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Black History Month: Unifor members speak on activism Week 1

Unifor -

Each week throughout Black History Month we will profile a members from across the country, highlighting their activist contributions and those who inspired them.

Ruth Pryce

Local 1106, Recipient of the 2020 100 Accomplished Black Canadian Women

Ruth Pryce is the President of Local 1106 and the first Aboriginal and Worker of Colour representative for Unifor.  She began work with Revera Long Term Care in 1999 as a personal support worker.

Ruth’s involvement with her local began in 2001, when she became the chairperson for her workplace. She was on the bargaining committee for her first collective agreement, and every collective agreement since.

In 2007, she was elected as trustee for Local 1106 and in 2010 as vice-president where she was a full time representative, servicing bargaining units within the local. She has also served on her local’s Women’s and Education committees.

Her union training includes grievance handing, workplace leadership, human rights, collectives bargaining, conflict resolution and women’s activists.

Ruth was a delegate of the Waterloo Regional Labour Council, where she serves as a trustee. She was elected co-chair of CAW Council Aboriginal and Workers of Colour, a position she has held for three years, and was chosen to represent CAW at the OFL Workers of Colour Caucus. CAW is one of the founding unions of Unifor, with CEP.

Outside of Unifor, she is an active founding member of the London, Ontario, area group, Helping Hands of Antigua and Barbuda and Friends.

Ruth got involved with her union after she could not ignore the injustices and unfair treatment happening to her co-workers.

Jacqueline McIntosh

Local 79M, Recipient of the 2020 100 Accomplished Black Canadian Women

Jackie McIntosh, Senior ENG Editor at CTV News Channel and National News is an activist and Vice-Chairperson for the Unifor Ontario Political Action Committee. 

Jackie was born in Bath, England.  When Jacqueline was seven, she was excelling in gymnastics, track and field, the choir and presented flowers to the mayor’s wife for an event at the school.  Jacqueline and her sisters were the only black students in the school and the community. 

The older kids called Jacqueline – Backie Jackie.  Her Mom had a memorable chat moment with Jacqueline.  Jackie’s Mom said, “First, people who meet you will see you as black, then a girl or young woman and finally, see who you are as the true Jacqueline that you are.”  It gave Jacqueline the chance to deal with racism and bullying at that time. It was the first step to becoming the activist that she is today.

When Jacqueline was nine, she had the chance to move from England to Canada with her family. She graduated from the Niagara College of Applied Arts and Technology with a Diploma in Broadcasting - R­adio and Television.

In 1989, Jackie started working at CTV News and Programming Operations. She was the first woman to be hired full-time as an Editor. 

Many thanks to Ann Newman, who worked for Bell Canada, in Jackie’s eyes was a true soul activist and was one of the founding members of the Coalition of the Black Trade Unionist (CBTU) Canadian Chapter1. 

Sister Ann Newman encouraged Jackie to run in 1995 as the first sister to be the Visible Minority on the CEP Women’s Committee. The early years of being involved with CEP gave Jackie the chance to work beside so many strong Aboriginal sisters and Sisters of Colour. 

Here are just a few names to mention Carol Wall, Mary Roberts, Irene Lobo, Lorna Bowden, Terri Monture, Pearl Almeida, Deanne Smith, Deborah Hyatt.

Presently, Jackie is an active member of the Ontario Regional Political Action Committee. At the beginning of 2017, she lobbied to change the Media Industry to help journalists and media workers. Jackie also lobbied to stop Bill C-27 from eroding pension security, lent her support to a Canadian National Pharmacare Program, and worked to help legislate pay equity. 

Jackie has supported and participated in countless Unifor strikes and political protests during the municipal, provincial and federal elections. She is a community leader and public speaker who has actively campaigned for the Unifor National, the Ontario Region, and her local, Unifor 79M.

‘Activism is energizing! It empowers me’

Deanne Smith

Local 25, Recipient of the 2020 100 Accomplished Black Canadian Women

Deanne Smith is a member of Unifor Local 25. She has been involved in her union for over 20 years as a steward and is presently serving as a chief steward for the past 6 years.

She is also a member of the Unifor Ontario Regional Council LGBTQ Equity Committee for the past 3 years serving to support the members, work collaboratively with other equity seeking groups, and to increase membership participation in the various areas of the union.

Deanne has been an activist in elected student union positions throughout her time in CEGEP and university as she has a keen interest in issues that affect women, racialized workers and the LGBTTQ2SI community.

She is passionate about advocacy, community activism, education, and acts as a mentor for the Women Transitioning to Trades program operated through George Brown College.

Deanne enjoys working with individuals and assists with them regaining their voice and power. She also works on changing policies and practices not only in her workplace but also in society. In addition, she is constantly helping to create new strategies to achieve these goals.

Working with city and provincial political candidate campaign teams doing canvassing is her way of carrying out part of her civic duties.

The 519 Community Centre, Sistering Women’s shelter, Blackness Yes/Block-O-Rama, EGALE and Rainbow Railroad are organizations that Deanne is a liaison with and supports in their efforts to provide service  to community members. Be it rescuing LGBTQ members fleeing domestic violence or violent countries, supporting victims of homelessness/under housing and assisting with workshops for newcomers in various religious communities.

Marie France Fleurantin

Local 62, Recipient of the 2020 100 Accomplished Black Canadian Women

As soon as she set foot in what was a traditionally male-dominated environment, Marie-France knew she wanted to get involved in this new and unfamiliar world of unions... The time was ripe for a new generation of women – a generation of women of colour. “Why not?” she thought.

Marie-France has worked in furniture finishing for over 20 years. Upon joining Bombardier Aerospace in 2010, she discovered a whole new world: the world of unions!

Unfortunately, her early days in her new workplace were not very pleasant. She faced several episodes of flagrant disregard for her person and quickly realized that not everyone in the male majority was ready to accept the presence of a woman, much less a woman of colour. She had to fight even harder to make a place for herself, but in the end she succeeded brilliantly.

After obtaining permanent status at Bombardier, she discovered the many advantages a union like Unifor can offer its members, especially members like herself. Almost immediately, she joined the Women’s Committee of her local union, Local 62. That marked a turning point for her. She enrolled in a variety of union education courses and gradually became more aware of the many ways in which unions contribute to the struggles of equity-seeking groups. She realized how many battles had already been won, but also how many still lay ahead.

Understanding the importance of getting involved, she made a personal commitment to become more actively engaged in her union. She was elected a trustee and served on the Executive of Local 62. With the support of her local union, she was also elected to the Women’s Committee of the Unifor Quebec Council. She points out that this marked the first time a racialized woman was elected to both of these bodies simultaneously. She did not stop there: three years later, she became the second vice-president of Local 62, in addition to being elected chair of the Quebec Council’s Aboriginal and Workers of Colour Committee. In another first, she was also appointed a discussion leader by Unifor Quebec.

All these roles exposed her to several other aspects of unionism. For example, as a member of an advisory panel on equity, she helped identify and clarify shortcomings within her union with regard to equity-seeking groups. Major efforts are already under way to address these shortcomings. She is extremely proud to be a member of a union that understands the challenges facing these groups.

Marie-France is also passionate about getting actively involved in the community. She doesn’t hesitate to take part in demonstrations and is not afraid to take to the mic to denounce injustices and propose solutions. Thanks to the collaboration of the Quebec Council’s Aboriginal and Workers of Colour Committee and Unifor Quebec’s Education Department, the very first course dedicated to members who identify with these groups will be offered to them in winter 2020.

Whether it’s an election campaign, collective bargaining talks, demonstrations in support of striking members in different sectors, or simply talking to members of her local union, to her colleagues in the workplace or to people in her community, Marie-France will stop at nothing to try and help make the world a better place… You might say she’s an eternal optimist.

Black History Month: Unifor members speak on activism Week 1

Unifor -

Each week throughout Black History Month we will profile a members from across the country, highlighting their activist contributions and those who inspired them.

Ruth Pryce

Local 1106, Recipient of the 2020 100 Accomplished Black Canadian Women

Ruth Pryce is the President of Local 1106 and the first Aboriginal and Worker of Colour representative for Unifor.  She began work with Revera Long Term Care in 1999 as a personal support worker.

Ruth’s involvement with her local began in 2001, when she became the chairperson for her workplace. She was on the bargaining committee for her first collective agreement, and every collective agreement since.

In 2007, she was elected as trustee for Local 1106 and in 2010 as vice-president where she was a full time representative, servicing bargaining units within the local. She has also served on her local’s Women’s and Education committees.

Her union training includes grievance handing, workplace leadership, human rights, collectives bargaining, conflict resolution and women’s activists.

Ruth was a delegate of the Waterloo Regional Labour Council, where she serves as a trustee. She was elected co-chair of CAW Council Aboriginal and Workers of Colour, a position she has held for three years, and was chosen to represent CAW at the OFL Workers of Colour Caucus. CAW is one of the founding unions of Unifor, with CEP.

Outside of Unifor, she is an active founding member of the London, Ontario, area group, Helping Hands of Antigua and Barbuda and Friends.

Ruth got involved with her union after she could not ignore the injustices and unfair treatment happening to her co-workers.

Jacqueline McIntosh

Local 79M, Recipient of the 2020 100 Accomplished Black Canadian Women

Jackie McIntosh, Senior ENG Editor at CTV News Channel and National News is an activist and Vice-Chairperson for the Unifor Ontario Political Action Committee. 

Jackie was born in Bath, England.  When Jacqueline was seven, she was excelling in gymnastics, track and field, the choir and presented flowers to the mayor’s wife for an event at the school.  Jacqueline and her sisters were the only black students in the school and the community. 

The older kids called Jacqueline – Backie Jackie.  Her Mom had a memorable chat moment with Jacqueline.  Jackie’s Mom said, “First, people who meet you will see you as black, then a girl or young woman and finally, see who you are as the true Jacqueline that you are.”  It gave Jacqueline the chance to deal with racism and bullying at that time. It was the first step to becoming the activist that she is today.

When Jacqueline was nine, she had the chance to move from England to Canada with her family. She graduated from the Niagara College of Applied Arts and Technology with a Diploma in Broadcasting - R­adio and Television.

In 1989, Jackie started working at CTV News and Programming Operations. She was the first woman to be hired full-time as an Editor. 

Many thanks to Ann Newman, who worked for Bell Canada, in Jackie’s eyes was a true soul activist and was one of the founding members of the Coalition of the Black Trade Unionist (CBTU) Canadian Chapter1. 

Sister Ann Newman encouraged Jackie to run in 1995 as the first sister to be the Visible Minority on the CEP Women’s Committee. The early years of being involved with CEP gave Jackie the chance to work beside so many strong Aboriginal sisters and Sisters of Colour. 

Here are just a few names to mention Carol Wall, Mary Roberts, Irene Lobo, Lorna Bowden, Terri Monture, Pearl Almeida, Deanne Smith, Deborah Hyatt.

Presently, Jackie is an active member of the Ontario Regional Political Action Committee. At the beginning of 2017, she lobbied to change the Media Industry to help journalists and media workers. Jackie also lobbied to stop Bill C-27 from eroding pension security, lent her support to a Canadian National Pharmacare Program, and worked to help legislate pay equity. 

Jackie has supported and participated in countless Unifor strikes and political protests during the municipal, provincial and federal elections. She is a community leader and public speaker who has actively campaigned for the Unifor National, the Ontario Region, and her local, Unifor 79M.

‘Activism is energizing! It empowers me’

Deanne Smith

Local 25, Recipient of the 2020 100 Accomplished Black Canadian Women

Deanne Smith is a member of Unifor Local 25. She has been involved in her union for over 20 years as a steward and is presently serving as a chief steward for the past 6 years.

She is also a member of the Unifor Ontario Regional Council LGBTQ Equity Committee for the past 3 years serving to support the members, work collaboratively with other equity seeking groups, and to increase membership participation in the various areas of the union.

Deanne has been an activist in elected student union positions throughout her time in CEGEP and university as she has a keen interest in issues that affect women, racialized workers and the LGBTTQ2SI community.

She is passionate about advocacy, community activism, education, and acts as a mentor for the Women Transitioning to Trades program operated through George Brown College.

Deanne enjoys working with individuals and assists with them regaining their voice and power. She also works on changing policies and practices not only in her workplace but also in society. In addition, she is constantly helping to create new strategies to achieve these goals.

Working with city and provincial political candidate campaign teams doing canvassing is her way of carrying out part of her civic duties.

The 519 Community Centre, Sistering Women’s shelter, Blackness Yes/Block-O-Rama, EGALE and Rainbow Railroad are organizations that Deanne is a liaison with and supports in their efforts to provide service  to community members. Be it rescuing LGBTQ members fleeing domestic violence or violent countries, supporting victims of homelessness/under housing and assisting with workshops for newcomers in various religious communities.

Marie France Fleurantin

Local 62, Recipient of the 2020 100 Accomplished Black Canadian Women

As soon as she set foot in what was a traditionally male-dominated environment, Marie-France knew she wanted to get involved in this new and unfamiliar world of unions... The time was ripe for a new generation of women – a generation of women of colour. “Why not?” she thought.

Marie-France has worked in furniture finishing for over 20 years. Upon joining Bombardier Aerospace in 2010, she discovered a whole new world: the world of unions!

Unfortunately, her early days in her new workplace were not very pleasant. She faced several episodes of flagrant disregard for her person and quickly realized that not everyone in the male majority was ready to accept the presence of a woman, much less a woman of colour. She had to fight even harder to make a place for herself, but in the end she succeeded brilliantly.

After obtaining permanent status at Bombardier, she discovered the many advantages a union like Unifor can offer its members, especially members like herself. Almost immediately, she joined the Women’s Committee of her local union, Local 62. That marked a turning point for her. She enrolled in a variety of union education courses and gradually became more aware of the many ways in which unions contribute to the struggles of equity-seeking groups. She realized how many battles had already been won, but also how many still lay ahead.

Understanding the importance of getting involved, she made a personal commitment to become more actively engaged in her union. She was elected a trustee and served on the Executive of Local 62. With the support of her local union, she was also elected to the Women’s Committee of the Unifor Quebec Council. She points out that this marked the first time a racialized woman was elected to both of these bodies simultaneously. She did not stop there: three years later, she became the second vice-president of Local 62, in addition to being elected chair of the Quebec Council’s Aboriginal and Workers of Colour Committee. In another first, she was also appointed a discussion leader by Unifor Quebec.

All these roles exposed her to several other aspects of unionism. For example, as a member of an advisory panel on equity, she helped identify and clarify shortcomings within her union with regard to equity-seeking groups. Major efforts are already under way to address these shortcomings. She is extremely proud to be a member of a union that understands the challenges facing these groups.

Marie-France is also passionate about getting actively involved in the community. She doesn’t hesitate to take part in demonstrations and is not afraid to take to the mic to denounce injustices and propose solutions. Thanks to the collaboration of the Quebec Council’s Aboriginal and Workers of Colour Committee and Unifor Quebec’s Education Department, the very first course dedicated to members who identify with these groups will be offered to them in winter 2020.

Whether it’s an election campaign, collective bargaining talks, demonstrations in support of striking members in different sectors, or simply talking to members of her local union, to her colleagues in the workplace or to people in her community, Marie-France will stop at nothing to try and help make the world a better place… You might say she’s an eternal optimist.

Unifor outraged at Regina Police denial of lawful picket

Unifor -

February 07, 2020

REGINA – Unifor is outraged at the actions of the Regina Police Service to deny lawful picketing by locked-out workers at Co-op Refinery.

“Regina Police blocking access to picket locations at the bidding of Co-op Refinery is a clear violation of Charter rights,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias.

This morning Regina Police blocked access on Ninth Avenue North between McDonald and Winnipeg streets to all picketers while escorting Co-op trucks through to the refinery as uniformed officers checked the trucker’s names off lists at the barriers. Police then took the additional step of removing the workers’ warming and bathroom facilities from the sites.

“First Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL) locks workers out in the dead of winter, then the Regina Police take away their right to picket, but also make sure to cruelly take away the picketers’ limited access to warming shelters and washroom facilities,” said Dias. “No judge ruled to freeze out the picketers and refuse to allow them to go to the bathroom. The Regina Police Service has taken the law into their own hands.”

As police escalated tensions on day 64 of the lockout, Unifor once again called on Premier Scott Moe and FCL to bring an immediate end to the dispute by granting an independent provincially-appointed mediator the power to arbitrate if the parties are unable to come to an agreement after seven days of bargaining.

Yesterday the union outlined steps to end the lockout at the Co-op Refinery and return Unifor Local 594 members back to work as early as Monday February 10.

“A clear negotiation deadline followed by binding arbitration is the only guaranteed way to end this dispute,” said Dias. “If FCL is at all serious about wanting to resolve this and restore service to their customers they would agree.”

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 Communications Representative Kathleen O’Keefe at kathleen.okeefe@unifor.org or 416-896-3303 (cell).

Schlegel long-term care workers speak about breakdown in negotiations

Unifor -

February 7, 2020

WINDSOR– Members of Unifor Local 2458 at Schlegel long-term care facilities will be available to speak to media with details on the breakdown in negotiations with the employer.

“The success of these negotiations must be the dignified care of long-term care residents through proper respect paid to the workers who provide them hands-on care each and every day – anything less than that is unacceptable,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. 

Members of the media are invited to attend the media availability:

What:                  Media Availability

Who:                   Tullio DiPonti, Local 2458 President; Shelley Smith, Local 2458 Vice-President; Chris Taylor, National Representative

When:                 February 10, 2020 at 10:00 a.m.

Where:               Village of St. Clair, 1800 Talbot Road, Windsor

For media inquiries or to arrange interviews, please contact National Communications Representative Hamid Osman at hamid.osman@unifor.org or 647.448.2823.

UFCW: Amazon’s Nearly $1 Billion in Unpaid Taxes is Funding Technology Threatening Millions of American Jobs

UFCW Press Releases -

America’s Largest Private Sector Union Calls Out Jeff Bezos for Misleading Tax Claims As Amazon Pushes to Eliminate Jobs Across the Country

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) condemned the failure of Amazon to pay more than $800 million in federal income taxes owed, which was reported this week. UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“Tens of millions of Americans pay their taxes, but not Amazon. Amazon uses tax loopholes to avoid paying billions in taxes – even as they pocket billions more in tax breaks from struggling cities and race to replace millions of jobs with automation.

“The fact is that Jeff Bezos and Amazon have one agenda – driving up profits at any cost by replacing talented employees with machines; regardless of whether it’s at Whole Foods, Amazon warehouses, or competing retail and grocery stores.

“Make no mistake, Amazon represents a clear and present danger to working- and middle-class Americans. It is time to realize that Amazon’s ruthless business model will lead to massive job losses that could cripple our entire economy.”

###

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 

 

 

 

Series of rallies as part of the Bell Real Talk campaign

Unifor -

Several rallies will be held over the coming weeks as part of the Bell Real Talk campaign aimed at denouncing practices that have a harmful effect on the working conditions and quality of life of its employees. Enough is enough! That’s the message Unifor members want to send to their employer. After making that message clear at events in Gatineau, Sherbrooke and Saint-Jérôme, members organized a rally at the Bell Campus on Nun’s Island on January 30. You can support Unifor members working at Bell Canada by staying tuned for updates on further actions planned for the coming weeks and months. Solidarity!

 

 

Striking Unifor members at Voith ratify new contract

Unifor -

After being on strike for two and a half months, members of Unifor Local 252 at Voith Hydro have ratified a new collective agreement.

“I want to congratulate Local 252 for standing up to a bully employer,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “It was clear that Voith wanted a fight, and these members prevailed.”

Gains include improvements to both the defined benefit pension plan and the Registered Retirement Savings Plan. Members voted 94 per cent in favor of the tentative agreement.

The strike began in November 2019 after the employer demanded a wage freeze and other concessions.

In January 2020, Local 252 members overwhelmingly rejected a “final offer” in a vote was held after the employer circumvented the bargaining committee using a process available through the Ontario Ministry of Labour.

“Our new contract acknowledges our members’ role in keeping Voith profitable,” said Wilson Stowel, President of Local 252.

Local 252 represents members working as coil winders at Voith Hydro in Mississauga.

OPSEU members boost rally at Kenora Co-op Gas Bar

NUPGE -

Chanting “Another day longer, another day stronger,” and “3 million a day? Not today!" — the OPSEU/NUPGE members joined local Unifor and Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association members to call attention to the plight of the workers at the Co-op Refinery in Regina. 

Celebrating 50 years of NBU

NUPGE -

“For half a century we’ve been helping New Brunswickers in their daily lives and in some of their biggest life moments.” ― Susie Proulx-Daigle, NBU President 

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