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 Association of Western Pulp & Paper Workers
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 CEP
( Last updated Thursday, December 5, 2019 8:21 pm EST)
Unifor members at Gesco ratify new collective agreement

Members of Unifor Local 462, representing warehouse workers at Gesco Industries in Brampton, have voted overwhelmingly to ratify a new three-year collective agreement.

“Unifor is Canada’s leading union for warehouse workers – we’re ensuring that workplace standards keep up with this rapidly growing industry,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “I’m proud of the gains the bargaining committee has made for workers at Gesco.”

The new agreement, ratified on November 30, 2019, includes milestone improvements on emergency and sick leave, enhanced language on equal pay for equal work, adoption of Unifor’s Women’s Advocate Program, new harassment and accident/incident investigation processes, and wage increases.

“We made breakthrough gains during this round of bargaining – importantly, we enhanced sick and emergency leave benefits that go well beyond what the Ford government had recently revoked,” said Charles Redden, Local 462 President. “We’re fighting back against Ford’s attack on workers at the bargaining table.”

In October 2018, the Ford government eliminated mandatory paid sick days. Unifor is advocating for change through federal and provincial lobbying and has adopted a province wide bargaining program to enhance sick and emergency leave benefits in collective agreements.

“The bargaining committee greatly exceeded our bottom line on language and wage improvements in this round of bargaining,” said Larry McIntyre, Local 462 Unit Chair.

The addition of the Women’s Advocate Program in this new three-year agreement means specially trained members will assist members and their families facing domestic violence, and the agreement includes new language that secures up to 26 weeks of domestic violence leave.

Thursday, December 5, 2019 9:45 am EST

 
12th Quebec Council: A call for commitment from Unifor members

Over 400 members from across the province gathered in Quebec City on November 23 and 24 as Unifor held its Quebec Council. In his report to delegates, Quebec Director Renaud Gagné delivered a positive assessment of Unifor’s actions during the federal election of October 21. However, he reminded delegates that “even though the election is over, it doesn’t mean our work is finished. Far from it. Our job now is to build strong ties with newly elected officials and to push forward our demands.”

Gagné also provided an update on the main negotiations currently in progress, including talks at Bombardier, Paccar and VIA Rail, as well as on the labour disputes at Vopak and Crustacés de Gaspé. He also reminded members of the numerous lobbying campaigns under way.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: without mobilization, nothing is possible. We need our members actively at our side to make our demands heard,” declared Gagné.

National Secretary-Treasurer Lana Payne made a visit to the Council, offering an impressive report on the union’s accomplishments country-wide in the past months. In drawing attention to the incessant attacks by right-wing governments in Ontario and Alberta, she reminded delegates that “we have to be more ambitious than those who are trying to dismantle workers’ rights across Canada. We have to organize people both inside and outside our union. The current context leaves us no other choice.”

During the Council, elections were held for the members of the Quebec Council’s Executive and standing committees. The results of the elections can be found on the Unifor Quebec website. It should be noted that the duration of the Council was short due to the fact that the triennial convention of the Quebec Federation of Labour (QFL) was set to start in Quebec City the next day, running from November 25 to 28.

Thursday, November 28, 2019 10:15 am EST

 
Unifor members on strike at Voith in Mississauga

After reaching a dead-end in negotiations to renew their collective agreement and dealing with a stubborn employer, workers at Voith Hydro went on strike last week.

“Unifor bargained up until the deadline but unfortunately it became clear that the employer was just unwilling to make a fair offer,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. “The members are united and we are determined to obtain an agreement that addresses the workers’ key issues.”

The 35 workers represented by Unifor Local 252 had delivered an overwhelming 100 per cent strike mandate and began strike action on November 14, 2019.

“The employer has to understand that we are determined to make legitimate improvements to our members’ working conditions,” said Wilson Stowel, Unifor Local 252. “Under the circumstances, we had no other choice but to withdraw services because the employer just wouldn’t listen.”

The employer tabled several concessionary proposals that would have negatively changed the entire collective agreement.  Voith’s monetary proposals included reducing benefits from 100 per cent to 80 per cent, the elimination of the Cost of Living Adjustment and no increases to pension during the life of the collective agreement.

“We want to send a clear message to the employer. This work contract can only be renewed on the basis of negotiating in good faith and respecting our members,” continued Dias.

Despite several possible solutions put forward by the union, the employer has been steadfast in their demands on the union to accept concessions.

Voith manufactures hydro power station equipment, primarily for hydro dams around the world. The facility also repairs and maintains the equipment that it manufactures.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019 11:30 am EST

 
Stand up and fight back theme of B.C. Regional Council

It was a celebration of union activism as delegates representing locals from across the province participated at the B.C. Regional Council, held in Whistler November 22-24, 2019.

"For the past few decades, workers have been sold a lie, their ambitions have been held back, and their struggles have been minimized," said Unifor Western Regional Director Gavin McGarrigle. "We need to stand up and fight back - that's the theme of B.C. Regional Council 2019."

McGarrigle highlighted major campaigns that the union undertook in the past year including the federal election member-to-member campaign, which was highly effective in British Columbia.

“Our member organizers came together, trained, learned how to work together…they volunteered their hearts out in targeted ridings, multiple times each week,” McGarrigle told delegates. “Unifor was there in force and we continued for every day of the campaign, speaking to our members, visiting workplaces, and volunteering.”

The members’ election campaign efforts were also praised by guest speaker Don Davies, the NDP MP for Vancouver Kingsway.

“Unifor was there for me in my campaign when I was targeted for defeat," said Davies. “Unifor’s member-to-member campaign was visible, it was noticed, and it was a demonstrated success."

On day two of Council, Unifor National President Jerry Dias continued the theme of fighting back and union activism.

“We can be anything we want. We can be bold, in your face, principled,” Dias told delegates. “We can push governments, we can push corporations, or we can be silent. As I look across this room I know the chances of us being silent are zero.”

Dias highlighted the union’s support of Indigenous issues as he invited members to join him on the Unifor Walk for Reconciliation on B.C.’s notorious Highway of Tears, the location of many murders and disappearances of Indigenous women.

“When we walk the highway of tears you are all joining me. We’re going to do it right - for our fellow sisters, for our members for our kids because we have to,” said Dias.

Delegates voted to pass resolutions in support of the Reconciliation Walk and to lobby the B.C. provincial government to fully adopt and implement the Calls for Justice included in the final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

Unifor backed up its commitment to Reconciliation with a $250,000 donation to the B.C. Aboriginal Child Care Society (BCACCS) made jointly by the Unifor Social Justice Fund and CN Rail. The funds will be used to expand an innovative speech and language development program for children across Canada.

“We know comes from people speaking up so by investing in language you are allowing our children to have the voice to make changes when they are older," BCACCS Board President Mary Teegee told delegates as she accepted the cheque.

Delegates also passed resolutions and recommendations to end corporate control over west coast fish quotas, to call for climate change disaster assistance for fish harvesters and allied workers, to assist locals to promote “Just Transition” language in industries where CO2 emissions counts continue to rise and to lobby all levels of government to take aggressive action to combat climate change.

 

Sunday, November 24, 2019 3:45 am EST

 
Unifor and CN Rail donate $250,000 to the BC Aboriginal Child Care Society

Unifor and CN Rail have donated $250,000 to the BC Aboriginal Child Care Society (BCACCS) to support the expansion of an innovative program that uses Indigenous toys and stories to enhance language development in children.

“Unifor is proud to partner with CN to assist BCACCS’s work to deliver a spiritually enriching, high quality, early learning program that is based in the child’s Indigenous culture, language and history,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias.

BCACCS plans to adapt and expand its popular Moe the Mouse™ Speech and Language Development Program to meet the cultural and linguistic needs of on and off reserve Indigenous early childhood development programs in the six regions of Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Yukon, and the Maritime Provinces.

“As a long-time leader in the creation of Indigenous early learning and child care resources like the Moe the Mouse Speech and Language Development Program, the BC Aboriginal Child Care Society is honoured to receive this generous donation from the Unifor Social Justice Fund and CN Rail,” said Mary Teegee, BC Aboriginal Child Care Society Board President.

Unifor represents approximately 6,000 CN employees. The donation was jointly presented by Jerry Dias, Unifor National President, and Tristan Jenkin, CN Account Manager, at Unifor’s BC Regional Council in Whistler.

In the coming months, BCACCS will network with its regional partners and community sites to integrate local Indigenous culture and language content while maintaining the integrity of the Moe the Mouse curriculum.

“This funding will support our joint efforts for social justice and strengthen collaboration across Canada. It will help Indigenous children, families and communities strengthen early learning and child care programs, revitalize Indigenous languages, and promote the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action," said Teegee.

 

Saturday, November 23, 2019 6:30 am EST

 
Stand! A movie inspired by Winnipeg General Strike set to premier in Canada on November 29

Set against the backdrop of the Winnipeg General Strike, the new movie Stand! features an immigrant Romeo and Juliet story, as they fight for love amidst social upheaval, and Unifor members are encouraged to check it out this weekend.

“Stand! Is a reminder of the importance of collective action and community building,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “We’re in the fight of our lives for equality, acceptance, and the protection of unions, just like we were 100 years ago.”

Stand! Is the screenplay adaption of acclaimed stage musical Strike!, inspired by the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike – one of the most influential strikes in Canadian history where more than 30,000 workers left their jobs, put economic activity in the region to a standstill, and stood together in solidarity for labour reform.

Unifor proudly sponsored the production of the feature film that is set to open across Canada on November 29.

“This movie inspires a new generation to fight for workers’ rights and reminds us where those basic rights came from and that solidarity and friendship are powerful tools to unite workers,” said Lana Payne, Unifor National Secretary-Treasurer. “We can never take our right to a union for granted, the moment we do is the moment these rights are lost.”

Stand! centers around Stefan Sokolowski (played by Marshall Williams), who fled to the New World from Ukraine with his father Mike Sokolowski (played by Gregg Henry), and Rebecca Almazoff (played by Laura Wiggins), his Jewish suffragette neighbor. They take action as the impoverished conditions of the city’s working class become unbearable.

The 1919 Winnipeg General Strike has reached its centennial, reminding audiences across the globe that the power of collective action and solidarity are essential to sparking long-haul change. Workers to this day are faced with prevailing social inequalities including poor wages, rising costs of living, and unstable employment.

Here’s how you can get tickets to the opening weekend of this timely new film. Opening weekend is November 29 – December 1, with group tickets available for Local Unions or more than 8 people.   

  • Group tickets (with 20 or more participants) can be specially purchased by calling 1-800-313-4461 or via email at groupsales@cineplex.com

For more information about Stand!, visit stand-movie.com.

Thursday, November 21, 2019 8:30 am EST

 
Hundreds rally against Doug Ford’s health care cuts

On Saturday November 9, hundreds of Unifor members and retiree’s joined with coalition partners at the latest Ontario Health Coalition rally to protect public health care from Doug Ford’s reckless cuts to hospitals, long-term care, and ambulance services. 

“Doug Ford says he’s for the people but he’s proved that he’s only for the rich people,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “They offer tax breaks to the wealthiest in our society, to rich corporations, and slap all sorts of cuts on us to pay for their gifts to the rich. This is an attack on our children and grandchildren.”

Dias spoke at the mass public rally to denounce the cuts by the Ford Conservatives. Dias took the opportunity to remind supporters that residents in nursing homes receive just six minutes of care each morning, and that we must keep fighting to make sure conditions are improved so we have better care and safer work.

“Doug Ford’s government has been a complete disaster for Ontario’s public services. All told, he has cut billions of dollars from sorely needed funding for vital social programs that help Ontario’s most vulnerable, the sick, children with autism, and our seniors,” said Katha Fortier, Assistant to National President Jerry Dias. “Ford’s cuts amount to a cut of more than $1,100 per person in Ontario on everything from hospitals and schools to vital social and public services including water and food safety, and even vaccinations.”

The government plans to cut funding for and eliminate 25 out of 35 local public health units ,49 out of 59 local paramedic & ambulance services, and eliminate 12 of 22 local dispatch units. They have also imposed real-dollar cuts to local hospitals, and impose real-dollar cuts to long-term care homes, including cancelling two special funds that contribute to resident’s well-being.

While the province is experiencing a severe shortage of personal support workers, Ford has also implemented public sector wage restraint legislation that will disproportionately affect women who work in health care and social services, earning very modest wages.

Unifor is monitoring leaked information that suggests home care services will be privatized in local communities and more major cuts are coming to care provision staff in the provincial agencies including the LHINs.

“What type of government would attack children with autism, cut $17 million from women’s programs, and then cut funding and give less care to the sick, to our seniors, and to the most vulnerable in our society?” asked Dias. “Doug Ford’s conservative government is attacking health care workers and patients alike and it’s up to us to put a stop to his conservative agenda.”

The November 9 day of action came as part of four regional actions across Ontario supported by labour unions and social partners working with the Ontario Health Coalition to fightback against the Ontario government’s health care cuts.

Unifor has launched the Stop Ford Cuts campaign in September to fightback against the government’s conservative agenda. The campaign calls for an end to the government’s slashing of public services and municipal spending, and instead invest in public services that lift up all workers and ensure a brighter future for all.

You can take action now and tell Premier Ford to stop his reckless cuts by visiting stopfordcuts.ca.

Thursday, November 14, 2019 1:00 am EST

 
Unifor members proudly help restart the Nordic Kraft pulp mill in Lebel-sur-Quévillon

Our members are proud to participate in the reopening of the Nordic Kraft pulp mill in Lebel-sur-Quévillon, officially announced on November 8.

“What is happening in Quévillon is no small feat,” explained Unifor Quebec Director Renaud Gagné. “Imagine restarting a mill that’s been shuttered since 2005. Even though it wasn’t dismantled for its metal, it’s easy to understand that time and the elements have affected the facility,” he added.

“I’d like to highlight the fact that we devoted a great deal of time and energy over the past few years to various projects aimed at getting this mill back up and running. Today, we are extremely proud and pleased that this project is finally moving forward,” said brother Gagné.

In April, the members ratified a new collective agreement with wage conditions comparable to those negotiated in other pulp mills such as the Saint-Félicien facility owned by Resolute Forest Products.

“We weren’t able to talk publicly about the reopening before the official announcement because there were still some loose ends to tie up,” said the Quebec Director.

Unifor has long advocated for the need to develop new niche markets for the use of forestry products – a renewable resource – in order to ensure the future not only of jobs in the industry, but also of entire regional communities that depend on it for their livelihood. In that sense, the Nordic Kraft projects corresponds exactly to what the union has been demanding for so long.

The mill is scheduled to start producing pulp in 2020. Ultimately, it is expected to provide jobs for hundreds of Unifor members. Local 1212 currently represents about 100 members who are working on recommissioning the mill’s production equipment.

Thursday, November 14, 2019 11:15 am EST

 
 

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