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Grocery heads fail grocery workers, again

Unifor -

TORONTO - Today the heads of Canada’s largest grocery store chains faced sharp questions from MPs about their treatment of frontline workers during the pandemic, but industry must make lasting changes to correct declining working conditions in the retail sector.

“It’s not that complicated. Workers are supporting these grocery chains through a pandemic that still isn’t over,” Dias said.

“As President of Loblaw, Sarah Davis took home $6.7 million and her company is making record profits. To see her sit there and talk about how much she respects the workers, but then cut their pay, it’s disgusting. Retail workers deserve better, and Canadians expect better.”

Today’s appearance before the House Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology was a chance for the heads of Loblaw, Metro and Sobeys to show true respect for their workers, and admit they were wrong to cut pandemic pay last month, Dias said.

“What we got instead was highly-paid grocery executives insisting they did not collude, and then going on to say – remarkably – virtually the same thing over and over again,” Dias said.

“The executive all admitted to exchanging `courtesy emails’ and `courtesy calls’ on pandemic pay, and yet insist there was no collusion. I look forward to the committee’s ruling on that.”

With strike votes beginning Monday at Loblaw-owned Dominion stores in Newfoundland and Labrador, Dias pledged to take the fight for good grocery jobs to the bargaining table.

“The fact is, good jobs build strong communities. We will stand up for good full-time jobs and pay rates that recognize the vital role these workers play in our communities,” Dias said.
Lawn signs are being delivered and put up across Newfoundland and Labrador in support of Dominion workers as they prepare for strike votes and a return to the bargaining table.

Dias appeared before the same committee Monday with Local 597 President Carolyn Wrice and Local 414 President Gord Currie. All three encouraged the committee to recommend a more sweeping study of declining working conditions in the retail industry.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy, including 20,000 in the retail and wholesale sector. 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, FaceTime or Zoom, please contact Unifor Communications representative Stuart Laidlaw: stuart.laidlaw@unifor.org or 647-385-4054 (cell).

Unifor meets with Minister Garneau to review air transportation sector priorities

Unifor -

TORONTO—Unifor leadership representing air transportation workers met with federal Minister of Transportation Marc Garneau and representatives from his office today via videoconference to discuss the importance of ensuring the airline industry is able to weather the storm until Canada is able to return to successful travel and tourism after COVID-19.

“Unifor is a union for air transportation workers. Keeping the industry healthy is a priority during this unprecedented crisis,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Governments must listen to the voices of airline workers, remain vigilant and continue relying on science-based health and safety guidelines as a roadmap to economic recovery.”

Unifor members presented Garneau with a policy paper containing several recommendations to preserve and support the industry where travel restrictions remain in place, and lift travel restrictions where it is safe to do so. Unifor is recommending the development of a national aviation plan, an industry specific corporate support package, adjustments to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, and a national plan for a return to travel that prioritizes health and safety protocols.

Unifor works with many employers in the travel and tourism industry including hotels, airlines, and airports to implement health and safety protocols that will increase the safety of workers and the travelling public. These protocols include: ensuring workers have access to appropriate PPE, enhanced cleaning and sanitization measures, appropriate social and physical distancing measures, the development of a pandemic response plan, and much more.

Unifor leadership on the call included National President Jerry Dias, Local 2002 president Euila Leonard, Sunwing Pilots Local 7378 president Barret Arman, Air Traffic Controllers Local 5454 executive vice president Doug Best, Air Traffic Specialists Local 2245 president Elizabeth O’Hurley, and Local 2002 Bargaining Committee chair Frances Galambosy,

Unifor represents more than 16,500 workers in the Canadian air transportation sector, including pilots, customer service representatives, air traffic controllers, flight service specialists, aircraft mechanics, airport workers, and flight attendants.

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

As COVID-19 Threatens America’s Food Supply Chain, UFCW Calls on Congress to Prioritize Safety by Slowing Production Speeds in Meatpacking Plants

UFCW Press Releases -

Union for 250,000 Workers in Meatpacking and Food Processing Calls for Slower Line Speeds, Safer Workplaces for Essential Workers Endangered by COVID-19 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), which represents more than 250,000 workers in food processing and meatpacking plants, announced its support for the Safe Line Speeds in COVID-19 Act, introduced by U.S. Representatives Marcia Fudge (OH-11), Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), and Bennie G. Thompson (MS-02), which would impose safe line speed limits at meatpacking plants to ensure worker safety and social distancing. This comes at a critical moment for the U.S. food supply chain as COVID-19 continues to impact meatpacking plants and workers across the country.  

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:  

“America’s meatpacking workers have been on the frontlines of this pandemic since day one, putting themselves in harm’s way to make sure our families have the food we need. As COVID-19 continues to put our country’s meatpacking workers at risk, we must take action to reduce line speeds in these plants to ensure workers can maintain social distancing and stay safe on the job.  

“This bill is a critical step to reining in the dangerously fast line speeds at so many meatpacking plants and will put the safety of workers and our country’s food supply first. Congress must pass this vital legislation immediately.”  

Congressional Leaders for Worker Safety  

Keeping frontline workers safe at meatpacking plants, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, is a key priority for the members of Congress introducing this legislation.  

“The meat and poultry processing industry has been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, with infection hotspots appearing in plants across the country,” said U.S. Representative Marcia Fudge (OH-11).  “Fast line speeds make the dangerous conditions workers at these plants already face even worse by packing them closer together and placing them at greater risk of contracting or spreading the virus.  Waiving limits on processing speeds also threatens the safety of our food supply.  As COVID-19 cases continue to soar at processing plants, we must prioritize worker, food, and animal safety over increased production and profits.”  

“For years, USDA has been complicit in the consolidation of the meat processing industry by gifting linespeed waivers to corporate meatpackers at the expense of worker safety, the livelihoods of farmers and ranchers, and the safety of the nation’s meat supply,” said U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro (CT-03). “The high-profile COVID-19 outbreaks at meat packing plants have raised questions of the safety of the conditions inside these plants. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, these workers experienced injuries at a higher rate than comparable occupations. And now, faster linespeeds make it impossible for workers to practice social distancing and to comply with safety guidelines. That is why I am proud to join the leadership shown by Rep. Fudge in introducing this legislation that will reign in these reckless linespeed waivers for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency.” 

“It is imperative that we ensure worker safety on slaughter lines,” said U.S. Representative Bennie G. Thompson (MS-02). “Safety can not be exchanged for high production. During this unprecedented time of COVID-19, we should take the necessary precautions to ensure employees are sare while working at meat and  poultry establishments.” 

Background 

UFCW recently announced that in the first 100 days of COVID-19, there have already been 238 worker deaths and nearly 29,000 workers infected or exposed among its members in grocery stores, meatpacking plants, healthcare facilities, and other essential businesses. This includes 93 worker deaths in the meatpacking and food processing industries. 

UFCW announced its support today for the Safe Line Speeds in COVID-19 Act to ensure safe line speed limits in meatpacking plants.  

The USDA has repeatedly attempted to remove line speed limits in pork and poultry plants, increasing the risk to both workers and food safety.   

Even as the COVID-19 pandemic threatens the country’s food supply chain, the USDA has continued to grant waivers that allow plants to run faster and endanger more workers.  

In addition to calling on Congress for action today, UFCW is continuing to pursue litigation to maintain line speed limits in pork plants nationwide and prevent companies from further jeopardizing the health and safety of the nation’s food supply chain with dangerous increases to production speeds.

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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 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

ACP program cut at RRC a blow to Paramedics, rural health care: MAHCP President

Manitoba Association of Health Care Professionals -

The Manitoba Association of Health Care Professionals has the following comments on the suspension of Red River College’s Advanced Care Paramedic Program:

“The suspension of the Advanced Care Paramedic (ACP) diploma program at Red River College, reported yesterday, represents yet another short-sighted cut by the Manitoba Government and yet another blow to rural health care in our province. Manitoba has been moving toward a more consistent and professional model of Emergency Response Services for years now, and we’ve made some progress, but this cut takes us in the opposite direction. It will make it even more difficult to recruit and retain paramedics with advanced skills to serve rural Manitobans in an emergency, and it’s another signal that the Manitoba Government is moving in the wrong direction on rural health care. Manitoba Paramedics and all Manitobans deserve better.

“The Manitoba Association of Health Care Professionals is calling on the Manitoba Government to immediately reinstate the Advanced Care Paramedic diploma program at Red River College, and to ensure that ACPs are recognized and able to work to their full scope of practice in rural Manitoba.”

– Bob Moroz, MAHCP President

CAUT condemns arrest of Beijing professor

CAUT -

(Ottawa – July 9, 2020) CAUT has written to Chinese President Xi Jinping protesting the arrest of professor Xu Zhangrun, and calling for the repeal of the National Security Act for Hong Kong.

 “Xu has joined a growing list of people who have been imprisoned for exercising their civil and professional rights,” charges CAUT Executive Director David Robinson, in the letter. “This arrest and the far-reaching security laws effectively curtail freedom of speech and threaten academic freedom.”

Xu, a legal scholar at Tsinghua University, was arrested July 6 after openly criticizing China’s direction under Xi’s government, including laying blame last January for the Corona virus outbreak directly upon the Chinese leader. The National Security Act for Hong Kong came into effect on June 30 and is likely to be used to crack down on dissent.

Read the entire letter

FUNSCAD votes no confidence in Board of Governors

CAUT -

(Ottawa – July 8, 2020) Members of the Faculty Union of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (FUNSCAD) have overwhelmingly voted no confidence in the College’s Board of Governors after the abrupt removal on June 26 of President Aoife Mac Namara.

“Our members have spoken,” says FUNSCAD President Mathew Reichertz. “The lack of transparency in the Board’s decision to remove the President after only 11 months in the position, and its unwillingness to share the reasons for its decision has created a vacuum of information that is destabilizing to the University and destroying our trust in the Board and its ability to responsibly fulfill its fiduciary duties.”

Over 95 per cent of FUNSCAD members voted, and more than 96 per cent voted no confidence.

Reichertz says the Board’s unexplained actions are damaging to NSCAD, and is calling for transparency about the decision. “The Board is the only entity that can repair this problem, either by providing a compelling and satisfactory explanation to the community it serves, and proving that it can act collegially and transparently; or by reinstating the President, and stepping down so that others who have the trust of the community may take up this important responsibility.”

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