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 Association of Western Pulp & Paper Workers
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( Last updated Thursday, June 27, 2019 2:56 am EDT)
Star Metro reporters with Local 2000 negotiate first contract

Unifor Local 2000 has ratified a first collective agreement for 11 reporters working at Torstar’s StarMetro Vancouver.

“It’s been a long road, and I am proud to say we helped close the wage gap between the top earners and lowest paid reporters,” said Brian Gibson, President of Unifor Local 2000. “We now have a path to ensure these journalists will be paid the same money for the same work.”  We made gains in defined hours of work, and wage increases ranging from two to 10 per cent, with lower-earning reporters seeing most of the gains.

Highlights of the first contract include a defined benefit pension plan.

In recognition of the fact that some members relocated from the Toronto Star, members will be entitled to longer bereavement leave if a death of a close relative is more than 800 km away from Vancouver. The Local also won flex sick days where members can call in sick to take care of family members who are ill.

The bargaining committee also negotiated a four-week notice period of layoff and severance entitlements greater than BC’s employment standards.

“The bargaining committee wants to thank the members for their support and solidarity and the Local looks forward to supporting these new members during the life of this agreement”, Gibson added.  “While you never get everything you want in a first collective agreement, we have made some great strides in this round of bargaining.”

“Although this is a small group of workers, in an industry that is under extreme pressure, it is important journalists have strong representation.”


Wednesday, June 26, 2019 9:15 am EDT

Workers remembered: The 35th anniversary of the Falconbridge mine tragedy

On June 20, 1984, a powerful explosion at the Falconbridge mine near Sudbury, Ontario shook the earth while 200 miners were underground. It claimed the lives of four men.

The 35th anniversary of the tragedy is commemorated every June 20th. This year, over 100 people attended, including Unifor’s Sari Sairanen, National Health and Safety Director.

“Each of us has a responsibility to ensure that the sacrifices of those we mourn today were not for nothing,” she said, adding that workers have a right to work at sites that are safe, respectful and harassment-free.

Retiree Gary Hrytsak of Unifor’s Mine Mill Local 598 was on a coffee break when it happened. “You could feel things shaking under your feet… I thought the smelter had blown up.”

The explosion was actually a massive rock burst at the 4,000 foot level. A rock burst is caused by heavy pressure on brittle rocks, when deep mining has deprived the rock of support on one side.

The Falconbridge mine never reopened and the company was renamed Glencore.

“What has our industry learned from the tragedy?” asked Dave Stewart, Mine Mill Local 598 health and safety co-chair at Glencore’s Nickel Rim South Mine. “Are we making it safer for miners working underground? I would have to say yes. We are making progress, but we still have a long way to go. Ground control people are working to ensure safety. (But) at any moment, Mother Nature could create a rock burst that would bring tragedy to our underground workers.”

Sairanen said Unifor continues to work towards greater safety of workers and also challenged companies and executives to ensure “the safety of your employees never takes a back seat to the bottom line.”

Tuesday, June 25, 2019 9:00 am EDT

Unifor wins representation vote in Winnipeg

Unifor’s strength in the manufacturing sector grew this morning as 375 workers at two plants in Winnipeg voted to join Unifor.

“This vote will give these workers greater strength in their industry and with their employer. With this vote, every worker at three plants in Winnipeg owned by the same employer will now be members of Unifor,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias.

The workers at Carfair and Frank Fair, two parts plants supplying Winnipeg’s New Flyer bus plant, voted Wednesday. The votes were counted this morning. Workers at Carfair were represented by Unifor, while Frank Fair workers were members of the United Steelworkers.

Wednesday’s vote was the workers’ chance to decide which union would represent them going forward as their companies merge and become part of the same parent company that owns New Flyer – where the workers are already members of Unifor Local 3003.

“The workers at Carfair and Frank Fair clearly saw the value in being part of a strong union and members of the same union that already represents workers at New Flyer,” Dias said.

The collective agreements at the two plants will remain in place until February 2020, when a new Unifor contract will be negotiated covering both operations.

Thursday, June 20, 2019 3:00 am EDT

Unanimous Strike Mandate Adopted at Praxair Canada - Aerospace Division

Members of Unifor Union Local 698 voted 100 per cent in favor of a strike mandate to be triggered at a time deemed appropriate.

"The result is unambiguous. Negotiations are dragging on this file and our members are tired of the slow pace. They are also determined to achieve substantial monetary gains. This is exactly what is currently blocking progress as all salary clauses have to be settled," explained Serge Dupont, the Assistant to the Québec Director responsible for the file.

Many issues are at the heart of the dispute including the length of the collective agreement, progression in the salary range, bonuses, overtime, vacation and retroactivity.

"It must be noted that the union bargaining committee and its President Bernard August have done an incredible job of mobilizing. In addition to Local 698 and its President François Arseneault who have also spared no effort to mobilize our members," said Mr. Dupont.

In negotiation since 2018, with six meetings including three in conciliation. The union hopes the file will advance, with meetings planned for tomorrow as well as July 15 and 17.

Praxair employs nearly 60 Unifor union members who manufacture components in the aerospace sector for customers such as Bell Helicopter, Bombardier, Pratt and Whitney, Héroux Devtek, Mécaer, PCC Aerostructure and Safran.

Thursday, June 20, 2019 10:45 am EDT

BC fish harvesters join Unifor with historic vote

In an historic vote that was years in the making, 245 salmon seine boat fish harvesters on Canada’s west coast who fish for the Canadian Fishing Company have voted overwhelmingly to join Unifor.

“Unifor is proud to welcome these workers into the union. Organizing fish harvesters working in dozens of seine boats in a short season was a challenge, but these workers showed determination and came out strong in support of Unifor,” said Unifor Organizing Director Kellie Scanlan.

The vote was an overwhelming 92 per cent to join United Fishermen and Allied Workers Union (UFAWU), a Unifor local. The vote was conducted last summer, but counting was held up until this week due to employer challenges when the British Columbia Labour Board ordered the votes be counted.

This was the first time a unique BC labour law was applied. Traditional labour laws do not apply to seiners because they are not paid wages, but are paid by the weight and price of their catch. A previous NDP government in BC passed the Fishing Collective Bargaining Act allowing unions to become certified to bargain for fish harvesters.

After years of planning and studying the new law, while building relationships with seine boats crews, seiners began signing Unifor cards last July, with a vote held last September.

A turning point came in early 2018 when Canadian Fishing announced that it would no longer pay into the United Fishermen's Benefit Fund. The fund was first negotiated in the late 1940s and paid death and medical benefits to all Native Brotherhood of B.C. and UFAWU members who fished for participating companies.

“This had been quite a wait with years of planning put behind it building relationships and then ultimately the company took away the benefits that everyone counted on - which united the seiners even more and led to the overwhelming results in favour of joining Unifor,” said UFAWU President Joy Thorkelson.

This vote means the seiners are now part of a full-fledged union local, rather than the voluntary membership status they had previously. As the exclusive bargaining unit for seine boat fish harvesters, the UFAWU will now begin negotiations towards a binding collective agreement with the company.

Thursday, June 20, 2019 9:00 am EDT

Unifor Energy Council delegates gather to plan national campaign

Unifor representatives from energy locals in Newfoundland & Labrador, Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia met in Fort McMurray this week at the Energy Industry Council Meeting.

They were joined by a dozen members of the Russian trade union ROGWU, which represents workers at the energy company Tatneft. As a fellow affiliate of IndustriALL, ROGWU is keenly interested in sharing best practices for bargaining and protecting energy workers.

Unifor National President Jerry Dias was present to speak to delegates about the importance of energy jobs to communities across the country: “The energy sector is a jobs powerhouse. Unifor is committed to fighting to keep it that way.”

Executive Assistant to the National President Scott Doherty reported on the pattern bargain recently negotiated in Montreal with Suncor. He reviewed the deal’s wage lifts and other gains and said that implementing the pattern is a top priority.

“We used our collective power to sign a historic agreement,” said Doherty. “Your members earned every dollar in that contract and now it’s time to make sure it is implemented.”

Energy Industry Council Chairperson Kim Conway led a discussion about a campaign in development to promote the importance of the industry and good jobs.

“There is an uneven understanding across Canada about the role of fossil fuels and value-added jobs,” said Conway. “Our campaign will be designed to help Canadians appreciate the vital role of Canadian energy, while recognizing that there is a transition underway that requires federal leadership and a long-term plan for energy workers.”

To get the conversation started, the Energy Industry Council published a new video that outlines the challenges facing Canadian energy, and Unifor’s solutions.

Delegates also participated in a workshop from professor Pierre-Olivier Pineau from HEC Montreal. Pineau discussed national and international energy consumption patterns and other trends in the energy sector.

Unifor is hosting a conference in September to tackle the issue of Just Transition and public policy regarding fossil fuel development.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019 1:45 am EDT

Unifor journalist elected to IFJ executive and Gender Council

Photo credit: Frédéric Bellaing/IFJ

Unifor Media Council Secretary-Treasurer Jennifer Moreau has been elected to both the Executive Committee of the International Federation of Journalists and to its Gender Council Steering Committee.

“It’s an honour and a privilege to be voted on to the Executive Committee and the Gender Council of the IFJ, an important organization fighting for press freedom and the safety of journalists worldwide,” Moreau said.

Moreau was elected at the IFJ’s international Congress in Tunis last week, and will represent all of North America on the organization’s Executive Committee and on its Gender Council for a three-year term.

“Jennifer Moreau is a great Canadian voice for journalism and the special struggle of women journalists fighting discrimination and harassment. We’re so proud of her new international role,” Unifor Media Director Howard Law said.

Moreau is Secretary-Treasurer of Unifor Local 2000, and is also Secretary-Treasurer of Unifor Media Council.

Peruvian journalist Zuliana Lainez, who spoke at Unifor’s Media Council in 2015, was elected Senior Vice President of the IFJ. In her address to Media Council, Lainez spoke about journalist safety in conflict zones. Moroccan journalist Younes M'Jahed was elected President of the IFJ.

The IFJ is a federation of journalist unions from around the world, representing 600,000 media professionals from 187 trade unions and associations in more than 140 countries. It is based in Brussels, with offices in Dakar, Sydney and Buenos Aires.

It promotes freedom of the press and the safety of journalists. Unifor’s Social Justice Fund worked with the IFJ on a three-year project to help promote the safety of journalists in Mexico, one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019 8:45 am EDT

Unifor volunteers donate skills and time to renovate Winnipeg women’s shelter

Every single day in Winnipeg, the police receive more than 44 calls about domestic violence. The province has the second highest rate of domestic violence in Canada and there is an enormous need for safe, comfortable shelters for women and children. Now, one of the largest shelters in Manitoba has undergone a transformative renovation, thanks to Unifor members who volunteered their time and skills.

“Willow Place is a vital community service,” said Unifor President Jerry Dias, who toured the new facility on June 15th. “Unifor members are proud to make a contribution to keeping the space comfortable and functional for survivors of domestic violence and the wonderful staff that support them.”

Unifor members from skilled trades spent many hours over the past month to paint and replace carpets, cupboards, ceiling tile, and cabinets. The union also donated new commercial coolers and a freezer. The volunteer work is over and above the annual donation that Unifor makes to the shelter.

If you know or suspect that a family member or friend is living with family violence in Manitoba, help take action by:

  • Letting them know that the abuse is NOT their fault.
  • Being supportive and listen.
  • Letting them know there is help available and help them find resources.
  • Not giving up on them, even if they are not accepting of help at first.

For confidential help and information on domestic violence in Manitoba, call 1-877-977-0007 or TTY 1-888-987-2829.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019 12:15 pm EDT


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