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Watch how Unifor saved Oshawa GM

It’s not every day that a union gets to make history but that’s exactly what Unifor did. In November of 2018, when GM announced plans to shut down Oshawa, our union launched the most aggressive campaign in its history to keep the assembly line. After months of rallies, TV, newspaper, radio and billboard ads, we managed to maintain a footprint, and save a few hundred jobs. In bargaining this fall, the union, the company, and federal and provincial governments came together to create a plan to return truck assembly to Oshawa.​

Monday, November 23, 2020 10:00 am EST

World Toilet Day highlights access issues for transportation workers

In recognition of World Toilet Day, the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) is highlighting the need for safe access to washroom facilities for transportation workers, made more urgent with the additional challenge of a pandemic.

“Safe access to decent sanitary facilities, sanitation systems, and most importantly the ability to use them when needed, is truly a global issue that is widely and deeply felt by all transport workers, and now with COVID-19 it is amplified one-thousand fold,” said Unifor National Secretary-Treasurer Lana Payne, as Chair of the ITF virtual sanitation action forum.

An ITF Executive Board member, Payne was invited to chair the international online forum on World Toilet Day, November 19, 2020, which brought together representatives from 33 countries and 47 unions on behalf of workers from road, rail, urban and warehousing sectors.

“Women workers have specific health and safety concerns relating to their need to access appropriate, safe, secure and clean sanitary facilities in a timely manner,” Payne told forum participants, which included frontline transportation workers from around the globe.

Payne has actively worked to improve the availability of washrooms in transportation, including the facilitation of Unifor financial support for the gathering of workers’ stories.

“Transport and warehouse workers continue to be on the frontline of this pandemic, yet we have workers even here in Canada who are encountering barriers to accessing proper sanitation facilities or adequate toilet breaks,” said Payne. “This access is fundamental both to human dignity, a person’s health and safety and to the prevention of infection.”

In April 2020, the ITF launched their Covid-19 demands for safe access to sanitation, including urgent necessary actions needed by employers and governments. The demands expand on the IFT Transport Workers’ Sanitation Charter, launched last World Toilet Day in 2019, which also emphasized the experiences of women transport workers and improvements needed to provide a safe and inclusive workplace. The ITF is calling on all affiliates to sign an Open Letter with demands for employers to improve sanitation access. The Letter will be shared with all Unifor locals.

World Toilet Day aims to raise awareness of the 4.2 billion people worldwide who live without access to safely managed sanitation, develop strategies to address the crisis, and achieve sustainable development with the goal of water and sanitation for all by 2030.

Each year the United Nations sets a theme, in 2020 focusing on ‘Sustainable sanitation and climate change’. This year’s education campaign provides information on how toilets help to protect public health and fight climate change.

Sanitary toilets, combined with clean water and good hygiene, form a strong and cost-efficient defence against COVID-19 and other disease outbreaks. While climate change effects such as contaminated floodwater threaten water, sanitation and hygiene infrastructure around the world, proper toilet facilities can help to combat climate change with the productive use of waste to safely boost agriculture, and reduce and capture emissions for greener energy.

To download World Toilet Day sharables or for more information visit worldtoiletday.info

Thursday, November 19, 2020 9:30 am EST

Ontario area meetings go digital

Family events, bargaining tables, and even workouts have moved online in 2020. This past week, Unifor’s Ontario Area Meetings made the shift, as hundreds of members tuned into the Eastern Ontario, GTA, London and Kitchener Area Meetings.

Area Directors hosted lively conversations between members, local leaders, and staff, addressing current issues in their workplaces and sharing new skills and knowledge to organize during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Regional Director Naureen Rizvi attended every event, and shared a message of unity, and heard from workers directly.

“We cannot rely solely on the government or any employer to provide protections and support,” said Rizvi to attendees of the Greater Toronto Area meeting, “But you know that your union is here for you to push for protections and relief for workers and working families.”

Members in Ontario and across the country can engage with Unifor’s advocacy campaigns concerning COVID-19, or read resources and updates at www.unifor.org/covid19.

In the following week, the remaining Area Meetings will take place for members in Windsor and Northern Ontario.

Members who live in those regions are invited to register today:


Tuesday, November 24


Northern Ontario

Thursday November 26



Wednesday, November 18, 2020 2:15 am EST

Brutal lockout by Gate Gourmet as employer throws workers into the street

Montreal, November 18, 2020 – Employees of Gate Gourmet were shocked last week when their employer interrupted their lunch break to tell them to take their personal effects and vacate the premises, as they were being locked out.

“No final offer or warning was given by the employer,” said Unifor’s Quebec director Renaud Gagné. “We were waiting to hear back from them and now their only answer is a lockout. It makes no sense.”

Talks between the parties, which began in July, were not going well prior to the lockout. The employer was demanding several major concessions, including a five-year wage freeze, hiring only part-time and seasonal employees (no full-time), member payment of 40% of group insurance costs (currently paid entirely by the employer), reduced accessibility to insurance, a cut to shift premiums, abolition of the weekend premium, a cut in the employer’s contribution to RRSPs, fewer statutory holidays, withdrawal of vacation weeks and elimination of numerous articles in the collective agreement dealing with non-monetary issues.

The employer has tabled no fewer than 145 demands, all of which involve concessions. For its part, the union has not demanded any concessions.

“The simple fact is that the employer wants to abolish our collective agreement altogether. And despite our repeated requests, they have given us no explanation. We understand that the sector is struggling as a result of COVID-19. And in light of that, we were fully prepared to engage in serious discussions and do our part,” said. François Arseneault, president of Local 698.

“But this makes no sense. The employer is taking advantage of the crisis to roll back all our gains. They are even claiming that the workers are to blame for the situation, even though the lack of contracts is the result of a structural problem in the plant combined with the pandemic.”

Since Gate Gourmet bought the plant 10 years ago, workers have made a number of concessions in good faith, but this did not prevent the company from losing several contracts.

“At this time, no date has been set for talks, but we remain available to negotiate. The case is in conciliation and we will be asking the mediator to call the parties together. But in view of the employer’s attitude so far, we have doubts about their good faith. One thing is clear: we are determined to defend our members,” Gagné said.

The lockout has put workers with more than 30 years of service on the street. Gate Gourmet provides airline catering. The Dorval plant has laid off hundreds of Unifor members in recent years due to the loss of contracts and COVID-19. Only about 20 employees were still active at the time of the lockout, and most of them have more than 30 years of seniority.

A picket line has been set up in front of the plant at 1185 Rodolphe Pagé Street in Dorval.

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector and represents 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. Unifor represents close to 55,000 members and is affiliated with the province’s largest labour federation, the Quebec Federation of Labour (QFL).

To arrange for interviews, in-person or via Skype or FaceTime, please contact Marie-Andrée L’Heureux, Unifor Québec Communications Representative, (514) 916-7373 marie-andree.lheureux@unifor.org

Wednesday, November 18, 2020 1:45 am EST

Jason Kenney strips workers of health and safety protections

Premier Jason Kenney tabled yet another attack on Alberta’s workers on November 5 through sweeping changes to the province’s health and safety laws.

The devastating bill seeks to amend the Workers Compensation Act and replaces the Occupational Health and Safety Act in its entirety—making it harder to track and review the full impact of amendments.

“There is no jurisdiction in Canada where workers have too many health and safety protections,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Every time a government slashes legal safeguards for workers, there are tragic consequences.”

The most noteworthy amendments include limiting the right to refuse unsafe work, capping the amount seriously injured workers are eligible to receive, and eliminating an employer’s responsibility to reinstate injured workers.

“Because of COVID-19, workers in many sectors are more vulnerable on the job as they’ve been in decades, with new health risks and less bargaining power. If this bill passes, Alberta’s workers will have even fewer rights under the law,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor Western Regional Director. “We knew Jason Kenney was in the pocket of powerful employers. But attacking health and safety during a pandemic is a new low, even for him.”

Unifor says Kenney’s mean-spirited amendments are highlighted by the planned closure of the Fair Practices Office, which was established to help injured workers with the workers’ compensation system. Closing the office will no doubt suppress the number successful claims made by injured workers.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020 3:00 am EST

Unifor and Loblaw Co. return to bargaining table

Unifor and Loblaw Companies Limited have agreed to resume negotiations today in an attempt to settle the ten week strike by 1,400 Dominion grocery store workers in Newfoundland.

“We’re pleased to get back to the bargaining table. Unifor has always maintained that the only way this strike would end would be through serious negotiations between Loblaw Co. and the union,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias.

The two parties will meet October 29, 2020 at 10 a.m. NDT in St. John’s. Unifor will not conduct secondary pickets while talks are ongoing.

In recent weeks, the striking workers escalated pressure on the company with secondary pickets, beginning with a round the clock picket at the Loblaw distribution centre on October 20, 2020.

Following an injunction application by the company, the secondary picket location relocated to the Weston’s bakery facility in Mount Pearl on October 26, 2020. The bakery is owned by George Weston Ltd., which also operates Dominion’s parent company, Loblaw Companies Limited.

Following two days of peaceful picketing, the workers were threatened with arrest as the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary (RNC) descended on the peaceful picket line with tactical and riot units Tuesday night.

“It’s outrageous that the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary is intimidating peaceful picketers with police doing the bidding of Loblaw Companies Limited,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. “The only place this will be resolved is at the bargaining table.”

The RNC threatened to charge workers under the Highway Traffic Act and the Criminal Code of Canada unless the workers allowed loaded delivery trucks to cross the picket line.

“The police have no business intervening here. This is a matter between the workers and Loblaw Companies Limited,” said Unifor 597 President Carolyn Wrice.

In an early Wednesday morning Facebook live broadcast, Unifor Assistant to the National President Chris MacDonald told the workers that it was only a matter of moments before police would move in and arrest anyone in the way of the trucks.

“I’m not going to ask our members to get arrested here tonight because they’ve fought so bravely for the last number of days and unfortunately the police are moving in on us. On a peaceful demonstration, a peaceful picket line,” said MacDonald. “It’s a shame that this is what it has come to. It’s frankly astonishing.”

With the looming threat of mass arrests, the workers banded together in a show of defiance, and marched to the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary station to express outrage at the interference with their right to picket.

“This will not be settled by the RNC. This will not be settled in any other way other than getting back to the bargaining table and getting a fair deal for our members,” said MacDonald. “I want to thank members for supporting us across the country in the courageous battle to get fair pay forever.”


Thursday, October 29, 2020 9:15 am EDT

Unifor sponsors investigative journalism project

Unifor is sponsoring a unique project to promote investigative journalism and help train the next generation of reporters interested in pursuing such stories.

“Investigative journalism plays a vital role in our society. Unifor is honoured to support an innovative approach to high-impact reporting - and one that also helps train new journalists,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias.

“Our hope is that the Unifor-funded interns of today will one day be some of this country’s leading investigative journalists.”

Unifor is contributing $25,000 per year for five years to sponsor two interns. The current participants are Charlie Buckley and Giulia Fiaoni, and other related expenses.

“Without Unifor's generosity and investment in funding our research, the project would not be what it is today,” said Fiaoni.

The Investigative Journalism Bureau for Collaborative Reporting and Training was launched Thursday at the University of Toronto. The centre will get students involved in major investigative projects and train them on the disciplines of investigative journalism.

“We’ve seen how collaborative investigations can unearth meaningful revelations, inform important discussions and impact public policy,” said Rob Cribb, a Toronto Star investigative reporter and Unifor member who envisioned the program and will lead the project.

“The IJB will be a powerful expression of this emerging investigative model, bringing together the collective brainpower of world-class academics and student researchers with top-flight international journalists and media outlets.”

IJB’s investigative reporting will be integrated with Dalla Lana’s Journalism and Health Advocacy Program, led by Robert Steiner, an award-winning journalist and founding director of the Fellowship in Global Journalism.

 “I am very grateful to have been given this opportunity, both to contribute to vital reporting in the public interest and to develop my skills and instincts as a journalist,” said Buckley.

Thursday, October 22, 2020 9:30 am EDT

New Premier members win major wage gains in first collective agreement

Unifor Local 222 members at Premier Implementation Solutions have ratified their first collective agreement by an overwhelming 96%. The three-year agreement covers 200 members at the Fresh Del Monte facility in Oshawa, which processes fresh-cut fruit and vegetables for distribution across Ontario and Quebec.

The workers voted to join Unifor in February 2020 following a certification vote ordered by the Labour Board because of the company’s actions.

“Unifor was able to deliver concrete gains and protections for these new members,” said Deb Tveit, Unifor Assistant to the National President. “In addition to significant wage gains, this first collective agreement addresses historic issues and solidifies workers’ rights in key areas including scheduling and discipline procedures.”

Highlights of the new collective agreement include:

  • Total wage increase of 9.54% over the lifetime of the agreement;
  • Shift scheduling by seniority
  • New guaranteed break times
  • Minimum start rates in all classifications;
  • Minimum reporting and call-in pay of 4 hours;
  • Overtime offered by seniority;
  • Excess hours agreement which allows for voluntary overtime - not forced;
  • Bargaining unit work protections
  • Layoff and recall protections by seniority;
  • Equal pay for equal work protection and
  • All current and prior discipline removed from all employee records harassment and discrimination protection and joint investigations when necessary.

“We were also able to incorporate important Unifor initiatives for our newest bargaining unit in this contract,  including Paid Education Leave, company contributions to the Unifor Social Justice Fund, Emergency Leave days, Domestic violence leave, and a trained Women’s Advocate role to support members experiencing violence or harassment,” said Colin James, President of Unifor Local 222.





Wednesday, October 21, 2020 3:45 am EDT


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