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News from the union point of view...
 Association of Western Pulp & Paper Workers
( Last updated Monday, July 22, 2024 8:15 pm EDT)
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( Last updated Monday, July 22, 2024 8:15 pm EDT)
Unifor donates $17,000 to get Afghan journalists to safety
Afghan men in a truck

Unifor is donating a total of $17,000 to three organizations to help get Afghan journalists out of the country following the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan. 

“The safety of these journalists is paramount, and Unifor is proud to be a part of this international effort by media unions around the world,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias.

The money includes $1,000 this week from Unifor Media Council, with matching funds from the national Union, to the International Federation of Journalists’ safety fund.

Last week, Unifor donated $10,000 to International Media Support in support of Afghanistan’s journalists. As well, Unifor’s Social Justice Fund donated $5,000 to Journalists for Human Rights for its efforts to help Afghan journalists.

Unifor is also working with the IFJ to provide the federal government with the names of Afghan journalists hoping to escape the country since the takeover by the Taliban.

“The IFJ has been working non-stop to help Afghan journalists escape the country, and we’ve been doing everything we can to help,” said Jennifer Moreau, interim chair of Unifor’s Media Council, and IFJ executive committee member. “This is a life and death situation. We urge Canada to help Afghan journalists and their families before it’s too late.”

Unifor represents more than 13,000 media workers in Canada. The IFJ is the world’s largest trade union organization for journalists, with more than 600,000 media workers in more than 140 countries, including Afghanistan. Unifor’s media workers are also affiliates of the IFJ, which operates a safety fund to help journalists in dire conditions. 

For more information or to donate to the IFJ’s effort, go to the IFJ’s safety fund.

Thursday, August 26, 2021 9:30 am EDT

Unifor discusses crisis in long-term care with Ontario Minister
Five different types of health care workers with text that reads, “Pandemic pay for all health care workers”

Unifor discussed the crisis in long-term care in a meeting with Ontario Long-term Care Minister Rod Phillips on August 9, 2021.

“I extended my challenge to spend a shift in a long-term care home to Minister Phillips,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. “We need to fix the crisis in long-term care and hopefully spending a shift with me will help push the government to make progressive changes for residents and workers.”

Unifor secured the meeting to raise important issues facing Ontario health care workers, outline key concerns and share the union’s recommendations after sending a letter to Minister Phillips.

Dias was joined at the meeting by Assistant to National President Katha Fortier, President of Local 302 Nancy McMurphy and Unifor Director of Health Care Andy Savela. The Unifor delegation raised the following issues to the Minister:

  • The failure of for-profit care.
  • The need to move immediately to four hours of daily care per resident.
  • Lack of any action from most operators, including creating full-time work or any meaningful effort to increase staffing or address the staffing crisis.
  • The trauma experienced by many of our members working in long-term care and the immediate need to focus on retention.
  • The need to require operators to provide 70% full-time work.
  • Growing use of the sub-classification of PSW’s that have been created by many employers.
  • Lack of transparency from operators in reporting hours of care as well as percentage of full-time workers, use and cost of agency workers and reliance and cost of overtime.
  • No plan to attract the thousands of PSW’s who have left the sector to return with decent working conditions.
  • Emergency orders that still override our members’ collective agreement rights and are simply used to compensate for lack of staff.
  • Fair pay for ALL LTC workers.
  • For-profit operators fight to deny employees maintenance of proxy pay equity as well as the efforts from Bass and Associates to supress wages over the last decade.
  • Concerns with OPSWA as a legitimate representative for PSW’s.
  • General concerns on pandemic pay, leaving other workers behind and issues raised in this letter to Premier Ford
  • Retirement home challenges. (while this falls under the MOH, many residents in retirement homes are actually waiting for LTC)

“The crisis in long-term care existed long before COVID-19 in terms of proper staffing levels, the number of full-time jobs, the ability to earn a living wage and the ability to provide residents with the amount of daily care that they require,” said Dias. “We stressed to Minister Philips that residents and workers cannot wait years for policies, including four hours of daily care, to be implemented. Clear action is needed and it’s needed now,” said Dias.

The Minister noted that he has been attending surprise inspections with compliance officers regularly in nursing homes, speaking directly with the inspectors and the staff.

The Minister and his staff indicated that their immediate priorities include enforcement and transparency, but also said that they anticipate significant issues with timing and still envision a multi-year process. They did clearly state that the four hours of care will only include direct care from nurses and PSW’s. They also stated they are working on a plan to extricate the sector from the emergency orders but did not give a firm timeline.  The government indicated legislation on the four hours of care could be expected mid-fall and that Unifor is welcome to participate in that process. They do have plans to include transparency on several items including resident and family satisfaction, hours of care and fulltime work.

Unifor is encouraging local unions and members to reach out directly to the Minister’s office at rod.phillips@pc.ola.org.  It is also critical that all MPP’s understand that LTC will be an election issue. We also encourage local unions to organize participation in the OHC rally on LTC on September 13th.


Wednesday, August 25, 2021 8:30 am EDT

Unifor donates to B.C. wildfire relief
An airtanker plane flying low over a forest shortly after dropping red fire retardant

The Unifor B.C. Regional Council has spearheaded a donation to the Canadian Red Cross' B.C. wildfire relief effort.

After being moved by the tragedy of the destruction of Lytton, British Columbia, Unifor's Regional Council has donated $5,000 to the Canadian Red Cross' wildfire recovery fund.

Unifor matched the donation, bringing the total donation to $10,000.

"I would like to thank the B.C. Regional Council for stepping up to help British Columbians in need," said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor Western Regional Director.

Leanne Marsh, the B.C. Regional Council Chairperson, said that there are Unifor members in many communities facing a record-breaking wild fire season: "We will be there to help the Unifor members and their fellow community members in the affected areas."

To make a donation to the Red Cross' B.C. wildfire relief, click here.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021 2:00 am EDT

Retirees come out to support De Havilland strikers
Local 673 President Maryellen McIlmoyle meets with retirees during a rally at the De Havilland plant

Unifor retirees drove to Toronto from as far as Windsor and Sudbury on Monday to join the picket line for striking workers at De Havilland and show their support.

“The great thing about retirees is that they have been through t his sort of thing before and so they want to show their support,” said Barb Dolan, Unifor Retirees Director.

She said the about 140 retirees came from the Toronto area, Kitchener, London, Oshawa, Ajax Windsor and Sudbury, forming car pools in their communities to ensure a good showing.

Members of Locals 112 and 673 have been on strike since July 27. Parent company Longview Aviation Capital announced earlier this year it would no longer build the new Dash 8-400 aircraft at the Downsview plant – a central issue in the strike.

Local 673 President Maryellen McIlmoyle said having retirees on the picket line gives the members a boost and shows the company that the strikers have support across Unifor.

“We want them back at the table, and the only way to do that is boots on the ground,” she said.

Maria Pinto, a De Havilland retiree and Local 673 member, said she came out to help the workers as they fight for good jobs at the plant.

“This plant gave us the possibility of a good life,” said Pinto, whose son now works at the plant.

“Longview is not stronger than us, and every day that we are on the picket line we are getting stronger.”

At the urging of Local 112 retiree Victor Pierrynowski, a collection was taken up from among the retirees to support the strikers.

“We need to leave here offering more than good wishes,” he said.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021 11:00 am EDT

Unifor stands in solidarity with Mexican autoworkers
Unifor National President Jerry Dias at a media conference in Mexico City

Unifor stands in solidarity with Mexican autoworkers in their fight for free, fair and transparent votes by all members as they fight to establish an independent union, Unifor National President Jerry Dias told a media conference in Mexico City last week.

“The vote on August 16 and 17 should be a historical moment for Mexican workers,” Dias said at an August 4 event streamed live on Facebook.

“I am here to make sure the Mexican government knows the world is watching and expects a fair vote.”

Dias was the main speaker at the media conference, which was attended by several Mexican news outlets and generated numerous stories in Mexican newspapers.

Workers at the General Motors plant in Silao, Mexico, will vote to legitimize their union on August 16 and 17. Reports on past votes at the plant, however, include allegations of illegal vote tampering, ballot destruction and worker intimidation.

“The workers in Silao are finally going to vote on their collective agreement,” Dias said.

Dias said Unifor got involved with the talks to update the North American Free Trade Agreement so the needs of workers in all three NAFTA countries were addressed, saying no worker can make progress if any are being exploited.

Independent unions and free and fair votes are key to addressing inequities, Dias said, adding that every autoworker should be able to afford the vehicles they make. All workers have a stake in the upcoming Silao vote, he said.

Dias has spoken to the Canadian government about ensuring a fair vote, and noted that both the International Labour Organization and the U.S. government are also monitoring the situation.

“The vote will be watched and scrutinized by workers around the world,” Dias said.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021 12:45 pm EDT

Unifor Local 2301 to meet with employer
Plant in Kitimat, BC.

Striking members of Unifor Local 2301 will discuss future bargaining protocol with the employer on August 12 for the first time since the strike began.

During the strike, community support for the union has been rock solid.

"Community support and the enthusiasm of members on the picket line will help ensure we keep a united front against a multinational corporation," said Mario Santos, Unifor National Representative and member of the bargaining committee.

Despite a global drop in aluminum prices from April to June of last year, 2020 was Rio Tinto's third most profitable in two decades with net revenues exceeding $9.8 billion (USD).

Local 2301 began strike action on July 25, 2021 over the employer's rampant use of contractors and refusal to address a massive backlog of grievances. The union represents approximately 900 workers at the company's aluminum smelting plant in Kitimat and power generating facility in Kemano.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021 12:30 pm EDT

Unifor calls on Trudeau to send funding straight to Alberta's schools
Unifor's Alberta Fightback logo

Unifor has joined doctors and education experts in an open letter to Prime Minister Trudeau calling for federal funding to go directly to Alberta's school boards.

"Albertans don't trust Jason Kenney to keep their kids safe," said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor Western Regional Director.

The move follows Alberta Premier Jason Kenney's refusal to reconsider his inadequate plans for school re-openings, which have been criticized as unsafe in the context of rising COVID Delta variant infections in the province.

The coalition says that if the premier won't change course, the funds allocated to Alberta for COVID should be given directly to school boards to pay for air filtration, KN95 masks, and CO2 monitors.

"Jason Kenney refuses to listen to what front-line education workers and health experts say will keep students safe," said Elaine Cardinal, president of Unifor Local 52-A representing support staff working in Edmonton Catholic Schools and Greater North Central Francophone Education Region. "If the premier refuses to take the pandemic seriously, we have no choice but to appeal to the federal government."


Wednesday, August 11, 2021 11:45 am EDT

Dash 8 not going anywhere, Dias tells rally
Unifor National President Jerry Dias speaks at a rally for striking De Havilland workers.

The pride of De Havilland is in its generations of dedicated workers who built the company, a rally for striking workers at the plant heard Monday.

“They like to talk about the company as if it’s them,” Unifor National President Jerry Dias told the crowd. “The pride of De Havilland belongs to us.”

Workers at De Havilland have been on strike since Tuesday July 27. Parent company Longview Aviation Capital announced earlier this year it would no longer build any new Dash 8-400 aircraft at the Downsview plant– a central issue in the strike.

Dias said Longview has played on the heritage of the company, from building the Mosquito during the Second World War to the Beaver bush plane to the Dash 8 – a proud history “that they bought, but did not earn.”

The future of the Dash 8 at the Downsview plant was cast in doubt before, 30 years ago when the plant was sold at that time, but was saved at the insistence of workers and with federal government intervention.

Dias said he is in talks to ensure any federal assistance to Longview comes with recognition of the rights of Local 112 and 673 workers. Dias said he has been in talks with all levels of government about the future of the plant.

“We are not going anywhere. This is my plant, just like it’s yours,” said Dias, who began his career at the Downsview plant.

George Kosinski, who works in fabricating, has been at the Downsview plant for 43 years. He went on strike shortly after he started to protect the plant, and is on strike again as he plans to retire. He is proud to work there and takes his grandchildren to see the new planes.

“They say, Grandpa, did you build that plane? And I say, I built part of it. It takes a lot of skilled people to build a plane,” the Local 112 member said shortly before speaking to the crowd.

Spare parts buyer Erica Warnick said generations of the same families have worked at the plant, and are proud to be a part of Canada’s aeronautical heritage.

“Their whole lives are wrapped up in this. There’s no Dash-8 without us,” the Local 673 member said.

Local 112 President Scott McIlmoyle said workers at the plant were assured they have a strong future when the new buyers came in only to be betrayed.

“Now we see Longview’s true colours. They’re taking care of their shareholders. They’re taking care of themselves.”

Local 673 President Maryellen McIlmoyle said Longview and CEO Sherry Brydson of the billionaire Thomson family, needs to remember who made De Havilland a company worth purchasing.

“It was us, the workers, who built De Havilland.”

Ontario Regional Director Naureen Rizvi called on the company to resume talks with the union to reach a settlement.

“There is only one way to bring this dispute to an end, and that’s for De Havilland and Longview to get back to the table and negotiate a fair deal.”

Tuesday, August 10, 2021 11:30 am EDT


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