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

Unifor -

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

NUPGE celebrates International Day of Pink 2020

NUPGE -

“Bullying and hatred don’t stop because of a pandemic. This means we need to keep working as allies and standing with our LGBTQI2S friends, family, and community members. We might not be physically together, but you are never alone.” — Larry Brown, NUPGE President

BC Ferries layoffs may leave workers in the lurch

NUPGE -

“We expected a workforce adjustment given the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, but in the spirit of ‘getting through this together,’ we expected more from BC Ferries. These workers and their families deserve better.” — Grame Johnston, Provincial President, BCFMWU

Albertsons and UFCW Launch Joint Effort To Classify Grocery Workers as First Responders During Coronavirus Outbreak

UFCW Press Releases -

America’s Largest Food & Retail Union Announces New Partnership with Major Grocery Chain in Full-Page New York Times Ad Campaign

 WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Albertsons Companies — which employs more than 250,000 grocery workers across the country at Safeway, ACME Markets, Jewel Osco, Vons, Pavilions, and Albertsons supermarkets — joined the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), America’s largest food and retail union, in announcing a joint national effort to seek a temporary designation of “extended first responders” or “emergency personnel” for supermarket associates to ensure that they are prioritized for testing and provided personal protection equipment during the coronavirus outbreak.

The UFCW is announcing the joint effort to address workplace and public safety in an open letter to our nation’s policymakers and influencers in a full-page advertisement in today’s New York Times print edition of the newspaper.

Albertsons Companies President & CEO Vivek Sankaran and UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“Since the onset of this pandemic, associates in Albertsons Companies stores, who are also proud members of UFCW union, have been working tirelessly to make sure that America’s families have the food and groceries they need. These men and women are sacrificing every day to protect our nation’s food supply, and now is the time for our leaders in state and federal governments to do the same for them.

“The temporary designation of first responder or emergency personnel status would help ensure these incredible grocery workers access to priority testing, have access to personal protection equipment, like masks and gloves, as well other workplace protections necessary to keep themselves and the customers they serve safe and healthy.

“This joint action is an example of how all Americans must work together to protect everyone working on the front lines. This includes not only our brave first responders and healthcare workers but also associates at our nation’s grocery stores who are providing communities with the essential food and supplies needed to weather this public health crisis.”

A copy of the New York Times advertisement announcing the joint effort can be seen here.

Background:

Several states have taken measures to ensure grocery store workers have access to similar benefits and protections as first responders:

  • Grocery store workers have access to emergency childcare in the following states: Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, and New York.
  • Governors in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania have issued executive orders to ensure grocery stores are safer workplaces.

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The UFCW is the largest private sector union in the United States, representing 1.3 million professionals and their families in healthcare, grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries. Our members serve our communities in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico. Learn more about the UFCW at www.ufcw.org.

Groups urge federal government to extend the CERB to students and contract staff

CAUT -

(Ottawa — April 7, 2020) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) and the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) are calling on the federal government to extend the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to post-secondary students and contract academic staff.

“Students and contract academic staff are seeing their job offers vanish and will have limited or no income over the coming months because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” says CAUT Executive Director David Robinson. “We’re urging the government to ensure that students and our most vulnerable workers are not left behind.”

“Many students, even if they do work during the school year, are not eligible for the CERB and their prospects for the summer are grim. Students must be included in this much-needed emergency benefit. It is essential that the federal government offers support to those who are falling through the cracks," says Canadian Federation of Students Chairperson, Sofia Descalzi.

Many students and contract academic staff rely on income from spring and summer jobs to help make ends meet, but there are significantly fewer summer employment opportunities today than in a normal year. Even if a student made over $5,000 in their previous summer job, they are not eligible for the CERB if they did not lose a job because of the pandemic. 

With colleges and universities cancelling spring and summer courses, some contract academic staff may see their incomes reduced to below the $2,000 per month provided through the CERB.

For more information, please contact:
Geneviève Charest, Canadian Federation of Students, 613-240-2631 or communications@cfs-fcee.ca

Valérie Dufour
Director of Communication, Canadian Association of University Teachers, 613-293-1810 or dufour@caut.ca

NUPGE publishes new research on COVID-19 and income inequality

NUPGE -

"This paper is one step of many that NUPGE will be taking on the topic of COVID-19 and income inequality. We know more work needs to be done on specific needs for different vulnerable populations. The problems facing our northern Indigenous communities are going to be different from the problems facing a new immigrant family who reside in the Greater Toronto Area. We want to make sure everyone's voice is heard and their needs addressed. We hope this paper helps our lawmakers to understand the complexity of how COVID-19 affects different social and economic groups and encourages them to take further action." — Larry Brown, NUPGE President

World Health Day 2020

NUPGE -

"The current pandemic might have been unpredictable. But strong public health systems rooted in a global economic order which prioritises solidarity and the wellbeing of people and the planet over the profits of a few would have made it much more manageable. The unfolding public health, social and economic crisis is a clarion call of history for drastic change. It is now clear that we cannot rely on the market to protect our health." — Baba Aye, PSI Health & Social Services Officer

NUPGE mourns the passing of Shirely Douglas

NUPGE -

"In Shirley's honour, we will use our collective voices to stand up to governments, employers and corporations that try to undermine and destroy the quality of health care in our country. Rest in peace, Shirley, we will carry on." — Larry Brown, NUPGE President

Fish Processors Put Profits Over People in Push to Open Fishery

Unifor -

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

Unifor -

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

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