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Cities across Canada implement free transit to curb COVID-19

Rank and File - latest news -

by Emily Leedham You can’t pay while staying six feet away. So cities across Canada are implementing free public transit and back door boarding to encourage social distancing and curb the spread of COVID-19. Free transit limits operator interactions with riders entering and exiting the vehicle and reduces operator exposure to infection. Free transit also Continue readingCities across Canada implement free transit to curb COVID-19

Ontario’s COVID-19 response plans must include paid sick leave

Unifor -

March 20, 2020

TORONTO—The Ontario government passed Bill 186 yesterday and introduced measures aimed at containing the spread of the coronavirus, but failed to provide any paid sick leave for those in quarantine or isolation. 

“This legislation falls far short of where we needed it to be in order to have a comprehensive response to this pandemic,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “If we are going to get through this crisis, then the plan has to start with giving everyone directed to self-isolate or quarantine paid sick days.”

Other jurisdictions, including Quebec and Prince Edward Island, currently have a minimum number of paid sick days employers are required to provide for workers. Prior to 2019, Ontario had requirements for two paid sick days which was repealed by the Ford government’s Bill 47. One provision of Bill 47, allowing employers to require sick notes was repealed by the newly introduced legislation.

The measures contained in Bill 47, including the repeal of paid sick days, were widely opposed by Unifor and a broad coalition of labour organizations, community, anti-poverty, and migrant workers’ advocacy groups due to the threats posed to public health.

“Ontarians should not be put in the position of choosing whether to protect their health and that of their friends, family, and co-workers or picking up their next paycheque, and that’s what this legislation appears to do,” said Naureen Rizvi, Unifor’s Ontario Regional Director. “The government’s COVID-19 plan shouldn’t be aimed at protecting the pocketbooks of employers but should help protect our health.”

Unifor has urged the Ford government, and all Premiers across the country, to immediately enact 14 policy measures as part of their respective COVID-19 response plans, including instituting a minimum of 14 paid sick days for those in quarantine or directed to self-isolate by medical authorities. The measures also include creating direct, emergency income assistance measures to all workers and families – including those ineligible for Employment Insurance benefits. The contents of the letter and list of recommendations can be viewed here.

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 an interview, please contact Unifor Communications National Representative David Molenhuis at david.molenhuis@unifor.org or 416-575-7453 (cell).

Unifor accepts recommendations from independent mediator in Co-op lockout

Unifor -

March 20, 2020

REGINA—The three-and-a-half-month lockout at the Co-op Refinery will end soon if Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL) accepts the independent mediator’s recommendations, says Unifor.

“To be clear, our committee is not thrilled with the final report and the significant changes that are recommended,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “We have been trying to find a solution since we were locked out on December 5, 2019. It is time to end this dispute and have our members running the refinery in these unprecedented times.”

The Unifor Local 594 bargaining committee has accepted the recommendations and will be encouraging their members to accept the deal. The committee will present the details over the coming days and the members will vote electronically on Monday, March 23.

Independent mediator Vince Ready presented several comprehensive recommendations on March 19, 2020, covering the most contentious issues that caused the bargaining impasse between Unifor and Co-op Refinery. Changes to refinery workers’ pension plan are at the heart of Ready’s final report to the provincial government.

“We are in the midst of a global pandemic, and life for everyone grows more uncertain with each passing day. We all need some sense of stability back in our lives and this deal provides exactly that. This deal should end this dispute, as it gives the company what they said they needed. We are urging the company to accept the special mediator's recommendations as we have. Anything less would be irresponsible,” said Kevin Bittman, President of Unifor Local 594.

For media inquiries please contact Unifor Communications Representative Ian Boyko at ian.boyko@unifor.org or 778-903-6549 (cell). A spokesperson is available for video interview FaceTime or Skype

Quebec urged to reverse decision to suspend teachers' collective agreements


The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) is calling on the government of Quebec to reverse its decision to suspend the collective bargaining agreements for teachers in the province.

Teachers were notified by email that agreements were no longer considered binding, and that their assignments, schedules and workplaces could be modified at any time in order to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Now is the time when we need to be working together to contain this pandemic,” said CAUT Executive Director David Robinson. “Teachers at all levels of the education system in Quebec and the rest of Canada are eager to work with governments and employers to help us through these challenging times. We need collaboration and cooperation, not draconian measures like this that are counterproductive, disrespectful, and excessive.”

Robinson is urging all governments and educational institutions to consult with teachers to find mutually acceptable and effective ways to help students and parents through the current pandemic.

UFCW Applauds States for Offering Emergency Protections to Grocery Workers on Front Lines of Coronavirus

UFCW Press Releases -

America’s Largest Private Sector Union Praises Leadership in Michigan, Minnesota, and Vermont to Provide Childcare for At-Risk Workers 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), the largest U.S. private sector union which represents grocery workers across the country, praised leaders in Minnesota, Michigan, and Vermont for recognizing the critical work being done by grocery workers in their states. All have indicated that grocery workers, similar to health care workers and other essential personnel, will be provided with childcare.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“UFCW members in grocery and retail stores across the country are working around the clock to make sure that families have the food and supplies they need. We applaud Minnesota, Michigan, and Vermont for recognizing that these workers are on the front lines, providing an essential service to their communities.

“As our country confronts this outbreak and its devastating impact on our economy, there has never been a more important time for strong leadership. Congress must follow the lead of these states and provide paid leave and other essential protections needed to support the brave grocery and retail workers keeping our communities strong.”


Minnesota Governor Tim Walz issued a directive as part of an order for “Care for Children of Families of Emergency Workers,” which instructs closed schools to continue to provide care for children of emergency personnel who are “critical to the response of COVID-19.” Under the order, grocery workers are considered “essential tier 2 workers” and would be covered. Minnesota officials stated that “districts should make every effort to provide care for school-age children” of these workers.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order to expand the capacity for childcare services for health care workers, first responders, and other members of the essential workforce providing critical infrastructure to Michiganders during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. This expands the essential workforce to include grocery workers who are helping to provide essential supplies and goods during the outbreak.

Vermont is developing a plan to reimburse private childcare centers for providing care to essential workers. Public safety commissioner Michael Schirling announced that his office would add grocery store workers to the list of essential employees who would receive services like childcare.

Last week, as part of UFCW’s advocacy for grocery workers on the front lines, the union sent a letter to President Trump and Congressional leaders outlining the union’s top policy priorities for economic relief legislation.

In the letter, UFCW called for action by Congress and the White House to provide the aid needed for the nearly 80 million hourly workers – representing about 60 percent of the U.S. workforce – who are most at risk. Top UFCW priorities for worker relief in the letter include:

  • At least two weeks of paid sick leave for all workers
  • Extension of unemployment benefits for workers temporarily laid off or whose work hours have been disrupted
  • Protection against unfair termination or discrimination for those suspected of being exposed to the coronavirus.


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.

Every worker must be paid fairly, says Unifor on federal COVID-19 response

Unifor -

March 19, 2020

TORONTO – The continued rapid spread of COVID-19 disease calls for a more drastic response from government, says Unifor, which has outlined a package of urgent recommendations designed to make income assistance more accessible, and bring more money to workers in need.

“The significant policy package announced yesterday shows that the Government of Canada understands the seriousness of the crisis, but there are still some workers who will fall between the cracks of the EI system,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President.

“Decades of shameful cuts has weakened the Employment Insurance system, and now Canadians are paying the price. Layoffs are happening at a rapid pace across the country and our union is working to demand  income protection programs are in place,” said Lana Payne, Unifor National Sectretary – Treasurer.

On the current timeline, the proposed Emergency Care and Emergency Support Funds will be delivered in the beginning of April and the GST credit and Child Care Benefit additional funds will not be made available until May.

“Workers need support now from employers and the EI system. Canada’s COVID-19 cases continue to grow exponentially, and providing financial security will help people to stay home and stay safe,” said Dias. “As this crisis worsens, all workers need guaranteed wages and enhanced safety procedures if they are still the job,”

Unifor is calling on the federal government to waive the one-week waiting period for regular EI benefits, similar to changes made for sick benefits. The union is also calling for income replacement levels for both EI and non-EI program recipients of 80 per cent of regular earnings, along with various administrative measures to ensure greater access to benefits in a more timely way. 

Unifor’s updated list of policy demands can be found at unifor.org/COVID19, a website Unifor launched as a hub for member information about the pandemic.

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’s Director of Communications, Natalie Clancy at Natalie.Clancy@unifor.org or 416-707-5794 (cell).

Home care workers face new health risks and financial hardships

Rank and File - latest news -

By Zaid Noorsumar Ontario’s home care workers are facing uncertainty due to the challenges posed by COVID-19 in a sector that is already under stress due to decades of privatization and underfunding.  Workers across the sector who serve over 700,000 clients appear to be hampered by the shortage of personal protective equipment such as surgical Continue readingHome care workers face new health risks and financial hardships