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 Association of Western Pulp & Paper Workers
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Unifor and Toronto Terminals Railway commence bargaining
Empty train platforms at Union Station in Toronto.

Unifor opened negotiations with Toronto Terminals Railway (TTR) on July 28, 2021 to bargain a new collective agreement for 35 members of Local 4003. The members perform track maintenance and flagging services on the Union Station Rail Corridor (USRC) in Toronto.

The USRC is the busiest passenger transportation hub in Canada, serving more than 250,000 people daily who ride VIA Rail, GO Transit and the Union Pearson (UP) Express.  TTR is a joint venture of Canadian National and Canadian Pacific Railways.

The collective agreement expired on December 31, 2019. The start of bargaining was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Bargaining is taking place in-person at TTR’s downtown Toronto office. All public health protocols for COVID-19 are being followed.  The Union is looking to secure the same pattern of wage and benefit improvements as negotiated with CN Railway.

Negotiations are scheduled to continue over the next several weeks. Members should subscribe to RailLine to receive updates from the bargaining committee.

Unifor TTR Bargaining Committee:

Jeff Ongena – Local 4003 TTR Chairperson
Paul Wells – Local 4003 TTR member
Dave Kissack – President Unifor Council 4000
Barry Kennedy – National Representative

Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/padraics_travels/4718137550/

Thursday, July 29, 2021 10:45 am EDT

Unifor Local 1403 reverses rollbacks in new contract
Unifor social media banner saying ratified

Members of Unifor Local 1403 at Canadian Kraft Paper in The Pas, Manitoba have ratified a new three-year collective agreement that will reverse the wage rollbacks agreed to in 2016 as part of a temporary arrangement to help save the mill.

"Unifor members played a pivotal role in the strategy to keep good jobs in The Pas," said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. "It was important that the new contract reflect our members' role in the sustainabilty of this facility."

Highlights of the new agreement include a 16% wage increase over the term of the contract, skilled trades bonuses, and benefits improvements.

"My congratulations to the bargaining committee at Local 1403. Their long-term planning has both helped keep the facility operational and secured fair wages for members," said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor Western Regional Director.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021 12:30 pm EDT

Bell Media workers ratify new contracts across Canada
CTV studios in Scarborough.

Workers at Bell Media outlets across Canada have ratified collective agreements containing significant improvements after committing to coordinated bargaining across several Unifor locals.

“This shows what solidarity can do. Workers in different parts of the country, doing very different jobs, but united by similar workplace issues and a common employer came together and stuck together,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias.

The effort was led by outgoing Unifor National Representative Howard Law, who crafted the strategy and kept the locals working together throughout the bargaining process.

“This was truly a group effort. The locals supported one another, and as a result were able to achieve better collective agreements than they could on their own,” Law said.

The group included Local 614-M at Bell Media Montreal, Local 79-M at CTV in Toronto (Agincourt), Local 827-M in Terrace, B.C., Local 87-M in London, ON, Local 715-M in Ottawa, Local 723-M at CFRB radio in Toronto, Local 714-M in Barrie, ON, and Local 720-M national camera operators.

As part of the effort, first collective agreements were negotiated at CFRB Newstalk 1010 and broadcast coordinators with 79-M. 

The agreements pushed back on concessions, thanks to the joint effort, including at CTV London. The new deals have been ratified over a number of weeks, including at CFRB last month and at CTV in Agincourt this week.

CFRB workers were able to address wage inequities in the workplace. Broadcaster coordinators at CTV Agincourt were integrated into the 79-M Bell Media Collective agreement and its mature benefits and industry standard wage adjustments and increases.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021 2:15 am EDT

Unifor Local 591-G Active Exhaust ratify new deal
Workers from Unifor Local 591-G protesting at Active Exhaust manufacturing site in Scarborough

Unifor Local 591-G Active Exhaust workers voted to ratify a three-year collective agreement Wednesday in Scarborough.

“This agreement provides a substantial bump in pay to members, which was the main issue for strike action that began early Monday morning,” 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 the membership.”

Among the gains include a 2 per cent lump sum bonus on hours worked retroactive to July 1, 2020. Members will also receive a 5 per cent wage increase beginning July 1, 2021 and then an additional 4 per cent wage increase effective July 1, 2022.

The new deal also means improvements to premiums, reduced grievance timelines, as well as more money towards medical documentation and safety footwear and an increase to RRSP contributions.

“This is an incredible deal that you don’t see very often out here,” said Burke Moffat, Vice-President of Local 591-G. “This was the first time for some workers with over 20 years’ experience taking strike action. It’s an incredible win and most individuals were very happy. The wages are a relief to a lot of people, especially during the pandemic.”

The term of the new agreement is effective retroactive from July 1, 2020, until June 30, 2023.

Unifor 591-G’s 180 members in this unit are primarily welders and painters at the manufacturing company. They are also material handlers, general labourers and maintenance staff.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021 5:30 am EDT

Rally for locked out Ash Grove cement workers
Unifor Quebec workers rally

More than 100 Unifor members and allies responded to the union’s call to support a solidarity action on July 15 for workers at the Ash Grove cement plant in Joliette, Que, locked out since May 22.

 “It was important for us to do this demonstration. As in any labour dispute, those on the frontlines sometimes forget that there are hundreds of thousands of people behind them,” said Québec Director Renaud Gagné.

“We are by your side today and we will be there tomorrow.”

Unifor National President Jerry Dias has appealed to all Unifor locals across Canada to offer financial support for the cement plant workers.

In addition to the dozens of members from other union locals, federal MPs and provincial MNAs for the Joliette riding also came out to show their support. Gabriel Sainte-Marie of the Bloc Québécois and Véronique Hivon of the Parti Québécois forcefully called for a resolution to the dispute, blaming the employer for its stubbornness in this matter.

The members of Local 177 have been locked out since May 22. While negotiations are ongoing with the employer, the dispute is dragging out and many points remain unresolved. The employer is trying to force several concessions from the members of the local, in particular on the issue of outsourcing. As well, dozens will lose their jobs with the closure of two of the four ovens.

“Under such difficult circumstances, it was important to let our brothers and sisters know that they are not alone. I am proud of our locals who responded to the call. I sincerely hope that we will be able to find a solution to this dispute in the coming days and weeks. In the meantime, we are determined to reach a just resolution for our members,” said Gagné.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021 3:00 am EDT

National Post journalists ratify wage-boosting first contract
National Post and Toronto Sun newspaper boxes.

Journalists at the National Post have ratified their first collective agreement – with improvements in wages, overtime pay and a commitment to address diversity in the newsroom.

“This is not only a first collective agreement, but a very good day for journalists at the National Post - who today have addressed wage inequities and gained a voice in their workplace,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias.

The 42 journalists in the National Post newsroom voted overwhelmingly last October to join Unifor, and on Monday ratified their first collective agreement Monday.

The deal means newsroom wages will increase and average of 8.25 per cent over the two-year agreement. Some employees will see double-digit percentage raises.

National Post journalists can now claim overtime, file grievances for binding arbitration, pursue editorial integrity issues, exercise seniority rights and receive enhanced termination pay and severance if laid off, among a long list of improvements. Employees with 20 years or more service will have a sixth week of vacation restored.

In a first for Canadian newspapers, BIPOC/Diversity job candidates will receive priority in cases of relatively equal candidates interviews and in intern hiring.

“We are able to reach this deal and achieve some significant improvements thanks to the hard work of the bargaining committee and the support of the members,” said Unifor National Representative Howard Law, who assisted the negotiations. 

The journalists are members of Unifor Local 87-M, which represents workers across southern Ontario, including large daily newspapers Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, and Toronto Sun.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021 9:00 am EDT

Unifor calls for worker-friendly policies as Nova Scotians head to the polls
collage picture of diverse workers in all different sectors

Unifor is calling on all political parties to adopt platforms that support workers, with the Nova Scotia provincial Election Day set for Tuesday, August 17, 2021.

“This election is an opportunity for workers to unite to demand policies from the next provincial government to improve daily life, both on the job and in their communities,” said Unifor Atlantic Regional Director Linda MacNeil. “When Unifor members vote and work together, we can elect candidates who will protect good jobs, support key industries, and safeguard and strengthen crucial social services, including health and long-term care.”

Unifor is calling on all parties to come forward with clear platforms that reflect workers’ priorities and set the path for a just recovery, including commitments to:

  • Enact paid sick days for all workers
  • Increase healthcare spending and invest in programs to recruit healthcare and long-term care workers.
  • Invest in the protection of forestry jobs with stringent environmental and worker safety regulations and respect for First Nations.

Visit ns.uniforvotes.ca to make your pledge to vote, find information on Unifor’s recommendations and ways you can vote, and download campaign resources.

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed multiple cracks in Nova Scotia’s economic and social safety net systems, including low wages and precarious work and the damaging effects of cuts to long-term care.

“During the pandemic, our health and long-term care members experienced firsthand the devastating results of chronic government underfunding and lack of paid sick days. Now is the time to support candidates who will take action,” said MacNeil.

Unifor member Angela Downey, a Continuing Care Assistant who has worked in long-term care for over 18 years, is running as the NS-NDP candidate in Hammonds Plains – Lucasville.

This provincial election will see the number of seats rise to 55 from the current 51, following the recommendations of the Electoral Boundaries Commission, with the goal to increase the participation and representation of Acadians and African-Nova Scotians.

View maps of the new electoral districts here.

Upon dissolution, the seat count stood at 24 for the Liberal government, 17 Conservative, five NDP, three independent and two vacant.

This is Liberal leader Iain Rankin’s first provincial election since taking over from former Premier Stephen McNeil in February 2021. This will also be the first election for Tim Houston since becoming Progressive Conservative leader in October 2018, while NDP leader Gary Burrill has led his party since February 2016.

“The policies that emerge from this campaign will shape Nova Scotia post-pandemic,” said MacNeil. “Workers can make a real difference in this election, but only when we participate and make sure our voices are heard.”

To volunteer with the Unifor Votes election campaign please contact Jennifer Benoit at jennifer.benoit@unifor.org.

For more information visit ns.uniforvotes.ca

Wednesday, July 21, 2021 9:00 am EDT

After long struggle, Casinos finally re-open
Arial view of a shut down casino and an empty parking lot

Unifor members working in the gaming sector are returning to work this month, many of them after more than a year on layoff.

The sector was among the hardest hit by government-imposed COVID-19 closures. Casinos were one of the first workplaces to be shuttered during the pandemic, and are certainly among the last to be re-opened.

“It has been a struggle for our members working at casinos,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “For most we were able to negotiate benefit continuance, but we certainly recognize how difficult it has been for them.”

From the very beginning, Unifor mobilized to help support laid off members, including weeks of negotiation to win benefits coverage. Unifor worked with the federal government to ensure that COVID-19 programs such as CERB and CEWS were structured to help gaming workers.

Unifor locals also undertook many meetings with local Members of Provincial Parliament while Unifor leaders worked with the Ontario Attorney General’s office and the Ontario Science Advisory Table to discuss capacity for opening.

As a result, local unions and operators collaborated on individual, site-specific re-opening plans, guided by public health experts.

“We never stopped fighting for our members,” said Naureen Rizvi, Ontario Regional Director. “The struggle is far from over as we must continue to ensure members are recalled by seniority and the industry abides by strict health and safety protocols to keep workers and customers safe.”

Casinos in B.C. opened earlier this month and Ontario’s re-opening plans enable casinos to open this month.

Thursday, July 15, 2021 10:15 am EDT


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