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Demand access to water on National Indigenous Peoples Day

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June 21 is National Indigenous Peoples Day and it is recognized here on Turtle Island, commonly referred to as Canada, as an annual day to celebrate the unique heritage, vibrant cultures, and outstanding achievements of First Nations, Inuit, and Metis people. Unifor proudly acknowledges Indigenous peoples and their tremendous contributions in shaping our union, building our communities, and fighting for a just and equitable world.

While Unifor celebrates and thanks Indigenous Peoples, the union also acknowledges and openly reflects on past wrongs and the ongoing injustices Indigenous peoples face. For more than 150 years Indigenous Peoples have suffered through failed policies and laws, while non-Indigenous People in Canada have continued to benefit from this exploitative relationship. It is time for not just reconciliation but truth and justice.

Part of that pursuit of truth and justice means recognizing and acting on the unequal treatment that continues even today for Indigenous people and their communities. One example of this is the access to public services and water.

Clean and safe drinking water is a basic human right. Yet many Indigenous communities within Canada are deprived of the right to water. An estimated 20,000 Indigenous people living on reserves across this country have no access to running water or sewage. There are more than 100 water advisories that are routinely in effect preventing the use of water, with some Indigenous communities living under advisories for nearly 20 years. Learn more about the struggle for water by reading this Unifor resource.

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Celebrate Unifor’s fifth Labour Day in style

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To recognize and mark this year’s Labour Day, the union is offering all locals an opportunity to purchase a special Unifor garment at a subsidized rate. This is time sensitive, so hurry!

Orders will only be accepted until Thursday, June 28. Click here for the order form.

Whether your local is marching in a community parade, attending a labour picnic, or hosting an event for members and their family, Labour Day is an opportunity to show union pride. Along with recognizing the historical importance of Labour Day as a celebration of all workers, the day is also significant for our union. On Labour Day in 2013, Unifor was formed and this will be our fifth year – now that’s cause for celebration!

In the spirit of that celebration and unity, all locals are invited to order a one-of-a-kind garment, a lightweight hockey jersey featuring the traditional lacing just below the collar.

Every local can order this Unifor swag, but please note that every order must have a minimum of 12 shirts.

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Rally for Decent Work will show Ford the strength of Ontario’s labour movement

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Unifor declared after the results of the Ontario election that a Ford win demonstrates a need for continued activism to defend public services, workers’ rights and equity in Ontario. The mobilization of labour starts on Saturday, June 16, with the Rally for Decent Work in Toronto.

“If Doug Ford thinks that the result of this election is a carte-blanche to wage attacks on workers and unleash cuts to public services from the Conservative’s handbook, then he’s about to be very surprised,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Working people in Ontario are organized, and will continue to defend the gains we have made and together we will push to make life better for all.”

The union is urging all members to join in a demonstration on Saturday, June 16 to show Doug Ford that workers’ rights are not be up for debate, and that working people will continue to push every day for progress towards a more just and equitable province.

“This election showed the importance of ongoing community and political involvement, not just during elections,” said Naureen Rizvi, Unifor Ontario Regional Director. “I encourage all Unifor members to join me on Saturday, now is the time to unite in our communities and to reach out and mobilize for workers’ rights in Ontario.”

What:     Rally for Decent Work

Where:   400 University Avenue, Toronto (then marching to Queen’s Park)

When:    Saturday, June 16, 2018 at 1:00 p.m.

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Casino Rama fined $50,000 after two members injured

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After two members at Local 1090 slipped on ice and sustained serious injuries the Ministry of Labour ruled that the employer was at fault. The employer, Casino Rama in Orillia, Ontario was fined $50,000 by the Ministry and is required to pay a 25 per cent victim surcharge toward a fund to assist victims.

“Casino Rama was sent a strong message with this significant fine for this negligence,” said Naureen Rizvi, Ontario Regional Director. “If proper precautions were taken in the first place, these injuries would never have occurred. It is a constant struggle for all unions to ensure that employers are accountable and doing everything possible to provide safe workplaces.”

The incident occurred in December 5, 2017 and involved two women, one with a disability. The first person to slip broke her leg and the other one, who raced over to assist, fell and injured her head.

“There were another seven people that day who slipped on the icy surface but who were lucky to not be seriously injured,” said Devon Parrott, WSIB Health and Safety representative from Local 1090, representing members at Casino Rama. “The employers salting program was inadequate and these injuries are a direct result of the negligence.”

After the incident occurred, a complaint was filed and the Ministry of Labour determined that Casino Rama’s parking lot was a safety risk and that the company’s snow removal and salt program were not up to standard, which led to the fine.

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Maple Leaf expansion in Port Perry will benefit members and community

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An expansion of the Maple Leaf Foods production line in Port Perry, Ontario will create 40 good jobs.

“Good, union jobs support families and help out our rural community,” said Corey Dalton, Unifor Local 1090 President. “Building the capacity of this site is a testament of the excellent work of Unifor members here, and is a benefit to the local economy.”

The site produces branded and private label meat pies and meat filled pastries for all major Canadian grocery chains.

“The expansion of our facility is a major milestone for our team and our community, allowing us to meet demand for our products across Canada while increasing our team’s capacity and capabilities, adding up to 40 new positions,” said Jeff Pett, plant manager.

“We have a strong partnership with Unifor Local 1090 and we appreciate the relationship we have with them and their collaboration as we work to expand the site,” added Pett.

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Retail workers rally to save stat holidays

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On Thursday, June 14, a delegation of workers, including Unifor activists from Local 414 will hold a rally calling on the Peel Region council to keep the existing Holiday Shopping bylaw.

“Retail workers deserve decent work and that should include both a living wage and the ability to enjoy holidays like other workers,” said Naureen Rizvi, Unifor Ontario Regional Director. “That’s why Unifor is calling on the Peel Region Council to maintain the existing bylaw where retail workers can rely on nine statutory holidays being guaranteed days of rest.”

In Ontario, the Retail Business Holidays Act (RBHA) says there are nine recognized statutory holidays when stores, with a few exceptions, must remain closed. Following Toronto’s city council, which decided against changing the bylaw, and the York Region council which accepted the bylaw change, the Peel municipal council is considering amending its bylaw to allow stores to open during all statutory holidays except for December 25. The issue will be on the agenda for councillors to discuss immediately following a rally that Unifor has organized.

WHAT: Rally to reject bylaw changes that allow for statutory holiday shopping

WHEN: Thursday, June 14, from 9:00 – 9:30 a.m.

WHERE: Peel Region City Hall at 10 Peel Centre Drive in Brampton.

WHO: Unifor Local 414 President Gord Currie and Local 414 Vice-President Tony Falcone; former President of the Peel Regional Labour Council Jim McDowell; and two Peel Region retail workers.

 

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Show your Pride this summer!

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Dear Unifor members,

Across the country, Unifor members and their families are building community and celebrating Pride events, and they need your help.

Participation in Pride events is important because it is a fun chance for every single local union to connect to the ongoing equity work of Unifor. With strong, diverse contingents at these events, you can embody our opposition to homophobia and transphobia. We must show our support for LGBTQ members, loud and proud.

I encourage all local unions and members to get in touch with Unifor’s regional Pride Committees to help organize and participate in your community’s events.

Read and download a list of events where Unifor will be present across the country at unifor.org/pride. If your local is involved in an event that is not on the listed please email pride@unifor.org so that it may be added. Here are just a few of the events that Unifor members are attending:

  • Regina (Queen City Pride), June 16
  • Toronto Pride, June 22-24
  • St. John’s Pride, July 15
  • Halifax Pride, July 21
  • Vancouver Pride, August 5
  • Montreal, August 19
  • Quebec City, August 31

Lastly, please use the poster included with this letter to highlight your local Pride events. You can download more posters and an online shareable at unifor.org/pride. Please email LGBTQ staff liaison Kellie Scanlan with any questions: pride@unifor.org

Let’s celebrate and march together to send a strong Unifor message against hate. Bring your Unifor flags and solidarity to each event.

Happy Pride!

In solidarity,

Jerry Dias

Unifor National President 

Read French Version

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Sisters and Brothers,

As many of you have heard, the Trump administration has called for the U.S. Department of Commerce to investigate tariffs or other trade penalties on car and auto-part imports based on Section 232 of the U.S. Trade Expansion Act, a trade provision that allows duties on imports that threaten national security.

It’s clear that Canada’s auto sector is not a threat to America’s security but what remains unclear is the motivation or the actual target of any potential tariffs. It is possible that this is yet another NAFTA bargaining tactic to pressure Canada and Mexico into signing a quick deal. It is also possible that Trump is using Section 232 as a political tool to deliver one of his so-called ‘wins’ in the absence of a new NAFTA prior to the U.S. midterm elections.

The announcement came as a complete surprise, catching international governments, auto manufacturers and the markets off guard. Unifor is in the process of ascertaining possible ramifications of this action.

Unifor has previously proposed a major rethink on North American auto tariffs, which are far weaker than other auto-producing regions around the world.  Rebalancing trade between North America and the world can help manage the disproportionate rise in car imports and the migration of good paying jobs to ever-cheaper labour markets. These are serious issues that need serious thought. Unfortunately, the shotgun approach Trump has taken under Section 232 could cause chaos in the sector and inflict severe collateral damage to both Canadian and American auto workers.

Under Section 232 the U.S. Department of Commerce has approximately 9 months to report its findings to the President who then has 3 months to determine what action, if any, will be taken. This is the same process used to impose steel and aluminum tariffs, which Canada is exempt from until next week’s scheduled expiry date of June 1, 2018.

In addition to the threat of tariffs on steel, aluminum and now potentially auto and auto parts the U.S. has aggressively come after Canada’s softwood lumber and paper industries. The U.S. had also attempted to slap punishing tariffs on aerospace exports. In NAFTA, the U.S. is also demanding greater market access to Canada’s dairy and poultry industries.

Unifor has called on the federal government to take a firm stand against the threat of all unjust tariffs and has made it clear that our union will vigorously oppose any attack on Canadian jobs and workers.

For information on this and other trade-related matters, please be sure to visit unifor.org/NAFTA

To participate in an upcoming People’s Trade Agenda community town hall, visit unifor.org/peoplestrade  

 

In Solidarity,

Jerry Dias, Unifor national president

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Recognizing International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia with Action

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May 17, 2018

Unifor calls to End the Ban

The International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia, May 17, is an annual reminder that although progress has been made, there is further to go. Unifor joins the international call for action to address the inequality that too many, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people in our workplaces and communities face.

Unifor encourages all people to recognize and embrace May 17 as a day to support the ongoing struggles for inclusion, acceptance and respect of all LGBTQ people, including supporting the call to end the discriminatory blood donation policy here in Canada and Quebec.

LGBTQ people all across the country and around the world are faced with legal, social, and institutional barriers. It is these barriers that isolate and divide us. And it is time to tear down the barriers that we know to be discriminatory.

Trans women and men who have sex with men are barred from donating blood in Canada. This persists despite Justin Trudeau’s 2015 election promise to, “bring an end to the discriminatory ban that prevents men who have had sex with men from donating blood.” (Source: Ending MSM Blood Donation Ban, liberal.ca)

Historically, Canadian Blood Services (CBS) and Héma-Québec (HM-QC) imposed a lifetime ban on blood donations from men who had sex with other men at any point in their life time, and this ban dates back to the HIV/AIDS epidemic of 1977.

Today, the ban continues to exist despite science, research and an understanding of HIV/AIDS. It is a form of upfront discrimination.

Some changes have been made. The change has come from the thousands of voices that spoke up and took action. Today, instead of a lifetime ban, there is a one-year deferral, regardless of actual level of risk or health status. Unifor acknowledges that a one-year deferral is still a ban in principle, requiring celibacy for a year in order to make a life-saving donation.

This policy discriminates because it bans gay and trans people from donating based on their identity, not based on the nature of their sexual relationships, such as protected sex or monogamy. This policy is not based on science, and perpetuates homophobic and transphobic assumptions about HIV and AIDS.

Unifor members made it a priority to join the fight to end the blood ban and speak out against discrimination when we adopted the President’s Human Rights Recommendation at Canadian Council in 2017. In recognition of this direction and the need for an ongoing challenge, Unifor is marking this May 17 to demand change.

Unifor extends our solidarity and stands firmly beside all LGBTQ members and people in Canada and around the world, who are working to dismantle these barriers to build safe, welcoming and inclusive spaces in its place.

Download our poster

Download our social media shareables

Click here to view the French version

Celebrating National Nursing Week with our thanks

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May 7-13, 2018

In recognition of the hard work and dedication of nurses throughout Canada, Unifor celebrates and salutes all nurses on National Nursing Week, held on May 7 to 13 this year.

There are an estimated 415,000 nurses across Canada. The profession has grown by 18 per cent over the past 10 years, including both Registered Practical Nurses (RPNs) or Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) and Registered Nurses (RNs). In many provinces, RPNs/LPNs represent more than a quarter of all regulated nurses working in Canada. Any health service organization that wants to provide quality sustainable nursing care undeniably needs practical nurses!

Nurses play a vital role in delivering quality care, along with a team of skilled allied health care professions including personal support workers, continuing care attendants and others who provide direct and indirect care that is critical to the well-being of their patients. Nurses understand that they function within an entire team of workers who are competent and efficient in often difficult situations.

Practical nurses know mutual respect and teamwork are critical for upholding the highest standards of access and quality health care. The dedication, compassion and resilience of practical nurses from coast to coast to coast and all their vital contributions to offer excellence in patient care is at the back bone of the health care sector.

As we show our collective appreciation for nurses this week, it is also a reminder that much more must be done to ensure that all health care workers are able to provide care in workplaces that are safe, healthy and conducive to the well-being of patients and care providers.

Statistics show that health and social services is one of the most dangerous industries in Canada, based on injuries that lead to loss of work time, and incidents of violence that are rising as the health care system is stressed to its limits. Unifor calls for a renewed commitment by governments and employers to commit to violence free workplaces, enforce preventative measures and provide comprehensive training and resources.

Nurses and their colleagues in health care are increasingly over-burdened in the face of hospital overcrowding, chronic short-staffing and budget cuts. With an aging population that requires complex care, they still manage to meet patients’ needs competently.

And even with all these workplace challenges the nurses continue to provide dedicated quality care. Join us in saluting nurses in your community.

For the French version, click here.

Stop Trump Tariffs

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Dear members,

As you may have heard, U.S. President Donald Trump is introducing chaos into trade relations with Canada. His latest attack on Canadian workers put five pulp & paper mills in jeopardy of closure.

Last month, the U.S. Department of Commerce levied a new round of “anti-dumping” duties on products produce by Kruger Inc. in Corner Brook, N.L. and Catalyst Paper in Powell River, Port Alberni, and Crofton B.C. In all, 1,500 jobs could vanish by the end of the year.

These tariffs have one goal in mind: weaken Canadian paper manufactures for the benefit of U.S. producers—some of whom are close personal friends of the president.

Unifor has responded with a high profile campaign to fight back against Trump the bully. I’m asking you take two important steps to help:

Thank you for taking the time to show solidarity with Unifor members.

In solidarity,

 

Jerry Dias

National President


For French Version: CLICK HERE

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