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UFCW Canada observes Black History Month – February 2019

UFCW Canada -

Toronto – January 30, 2019 – Black History Month is observed annually in February across North America. Rooted in the activism of historian Carter G. Woodson, who successfully pushed for the creation of Negro History Week in the United States, the month was first recognized by the Canadian government following a 1995 motion led by Jean Augustine.

Democracy XChange spotlights need to defend democracy

Unifor -

At a time when democracy is under increased attack, people and organizations from around the world gathered at the Democracy XChange Summit in Toronto to share initiatives and measures to activate change from the ground up.

“Democracy XChange provided an opportunity to develop strategies to strengthen and defend democracy,” said National Secretary Treasurer Bob Orr, who represented Unifor at the event. “Diverse voices were able to join the discussion on new methods to engage and organize in order to generate grassroots change.”

Unifor was a proud sponsor of Democracy XChange, held at Ryerson University January 25-27, which featured plenaries, round tables, and more than 50 speakers.  

Journalist Maria Ressa, named TIME’s 2018 Person of the Year as one of “The Guardians” from around the world combating the “War on Truth”, delivered the closing keynote address on truth, information and global power structures. Ressa highlighted the responsibility to call out false information on social media whenever it is encountered.

“Democracy cannot be taken for granted,” said Orr. “It must be defended by everyone from local neighbourhood activists to national change makers.”

Nova Scotia Local Union Forum builds the union

Unifor -

Some 120 local Unifor leaders and activists met in Halifax recently to learn about the latest on effective anti-harassment workplace practices, drug and alcohol policies and to get updates on current local and national union campaigns.

The forums - one was held in New Brunswick last fall and another is being scheduled for Newfoundland and Labrador this spring, among others across the country - were sparked by recommendations from the Local Union Task Force (LUTF) where the national union discussed with local leaders across the country how to build stronger local unions.

“Making sure union locals have the tools and information to better represent their members and demand healthy workplaces is one of the ways we do that,” said Lana Payne, Unifor Atlantic Regional Director.

Payne welcomed the delegates gathered at the new World Trade and Convention Centre and started the day with important updates on campaigns to support workers at Local 440 (Northern Pulp), and #SaveOshawaGM, among others.

“We had an incredible turnout of workers from many different sectors and regions. Building our union requires everyday activism. The work is never done. What’s inspiring is the day-in and day-out commitment of our local elected leaders in doing that work.”

Next steps in LUTF Phase II include building stronger ties among Unifor locals through the creation of area councils like has been done in Saint John, New Brunswick.

Unifor Legal Counsel Niki Lundquist presented a workshop on Anti-Harassment at Work, and Drug and Alcohol Policies in the Workplace. Members were provided with information and guidance based on case studies and Lundquist’s expertise in these matters and had plenty of opportunities to ask questions based on issues in their own workplaces.

Erin Harrison from the Membership and Mobilization Department engaged members in a discussion about building union pride, participation in community events, and upcoming and current union campaigns.

“The sessions were outstanding and the feedback from our local leaders was extremely positive,” said Payne.

View the photo album on Facebook here​.

Unifor support for Northern Pulp workers hits the airwaves

Unifor -

A new radio ad hit the airwaves and online this week in support of the workers at Northern Pulp, members of Unifor Local 440. You can listen to the ad online here.

“We felt it was important to highlight the fact that amid what has been an extremely divisive and heated debate about the mill’s plans for a modern effluent treatment plant that people’s livelihoods are being put at risk here,” said Lana Payne, Atlantic Regional Director. “There is no doubt the issues surrounding Northern Pulp are challenging. We have to work together to protect the environment and defend the good jobs at the mill that support hundreds of families in rural Nova Scotia.”

With stories hitting the news daily, both locally and nationally, the union is stepping up its campaign to support our members.

“Tensions are high in the community and we know many people are feeling unsure right now,” said Payne. “We continue to seek leadership from the premier and all political parties to bring the community together and find solutions that work for everyone.”

In addition to Unifor members working at the mill, thousands of workers in sawmills, trucking and other sectors of the economy depend on the mill for employment.

“All of these jobs are at risk. There is a lot at stake. Getting it right on the environment. Correcting the damage done to First Nations. And protecting good jobs. This is all possible, but we need strong political leadership. No more hand-wringing,” said Payne.

Payne has meetings scheduled with opposition parties in the coming weeks to discuss the union’s concerns.

Members and supporters are encouraged to share the radio ad on social media and find more information at www.unifor.org/nsforestry.

WRHA admits it will have authority to reassign workers

Manitoba Government & General Employees Union -

Last week, MGEU raised the alarm about the government’s real objectives in forcing a merger of the home care and facility-based health care aide workforces. Employers want the ability to assert management rights to reassign workers between facilities and between home care and facilities. Today, the WRHA commented on the MGEU’s concerns, but failed to provide any meaningful reassurance to health care workers that this is not their true goal.

President’s Update on Health Care Representation Votes

Manitoba Association of Health Care Professionals -

You may have seen some news regarding the upcoming Health Care Bargaining Unit Representation Votes on social media, in print or on television in the past week.  Last week, the Manitoba government announced new regulations that further define the Community and Facility Sectors under the Health Sector Bargaining Unit Review Act, the legislation that is forcing and will govern the upcoming representation votes.

I want to reassure you, our members, that nothing has changed in the definition of the Professional, Technical and Paramedical Sector under the Act.  Indeed, I sought and received confirmation from Commissioner Robert Pruden that the new regulations have no impact on our sector.  There do however remain a number of factors that still need to be determined between the employer, the unions and the commissioner before the vote can take place, and we will keep you apprised of developments as we move forward.  We will continue fighting to ensure your rights and interests are protected throughout this process.

Unfortunately, the primary goal of this legislation seems to be to pit one union against another.  We won’t take that bait.  As I stated in the media last week, the Act, including the new regulations, are creating uncertainty and confusion in our health care system.  MAHCP is here to help you cut through that confusion, so please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns to info@mahcp.ca or directly to me at bobm@mahcp.ca.

In solidarity,

Bob Moroz, MACHP President

Unifor opens SaskTel bargaining with strong message to government

Unifor -

National President Jerry Dias joined hundreds of Unifor members working at SaskTel and other Crown employers in Regina at a rally on January 29.

“Premier Scott Moe and the Sask Party government are going to have a rude awakening if they think we’re going to settle for anything less than a fair contract in any of the Crowns this spring,” said Dias.

Dias was in town to open bargaining with SaskTel in an environment that hasn’t been hospitable to workers for some time. The conservative provincial government has mandated wage freezes and miniscule gains in the public sector for years.

Dias says that is about to change.

With SaskTel now formally in bargaining, the vast majority of the Saskatchewan Crown corporation workers represented by Unifor are negotiating a new contract, something that Unifor intends to use to members’ advantage.

“Unifor members enjoy a significant strength in numbers in the Crown sector,” said Joie Warnock, Unifor Western Regional Director. “We intend on bargaining from a position of strength and using spring strike deadlines if we have to.”

Unifor represents thousands of public sector workers in Crown corporations, including SaskTel, SaskPower, SaskEnergy, SaskWater, and the Water Security Agency.

Northern Ontario’s local union leaders convene

Unifor -

Local union presidents and elected leaders in Northern Ontario met last weekend to tackle regional challenges as we continue to fight back against the Ford government.

“The one percent has done incredibly well but that has not been spread out, and that is our fight,” said Katha Fortier, Unifor Assistant to the National President. “We will negotiate back all of the things that were taken away from workers in Ontario.”

In light of provincial funding cuts and the attack on workers’ rights under the guise of making Ontario open for business, leaders representing 8,000 members in Ontario spoke about the fight for 15 and fairness and the dire state of our health care system. Many shared concerns about the overcrowding and underfunding that defines Ontario’s health care crisis and the threats to workers’ fundamental rights to health, safety and economic security.

“If we are going to talk about building the middle class, we will do that by working with unions; we cannot do it alone,” said Patricia A. Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour and MP Thunder Bay-Superior North. “Unions have driven the quality of life that we now call the middle class lifestyle.”

Hajdu joined Fortier and Doug Murray, CEO, Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission in a panel discussion on the intersection of corporate, government and labour relations and how all three must work together to create and sustain good jobs.

Over the two days, local union presidents reported back on bargaining wins and other updates within their local. Looking ahead, Erin Harrison, from Unifor’s Political Action and Membership Mobilization Department shared how Ontarians are taking action to protect workers’ rights. Anthony Dale, Director of Unifor’s Legal Department shared insights about impact of cannabis legalization on workers and workplace legislation.

Kari Jefford, Unifor Local 229 President promoted upcoming education courses, opportunities to create retiree chapters and explained resolutions passed at the Ontario Regional Council.

“This was the hill to die on” : Levi Nilson on building militancy within Alberta’s student movement

Rank and File - latest news -

Doug Ford’s “student choice” initiative in Ontario will destabilize student union funding and dramatically alter the landscape for training future student and labour organizers in Canada. In Alberta, the door to attack student funding has been wedged open by right wing bootlickers. Ultimately, it pushes… Read More