a job, Translink should follow the law and engage in good faith to make sure we can collaborate on balancing the interests all parties, including essential services workers.”

Unifor is calling on all levels of government to come together to maintain transit service levels to keep passengers safe and to keep the struggling Metro Vancouver economy moving.

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

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

Translink layoffs risk harming essential service workers

April 20, 2020

VANCOUVER—Translink has moved ahead with issuing notice of hundreds of layoffs of front-line transit worker, potentially interfering in the ability of tens of thousands of essential service workers to get to their jobs, says Unifor.

“Public transit is a vital part of Metro Vancouver’s effective response to COVID-19,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “We must support essential services workers in every way we can, and that includes getting them to work safely and effectively.”

Unifor says that close to 1,000 transit operators and 200 maintenance staff have received layoff notice effective May 18, 2020. B.C. Transit has not announced any plans to reduce service levels.

Health care workers have already spoke out against transit service cutbacks. Unifor has warned that the existing service levels, with the COVID-19-related capacity regulations, are already proving a challenge for social distancing precautions.

“Maintaining safe interpersonal distance on busses today is a challenge, and it will only get more difficult—or impossible—with fewer busses on the road,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor Western Regional Director. “The federal government and provincial government need get off the sidelines and keep our transit system healthy during the pandemic. Not next month. Not next week. Today.”

Unifor is calling on all levels of government to come together to maintain transit service levels to keep passengers safe and to keep the struggling Metro Vancouver economy moving during an already challenging time.

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

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

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

Campaign Launched to Protect Frontline Healthcare Workers

A coalition of unions representing more than 40,000 health care workers is launching a new campaign today, asking Nova Scotians to call on government to sign an important protocol to provide proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to our province’s frontline healthcare workers.

Provincial governments and employers in British Columbia, New Brunswick, Ontario and Alberta have signed similar protocol agreements. The five unions involved in the campaign – NSNU, NSGEU, CUPE, Unifor and IUOE Local 727 – have been calling on Premier Stephen McNeil to sign onto a similar protocol since the COVID-19 pandemic reached Nova Scotia.

Frontline workers are most at risk of contracting the virus, because they work closely with infected clients, residents and patients. This means that not only are they at-risk without access to proper PPE, but they also risk spreading the virus to their loved ones at home and within the greater community. Furthermore, if these workers get sick, there will be fewer skilled workers available to care for the sick and vulnerable in the pre-hospital setting, hospitals, long-term care facilities, and even to deliver home care services.

These frontline workers have been desperately calling for proper PPE – including N95 masks, where appropriate – since day one of this crisis.

As a show of good faith and respect for frontline workers, unions representing these health care workers are calling on government to sign onto the protocol, as requested two weeks ago.

It’s time for the Nova Scotia government to follow the lead of Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia and New Brunswick by agreeing to ensure adequate health and safety controls for frontline workers, and allowing health care professionals to use a risk assessment to determine the controls necessary in the line of duty.

The unions and workers are not government’s adversaries in this fight. We have a common enemy: COVID-19. We all want to protect our vulnerable seniors and brave frontline workers. Our members are telling us what is happening on the frontline, and they are deeply concerned and need our support and protection.

Protect these workers, so they can protect us. Visit protectnsfrontline.ca

To arrange an interview with one of the union Presidents, please contact their respective Communications staff member to set up a video or phone call:

Unifor: Shelley Amyotte shelley.amyotte@unifor.org or 902-717-7491

NSGEU: Holly Fraughton hfraughton@nsgeu.ca or 902-471-1781

NSNU: Coleen Logan coleen.logan@nsnu.ca or 902-430-6169

IUOE Local 727: Brie MacIsaac profficer@iuoe727.ca or 902-399-8300

CUPE: Gaëlle McNeil gmcneil@cupe.ca or 902-471-8923

Unifor says transit lay-offs unnecessary and reckless

VANCOUVER—Translink’s threats to cut to transit operator staffing levels, and therefore transit service, is an irresponsible move that would do more harm than good during the COVID-19 pandemic, says Unifor.

“Tens of thousands of essential services workers rely on transit to get to work,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Cutting transit service would make life even more difficult for working COVID-19 heroes, and ultimately the people they have been dutifully serving.”

The lay-off threats from Translink has Unifor concerned about more crowding, making social distancing on transit more difficult and hinder the commutes of essential services workers

B.C. Transit has not announced any plans to reduce service levels.

Unifor is calling on all levels of government to come together to maintain transit service levels to keep passengers safe and to keep the struggling Metro Vancouver economy moving during an already challenging time.

“Our elected leaders must sort it out and get it done. All jurisdictions have a role to play to maintain regional transit levels,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor Western Regional Director. “Translink shouldn’t treat the public like guinea pigs in a budget experiment.”

McGarrigle also noted that in many lower wage essential service workplaces such as retail and cleaning, women and workers of colour are over-represented.

The union also says that pass-ups resulting from COVID-19 precautions that reduce bus capacity are already leading to social distancing violations and abuse of transit operators. 

“When you’ve been passed up two or three times, you’re going to fight your way on to the next bus, no matter the recommended distancing requirements,” said Balbir Mann, Unifor Local 111 president, representing transit operators. “Many passengers are taking out their frustration on transit operators.”

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

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

For media inquiries please contact Unifor Communications Representative Ian Boyko at ian.boyko@unifor.org or 778-903-6549 (cell). 

Ford government encouraging the spread of COVID-19 in long-term care homes

April 16, 2020

TORONTO— A revised directive from the Ford government has employers forcing long-term care workers who have tested positive for COVID-19 but who aren’t yet showing symptoms to return to work, putting healthy workers and residents at great risk.

"The directive states that staff who have tested positive and have symptom resolution and are deemed critical may return to work ‘under isolation’”, said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Sending what we know are potentially infectious people back into the most high-risk and vulnerable institutions demonstrates a lack of care that really borders on heartless. Someone must explain to me how a front-line caregiver can work under isolation.”

After years of sounding the alarm about the severe deficiencies, shortages and issues in long-term care homes, and multiple awareness campaigns and meetings with the provincial government, it cannot be said that Premier Ford didn’t know long-term care homes would not be able to handle a pandemic.

“We’ve been pounding on Doug Ford’s door for years saying the same thing – fix long-term care! – and now a real challenge has brought all these problems into the public eye in a very sad and devastating way,” said Katha Fortier, Assistant to the National President and nurse. “Again, these COVID heroes are left to fend for themselves and again, I’m pleading with the Ford government to do what’s best for these workers and their residents.”

Unifor will continue to provide updates as information becomes available at unifor.org/COVID19.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy, including more than 30,000 health care workers in hospitals, long-term care, emergency services, and community and social services. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

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

Sonoco paper mill closure an unnecessary loss to Quinte West community, economy

April 15, 2020

TORONTO – Unifor members at Sonoco paper mill in Quinte West, Ontario, have been told their mill will close in June of this year due to ‘market conditions’ despite the parent company making a massive $83 million investment in its South Carolina operation.

“The market for the kind of cardboard products made at this mill have never been in higher demand, so I refuse to believe this move is anything but an attempt to line shareholders’ pockets,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “The timing could also not be worse as so many families are already struggling with job loss due to COVID-19. This is horrible news for this community and for the forestry sector in Ontario.”

Unifor represents 81 workers at the Sonoco paper mill. The community of Quinte West has a long history as a forestry town with operations in the sector dating back to 1880.

“This is a hard time to process this news,” said Scott Doherty, Executive Assistant to the National President. “When so many jobs are lost due to very real economic restrictions, to have an essential employer close up shop is just incredibly disappointing.”

Unifor has asked Premier Doug Ford to establish a provincial strategy for the forestry sector to support rural communities and take advantage of the province’s mills and plentiful natural resources.

“Without a strategy to retain key employers and support forestry communities, we could unfortunately see more jobs lost as corporations see Ontario as a less appealing place to operate,” said Dias.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy, including 23,000 in the forestry sector. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

For media inquiries, please contact Unifor Atlantic Communications representative Shelley Amyotte: shelley.amyotte@unifor.org or 902-717-7491 (cell)

Expanded CERB access a positive step but more needed for essential workers

April 15, 2020

TORONTO– Unifor calls expanded access to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) a positive step but says that additional support measures are needed for essential workers.

“This increased access will provide benefit to tens of thousands of Unifor members, currently excluded from the CERB,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias.

Today the government announced an extension of the CERB program to include seasonal workers, those with expiring Employment Insurance claims as well as individuals still receiving modest employment income.

The government also announced a wage top up for essential workers, which will likely include health care workers and supermarket workers that make less than $2,500 a month. Unifor maintains that the government’s move to provide additional wage enhancements for workers is a good start, but falls far short on having any real impact on front-line COVID workers.

“These workers continue to go to work each day despite the risk to themselves and to their families,” said Dias. “The sad reality is that while these workers are now recognized as essential, many barely earn a living wage and this will offer them no wage enhancement whatsoever.”

Unifor has been calling on individual employers to provide wage enhancements for essential workers in multiple sectors including health and retail. Last month the union achieved agreements with Rexall, Loblaw, Metro and Sobeys to provide a $2 dollar wage premium and enhanced health and safety measures to its retail members. Only about fifteen individual agreements have been reached in other critical sectors, including at specific long-term care homes.  

“On behalf of these workers I have stressed the need for fair compensation in conversations with the Prime Minister’s Office,” Dias said. “We need to broaden this much-needed wage premium to make it easier for all front-line workers to continue to deliver the crucial services that we rely on.”

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

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

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

 

Chartwell Retirement Home’s ‘profits over people’ mindset is dangerous during pandemic

TORONTO —Unifor is calling on Chartwell Retirement Homes to immediately rescind the creation of a new job classification in their Long Term Care Homes that requires a minimum public school education to work in their facilities.

“This move is a new low even for Chartwell who has consistently devalued and taken advantage of workers,” Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “In a time where we need to be respecting health care workers and treating them like the essential service they are, Chartwell’s approach is to ignore the intent and spirit of the directive from the Ontario government and instead use it as a free-for-all to further increase profits at a substantially reduced pay for its workers.”

The Ontario government introduced the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act giving hospitals, long-term care and retirement homes the ability to identify staffing priorities, and develop, modify and implement redeployment plans to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Once the order was implemented, the union was advised by Chartwell that the employer is creating a new classification of workers with minimum qualifications or credentials required for applicants who will be providing health care.

“Chartwell is taking advantage of the act and treating it as if the collective agreement is non-existent,” said Nancy McMurphy President of Unifor Local 302. “I understand and support the need to ensure adequate staffing levels during this pandemic, but hiring new employees who lack the essential skills needed to prevent the spread of infection is utterly irresponsible.” McMurphy said the focus must be on the health and well being of the residents and the union is recommending increasing the hours of all current casual and part-time employees. 

Unifor is not aware of any recent staffing issues at Chartwell and will be raising the concerns related to unqualified hires with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

Health care workers triumph in fight for equal access to personal protective equipment

TORONTO —Unifor, working with a coalition of Ontario health care unions has succeeded in forcing the Ontario government to ensure health care workers within two meters of a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patient will have access to the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

“We are only going to flatten the curve and beat the COVID-19 pandemic if health care workers are provided adequate safety tools needed to safely do their jobs,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “We are relieved the Ford government listened to health care workers but this type of injustice should have never occurred in the first place. I am urging Premiers across the country to immediately implement similar measures.”

Today, the Ontario government revised “Directive #5 for Hospitals within the meaning of the Public Hospitals Act” to include all health care workers working at a hospital or long-term care facility to be able to perform a point of care assessment and, where there is a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19, determine the appropriate PPE to utilize.

“Today’s victory brings a huge sigh of relief to health care workers in Ontario,” said Katha Fortier, Assistant to the National President responsible for health care. “Knowing they will be provided appropriate health and safety control measures such as N95 respirators and appropriate isolation gowns means health care workers can focus on providing the best quality of care to Ontarians.”

The revised directive will require hospitals and long-term care homes to continually asses their PPE inventory, provide training on correct usage and develop contingency plans in consultation with unions to ensure the safety of health care workers.

The revised directive also stipulates that retirement homes must take all reasonable steps to follow the required precautions outlined in the order.

“We will be closely monitoring retirement home employers to ensure similar protocols are taken to ensure the safety of workers and their elderly residents,” said Dias.

Jazz Aviation workers latest to benefit from COVID-19 wage supplement

TORONTO—Unifor welcomes the federal government’s tentative approval of Canada Emergency Wage Supplement (CEWS) funds for Jazz Aviation to maintain its workforce levels during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Airline workers will be the backbone of the industry’s economic recovery in a post-pandemic world,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “It makes perfect sense to help cushion the impact of the temporary downturn with federal emergency funding.”

On April 8, 2020 Air Canada announced it would use CEWS funding to top up the wages of more than 3,000 workers on lay-off due to COVID-19.

Jazz, a regional Air Canada partner airline, recently announced it was putting nearly 1,300 Unifor members in airports division, aircraft maintenance divisions, and crew schedulers on Off Duty Status.  Today, Jazz says it plans to access the CEWS to recall all employees on voluntary or involuntary layoff. Today’s announcement by the company is still subject to passing of the government emergency legislation. The company will allow employees to stay at home while receiving 75 per cent of their wages to a maximum of $847 weekly.

“Airline workers are one of the thousands of Canadian front-line workers in the global effort to contain the virus,” said Euila Leonard, President of Unifor Local 2002. “Although there are still details to be ironed out with the program, signing off on the deal was the right thing to do for our members. Jazz’s commitment to work with Unifor is a recognition of the role our members play in making the company a successful regional carrier.”

On March 28, 2020, Unifor joined with other Canadian airline unions in sharing concerns and providing solutions to help the industry return to economic health and prosperity. Unifor has called on the government that any financial aid package delivered to any industry, including air travel must be accompanied by strong, enforceable conditions that ensure financial aid is tied to maintaining income for current employees and creating employment. 

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

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

For media inquiries or to arrange a Skype or FaceTime interview with Jerry Dias please contact Unifor’s Director of Communications, Natalie Clancy at Natalie.Clancy@unifor.org or 416-707-5794 (cell).

Air Canada workers to receive income top-up, following union and employer negotiation

April 8, 2020

TORONTO— Unifor welcomes Air Canada’s announcement that it intends to use a new federal wage supplement plan to top up the pay of more than 3,000 Unifor members who were placed on Off Duty Status due to COVID-19.

“Canada’s airline industry has been resilient in the face of past economic downturns and health crises in the past. The same is not always true for airline workers who often bear hardship, loss of income, and deteriorating working conditions during the recovery process,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “This time must be different. We have to show airline workers that they are valued. Air Canada is taking a big step toward recognizing the contributions of hardworking employees with today’s announcement.”

On March 31, Air Canada announced that it was putting 15,600 of its unionized workers on Off Duty Status effective on or about April 3, 2020, with no stated end date. Today’s announcement by the company that subject to final review of the legislation it plans to access the proposed Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy program will benefit all employees on voluntary or involuntary layoff. The company will allow employees to stay at home while receiving 75 per cent of their wages to a maximum of $847 weekly.

“Unifor members in the airline sector face substantial, and lasting consequences as the efforts to contain the virus intensify around the world,” said Euila Leonard, President of Unifor Local 2002. “Today’s announcement gives a sigh of relief to workers, and shows that their employer respects the role they have played to make Air Canada one of the best airlines globally.”

On March 28, 2020, Unifor joined with other Canadian airline unions in sharing concerns and providing solutions to help the industry return to economic health and prosperity. Unifor has called on the government that any financial aid package delivered to any industry, including air travel must be accompanied by strong, enforceable conditions that ensure financial aid is tied to maintaining income for current employees and creating employment. 

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

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

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

Fish Processors Put Profits Over People in Push to Open Fishery

April 3, 2020

Fish harvesters and plant workers are raising the alarm on an aggressive push by fish processing companies to rush the opening of inshore fisheries in the province, despite serious concerns from workers that measures are not in place to ensure fishing vessels and processing plants can operate safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Association of Seafood Producers (ASP) cancelled a meeting with fish harvesters at the last minute yesterday and subsequently issued a media release calling for an opening to the crab fishery on April 20, despite the serious risks to health and opposition from harvesters and plant workers.

“ASP does not dictate when or if the fishery will open on April 20. It’s abundantly clear that these processing companies are putting profits ahead of people and are no longer interested in collaborating with fish harvesters and plant workers on best practices and protocols that must be in place before the fishery begins,” says Keith Sullivan, FFAW-Unifor President.

FFAW-Unifor and processing company representatives had been working together to develop best practices and common health and safety protocols for fishing vessels and processing plants in response to the COVID-19 crisis. This work abruptly ended yesterday when ASP walked away from the table and called for the fishery to open as soon as possible.

FFAW-Unifor elected snow crab committee members made the decision on March 24 to recommend a delay to the fishery until at least April 20, possibly longer, as they continue to re-evaluate the COVID-19 situation. FFAW-Unifor will recommend a further delay or closure if members are not safe at work.

Newfoundland and Labrador has the oldest population in Canada and the average age of fishery workers is older than the average age of the province. Most harvesters and plant workers are over 50 and a good number are in their 60s and 70s. As public health officials have made abundantly clear, COVID-19 is particularly harmful to older people, which is why harvesters and plant workers are demanding that companies prioritize and respect their health and the health of their families. 

Plant workers, for snow crab in particular, suffer from high rates of respiratory illness that puts them at a greater risk and in an extremely vulnerable position if exposed to COVID-19.

Health Minister John Haggie and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald have said that Newfoundland and Labrador is only at the start of this pandemic, and already the province has one of the highest per capita rates of infection in the country.

“The vast majority of harvesters are prioritizing safety over the profits of processing companies. The worst of this pandemic is yet to come. We will not recommend an opening to the fishery if our members are at risk,” concludes Sullivan.

For media inquiries, please contact: 

Courtney Glode

FFAW-Unifor Communications

cglode@ffaw.ca

709-743-4445

Story originally posted on the FFAW-Unifor website​.

Unifor calls on long-term care employers to recognize front-line workers during this pandemic

April 6, 2020

WINDSOR— Unifor calls on all long-term care employers to follow the lead of many essential industries, by providing a premium pay to workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Health care workers continue to take incredible risks for themselves and their families to help protect and care for their residents,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “LTC employers have shown a great reluctance to recognize the contribution of our members, so I applaud employers such as Heron Terrace in Windsor, Ontario that have initiated thank you bonuses for all hours worked during the pandemic. It is moments like these where you see which employers truly recognize the sacrifices made by these amazing COVID-19 heroes.”

At Heron Terrace Long-Term Care facility, there have been two confirmed cases of COVID-19. The employer has offered all health care workers a $3.00 per hour premium on regular hours, reimbursement for cab fares, and lodging should they need it.

“With chronic staffing shortages plaguing the industry for years, employers must do everything in their power to bring back personal support workers who have left the industry to support current care teams,” said Tullio DiPonti, President of Unifor Local 2458. “This is an issue of respect for health care workers, residents and their families. It starts by providing personal protective equipment, adequate childcare supports, providing a premium pay for front-line staff and doing everything in their power to ensure there is enough staff to provide safe care during this crisis.”

For years prior to the pandemic, Unifor has been calling on the Ontario government to address the urgent, crisis-level issues facing Personal Support Workers (PSWs). The union has long advocated for a regulatory minimum of four hours per patient of a standard of care in long-term care homes.

“The on-going crisis in long-term care existed well before the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has exposed the fact that a decade of below inflation wage increases and increased workload have exacerbated the shortage of PSW’s," said Dias.

The union calls on all long-term care homes in Ontario to provide personal protective equipment and adequate staff and fair compensation for long-term care workers during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unifor will continue to provide updates as information becomes available at unifor.org/COVID19.

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

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

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

Ford of Canada producing face shields for frontline health care workers and first responders

*The following is a joint media release with Ford Motor Company of Canada, Ltd. and Unifor*

OAKVILLE–Ford Motor Company of Canada, Ltd. has begun production of face shields at its Windsor Site operations to help protect Canadian medical personnel and first responders on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ford of Canada is working closely with the Ontario and federal governments to distribute face shields throughout the province, and across Canada. Shipments are scheduled to start this week.

“Ford of Canada has a long history of supporting Canada and its communities in times of need,” said Dean Stoneley, president and CEO, Ford Motor Company of Canada, Ltd. “By repurposing our production facilities in Windsor to meet the urgent demand for face shields, we can help protect the lives of our heroic healthcare professionals and first responders as they continue to treat the most vulnerable among us.”

Following the advice of government and health officials, Unifor and Ford of Canada remain in continuous communication at the national and plant level to ensure all safety actions and precautions are taken to help keep workers and their families protected.

“I am incredibly grateful to our members at Ford in Windsor for doing a tremendous service for their community and their country during this national emergency,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “I commend Ford for working with Unifor to ensure that strict health and safety protocols are in place that will ensure our members can manufacture badly needed medical supplies and return home safely to their homes and families.”

Ford of Canada is committed to the health and safety of its workforce, customers, dealers, suppliers and communities. With dedicated teams closely monitoring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ford of Canada continues to explore creative solutions, bringing them forward in ongoing discussions with the Canadian government.

Ford of Canada will provide additional updates as these special projects progress.

Additional contribution of essential equipment made by Ford of Canada and its employees include the donation of 2,900 pairs of Nitrile gloves to the Brampton Civic Hospital by Ford of Canada’s Bramalea Parts Distribution Centre in Brampton, Ontario, and the donation of 80 N95 masks to the Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital by Ford of Canada’s national headquarters.

Equal access to personal protective equipment needed for all workers at London hospital

April 3, 2020

LONDON — Unifor is calling on London Health Science Centre (LHSC) to immediately provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to all health care workers, regardless of their occupation.

“We are not going to flatten the curve by picking and choosing which health care workers receive personal protective equipment,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “We know COVID-19 is now spread through community transmission and it’s mind boggling to see LHSC pick and choose who they will protect on the job when they have a responsibility to provide PPE to every worker, regardless of what task they perform in the hospital or their occupation.”

Over the past week Unifor has held daily conference calls with LHSC management and has reiterated the union’s position that regardless of your job title in hospital, workers on their way into the facility through the screening process should receive an mask.

“The argument that some workers have no chance of being exposed to COVID-19 is simply false,” said Brian Chapman, President of Unifor Local 27. “In a time of crisis LHSC needs to stop these dangerous games and put workers first.”

Recognizing the global shortage and increasing demand for PPE, Unifor’s positon is that the priority of governments and hospital administration should be in securing PPE from other industries in less urgent need and not on hoarding PPE, or otherwise refusing access to PPE for workers at risk, on the frontlines.

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

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

For further information: contact Hamid Osman, Unifor National Communications Representative at 647-448-2823 (cell) or hamid.osman@unifor.org

Gaps in emergency income measures must be closed before applications open on Monday

April 3, 2020

TORONTO – Unifor is urging federal ministers to close the gaps in new emergency income programs, so that no worker is left behind.

“Canada’s workers need access to emergency benefits. The programs put forward show a commitment to support unemployed workers, but still leaves too many questions unanswered,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “When this system opens for applications on April 6, it must be fully universal  and leave no worker worse off, as they grapple with the long-term financial challenge of this viral pandemic.”

In a letter sent on Friday , April 3 to Minister Carla Qualtrough, the union requested assurances that workers can receive Supplementary Unemployment Benefits under Employment Insurance rules and that seasonal workers qualify for emergency benefits, among other asks.

“Millions of workers have applied for financial support from the federal government in the past two weeks. This is because they need those funds to provide the necessities to survive,” said Renaud Gagné, Unifor Quebec Director.

Unifor seeks assurances that new CERB and EI rules must expand eligibility for students, newcomers and people facing injury or disability, workers caring for those who are immunocompromised, and ensure a seamless transition to regular EI benefits, once the emergency benefits expire, with no waiting period or other claw back.

Unifor has produced this Fact Sheet on the CERB and has posted revised information about the union’s response to the pandemic, as well as resources for members at unifor.org/COVID19.

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

For media inquiries or to arrange a Skye or FaceTime interview with Jerry Dias, please contact Unifor’s Director of Communications, Natalie Clancy at  Natalie.Clancy@unifor.org or 416-707-5794 (cell).

NS Health Care Workers Need Assurances on Safety Equipment

Five unions representing health care workers providing care during the COVID-19 pandemic are calling on government and employers to sign onto a safety protocol that would ensure these frontline workers feel protected and supported during this unprecedented time. 

The NSGEU, NSNU, CUPE, Unifor and IUOE jointly agreed to this protocol, which is similar to protocols that have recently been adopted by the provincial government and employers in Alberta and Ontario. On Monday, the protocol was sent to Premier Stephen McNeil, Health & Wellness Minister Randy Delorey, Chief Medical Officer Robert Strang, as well as Dr. Brendan Carr at the NSHA and Dr. Krista Jangaard at the IWK.

So far, government and employer representatives have not agreed to sign the document.

Our frontline health care workers deserve the same level of respect, peace of mind and protection that is being provided to health care workers in other parts of this country.

We understand that Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is in short supply worldwide, but this protocol strikes a balance between protecting both our supply and our frontline workers; by protecting them it would ensure they remain healthy and able to treat the sick.

We are doing our best to work cooperatively with government at this time of crisis, reaffirming our commitment to the Good Neighbour Protocol in 2009 and working with our members to help provide care during this difficult time. We need government to meet us half way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Canada’s workers cannot afford more government delays for wage replacement

April 1, 2020

TORONTO – Unifor warns the Government of Canada against further delays to already overdue financial support for workers and employers.

“Many workers are entering their third week of self isolation, compounded by the most sudden, widespread job loss our country has ever experienced. Now, just days after the federal government presented something close to an inclusive plan, it seems like more roadblocks have been set up,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Now is not the time for partisan shots and delays, it’s time to streamline delivery of the responsible solutions that Canada’s workers need.”

Today Finance Minister Bill Minister Morneau announced that the portal for employers to access wage replacement funds will not be available for an additional 3-6 weeks. Earlier today, conservative politicians were critical of this necessary program and Prime Minister Trudeau announced that Parliament will be recalled again to vote on the economic stimulus package. 

Unifor has advocated for swift, comprehensive measures to protect workers’ jobs, financial interests, and health as early as March 5, 2020. However, many of the new measures have yet to be adopted, and the new benefits that have been announced are still not available for workers to apply for or receive.

“Workers are still waiting for the financial support announced weeks ago, with millions already out of work or laid off,” said Renaud Gagné, Unifor Quebec Director. “Canada’s workers are doing their part to stop the spread of this viral pandemic, it’s time for Ottawa to provide the clarity and leadership to bring us through this crisis together, with a comprehensive plan, not more patchwork announcements and irresponsible delays.”

Ahead of yet another emergency parliamentary session, Unifor urges policymakers to follow through with responsible regulations for employers that receive the expanded wage subsidy public benefit.

This includes the continuation of benefit programs and pension contributions and limits on executive compensation and shareholder payments.

Unifor has produced this Fact Sheet on the CERB and has posted revised information about the union’s response to the pandemic, as well as resources for members at unifor.org/COVID19.

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

For media inquiries or to arrange a Skype or FaceTime interview with Jerry Dias,  please contact Unifor’s Director of Communications, Natalie Clancy at Natalie.Clancy@unifor.org or 416-707-5794 (cell).

Unifor commends Trudeau government for moving on more significant wage replacement plan

March 31, 2020

TORONTO – Following weeks of piecemeal announcements, Unifor commends the federal government for expanding eligibility of a 75 per cent wage subsidy to include large and small employers in Canada.

“We have said from day one that no worker should be forced to bear the economic cost of flattening the curve alone. We are completely united as a country in the efforts to slow this virus, and that must include taking care of workers who have lost their income or facing layoff,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President.

Employer groups and unions were united in a call for this wage subsidy for Canada’s workers. Now, as employers await further details and guidance from the federal government, Unifor urges policymakers to follow through with responsible regulations for employers that receive this public benefit. This includes the continuation of benefit programs and pension contributions, limits on executive compensation and shareholder payments, and a commitment to remaining neutral during union certification drives.

“I hope that this is enough for large and small employers to do the right thing, work with the government to keep more of Canada’s workers on payroll, and ensure these public funds are used for the right reasons,” continued Dias. “We must work together to mitigate layoffs wherever possible, easing the burden on E.I. and continuing to deliver essential services.”

Unifor has produced this Fact Sheet on the CERB and has posted revised information about the union’s response to the pandemic, as well as resources for members at unifor.org/COVID19.

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

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

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