Unifor

Unifor rally and BBQ supports Tandus Carpet workers facing plant closure

TRURO, Nova Scotia – Unifor leadership and members hosted a rally and BBQ at Tandus Carpets in Truro on June 7 to support the more than 200 members who will lose their jobs next month when the carpet manufacturer moves their jobs to Georgia.

In April, Tarkett (a global flooring company with over $3.1 billion US in revenues) announced it would close its Truro business, Tandus. Unifor represents the workers at Tandus, one of Truro’s largest private-sector employers.

The news came as a shock to the workers many of whom had given decades of loyalty and service to the company. Seventy of the workers have more than 30 years’ seniority and 48 of them more than 40 years. In addition, there had been new hires over the past few years, including within months of the announced closure.

Since the announcement, Unifor has made repeated requests to meet with the company in an effort to negotiate a fair closure agreement.

“We would expect the company would offer a generous severance package for the employees given all their years of loyalty and dedicated service and work,” said Lana Payne, Atlantic Regional Director. “Not only have they refused to offer any form of compensation to our members they have been unwilling to meet with the union to discuss severance and other issues related to the announced closure.”

The reorganization of the parent company Tarkett will see the work currently being done by the workers of Truro moving to Georgia in the United States. Georgia is a “right-to-work” state known for its low wages and lack of union protections.

“This is a cold-hearted business decision that has nothing to do with markets, but rather with shifting work to a place where the labour is cheap,” said Payne.

Adding to the problem is a sub-standard Industry Closing Act in Nova Scotia that provides few obligations from employers and businesses who decide to abandon workers and communities.

For example, the penalties associated with violating the act are a completely ineffective $100 a day.

“We are demanding the employer sit down and negotiate a fair closure agreement with our union and we expect politicians to stand up for the workers of the province,” said Payne.

Unifor has proposed a closure agreement to the company and has yet to receive a response.

Big community party to support workers in the fishing industry

More than 200 people accepted Unifor's invitation last Sunday to participate in a party in Grande-Rivière, Gaspésie. The festive event was an opportunity "to explain what we are doing in the region," said Renaud Gagné, Unifor’s Quebec director.

For more than two weeks now, teams of members from all regions of Quebec have demonstrated in the port of Grande-Rivière and a picket line has been set up near the crustaceans plant Crustacés de Gaspé. This plant was not reopened for the 2019 season as we were in the process of negotiating the first collective agreement.

Unifor deplores the conditions of work in this industry, including extreme hours of work, unpaid overtime, pay close to the legal minimum, and so on. "The natural richness of fish and shellfish should be more equitable for the entire region and not just for quota and permit holders. There are a handful  of millionaires, and they are not giving workers their fair share. It doesn’t make sense,” said Gagné.

Unifor is also calling for better working conditions for fishermen's assistants who work on boats. "We want to get recognition of their status as boat captains. This is a federal responsibility and the provinces of Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador have been demanding this. During this election period, it is clear that we will present this claim," added Gagné.

Because of the organization of work, unionization as a fisherman's aid is difficult, so a community section has been set up to represent them. "It's about having their profession recognized to ensure job stability, better pay and safer working conditions."

Arbitration decision reached in 3-year labour dispute at Delastek

On June 10, an arbitration decision was rendered in the case between Unifor Local 1209 and Delastek. This decision marks a turning point in this labor dispute which began in April 2015. "It's a very good decision,” said Quebec Director Renaud Gagné. “The main point of our dispute is settled by the proposal we made and we could not have hoped for a better outcome. The most important thing is that now the rules are clear.  We must look to the future and turn the page,” said Gagné.

Many bonuses were obtained while the parties were negotiating in parallel with the arbitration process. For example, salaries will be increased between $ 1.20 an hour and $ 5.30 an hour, retroactively to March 12, 2018, with the addition of floating holidays, a fifth week of vacation after 20 years of seniority and many other gains.

The members of Local 1209 went on strike on April 1, 2015. In March 2018, they agreed to put an end to the dispute following an agreement with the employer to resort to arbitration to decide the points still in dispute.

Delastek is an aeronautical components manufacturing company based in Shawinigan which employs approximately 25 members of Unifor Local 1209.

Unifor members recognized at CALM awards

Unifor’s Communications Department was recognized with two awards at this year’s Canadian Association of Labour Media (CALM) conference on June 8 in Winnipeg.

UNIFOR won the “Best Use of Social Media” award for its groundbreaking use of FaceBook Live to stream events from picket lines in Goderich, Thunder Bay and Gander.

“I am proud of the Unifor team for being recognized for using modern tools to bring the fight against scabs to members across the country,” said Jerry Dias, National President.

Unifor’s aggressive communications strategy has seen a 600 per cent increase in engagement on Facebook by increasing the use of videos to help inspire and mobilize members of the union and the general public, and put national and international public pressure on employers who try to bust unions.

Unifor also won the “Fighting Oppression Award” for a communications initiative that raises consciousness and contributes to struggles against racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism and other forms of oppression and discrimination: The workers with disAbilities video showcases the contributions workers with disabilities make on the job and in their local unions.  The production was the first of its kind for workers with disabilities in Unifor and brought to light the diversity of disabilities that exist and how their workplaces are adapted.

Since its release, the video helped situate disability rights and inclusion as central to the equity work of the union and uses an intersectional lens when looking at disability.

Unifor locals were well-represented at the annual conference, with members from Locals  1-S, 88, 112, 594, 1285, 2002 and 5555 present, as well as national staff. Information about all of Unifor winners is available here.

CALM brings together more than 200 labour unions across Canada to strategize and better communicate with members, campaigns and issues.

Local unions of all sizes benefit from CALM membership through resources, education, training and support. For more information about membership, or to join, click here.

Unifor Area Councils turn to setting a federal workers’ agenda

Unifor members in Ontario and in Nova Scotia meet to set a worker’s agenda and build stronger connections between local unions ahead of the federal election.

Area Council meetings kicked off on June 4 in Windsor, Ontario and Sydney, Nova Scotia, continuing on in Antigonish.

“The federal election is fast-approaching, and the time is now to set our vision for a better, more equal country that puts workers ahead of corporations,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Unifor members are already sending that message loud and clear. We want strong leadership to stand with workers.”

The room was buzzing with excitement and determination as members worked together to solve the issues facing workers in Canada today, from cuts to public services to job loss and outsourcing. Focusing on solutions, members identified real ways that federal parties can lead in the upcoming election, by addressing corporate tax loopholes and making Canada more fair and equitable.

Lana Payne, Unifor Atlantic Regional Director, spoke with members in Sydney, commenting “the only way to protect, and improve, our quality of life here in Atlantic Canada is to elect a government that will truly invest in good jobs and public services and protect and enhance workers’ rights.”

Meanwhile, in Windsor, Naureen Rizvi, Ontario Regional Director, outlined the dramatic cuts that only one year of Conservative government have brought to Ontario, saying, “Cuts to education, cuts to health care, and cuts to workers’ rights. We didn’t vote for this, and we deserve better. But to get better, we have to fight for it.”

The election is already proving to be one where some politicians use scare tactics, and divisive language to isolate working people. By coming together in union halls across the country, Unifor members resist this division, and build working class solidarity.

Upcoming meetings are currently scheduled at the locations below. Members and Local Unions should stay tuned as these spaces grow across the country.

  • Thursday, June 6, Halifax - 5:00 p.m. at Unifor Halifax office (63 Otter Lake Court, Halifax)
  • Monday, June 17 - Kitchener – 5:00 pm at Unifor 1106 hall (600 Wabanaki Drive, Kitchener)
  • Monday, June 24 – Durham Region – 5:00 pm at Unifor Local 1090 (140 Hunt Street, Ajax)
  • Tuesday, June 25 – Thunder Bay – 6:00 pm Unifor 1075 hall (112 W Gore Street, Thunder Bay)
  • Tuesday, July 2 – Ottawa – 5:00 pm at St. Anthony’s Soccer Club ( 523 St Anthony St. Ottawa)
  • Wednesday, July 3 – London – 5:00 pm at Unifor Local 27 (606 First Street, London)
  • Thursday, July 4 – GTA/Peel – 5:00 pm Unifor Local 112 hall (30 Tangiers Rd, North York)
  • Monday, July 8 – Sudbury – 5:00 pm Unifor 598 hall (2550 Richard Lake Drive, Sudbury)

Hitachi members gain wage increase and improved benefits in new collective agreement

Hitachi members in Guelph, Ontario have ratified a new collective agreement that includes wage increases, improved life insurance, and dental and vision benefits.

“There were concerns about job security but in this round of bargaining the company made it clear that they are committed to the plant and as a result a 3-year collective agreement was secured,” said Jerry Escott, President of Local 1917 and Plant Chairperson of Hitachi. 

Skilled Trades wages will increase from $33.00 to $35.00 by the end of the agreement, the contract also includes an extra $1.00 when welding, a $0.25 increase on the Defined Benefit pension (over $100,000.00 value) and reduced waiting time for short-term disability. 

“We have a long history with Hitachi and our contract language is quite mature,” said Escott. “So in this latest contract we were able to keep all the old language intact in the event that the company needs to hire in the future.”

Women's Advocate Language and company support of the Unifor Social Justice Fund were also achieved.

La nouvelle convention collective des membres d’Hitachi offre une hausse salariale et des avantages sociaux bonifiés

Les membres d’Hitachi à Guelph, en Ontario, ont ratifié une nouvelle convention collective qui inclut des hausses salariales, une assurance-vie bonifiée, et des indemnités pour les soins dentaires et les soins de la vue.

« Les membres s’inquiétaient de la sécurité d’emploi, mais lors de cette ronde de négociation, l’employeur leur a clairement fait savoir qu’il avait l’entreprise à cœur et une convention collective de trois ans a donc été conclue », a déclaré Jerry Escott, président de la section locale 1917 et du comité d’usine chez Hitachi. 

Les salaires des membres des métiers spécialisés passeront de 33 à 35 $ l’heure d’ici la fin de l’entente. La convention inclut également une prime de 1 $ lors des travaux de soudage, une hausse de 0,25 $ des cotisations au régime de retraite à prestations déterminées (d’une valeur de plus de 100 000 $), et la réduction du temps d’attente pour l’obtention de prestations d’invalidité de courte durée. 

« Nous collaborons depuis longtemps avec Hitachi et les dispositions de l’entente sont plutôt évoluées, a précisé Jerry Escott. Dans le cadre de cette convention, nous avons donc pu maintenir toutes les dispositions existantes au cas où l’entreprise aurait besoin d’embaucher ultérieurement. »

Des dispositions sur une intervenante auprès des femmes et le soutien de l’entreprise pour le Fonds de justice sociale d’Unifor ont également été établis.

Les conseils locaux d’Unifor établissent un programme pour les travailleuses et travailleurs fédéraux

Les membres d’Unifor de l’Ontario et de la Nouvelle-Écosse se sont réunis pour établir un programme pour les travailleuses et travailleurs et développer des liens serrés entre les sections locales en vue de l’élection fédérale.

Les réunions des conseils locaux ont débuté le 4 juin à Windsor, en Ontario, et à Sydney, en Nouvelle-Écosse, et se poursuivront à Antigonish.

« L’élection fédérale approche à grands pas et il est maintenant temps d’établir notre vision pour un pays plus égalitaire et encore meilleur qui fait passer les travailleurs avant les sociétés, a déclaré Jerry Dias, président national d’Unifor. Les membres d’Unifor envoient déjà un message très clair. Nous voulons des dirigeants qui prennent la défense des travailleurs. »

Les participants étaient remplis d’enthousiasme et de détermination alors que les membres travaillaient ensemble pour résoudre les enjeux auxquels doivent faire face les travailleuses et travailleurs canadiens d’aujourd’hui, de la réduction des services publics aux pertes d’emplois, en passant par la sous-traitance. Mettant l’accent sur les solutions, les membres ont cerné les véritables façons dont les partis fédéraux peuvent faire preuve de leadership dans le cadre de la prochaine élection en traitant des échappatoires fiscales des sociétés et en bâtissant un Canada plus juste et plus équitable.

Lana Payne, directrice de la région de l’Atlantique d’Unifor, a discuté avec des membres à Sydney, précisant que « la meilleure façon de protéger, et d’améliorer, notre qualité de vie, ici, dans le Canada atlantique, est d’élire un gouvernement qui investira véritablement dans les emplois de qualité et les services publics et qui protégera et améliorera les droits des travailleurs ».

Entre-temps, à Windsor, Naureen Rizvi, directrice de la région de l’Ontario, a souligné les coupes catastrophiques que le gouvernement conservateur a effectuées dans la dernière année en Ontario : « Nous n’avons pas voté pour des coupes touchant l’éducation, les soins de santé et les droits des travailleurs, et nous méritons mieux. Mais pour y parvenir, nous allons devoir nous battre. »

L’élection s’annonce déjà comme une campagne où certains politiciens utilisent des tactiques alarmistes et un langage semant la discorde pour isoler les travailleurs. En s’unissant au sein des conseils locaux dans l’ensemble du pays, les membres d’Unifor s’opposent à cette division et renforcent la solidarité des travailleuses et travailleurs.

Des réunions sont prévues prochainement aux endroits précisés ci-dessous. Les membres et les sections locales doivent rester à l’affût puisque d’autres réunions pourraient s’ajouter dans l’ensemble du pays.

  • Jeudi 6 juin, Halifax : 17 h au bureau d’Halifax d’Unifor (63, Otter Lake Court, Halifax)
  • Lundi 17 juin, Kitchener : 17 h à la section locale 1106 d’Unifor (600, route Wabanaki, Kitchener)
  • Lundi 24 juin, région de Durham : 17 h à la section locale 1090 d’Unifor (140, rue Hunt, Ajax)
  • Mardi 25 juin, Thunder Bay : 18 h à la section locale 1075 d’Unifor (112, rue Gore Ouest, Thunder Bay)
  • Mardi 2 juillet, Ottawa : 17 h au club de soccer St. Anthony (523, rue St. Anthony, Ottawa)
  • Mercredi 3 juillet, London : 17 h à la section locale 27 d’Unifor (606, 1ère Rue, London)
  • Jeudi 4 juillet, région du Grand Toronto et Peel : 17 h à la section locale 112 d’Unifor (30, route Tangiers, North York)
  • Lundi 8 juillet, Sudbury : 17 h à la section locale 598 d’Unifor (2550, route Richard Lake, Sudbury)

Unifor Area Councils turn to setting a federal workers’ agenda

Unifor members in Ontario and in Nova Scotia meet to set a worker’s agenda and build stronger connections between local unions ahead of the federal election.

Area Council meetings kicked off on June 4 in Windsor, Ontario and Sydney, Nova Scotia, continuing on in Antigonish.

“The federal election is fast-approaching, and the time is now to set our vision for a better, more equal country that puts workers ahead of corporations,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Unifor members are already sending that message loud and clear. We want strong leadership to stand with workers.”

The room was buzzing with excitement and determination as members worked together to solve the issues facing workers in Canada today, from cuts to public services to job loss and outsourcing. Focusing on solutions, members identified real ways that federal parties can lead in the upcoming election, by addressing corporate tax loopholes and making Canada more fair and equitable.

Lana Payne, Unifor Atlantic Regional Director, spoke with members in Sydney, commenting “the only way to protect, and improve, our quality of life here in Atlantic Canada is to elect a government that will truly invest in good jobs and public services and protect and enhance workers’ rights.”

Meanwhile, in Windsor, Naureen Rizvi, Ontario Regional Director, outlined the dramatic cuts that only one year of Conservative government have brought to Ontario, saying, “Cuts to education, cuts to health care, and cuts to workers’ rights. We didn’t vote for this, and we deserve better. But to get better, we have to fight for it.”

The election is already proving to be one where some politicians use scare tactics, and divisive language to isolate working people. By coming together in union halls across the country, Unifor members resist this division, and build working class solidarity.

Upcoming meetings are currently scheduled at the locations below. Members and Local Unions should stay tuned as these spaces grow across the country.

  • Thursday, June 6, Halifax - 5:00 p.m. at Unifor Halifax office (63 Otter Lake Court, Halifax)
  • Monday, June 17 - Kitchener – 5:00 pm at Unifor 1106 hall (600 Wabanaki Drive, Kitchener)
  • Monday, June 24 – Durham Region – 5:00 pm at Unifor Local 1090 (140 Hunt Street, Ajax)
  • Tuesday, June 25 – Thunder Bay – 6:00 pm Unifor 1075 hall (112 W Gore Street, Thunder Bay)
  • Tuesday, July 2 – Ottawa – 5:00 pm at St. Anthony’s Soccer Club ( 523 St Anthony St. Ottawa)
  • Wednesday, July 3 – London – 5:00 pm at Unifor Local 27 (606 First Street, London)
  • Thursday, July 4 – GTA/Peel – 5:00 pm Unifor Local 112 hall (30 Tangiers Rd, North York)
  • Monday, July 8 – Sudbury – 5:00 pm Unifor 598 hall (2550 Richard Lake Drive, Sudbury)

EFAP conference focuses on addiction and mental health issues

Delegates gathered at the Unifor Family Education Centre in Port Elgin, Ontario between May 31 and June 2, 2019 to discuss ways to support and effectively represent members who are struggling with mental illness or addiction.

The Unifor Employee & Family Assistance Program (EFAP) & Addictions conference, which takes place every two years, brought together 135 attendees from across the country including full-time EFAP representatives, health and safety representatives and local union leadership.

“The focus of the conference was about breaking the stigma around mental health and addiction issues, as well as how to get our members and their families the appropriate treatment when needed,” said Jessica Ridgwell member of the Ontario Regional Council (ORC) EFAP Committee.

Participants were invited to attend a new full-day course piloted by the education department, called Mental Health Matters, which provided a foundation for understanding mental illness and gave them guidance on referring members to appropriate services. The course also explained the duty to accommodate people with mental illness and addiction, and set out the rights and responsibilities of the employer, the union and the worker. In addition, there was a discussion on how to improve collective agreement language to support our members in these situations.

Other courses included How to Work with People in 12 Step Recovery, Transforming our Workplaces into Psychologically Safe and Supportive Places and Workplace Suicide Prevention Training.

The conference was sponsored by the Ontario Regional Council EFAP with help from the EFAP committees from the Atlantic, Prairie and B.C. regions. Staff from the women’s, health and safety, human rights and research departments also attended.

“We take great pride in our initiatives to address mental health and addiction issues,” said Jeff Ramackers, chairperson of the ORC EFAP Committee. “By bringing together experts from the mental health field and resources within our own union in this way, we are better equipped to help members who are struggling feel like they are not alone.”

Postmedia workers approve merger with CAAT pension plan

Workers at Postmedia have voted overwhelmingly in favour of a merger with the Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology (CAAT) Pension Plan.

“In this time of crisis in the media sector and the growing uncertainty workers are facing, our members will now have a more secure and stable pension to rely on when they retire,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. “This is a significant gain for our journalists and media workers who perform such a vital public service and play a huge role in our democracy.”

Postmedia 87-M members voted 97.4 per cent in favour of the pension merger, which will take effect on July 1, 2019 and will apply to Postmedia members with defined benefit pensions as well as those with defined contribution pensions.

Everyone with a pension at Postmedia will be going back to a defined benefit plan under CAAT’s new DBplus plan. It’s the same plan that Torstar members enrolled in when they approved a merger last fall.

The move to this stronger and more stable public pension plan will also provide Postmedia members with cost of living inflation protection that was not previously available to most of them. 

Additionally, the merger will result in savings for the employer. The employer is still required to contribute to the plan, but will save money on costs associated with pension administration and solvency payments.

“I am really happy with this outcome,” said Unifor Local 87-M President, Paul Morse. “This is a win-win situation for both employees and employers, and we encourage other employers in the industry whose workers we represent to consider similar pension mergers.”

Local 87-M represents workers with 37 different employers – including newspapers, magazines, television and publishing houses such as the Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, The Toronto Sun, Sing Tao, Maclean's magazine, The London Free Press and CTV.

Members include reporters, editors, photographers, videographers, graphic artists, computer technicians, printing, advertising, circulation and finance staff.

Celebrate Labour Day as a union, in style

To recognize and mark Labour Day, Unifor is offering all local unions across the country an opportunity to purchase a special Unifor garment at a subsidized rate.

Orders will only be accepted until Friday, June 14, 2019. Click here for the order form.

Whether your local is marching in a community parade, attending a labour picnic, or hosting an event for members and their family, Labour Day is an opportunity to show union pride. Along with recognizing the historical importance of Labour Day as a celebration of all workers, the day is also significant for our union.

In the spirit of that celebration and unity, all locals are invited to order a one-of-a-kind garment, a sporty zip-up jacket, with the Unifor logo proudly shown the front. Please note that an order must have a minimum of 12 jackets, in order to have your local number branded on it. The jacket is unisex sixed and available in extra small to XXXXL.

The national union will reimburse fifteen dollars for every jacket order up to a maximum of 100 jackets per local. For locals that order more than a 100 jackets, the amount of jackets ordered above the 100 will be charged at the full rate of $45 each.

Locals will have to submit receipts of purchase to the national office, attention Fred Raidl, at 205 Placer Court Toronto, ON M2H 3H9 to receive the rebate.  

Don’t miss out, have your local submit an order today using this form. Orders should be submitted via fax to 450-449-4668 or email PROMO@UNIVERSALPROMOTIONS.COM

Download the order form as a word document or a PDF.

Workers at Winnipeg Free Press ratify new agreements with no layoff clause

Inside workers and carriers at the Winnipeg Free Press have voted to ratify new contracts which include a two-year no layoff clause.

Members of Unifor Local 191 strongly supported the new contracts, which also made no concessions during this round of bargaining.

“This is a difficult time for the newspaper industry, so it was important for us to come up with a deal that protected our members but did not make the situation worse for the newspaper,” said Local 191 President Aldo Santin.  “Job security weighs heavily on the minds of these workers and unless the newspaper sees the elimination of a publishing day, there will be no layoffs for the duration of this contract.”

In addition, the union was able to take steps towards a more stable pension plan for members. The union and management will explore the possibility of transferring the defined-benefit pension plan to a multi-employer plan. 

Unifor represents about 265 carriers and 250 inside workers at the Winnipeg Free Press, including members at six Canstar weeklies. The two-year contracts take effect on July 1, 2019 and will expire in June 2021.

Local 191 represents members at four other daily newspapers as well as workers in the hospitality, transportation, labour and commercial print sectors.

Forestry workers find strong support from municipal leaders at FCM

Unifor brought forestry workers from British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) conference in Quebec City to raise awareness about forestry issues and opportunities in the sector.

“Many of us have met with our local representatives at all levels of government, but FCM provided us a unique and valuable opportunity to speak with hundreds of municipal leaders in one venue,” said Ian Hutchison, Atlantic Regional Chair and forestry member in Saint John, New Brunswick. “Mayors and councillors from big cities and small towns alike recognized their community’s important connections to the forestry sector and talked with us about how vital it was to their economies.”

Big city mayors like Naheed Nenshi of Calgary, Bonnie Crombie of Mississauga and Mike Savage of Halifax stopped by the Unifor booth, in addition to hundreds of mayors and city councillors from across Canada. Members plan to schedule follow-up meetings and encourage councils to pass a municipal resolution of support for forestry. Read the Unifor lobby document here.

Unifor represents more than 26,000 forestry workers across the country. The sector is facing several challenges including the growing impact of softwood lumber tariffs, ongoing crises from insect damage, unchecked raw log exports, and several other policies that negatively impact key forestry operations and sustainable harvest levels.

“Forestry has a bright future and can be a key player in greening our economy and providing good-paying, sustainable jobs in communities big and small for generations to come,” said Jerry Dias, National President. “Most city officials understand the value-add in the forestry sector is vital and there’s huge potential for this sector to be part of the green economy policies they’re exploring.”

Dias hosted a reception for delegates and spoke to other challenges faced by municipal leaders. With increased downloading of service responsibility onto municipalities, the urgent need for affordable housing, and increasing infrastructure modernization and growth, councillors have a lot on their plates.

“We have to fight back against the aggressive cuts to services at the provincial level by conservative premiers in order to protect and grow prosperous cities with dependable services where people want to live, work and raise their families,” said Dias. “We can’t cut our way forward – we have to invest in and build the communities we want for our future.”

L-R: Hugues Perrault, Vince Lukacs, Ivan Vasko, Mike Lambert, Terry Farrell, and Shelley Amyotte

“I’ve made my career in forestry and I’m passionate about my industry. We are the tree-planters, the forest-keepers and the crafters of products we build our lives around. I’m intensely proud of that and want to share my optimism for the future of forestry with others.” – Don McLean, forestry worker, Alberta.

“It’s a privilege to have an opportunity to speak about such an important issue for our membership with elected officials from across the country. We need their support and to make them aware of the challenges and opportunities we are facing.” – Hugues Perrault, Political Action Quebec

“Forestry has grown and changed over the years, rising to meet modern standards and developing increasingly innovative and sustainable practices. We’re pushing every level of government to invest real time and resources to protect this sector, our beautiful and productive forest lands, and the hundreds of thousands of forestry jobs so many communities rely on.” – Mike Lambert, Unifor Forestry Director.

Winnipeg General Strike inspires Prairie Council

Delegates to Unifor’s Prairie Regional Council in Winnipeg drew inspiration from the city’s infamous 1919 general strike as they vowed to build a broad coalition to push back against conservative politicians federally and provincially.

“Everything we have been doing for five and a half years has been in preparation for this campaign,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias in a speech to 260 delegates and staff.

With a federal election planned for the fall, a provincial election expected in Manitoba and a newly elected right-wing government in Alberta, Dias said it is vital that workers stand in solidarity with other progressive groups to push back against attacks on working people.

One hundred years ago workers in Winnipeg stood together in a broad coalition of union and non-union workers, women’s groups, immigrants, skilled and unskilled in a way that had rarely been seen before, and changed the country. It will be the same recipe for success in 2019, Dias said.

“An eight-hour day. A living wage. Union recognition. These were the demands of the Winnipeg general strike, and today we need to fight to advance these goals,” he said.

Western Regional Director Joie Warnock told delegates they are on the front line of the fight against the right, with conservative governments in every Prairie province determined to roll back worker rights and sell off Crown corporations.

“We’ve had enough. We’re not going to take it anymore. We’re fighting back and we’re going to win,” she said.

On the closing day of the Council, outgoing National Secretary-Treasurer Bob Orr thanked delegates for their dedication and making a real difference for workers. “It’s your hard work that makes Unifor great, and the powerhouse in Canadian politics that it has become.”

Former Unifor Senior Economist Jim Stanford spoke about the future of Canada’s energy industry and shared his analysis of the popular “Green New Deal”. He said the key to an energy sector that works for Canadians is gradual diversification and making sure that no worker’s family is left behind as it transitions away from fossil fuel sources.

Manitoba NDP Leader Wab Kinew said he is inspired by the general strikers because they put everything on the line, including their lives, to fight for their rights and a decent standard of living for their families.

“The best way to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Winnipeg General Strike is to defeat Brian Pallister as Premier of Manitoba,” said Kinew, pledging to bring back card check for union certification, a higher minimum age, and a crack down on unsafe workplaces.

“I want to get tough on corporate criminals. When Mom and Dad go to work, they should come home alive and safe.”

There were two panel discussions at the council examining the importance of class unionism to build  broad coalitions, and another looking at lessons from the Winnipeg General Strike. “We need to come together as we did 100 years ago,” said Gina McKay, labour director for the Winnipeg United Way. “That’s how we build a stronger movement.”

Unifor Member Mobilization and Political Action Director Josh Coles said Unifor is ready to go as soon as an election is called in Manitoba, and planning for the union’s campaign for the federal election in the fall is already underway.

 

Asian Heritage Month - Week 3

Unifor Local 4606 Activist and Community Leader

Barbara Fung was born in Hong Kong, and raised and educated in Thailand.  She has worked at the IWK Health Centre in Nova Scotia since 2008.  Even though Barbara may appear to be quiet, she is an active member in Unifor local 4606.  In 2016, Barbara joined the Atlantic Aboriginal and Workers of Colour committee and after demonstrating her activism, she was sent to Port Elgin for a two week Aboriginal and Workers of Colour Leadership course. During the course, Barbara met many people from other parts of Canada and this further inspired her to do more. Once she got back to Halifax, she continued her leadership.  Barbara is an activist and helps with all campaigns, rallies and community events.  She is currently volunteering in the Lucasville Community.  Barbara will always speak out against racism, islamophobia, harassment, animal abuse and any violations to Human Rights.  Barbara had this to say, “Change comes from the little things that each of us can do, and if we all do our part the world can be a better place.”

Unifor Local 673 Activist and Leader

“Unions are created for seeking justice and equity not just in the workplace, but also in the broader society. They are the protectors of the working class”, this is how Jian Huang sees the labour movement. As a long time member of Unifor Local 673, Jian has felt the power of the union and knows his place within it.  As he puts it, “I see my role as helping my coworkers; I have suffered from managerial pressure and learned how to deal with it from union brothers and sisters of the past. Now, I take the experiences they gave me, combine it with knowledge gained from union training, to help others. After all, what I gain from the union is not meant for me but is meant to be shared will everyone”.  Jian now holds several positions within his local. He chairs the Education committee and sits on several others. Beyond his work within the local, Jian has taken part in multiple job actions, most recently standing shoulder to shoulder with some of our besieged members in Goderich, Gander, and Oshawa.  In the future, Jian doesn’t see his role changing. His ultimate goal is to mobilize our members and get them to push for greater equity. As this “woke” union activist puts it, “Equity is very important for everyone, even if you don’t think the sting of discrimination will affect you, think about your future and you’ll soon remember that we all age.”

South Asian Heritage Month - Week 3

Unifor Local 673

“I joined a unionized work environment in my late 20s and it’s only now, that I’m really understanding how lucky I was to get such a great job!” This is Akash Shanghvi, a union activist at local 673. “When I joined, I didn’t know much about unions, I just wanted a secure job and enough money to raise a family. What I didn’t realize then but do now, is there are so many hard-working people in our country who want the exact same thing but face boulder sized challenges like discrimination or gig economy jobs that make those dreams seem impossible, but I was lucky and I had help. I had a strong group of people- I never met- remove those challenges before I even got to the workplace.” Since that realization, Akash has chosen to join the fight. He now plays an active role within his local and currently chairs the Human Rights committee. In that role, he has organized fundraisers and awareness campaigns to help community groups, shelters, care homes, and youth groups. On what he hopes to accomplish over the next few years, Akash says, “I want to do my part, I have so many people to thank for the joys I have in my life, I might never be able to thank them all in person, but I can pay it forward.”

Unifor Local 6006 Proud and committed

Sapna Sagar is the Vice-president of Local 6006. She is a union activist and active in promoting workers’ rights and the rights of those without a voice in the community.  Sapna works with the community-based advocacy groups on various issues. She demonstrates her commitment in everything she does.  Sapna is the Chair of the Education Committee at the local.

Unifor Local 2002

Leanne Sookram is a proud Mother of two young adults.  Leanne is a proud Unifor Local 2002 member and activist.  She works out of the Winnipeg Area with Air Canada for over 25 years.  Leanne is newly elected to the Prairie Regional Women’s Committee, being the first woman of colour to be elected in all the regions on this committee.  Leanne holds a number of other positions within her workplace, such as Vice Chair for two terms and Women’s Advocate since 2011.  She actively participates in fundraising for Women’s Shelters along with various other campaigns.  Leanne has assisted with other Unifor Sisters to amend the Manitoba Labour Code to allow for paid domestic violence leave (first province in Canada). In 2016, Leanne represented the Women’s Advocate program at ITF Women’s Conference in Morocco. Leanne had this to say, “10 years ago or so, I didn’t have a voice. I was experiencing a storm that was meant to harm me.  Instead, with help, support, encouragement, and the power to believe in myself, that storm made me, Me. I found my voice and I am continuing to use it to help other women to find their own voices.”

Unifor Local 40 Leader and Activist

Rubeen Chauhan works at CultureLink Settlement & Community Services as a frontline worker. CultureLink is a non-profit charitable organization working to support the integration of newcomers and refugees since 1988. Rubeen runs different community connection mentorship programs and she matches newcomers with mentors to practice English, learn about Canada and get hands-on volunteer experience in public speaking, event planning and project management.

Rubeen is a steward representing members at CultureLink.  As a rep, she is responsible for dealing with management, grievances and answering questions about union matters and members’ rights. Rubeen had this to say, “We have lots of new staff members joining the organization. Therefore, we work together as a committee and organize monthly member drop-ins so they can come with their questions or just have a chat with their union reps.”  Unifor Local 40 is proud to have leaders like Rubeen who always make the membership, community and union a place for everyone.

Pilkington Glass unit achieves significant wage increases

Unifor Local 222 members at the Pilkington Glass unit in Whitby, Ontario achieved significant wage increases and gains in paid vacation in a new three-year collective agreement, ratified on May 21, 2019.

“The bargaining committee worked hard to negotiate a strong contract that includes the largest pay increases since the unit was formed back in 2007,” said Unifor Local 222 President Colin James.

The increase in the wage progression moves 6 per cent as of June 9, 2019 with additional increases of 2 per cent in both 2020 and 2021.

Significant progress was made in other areas with the addition of the full Women’s Advocate programme, paid domestic violence leave, and harassment language that adds a four-member Joint Investigation Committee with all investigation training paid by the employer.

The new agreement also secures a preferential hire agreement that will offer first opportunity employment to any members displaced from General Motors Oshawa or the General Motors supply chain.

The new contract covers approximately 100 Pilkington workers at the facility, which supplies Honda, Toyota and Lexus.

“This collective agreement puts us on solid footing for the future,” said James.

The bargaining committee consisted of Local 222 President Colin James, Unit Chairperson Todd Robinson, Committee Member Ray Buller, Local 222 Organizer Joel Smith and National Representative Sam Snyders.

Pilkington Glass Unit Achieve Significant Wage Increases

Unifor Local 222 members at the Pilkington Glass unit in Whitby, Ontario achieved significant wage increases and gains in paid vacation in a new three-year collective agreement, ratified on May 21, 2019.

“The bargaining committee worked hard to negotiate a strong contract that includes the largest pay increases since the unit was formed back in 2007,” said Unifor Local 222 President Colin James.

The increase in the wage progression moves 6 per cent as of June 9, 2019 with additional increases of 2 per cent in both 2020 and 2021.

Significant progress was made in other areas with the addition of the full Women’s Advocate programme, paid domestic violence leave, and harassment language that adds a four-member Joint Investigation Committee with all investigation training paid by the employer.

The new agreement also secures a preferential hire agreement that will offer first opportunity employment to any members displaced from General Motors Oshawa or the General Motors supply chain.

The new contract covers approximately 100 Pilkington workers at the facility, which supplies Honda, Toyota and Lexus.

“This collective agreement puts us on solid footing for the future,” said James.

The bargaining committee consisted of Local 222 President Colin James, Unit Chairperson Todd Robinson, Committee Member Ray Buller, Local 222 Organizer Joel Smith and National Representative Sam Snyders.

Unifor members shine at general strike centenary parade

Several Unifor members in Manitoba donned early 1900s period costumes at the parade to commemorate the historic 1919 general strike. Dressed up as workers from a variety of sectors including media, rail, and telecommunications, they were joined by dozens of other Unifor members from the region to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the strike.

“In the labour movement, we stand on the shoulders of giants. The sacrifices made by the strikers of 1919 helped shaped Canada’s modern workforce and politics,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President.

Last week Unifor’s leaders held a special meeting in Winnipeg and attended a celebratory dinner with hundreds of other progressive labour activists.

“The Winnipeg General Strike’s anniversary is an important time to celebrate the many crucial victories of our predecessors,” said Joie Warnock, Unifor Western Regional Director. “We have no shortage of challenges, but as we learned one hundred years ago, ‘we are many, and they are few’.”

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