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 Association of Western Pulp & Paper Workers
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( Last updated Sunday, January 26, 2020 10:51 am EST)
Unifor urges City of Toronto to improve transit, save jobs in Thunder Bay

Unifor delivered a strong deputation to the City of Toronto’s Budget committee to warn that excessive delays in the purchase of at least 60 new streetcars is putting the Thunder Bay Bombardier plant where they are manufactured in jeopardy.

“The Ford conservatives are refusing to act while good manufacturing jobs in Northern Ontario are disappearing,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “All levels of government must work together instead of punishing Northern Ontario for decisions made in Toronto.”

The union has been calling on the City of Toronto and the federal and provincial governments to take responsibility for the worst transit congestion in Canada and protect good paying manufacturing jobs in Ontario by completing the necessary Bombardier streetcar order.

“Jobs are on the line – the Bombardier plant is at risk of closing, there simply isn’t enough work to keep the facility open into 2021,” said Dominic Pasqualino Unifor Local 1075 President. “We can’t wait any longer – trained workers are going to move on and they, and these jobs, will never return.”

The Thunder Bay Bombardier plant is the largest private sector employer in the region. It has a more than 100-year history of providing good jobs that has enriched the lives of Ontarians through fair wages and supply-chain demand.

“Canadian content in government purchases play an important role in Ontario’s economy,” says Kaylie Tiessen, Economist and Unifor National Research Representative. “Jobs at the Bombardier facility support an additional 1.5 to 2.8 job in Ontario, with many in the greater Toronto area. If the plant closes, it is workers across the province who will bear the burden.”

The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) states that new streetcars constitute an urgent and unfunded need in its recent capital budget.

“The city is putting riders and workers through the ultimate stress test,” continued Pasqualino. “If our elected leaders keep shirking responsibility, workers will be out of a job and we’ll have lost one of Canada’s exclusive manufacturers for our city’s streetcars and subway systems.”

Thursday, January 23, 2020 10:45 am EST

Atlantic Director Linda MacNeil urges caution on new NS health professionals registry

Unifor Atlantic Regional Director Linda MacNeil is voicing concern around a plan by the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness to create a new government body regulating health professionals.

“We appreciate the opportunity to talk through what a new registry would mean for health care workers,” said MacNeil. “We aren’t opposed to a new government body for regulated health professionals in the right context but we caution against occupation-based registries as they provide little to no benefit while putting financial strain on lower-paid workers.”

Unifor made a submission to the Nova Scotia Department of Health following meetings held by government with the Council of Health Care Unions in Nova Scotia, of which Unifor is a member. Consultations surround the government’s proposed Nova Scotia Health Professions and Occupations Act which is exploring a registry for Continuing Care Assistants (CCAs) to regulate the profession.

MacNeil is particularly concerned with how a registry would impact the implementation of recommendations from the Nova Scotia Expert Panel on Long-Term Care.

“In our presentation to the government’s Expert Panel last year, we and many other unions, organizations and families made it very clear the sector is in crisis and the government must take urgent action to address low staffing levels, recruitment and retention issues, and working conditions,” said MacNeil.

Unifor suggests there are more effective and comprehensive ways to address systemic recruitment and retention problems in long-term care, as well as alternative ways to collect staffing data for human resource planning in the sector without creating a mandatory registry for CCAs.  

Read the full submission here.

Thursday, January 23, 2020 9:15 am EST

Winnipeg reporter wins International journalism award

Winnipeg Free Press reporter and Unifor member Katie May is one of the first winners of a new international journalism award for her reporting on access to justice in remote areas of Manitoba.

“Unifor is proud that one of our journalist members is being recognized as one of the top journalists in the world with this award,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias.

“Katie May’s work exposing the long delays to justice in Manitoba’s north shows the important role that journalism plays in a functioning democracy by holding our governments and their departments to account.”

May was the only winner in the Civil Rights category of the Fetisov Journalism Awards at a ceremony held January 22 in Lucerne, Switzerland. Her stories “Remote life, rough justice” looked at the long delays in Northern Manitoba for simple court dates such as bail hearings that keeps accused in jail for weeks on end before they can to go before a judge, and the impact this has on the accused and their families.

“I'm honoured to be part of the first Fetisov Journalism Awards. As the only Canadian shortlisted, I feel especially fortunate. I'm looking forward to continuing the work of getting to the truth and telling more stories,” May said after receiving the award.

Unifor Communications Representative Stuart Laidlaw, a journalist for 25 years, past unit chair of the Toronto Star and vice-president of Local 87-M, was a member of the expert panel for the awards, and helped select the shortlist of stories eligible to win the top prizes.

The Fetisov Journalism Awards were set up in 2018 and accepted entries for the first time last year, with prizes in four categories:

  • Outstanding Contribution to Peace
  • Contribution to Civil Rights
  • Outstanding Investigative Reporting
  • Excellence in Environmental Journalism




Thursday, January 23, 2020 9:00 am EST

Vopak members achieve significant gains in new collective agreement

Unifor Local 2003E members at Vopak Terminals of Canada Inc. in Hamilton, Ontario voted to adopt a new collective agreement that includes a large wage increase and other significant gains.  

“The Bargaining Committee worked hard to achieve improvements that will make a real difference to our members,” said Gary Ellis, Unifor National Representative. “For example, in the new contract our Senior Operators received a wage increase of approximately 24 per cent, retroactive to the start of this year.”

The full time terminal operators at the petroleum/chemical tank farm work outdoors in all conditions storing and transferring such chemicals as fuels, de-icing fluids and asphalt from massive holding tanks, trains, ships and trucks.

In 2019, Vopak Terminals in Quebec took strike action for pensions, wages, and overtime. After a long 3 months on the picket line, the members of Unifor Local 175C won major advancements and returned to work.

While the Vopak members in Hamilton had already achieved important gains in prior rounds of bargaining, the Local 2003E Bargaining Committee took the position that the employer had set a wage pattern in Quebec.

“Local 2003E’s Bargaining Committee never waivered in maintaining that while their Collective Agreement was historically a little better than other locations they would not accept anything less than the achievements of Unifor in Quebec,” said Jason Harris, Local 2003E Bargaining Committee Chair. “We would like to acknowledge and thank Unifor Local 175C in Quebec for their efforts.”

Local 2003E members also demanded pension security in the form of a Defined Benefit pension plan as well as other monetary gains. After multiple days of collective bargaining a tentative agreement was reached on January 16 and ratified on January 17.

Highlights include:


Approximately 24% wage increase effective January 1, 2020

Senior operators will go from $29.96/hr to $36.40/hr

January 1, 2021 – 2.5 per cent

January 1, 2022 – 2.5 per cent

January 1, 2023 – 2.5 per cent


College of Applied Arts and Technology (CAAT) Defined Benefit Pension Plan with matching contributions of

2020 - 5 per cent

2021 - 6 per cent

2022 - 6.5 per cent

The new collective agreement also contains improvements in overtime calculations, health benefits, bereavement, severance, shift premiums and vacations.

Thursday, January 23, 2020 8:30 am EST

Unifor presents Ontario budget recommendations

Ontario Regional Director Naureen Rizvi voiced Unifor’s strong opposition to the deep financial cuts and overall economic strategy of the Ford government as she presented the union’s budget recommendations to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs.  

“This budget is tabled at a time when Ontarians have lost confidence in this government. We have seen an aggressive agenda of funding cuts and legislative attacks on the vulnerable and on workers, and the people of Ontario have expressed their outrage,” said Rizvi. “Let’s be clear - the attack on the most vulnerable people in this province is nothing short of a disgrace.” 

At the January 17 pre-budget consultation hearing at Queen’s Park, Rizvi cited damaging government policies including the cancellation of the $15 minimum wage, the rolling back of sick days and the elimination of equal pay for equal work.

Rizvi also called out Doug Ford for opening the door to for-profit health care services, attacking school board workers and creating chaos in education, and for his Conservative government’s ongoing neglect of manufacturing workers.

“In recent months, this government has stood by while approximately 2,300 highly skilled assembly line workers and 1,200 independent parts supplier workers have lost their jobs in the Durham region,” Rizvi said. “Our communities are being decimated by the huge loss of manufacturing jobs.”

During her address to the Committee, Rizvi stressed the need for investment in electric vehicle technology and manufacturing, and repeated the union’s warning about lack of production orders at the Bombardier facility in Thunder Bay.

“It is time for a strong commitment to a “Buy Ontario” strategy that will put workers first and grow the province’s manufacturing sector into the future,” Rizvi stated.

Read Unifor’s Ontario Pre-Budget Submission to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs here.

Friday, January 17, 2020 2:00 am EST

Unifor members across Canada bolster Regina picket lines

Unifor Local 594’s bold fight to defend the defined benefit pension plan against a massively profitable refinery has drawn reinforcements from across the country.

Members from three provinces have already travelled to Regina to join the picket lines, and dozens more are expected this weekend.

“Unifor members are ready to fight,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “When a greedy employer like FCL attacks our members, it can expect a fight with our entire union membership.”

Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL) owns the Co-op Refinery, where nearly 800 Unifor members have been locked out since December 5, 2019 in freezing conditions. At issue is the employer’s demands for concessions for most that amount to a 50 per cent cut in the value of their pensions.

“Co-op Refinery makes $3 million in profit every single day when our members are at work,” said Kevin Bittman, Unifor Local 594 President. “Clearly the attack on our pension is an attempt to break the union.”

Leanne Marsh, a skilled trades worker at Unifor Local 2200 and Chairperson of Unifor’s B.C. Regional Council arrived January 8 to show support.

“I jumped at the chance to come out here to show B.C.’s support for this fight,” said Marsh. “While I’m here, there are secondary pickets happening at B.C. co-ops nearly every day. We’re supporting Unifor Local 594 in every way we can.”

Mohamad Alli, a retiree from Local 468 in Winnipeg, shares those sentiments: “I knew I had to come to show my support. Pensions are absolutely critical to retirement security for workers, and what FCL is trying to do to their loyal workforce is disgusting and wrong.”

If you want more information about joining Local 594 picket lines, please contact your local union president.

Thursday, January 16, 2020 11:00 am EST

Unifor Local 302 Paramedics call on Elgin County to increase EMS service levels

Paramedics from Unifor Local 302 submitted a deputation in front of the Council of Elgin County on January 14, 2020, sounding the alarm bell on the need for enhanced ambulance services for residents.

The call for increased ambulance services comes at a time where the capacity for Emergency Medical Services in the county simply cannot meet the needs of the community. Service levels have remained stagnant over the last decade, while the county’s population has continued to grow and the demand has increased.

That means the system now can not handle the call volumes for medical emergencies on a regular basis, putting residents at risk due to the lengthy ambulance wait times and delays in treating those in need. Paramedics have seen first-hand that this under- servicing has created uncertainty, and puts lives at risk.

In order to meet the needs of Elgin County and of St. Thomas residents, Unifor is calling on the Council of Elgin County to develop a concrete plan for EMS going forward, and conduct an immediate review of call volumes. The union is also asking the council to immediately increase capacity by adding 36 hours of ambulance transport capacity to the system.

Elgin-St.Thomas EMS paramedics are dedicated to providing the best services for residents to ensure that someone is experiencing a medical emergency, they are safely and quickly transported to the hospital for care.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020 9:30 am EST

Come to Regina

Unifor is asking all locals across Canada to send as many members as possible to Regina starting January 19, 2020.

Their greedy employer has locked out nearly 800 Unifor Local 594 members since December 5, 2019. The Co-op Refinery makes $3 million dollars a day in profits. Last year, the Co-op parent company, Federated Co-operatives Limited earned more than $9.2 billion dollars. Yet the Co-op wants to cut the pensions of their loyal, hardworking employees by half, despite promising that these pensions would be protected in the last round of bargaining.

Help us fightback against the Co-op, which is acting like a greedy corporate bully.

Please contact your Local Union President for more details. If your president is not available, please email Josh.Coles@unifor.org.

For tips on what to pack for a prairie picket line watch this video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sq5gD0witMg

If you can’t join us in Regina, you can still help by going to Boycottco-op.ca to add your name to the pledge to boycott all Co-op retailers until our members get a fair deal.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020 9:30 am EST


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