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Translink layoffs risk harming essential service workers

Unifor -

April 20, 2020

VANCOUVER—Translink has moved ahead with issuing notice of hundreds of layoffs of front-line transit worker, potentially interfering in the ability of tens of thousands of essential service workers to get to their jobs, says Unifor.

“Public transit is a vital part of Metro Vancouver’s effective response to COVID-19,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “We must support essential services workers in every way we can, and that includes getting them to work safely and effectively.”

Unifor says that close to 1,000 transit operators and 200 maintenance staff have received layoff notice effective May 18, 2020. B.C. Transit has not announced any plans to reduce service levels.

Health care workers have already spoke out against transit service cutbacks. Unifor has warned that the existing service levels, with the COVID-19-related capacity regulations, are already proving a challenge for social distancing precautions.

“Maintaining safe interpersonal distance on busses today is a challenge, and it will only get more difficult—or impossible—with fewer busses on the road,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor Western Regional Director. “The federal government and provincial government need get off the sidelines and keep our transit system healthy during the pandemic. Not next month. Not next week. Today.”

Unifor is calling on all levels of government to come together to maintain transit service levels to keep passengers safe and to keep the struggling Metro Vancouver economy moving during an already challenging time.

Information about the union’s response to the pandemic, as well as resources for members can be found at unifor.org/COVID19.

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 interviews via Skype or Facetime, please contact Unifor Communications Representative Ian Boyko at ian.boyko@unifor.org or 778-903-6549 (cell).

UFCW and JBS Announce Increased Pay and Enhanced Protective Equipment for Meatpacking Workers on Frontlines of Coronavirus Pandemic

UFCW Press Releases -

America’s Largest Food and Retail Union Applauds Action by JBS, Largest U.S. Beef and Pork Processor, to Strengthen Worker Support and Protections  

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, which represents more than 250,000 meatpacking and food processing workers all across the country, announced an agreement with JBS — the leading processor of beef and pork in the United States — to increase wages for workers by $4 per hour and further strengthen safety measures in these plants.

The agreement between the UFCW and JBS is the union’s latest action to protect workers and strengthen our nation’s food supply during the coronavirus pandemic. This follows UFCW’s recent announcement of increased pay and protections for workers across these industries.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“In the face of this pandemic, the safety of JBS workers and all our meatpacking members is paramount. The UFCW has worked throughout this national health crisis to ensure that our union members are protected and millions of Americans continue to have access to the food they need.

“We applaud JBS and our UFCW Locals for coming to an agreement that recognizes the hard work and sacrifices of these brave men and women by giving them an additional $4 an hour and, more importantly, access to the personal protection equipment like masks, gloves, and face shields that they need to do their jobs safely.

“We hope JBS’s leadership sends a message to all other companies – union and non-union. Now, more than ever, it is critical that not only is our food supply protected, but that food processing and meatpacking workers are protected as they perform such an essential role during this health crisis.”


As part of this new agreement, JBS announced the following for workers at its plants in Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin:

  • Beginning April 20 and lasting through May 30, JBS employees will receive an additional $4 an hour in pay increases. This will be in addition to the previously announced $600 bonus.
  • JBS employees will have access to enhanced personal protection equipment like masks, gloves, and face shields.
  • JBS will be installing plexiglass shields in areas of plants where social distancing is not possible.
  • Expanded cafeterias and breakrooms in JBS plants will allow workers to better practice social distancing.
  • Enhanced cleaning in common areas and plants will further strengthen safety measures.


 The UFCW is the largest private sector union in the United States, representing 1.3 million professionals and their families in grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries.

Our members help put food on our nation’s tables and serve customers in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico. Learn more about the UFCW at www.ufcw.org.


MGEU President writes to Premier, demands more info re: layoff threats

Manitoba Government & General Employees Union -

In response to Premier Pallister’s announcement earlier this week that his government plans to reduce the workweek for some provincial employees, MGEU President Michelle Gawronsky wrote to the Premier today, arguing that public employees are going to need more time and a lot more information before any decisions can be made.

By the Numbers: Grocery shopping habits during COVID-19

UFCW Canada -

Vancouver – April 17, 2020 – A new survey of Canadian attitudes and behaviour during the COVID-19 crisis finds that the coronavirus pandemic has significantly impacted the grocery shopping habits of Canadians and their families, with a majority of people saying they are buying more food products than they normally would. 

‘Essential’ undocumented workers demand healthcare, CERB & status

Rank and File - latest news -

By Emily Leedham “We are invisible, and no one – not the government or society – wants to see or hear us.” said Liliana Trejo, an undocumented worker based in Montreal, at an online press conference today. “If this virus does not kill us, hunger will.” The press conference was organized on Thursday, April 16, Continue reading‘Essential’ undocumented workers demand healthcare, CERB & status

Judge rules Province must appoint arbitration panel, calls government’s case for refusal “disingenuous at best”

Manitoba Government & General Employees Union -

Today, the Court of Queen’s Bench ruled that the MGEU was entirely justified in seeking arbitration on behalf of Civil Service members. In her ruling, Judge Keyser sided firmly with the union and directed Finance Minister Scott Fielding to appoint an arbitration panel as clearly outlined in the Civil Service Act.

First unionized cannabis dispensary workers achieve premium pay

UFCW Canada -

Vancouver – April 16, 2020 – With the support of their union, budtenders at Clarity Cannabis have achieved hazard pay in recognition of their important work on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis. UFCW 1518 became the first union to unionize private cannabis dispensary workers in Canada last February, when Clarity Cannabis workers joined the union.

Campaign Launched to Protect Frontline Healthcare Workers

Unifor -

A coalition of unions representing more than 40,000 health care workers is launching a new campaign today, asking Nova Scotians to call on government to sign an important protocol to provide proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to our province’s frontline healthcare workers.

Provincial governments and employers in British Columbia, New Brunswick, Ontario and Alberta have signed similar protocol agreements. The five unions involved in the campaign – NSNU, NSGEU, CUPE, Unifor and IUOE Local 727 – have been calling on Premier Stephen McNeil to sign onto a similar protocol since the COVID-19 pandemic reached Nova Scotia.

Frontline workers are most at risk of contracting the virus, because they work closely with infected clients, residents and patients. This means that not only are they at-risk without access to proper PPE, but they also risk spreading the virus to their loved ones at home and within the greater community. Furthermore, if these workers get sick, there will be fewer skilled workers available to care for the sick and vulnerable in the pre-hospital setting, hospitals, long-term care facilities, and even to deliver home care services.

These frontline workers have been desperately calling for proper PPE – including N95 masks, where appropriate – since day one of this crisis.

As a show of good faith and respect for frontline workers, unions representing these health care workers are calling on government to sign onto the protocol, as requested two weeks ago.

It’s time for the Nova Scotia government to follow the lead of Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia and New Brunswick by agreeing to ensure adequate health and safety controls for frontline workers, and allowing health care professionals to use a risk assessment to determine the controls necessary in the line of duty.

The unions and workers are not government’s adversaries in this fight. We have a common enemy: COVID-19. We all want to protect our vulnerable seniors and brave frontline workers. Our members are telling us what is happening on the frontline, and they are deeply concerned and need our support and protection.

Protect these workers, so they can protect us. Visit protectnsfrontline.ca

To arrange an interview with one of the union Presidents, please contact their respective Communications staff member to set up a video or phone call:

Unifor: Shelley Amyotte shelley.amyotte@unifor.org or 902-717-7491

NSGEU: Holly Fraughton hfraughton@nsgeu.ca or 902-471-1781

NSNU: Coleen Logan coleen.logan@nsnu.ca or 902-430-6169

IUOE Local 727: Brie MacIsaac profficer@iuoe727.ca or 902-399-8300

CUPE: Gaëlle McNeil gmcneil@cupe.ca or 902-471-8923