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Atlantic Council reviews year of groundbreaking solidarity and prepares for challenges ahead

Unifor -

With the songs and solidarity still fresh from the fierce fightback in Gander, Unifor delegates from across the Atlantic region came back to Newfoundland and Labrador for the Atlantic Regional Council. Delegates looked back on that occupation at D-J Composites to defend 30 locked out sisters and brothers as perhaps the most memorable, but far from the only fightback the union has had this year.

“That week in Gander will forever live in my heart as real evidence of what union solidarity can accomplish,” said Lana Payne, Atlantic Regional Director. “We know we have serious challenges ahead to push for worker safety in the offshore, to defend good forestry jobs, support our health care workers, to demand better wages and working conditions including for minimum wage workers and to stop employers from flipping contracts in order to bust unions or slash wages. Make no mistake, this past year is proof when we fight back, we can win big for workers.”

More than 250 members, local leaders and national staff met in St. John’s from May 1-5. They heard from National President Jerry Dias, invited guests and fellow members who addressed sector-related workplace issues, discussions on disability rights, immigration and fighting racism.

“From Goderich and Thunder Bay to Gander and GM, Unifor is fighting for workers, fighting for good jobs and fighting for investments in people and communities,” said Dias. “In the six years since we were formed our union has made a mark. We are relevant. We are a fighting union. And we are forcing those who may not like us - governments and employers alike - to respect us.”

Payne made recommendations to the delegates for action the union will take in the coming year. These included support for a national forestry campaign, ensuring workers’ rights are highlighted as an issue in upcoming elections, support and collaboration with student unions, and a commitment to ending the brutal practice of police racial profiling and carding.

“What affects one worker affects us all. We must challenge racism and the attacks on migrant workers. We must continue to demand better labour laws to protect workers’ rights. We must continue our fight for equality. We make a difference when we build solidarity and when we show that the real issues facing workers are the same ones we have always faced, an economic system that leaves too many behind and divides workers,” said Payne.

Photos from the Council can be seen here on Facebook.

UFCW Calls for Congress to Strengthen Rights of American Workers to Join a Union and Protect Good Jobs

UFCW Press Releases -

Ahead of Congressional Hearing, UFCW Urges Passage of PRO Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today’s House Education & Labor Committee hearing on the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act follows the bill’s introduction by House and Senate Democrats last week and highlights the need for Congress to expand protections for workers to exercise their rights to join a union and collectively bargain for better wages and working conditions. As one of the leading national voices, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“As corporations and billionaires continue to thrive, stagnant wages and anti-worker policies around the country are leaving millions of American workers behind.

“We need to rebuild the middle class and reverse decades of income inequality and that starts with unions. For generations, unions have helped hard-working Americans stand together for higher wages, affordable healthcare, and a secure retirement. The time is now for Congress to pass the PRO Act to protect the rights of workers to join a union and negotiate for the better life they have earned and deserve.”

BACKGROUND

The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act is a bill that will expand protections for workers to exercise their rights to join a union and collectively bargain for better wages and working conditions. Workers who join a union earn higher wages and receive stronger healthcare protections than non-union workers:

  • On average, a union worker earns over 13 percent more than a non-union worker with similar education, occupation, and experience in the same sector.
  • Women union members earn 30 percent more than those in non-union workplaces.
  • Workers who are represented by a union are 27 percent more likely to be offered health insurance through work, and nearly five times as likely to have defined-benefit pensions.

In order to help grow the middle class and protect the right of workers to join a union, Congress must strengthen worker protections under federal law. To help achieve that, the PRO Act would:

  • Increase transparency by requiring employers to post a notice in the workplace of workers’ rights and responsibilities under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
  • Authorize civil monetary penalties to deter violations of the NLRA.
  • Improve remedies for workers who are retaliated against for exercising their rights to join a union or engage in protected activities—including swift temporary reinstatement, liquidated damages, and the ability to bring cases directly to federal court.
  • Expand coverage of who is deemed an employee under the NLRA to prevent the misclassification of workers as independent contractors.
  • Facilitate dispute resolution by requiring mediation and arbitration procedures to help unions and employers conclude a first collective-bargaining agreement.
  • Strengthen the right of workers to strike for basic workplace improvements.
  • Ensure that the National Labor Relations Board’s orders are enforced in a timely manner.
  • Protect the right of workers, whether in a union or not, to engage in collective actions, such as employment-related class action litigation.

Passing the PRO Act is also key to strengthening employer accountability. Currently, the NLRA lacks basic enforcement tools such as civil penalties to deter violations or adequate remedies when workers face unlawful retaliation.

Facing trivial consequences for non-compliance, employers are free to deploy unlawful tactics to deter workers from voting in favor of a union, or to create delays to avoid reaching a first labor agreement as a way to frustrate workers’ rights. The NLRA has few tools to deter persistent violations—such as firing workers who support forming a union.  This has contributed to the erosion of union density, which has decreased from 33.2 percent of the total workforce in 1956 to only 10.5 percent in 2018.

 

Unifor donates $62,000 to the Red Cross for flood victims at Quebec Council

Unifor -

The 11th Quebec Council was held last week with more than 350 delegates in attendance. "I think two words can sum up our meeting – commitment and solidarity," said Quebec Director, Renaud Gagné, who was re-elected by acclamation during the meeting.

Locals had the opportunity to discuss the daily engagement of activists within our union as well as within our communities. Unifor National President, Jerry Dias, called on members to mobilize for the federal election. There is no doubt that we will be making our views known in the upcoming election campaign.

Members also showed their solidarity with representatives of Local 1044 of the Crustace de Gaspé plant. The owner of this plant announced the facility would not be reopening for the 2019 fishing season, while the negotiation process for the first collective agreement was underway. After applauding them all, a call for financial support for this group raised more than $42,300.

Brother Gagné also announced a $50,000 donation to the Red Cross to help the people who are dealing with flooding in the region. The aerospace and telecommunications industry councils have also pledged $1,000 each, and the Forestry Council will give $10,000 bringing the total to $62,000.

The Quebec Council will convene again next November in Quebec City.

2019 UFCW OUTreach Awards honour champions of equality

UFCW Canada -

Washington, D.C. – May 7, 2019 – UFCW OUTreach, a constituency group dedicated to building mutual support between the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ+) community and our union, recently held its annual awards gala to celebrate UFCW activists who have championed LGBTQ+ rights in their workplaces, organizations, and communities. 

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