Local News

Skilled trades and apprenticeship system to be modernized, province says

The skilled trades need an upgrade.

So said the provincial government in proposing major changes — contained in a labour reform bill introduced last week — that will reduce apprenticeship ratios, phase-out trades with low demand and begin the “orderly wind down” of the Ontario College of Trades, a regulatory body for the profession that was a first in North America.

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Ford government sides with business lobby over working people with “Making Ontario Open for Business Act”

TORONTO, Oct. 23, 2018 /CNW/ – Unifor condemns the provincial government’s plan to claw back workers’ rights and protections.

“Fair scheduling, equal pay for equal work, paid sick days. These rights are not frivolous – they are practical, minimum standard for fairness. Standards that help grow good jobs and keep workers safe,” Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “This Act is a direct attack on millions of workers, backed up by an imaginary crisis.”

The proposed legislation caves to demands by big business, including eliminating protection for part-time and temporary workers to be paid fairly, cancelling the promised increase to $15 an hour minimum wage, slashing paid leave for workers who experience illness and crisis.

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Unifor supports Indonesia disaster relief with $70,000 donation

TORONTO, Oct. 11, 2018 /CNW/ – Unifor is supporting Oxfam and Save the Children’s disaster relief efforts in Indonesia with a combined $70,000 donation.

“The scale of the damage from the earthquake and tsunami is massive,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. “Save the Children Canada and Oxfam Canada are working with their Indonesian partners to provide vital aid, alleviate suffering and prevent further loss of life from spread of disease.”

On September 28, a 7.5-magnitude earthquake struck Indonesia’s Sulawesi region, triggering a powerful tsunami. More than 2,000 have been killed, with the death toll expected to climb, as an estimated 5,000 people remain missing, feared buried or swept away.

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Canada, U.S. have reached a NAFTA deal — now called the USMCA

Canada and the U.S. have announced a tentative new trilateral trade deal with Mexico that includes some key concessions on issues of import to both countries — and also a reworked name: the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

“​USMCA will give our workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses a high-standard trade agreement that will result in freer markets, fairer trade and robust economic growth in our region,” Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a joint statement released late Sunday.

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Unifor warns CPTPP legislation hurts NAFTA trade position

TORONTO, Sept. 17, 2018 /CNW/ – Unifor warns that rushed debate on the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) legislation hurts Canada’s trade position at a crucial point in NAFTA negotiations.

“The CPTPP includes loose cultural protection, an expansion of foreign imports in supply-managed industries as well as weak and unenforceable labour standards – key issues that Canada is fighting for at the NAFTA negotiating table,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. “How do we tell the U.S. and Mexico that we won’t surrender Canadian markets, reduce labour standards and open ourselves up to massive job loss when that is exactly what we are in the process of doing with ten other nations?”

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Job Posting – CTT Junior Building Operator – September 2018

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Unifor urges long term care panel to consult workers and unions

HALIFAX, Sept. 5, 2018 /CNW/ – Unifor welcomes the establishment of an expert advisory panel on Nova Scotia’s long-term care system.

“The system is under-funded. Workers, most of whom are women, earn low to modest wages. The funding cuts by the McNeil government have made it harder for a system that was already challenged to deliver high quality care,” said Lana Payne, Unifor’s Atlantic Regional Director.

“Workers are stressed to the max, working short staffed, and worried about their patients and residents, most of whom are seniors.”

The panel was announced today by Health Minister Randy Delorey.

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Unifor urges Ottawa to move quickly to modernize labour standards

OTTAWA, Aug. 30, 2018 /CNW/ – The federal government’s plans to modernize labour standards in the federal jurisdiction can’t happen fast enough says Unifor, after a report on government consultations was released today.

“It is good to see that they are listening to workers and understand that labour standards created in the 1960’s do not work for today’s gig economy with far too many precarious, part-time workers,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President.

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Unifor donation in support of the Mi’Kmaw Friendship Centre

HALIFAX, Aug. 19, 2018 /CNW/ – Unifor donated $80,000 to the Mi’Kmaw Friendship Centre through a fundraiser and Canadian Community Fund.

The union also pledged that members who work in the skilled trades would donate their skills to help in the hard work of building a vibrant community centre.

“Unifor unites with Indigenous people in the ongoing struggle against intergenerational violence and colonialism,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Members from coast to coast to coast came together in this fundraiser to support the life-altering work of the Mi’Kmaw Friendship Centre.”

The fundraiser last night was part of Unifor’s ongoing support of truth and reconciliation as members from across the country gathered in Halifax for the union’s annual Canadian Council this weekend at the Convention Centre.

The Mi’Kmaw Friendship Centre serves as a focal point for the Halifax Indigenous community, providing programs that support Indigenous health, justice, employment, and education and offers a space to gather for community functions and events.

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Unifor lobbies nationally for action on public services

Unifor members from across Canada are on Parliament Hill to lobby MPs for an expansion of public services, including national child care and pharmacare programs, and action on climate change.

“To continue to push for progressive change, the work of Unifor never stops and our members are vigilant in lobbying and speaking up for all workers and families right across Canada,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. “Public services are the best way to ensure the needs of all are met and the federal government must put words in to action.”

As part of its effort to bring the concerns of working people to MPs this week, Canada’s largest union in the private sector has more than sixty union members representing different sectors, workplaces and regions in Ottawa. On Thursday, May 24, in a series of scheduled meetings with government and opposition MPs, Unifor members will deliver a message about the importance of investing in public services to ensure access and universality for all working families.

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Unifor calls for higher Canadian content in public transportation vehicles

TORONTO, May 4, 2018 /CNW/ – Unifor is calling on the Ontario government to increase Canadian content requirements in transit vehicles obtained through public procurement.

“It just makes sense to ensure that the purchase of public transport vehicles is linked to maintaining jobs here in Ontario,” said President of Unifor Local 1075 Dominic Pasqualino, representing 1,100 Bombardier workers in Thunder Bay, Ontario. “We have highly trained, dedicated people producing a good product whose jobs are at risk, while work is contracted out of the province and out of the country.”

Unifor representatives expressed concern about the future of good manufacturing jobs in a meeting with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne this week, as current contracts with the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) and Metrolinx are scheduled to be completed at the Thunder Bay plant by the end of next year.

“Unifor took the message that government policy levers, such as procurement and increased Canadian content, can and should be used to protect and expand good paying jobs in Ontario and prevent outsourcing to low wage jurisdictions,”said Shane Wark, Assistant to the Unifor National President.

Through direct and indirect employment, Bombardier accounts for 7.5 per cent of private sector employment in Thunder Bay, with one out of thirteen jobs linked to the plant.

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Unifor gears up for the Ontario election

Canvassing in elections is exciting, sometimes awkward, and absolutely vital to the success of campaigns.

To kick start Unifor’s member to member campaign, twenty-four members from ridings across Ontario gathered in Toronto for two days of training.  The organizers participated in sessions that offered tools and resources on how to have doorstep conversations with union members as part of the Make it Count campaign that will gear up when the writ drops next week.

The training follows a directive that was approved by members at the December 2017 Ontario Regional Council and is part of Unifor’s plan to campaign to, “elect a progressive government that respects trade union rights and the role of the labour movement.”

The adopted recommendation also called on local union leadership to work actively to mobilize members to vote on June 7.

“There’s too much at stake in this election, with conservative threats to public services like healthcare and squashing the rollout of the $15 an hour minimum wage,” commented Naureen Rizvi, Ontario Regional Director. “Unifor volunteers and organizers will put in the work in order to turn the tide.”

Unifor’s Make it Count campaign asks all Unifor members to not settle, but to unite and demand a more progressive province for all of us.

Currently, the Progressive Conservatives are ahead in all provincial polls even though the party’s leader has expressed support and interest in implementing anti-worker, anti-woman policies and threatens the public services that we all rely on.

Denise Hammond, Director of Communications, reminded members that polling looked similar leading up to the 2014 election, with Tim Hudak ahead, but Unifor mobilized to stop the conservatives then and union members can do it again with Doug Ford.

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Unifor looks to Ontario budget to address challenges

TORONTO, March 27, 2018 /CNW/ – The Ontario Liberal’s last budget before the June 2018 provincial election must address inequality and the crisis in care, says Unifor.

“Workers are looking for a provincial budget that builds off the advances that we have won in recent years and refuses to shy away from universal public programs that will build a more equitable society,” said Naureen Rizvi, Unifor Ontario Regional Director.

“We have lobbied for legislation that raises wages and protects the most vulnerable members of our society but we’re not done yet, and Unifor members are not ready to slow down.”

In a pre-budget submission, Unifor proposed solutions that would address Ontario’s health care crisis and improve conditions for working families including;

  • Establishing a minimum standard of care in long-term-care including four hours of daily direct care,
  • Restoring hospital funding with a multi-year increase of five per cent per year,
  • Widening access to pharmaceuticals through a universal pharmacare program, and
  • Ensuring that families have access to public child care and that no one is turned away because of cost.

 

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Unifor Reassures Members About Split With Labour Congress

The member of Unifor’s executive board which voted in favour of splitting with the Canadian Labour Congress says members do not need to be concerned.

Dave Cassidy, who is the national chair of the committee on skilled trades and the secretary-treasurer of Unifor Local 444 in Windsor, says the dispute is over the rights of workers to choose which union will represent them.

He says the issue goes back to a move by the president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113 to transfer members to Unifor. The ATU Local 113 represents transit workers in Toronto. The ATU fired Bob Kinnear saying he had violated his oath of office. It characterized the move as “underhanded” and “secretive”.

Under Article 4 of the Canadian Labour Congress’s constitution the issue should have gone for a review, but instead, the union was placed in trusteeship.

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Canada, 10 Pacific-region nations, finalize sweeping trade pact

OTTAWA—Canada has joined 10 other Pacific region countries in a sweeping new trade deal, one that Ottawa touts as a progressive step forward but critics warn puts the country’s auto sector at risk.

The revised Trans-Pacific trade deal, called the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, was finalized in Japan on Tuesday, a reality few thought possible a year ago when President Donald Trump pulled the United States from the agreement.

But the remaining nations, led by Japan, revived the pact with negotiations producing a finalized trade agreement, billed as the largest in the world.

“It’s a great day for progressive trade around the world,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a business audience in Davos, Switzerland, where he is attending the World Economic Forum.

“The agreement reached in Tokyo today is the right deal,” said Trudeau, who stayed away from a meeting of TPP leaders in November in order to press for better terms.

“Our government stood up for Canadian interests, and this agreement meets our objectives of creating and sustaining growth, prosperity and well-paying middle-class jobs today and for generations to come,” Trudeau added.

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NAFTA talks focus on dispute settlement, autos

OTTAWA—Canada has made a bold offer to accept a controversial U.S. demand at the NAFTA talks about how to resolve commercial trade disputes, the Star has learned.

It involves the current binding trade dispute settlement process used to resolve lawsuits by investor companies against North American governments. Binational tribunals adjudicate complaints, and their rulings are final.

The U.S. wants it to become an “opt-in” system or, as one Canadian official called it, a voluntary system.

Canadian officials say the U.S. has signalled it would “opt out” of the system while expecting its two partners would still “opt in” the binational tribunals that decide complaints by companies who feel harmed by government regulations.

But Canada has effectively said “wait a minute.”

Instead, the Canadian team has proposed that Canada and Mexico would agree to a dispute settlement process between their two countries alone — to be outlined in an annex to the NAFTA, according to a Canadian official who spoke to the Star on a background basis.

In effect, Canadian NAFTA negotiators are taking a gamble on whether the Americans can take “yes” for an answer when it comes to rewriting NAFTA rules.

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NAFTA negotiations grind on in Montreal with little sign of progress

Canadian counter-proposals deal with controversial U.S. demands on increasing continental content requirements for automobiles, doing away with NAFTA’s dispute resolution mechanisms, and for a five-year sunset clause.

However, despite some positive momentum, major differences remain as officials from Canada, Mexico and the U.S. meet in Montreal for the sixth and penultimate set of talks on the trade pact.

Jerry Dias, president of Unifor, one of the largest Canadian trade unions which represents workers in the auto industry, who participated in the stakeholder briefing with Canada’s chief negotiator Steve Verheul said there seems to be an understanding among U.S. negotiators that the Canadian counter-proposals on so-called tracing and rules of origin offer a track to break some of the negotiating logjams.

“The reality is the original agreement was put together 24 years ago,” Dias told reporters in Montreal. “So there is clearly going to be an understanding that we need to modernize the tracing list. But we’re also starting to talk about how do you really win the type of high end investment the latest IP (intellectual property), research and development.”

Canada argues that if the value of the software in the cars were taken into account, the North American content of the cars would go up considerably.

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Worker Self-determination At Heart Of Strong Unions

The right to choose is at the heart of any democracy. Whether electing a mayor, prime minister or the leadership of a union, the will of the people must be respected.

For too many Canadian workers, however, that kind of choice can too easily be taken away, and that weakens all workers.

The strength of the labour movement, after all, is the ability of workers to set the course of their own bargaining unit based on the wants and needs of the members who were there, and the needs of their families and communities.

When all workers can do that, their collective voice and power is stronger.

When threats and intimidation prevent workers from speaking their minds or making decisions that reflect their needs, however, the labour movement as a whole is compromised. Unions are rooted and based on democratic principles and the aspect of asserting workers’ power in the struggle. When those principles are lost or not adhered to the needs of Canadian workers are compromised.

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Update: Trade unions demand ‘respectful’ agreement from NAFTA trade talks

Jerry Dias, national president of Unifor, will be among those giving speeches

As renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) continues, members of the Unifor union demonstrated Saturday in Montreal to demand “respectful” international agreements, in particular with regard to workers’ rights.

Unifor president Jerry Dias and Renaud Gagné, Quebec director of the union, spoke at the demonstration near the American consulate.

“We’re asking the Canadian government to stand firm in both the renegotiation of NAFTA and other trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. Labour, environmental and social rights should not be sacrificed in favour of purely financial interests,” Gagné said in a statement on Saturday.

In an interview with Presse canadienne, Gagné noted that thousands of jobs are at stake in the talks, which will resume in Montreal in late January.

Gagné said it is better not to enter into a new free trade agreement with Mexico and the United States if it does not meet Canadian concerns.

Unifor has more than 315,000 members in Canada, including 52,000 in Quebec.

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Unifor donates $500,000 to Hurricane Irma aid

Unifor, through the Union’s Social Justice Fund, has donated $500,000 to the Canadian Red Cross for Hurricane Irma aid in the Caribbean.

“This donation by Unifor will reach the most vulnerable people in the Caribbean to help provide desperately needed relief efforts and supplies, which may include items such as shelter, food, and clean water,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias.

Millions of people were left devastated by Hurricane Irma. Unifor’s donation will provide direct assistance and emergency relief where it is needed most, in the hardest hit Caribbean countries.

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