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U.S. takes Canadian steel and aluminum as NAFTA hostage

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Round seven of NAFTA renegotiations ended in Mexico City on March 5 with the American government holding Canada’s steel and aluminum sectors hostage in an effort to extort a deal.

“The U.S. is using Canada’s steel and aluminum industries and workers as NAFTA bargaining chips,” said National President Jerry Dias. “I’m encouraged to see that Canada has taken a firm stance against this trade blackmail.”

At a joint press conference with her Mexican and U.S. counterparts Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland told media that Canada would view any tariffs on steel or aluminum as unacceptable.

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Unifor urges Nova Scotia to pass domestic violence leave

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HALIFAX – Unifor is urging all members of the Nova Scotia legislature to pass an NDP private member’s bill that will ensure paid leave for victims of domestic violence.

“Unifor has made protected leave for victims of domestic violence a priority at many collective bargaining tables and in our political activism work across the country,” said Lana Payne, Atlantic Regional Director. “We are pleased the NDP has tabled this important bill and we strongly encourage the other parties understand that job protection and paid leave will remove a major barrier for women escaping domestic and intimate partner violence.”

According to a study done by Western University researchers, 80% of Domestic Violence victims report that their work performance was negatively affected. Absenteeism and poor work performance can leave victims vulnerable to discipline and even job loss.

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Ruling upholds ban on random testing

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FORT MCMURRAY—The Alberta Court of Appeal has upheld an injunction on random drug and alcohol testing of Suncor employees in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.

“There is no evidence that random testing improves safety, which is why Unifor is committed to more reliable methods to keep our members safe on the job while respecting their dignity,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Without violating workers’ basic rights, high levels of workplace safety with education and prevention can be achieved.”

The injunction was granted at Unifor Local 707A’s request on December 15, 2017. Unifor has filed for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada to uphold an arbitration board’s ban on random testing. The union says random testing violates the fundamental rights of workers to privacy, respect, bodily integrity, and dignity.

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Trilateral solidarity at NAFTA talks

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In a show of trilateral solidarity unions from Mexico, the U.S. and Canada met today in Mexico City to share strategies on raising labour conditions for workers in the NAFTA countries.

“It is the responsibility of all of us to make sure that workers have an equal standard of living in all three countries,” National President Jerry Dias told the labour leaders. “There is a lot of work ahead of us. Unifor is here to find out what we can do to help so we can move forward as a progressive trade movement.”

As Round 7 of NAFTA renegotiations continue in Mexico City the unions agreed on a Trilateral Declaration with a commitment to build a common agenda to defend the interests of workers.

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Workers at KIA Longueuil vote in new agreement, ending lock-out

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Local 4511 members at KIA Longueuil voted 88 per cent in favour of a new tentative agreement, bringing an end to a dispute that has dragged on since September 2017.

The back-to-work protocol calls for the recall of three employees on March 19, with the remaining employees going back to work on March 26.

“We’re very relieved to have reached a settlement that is acceptable to all parties. To their great credit, our members maintained their resolve throughout this dispute,” said Serge Dupont, assistant to the Quebec Director.

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Bell Canada clerical workers ratify collective agreement

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Unifor members working at Bell Canada Clerical division ratified a four-year collective agreement that improves working conditions and job security for nearly 5000 workers.

“This round of negotiations was monumental. Workers across Ontario and Quebec came together to demand that their good, unionized jobs at Bell Canada stay at Bell Canada,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President.

The new collective agreement includes wage increases, protections against job erosion and outsourcing and adds more than 600 jobs to the bargaining unit. Over the past 10 years, clerical employees experienced a concerted strategy to cut the workforce that eliminated more than half of the jobs in the bargaining unit. Unifor members also gained access to paid domestic violence leave and 10 women’s advocates, who are members of the union trained to advocate and assist people facing sexual and gender-based violence, will now be established.

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Auto parts members reach pattern agreements at four suppliers

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Local 444 has reached tentative agreements for approximately 650 members at four Windsor-Essex area auto parts suppliers. The agreements all follow the pattern of the deal first reached on March 3 with tire and wheel module manufacturer Avancez Assembly Canada.

“Achieving the pattern is a major victory for the bargaining committees,” said Local 444 President James Stewart. “These were difficult negotiations, but in the end we achieved consistent wages and benefits for all members.”

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Lucrative contract for strand board mill workers

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On February 28, 135 workers represented by Unifor Local 324-99, at Norbord’s Oriented Strand Board (OSB) mill in Barwick, Ontario ratified a new five-year contract.

The agreement includes 2 per cent wage increases in each of the first four years and a 2.5 per cent increase in the fifth year. The contract is retroactive to August 1, 2017.

“We’re very satisfied with the gains in this contract,” said George Smith, President of Local 324-99. “Our committee bargained tough and it paid off with better rates than most others in our sector.”

In addition to the significant monetary gains and the improved contracting out language, the local also bargained a profit-sharing plan with the employer. “The profit sharing will be anywhere from 16 to 20 per cent in addition to wages,” said Smith of the annual bonus that can be up to $10,000 per employee.

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Family Education Program

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Since the early 1970’s our Union has offered a Family Education Program for members and their families.

The program takes place during the summer months at the Unifor Family Education Centre in Port Elgin, Ontario. A call letter is sent to all Unifor locals in January, with a registration deadline in April. Selection is complete by early May.

If selected by the local/national union to attend, the member agrees to give up their vacation time and the national union covers costs for meals and accommodations while at the Unifor Family Education Centre, and where required, air travel.

Preteens participate in recreational programs run by fully-trained child care workers and counselors.

Teenagers participate in a specially-designed program which recognizes their unique interests but also incorporates the issues of social unionism in their curriculum.

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Care for Ontario seniors

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The long term care sector in Ontario is at a crisis point. Ongoing budgetary cuts, combined with short staffing and more complex patient needs mean that residents are not getting the care that they need.

Did you know that in many long term care facilities, personal support workers have only six minutes in the morning to prepare residents for breakfast?

Unifor is proposing a six minute challenge – can you get ready in six minutes in the morning? Give it a try! Then challenge your MPP and let them know that they need to support four hours of direct, hands on care per resident, every single day.

The union is advocating for an evidence-based, minimum, measurable and enforceable standard of care within long term care homes. This includes a legislated daily standard of direct care of four hours per resident – as included in Bill 33 ‘A Time to Care Act.’

Currently, there is no minimum standard of daily care. Approximately 78,000 Ontarians live in long term care homes, most of who are over 85 years old and have mobility issues, dementia, and complex medical needs.

Unifor is urging all political parties to support four hours of minimum daily care in long term care homes, the integration of front-line workers into the implementation of the new Aging with Confidence: Ontario’s Action Plan for Seniors,’ as well as measures for accountability by nursing home operators to be included in the new regulations.

http://www.unifor.org/en/take-action/campaigns/care-ontario-seniors

Celebrating International Women’s Day in 2018

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Never underestimate the power of women. Each and every day, the women of Unifor are building and resisting in the streets, at the ballot box, and at the bargaining table. Activism makes a difference. When we work collectively, across our diversities, we are a force that makes change.

International Women’s Day gives us the opportunity to reflect on progress made and strategize for our future.

This past year we have witnessed the enduring strength of women in the streets advocating for political change during mass demonstrations like the Women’s March, #MeToo rallies, No Islamophobia vigils and many more. Actions that put gender justice as a core demand are an important step towards awareness and progress for women. What has also been a driving force is that women from different communities and different generations shared their anger and their hope. New alliances were made.

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