Fish Harvesters Call for Action on Illegal Lockout by Processors

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

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

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

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

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

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

Countdown to Unifor’s 2019 Convention

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

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

Social Justice Fund supports Doctors Without Borders in priority areas

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

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

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

Photo ©Al Hareth Al Magaleh/ MSF

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

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

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

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

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

Photo ©Esteban Montaño/MSF

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Vancouver’s container truckers open negotiations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Jerry Dias stresses international solidarity in battle for workers’ rights

Unifor National President Jerry Dias stressed a message of international solidarity in the battle for workers’ rights as he addressed the Constitutional Convention of the Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA).

Founded in 1940, the UWUA represents 50,000 members across the American energy sector, including the electric, gas, steam and nuclear industries. UWUA members gathered July 24-27 in Las Vegas, Nevada to set the direction of the union for the next four years while acknowledging the past with a theme of “Protecting our Legacy”.

“Protecting our legacy means building a modern labour movement, moving forward and evolving while never forgetting the struggles of the past,” said Dias. “In many ways unions on both sides of the border are being forced to re-fight for the same rights won nearly one hundred years ago.”

Dias spoke of the common struggle in a gig-economy to secure decent jobs, living wages, benefits and retirement security, and the fight to oppose anti-worker trade deals and legislation.

So-called ‘Right to Work’ (for less) laws in many U.S. states make it difficult for unions to organize while undercutting their financial stability, resulting in worker exploitation and lower wages. Just a few months ago, 200 Unifor members working at Tandus Carpets saw their 46-year old plant close and ship work to Georgia, a RTW state.

In light of the migration of jobs to Right to Work states from other across the U.S. and Canada, Unifor actively opposed ‘Right to Work’ laws as a trade-distorting practice during the renegotiation of NAFTA.

“This is your struggle but this is our struggle too. Canadian workers can’t wall themselves off from the bad practices of global employers,” Dias said. “When our American sisters and brothers are hurt, Canadian workers are hurt too. We stand together.”

Dias pointed out that workers are currently facing a Right to Work threat in Alberta, the heartland of Canada’s oil and gas industry and the heartland of Canada’s conservative movement.

Today, Canada’s energy workers are struggling and the Jason Kenney government is looking for scapegoats. The United Conservative Party unfairly blame the one-term New Democratic Party government, environmentalists and unions.

“The Kenney government is looking to bust the door down, introducing “agency fees” – to stop unions from doing the political work that needs to be done,” Dias said. “This is our battleground and this fight is underway. We look to unions like the UWUA for support and solidarity.”

Unifor continues to support Indigenous community in Winnipeg

For the second year in a row, Unifor is proud to sponsor the No Stone Unturned concert in Winnipeg.

Claudette Osborne-Tyo was 21-years old when she disappeared from Winnipeg’s north end. Claudette’s family has been organizing the No Stone Unturned free concert for eleven years in honor of all of Manitoba’s Missing and Murdered. It features local musicians, free food, a candlelight vigil, and fireworks.

Unifor volunteers showed up to pitch for set up, distributing t-shirts, serving elders, and clean up.

“No Stone Unturned is an event that builds community bonds and celebrates the lives of those who were taken too soon,” said Joie Warnock, Unifor Western Regional Director. “It is very important to Unifor’s reconciliation efforts that we be as involved as possible at the grassroots level to support Indigenous communities and families.”

See the gallery here: https://www.facebook.com/pg/UniforCanada/photos/?tab=album&album_id=3055006424570833

Unifor lance des publicités préélectorales au Manitoba

Unifor a ajouté à sa campagne des panneaux publicitaires, des publicités dans les abribus, des publicités à la radio et des annonces dans les journaux pour défaire le premier ministre conservateur Brian Pallister. Les publicités mettent en lumière les antécédents de Brian Pallister en matière de soins de santé et de mauvaise gestion de Manitoba Hydro et invitent les membres du public à visiter le site Web de la campagne à l’adresse https://mb.uniforvotes.ca/.

Bien que les élections à date fixe établies par la loi manitobaine n’auront pas lieu avant l’automne 2020, Brian Pallister a laissé entendre qu’une élection pourrait être déclenchée dès le 6 août, la date du scrutin étant fixée au début de septembre 2019.

« Brian Pallister espère que les Manitobains seront trop occupés par leurs vacances estivales et la préparation de la rentrée scolaire pour s’intéresser de près à son passé trouble en tant que premier ministre », a déclaré Jerry Dias, président national d’Unifor.

Les nouvelles publicités s’intègrent à la campagne de membre à membre que mènent les militantes et militants d’Unifor dans l’ensemble de la province et qui prend de plus en plus d’ampleur. Comme toujours, Unifor considère l’élection comme une occasion de favoriser directement la mobilisation et l’engagement des membres.

« Brian Pallister a saboté Manitoba Hydro et fermé des salles d’urgence, a indiqué Joie Warnock, directrice de la région de l’Ouest d’Unifor. Il représente une catastrophe pour le Manitoba. Nous sommes impatients de participer aux efforts déployés dans toute la province pour élire un premier ministre qui appuie les travailleuses et travailleurs. »

Unifor launches pre-election ads in Manitoba

Unifor has added billboards, bus shelter ads, radio ads, and newspaper ads to its campaign to defeat conservative premier Brian Pallister. The ads raise the profile of Pallister’s record on health care and mis-managing Manitoba Hydro and direct members of the public to visit the campaign website at mb.uniforvotes.ca.

Although the fixed election dates set by Manitoba legislation are not until fall 2020, Pallister has hinted often this summer that an election could be called as early as August 6, with the election date falling in early September 2019.

“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 new ads compliment a growing grassroots member-to-member campaign that is being conducted by Unifor activists across the province. As always, Unifor is treating the election as an opportunity for face-to-face member engagement and mobilization.

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

Listen to the radio ad here

Unifor launches ad campaign to raise awareness about the future of the energy sector

With big changes in the energy sector underway, what does the future hold for Canadians whose livelihoods depend on it?

“About 12,000 Unifor members work in the energy sector,” said Scott Doherty, Unifor Assistant to the National President. “Unifor wants to ensure that as the economy shifts, current and future generations will continue to have good paying jobs.”

Natural resources are vital to Canada’s economy and fossil fuels will remain a critical component of the world’s energy needs for decades to come. However, the country’s energy policy has focussed on shipping unprocessed oil and gas to foreign markets for refining, then importing those same refined products for domestic use.

“We need to invest more in infrastructure, processing and refining,” said Kim Conway, Energy Council Chair. “That will reduce our dependence on importing refined products and create more Canadian jobs.”

Watch our video about the future of the energy sector and what it means to you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qcCzlpXUig&feature=player_embedded

Unifor is calling on all levels of government to help create a new national energy strategy that reflects our vision. Read more:


The founder of #metoo shares her story at #Unifor19 Convention

When sexual abuse allegations first surfaced against powerful Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein in 2016, few people had heard of #metoo. A trickle of actresses who accused Weinstein of sexual abuse quickly turned into a flood of women who posted their own stories on Twitter. Within the blink of an eye, #metoo became a worldwide movement of women speaking out against sexual harassment and sexual abuse.

At Unifor’s constitutional convention in August, “Me Too” founder Tarana Burke will be a featured speaker. Burke is a civil rights activist from New York, who began using the phrase to raise awareness of the pervasiveness of sexual abuse in society in 2006.

Burke says there has been a lot of emphasis on perpetrators of sexual violence, but very little discussion about the lives of survivors and the process of healing. Burke intends to help lead the focus on that discussion in the years ahead.

Burke was named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year for 2017. She speaks at events across North America and is Senior Director for the organization Girls for Gender Equity in Brooklyn.

Her speech at Unifor’s Quebec City Convention will be on August 20 at 2pm. Members not attending the convention can watch her live on Unifor’s Facebook page.

Unifor Media Action Plan takes journalism campaign to airwaves

Journalism matters. That is the message Unifor’s Media Action Plan is taking to prime time in a new television commercial debuting this week.

“Who else is going to fight to save local news and protect jobs in media if not us, Canada’s largest media union?” said Jake Moore, Chair of Unifor’s Media Council.

The campaign video will air across Canada on several national newscasts over the summer.

“Canadians need reliable local and national news to be informed about events that affect their lives, the experiences of their neighbours, and the impact of social and political policies,” said Tanya Luciani, chair of the Media Action Plan committee.

The steep decline of media advertising has resulted in thousands of layoffs in print, broadcast news, sports and entertainment. Google and Facebook have sucked a whopping $7 billion of advertising money out of the Canada media business yearly while contributing nothing to local news.

All while more than 250 newsrooms have shut their doors across Canada over the last ten years.

These losses include small and mid sized papers in places like Guelph, Moose Jaw, Nanaimo and in Quebec’s eastern townships.

The current government provided a $595 million newspaper rescue package in its last budget.

Unifor has lobbied the federal government over the last four years as part of the #savelocalnews campaign, with demands to level the playing field and apply federal regulations to the American tech giants.

For more information go to MediaActionPlan.ca. Will you stand with media workers, and tell Members of Parliament that local Canadian news matters and must be saved?