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Deal reached for PSAC members at CFIA

PSAC -

In a victory for members at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) who have gone above and beyond to ensure food safety during this pandemic, PSAC has reached a tentative agreement that provides fair wages, no concessions, and...

America’s Meatpacking Union, Sen. Cory Booker, Rep. Marcia Fudge Demand USDA Stop Endangering Poultry Workers on Frontlines of COVID-19 Pandemic

UFCW Press Releases -

USDA’s Relentless Push for Faster Line Speeds Further Endangers Poultry Workers and Food Supply Already At Risk During Pandemic 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), America’s meatpacking union with 1.3 million workers, along with U.S. Senator Cory Booker (New Jersey) and Representative Marcia Fudge (Ohio), announced their opposition to a proposed United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulation increasing line speeds in poultry plants across America.  

“The hard-working men and women of America’s poultry industry deserve safe workplaces,” said UFCW International President Marc Perrone. “As our country’s poultry workers have been battling a pandemic, they should not have to also battle USDA seeking to make their workplaces less safe. Slower line speeds keep workers safer from injuries and ensure safe social distancing to stop the spread of coronavirus. The USDA must end its reckless efforts to increase line speeds, and instead put the safety of America’s workers and food supply first.”

“Fast line speeds worsen already unsafe conditions on slaughter lines and make it nearly impossible for workers to socially distance,” said Rep. Marcia Fudge.  “In fact, nearly all of the poultry plants that USDA allowed to operate faster line speeds this spring have been cited for worker safety violations or experienced COVID outbreaks.  In the middle of a pandemic, USDA should be prioritizing worker safety.  Congress must act now and pass my Safe Line Speeds in COVID-19 Act to block USDA from increasing poultry line speeds and putting the health and safety of the meatpacking workforce at greater risk.”

“Despite a surge of COVID-19 outbreaks in meatpacking plants across the country, the USDA continued to grant line speed request waivers that threatened the health and safety of workers, their families, and consumers,” said Senator Cory Booker. “The USDA has now proposed to permanently increase line speeds in poultry plants—an action that is both dangerous and irresponsible. Now is the time, more than ever, that we pass the Safe Line Speeds in COVID-19 Act and protect workers and communities from the harm of these reckless giveaways to corporate agribusiness.”  

Background:

UFCW, the top union for American meatpacking and poultry workers, has been a leading national voice for strengthening safeguards in these plants, which have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

UFCW reports that COVID-19 continues to threaten frontline food workers across the country, with more than 250 food worker deaths and over 36,000 food workers infected or exposed. This includes at least 115 meatpacking worker deaths and over 17,700 meatpacking workers infected or exposed to the virus.

Poultry Plant Regulation

The USDA regulates poultry line speed in plants across the United States for both worker safety and to allow for food inspection. Current line speeds are about 140 birds per minute and the proposed regulation allows plants to operate at up to 175 birds per minute.

In 2017, the USDA considered a petition from the National Chicken Council to eliminate line speed limits. That effort was ultimately rejected after an outpouring of opposition from workers and consumers.

Since then, the USDA has continued to approve record numbers of waivers to allow individual plants to operate at dangerously fast speeds, despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Union and Legislative Action

The UFCW and Public Citizen have filed a lawsuit to stop this dangerous practice and prevent further line speed waivers in the poultry industry.

Senator Cory Booker along with Representative Fudge have introduced “The Safe Line Speeds in COVID-19 Act” to ensure that USDA protects worker safety by ending this practice.

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Media Advisory: Unifor activists hit the streets on Labour Day to demand respect for striking Dominion (Loblaw Co.) workers

Unifor -

September 3, 2020

TORONTO – On Labour Day, Unifor members across Canada will take action against Loblaw Co. to demand the company negotiate a fair contract with striking members in Newfoundland, and support fair wages for all retail workers. 

Media are invited to attend or stream the action that features Unifor leadership and activists across the country. 

“In the past six months we have seen a transformation like no other,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Canadians have realized that when the going gets tough it’s not the CEOs and billionaires who stepped up to the plate, but frontline workers in health care, retail, transportation - the list goes on - who played a vital role in helping us all get through the pandemic. Monday’s actions are to show these COVID heroes the respect, love and solidarity that they rightfully deserve.”

Who:    Jerry Dias, Unifor National President in Toronto

              Naureen Rizvi, Unifor Ontario Regional Director in Toronto

              Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor Western Regional Director in Vancouver

              Linda MacNeil, Unifor Atlantic Regional Director in St. John’s

              And others

When: Monday, September 7, 2020 at 1:00 p.m. E.T.

Where: Info pickets across Canada – exact locations announced Monday morning   

              Live-streamed to fb.com/UniforCanada

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 in-person, phone or video conference interviews or for more information, please contact Unifor Communications Representative Shelley Amyotte at shelley.amyotte@unifor.org or 902-717-7491.

MEDIA ADVISORY: Unifor to announce Detroit Three strike target

Unifor -

September 4, 2020

TORONTO—On Tuesday September 8, 2020 Unifor’s National President will announce live on Facebook which Detroit Three automaker will be selected to establish the pattern agreement for 2020 auto bargaining. 

“On Tuesday I will announce the company that I believe will give Unifor the best chance to address our bargaining agenda and our vision for the industry, including job security issues, new product allocations and economic progress for our members” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. “We will also continue to push provincial and federal governments to be active participants in support of our efforts to secure our auto industry’s future. A future made in Canada.”

The expiring collective agreements cover approximately 17,000 Unifor members at the Detroit Three.

Last weekend workers voted overwhelmingly to authorize strike action should negotiations fail to reach a settlement with the target employer by the Sept 21st strike deadline. 

WHAT:                Media conference and photo opportunities with bargaining committee members

WHEN:                11 a.m., Tuesday, September 8, 2020  

WHERE:              Dominion Ballroom, Sheraton Centre, 123 Queen Street West, Toronto



WHO:                  Unifor National President Jerry Dias and Unifor Master Bargaining Committee representatives

Journalists wishing to participate in the Question & Answer portion of the media conference by phone must register by 10 am Monday September by emailing Natalie.Clancy@unifor.org

In-person attendance will be restricted due to the COVID-19 pandemic in compliance with Ontario health directives. Those wishing to attend in person must also register in advance via email. A pool camera arrangement would be ideal.

The news conference will be open to accredited media and will also be streamed live on Unifor’s Facebook page.  Broadcast quality 4K footage of the event will also be available for download upon request. A digital media kit be found on this website.  Unifor represents 9000 workers at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, 6300 at Ford Motor Company, and 4100 at General Motors. 

For media inquiries or to arrange interviews via Facetime, Zoom, or Skype after the event please contact Unifor’s Director of Communications, Natalie Clancy at  Natalie.Clancy@unifor.org or 416-707-5794 (cell).

Unifor calls for safe re-opening of casinos across Canada

Unifor -

September 2, 2020

TORONTO—Unifor is calling on provinces to safely re-open casinos and gaming operations across the country today under the same sound public health protocols that guided re-openings in other sectors of the economy.

“Enough is enough—it’s time to safely re-open casinos so gaming workers can get back to work and support their families,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “There’s just no sound science that justifies re-opening Walmarts, gyms, and restaurants while at the same time keeping the casinos closed. There’s no logic behind the decision, and it’s placing a perfectly legal sector in jeopardy.”

Over the past several weeks, provinces across Canada have begun to lift restrictions on business operations including restaurants, retail shops, and fitness facilities, based on the expert guidance of public health officials. At the same time, however, casino remain closed under government order in a number of jurisdictions, including British Columbia and parts of southern and south-western Ontario.

Gaming is a highly regulated sector and operators are already required to follow strict government-mandated parameters. As Unifor members continue to work with large gaming providers under strict health and safety protocols the remaining gaming and secondary hospitality operations should be allowed to re-open—particularly those that feature slot gaming, which allows for highly-controlled physical distancing.

With many gaming facilities closed or operating at restricted capacity, thousands of gaming workers across the country remain on lay-off. Many of these workers have already lost, or are soon to lose, benefits coverage, creating a looming drug coverage crisis that could put gaming workers in the difficult position of having to choose between life-saving medication and other essentials like paying for rent or groceries.

“While other types of businesses have been allowed to re-open, casinos and gaming workers are being left behind,” added Dias. “We have reviewed the comprehensive plans our employers have submitted to government to make sure guests and workers are kept healthy and safe. With these enhanced measures in place, our members want to get back to work and help our economy get back on its feet.”

Canada’s legal gaming sector already faces competition from illegal and unregulated online gaming. While many provinces have their own legal online gaming platforms, there are concerns that the extended closure of bricks-and-mortar casinos could lead more customers to participate in illegal online gambling.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. Unifor represents nearly 9,000 gaming workers at casinos, racetracks, and lotteries across Canada and is the largest union for gaming workers in the country. 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 David Molenhuis, Unifor National Communications Representative at david.molenhuis@unifor.org or 416-575-7453 (cell).

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