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 Association of Western Pulp & Paper Workers
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( Last updated Friday, April 19, 2019 8:17 am EDT)
Sodexo workers at Acadia University ratify first agreement

Sodexo Physical Plant workers at Acadia University ratified their first collective agreement after just two days of bargaining. Local 2107 members voted 91 per cent in favour of the contract that secured wages, shift premiums, Paid Education Leave, a Women’s Advocate, and enhanced safety language.

“We had an incredibly committed and focused team during bargaining and the results are a clear reflection of that,” said Darlene McIvor, National Representative. “These workers were eager to be Unifor members and were ready to work together to improve their working conditions.”

The vote on April 10 also included a vote for three shop stewards (pictured) and a Unit Chairperson.

The collective agreement covers workers who perform custodial and snow removal duties at the university.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019 12:00 pm EDT

Unifor Local 483 members ratify new agreement at Ingredion

Members who work at the Ingredion Canada corn processing plant in Cardinal, Ontario have voted 83 per cent in favour of a new collective agreement.

“We were successful in fighting off concessions proposed by the company and made some real gains for our hard-working members,” said Joe Roode, President of Local 483. “The bargaining committee would like to thank the members for their solidarity throughout the process because it helped us at the table.” 

Unifor Local 483 represents 143 workers at the plant. 

The agreement includes improved language, benefits and a 2.5 per cent wage increase in each year of the four-year agreement.

Trades will also see an additional increase of $.50 in the second year of the contract.  This equates to an average increase in wages of approximately $3.80 an hour during the term of the agreement.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019 8:45 am EDT

Retail and Wholesale workers poised to make bargaining gains in face of workplace changes

Canadian retail, wholesale and warehousing industries are facing a major technological upheaval, as online shopping advances, consumer habits change and automation expands.  These changes raise serious questions about the future of work in the sector, our bargaining demands and our ability to organize new members.

More than 100 members attended the second Unifor Retail and Wholesale Workers Conference in Port Elgin, Ontario from April 12-14, 2019.

Themed “Making gains when confronted by change. Advancing Unifor’s ‘Program for Action’ in Retail-Wholesale” the Retail and Wholesale conference allowed workers to discuss new challenges affecting workplaces and continue building on the union's bargaining and political action strategy, that's resulted in landmark improvements to wages, scheduling and other gains for retail workers since 2015. Unifor locals are now preparing to renegotiate contracts for more than 10,000 supermarket workers across Canada over the next two years, starting with Toronto-area Metro stores in July.

Unifor represents more than 20,000 members working in retail stores, supermarkets, food warehouses, drug stores, wholesaling outlets and others across Canada. Workers in the sector face erratic work schedules, high turnover and many earn minimum wage. The previous Ontario government launched the changing workplace review to address the same inequities retail and wholesale workers in Ontario were facing.

Unifor became a leading voice in pushing for a living wage, equal pay for equal work and legislated paid sick days for all workers in Ontario. The Liberal government at the time passed Bill 148 that brought in progressive labour reforms. However, the Ford government immediately reversed the majority of the progressive labour reforms found in Bill 148.

“Metro and Loblaw lobbied the new right wing government hard on erasing the gains and going back to lower standards,” Naureen Rizvi Ontario Regional Director. “Employers needed to know that they may have won the battle but have yet to win to war. We developed the Emergency Collective Bargaining Directive that included eight of the key labour reforms that were included in Bill 148.

In a panel discussion on tackling the gender pay gap within the retail-wholesale sector, Lana Payne, Atlantic Regional Director led a conversation on the important role Unifor is playing in identifying and raising gender pay inequities with governments and employers.

“The work of Unifor, our sister unions and our community coalition partners is helping to narrow gender pay inequities,” said Payne. “Average wages in retail has jumped in Canada from $16 to $18 per hour since 2014. Even higher in provinces like Ontario and Alberta, thanks to major campaigns to increase minimum wage, and creative bargaining from our Union.

On the final day of the conference, Unifor National President Jerry Dias spoke of ways retail and wholesale workers are confronting e-commerce, online shopping and new automated technological changes in their workplace.

“The success we had in the retail and wholesale sector shows how critical both bargaining and political action are to make real gains for workers,” Unifor National President. “It shows how important community alliances and community solidarity is. It’s not one versus the other – it’s both. That’s how workers win.”

To read the Unifor’s retail and wholesale sector program for action click here.

Monday, April 15, 2019 1:00 am EDT

Enriching and inspiring discussions mark the 2019 Quebec Director’s tour

On April 2, more than 50 representatives of Unifor local unions gathered for the final meeting of the 2019 regional tour by the Unifor Quebec Director.

The popularity of the annual tour is on the rise, with over 400 local union members participating this year in 10 meetings with the Quebec Director held in Saguenay, Baie-Comeau, Rimouski, Boisbriand (North Shore), Amos, Quebec City, Trois-Rivières, Gatineau, Longueuil (South Shore) and Montreal. The tour offers a unique opportunity for the local unions and Quebec Director Renaud Gagné to discuss and share information on the challenges and realities facing the different workplaces. Current issues of interest to members are also addressed. Among other important files, brother Gagné updated members on the duties imposed by the U.S. on aluminum and softwood lumber, the campaign to save the GM plant in Oshawa, caribou protection measures and their impact on jobs, the upcoming federal election, organizing campaigns, etc.

In the regions, the tour is also an opportunity to meet with local media and to present our issues, to lobby local and national politicians and, more broadly, to contribute to the promotion of Unifor.

Thursday, April 11, 2019 12:45 pm EDT

Unifor and Rexall reach tentative agreement

A new tentative collective agreement has been reached between Unifor Local 414 and Rexall.

“Congratulations to the bargaining committee, who have worked tirelessly for months to reach a fair deal for our hard working members,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President.

Unifor represents approximately 425 workers at 27 stores located across the Greater Ottawa Area. Their collective agreement expired on December 31, 2018.

Talks between management and the Unifor bargaining team representing the workers began on January 5, 2019 with a deadline set for April 10, 2019.

The tentative agreement will be presented to members for a ratification vote on Monday, April 15 at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.

“We are pleased to report this deal is a big step forward and we are recommending it to our membership,” said Gord Currie, President of Local 414.

Details of the tentative agreement will not be released publicly until the agreement is presented to members, but negotiations were focused on good jobs and fair treatment for retail workers.

Thursday, April 11, 2019 12:00 pm EDT

Workers interrupt Chartwell Retirement’s open house to demand fair wages

Members working for Chartwell Retirement Homes in Orangeville, Ottawa, Thunder Bay and Windsor organized coordinated actions to interrupt Chartwell’s open house this past weekend to demand Chartwell pay its workers a fair wage.

“Potential residents and their families need to be aware of the shamefully low wages being paid to Chartwell Retirement workers,” said Katha Fortier, Assistant to Unifor National President. “Chartwell is paying former Premier of Ontario Mike Harris $237,000 annually, meanwhile refusing to pay a living wage to front line workers who provide a safe and enjoyable living environment for seniors.”

The open house actions are part of the union’s Pay Fair Chartwell campaign. The campaign aims to inform residents, families and community members of Chartwell’s unwillingness to pay workers a fair wage.

“Many Chartwell Retirement Home workers earn minimum wage or little more. In fact, at one home the starting wage for a personal support worker is $14.35 an hour, so its no surprise staff turnover is incredibly high,” continued Fortier.

The Pay Fair Chartwell campaign also features billboard advertisements in all Chartwell Retirement Home communities, a petition calling on Chartwell CEO Brent Binions and Chair of the Board Mike Harris to pay workers a decent, living wage and the “Ask Hilda” video series, Unifor’s take on Chartwell’s “Ask Edna” videos.

Unifor represents more than 26,000 members in the health care sector. For more information on the campaign, visit www.unifor.org/payfairchartwell.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019 3:15 am EDT

Unifor transforms children’s lives in Ethopia

The Unifor Social Justice Fund (SJF) is working to improve the lives of children with its support of Transforming Faces and Beautiful World initiatives in Ethiopia.

Shauna Wilcox, Unifor National Executive Board member representing health care and Jean Walters, Unifor National Representative, recently had the opportunity to observe the profound impact of the projects firsthand.

Transforming Faces is dedicated to providing comprehensive care for children with a cleft lip and/or palate, one of the most common birth anomalies in the world. A cleft occurs when a baby’s lip and/or palate do not fuse properly during pregnancy, causing an opening in the baby’s lip, roof of their mouth, or both. This impacts more than a child’s physical appearance as children born with cleft lip and palate commonly develop speech and communication problems, even after surgery.

The Unifor Social Justice Fund has been instrumental in launching a brand new undergraduate speech therapy program. This year the first two cohorts of speech students will graduate, bringing the number of speech professionals practicing in Ethiopia from two to eighteen. Unifor representatives Wilcox and Walters were able to celebrate this major milestone by meeting several students from the inaugural class.

“One does not make a visit like this and not be forever impacted. It was truly inspiring to see the smiles on the faces of the young children whose lives have been forever changed and the smiles and tears of gratitude of their parents,” said Wilcox. “I have so much admiration for the people who put the money to use on the frontline; they are truly a committed and dedicated team.”

Additionally, the Unifor Social Justice Fund has allowed Transforming Faces to expand speech therapy services in rural communities, with a partnership with Project Harar to train community speech assistants to provide home-based speech support to rural patients in the patient’s own language.

Wilcox and Walters meet the Project Harar Ethiopia team

“Transforming Faces is grateful for our long-term partnership with the Unifor Social Justice Fund,” said Hugh Brewster, Executive Director of Transforming Faces. “The development of the speech therapy profession in Ethiopia is a true example of the long-lasting, life-changing work that has been made possible with Unifor’s support.”

At Yekatit 12 Hospital, the only comprehensive cleft care centre in Ethiopia, to brief the Cleft Unit on the Unifor Social Justice Fund mission.

The Beautiful World Canada Foundation is also working for a better future by providing secondary and post-secondary scholarships to Ethiopian girls who have academic potential but lack the financial means to pursue higher education opportunities.

“We met young women who are aspiring nurses, doctors, lawyers and entrepreneurs,” said Walters. “This experience was an emotional rollercoaster that left me immensely gratified.”

Beautiful World operates in several African countries and has recently expanded into Ethiopia in collaboration with the Reach One Touch One Ministries.

“The support of our program in Ethiopia by the Unifor Social Justice Fund has allowed 25 vulnerable girls the opportunity to achieve their dreams of attending school,” said Sara Dunkley, Founder and Board Chair of Beautiful World Canada Foundation. “They dream of a life free from poverty, of a career that provides a steady income and continuity, of a life much different than the very difficult one they have known.”

Meeting with Beautiful World scholarship families

The majority of the recipients are HIV orphans, being raised by grandmothers or other family members. “The students feel deeply blessed to be in school and are committed to working hard and doing their best,” said Dunkley. “They have big dreams to help their families and community once they graduate.” 

The scholarships provide everything the students require for success, ranging from tuition to toothpaste. The young women also receive additional support through mentorship, employment training and medical care programs.

“I had the honour through Transforming Faces and Beautiful World to visit Ethiopia and witness the inception of two great programs that are making change a reality for children,” summed up Walters. “I am incredibly proud of our union’s support of these charities through the Social Justice Fund.”

For more information visit unifor.org/sjf.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019 2:00 am EDT

Senate urged to act on Bill C-262 and protect the rights of Indigenous People

Unifor is calling on the Senate of Canada to pass Bill C-262 to protect the collective and individual rights of Indigenous People, before it breaks for the summer.

The House of Commons passed Bill C-262, introduced by Quebec MP Romeo Saganash, on May 30, 2018. The bill ensures that Canadian laws are consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP).

“The adoption and implementation of the UNDRIP was among the actions recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “The Senate has a duty to all Canadians and Indigenous People to pass this bill.”

Last year, the union organized the Truth, Reconciliation and Education conference that focused on educating members about racism and colonialism inflicted on Indigenous People.

“Our members have been working alongside Indigenous communities, pressuring the Federal Government to implement the findings of the truth and reconciliation report,” said Dias. “This is just one more way in which we can continue to support Indigenous People.”

Unifor supports the 150 Acts of Reconciliation movement providing average Canadians 150 everyday actions that they can undertake to show solidarity to Indigenous People.

To learn more about the 150 Acts of Reconciliation movement click here.

Monday, April 8, 2019 10:45 am EDT


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