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New action to keep aerospace jobs at Bombardier Downsview

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Unifor has launched a new online petition in support of members at Bombardier’s Downsview facility in north Toronto.

The site employs more than 2,100 Unifor members represented by locals 112 and 673 in the production, office, and technical divisions along with a number of other direct and indirect jobs.

“Preserving Bombardier’s presence at Downsview is critical to the future of good jobs in the aerospace sector, for our members and for many other workers in the area,” said Scott McIlmoyle, local 112 president.

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Rally to support Time to Care Act

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Seventy Unifor activists joined hundreds of workers who showed their support for the Time to Care Act, at a rally outside Queen’s Park in Toronto today.

The Act proposes to extend the minimum number of hours of care received in long term care to four hours, which is what Unifor’s #6minutechallenge campaign has been advocating for months.

“Right now long term care workers are rushed to provide adequate care for vulnerable residents and that creates a stressful environment for workers who are already overworked at understaffed centres,” said Naureen Rizvi, Ontario Regional Director.

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Budget fails to save local news

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Funding announced in today’s federal budget will help broadcasters but fails to save local news said Unifor, the union representing 12,000 media workers nationwide.

“The financial increase to the Canada Media Fund will help provide much needed revenue to broadcasting in general but I’m disappointed that this budget provides no aid for local news, which is in imminent danger,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. “Canadian newsrooms have shrunk by at least 30 per cent in the last four years, with more newspaper closures and journalist layoffs expected to come, so solutions are needed now.”

Unifor had recommended closing the digital loophole in the Income Tax Act to put online Google and Facebook advertising under the same rules as TV and print advertising, driving about $250 million back to Canadian news outlets starved for revenues.

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Conference calls for action on Rohingya genocide

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An international spotlight was shone on the slaughter of the Rohingya people as human rights activists, scholars, legal experts and politicians gathered at the ‘Berlin Conference on Myanmar Genocide’.

“Myanmar deliberately creates conditions to destroy the whole Rohingya community ethnically, cultural, historically and religiously,” said the Chair of the EU Rohingya Council, Dr. Ro Hla Kyaw, a participant on the event’s “Rohingya Speak for Themselves” panel.

Western Regional Director Joie Warnock attended the February 26 conference at the Jewish Museum of Berlin where she bore witness to first-hand accounts of the systemic murder and brutal persecution of the Rohingya.

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Ontario confirms CPTPP will kill auto jobs

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Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has confirmed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) will have negative consequences for Ontario’s auto sector that will hurt both workers and Canada’s overall competitiveness in the industry.

“The province recognizes the fact that this deal will lead to job loss, yet the federal government is still proceeding with all haste to ratify this terrible agreement,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias.

Speaking at the Toronto Region Board of Trade Wynne said that new opportunities for trade should not come at the expense of auto workers and stressed that there is no need to rush to ratify the CPTPP. The Premier also called on the federal government for $1.26 billion in transitional funding for Ontario’s auto sector before ratification.

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Verbal attacks on journalists not acceptable

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Unifor is concerned after a Newfoundland judge missed an opportunity to send a message that vulgar, verbal attacks on journalists are not acceptable.

“A person wouldn’t get away with yelling obscenities at a traditional workplace, like an office and people yell this phrase at reporters, and it impacts our work,” said Heather Gillis, Unifor local 915M member and reporter at NTV News in St. John’s.

Last week a provincial court judge in St. John’s ruled a man who shouted a sexist slur that humiliated Gillis in 2017 while she was interviewing a politician, did not meet the criteria for a conviction for disturbing the peace.

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Black history month in review

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Every day of the year, Unifor activists of diverse backgrounds organize to improve their workplaces and their communities. Black History Month is a time to reflect on the unique challenges of some of our members and celebrate the ways in which they have and continue to resist.

During the month of February, Unifor highlighted the work of a handful of powerful local activists, including Shereta Bowers from Kitchener, Ontario of Local 1106 who emphasized the importance of future generations in discussions of racial justice. Hopeton Hague from Local 1997 in Prince George, B.C. talked about racialized activists getting involved in the political process and discussed his involvement in the province’s latest election. Both Hague and Margaret Olal, from Local 3000 in New Westminster, B.C are active members of Unifor’s Aboriginal and Workers of Colour Standing Committee in B.C. Christina Ashe from Local 4606 in Halifax talked about her deep roots in activism and about the importance of racialized communities being in solidarity with Indigenous people. And, finally, Marie-France Fleurantin from Local 62 in Montreal recounted how she was the first black woman in every union position she’s had and how that has reminded her of the importance of building a more diverse union.

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School bus strike averted

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Unifor, the union representing school bus drivers at First Student Canada in Owen Sound/Wiarton and Port Elgin/Kincardine has reached a tentative agreement with the company, averting a strike set to begin Thursday morning.

“This is good news for drivers, and good news for parents,” said Debbie Montgomery, President of Unifor Local 4268. “Despite a difficult round of bargaining, the bargaining committees have secured a deal that improves wages and working conditions.”

The bargaining committees, representing members of Unifor Local 4268, will present the deal to members for a vote in the coming days. Full details of the new collective agreement will be released after ratification. Unifor issued a strike notice last Friday, well ahead of the required 72 hours’ notice, for 12:01 a.m. Thursday.

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Western pulp and paper members meet

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More than 50 Unifor members in the pulp and paper sector in Western Canada are meeting from February 27 to March 1 to report on local health and safety work.

Health, Safety, and Environment Director Sari Sairanen was present to welcome the delegates to Vancouver, outline the department’s work over the past year, and discuss recent workplace fatalities and other current issues.

“The Health & Safety Department is committed to advancing safety in pulp and paper mills and Unifor will continue to advocate for positive changes in occupational health and safety legislation across B.C. and Alberta,” said Sairanen. “Pulp and paper mills have their own unique challenges, which is why learning from each other about how to consistently tackle common problems is important.”

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Parq Casino workers sign new collective agreement

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Workers at the Parq Casino represented by Unifor Local 3000 have ratified a new three-year contract that includes securing unionized jobs, making key gains in wages and addressing harassment.

“I’m proud of the bargaining committee for making it a priority to contract work back in to the union and to have negotiated economic gains to help keep pace with Metro Vancouver’s skyrocketing cost of living,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President.

Local 3000 has been negotiating with the Parq Casino (formerly the Edgewater Casino) since November 2017.

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Paramedic strike delayed by OLRB decision

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A last minute decision from Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) has delayed a legal strike by paramedics that was to begin at midnight on February 28.

“The city of Sault Ste. Marie would rather spend huge sums of tax-payers money on legal fees trying to delay this strike, rather than bargain with these hard-working paramedics,” said Laurie Lessard-Brown, Unifor Local 1359 President. “It is disappointing that the Mayor and Councilors are wasting so much time and money.”

The employer applied to the OLRB to have the existing Essential Service Agreement declared invalid, even though it was agreed to by the union and employer, in the previous collective agreement. A conciliator has already clarified that these paramedics are not covered by Ontario’s Hospital Labour Disputes Arbitration Act, and were in a legal strike position as of midnight February 28, 2018. While the City has been clear that they would prefer to defer responsibility of a settlement to a third party arbitrator, the union believes bargaining a settlement in good faith is the only path to recognizing the value of the work paramedics perform every single day.

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