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A message from Jerry Dias

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To all Unifor members and staff,
Today Unifor officially launched its #SaveOshawaGM campaign with a nationwide call to support autoworkers and to keep good jobs in Canada.
Despite earning $6 billion U.S. in profits so far this year, General Motors announced that it plans to end production at the Oshawa Assembly Plant after 2019. Unifor represents 2,600 workers at Oshawa GM and 2,700 more at auto parts suppliers that service the plant. It is estimated that every direct job in auto assembly creates seven other jobs, meaning thousands of additional jobs would be lost in the wider economy.

A message from Ontario Regional Director

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Members,

We have had an unbelievable year in Ontario. On behalf of the entire Ontario Regional Council executive and committees, we want to extend our thanks to every single member in this province.

This year, you knocked on thousands of doors in the provincial election, and had many more workplace and community events.

You, Unifor members, organized against the right wing, and for women’s rights and equity.

Together, we faced down union-busting employers in Thunder Bay and Goderich. And we keep up the fight to defend Unifor jobs across the province.

This spirit of activism and renewal was present at the recent Ontario Regional Council, held in Toronto, from November 30-December 1.

This year marks the 70th anniversary that the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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This year marks the 70th anniversary that the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Human Rights Day commemorates the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document that states that human rights are not the preserve of any one nation, race, or gender but that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.

Unifor is committed to advocating, defending and furthering human rights for all. The union’s social justice fund is one of many ways in which Unifor provides solidarity to defenders of human rights. The union’s social justice fund engages in this vital work in Canada and across the globe. The fund promotes and supports the role of trade unions and workers groups in their efforts to strengthen democracy, promote equitable development, and contribute to poverty reduction, social justice and education reform.

The union’s Human Rights Department has been actively promoting human rights campaigns in workplaces, the local unions and communities. Most recently, Unifor conducted an equity audit over nine months during 2016 and 2017 and included semi-structured interviews with 470 local unions across the country, and asked questions about the diversity of local membership, the executive committee, stewards, and bargaining committees.

While the union is aware that representation gaps exist, the purpose of the audit was to understand the specific barriers better to overcome our collective challenges. The union is currently implementing the recommendations made from the national equity audit report. Members are encouraged to read the full equity audit report and learn more about Unifor’s findings and action plan.

Attaining human rights for all will not come easy. But if we actively incorporate promoting human rights in our daily lives, it can be attainable. Members can become active human rights defenders by:

  1. Ensure your local union participates in Unifor Human Rights training.
  2. On December 10, use Unifor’s social media shareable to highlight the union’s human rights work.
  3. Read the full Unifor equity audit report and promote the report to your members.

International Human Rights Day is a reminder that inequity, intolerance, discrimination, exclusion, and hatred threaten us all. It is a reminder of our shared humanity and of the necessity of standing up not just for ourselves, but for those most in need. Wherever they are challenged, it is our responsibility to offer a collective response.

Unifor statement on Oshawa GM plant

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OSHAWA – Unifor received notification today from General Motors that the company will make a major announcement tomorrow that will impact its global operations.

While the union does not have complete details of the overall announcement we have been informed that, as of now, there is no product allocated to the Oshawa Assembly Plant past December 2019.

Based on commitments made during 2016 contract negotiations, Unifor does not accept this announcement and is immediately calling on GM to live up to the spirit of that agreement.

Unifor is scheduled to hold a discussion with General Motors tomorrow and will provide further comment following the meeting.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

For more information, please contact Unifor Communications Representative Kathleen O’Keefe at kathleen.okeefe@unifor.org  or 416-896-3303 (cell).

 

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‘They are not closing our damn plant’: Union vows fight as GM plans Oshawa closing

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he union representing thousands of autoworkers is vowing to fight back against the General Motors plan to close an Oshawa, Ont., plant in 2019 as part of a global restructuring.

It’s not clear how many of the 2,500 employees at the Oshawa assembly facility will lose their jobs under the sweeping strategy, which GM says aims to lower carbon emissions and prepare for a future of electric and autonomous vehicles.

Workers at the plant walked off the job Monday morning in protest.

Jerry Dias, national president of Unifor, blasted GM’s move, which he says violates its agreement with workers. He praised those who work at the plant, which is about 60 kilometres east of Toronto.

“You’re the No. 1 plant that [GM’s] got,” he told the crowd.

“They are not closing our damn plant without one hell of a fight.”

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‘Sick and tired of being pushed around’: Union responds to GM plan to close Oshawa plant

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TORONTO – The union representing workers at the General Motors assembly plant in Oshawa, Ont., are promising “one hell of a fight” after the automaker announced it would close the location along with four other facilities in the U.S.

Jerry Dias, national president of Unifor, said the union will fight against the planned move “tooth and nail.”

“They are not closing our damn plant without one hell of a fight.” Dias said to cheers from union members.

VIDEO: Ontario Premier Doug Ford blasts what he calls the “devastating” decision by General Motors to cease production at their Oshawa plant

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#CokeZeroRights

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Dear members,

Unifor’s commitment to social and economic justice doesn’t stop at Canada’s borders. We are a union that fights injustice globally.

One of our international fights is being led by Unifor members working at Coca Cola’s bottling facilities in Alberta and Ontario. Unifor has signed on to the International Union of Foodworkers’ (IUF) campaign to hold Coke responsible for the human rights abuses of the third-party bottlers it employs in countries like Indonesia, Haiti, and the Philippines.

We can make a difference in these workers’ lives by showing solidarity and giving them our support.

I encourage you to participate in a Unifor day of action to insist the company respect workers’ rights and immediately remedy abuses by its third-party bottlers.

On Tuesday, November 20, you can take the following three actions:
1. Download the Unifor mobile app for Apple or Android and under Solidarity Action, send a message to Coca Cola CEO James Quincey
2. Take a photo holding a sign with the hashtag #CokeZeroRights and post to Twitter
3. Share the attached graphic on your Facebook page with this link: http://www.iuf.org/show-ccww.php

Together we can force Coca Cola to recognize workers’ rights. I look forward to seeing your activism on November 20.

In solidarity,
Jerry Dias
National President

National Seniors Care Strategy

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The Canadian Health Coalition is launching its campaign calling for a National Seniors Care Strategy.

Most Canadians will rely on seniors care at some point in their lives. Our public health care system is currently ill-equipped to address the health care needs of the aging population. We need a National Strategy to ensure that all seniors can access quality care, regardless of where they live in Canada. We must take action now to ensure consistent funding, standards of care and staffing levels across the country. All Canadians deserve to age with dignity and respect.

Read our new policy paper Ensuring Quality Care for All Seniors.

A Message From Jerry Dias

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Sisters and brothers,

At several announcements in Toronto today the Federal Government will announce a number of reforms to Canada’s Labour Code. These proposed reforms include important steps to address contract flipping and protect successor rights provisions at airports.

I applaud Minister Hajdu and her government’s move to ensure airport workers are protected against wage cuts in the event that supplier contracts change hands.

We will scrutinize the specific details of this announcement when it becomes public. However, the fact that the Minister appears willing to address this issue is a victory for our union, that has been years in the making.

The National Union, Unifor Locals and other unions worked hand-in-hand to lobby the Federal Government, mobilize our membership and put public pressure on employers to secure workers’ rights. Too often, workers would face job loss in the event that supplier contracts change hands. When this occurs, workers are often forced to re-apply for their same job, sometimes losing pay and benefits. This is completely unfair.

For Unifor, this issue came to a head in a 2015 campaign at the Greater Toronto Airport Authority (GTAA). The existing contract for customer assistance to airline passengers with mobility issues was retendered, and employees (our Unifor sisters and brothers) were told to re-apply for their jobs. Our Locals organized delegations to attend GTAA public meetings and spoke out against this practice – generating major media attention (link to: https://bit.ly/1TaXjde). Our members were on the ground collecting thousands of signatures petitioning the GTAA to protect workers rights – raising public awareness of how contract flipping hurts workers.

This past January our union made a Federal Government submission calling for greater protections to workers in the event contracts are flipped. Today, it seems, our struggle has paid off.
We should welcome today’s announcement, but we should also understand that the change proposed will not be law until it is adopted by Parliament.

We have to be ready and committed to continue our mobilizing on this issue. We have to keep the pressure on all Federal politicians to vote to ensure all workers are treated with respect, dignity – and never again forced to re-fight for the rights they’ve already won, simply because a supplier contract has changed hands.

To all the members who have taken part in this struggle, I thank you for your hard work. You’ve made our union proud.

In solidarity,
Jerry Dias
National President

Canada Post union workers to begin rotating nationwide strikes Monday morning

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The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) announced Sunday that it will begin rotating strikes on Monday morning at 12:01 a.m. in Victoria, Edmonton and Windsor, and at 1:01 a.m. in Halifax.

According to the union, the strike will last for 24 hours with each location listed striking daily. All times listed are in local time. A strike may still be avoided if last-minute deals are reached Sunday evening, CUPW said in a statement.

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A Message from Jerry Dias

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Sisters and Brothers,

This week the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) was reached, if ratified the deal will replace the twenty-five year old NAFTA accord.

When renegotiations started over a year ago, Unifor chose to lead the fight for ‘A Better NAFTA’. Our leadership team opted not to sit back and offer passive criticism from the sidelines. We were determined to bring our voice to the table. With big ideas on how to change the type of trade agreements that we’ve opposed for 25 years
While the USMCA is far from perfect, I believe that we have made a difference in moving the yardsticks forward for working people.

I would like to thank all the members who took to the streets of Montreal and Ottawa during the Canadian negotiating rounds, lobbied their MPPs, or signed online petitions to demand a more progressive trilateral trade agreement. There is no doubt that your voice was heard and reflected in these negotiations.

Traditionally, trade deals have been about profit, not people. Having attended every round of the talks, from Washington to Mexico City to Ottawa and Montreal and back, I can honestly say these negotiations included discussions about people – about workers.

In many respects, the USMCA is historic. It overhauls the rules of auto trade in North America, including new rules designed to safeguard wages. It is the first Canadian trade agreement to have eliminated the hated investor-state dispute system – that provision allowing corporations to sue governments for unlimited sums of money in private tribunals. It establishes stronger, and enforceable, labour standards designed to target Mexican “yellow” unions.  These were all demands put forward by Unifor and our allies.

Some in the labour movement, who chose to remain on the sideline during this long and often bitter negotiation process, have now chosen to come forward to oppose the deal. Let me be clear – the USMCA has many, many flaws that must be addressed but the negative aspects cannot not be viewed in isolation. While there are areas of legitimate concern, the USMCA is an improvement over the original NAFTA with quantifiable gains for workers. We must take these advances and continue pressing for more progressive trade reform.

The agreement is wide-ranging, affecting multiple sectors that employ Unifor members.  There will be further communication on specific industries in the days to come but here are some the key elements.

 

Labour:

There is a new, enhanced labour chapter in the USMCA with provisions on gender rights, violence against workers, and references to the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Rights at Work. The chapter also contains a special annex aimed at overhauling Mexico’s corrupt ‘yellow’ union system.

 

Auto:

There are significant changes  in the rules governing auto trade, including more stringent “Made in North America” rules as cars must contain 75 per cent North American content (up from 62.5 per cent in the original NAFTA). New “Labour Value Content” rules are included to address the low-wage problem that has led to the direct migration of jobs from Canada to Mexico, requiring a significant percentage of the vehicle to be sourced from high-wage facilities.

Canada also secured a vital side letter that effectively exempts the auto sector from tariffs under Section 232, eliminating the Trump threat to hurt Canadian auto and auto-parts workers

 

Culture, media and energy:

Protections for culture remain intact, protecting Canadian broadcasters and media outlets. The U.S. was unsuccessful in its demands for increased market access and Canadian broadcasters have regained the right to air Canadian ads during the Super Bowl, stemming the loss of millions of dollars of much needed revenue.

Canada also regained sovereignty over our energy sector with the elimination of clauses in the original NAFTA that guaranteed the U.S. access to a set amount of Canadian oil and energy.

 

Dispute mechanisms:

Of course, any trade agreement is only as strong as the system that is in place to adjudicate disputes between nations. The USMCA maintains Chapter 19, a provision used to challenge U.S. countervailing or anti-dumping duty decisions, such as the tariffs imposed on Canada’s softwood lumber. Independent panels, not U.S. courts, will continue to resolve trade disputes that arise out of the deal.

 

While the USMCA contains many positives, there are negatives.

Disappointingly, despite the negotiation of the new trade deal the Trump administration has not lifted its punishing and unjustifiable tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum. Canada and the U.S. have signed a side letter committing to a 60-day process of negotiation in an attempt to deal with this matter.

While Canada’s supply management system remains intact, the USMCA provides greater market access to U.S. dairy imports. Unifor supports Canadian dairy farmers in the call for fair compensation from the federal government to offset this market shift.

A Canadian concession on data protection rights will result in a rise in the price of pharmaceuticals as generic drugs will take longer to come to market. The anticipated increase in drug prices places new urgency on the need for a national, universal, pharmacare program. Unifor will continue to push the federal government to implement National Pharmacare to ensure that all Canadians have access to the medication that they need.

The USMCA has now begun the ratification process. Further updates will be sent to notify you of any major developments.

 

In Solidarity,

Jerry Dias
Unifor National President

 

 

Chères consœurs, chers confrères,

 

Cette semaine, le nouvel Accord États-Unis-Mexique-Canada (AEUMC) a été conclu. S’il est ratifié, l’accord remplacera l’ALENA qui est en vigueur depuis 25 ans.

Lorsque les renégociations ont commencé il y a un an, Unifor a choisi de lutter pour « un meilleur ALENA ». Notre équipe de dirigeantes et dirigeants a choisi de ne pas rester les bras croisés en émettant des critiques passives de l’extérieur. Nous étions déterminés à faire entendre notre voix à la table de négociation. Nous avions de grandes idées sur la façon de changer le type d’accords commerciaux auxquels nous nous opposons depuis 25 ans.
Même si l’AEUMC est loin d’être parfait, je crois que nous avons fait une différence en faisant avancer les choses pour les travailleuses et travailleurs.

J’aimerais remercier tous les membres qui sont descendus dans les rues de Montréal et d’Ottawa pendant les rondes de négociations du Canada, ont fait du lobbying auprès de leurs députés provinciaux, et signé des pétitions en ligne pour demander un accord commercial trilatéral plus progressiste. Il ne fait aucun doute que votre voix a été entendue et qu’elle s’est reflétée dans ces négociations.

Traditionnellement, les accords commerciaux sont axés sur les bénéfices, et non sur les besoins des gens. Après avoir participé à chaque ronde de négociations, que ce soit à Washington, à Mexico, à Ottawa ou à Montréal, je peux honnêtement dire que des discussions sur les gens, sur nos travailleuses et travailleurs, ont eu lieu au cours de ces négociations.

À de nombreux égards, l’AEUMC est historique. Il restructure les règles sur le commerce automobile en Amérique du Nord, établissant notamment de nouvelles règles visant à protéger les salaires. Il s’agit du premier accord commercial canadien à éliminer l’infâme mécanisme de règlement des différends entre investisseurs et États, une disposition qui permettait aux sociétés de poursuivre en justice les gouvernements pour des montants illimités devant des tribunaux privés. L’Accord établit des normes du travail exécutoires et plus strictes conçues pour cibler les syndicats mexicains « jaunes ».  Toutes ces demandes ont été présentées par Unifor et ses alliés.

Certaines parties intéressées du mouvement syndical, qui ont choisi de demeurer à l’écart pendant le long et souvent cinglant processus de négociation, ont maintenant décidé de se manifester pour s’opposer à l’accord. Soyons clairs : l’AEUMC comporte de très nombreuses faiblesses qu’il faut résoudre, mais ses aspects négatifs ne doivent pas être examinés isolément. Bien que certains secteurs fassent l’objet d’une préoccupation légitime, l’AEUMC représente une amélioration par rapport à l’ALENA original grâce aux gains mesurables réalisés en faveur des travailleuses et travailleurs. Nous devons accepter ces avancées et continuer de demander une réforme plus progressiste du commerce.

L’accord est vaste et touche plusieurs secteurs qui emploient des membres d’Unifor.  D’autres communications suivront sur des industries précises au cours des prochains jours, mais voici quelques-uns des éléments clés.

 

Travail

Un nouveau chapitre amélioré sur les conditions de travail a été intégré à l’AEUMC, lequel renferme des dispositions sur l’égalité des sexes et la violence faite aux travailleuses et travailleurs, et des références à la Déclaration de l’OIT relative aux principes et droits fondamentaux au travail. Le chapitre comprend également une annexe spéciale visant à revoir le régime syndical « jaune » corrompu du Mexique.

 

Secteur de l’automobile

D’importants changements ont été apportés aux règles régissant le commerce automobile, notamment des règles plus strictes sur la mention « Fabriqué en Amérique du Nord » puisque les automobiles devront maintenant comporter 75 % de pièces nord-américaines (plutôt que 62,5 % dans l’ALENA original). De nouvelles règles sur le « contenu de la valeur-travail » ont été incluses pour traiter du problème de la faible rémunération qui a entraîné une migration directe des emplois du Canada vers le Mexique. Ces règles exigent qu’un important pourcentage des pièces d’un véhicule proviennent d’usines où les salaires sont élevés.

Le Canada a également obtenu une lettre d’accompagnement des plus importantes, laquelle exempte le secteur de l’automobile des tarifs en vertu de l’article 232, éliminant ainsi la menace brandie par Donald Trump de faire du tort aux travailleuses et travailleurs du secteur canadien de l’automobile et des pièces.

 

Culture, média et énergie

Les mesures de protection de la culture demeurent intactes, protégeant ainsi les plateformes médiatiques et les télédiffuseurs canadiens. Les États-Unis n’ont pas obtenu un accès accru au marché canadien et les télédiffuseurs canadiens ont récupéré le droit de diffuser des publicités canadiennes pendant le Super Bowl, endiguant la perte de millions de dollars de recettes essentielles.

Le Canada a également repris la souveraineté de son secteur énergétique grâce à l’élimination de dispositions figurant dans l’ALENA original qui garantissaient que les États-Unis avaient accès à une quantité fixe de pétrole et d’énergie canadiens.

 

Mécanismes de règlement des différends

Bien entendu, la force de tout accord commercial réside dans le système qui est en place pour statuer sur les différends entre les nations. L’AEUMC maintient le chapitre 19, une disposition utilisée pour contester les décisions des États-Unis sur les droits compensateurs et antidumping, comme les tarifs imposés sur le bois d’œuvre résineux du Canada. Des groupes d’experts indépendants, et non les tribunaux américains, continueront de résoudre les différends commerciaux qui découlent de l’accord.

 

Bien que l’AEUMC renferme de nombreux aspects positifs, il comporte tout de même des points négatifs.

Malheureusement, malgré la négociation du nouvel accord commercial, l’administration Trump n’a pas éliminé les tarifs punitifs et injustifiables sur l’acier et l’aluminium canadiens. Le Canada et les États-Unis ont signé une lettre d’accompagnement, s’engageant à entamer un processus de négociation de 60 jours pour tenter de traiter de la question.

Bien que le système de la gestion de l’offre du Canada demeure intact, l’AEUMC prévoit un accès accru au marché des importations de produits laitiers des États-Unis. Unifor appuie les producteurs laitiers canadiens qui demandent une indemnisation juste au gouvernement fédéral pour compenser ce déplacement du marché.

Une concession canadienne sur les droits relatifs à la protection des données entraînera une hausse du prix des produits pharmaceutiques puisqu’il faudra plus de temps pour que les médicaments génériques arrivent sur le marché. La hausse prévue des prix des médicaments ajoute à l’urgence d’établir un régime national et universel d’assurance-médicaments. Unifor continuera de demander que le gouvernement fédéral mette en œuvre un régime national d’assurance-médicaments pour s’assurer que tous les Canadiens et Canadiennes ont accès aux médicaments dont ils ont besoin.

L’AEUMC entre maintenant dans la phase de ratification. D’autres comptes rendus vous seront envoyés pour vous informer de tout développement important.

 

En toute solidarité,

Jerry Dias
Président national d’Unifor

 

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