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CEP ( Last updated Wednesday, October 28, 2020 2:31 am EDT)
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.
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.
Unifor’s historic new collective agreement with Ford Motor Company did not just establish an economic pattern agreement with the Detroit Three Automakers, it also set a precedent by establishing a racial justice advocate in the workplace.
“We started this round of negotiations with an understanding that our union needed to dedicate time and effort to negotiating strong and effective language to combat racism and racial discrimination in the workplace and in our communities,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President.
Negotiations took place amid tremendous uncertainty and anxiety particularly with the rise of far-right groups and increasing incidents of racial violence across the globe. Heading into negotiations, Unifor announced that its bargaining efforts would have a significant focus on escalating the union’s commitment to the fight for racial justice.
“Our bargaining team was firmly committed to expand the role our union plays in the fight to combat discrimination in all its forms. I’m proud to say that we’ve brought our existing fight against racial discrimination to a new level with a new and innovative program that will empower members to take action,” said John D’Agnolo, Ford Master Bargaining Committee Chair and President of Unifor Local 200.
Unifor and Ford Motor Company agreed to develop an ambitious Anti-Racism Action Plan that includes the establishment of a new Racial Justice Advocate program. The program will consist of specially trained Black, Indigenous, or racialized workers in each facility covered by the collective agreement, whose role will be to assist and support workers who face any form of racial discrimination, violence, and marginalization with peer-led support, direct racial justice initiatives, and promote access to community culturally appropriate services.
“The importance of creating this position cannot be understated. Our union recognizes the destructive impact systemic racism has on people’s lives,” said Christine Maclin, Unifor Human Rights Director. “This is an important next step in our union’s mission to combat racial injustice. What our members have accomplished in the auto sector sets an important precedent for other workplaces in communities across the country. We want to see this program negotiated as far and wide as possible so that Black, Indigenous and racialized members receive access to the support and services they need.”
A key role of the Racial Justice Advocate includes the development, implementation and review of an Anti-Racism Action Plan that builds on the union’s existing anti-racism and inclusivity efforts including coordinating with coalition partners like Black Lives Matter and Indigenous advocacy groups. While advocating for workers of colour will also encourage other workers to take a more active role against racism.
“This program is as much about advocating for individuals as it is about taking collective action. Everyone has a role in fighting racial discrimination at home and at work and in social spaces. That means not only listening to and advocating for someone but ensuring all workers are doing their part.”
Unifor successfully negotiated the recognition of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination at all Ford facilities on March 21. All operations will cease at 11:00 a.m for all workers to observe a minute of silence to affirm their commitment to ending racism.
Last week, the Ontario Court of Appeal heard arguments in a precedent-setting case about the method employers must use to maintain pay equity for their predominantly female workforce.
“The unanimous ruling from the judicial review was clear that employers in nursing homes must adopt pay equity methods for these hard working COVID heroes,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “We should not be having this debate, women must be paid the same as men and employers must use every resource they have to achieve pay equity. It’s as simple as that.”
The dispute arises from a group of nursing homes, collectively referred to as the “Participating Nursing Homes.” The case was brought by the ONA and SEIU, each of whom alleged that the Participating Nursing Homes have failed to maintain pay equity after it was initially achieved in 2005. Unifor, together with CUPE, supported the Equal Pay Coalition’s intervention in the case in support of the unions.
The unions allege that this has resulted in a gender-based wage gap for their members that they claim must be redressed using the Proxy method, which would allow them to compare their wages with similarly valuable positions in external workplaces who have already achieved pay equity using male comparator data.
The crux of the dispute is whether, in order to maintain pay equity, the Participating Nursing Homes must “borrow” comparator data for similar positions from the Municipal Homes for the Aged that have already achieved pay equity, just as they did when pay equity was first achieved.
Throughout this case, the Participating Nursing Homes have adamantly denied that they must use comparators external to their businesses to maintain pay equity. Initially, the homes also denied that they had any obligation to maintain pay equity at all.
The unions have argued that access to male wage data is essential to maintain pay equity and that it would be a violation of the s. 15 Charter right to equality if the workers in these female job classes were denied the opportunity to compare their wages to the wages of men.
This case was first heard by the Pay Equity Hearings Tribunal, who ruled against the unions. That decision was overturned by the Ontario Divisional Court on appeal. Now the Court of Appeal must decide whether to uphold the Divisional Court’s Decision. Unifor will provide further updates when the Court of Appeal releases its decision.
Unifor stands in solidarity with the community movement Black Lives Matter as it continues to resist, speak out and raise awareness about racism and its impact on the lives of Black people.
“We stand against the Anti-Black Racism and systemic racism faced by Black people in Canada and globally,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President.
“We see this as our everyday commitment to be anti-racist. Racial justice is a priority at all bargaining tables, in all policy making and included in all our demands made to governments across the country. We are working hard to foster equity, inclusion, and diversity both inside and outside of our organization.”
As part of the effort, Unifor has created t-shirts to support the global movement for Black Lives Matter. The t-shirts represent the union’s commitments to racial justice.
Members are encouraged to share photos and videos wearing the t-shirts on social media platforms using the hashtag #Unifor4RacialJustice and please send pictures and video to Unifor’s Communications Department at firstname.lastname@example.org
Unifor activists helped feed those who feed us over the long weekend, providing culturally appropriate Thanksgiving meals for migrant workers in Southwestern Ontario.
“Unifor has long argued that if any person is good enough to work here, they are good enough to stay. We stand in solidarity with organizations demanding change and providing support for those who migrate to Canada to work,” Unifor National President Jerry Dias said.
One such organization is Unity Hopeful. For 10 years it has provided clothing, winter jackets, food and supports for the people who come to Canada to work, including those isolated on the farms and too often disregarded by employers.
“It’s a way we can to make their life a little bit easier in this country where they are forgotten,” said Joan Grey of Unity Hopeful.
This year Unifor reaffirmed its commitment and support with a donation of $5,000 to the effort to provide needed culturally appropriate meals for more than 500 workers in Southwestern Ontario for Thanksgiving.
Unifor demands “Status For All” and that the Canadian government support the calls by organizations to end the exploitation of migrant labourers, international students and undocumented people in Canada
“We eat because they work and we need to demand more from the governments. Unity Hopeful has been doing their part for 10 years,” said Unifor Human Rights Director Christine Marlin, who helped deliver meals over the weekend.
Journalists at PostMedia’s flagship newspaper, the National Post, have voted to join Unifor.
“We are truly honoured to welcome the journalists of the National Post to the Unifor family,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias.
The vote to join Unifor was held October 8 and 9 by online voting. In all, about 40 reporters, editors and other staff voted to join Unifor.
Work will now begin on a first contract for staff at the National Post. Top issues at the paper have been consistency in pay rates and job security.
“These journalists recognize that fairness comes when they stand together,” Unifor Organizing Director Kellie Scanlan said.
With the National Post, Unifor now represents the journalists at each of Canada’s largest newspapers, including the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail and several PostMedia papers across Canada, including the Windsor Star, the London Free Press, Vancouver Sun and the Province, as well at the independent Winnipeg Press.
Unifor represents more than 12,000 media workers across Canada in print and broadcast, including workers at CTV, Global, TVO and several specialty channels and Bell Media.
Council 4000 of Local 4002 member Laura Hazlitt helps lead a team of members from Via Rail to make a difference in Winnipeg on a weekly basis, including community patrols with the Mama Bear Clan.
The local and the employer teamed up to donate 100 bison burgers and cooked three turkeys plus all the trimmings to feed upwards of 200 people on September 27. Despite the COVID-related restrictions on the number of visitors allowed to participate, Hazlitt and rail sector members are a reliable source of volunteer labour for the Mama Bear Clan.
“Community solidarity has been a core principle of Unifor since we were founded,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor Western Regional Director. “Our members take that commitment seriously and are doing their part across the country.”
During the community patrols co-ordinated by the Mama Bear Clan, volunteers regularly deliver food throughout the Point Douglas neighbourhood in Winnipeg. Hazlitt has been coordinating financial donations from Unifor locals, and has even been approached by strangers who want to make donations because they are moved by the local’s community work.
Hazlitt and others donate their own money towards the work on a weekly basis and have recruited willing family members and friends to join them.
“I care about this community, and the people I meet during this work are incredible,” says Hazlitt. “We come across stories of terrible trauma and hardship. I think it’s our responsibility to meet folks on their terms and lend a hand. That’s what love and solidarity looks like.”