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 Association of Western Pulp & Paper Workers
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( Last updated Monday, March 8, 2021 11:08 am EST)
How to add a Zoom virtual background
Unifor International Women's Day Virtual Background

The following instructions apply to both Windows and MacOS.

  1. After creating or joining a Zoom call, move your cursor to the bottom of the screen to activate the toolbar (you should see Mute/Unmute and Stop/Start Video buttons at bottom left).
  2. Click on ^ on the upper right corner of the Stop/Start Video button to reveal a pop up menu.
  3. Click on Choose Virtual Background...
  4. Under Background & Filters click on the + button and then Add Image to select the image file you want as your Zoom background (must be .jpg .png or .tif file).
  5. If your image looks backwards, check/uncheck the Mirror my video box at the bottom of the Background & Filters window.

For iOS mobile and tablet devices:

  1. After creating or joining a Zoom call, tap the screen to activate the toolbar.
  2. Tap the ... icon on the bottom right corner to reveal a pop up menu.
  3. Select Backgrounds and Filters (Note: If your device doesn't support Virtual Backgrounds, you won't see this option.)
  4. In the Backgrounds and Filters menu select the + option and select the image saved to your device (must be .jpg .png or .tif file). Select Done in the bottom right corner once you've your image. (must be .jpg .png or .tif file).
  5. If you haven't already, grant Zoom permission to access your camera.
  6. Use the < icon in the top left corner to navigate through your device's storage folders to find additional images saved to your device.

For Android mobile and tablet devices:

  1. After creating or joining a Zoom call, tap the screen to activate the toolbar.
  2. Tap the ... icon in the bottom right corner of the screen.
  3. Tap Virtual Background (Note: If your device doesn't support Virtual Backgrounds, you won't see this option.)
  4. If you haven't already, grant Zoom permission to access your camera.
  5. Select an image, or use an image from your device by tapping the + icon.

Download Unifor Virtual Backgrounds here:


Unifor Virtual Background

Friday, March 5, 2021 11:15 am EST

Unifor members safe after close call at sea
Ships at sea

Twenty-eight Unifor members were rescued in high-wind conditions on March 2 after their vessel, the Atlantic Destiny, caught fire off the coast of Nova Scotia.

"There was no panic. The guys did their jobs and worked together. They performed perfectly," said Garfield Forward, deck hand aboard the Atlantic Destiny and Local 1944 member.

Garfield was off-shift and asleep when the fire alarm sounded. All hands immediately met on deck and went to work with fire extinguishers, but they proved ineffective and a fire suppression grenade had to be deployed to extinguish the fire.

After the fire was out it was discovered that the vessel was slowly taking on water in the engine room and the control panel that operated water pumps was inaccessible. At that stage the distress call was issued.

The nearby fishing vessel Cape Lahave where Forward's brother works was first on the scene. Approximately an hour later the Canadian Coast Guard plane from CFB Greenwood arrived and parachuted a rescuer onto the Atlantic Destiny.

The fishing vessel Maude Adams staffed by fellow Local 1944 members arrived two hours later to assist with the rescue efforts.

With the help of the U.S. Coast Guard, it took almost eight hours to evacuate the entire crew of the Atlantic Destiny, in part because of a malfunction in the Canadian Coast Guard rescue helicopter's winch cable. The crew were all taken to Yarmouth for food, shelter and medical attention.

In his 36 years at sea, Forward had never had to abandon ship, and is glad it went as smoothly as it did. His only moment of fear was being lifted to safety on the helicopter.

"I'm afraid of heights. I'm sure that my brother was watching from the Cape Lahave as nervous as I was," he said.

Local 1944 President Trevor Banfield credits the successful fire fighting and evacuation to the skill and training of the crew.

"I am so glad all members are safe. We have to give credit to the fact that they train for this before every shift on that vessel going out during every shift change," said Linda MacNeil, Atlantic Regional Director.

Despite salvage efforts the Atlantic Destiny could not be saved.

The Atlantic Destiny employed 60 Unifor members in all, as two 30-person crews rotate on three-week shifts. Banfield says he will be meeting with representatives of the employer, Ocean Choice International, to determine next steps.

"We're going to do everything in our power to help these skilled fish harvesters get safely back to work," said MacNeil.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021 4:45 am EST

Many Albertan workers excluded from COVID-19 danger pay
Unifor Alberta Fightback logo

Unifor's newest factsheet for Alberta activists outlines how Premier Jason Kenney is squandering federal funds set aside for front-line workers.

"Jason Kenney is playing games with money that COVID heroes have earned," said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. "If last week's budget is any indication, frontline workers can't trust Jason Kenney to get the job done."

The rules governing the danger pay were unilaterally implemented with no input from unions. It is part of a larger UCP pattern of "divide and rule" to limit effective resistance to his agenda says Unifor. The confusing rules governing danger pay were issued in the same week as regulations for the anti-worker Bill 32.

"UCP policies are designed to divide workers in the public and private sectors or even within the same workplace," said Dias.

More than nine months ago, the federal government announced a $3-billion federal fund to help repay frontline workers for their service during the pandemic.

While some have called this a "bonus" cheque, it is in fact more akin to danger pay because it is directed at workers whose jobs could not be done from home during the pandemic.

Alberta's share of the fund was $347 million, but the Kenney government has lagged behind all other provinces in getting the funds to the hands of workers. The "Critical Worker Benefit" will amount to $1,200 for those lucky enough to qualify.

The Alberta government has stipulated that workers must have worked at least 300 hours between October 12, 2020, and January 31, 2021.

The government has said workers in public health-care, social services, education sectors are eligible for the payment. However, many public servants will not meet the 300-hour threshold. Critics say the criteria could prevent jail guards and social workers from qualifying.

The Ottawa-funded danger pay cheques are at odds with the Kenney government's comments about upcoming public-sector bargaining. Kenney insists that workers across the public service will be forced to take a pay cut during the pandemic.

"Jason Kenney might be the only premier in Canada actively promising to ensure workers are worse off after the pandemic," said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor Western Regional Director.

Matters are even murkier for frontline private sector workers. Unlike in the public sector, workers the private sector must rely on their employer to apply to the government before March 19, 2021. Workers can only qualify if employers verify employees made less than $25/hour.

With employers in charge of getting the danger pay to workers, there are also fears that it will get caught up in the same bureaucratic mess that has prevented hundreds of private-sector health-care aides from receiving the provincial $2/hour top-up.

The long danger pay delay could be a symptom of a larger problem in the Jason Kenney government. A report published on January 26, 2021 showed that Alberta is sitting on hundreds of millions of unspent federal transfers for other COVID-19 programs, such as Early Childhood Education, housing aid, and job training.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021 3:00 am EST

Unifor 2002 Jazz Crew schedulers ratify new deal
Jazz aircraft

Unifor 2002 Jazz crew schedulers have voted 100 % to ratify a four-year Memorandum of Settlement (MOS) in Halifax, with 85 % voter turnout.

“This agreement provides a sigh of relief to our members working in the airline industry,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “The bargaining team needs to be applauded for never wavering on their principles and negotiating the best collective agreement for their membership.”

The MOS will be incorporated into the current Collective Agreement.

“This agreement with Jazz Aviation LP is positive news for Unifor members, particularly at a time when Canada’s aviation sector continues to struggle in the shadow of ongoing travel restrictions,” said Don Ross, Unifor Local 2002 Interim President. “Congratulations to our Jazz Crew Scheduling membership and bargaining team for securing this agreement and providing a positive path forward for our sector.”

The term of the new agreement is effective from July 1, 2021, until June 30, 2025.

Unifor 2002 members in this unit assign flying schedules for both pilot and flight attendants’ crews for Jazz flights. They also monitor crew movements on a daily basis and reroute crews as needed based on operational requirements.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021 12:00 pm EST

Unifor Skilled Trades support youth apprenticeships
Dave Tesolin, Mark McGregor, and Darrin Caerels attend the 2020 virtual National Apprenticeship Forum

Unifor’s National Skilled Trades Council is doing the heavy lifting to promote the trades in Canada and break down barriers that prevent participation from marginalised communities in Canada, particularly Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour.

“We have an obligation to the next generation of skilled trades workers to assist in every way possible,” said Dave Cassidy, Unifor National Skilled Trades Chairperson. “Skilled Trades workers are eager to help young people succeed and eliminate every barrier to the trades.”

Mark McGregor The National Skilled Trades Council’s latest initiative brings together the union’s skilled trades advocacy efforts and the organization Pathways to Education that directly supports students and youth from low-income communities across Canada. Spearheaded by the Brampton, Georgetown, Milton and Oakville (BGMO) Area Sub-Council, Unifor representatives Mark McGregor (Local 1285), Dave Tesolin (Local 1285), and Darren Caerels (Local 707) recently presented to the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum’s National Conference. The BGMO discussed the union’s successful partnership with Pathways as an example of how skilled trades stakeholders, including academic institutions, industry, trade associations, and governments can effectively support youth apprenticeships and address long-standing barriers to participation.

The partnership includes both direct support from the National Skilled Trades Council as well as ongoing financial support from Unifor and Locals 222, 414, 444, 1285, 2458 and Unifor’s Windsor Area office, for a grand total of more than $500,000.

The Rexdale program supports students from grade 9 to grade 12 at more than 30 high schools in one of Canada’s most diverse and impoverished neighbourhoods in the Greater Toronto Area.

“Our union works hard to strengthen the trades and give back to our communities at the grassroots level,” said John Breslin, Unifor Skilled Trades Director. “I am proud of the fact that this important partnership was initiated by one of our own retirees, Steve Watson who volunteers with the Pathways program in Rexdale.”

Darrin Caerels The Council and BGMO put together a team of volunteers to support the Rexdale program including Steve Watson, Mark McGregor, John Fitzgerald (Local 707), and Skilled Trades Council Vice-Chair Ken Anderson (Local 200) supported by Skilled Trades Director John Breslin and Skilled Trades National Representative Phil Fryer. Together, Unifor’s skilled trades volunteers provided participants in the program with training and information sessions, collected data, and established direct relationships with youth, students, parents, and teachers to analyze academic, socio-economic, and other barriers to participation in the trades.

“This was one of the most rewarding experiences our team has had, directly interacting with young people, parents and teachers. We could see the inspiration on people’s faces, which was just incredible,” said Mark McGregor, Financial Secretary of the BGMO. “To see so many of our skilled trades members come out and support this worthwhile program and be so eager to devote their time to what promises to be a game changing effort is incredible. We hope to see this program continue and grow once it is safe to do so.”

Dave TesolinThe COVID-19 pandemic has temporarily suspended Unifor’s in-person support for the Rexdale program but the union has continued to maintain contact with the Rexdale team and has donated tablet devices to support students through online learning. The partnership is an important effort that the Council remains committed to and continues to promote to support Ayouth apprenticeships and growing the trades in Canada.




Thursday, February 25, 2021 3:30 am EST

Alberta activists meet for campaign update
Photo of the video conference with 23 participants.

Unifor members in Alberta met via video conference on February 24 to share workplace updates and strategize about the ongoing campaign for rights at work.

The campaign was launched last year in response to Premier Jason Kenney's attack on workers' rights and free speech with Bills 1, 32, and 47.

"Every day more Albertans are realizing that Jason Kenney has used the pandemic as cover to introduce U.S.-style anti-worker laws," said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. "Alberta's workers are standing up to a bully who has failed to support working families during a pandemic."

On the call members heard updates from frontline workers, such as education support workers, some of whom may not qualify for provincial danger pay.

Western Regional Director Gavin McGarrigle updated members on the Prairie Regional Council and gave an overview of the anti-union legislation and the legal challenge.

"Many Albertans were struggling to make ends meet before the pandemic hit. Instead of helping to stabilize a weak economy, Jason Kenney seized the moment to strike at the heart of Albertans most basic rights at work," said McGarrigle.

Thursday, February 25, 2021 9:30 am EST

Celebrate, inspire and connect on International Women’s Day
Never underestimate the power of women IWD Unifor logo

March 8 is International Women’s Day and Unifor is not going to let COVID-19 stop us from celebrating our activism.

“This year we will celebrate the kickass women of our union and the work they do every day to fight for gender and economic justice,” said Lana Payne, Unifor National Secretary – Treasurer and chair of the union’s IWDigital Zoom gathering on March 8 at 7 PM ET.

 “We did not let the pandemic stop us from organizing for a better world, from getting elected to bargaining committees or from fighting for racial justice advocates, paid sick days, fair pay, emergency prescription drug coverage and much more.”

Unifor’s March 8th event will feature new videos celebrating the women of the union and it will also be a chance for the sisterhood to connect and share experiences in a safe online space.

“We know this pandemic has impacted us differently. We know that the past year has taken its toll, but it has also shone a light on equity and equality unlike we have seen in a long time. We need to keep that light burning bright,” said Payne.

The event is open to all women in Unifor from across the country and you must register in advance at this link.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021 11:45 am EST

Unifor partners with Aleafia Health on medical cannabis coverage
Aleafia Health logo

Unifor and Aleafia Health Inc. are launching a leading-edge partnership to provide union members with access to medical cannabis as part of their workplace benefit and insurance coverage.

Unifor recently organized workers at Aleafia’s Canabo Medical Corp. call centre in Newfoundland, with workers voting 100 % in favour to become among the first unionized cannabis industry employees in the country.

"We’re proud to represent these workers and to partner in this innovative agreement to open the path for all members to access cannabis health and wellness services and products through expanded health benefits,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President.

Dias said Unifor will use the collective bargaining process to enable members to access Aleafia’s medical marijuana clinics across the country, including Canabo Medical Corp., to cover medical cannabis on the cannabidiol (CBD) spectrum. CBD is prescribed to treat various medical conditions and is not psychoactive.

"This is a significant moment for the cannabis industry, and an important breakthrough for medical cannabis accessibility in Canada. Every day, our team of medical professionals see the benefits of cannabis in the lives of our patients," said Aleafia Health CEO Geoffrey Benic.

"Due to the progressive leadership of Unifor, and Aleafia Health's well-earned reputation for providing excellence in cannabinoid therapy, we will be able to expand these benefits to union members across Canada."

Unifor is developing online education programs for staff and local unions on the benefits of medical cannabis, reasons why it should be a priority, and issues they can anticipate when proposing insurance coverage include reimbursement of medical cannabis in collective bargaining.

In turn, Aleafia Health and its affiliates will provide Unifor members with access to its health and wellness ecosystem, including prescribing, treatment and, where appropriate, medical cannabis products.

Canabo Medical Clinic will provide an enhanced level of service to Unifor members not available through any other Canadian cannabis clinic. Members will receive a customized wellness regime, medical cannabis education, virtual physician consultation and a 20 % discount on prescribed medical cannabis products.

"This is about improving the lives of members suffering from chronic pain, among other conditions, and challenging the stigmas associated with cannabis,” Dias said of the binding letter of intent between Unifor and Aleafia Health. 

Improved access to medical cannabis coverage may also provide further cost savings and health benefits to both members and employers, including a reduction in reliance of traditional pharmaceutical prescriptions.

Members are advised to consult their doctor and to refer to their employer’s drug and alcohol policy to ensure compliance prior to utilizing medical marijuana treatment.

Unifor members may book an appointment at Canabo Medical Clinics by visiting cmclinic.ca/unifor  or calling 1-888-282-7763 toll-free.

Monday, February 22, 2021 4:15 am EST


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