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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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Unifor ACL members voted 85 % to ratify new agreement

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Bell Aliant workers across Atlantic Canada have voted 85 per cent to ratify a new collective agreement that was achieved after months of challenging bargaining.

“Our bargaining committee is grateful for the support and solidarity of all the hard working members who made this agreement possible,” said Bobby MacDonald, Chair of Unifor ACL which represents locals 506, 401, 410, and 2289.

After eight tough bargaining sessions with an employer that was seeking major concessions, a collective agreement was reached that protects pensions and improves wages for the women and men who proudly built Bell’s first fibre optic network in Canada.

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CLC Disaffiliation Update

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Ontario Members,

I reach out to you today to address Unifor’s recent disaffiliation from the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC).

The action impacts both our union and the labour movement as a whole. Like many of you, I’ve been in deep and necessary discussions with fellow Unifor members, members of other unions, and members of the broader community regarding our union’s choice to disaffiliate from the CLC.

I know that many of you have worked shoulder to shoulder with compatriots at the CLC on campaigns that have achieved major gains for the labour movement, such as Bill 148 which resulted in the largest minimum wage increase in Canadian history.

Together we have made a difference in the lives of workers. The decision to disaffiliate does not detract from that work or its achievements.  I know that some of you may feel confused and may be left with questions on where the disaffiliation leaves you in relation to the wider labour movement.  Our commitment to labour, solidarity and activism, and our desire for change to improve conditions for workers and create a better society remain unchanged. These are the very principles behind the bold decision to disaffiliate.

Taking a stand is not always easy and I want to thank all of the members who have defended our union in conversations with fellow Unifor members, other unionists, friends, family and members of the wider community.  As I read posts and tweets on the disaffiliation it was inspiring to see our members counter false claims with vigor, using the facts and the knowledge of who we are as a union.

As we continue through this process, Unifor is committed to complete transparency with membership. To that end, the most recent information can be found on our website at unifor.org/fixtheclcHere you will find the latest news along with an overview of the issue, a Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) sheet, and a helpful resource section.

Thank you again for your continued support.

In solidarity,

Naureen Rizvi

Ontario Regional Director

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