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NUPGE mourns the passing of Shirely Douglas


"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



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

Ford of Canada producing face shields for frontline health care workers and first responders

Unifor -

*The following is a joint media release with Ford Motor Company of Canada, Ltd. and Unifor*

OAKVILLE–Ford Motor Company of Canada, Ltd. has begun production of face shields at its Windsor Site operations to help protect Canadian medical personnel and first responders on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ford of Canada is working closely with the Ontario and federal governments to distribute face shields throughout the province, and across Canada. Shipments are scheduled to start this week.

“Ford of Canada has a long history of supporting Canada and its communities in times of need,” said Dean Stoneley, president and CEO, Ford Motor Company of Canada, Ltd. “By repurposing our production facilities in Windsor to meet the urgent demand for face shields, we can help protect the lives of our heroic healthcare professionals and first responders as they continue to treat the most vulnerable among us.”

Following the advice of government and health officials, Unifor and Ford of Canada remain in continuous communication at the national and plant level to ensure all safety actions and precautions are taken to help keep workers and their families protected.

“I am incredibly grateful to our members at Ford in Windsor for doing a tremendous service for their community and their country during this national emergency,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “I commend Ford for working with Unifor to ensure that strict health and safety protocols are in place that will ensure our members can manufacture badly needed medical supplies and return home safely to their homes and families.”

Ford of Canada is committed to the health and safety of its workforce, customers, dealers, suppliers and communities. With dedicated teams closely monitoring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ford of Canada continues to explore creative solutions, bringing them forward in ongoing discussions with the Canadian government.

Ford of Canada will provide additional updates as these special projects progress.

Additional contribution of essential equipment made by Ford of Canada and its employees include the donation of 2,900 pairs of Nitrile gloves to the Brampton Civic Hospital by Ford of Canada’s Bramalea Parts Distribution Centre in Brampton, Ontario, and the donation of 80 N95 masks to the Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital by Ford of Canada’s national headquarters.

Weekly labour news digest – April 5 2020

Rank and File - latest news -

Unemployment and income supports Holes in the safety net: CERB and EI coverage falls shortZaid Noorsumar, Rankandfile.ca, March 29 2020 Wage subsidy plan is full of big problemsNora Loreto, Rankandfile.ca, March 31 2020 Demand Compassion: Rent Strikes & Emergency BenefitsEmily Leedham, Rankandfile.ca, March 30 2020 Much stronger conditions needed on federal wage subsidy programToby Sanger, Continue readingWeekly labour news digest – April 5 2020

Joint MAHCP-MNU Statement and President’s Update

Manitoba Association of Health Care Professionals -

Dear MAHCP members,

It’s been another trying week as the COVID-19 pandemic hits home here in Manitoba.

I want to share with you the joint statement issued today by MAHCP and the Manitoba Nurses Union.

We felt this statement was necessary in response to a truly insulting letter we received yesterday from Health Minister Cameron Friesen. Please click here to read it.

I suspect the Premier shares Minister Friesen’s sentiments. When asked today at a press conference why health care workers on mandated self-isolation are being asked to use their own sick time and vacation time, the Premier called your benefits “generous” and said “this isn’t the time for unions to try to advocate for additional non-existing benefits.”

We disagree.

There is no more important time than now to be fighting for the protections and supports you deserve, and we will continue to do so.

Please stay safe and let us know how we can help.

In solidarity,

Bob Moroz, MAHCP President


Equal access to personal protective equipment needed for all workers at London hospital

Unifor -

April 3, 2020

LONDON — Unifor is calling on London Health Science Centre (LHSC) to immediately provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to all health care workers, regardless of their occupation.

“We are not going to flatten the curve by picking and choosing which health care workers receive personal protective equipment,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “We know COVID-19 is now spread through community transmission and it’s mind boggling to see LHSC pick and choose who they will protect on the job when they have a responsibility to provide PPE to every worker, regardless of what task they perform in the hospital or their occupation.”

Over the past week Unifor has held daily conference calls with LHSC management and has reiterated the union’s position that regardless of your job title in hospital, workers on their way into the facility through the screening process should receive an mask.

“The argument that some workers have no chance of being exposed to COVID-19 is simply false,” said Brian Chapman, President of Unifor Local 27. “In a time of crisis LHSC needs to stop these dangerous games and put workers first.”

Recognizing the global shortage and increasing demand for PPE, Unifor’s positon is that the priority of governments and hospital administration should be in securing PPE from other industries in less urgent need and not on hoarding PPE, or otherwise refusing access to PPE for workers at risk, on the frontlines.

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: contact Hamid Osman, Unifor National Communications Representative at 647-448-2823 (cell) or hamid.osman@unifor.org