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Employers coalition seeks to dodge responsibilities to infected workers

Unifor -

VANCOUVER—Unifor is calling on the provincial government to resist calls from employers to water down proposed changes to workers’ compensation that would see employers help to cover the costs associated with saving the lives of workers who contracted COVID-19 at work.

“These are the same forces that resisted responsibility for lung cancer and asbestos poisoning,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “COVID-19 is the latest in a long line of occupational diseases that employers wish to pretend has nothing to do with the workplace.”

The Employers’ Forum has written to Worksafe BC to urge it to reverse course on changes that would see employers share the cost of helping workers who contracted COVID-19 at work. Instead, the Forum proposes all costs be borne by the government.

“Employers have a responsibility to keep workers safe in the workplace. The consequence for failing to do so is shouldering costs associated with workplace injuries,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor Western Regional Director. “You can’t have it both ways. Employers can’t publish warm and fuzzy statements about ‘COVID Heroes’ one day, and seek to undermine their workplace health and safety net the next.”

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

 

Shared Risk? OMERS indexing dispute fits pattern of attacks

Rank and File - latest news -

By Haseena Manek The Ontario Municipal Employee Retirement System (OMERS) Sponsors Corporation Board of Directors will be voting on whether or not to scrap guaranteed indexing for members in favour of a proposal they call “Shared Risk,” on June 24. OMERS is a defined benefit plan for about half a million municipal workers in Ontario, Continue readingShared Risk? OMERS indexing dispute fits pattern of attacks

Facebook Censorship of Worker Efforts to Unionize Threatens Push to Strengthen Protections for Essential Workers During COVID-19 Pandemic

UFCW Press Releases -

America’s Largest Food & Retail Union Calls on Facebook to Immediately Shut Down Feature Allowing Companies to Censor Employees 

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), America’s largest food and retail union with 1.3 million members, condemned Facebook for pushing a tool that allows companies to censor communications among their workers about unionizing. A new report details how Facebook Workplace, an intranet-style chat and office collaboration product, would enable employers to blacklist words like unionize in communications on the platform.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“Facebook’s new tool allowing companies to censor workers trying to unionize is a shocking abuse of power and a dangerous threat to the ability of all workers to exercise their right to join a union.

“Whether it’s Amazon firing workers who organize protests or Whole Foods using store surveillance to track employee efforts to unionize, it is clear that giant corporations are more emboldened than ever to shut down any effort by workers to make their voices heard.

“With millions of American workers in grocery stores, meatpacking plants, and other essential businesses continuing to be infected by COVID-19, there has never been a more important time to protect the right of these workers to speak out for the protections they need. Facebook must immediately shut down this dangerous new tool that censors employee efforts to unionize, and end all efforts to silence workers standing up for the better pay and protections they have earned.”

Background:

UFCW has been a leading national voice calling for great accountability from technology companies like Facebook in response to efforts to stop workers from unionizing and speaking out for the protections they need on the job.

In February 2020, UFCW supported the successful effort of Instacart workers at a Mariano’s store in Skokie, Illinois to unionize and join UFCW Local 1546. These Instacart workers made history as the first workers with the company to join a union.

In December 2018, the retail branch of UFCW launched a campaign to unionize Amazon warehouse workers in New York. UFCW has been a vocal critic of both Amazon and Whole Foods for the treatment of their workers.

In March 2020, UFCW called out Amazon and Whole Foods for failing to provide their workers with paid sick leave until after testing positive for COVID-19. With testing incredibly scarce, this policy has left thousands of workers across the country in limbo, putting their safety and the safety of customers at risk during the outbreak. Last year in September 2019, UFCW condemned the move by Amazon to cut healthcare coverage for part-time Whole Foods workers across the country.

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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 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 ufcw.org

Recognizing the People Behind our Public Services

Manitoba Government & General Employees Union -

June 14 to 20 is National Public Services Week – a chance to recognize the contributions of public-sector workers in Manitoba and across the country. While we can't recognize Public Services Week in quite the same way this year, we can still celebrate the achievements of the skilled people working on the front lines and behind the scenes to keep families safe and help our lives run smoothly by displaying these signs of gratitude.

Legal victory for workers: judge rules public sector wage freeze legislation unconstitutional

NUPGE -

"The act ... is a draconian measure which limits and reduces a union's bargaining power...and inhibits the union's ability to trade off monetary benefits for non-monetary enhancements, such as protection from contracting out, job security, and layoffs. It has left no room for a meaningful collective bargaining process on issues crucial to union memberships." — Justice McKelvey, Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench

Court victory in Manitoba could spell end for Ontario’s Bill 124

Unifor -

TORONTO – Ontario workers who had their bargaining rights attacked by Ford’s wage restraint law, find hope and vindication as similar legislation was struck down by the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench.

“Ford’s attack on Ontario public sector workers’ bargaining rights, including thousands on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic, is a common tactic by conservative politicians, but that does not make it right,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Ford should repeal 124 and give Ontario workers the respect they deserve, because his law will be struck down just like Pallister’s.”

Earlier this week, a Manitoba judge ruled that the so-called Public Services Sustainability Act violates the right to collective bargaining protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In Ontario, Unifor is engaged in a similar court challenge against the legislation in Ontario, along with many other unions representing workers across the broader public sector.

“We said it in 2019, that this law would not stand up in court. After this week’s ruling that confidence has grown, Ford cannot continue to pay lip service to public sector workers while stifling their rights,” said Naureen Rizvi, Unifor Ontario Regional Director.

Ford’s wage restraint bill has forced a one per cent wage cap across the public sector in Ontario, including unionized and non-unionized workers, for any currently expired or expiring collective agreements over the next three years.

This applies to the public service, as well as hospitals, Ornge, some long-term care homes, boards, commissions, agencies, school boards, universities and colleges, and children’s aid societies. Police and firefighters, excluded from the legislation, received wage increases of two per cent or more.

Quinte West’s 140-year forestry legacy ends today

Unifor -

June 12, 2020

TORONTO — Workers at the Sonoco paper mill in Quinte West are spending their last day on the job today after the company decided earlier this year to shutter the mill and focus operations in South Carolina.

“My heart goes out to the entire community of Quinte West as we know the tremendous impact losing forestry jobs has on these rural towns,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “It is extremely disappointing that an agreement of sale could not be arranged with the present employer to save as many jobs as possible."

Unifor Local 1489 represents 81 workers at the Sonoco paper mill. The community of Quinte West has a long history as a forestry town with operations in the sector dating back to 1880. The closure is seen by many to be unnecessary.

“We’ve spent years trying to establish a forestry strategy for Ontario with the government, but sadly, we still don’t see any efforts to keep these good jobs here in the province,” said Naureen Rizvi, Ontario Regional Director. “Premier Ford needs to be worried when family-supporting manufacturing jobs continue to leave this province.”

Unifor supported efforts to find a buyer for the facility that could have maintained many good-paying jobs. The forestry sector requires directed efforts and support from all forms of government across Canada to maintain the economic viability of small communities where most remaining mills operate.

For media inquiries contact National Communications Representative Shelley Amyotte at 902-717-7491 or shelley.amyotte@unifor.org.

Legal victory for workers: judge rules public sector wage freeze legislation unconstitutional

Manitoba Government & General Employees Union -

After three long years of standing up for the rights of public sector workers to sit down and negotiate their wages with the Pallister government, today is victory day. Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench Justice McKelvey has ruled that the government's wage freeze law, the Public Services Sustainability Act (Bill 28), and its actions to impede collective bargaining with Manitoba's public sector workers are a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

MAHCP announces Bill 28 Court Challenge win!

Manitoba Association of Health Care Professionals -

I’m very pleased to share some good news with all MAHCP members today.  MAHCP, along with other unions who banded together to form the Partnership to Defend Public Services (PDPS), has won our court challenge to Bill 28, the Manitoba Government’s unconstitutional wage freeze legislation.  Please see a news release from PDPS here, issued on behalf of all partner unions.

We have said all along that Bill 28 tramples on our right to free and fair collective bargaining, and the judge has agreed.

The Partnership’s legal team will be reviewing the judge’s full decision and we will have more to say about this landmark court case and its potential implications in the coming days and weeks.  For now, we can celebrate a significant victory for Allied Health Professionals and all working people in Manitoba.

In solidarity,

Bob Moroz, MAHCP President

Work standards must change as economy re-opens in wake of COVID-19

NUPGE -

“The economy is gradually re-opening now, but it will take years to rebuild the quantity of work back up to a level that fully occupies Canadian workers. And at the same time, we need to repair some obvious and damaging flaws in the quality of work, if we want that reopening to last and succeed.” — Jim Stanford, labour economist

Closure of Mackenzie mill threatens entire community

Unifor -

VANCOUVER— Unifor is warning of dire consequences for Mackenzie, B.C., as the Paper Excellence mill in the forestry town goes into indefinite curtailment.

“The federal and provincial governments have failed forestry workers in Mackenzie and all across B.C.,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “This shutdown comes after a lengthy battle from both the workers and the owner to address fibre access issues and develop a sustainable plan for the province’s forestry sector. A forestry town like Mackenzie won’t survive if both governments don’t intervene immediately.”

The mill will operate until June 30, and the 182 Unifor Local 1092 members will be kept on payroll through August 6.

“The province says they understand the issues and keep telling us they’ll do something about it, but we’re still waiting – these workers needed action yesterday,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor Western Regional Director. “If this mill can’t count on a reliable supply of fibre, it will be a disaster for the local economy.”

Parent company Paper Excellence has taken extra steps to pay workers fairly, as it did when their Nova Scotia mill, Northern Pulp, was forced to close earlier this year.

“We believe the company has done their part. Now we need government to do theirs,” said McGarrigle.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing more than 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy, including 24,000 in the forestry 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.

For media inquiries contact National Communications Representative Shelley Amyotte at 902-717-7491 or shelley.amyotte@unifor.org.

Court rejects Pallister’s attempt to limit collective bargaining

Unifor -

WINNIPEG—A Manitoba court has ruled that the so-called Public Services Sustainability Act violates the right to collective bargaining protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“Free and fair collective bargaining is a right that workers have fought for,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. “That right is a threat to the conservative forces that seek to undermine public services. Today’s court victory is a victory for both workers and the Manitobans that rely on our excellent social programs.”

Unifor joined other unions in a coalition called the Partnership to Defend Public Services (PDPS) to launch this court challenge. Today’s ruling will allow collective bargaining in the public sector to resume without the threat of unconstitutional legislation to undo workers’ gains.

Unifor says that the performance of Manitoba’s public sector workers during COVID-19 underscores their value, and the obligation of the Government of Manitoba to ensure they work under safe and fair conditions.

“Public sector workers have served Manitobans with skill and grace during a very difficult period,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor Western Regional Director. “It is a relief that their rights have been upheld after Premier Brian Pallister did everything he could to undermine their workplace rights.”

In the wake of this ruling, Unifor is calling on the premier to reverse recent layoffs at public institutions such as Manitoba Hydro and the University of Manitoba.

“Premier Pallister should do the right thing and cancel his heartless layoffs. It’s time he sit down with public sector workers on solutions, not cuts,” said McGarrigle.

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).

Loblaws wrong to cut pandemic pay

Unifor -

TORONTO – Unifor opposes the decision by Loblaw Companies Ltd. to end pandemic pay for workers at its retail outlets across Canada.

“The pandemic is not over. The danger has not passed. These workers are no less at risk and are no less essential today than they were yesterday. There is no justification for ending pandemic pay now, or ever,” Unifor National President Jerry Dias said.

“Retail workers have always been essential, and they have always deserved much better. The fact is, the pandemic did not make these workers essential and did not create the inequities in retail, it simply exposed them.”

Loblaw announced that it will be ending the $2 premium paid to workers in its grocery stores effective this weekend, and will pay workers a small one-time bonus in July based on their hours of work. The bonus would be $160 for a worker on a 40-hour week.

Unifor is leading efforts to make fair pay permanent as the country slowly emerges from the pandemic. The Fair Pay Forever campaign calls for historic inequities in the sector to be corrected. Many workers are forced to take more than one part-time job to get by.

“We have seen in long term care how dangerous it is for these essential workers to be bouncing between jobs. It’s no different in retail,” Dias said.

“We have a chance to fix this. We can’t let this opportunity pass.”

Dias pointed out that Loblaw, which has consistently opposed efforts to raise the minimum wage and instead moved more and more to part-time work, rightly continues to limit customers in its stores and enforce social distancing inside.

“Loblaw knows the risk is not over. It’s just trying to boost profits on the backs of its most vulnerable workers, and that’s just wrong,” Dias said.

“Unifor is putting all retail employers on notice – the return to normal for these workers is not happening, because normal was not good enough.”

Unifor is currently in negotiations with Loblaw-owned Dominion Stores in Newfoundland and Labrador, attempting to reverse a 2019 company decision to eliminate one in five full-time supermarket jobs. 

For media inquiries, please contact Unifor Communications representative Stuart Laidlaw:  stuart.laidlaw@unifor.org or 647-385-4054 (cell).

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