Category Archives: Campaigns
MARCH 8 Statement for International Women’s Day
2023 INTERNATIONAL WOMEN DAY
Women. Life. Freedom.
Around the world, including in Iran, women continue to fight for their freedom, and for fair and equitable treatment. Toronto is the city that brings the world’s struggles together, side by side, so we can support each other in solidarity and sisterhood.
Join Unifor activists on March 4 at the IWD Toronto Rally and March at 11:00 a.m. ET, 252 Bloor St. W.
Bring your flags, signs, and noisemakers as we show that we won’t stop fighting until every sister around the world can lead the life she chooses freely and without discrimination.
WHEN: Saturday, March 4, 2023
Rally starts at 11:00 a.m. ET, march begins at 1:00 p.m. ET
WHERE: OISE/UT, 252 Bloor St. W – look for the Unifor flags
Everyone is welcome.
This event is organized by the IWD Toronto committee and for more than 40 years has been the largest event in North America recognizing International Women’s Day.
For updates, please visit iwdtoronto.ca.
We invite you to capture your experiences at the IWD Toronto Rally and March and send photos or videos to email@example.com and tag @UniforWomen on Facebook and Twitter.
In solidarity and sisterhood,
Naureen Rizvi Tracey Ramsey
Ontario Regional Director Women’s Department Director
Unifor Black History Month Statement 2023
As Unifor recognizes Black History Month, in 2023, our focus is empowering the next generation of Black youth.
As we reflect on Black history, Black accomplishments and the contributions of the many Black communities here in Canada and globally, we also reaffirm the collective work and collective responsibility we all have to continue to advocate to end Anti-Black racism in all institutions and society. We owe it to future generations.
This year, our message is “Black History, Black Futures.” Our focus will be featuring Black youth and all they offer in our workplaces and to broader society through skills, talents, intelligence, innovation, creativity, determination and leadership.
Black youth have made it clear – we need to listen. Young people are leading the way into the future, making demands to address climate change, exposing environmental racism, calling for reform within governments, advocating for health care, lobbying for job security, highlighting the inequalities within workplaces, combating Anti-Black racism, and offering real solutions to world issues. They are the future of activism, informed by history and ready to voice their demands for equity and justice for themselves and other workers, for all people and for the planet.
The Canadian government first recognized Black History Month in December 1995 in the House of Commons, following a motion introduced by the Hon. Dr. Jean Augustine.
As a progressive union Unifor is committed to more than statements and a month of solidarity. We must ensure physical and emotional health for all Black Canadians and continue to celebrate, appreciate and acknowledge Black communities across the country.
Unifor membership, leadership and communities will celebrate Black History meaningfully.
Below are tips to help celebrate Black History Month in a meaningful way
- Celebrate and acknowledge Black history throughout the year
- Celebrate Black history with everyone
- Center Black History celebrations around diversity, inclusion and equity commitments and practices
- If you don’t have diversity, inclusion and equity commitments and practices, create them
- Eliminating anti-Black ideology and methods in organizations
- Provide resources for Black businesses, culture centers, and community groups for everyone
- Celebrate the present, not just the past
- Do your learning at your own pace
We also ask them to recognize Black Unifor members, not only in February, but each day of the year, support Black members in roles in all levels of the union, respect and value the contributions and views of Black members in order to combat anti-Black racism and to continue to remove barriers in institutions that prevent Black members from fully participating.
We need to ensure physical and emotional health for all Black Canadians and continue to celebrate, appreciate and acknowledge Black communities across the country.
Statement on the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women
October is Women’s History Month
This year we mark Women’s History Month in Canada with the knowledge that gains toward equality are fragile and need vigilance to continually protect and enshrine them into the fabric of our union and country.
As we reach back into our past to share the stories of women who have been trailblazers, we learn important lessons from their struggles and triumphs that we need to continually remind ourselves of today.
On October 18, Canada commemorates Persons’ Day. This day in 1929 was when Canada’s highest court of appeal handed down the decision to include women in the legal definition of “persons”, and permitted some women to be appointed to the Senate of Canada and to more fully participate in public life. Persons’ Day was both the culmination of years of activism, and the start of many more years of work to ensure it was expanded and strengthened to include the rights of all women. Women of Indigenous or Asian heritage and descent remained excluded from this legal personhood for many more years.
Our history is full of obvious discrimination toward women of colour and Indigenous women. Canadian women were granted the right to vote in federal elections in 1918 but First Nations women could only vote at that time if they gave up their status and treaty rights. Their full right to vote federally wouldn’t happen until July 1960. These 40-plus years of exclusion must remind us that our work as trade unionists and feminists must be intersectional and focus on eliminating the additional barriers faced by Indigenous, women of colour, LGBTQ, and women with disabilities.
At the 2022 Unifor Women’s Conference we were reminded that until all women cross the line, none of us can truly celebrate without full inclusion of all women. As we make strides toward equality in the courts, in public policy and in workplaces, we must not simply extend the ladder to other women, but reach back to help each other climb.
Unifor has a proud history of advancing women’s rights and fighting for workplace improvements and then pushing provincial and federal governments to grant those same rights for all women. Our union’s ground-breaking and internationally-acclaimed Women’s Advocate Program plays a key role in changing workplace dynamics, educating workers about the challenges women face, and providing resources to support women through unfair treatment in the workplace, discrimination or harassment.
We must pay attention to the rollback of abortion rights and attacks on bodily autonomy in the United States and push to secure our rights in Canada. It was more than 50 years ago when a group of determined women from Vancouver formed the Abortion Caravan and travelled to Ottawa to land on then-Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau’s doorstep to demand abortion be removed from the criminal code. Let us draw inspiration from this, and other brave moments in history, to give us renewed energy for the fight.
Unifor represents 118,000 women, representing a third of our membership. This year we made our own mark on Canadian labour history for women by electing Lana Payne as our first woman president. We are still pushing to break through barriers and make our own working class history. More women are sitting at bargaining tables, are elected to their Local Executive Boards, and taking leadership roles. But, more can be done.
We must ask more women to run, invite more women to participate, and support more women to lead.
Together, we can make history and create a brighter, more equal future.
2022 ORANGE SHIRT DAY- FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2022
BLACK HISTORY MONTH- FEBRUARY 2022
For Unifor, Black History Month isn’t an event we only acknowledge in February.
This year, Canada recognizes Black History Month as February and Forever: Celebrating Black History Today and Every Day.
The Canadian government first recognized Black History Month in December 1995 in the House of Commons, following a motion introduced by the Honourable Dr. Jean Augustine.
Unifor has long been advocating that it is vital to acknowledge and recognize Black members everyday.
As a union, we featured Black members from locals for the past few years and allowed the different regions to see the remarkable leadership within our union.
We are committed to more than statements and more than a month of solidarity. We know that Black Canadians have made tremendous contributions and possess the skills, talents, intelligence, innovation and determination to have meaningful impacts within Unifor, across Canada and throughout the world.
It is our daily choices and actions that matter.
This month, we ask our local unions and workplace union representatives to celebrate Black Unifor members and safely support community events.
We also ask them to recognize Black Unifor members, not only in February, but each day of the year, in order to combat anti-Black racism and to continue to remove barriers in institutions that prevent Black members from fully participating.
We need to ensure physical and emotional health for all Black Canadians and continue to celebrate, appreciate and acknowledge Black communities across the country.
Information about Black History Month events can be found here.
Support Nova Scotia forestry workers
More than 230 Unifor members in Pictou, Nova Scotia lost their jobs in January 2020 after the Northern Pulp mill was forced to close.
Their pensions, their jobs and as many as 11,000 forestry and related jobs across the province hang in the balance as the company prepares plans for a modernized mill.
Support Nova Scotia forestry workers
We have demanded Northern Pulp and parent company Paper Excellence honour Unifor Local 440 members’ pensions and submit plans to government and to community stakeholders that meet government standards.
What remains a challenge is identifying the standards Nova Scotia’s Department of Environment (NSE) will accept.
Unifor supported the previous Environmental Assessment document submitted by the company to the government, because the stated impacts were well within federal Pulp and Paper Effluent Regulations (PPER) and existing Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards (CAAQS). Indeed, it would have been a solid improvement on the previous mill, which also met those federal standards.
In December 2021, Nova Scotia Environment released its revised Draft Terms of Reference (DTOR), which is supposed to serve as a framework to guide Northern Pulp’s creation of an Environmental Assessment for the updated mill project. (The Draft Terms of Reference can be found here on the Nova Scotia government website).
Unifor continues to believe in a solution that will maintain thousands of good, rural forestry jobs, protect the environment, and respect Pictou Landing First Nation.
Read the letter below and submit to Nova Scotia Environment to support Unifor members and workers in the broader forestry sector.
Support Nova Scotia forestry workers
Unifor unveils new poster for National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women
To recognize the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women next month, Unifor is launching a new poster to commemorate the day on December 6, 2021.
The downloadable and printable posters will feature male leadership, including National President Jerry Dias, encouraging other men to speak up about men’s violence against women with a list of ways they can advocate for it.
“The challenge of violence against women isn’t women – it’s men. By naming the source of the violence, we can focus more clearly on the root cause of the problem and finding solutions,” said Dias.
November 25, 2021 – the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women – starts a global campaign of 16 Days of Activism. Canada’s National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women occurs during this campaign, on December 6.
Read Unifor’s statement for December 6 here and signup for the union’s online vigil at 7 p.m. ET. that evening.
“There has been a sharp rise in gender-based violence during the pandemic, a trend which the United Nations has referred to as a ‘shadow pandemic,’” said Dias.
“Research shows that times of crisis, confinement at home, financial stress and economic and natural disasters trigger higher levels of domestic violence.”
“It’s why we must use our collective power to bargain pay equity, employment equity because economic security is key to preventing gender-based violence,” said Unifor Secretary-Treasurer Lana Payne.
“Decent work with decent wages and working conditions, anti-harassment policies and processes, domestic violence leave and family leaves are all part of prevention of gender-based violence because it gives women and gender diverse people options and decreases isolation.”
Lockdowns during COVID-19 meant many people became locked down with their abuser without access to their normal supports. Most recently, a Kentucky girl was rescued in a kidnapping after using a hand gesture – created as a way for women in domestic violence situations to signal for help over video – she had seen on TikTok to a driver in a passing vehicle who called 911.
According to statistics, women face violence predominantly at the hands of men, most often their male intimate partners or family members. Domestic violence can carry over into the workplace, threatening women’s ability to maintain economic independence.
Domestic violence leave, now in law across Canada, can eliminate the need to choose between a job and safety.
Unifor is pushing the federal government to adopt a National Action Plan on Gender-Based Violence and advocating for the ratification of the International Labour Organization Convention 190 to eliminate violence and harassment in the world of work. The union is also encouraging all locals to negotiate the Unifor Women’s Advocate program.
But speaking out against violence against women and gender-based violence isn’t simply contained to 16 days of action. People can take steps to make change year-round.
“You can address gender-based violence by starting with small acts that disrupt the patriarchy that’s at the core – the sexist jokes, harassment, and objectification,” said Unifor Women’s Department Director Lisa Kelly.
“It’s powerful when men can engage other men in examining negative masculine norms. Trade union men also have opportunities to significantly improve economic security. This is a key component of safety for women and gender diverse people.”
Events on December 6 will be held in communities across the country. Locals are encouraged to hold their own events or join with community events where safe.
If you are experiencing gender-based violence, please contact your local crisis line.
Unifor Statement for World Day for Decent Work
Every year, Unifor marks the World Day for Decent Work on October 7.
As a trade union, we believe that good jobs, fair wages, and improving the many conditions in which people go to work each day is the way to achieve a better world for everyone.
Amidst the challenges and difficulties of working and living through the ongoing pandemic, Unifor’s young workers take this opportunity to remind all Unifor members that our collective future is worth the fight!
Even before the pandemic, the climate crisis was looming and income inequality had reached critical levels. The pandemic exposed our world’s biggest inequalities, and made everything so much more challenging for everyone, including young workers’ and their prospects for the future.
This time last year, our union was calling to support essential rights for essential workers. Throughout the pandemic, many young workers got laid-off. Some did not get their jobs back. Many young workers were looking after their young children while schools were closed. Today, some are still worried about the risks of exposure to the virus in schools across the country. Young workers did their best – just like all workers – to navigate a crisis and to come out of it safely. Some did not.
Young workers today are seriously worried that the world they are inheriting from previous generations is in far worse shape than the one their parents lived through.
Through this pandemic, young workers have come to better understand that safe workplaces, barrier-free access to good, green jobs, and well-funded public services are essential to a better and brighter future.
Today, on the World Day for Decent Work, we face a choice: we can live to see the devastating impacts that will inevitably result from today’s crises, or we can pick up the fight and build a better future.
This week, Unifor’s young workers held a series of online events to gather, strategize, and commit to the long-term fight for a better world. Through virtual events and an email conference, they shared stories of activism, exchanged tools and best practices and were intentional about creating space in our union to foster hope.
They invited young artist Hana Shafi to design three images that represent the commitment of young workers to our collective future. Unifor members can download, print and share these images today.
Let’s not let our young workers hope and fight on their own. Today, and every day, let’s remember that our future is worth the fight.
Orange Shirt Day activities
Next week on Thursday, September 30, Unifor members across Canada will be commemorating the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (Orange Shirt Day) to honour the experiences of former students and survivors of the residential school system and to promote awareness about the residential school system and the harm it has had and continues to have on Indigenous communities.
We encourage you to wear orange and join events in your community!
Unifor commissioned Haisla artist Nathan Wilson to create a design for our 2021 t-shirt and event materials. Learn more about the artist and the design and place your order online at uniforstore.com
There is also a new poster for you to print and share around the workplace.
No matter where you are, you can show your solidarity and be an advocate for reconciliation. Wear orange, take a photo, and share online using the hashtags #unifor and #everychildmatters. Send your photos to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll add them to the national album.
Thank you for your commitment,
Leaving No One Behind – International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples
Missing children found on Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc territory
|Unifor mourns the loss of the 215 children found on Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc territory who perished in the custody of the Kamloops Indian Residential School.
The discovery confirms what community survivors have said for decades—hundreds of children went to the school and never returned home. This is true of at least 6,000 Indigenous children who attended residential schools across the country.
The mass grave is a horrific reminder of the scale of the colonial violence that still haunts survivors and their families today.
Canada is far from done reconciling its murderous history of residential schools. Reconciliation is important for being accountable to both Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc and all communities and families that are affected.
Unifor supports the call of Indigenous leaders for a nationwide probe of former residential school sites. The federal government must ensure Indigenous communities have the resources to find answers about missing children as outlined in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s “Missing Children’s Project”.
Unifor understands that solidarity is the key to truth and reconciliation with First Nations, Inuit and Metis people in Canada. Unifor is committed to using its bargaining power, mobilizing power, and political power to bring about transformative change.
What Unifor members can do:
Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc
Whichever action you take, please share your work with the National Office and on social media so others can follow our example to do their part in reconciliation.
View the statement on our website here.
Canada Day and Reconciliation!
|Dear Sisters, Brothers and Friends,
This has been a National Indigenous History Month like no other. The June 24 announcement of the confirmation of the remains of 751 children at the former residential school site on Cowessess territory in Saskatchewan has further amplified the calls for searches at other sites across the country.
Unifor locals are asking what they can do to support grieving members and nearby Indigenous communities.
While there are no easy answers to undoing cultural genocide and intergenerational pain and trauma it causes to this day, Unifor is part of the movement for truth, justice, and reconciliation. Keeping this on the national political agenda is a top priority.
We’re asking Unifor members to translate anger into action:
With all your efforts, please amplify Indigenous voices in your community.
Whichever action you take, please share your work with the National Office and on social media so others can follow our example to do their part in reconciliation.
Unifor Statement on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia
May 17, 2021
Unifor marks the 2021 International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOT) with solidarity for people of all sexual and gender minorities.
Unifor remains resolved to continue the fight against homophobia and transphobia through social change and the fight for human rights for all.
As we resurface from the pandemic and begin to build a better world, we must do away with the inequalities and oppression that lead to discrimination.
Unifor calls upon governments of all levels to recognise LGBTQ workers in recovery efforts and for the federal government to finally pass legislation to adopt a ban on so-called ‘conversion therapy’.
Conversation therapy is a dangerous, unfounded practice that often involves minors’ abuse and leads to lifetime trauma. The basic assumption that a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or expression is something to be altered or corrected, threatens LGBTQ workers’ dignity and well being. This runs against the union’s position on supporting the rights of all workers.
Unifor is opposed to conversion therapy in all forms and supports efforts to put a stop to the practice through municipal, provincial, and federal bans.
The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia and Pride will look different this year. Many local unions are organizing online events to unite community after an isolating year.
Email email@example.com with information about Local Union events, to have your events added to a Pride 2021 Calendar.
This year for IDAHOT, Unifor encourages local unions, committees and members to create original digital posts, memes, and videos to counter homophobia and transphobia and to share positive stories from queer and trans members.
Post these stories online to share with your members, and use the hashtag #UniforPride.
#HateisaVirus builds pride during Asian Heritage Month
Unifor Statement on Trans Day of Visibility
|March 31, 2021
Unifor recognizes and invites all members to celebrate the International Transgender Day of Visibility tomorrow, March 31. This annual day celebrates the value and resilience of transgender people both within the union and around the world.
Trans people are those who identify with a gender other than the one assigned at birth, and exist within all countries, communities and religious groups around the world. This identity is separate from an individual’s sexual orientation.
More than a year into the pandemic, as we turn our attention to recovery, Unifor encourages members and locals to centre trans people in your advocacy. It is well established that workers in already precarious and part time jobs faced instability and financial loss during this pandemic.
A recent Trans PULSE Report found that fewer than 50% of transgender people in Canada are employed full-time.
COVID-19 has interrupted and overloaded our health care systems. The same study, which included survey data from 2019, also found that 45% of respondents reported unmet health care needs and 12% had avoided going to the emergency room, despite needing care.
As we consider both the immediate and long-term affects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Unifor asks members to fight for trans and non-binary workers so that workplaces, health care and other essential services celebrate and welcome trans people.
As we advocate for governments to #BuildBackBetter, trans people must be centred in future fiscal stimulus, job creation and public services must work for everyone, including trans people in Canada.
Unifor wishes to honour trans and non-binary members, who continue to help build our union and strengthen our movement. Through their contributions and labour our union and society is made better, more educated and compassionate.
Unifor asks members to share a message of support and solidarity on the Trans Day of Visibility.
Click here to download shareable
View the statement on our website here.
Support Canadian aviation workers
Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of the COVID travel ban. While Unifor supports the measures undertaken to flatten the curve and keep Canadians safe, the travel ban has had a devastating affect on the aviation industry and its workers.
Instead of following the lead of governments around the world with strategic investments supporting the industry, the Trudeau government has been silent. Federal inaction jeopardizes the entire industry and threatens good jobs for tens of thousands of aviation workers.
It is impossible to imagine a safe economic recovery from COVID-19 without a thriving aviation industry. Unifor published a detailed policy paper outlining science-based proposals to get the industry back on its feet and aviation workers safely back to work.
Here’s what you can do to support Canada’s aviation workers:
Action to demand funding to ‘Respect, Protect and Pay’ healthcare workers
COVID-19 has brought systemic shortages in Ontario’s healthcare and long-term care systems to the forefront with tragic consequences. Unifor has joined CUPE and SEIU Healthcare in the ‘Respect Us. Protect Us. Pay Us.’ campaign on behalf of the unions’ 175,000 frontline healthcare workers.
Our COVID heroes need your help.
Workers from all sectors are asked to support the thousands of Unifor healthcare and long-term care members by joining the ‘Respect Us. Protect Us. Pay Us.’ action to call for the provincial government to properly fund healthcare to provide decent jobs and improved care for Ontarians.
Please join me at this pandemic-safe action, which will take place a day ahead of the release of the Ontario budget. Make your concerns, and horn, heard at a drive-by action at Queen’s Park on Tuesday, March 23.
March 23 – Drive-by ‘Respect Us. Protect Us. Pay Us.’ action at Queen’s Park
REGISTER HERE TO PARTICIPATE
10:30 a.m. Participants are asked to assemble with their vehicles at Convocation Hall, University of Toronto 31 King’s College Circle. View Google Maps here.
Drive-by action will then circle Queen’s Park. All in attendance will be required to observe COVID-19 safety measures. Please stay in your vehicles upon arrival and wait for instructions.
You can also show your support for healthcare and long-term care workers online using the #RespectProtectPay and #carenotprofits hashtags.
EARTH DAY 2021
On April 22 we celebrate Earth Day.
This year, we mark Earth Day in a context where the COVID-19 pandemic continues to create an unfair burden on working people all over the world. As a trade union, we know all too well that the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the lives, livelihoods and well-being of working people in Canada and abroad. Similarly, the climate crisis, and our society’s failure to plan for it, will result in a disproportionate weight on working people, especially racialized communities and their families.
This is a day to reflect on the importance of our environment and the clear connection that it shares in the lifelong health of all of us and our families. As well, we recognize with solemn consideration how social activism, humanity and overall concern for a safe environment will ensure our victory over the threat of COVID-19 virus and all other global health challenges to the human race.
We are well aware of our need to build back a green economy and have recognized this in our Unifor Build Back Better campaign.
We are committed to making existing jobs more environmentally sustainable, while simultaneously advocating to create more decent-paying, full-time, safe and healthy green jobs in all sectors of society.
Our recent success in auto bargaining bringing billions of dollars of manufacturing investment to Canada for electric vehicles is proof of our commitment.
Our members demand that we protect their jobs and incomes. At the same time, our members also demand that we work hard to improve the environment. Both demands are reasonable ones and we understand we cannot accomplish this alone.
Therefore we have joined with other labour unions and climate justice organizations in Canada, the United States and Mexico working together to make a green economy reality.
The North American Solidarity Project is a joint effort to transform the labour movement in North America based on democratic, militant, and social unionism, and true internationalism between workers in the United States, Mexico and Canada.
The North American Solidarity Project is inviting union members, activists and allies to attend an online exchange called COVID-19 to climate, workers respond to crisis.
The online exchange will take place on Thursday, April 22 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time on Zoom. Advance registration is required.
The panel will aim to define crisis as experienced by working people today. The panel will seek to envision what labour climate action looks like now and for future generations.
World Water Day
Every March 22 Unifor enthusiastically participates in the United Nations’ World Water Day. In recent years, we have joined the nationwide mobilization to fight for safe drinking water in Indigenous communities.
March 2021 marks an important milestone in our campaign. It was this month that the Trudeau government set as its self-imposed deadline for resolving undrinkable water in Indigenous communities.
Despite this explicit election promise, 57 Indigenous communities remain under a water boil advisory.
This upcoming World Water Day, please join other Unifor member in the U.N. campaign to “Value Water”.
- Participate in Unifor’s webinar on World Water Day (Register here)
- Add this Facebook frame to your profile photo.
- Share this graphic in your social media networks.
- Write Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and demand he fulfil his election promise to Indigenous communities.
Thank you for taking action and please share this email with your friends and family.
Turtle Island Series: UN World Water Day
United Nations World Water Day falls on March 22 every year. World Water Day celebrates water and raises awareness of the people around the globe living without access to safe water. It is about taking action to tackle the global water crisis.
Unifor is proud to host a webinar about the state of safe water in Indigenous communities across the county. Join this powerful discussion hosted by Gina Smoke, Unifor Indigenous Liaison with Pam Palmater, Mi’kmaq lawyer, Ryerson Professor and activist.
Learn about actions that Unifor members can take to push the federal government to live up to its Treaty obligations and ensure that all Indigenous communities have clean, safe water.
March 22, 2021 1:30 p.m.–2:30 p.m. EST
This workshop will be hosted online through Cisco WebEx. Participants will be emailed information on how to join. You must RSVP online.
March 21st International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
|International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is observed annually on March 21st – marred in history when police in Sharpeville, South Africa, opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration against apartheid “pass laws” in 1960.
Unifor recognizes we must not repeat history and it has been very evident this year, we must be a part of the change needed to redefine public safety and divest from institutions that perpetuate racism and are still taking the lives of Black, Indigenous and people of colour.
This year, Unifor’s message is “Together for Racial Justice.” We understand that we must use our collective power to make change. It is about engaging the communities, trade unions, employers, workplaces and organizations to work together for meaningful lasting change.
#Together4RacialJustice aims to make real meaningful change in cultures that exist in workplaces and a society that devalue any person solely based on the colour of their skin. We often hear the word tolerance. Tolerance has absolutely nothing to do with racial justice, but everything to do with one’s attitude. It is not making the real changes need to end racism, more like ignoring the real issues and claiming to be not racist vs acting in a way that is anti-racist. It is vital that trade unions do not ignore the place in history we are in.
As the Covid-19 virus began to spread in early 2020, a parallel pandemic was unleashed – of hatred, violence and fear against Black, Indigenous and people of colour. Those who identify or were perceived to identify as Chinese were targeted by hate and wrongly blamed for the pandemic. Stark inequities, rooted in racism, quickly became clear. Black, Indigenous and people of colour and women are significantly at higher risk of infection and death.
Unifor is proud to join other unions across North America in a cross-border, multilingual webinar on the fight for racial justice as we near the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
On March 20, activists will come together to redefine public safety, to advance the interest of Black, Indigenous and people of colour in our society, workplaces and union. We will continue to work together to eliminate racism.
Unifor is encouraging members and activists to register and participate in the Together for Racial Justice Webinar on Zoom at 3 p.m. eastern time on March 20, 2021. This will allow us to have moments of reflection and recommit to being Anti-racist using Unifor’s six steps to support racial justice.
Unifor will continue in our quest for equity, equality and anti-discrimination and we call on each and every one of us to stand up against all forms of racism. On social media we will show our recommitment to ending all forms of racial discrimination by using the Unifor frame “Together for Racial Justice.”
View the statement on our website here.
Invitation to “Together for Racial Justice” Webinar – March 20, 2021
Pandemic may set women back, but the struggle moves forward
This column originally appeared in the Globe and Mail
The pandemic has demolished many conventional wisdoms when it comes to our economy, equality and work – especially essential work, so much of which is done by women.
Where would we be without the labour of women this past year? And yet as critical as that labour has been to the well-being of the country, we are still fighting for respect and fair pay.
Paid sick days have become the tip of the iceberg for much broader calls to improve employment standards and labour rights across the country. The base of the iceberg is the fight for fair wages and decent work for all. It’s why union women struggle to raise the minimum wage, campaign for the universal right to unionize and demand the right to identify and refuse unsafe work. In Canada, a handful of CEOs declare record profits year after year while the floor for minimum workplace standards is vanishing beneath our feet.
Just as we have seen throughout history, the current crisis weighs heavily on women, as well as non-binary and gender diverse people. Even more so on racialized women. Our workplaces are battlegrounds because bosses take more and more money for themselves while women have to fight for fair wages and access to adequate personal protective equipment. After decades of advocacy, we still do not have a meaningful and accessible system of childcare in this country and the gender pay gap continues to undermine women’s experience of work. All of this has been made far worse through this pandemic.
So when Doug Ford, the Premier of Ontario, appears to be at his wit’s end because people keep asking about paid sick days, let me share an ounce of truth: we’re not about to stop demanding or organizing.
Frankly, too many politicians have let ideology get in the way of a proper pandemic response. – one that puts people and workers first.
They have allowed the entire weight of a pandemic to fall onto the shoulders of women. Women are working harder than ever on the front line, and yet more than 20% of women are underemployed, evidence of the systemic barriers in our job market. More women than men have lost their jobs amid the crisis, dropping our labour market participation by a full percentage point.
We’re going backwards.
Union women have been fighting for workplace justice for decades. The very roots of International Women’s Day we celebrate on March 8 stem from the fight for fair pay, safe work and the right to a union for all.
More than 100 years after the first celebration of women’s achievements and potential, workplace struggles are just as important. Any personal support worker knows just how tragic and challenging this past year has been.
So while certain politicians will be remembered for having stood in the way of workers, women and everyone who hold up our communities in good and bad times, there are still a few things they don’t know.
One day we will have mandatory paid sick days in every province in Canada and employers will pay for them.
One day, employers will no longer be able to outsource their responsibilities to temporary agencies, scraping every dollar of profit they can from working class communities, leaving workers vulnerable to weakened workplace rights and permanently low wages.
One day in this country, we will usher in a universal pharmacare program that will drastically lower drug costs for average Canadians and secure the next building block of Canada’s public health care system.
Women, women’s democratic movements and workers’ organizations see the connections between decent work, affordable housing, racial justice, access to education, public health care and childcare, and the all-important safety net that lifts everyone up.
Women have been fighting for these things for a long time and we are not about to give up now.
While politicians come and go, the sisterhood continues uninterrupted – and so do our demands for gender justice.
And in these times of crisis, politicians can listen and act – or they can step aside.
Lana Payne is Unifor’s National Secretary-Treasurer.
View this column on our website here.
International Women’s Day- Unifor Statement
|March 8, 2021
International Women’s Day is a global day to celebrate women and women’s achievements and to continue the push for gender justice. It was started by working women to call attention to poor pay and working conditions. It grew to include a call for women’s rightful place in leadership and safety from violence. Today, it is a day to celebrate equality gains and recommit to action and persistence towards full equality for all equity-seeking groups.
When we work collectively, across our diversities, we are a force that makes change.
This year marks nearly one full year under the pandemic. This crisis has shone a light on pre-existing inequality and, in many cases, has widened it: racism, gender-based violence, unpaid care work, inadequate elder support and more. We need to address these inequalities and come out from the pandemic with a new society.
We did not let the pandemic stop us from organizing for a better world, getting elected to bargaining committees and local executives. We continue to fight for racial justice advocates, paid sick days, fair pay, pharmacare, better long term care and child care, against gender-based violence and much more.
This year we will celebrate the women of our union and the work they do every day to push back and make a difference.
View statement on our website here.
Jerry Dias Lana Payne
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY- MONDAY, MARCH 8, 2021
Help us win PAID SICK DAYS for all in Ontario!
Help us win PAID SICK DAYS for all in Ontario!
Ontarians need paid sick days now, and with your help we can win.
Unifor has been calling for paid sick days since the start of the pandemic last March. We are actively advocating public Boards of Health and City Councils across the province and adding our political voice to this momentum.
It’s time to pass MPP Peggy Sattler’s Bill 239, the Stay Home If You Are Sick Act. This NDP Bill ensures that no one has to choose between putting food on the table and going to work sick: with seven (7) permanent paid sick days plus fourteen (14) additional days during a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s time to legislate paid sick days NOW.
In this phone zap, we will be calling the offices of PC MPP’s and encouraging them to support Bill 239 so workers don’t have to go to work when they are sick. We will then take a few minutes to phone our elected PC MPP representatives and demand that they legislate Paid Sick Days for all workers!
Bill 239’s next big test is on March 1. It is important we let PC MPPs know before this date that Ontarians want and need this to pass.
This meeting will take place on zoom. We recommend that you connect to the meeting via a tablet or computer in order to leave your phone available to make phone calls. You must register in advance to get the meeting link.
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting on February 25.
Thursday, February 25 from 6:00 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. ET
I hope you to see on Thursday.
Ontario Regional Director
Act Now for Pharmacare
Unifor calls on federal government to support De Havilland workers
February 18, 2021
TORONTO—Unifor urges immediate action from the federal government to protect jobs in Canada’s aerospace industry as De Havilland Canada announces it will leave the current Downsview production facility and suspend production of the Dash 8.
“Canada’s aerospace workers deserve better. We need the strongest possible government plan to support these economically vital jobs and protect our highly skilled aircraft manufacturing workers immediately,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Each day that passes without a comprehensive plan including significant government financial supports for Canada’s airlines and aerospace sectors means more unnecessary job losses, risks prolonging an economic recovery, and may do irreversible damage to our industrial capacity.”
The suspension of the Dash 8 program and facility exit will affect more than 700 members of Unifor Locals 112 and 673. The union remains deeply concerned with the company’s announcement that it will exit the facility without a firm relocation plan or a timeline to resume production.
Unifor released a comprehensive aerospace report last month detailing the union’s recovery plan for the industry in response to COVID-19. The report recommends the federal government immediately implement measures to support domestic aerospace manufacturing, including direct financial support that protects aerospace jobs and strengthens procurement policies using a “Buy Canadian” approach. Following the release of the report, the union engaged in its single largest lobbying effort to date, meeting with more than 100 Members of Parliament, Ministers and government staff to discuss the union’s recommendations and alert officials of looming production problems, including the Dash 8 production suspension.
Unifor continues to urge the federal government to support workers at the Downsview site by implementing Unifor’s economic recovery plan for Canada’s aerospace sector.
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.
To arrange interviews via Zoom, Skype or Facetime please contact Unifor Communications Representative David Molenhuis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 416-575-7453 (cell).
Act now to support Canada’s Aerospace Workers
Regional Racial Justice Liaison
***REMINDER***The deadline for applications is February 15. Applications can be sent to email@example.com
Unifor is pleased to announce that we have been successful in securing federal project funding from Heritage Canada through their Anti-Racism Action Program. These funds will be used over the next 15-months to support a series of activities and initiatives that we have developed to support racial justice across the Union – within our regions, Locals and communities.
Unifor is currently seeking five Racial Justice Liaisons, one per region (Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario, Prairies/Territories, British Columbia) to provide project support and coordination and help our regional and national teams in implementing our anti-racism action plan.
This is a great chance for Unifor members to work closely with Boards, Regional Aboriginal and Workers of Colour Committees, Regional Equity Committees and the National Human Rights Department. Regional Racial Justice Liaisons will be working directly to support the development of an anti-racism program that will drive organizational change and make lasting impacts for Black, Indigenous and people of colour within both the union and our communities.
This is an exciting opportunity for a Black, Indigenous or Worker of Colour who is looking to learn new skills, increase their involvement and engagement within the Union and Locals, develop their leadership capacity, network and contribute to positive social change and racial justice.
- Identify as Black, Indigenous, Aboriginal or a Worker of Colour;
- Available for 6-month contract;
- Interested in working on a national team to develop anti-racism policies, practices, education and training and foster local community partnerships;
- Work closely with Unifor Regional Executive Boards, Human Rights Department and Regional Equity Committees;
- Participate in online forums with Unifor members, leaders and community partners;
- Identify and bring forward policy recommendations and program initiatives to our anti-racism working group.
Unifor wants to ensure that we provide an equal opportunity for all applicants. Please feel free to make any accommodation requests if needed throughout this process. Please send your application to firstname.lastname@example.org by 4:00pm, Monday, February 15th, 2021 and indicate the job title and the Region you are applying to in the subject line.
Please feel free to apply directly to your regional council. For more information, please contact Christine Maclin, Unifor Human Rights Director at email@example.com.
Unifor echoes the call for positive mental health with a reminder: mental health care is health care
|Unifor supports the rights of all people to access public mental health care free from barriers.
The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed workers’ lives, from added stress to isolation, grief, and for many, the loss of workplace drug plan coverage.
To mark Bell Let’s Talk Day, Unifor encourages all people in Canada to not only reach out and build connections, but to demand strengthened access to mental health services and prescription drug coverage through our public health care systems.
Those services must be freely accessible for people to get support, free from discrimination, when facing mental illness or crisis.
One out of every five Canadians will experience mental illness in normal times. It is okay to feel out of sorts because of the global COVID-19 crisis. During the pandemic, we must normalize, listen to, and empathize with those experiencing distress. Additionally, we remind those experiencing mental illness to find supports, as limited as they may be, that work for them in order to navigate through this crisis. Now more than ever, we must find community and support one another.
Members can access COVID-19 Mental Health resources online. These resources include four pillars:
The job of promoting mental wellness is up to every single one of us. Through their union workers can support one another as peers, but for sustained medical care we all rely on the same public health care systems.
View statement on our website here.
Join Jerry Dias to demand action on long-term care
The ongoing crisis in Ontario long-term care has led to horrific conditions and the tragic deaths of more than 3,400 residents and at least 11 frontline long-term care workers from COVID-19.
As the cases continue to mount, Ontario Unifor members must raise our collective voices to push the provincial government to act.
Workers from all sectors are asked to support the thousands of Unifor frontline long-term care members and the vulnerable LTC residents that they care for.
You can make a difference this Friday by joining the online protest at 10 a.m., hosted by the Ontario Health Coalition.
LTC residents account for nearly two-thirds of the province’s total COVID deaths and preventable loss of life is rapidly increasing. In recent days, the death toll has amounted to more than one resident every hour of every day.
Here’s how to join the action on Friday morning. Go to www.facebook.com/ontariohealth to watch and participate in online actions throughout the protest to help Save Our Seniors.
Unifor National President Jerry Dias will call for immediate government action during his live online address, scheduled for 10:09 a.m.
What: Ontario Health Coalition Save Our Seniors Protest
When: Friday, January 29, 2021 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Share the message online using #carenotprofits and #SaveOurSeniors hashtags.
Vigil for COVID Heroes
Join us to honour the COVID Heroes lost to this pandemic.
First we mourn, then we fight.
Unifor’s call to action has three pillars to protect workers:
· Paid sick days
· Right to know and refuse
· PPE for all
Register now here as space is limited.
January 21, 2021, 6 PM to 7 PM ET live via Zoom with special guest speakers and ways to have your voice heard. This event will be streamed live on Unifor’s Facebook page.
Global solidarity, shared responsibility. Unifor Statement on World AIDS Day 2020
|Every year, on December 1, people around the world commemorate World AIDS Day. Unifor recognizes this day to remember those who lost their lives to AIDS, but to also recognize the importance of prevention of this epidemic and support for people living with HIV.
This year’s World AIDS Day comes in the midst of another global epidemic.
The public health response to these epidemics shows us how health is linked with class, human rights, gender, race, and other critical issues.
Unifor echoes the theme of UNAIDS in recognizing World AIDS Day 2020 as a day for Global solidarity, shared responsibility.
“COVID-19 has demonstrated that, during a pandemic, no one is safe until everyone is safe. Leaving people behind is not an option if we are to succeed. Eliminating stigma and discrimination, putting people at the centre and grounding our responses in human rights and gender-responsive approaches are key to ending the colliding pandemics of HIV and COVID-19.”
The COVID-19 pandemic quickly revealed deep cracks in our societies and communities. These cracks are causing the poorest and most vulnerable members of our communities to see the hardest hits from the pandemic.
The lessons that we have learned so far in 2020, of shared responsibility, community building, and care and compassion, can be applied to our ongoing task of ending the AIDS epidemic that persists globally.
New HIV infections in Canada occur disproportionately among men who have sex with men and Indigenous people.
While COVID-19 rages on, Unifor recognizes that the pandemic is threatening access to HIV prevention, testing, treatment and care. Canada must be ready to introduce new public health measures to prevent an HIV resurgence, and to continue to protect and support people living with HIV through early treatment and universal pharmacare.
Black Lives Matter at our picket lines and rallies.
Greetings Unifor family,
Every day, we are reminded why our efforts to fight for racial justice are so very important, and why we must remain vigilant.
As you are aware, there have been many conversations about the Black Lives Matter movement since its founding in 2012. Its slogan has seeped deeply into our culture and conversation. Despite our familiarity with the saying, “Black Lives Matter,” as workers we must not co-opt the phrase for our own causes.
We should all be aware of the impacts of our words, and the importance of the rallying cry: Black Lives Matter.
“Black Lives Matter” came to prominence after the murder of Trayvon Martin in the United States. It was not intended to take away from the fact that many Black, Indigenous and racialized communities have been demanding that their lives matter for hundreds of years.
Let me be clear – when people say that Black Lives Matter, they are not saying that other lives do not matter. It simply refers to the fact that inequalities in our society, such as employment opportunities, housing, education, health, and violence at the hands of the police, have a greater and negatively disproportionate impact on Black, Indigenous and racialized communities.
When the slogan is appropriated for other causes (by adding words or deleting the word “Black”) it takes away from the importance of the movement and erases the experiences and the critical message Black people are striving to convey.
Even if not intended, it makes a comparison that campaigns, job actions, and working conditions are somehow equal to the countless lives taken due to racism. Both are unfair and wrong, but are completely different.
We must support anti-oppression organizations and listen to impacted communities voicing concerns, solutions and next steps. In order to achieve equality and to ensure all lives really do have equal value in our communities, we must demand that Black, Indigenous and racialized lives are supported, valued and appreciated. Only then will we come together to take on the capitalist system that actually creates and reproduces all forms of inequality that we as a union must fight back against.
There is power in words.
As workers fighting for economic and social justice and equality we can find our own words to describe these battles, while we continue to proudly say that Black Lives Matter.
Collective action toward racial justice
Globally workers, organizations, sports teams, business and unions continue to take direct action and demand racial justice. These demands are not new for many Black, Indigenous and racialized communities and advocacy groups and it’s a breathe of fresh air that these voices are being heard throughout the world.
We have all been proud to see unity from major league sport teams in the WNBA, NBA, MLB, and NHL showing their support through strike action, game stoppage and statements.
These compounding actions build on months of protest, and generations of organizing in opposition to racial oppression including anti-Black racism, colonialism and all other forms of racism.
Our union recognizes that racism is a tool of the capitalist system built and designed to divide people for the profits of a few, and we must never lose focus on that.
Our ability to change this system, and our own lives, comes from our collective power.
Unifor is a union for everyone, not just members, we aim to raise the standards for all workers in Canada. We made demands of the Provincial and Federal Governments to not only recognize key historical days like Emancipation Day, but have also pushed for a Federal Anti-racism Action Plan.
Unifor is not a union that waits for a minimum standard, we create standards, and raise the bar through our collective action and collective bargaining.
Throughout the pandemic we have made racial justice part of everything we produce or every action that we take:
- Mental Health resources that recognize the compounding issue of racism on mental wellness.
- Education, including ongoing seminars on allyship, advocacy for migrant workers, and bystander intervention. Register today.
- We had a National Day of Action for Racial Justice on July 31st where locals across the country held actions of raising funds for local businesses owned by Black, Indigenous and people of colour, and collaborating with local organizations.
- Endorsement of the Call to End Systemic Racism and Redefine Community Safety, recognizing the need to demilitarize the police, reallocate and invest in social systems in communities and the demand to decriminalize health and mental health.
- Hosting public conversations on racism, including Working together for Racial Justice at the Summer Summit.
Unifor’s Regional Equity Committees lead our equity work, and are adjusting to the new normal. I want to thank local unions who support member’s participation in these vital structures, and cannot wait to see the next 3-year goals that these committees will identify and take on.
Once again this past weekend, Unifor members across the country protested the racial injustices that exist in society and continue to demand real, systemic change.
We know that many of you are looking to see what you can do to help. Connect with local Indigenous and BLM organizers to participate in the movement that we are witnessing today, and read more on Unifor’s updated Policy on Racial Justice.
We cannot let this flame of energy and motivation burn out. Labour unions have a responsibility to act when workers are harmed, and it is obvious to us that racism is a life or death issue for many of Canada’s workers.
Unifor Labour Day Activities: Fair Pay Forever
As you know, 1,400 members of Unifor Local 597 working at Dominion (Loblaw Co.) grocery stores in Newfoundland are on strike for a fair contract. They are part of the larger struggle for retail workers who have been on the frontlines of the pandemic while underpaid and disrespected by greedy employers.
In light of this development, 2020 Labour Day activities are going to focus on Unifor’s #FairPayForever campaign to support Local 597 members and exert public pressure on Loblaws to negotiate a fair contract, and on all retail corporations to respect workers.
The following is a list of locations in Ontario where Unifor will host leafletting of Loblaw-owned facilities:
View and share this list online.
If you cannot get to one of these locations on Labour Day, Local Unions are encouraged to print off the attached handbill and organize a small group of members to distribute it to customers of your closest Loblaws/Superstore/Provigo/Zehrs/No Frills/Shoppers Drug Mart property.
Please be sure to follow all COVID-19 safety procedures, including practicing social distancing, wearing masks, gloves and, if possible, face-shields. The handbill also includes a QR code that customers, should they not wish to take a handbill, can scan to visit Unifor’s #FairPayForever website and sign the petition.
If you have any questions, please get in touch with your Area Director.
Updated Unifor Racial Justice Policy
On Friday, June 12, Unifor’s National Executive Board unanimously endorsed the new Racial Justice Policy. Considering the protests against racism globally, we as trade unionists must not merely name the problem, but work every day towards equality. We must reflect on the inherent structures of power that advantage some over others. We must understand the connections between capitalism and racism. We must use the power of love and solidarity to build the better world we know is possible. And we must listen. Listen to our friends, our sisters and brothers, who face racism every single day. We’re asking you to share this policy and to make it shareable in all workplaces and within your local.
Unifor condemns the most recent blatant acts of racism and racially-motivated police violence
Unifor emphatically condemns the most recent blatant acts of racism and racially-motivated police violence in the United States of America.
But we also know racism is not just a problem in the United States. It is also the daily reality faced by Black, Indigenous and other racialized communities here in Canada as well.
Racism continues to govern the lives of Black, Indigenous and racialized peoples, and as we have seen in the case of George Floyd, racism is taking lives.
We must call the killing of George Floyd exactly what it is: anti-Black racism.
As trade unionists, we must not merely name the problem, but work every day towards equality.
We must reflect on the inherent structures of power that advantage some over others. We must understand the connections between capitalism and racism. We must use the power of love and solidarity to build the better world we know is possible. And we must listen. Listen to our friends, our sisters and brothers, who face anti-Black racism every single day.
We must recognize that our union must be one of many catalysts in society engaged in the undoing of discriminatory frameworks and systemic racism and in achieving an equitable society for all.
Today in Canada, the issue of anti-Black racism is also dominating our consciousness as citizens march seeking answers to the questions surrounding the death this week of Regis Korchinski-Paquet in Toronto.
We must also challenge in Canada the systemic racism ingrained in institutions, policies and practices.
It’s why Unifor recently demanded the collection of race-based and Indigenous data around COVID19 because we know this pandemic impacts Canadians differently and is felt disproportionately by racialized communities.
On behalf of Unifor’s more than 315,000 members, we send our condolences and solidarity to all Black communities affected by systemic racism and who have been traumatized by this week’s acts of violence and we join them in demanding accountability and justice.
As a trade union, we can’t ignore the deadly threat racism poses to our Black, Indigenous and racialized sisters and brothers and friends. We must speak up against it.
The trade union movement was built by working people determined to bring justice and equity in our workplaces and in our society. Our greatest progress has come when we have understood the importance of combating discrimination and uniting all workers.
We will not let racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, xenophobia, religious discrimination and oppression divide us because an injury to one is an injury to all. Let us not be silent.
It is not only honourable to unite in solidarity against hate, it is necessary to build a more equitable world. Being an ally matters.
Unifor asks all members, retirees and allies to challenge oppression and inequality through activism and political action, demanding redress for past wrongs.
Our union is proud to work with trade unions across the continent through the North American Solidarity Project to combat racism. Unifor will continue to fight racism at work and in our communities. We will continue to equip members with the necessary tools to combat racism safely through a robust system of education and training. Only through education can people unlearn bias and end the cycle of racism. And only through solidarity will the better world we all seek be built.
Restarting Ontario’s Economy
As the Government of Ontario moves towards reopening certain sectors of the economy, I would like to advise you of Unifor’s recent efforts to protect your rights, your health and safety, and ensure that your needs are met during this next phase of the government’s COVID-19 response.
Specifically, your union has urged the provincial government to:
- provide clear guidance on worker rights and employer responsibilities in all workplaces operating during the pandemic,
- to ensure critical services, notably transit and childcare, are accessible to all workers who need them at every step of the restart program, and
- that workplace restarts only happen in lockstep with sufficient PPE for all workers.
The comprehensive details of our union’s concerns are outlined in a letter sent today to Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips.
Additional resources can be found on Unifor’s COVID-19 site at unifor.org/COVID19, including our Returning to Work from COVID-19 Closure fact sheet and our comprehensive analysis on Communicating Worker Rights and Employer Responsibilities.
Reopening Ontario’s economy cannot mean business as usual. Keeping workers and the public safe is a monumental task for governments and employers, and one that is of grave importance.
There are still many challenges to overcome with the COVID-19 pandemic. I urge all members to stay safe and continue to follow the guidance of public health officials.
Should you have any questions or concerns about workplace health and safety issues as well as access to critical services and PPE, please get in touch with the appropriate member of our staff and leadership team.
Fix EI, before it’s too late!
What do we do when the CERB runs out?
The federal government is investigating making changes to our Employment Insurance (EI) system, before millions of workers run out of the CERB and discover how broken Canada’s EI system really is.
Unifor sent a detailed letter to Minister Qualtrough on May 19, outlining how the federal government can finally fix EI. Read the full letter here:
You can speak up and make sure they make the right decision.
Call Minister Qualtrough’s office today, by clicking the link below:
We can’t go back to yesterday’s broken system.
Unifor thanks nurses for quality care and support during pandemic
Unifor stands with workers across the country and around the globe in recognizing and celebrating the outstanding contributions of nurses through the release of report highlighting contribution of RPNs and LPNs during National Nursing Week May 11 – 17, 2020.
Nurses across the country need our support and solidarity amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Nurses, along with all health care workers, are on the front line, battling the deadly virus each day. The work of RPNs and LPNs is invaluable to providing care for Canadians at all hours of the day.
Unifor, SEIU and CUPE commissioned an independent, academic research study on the role RPNs within high functioning nurse teams in the acute care sector. “The Role of Nurses in High Functioning Teams in Acute Care Settings” report aims to provide a snapshot of the evolving and critical role of RPNs in hospitals.
This report reveals the need for RPNs in our hospital settings. It shows that the integration of RPNs within a health care team is positive and is even more successful when there is organizational support for this structure.
The report further explains how the RPN role in Ontario has changed and expanded over time – both in their educational requirements and scope of practice.
RPNs and LPNs work with Registered Nurses in high-functioning teams to provide patient care in hospitals, long-term care homes and in communities. They receive specialized training and education and continue to show Canadians the vital role they play in our health care system.
As a union, our commitment to improving the working conditions of health care workers has been a priority prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and will be after the pandemic has ended. We need provincial governments to immediately correct the wrongdoings of the past and invest in health care.
National Nurses Week was established to mark the 100th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s contribution to the field of medicine. Nightingale is often credited as the founder of modern nursing, as she is responsible for many of the standards that are required of present-day nurses, including strict handwashing and hygiene practices.
This year the World Health Organization has designated 2020 as the year of the Nurse and of the Midwife.
Here are two immediate actions you can take to show your appreciation and solidarity to nurses this week:
- Throughout this week post our Facebook shareable to highlight the work of RPNs and LPNs
2. Thank a nurse that you know in your life!
Fair Pay Forever – Keep COVID-19 Wage Premiums for Retail Workers
Unifor calls on employers to raise the bar for all food, pharmacy and other essential retail workers by making pandemic wage premiums permanent.
For Canada’s retail workers, a wage increase is long overdue—workers across Canada deserve better than low wages and precarious work.
Sign this petition to help raise the bar for everyone by encouraging CEOs and senior executives at Canada’s largest retailers to make COVID-19 wage premiums permanent.
Workers essential to the functioning of our country report living paycheque to paycheque, struggling to cover rent or food costs, and being unable to get ahead in order to reduce debt, start a family, or become a home-owner.
Hazard pay for workers during the pandemic is the minimum that employers can do during these unprecedented times. Employers must commit to permanently improving the living conditions of workers.
Unions and labour activists have been calling for a living wage and better work protections for Canadians for decades.
It’s time for employers to take bold steps toward a living wage for all.
Share the petition (www.unifor.org/fairpayforever) on your social media to help spread the word.
Take Action – Labour Ministers must step up their responsibilities during COVID-19
During pandemics, it is frontline workers who keep society running—providing healthcare, access to goods and services, transportation, telecommunications, and so much more. More needs to be done to protect the health and safety of these working heroes.
Workers are speaking out about the dangers of a lack of access to protective equipment, unaddressed concerns about prevention plans, and the mental health repercussions of being on the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19.
Now more than ever before, the voice of workers must be heard, listened to, and acted upon. But so far, labour ministers have been missing in action.
It’s the responsibility of provincial and federal Ministers of Labour to uphold and enforce safe working environments. Will you help us hold them to account?
Let’s tell Canada’s Ministers of Labour to support and enforce the right to refuse unsafe work without repercussion.
Sign the petition here: unifor.org/safeworknow
Share this post to your Facebook to show support: https://tinyurl.com/y9eusjn2
Unifor celebrates Personal Support Worker Day
Unifor celebrates personal support workers (PSWs) in Ontario, and Continuing Care Assistants (CCAs) in Nova Scotia on May 19, Personal Support Worker Day.
Across Canada these workers provide the highest quality patient-centred care every day in our communities, our homes, and in long-term care homes and hospitals.
“PSWs and CCAs are incredible caregivers who make sure our loved ones are healthy and safe,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “This pandemic has further exposed the unjust working conditions these workers face every day due to insufficient government investment and continuous cost cutting. These workers deserve better as they continue to serve our most vulnerable despite being overworked and undervalued by governments and employers.”
In the years prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Unifor has raised the alarm on the crisis in long-term care where many PSWs and CCAs work. The pandemic has shed more light on the sector’s deteriorating working conditions. PSWs and CCAs have faced increasing workloads and have often work short-staffed due in part to the sector’s unfair practices and below inflation wage increases.
For many years, Unifor has specifically called on the Ontario government to address the issues facing PSWs. The union has long advocated for a regulatory minimum of four hours per patient as the standard of care in long-term care homes.
“The pandemic must serve as a wake-up call to Doug Ford that ignoring the risks PSWs face are extreme the crisis in long-term care can no longer be tolerated,” said Naureen Rizvi, Unifor Ontario Regional Director. “The health of Ontarians relies on the government immediately developing a holistic strategy that attracts more PSWs back to the industry, regulates minimum hours of care and increases wages beyond the pandemic pay premium. These workers have shown their value time and time again. Now Doug Ford must show them the respect that they deserve.”
In Nova Scotia, Unifor joined with five other unions to advocate for better protection for CCAs, including providing the proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to all health care workers.
“COVID-19 has revealed what Unifor has been saying for years about long-term care being under-funded and under-supported by government,” said Linda MacNeil, Unifor Atlantic Regional Director. “Despite the Nova Scotia government having commissioned an Expert Panel on Long-Term Care, to which Unifor contributed recommendations, and the findings of that panel in early 2019 have not been corrected due to the lack of urgency by McNeil’s government. Workers continue to be over-worked and underpaid, recruitment and retention issues persist.”
Dias calls it an embarrassment that provincial governments have not acted on pleas from long-term care workers, their unions, employers and other advocacy groups.
Personal Support Workers and Continuing Care Assistants are vital members of the patient care team. Their hard work and professionalism is critical to and appreciated by residents and clients. The union will continue to call on governments and employers to provide adequate personal protective equipment, maintain sufficient staffing levels and give fair compensation for long-term care workers during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
Asian and South Asian Heritage Month
May 1, 2020
May marks Asian and South Asian Heritage Month in Canada, an important time to celebrate the contributions and achievements Asian and South Asian Canadians have made to our society—enriching our culture, politics, diversity, and everyday life. During this time, we also reflect on the perseverance and activism of Asian Canadians who’ve shaped Canada into what it is today.
This month is of high importance during the COVID-19 pandemic, where incidents of anti-Asian racism has surged. Those who are or are perceived to be Chinese or Asian, are experiencing stigma, racism, and prejudice because of the continued spread of misinformation related to coronavirus. As cases of COVID-19 are increasingly reported, so are cases of racist behavior where people are placing blame on communities and individuals who have nothing to do with the outbreak. As the union for everyone, Unifor is committed to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion and to breaking down barriers and stereotypes.
The struggles of people of Asian descent parallels stories of resilience and prosperity—from Canada’s immigration surge during B.C.’s gold rush, to the Chinese Exclusion Head Tax, to the internment of Japanese people during World War II, to today, where Asian Canadians continue to thrive despite anti-Asian racism.
Many South Asian community organizations have shown true solidarity during rough times by continually giving back. Despite the racist history many South Asian people face, and continue to face, in Canada, communities have continued to persevere through racist policies that excluded South Asian people from voting, participating in political office, jury duty, professions in public service jobs and labour in public works. One such story is that of the Komagata Maru, a vessel transporting 376 passengers that was denied admission into Canada as a way to restrict immigration.
Asian and South Asian Canadians have overcome great adversity to live here and generations of hard work has transformed communities and helped make Canada prosperous. During May, we celebrate these achievements and recommit to our pledge to combat racism.
Canada’s legacy of anti-Asian racism is still rampant. As advocates for human rights, we still have sobering lessons to learn about racism, and ways we can elevate the fight for an anti-racist Canada. Collectively, we will learn how to do better and inspire others to do the same.
Read the full statement on our website.
Download and share the social media image.
Unifor celebrates the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia: In 2020, Shout Your Pride!
May 17, 2020
Unifor marks the 2020 International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOT) with love and solidarity for people of all sexual and gender minorities.
Despite the challenging and unprecedented times we are living through, Unifor remains resolved to continue the fight against homophobia and transphobia.
As we resurface after this crisis and begin to build a better world, that world must do away with the inequalities and oppression that lead to discrimination.
The LGBTQ community in Canada is disproportionately affected by the economic consequences of the pandemic because of historic and structural oppression that cause more queer and trans people to live in homelessness and work in low-wage and precarious jobs.
Trans people experience significant barriers in access to health care in general and have less access to primary care physicians in particular, a problem amplified by this pandemic.
These barriers can and must be broken down.
In difficult times, we must protect each other. We cannot allow the struggles of our sisters, brothers, and all workers to be neglected. Instead, stories of workers from equity seeking groups should be celebrated and shared!
IDAHOT and Pride will look different this year. Parades, picnics, and community gatherings of all kinds are being cancelled, postponed and pushed down the line. Local Pride Committee events and meetings have been cancelled but that will not stop us from connecting with each other and having our voices heard. For now, we must find new ways of celebrating and building community from a distance.
Unifor encourages LGBTQ members to Shout Your Pride in 2020.
This year for IDAHOT, Unifor encourages local unions, committees and members to create original digital posts, memes, and videos to counter homophobia and transphobia and to share positive stories from queer and trans members.
Post these stories online to share with your members, and use the hashtag #UniforPride. Send videos to firstname.lastname@example.org
Read the full statement on our website.
Join the Online Day of Action to Fix Long-Term Care!
See event details and RSVP on the Ontario Health Coalition Facebook event here!
COVID-19 is spreading exponentially in Ontario’s long-term care homes. The homes already suffered critical staffing shortages and inadequate levels of care before COVID-19. Now the situation is an emergency.
The Ford government has made improvements to testing, and their recent announcement to improve wages for frontline workers was a huge step forward to improving long-term care for workers and residents. We need to make sure these wage increases become permanent and get Doug Ford to address other systemic issues in long-term care.
The conditions of care for our loved ones are the conditions of work for the staff. We have a chance to make real progress now.
HOW CAN YOU JOIN THE ONLINE DAY OF ACTION?
- Print the poster attached to this email, or simply hold it up on a computer, tablet or other device.
- Take a picture of yourself with the poster.
- On Friday, May 1, post your photo on the Day of Action event page.
- If you’re a Twitter user, tweet your photo using the hashtag #FixLTCFord and tag @FordNation.
- Not sure how to share your photo on social media? Email it to email@example.com and we’ll share it for you!
It takes just minutes to participate but can make all the difference for residents and workers in long-term care.
We are asking Doug Ford for:
- Immediately improved access to PPE
- Permanently improved wages + full time work
- 4-hr minimum care standard
- Better infection control
- No more for-profit care
Invite your friends and family. Spread the word and let’s make senior care a priority well after the pandemic is over.
Ontario Regional Director
TAKE ACTION: RALLY to Stop Doug Ford’s attack on public health care
|Dear Unifor members,
Our health care services in Ontario are under attack from Doug Ford’s PC Government. This government introduced Bill 74 “The People’s Health Care Act” – a plan to privatize and cut public health care services in Ontario.
If passed, Bill 74 will create a centralized Ontario Health ‘Super Agency’ that would open the door to the privatization of our health care system.
This agency would be responsible for managing health care services and the widespread cuts across the system that includes hospitals, long-term care, home care, community care, mental health, health clinics and more.
Clearly, there’s a lot at stake.
That’s why the Ontario Health Coalition along with Unifor and other coalition partners have organized a rally at Queen’s Park on April 30 to protect our public health care. Thousands are planning to attend from across the province, and we need you to stand with us to show Doug Ford how serious we are about protecting public health care.
Locals are encouraged to rent buses. Unifor National will reimburse Locals for the cost of the buses plus the on-board bagged lunches. There will be no Leave of Absence or any other expenses reimbursed by the National Union.
Local Unions are encouraged to inform their Area Director or Retiree Chapter Chair of their Bus Arrangements so that Unifor National can assist you in populating your buses. All buses should arrive at Queens Park no later than 11 am on April 30. Unifor members and retirees are to gather at the John A MacDonald statue for 11:30 am.
If you have any questions, please contact the following people:
Retirees: Barb Dolan, Director of Retirees at Barb.Dolan@unifor.org
Local Unions: Your Area Director
Others: Josh Coles, Unifor Political Action Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org
As an Ontarian and as a union activist, we need you to join us to protect our health care system. As our province faces Doug Ford’s threats of funding cuts and privatization of health care, it is now more important than ever that we make our voices heard: Public health care is not for sale!
We can do this. We have done it before. But we need your help.
Please join us for 12:00 p.m. on April 30 at Queen’s Park and protect public health care.
Unifor launches boycott of Mexican-made GM vehicles
January 25, 2019
TORONTO – Unifor has launched a boycott of Mexican-made General Motors (GM) vehicles to protest the automaker’s plans to slash Canadian and American manufacturing while expanding production in Mexico.
“GM is arrogant enough to think it can rob Canada of jobs without repercussions,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. “GM is making a choice to increase manufacturing in Mexico while it abandons communities that have supported it for generations, but make no mistake Canadian and American consumers also have a choice.”
The boycott call is specific to vehicles manufactured in Mexico to send a message to GM that its customers will not be party to the exploitation and betrayal of workers.
At a time of record profits, GM plans to throw thousands of Canadians out of work with the closure of its top-quality Oshawa plant and four U.S. facilities while the company expands in Mexico to take advantage of low pay and a lack of human and labour rights.
In 2014, GM confirmed plans to spend $US 5 billion to double production in Mexico. If GM closes Oshawa, by 2020 the company will have cut annual production in Canada by 418,000 vehicles (67 per cent), while increasing annual production in Mexico by 304,000 vehicles (47 per cent) since before the announced Mexican expansion.
“GM is doubling down on the exploitation of Mexican workers before CUSMA comes into effect,” Dias said at a Toronto media conference. “Oshawa Assembly is a high-performing, viable plant that Greedy Motors is walking away from solely to inflate profits by paying Mexican workers poverty wages.”
Unifor continues to ask consumers to show their support by purchasing North American union-made vehicles, including GM products (a list of can be found here). The union also debuted a new television commercial that outlines how to identify where your vehicle is made through its VIN number. For more information visit SaveOshawaGM.ca.
“We’re asking all Canadians to take this stand in defense of our jobs and in defiance of international corporations that seek to raise profits by lowering the bar for workers,” said Dias.
For more information, please contact Unifor Communications Representative Kathleen O’Keefe at email@example.com or 416-896-3303 (cell).
GM Update and Action- January 24, 2019
January 23, 2019
Sisters and brothers,
This morning, members of our union began a direct action at General Motors Headquarters in Oshawa, Ontario. We are sending a clear message with this action – General Motors must reverse its decision to close the Oshawa Assembly Plant.
To members in the region, I invite you to join us. The ongoing event is being held at 1908 Colonel Sam Dr, Oshawa, ON L1H 8P7. Please reach out to Nena Bogdanovich, National Representative to arrange to join the action at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are unable to attend, there are more ways to participate and show your solidarity.
Start by sending a message to CEO Mary Barra and General Motors. Tell GM that to sell here, they must build here.
Then, tune in today at 2:15 p.m. ET, for an update from our rally in Oshawa. This will be livestreamed on Unifor’s Facebook Page.
Our union is a bold, unapologetic force when it comes to defending workers’ rights. We will not allow GM to trample on this community, and leave disaster in the wake of the company’s greedy decision.
I am taking action to Save Oshawa GM. I hope to see you in Oshawa, or see your support online.
For more information on the #SaveOshawaGM campaign visit SaveOshawaGM.ca.
GM UPDATE- JANUARY 17, 2019
Unifor activists shut down D-J Composites
September 26, 2018
GANDER – Hundreds of union activists and supporters have turned the tables on the managers and scabs at a Gander Aerospace facility where 30 Unifor members have been on a picket line for 646 days, effectively locking them out.
“We have had enough of D-J Composites breaking labour laws and treating our members with contempt,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor’s National President. “It is time to take a stand for not only our members but for all workers across Canada.”
D-J Engineering, based in Kansas State owns D-J Composites. The company has been found guilty of bad faith bargaining twice.
“We are so happy to see the support shown by union members across the country who have come to Gander to stand with us,” said Ignatius Oram, Unifor Local 597 Unit Chair. “This American employer thinks they can bust the union, but we won’t ever quit.”
The employer has been using scabs to prolong the dispute while 30 Newfoundland workers face a third Christmas on a picket line in the snow.
“Today is a wake-up call, D-J’s illegal bargaining tactics have one goal. To not reach an agreement and hope we go away,” said Lana Payne, Unifor Atlantic Regional Director. “D-J Composite you are not in Kansas anymore.”
This is the longest lockout on the province’s history and the Premier and his cabinet continue to ignore the fact that a U.S. company is trampling on the rights of workers in Gander.
“We have all come here stand with these workers because when one of us is attacked we are all under attack,” said Renaud Gagne, Quebec Director who reminded supporters that Unifor’s 315 thousand members are standing in solidarity with locked out workers at Local 597.
For weeks Unifor has been running a social media campaign and newspaper ads, asking the public to write and call the Premier and the CEO of D-J Composites to demand a fair deal.
“Today they have no choice but to listen,” said Dias.
Photos are available for publication at this link.
For more information or to arrange interviews in on-site or by phone, FaceTime, or Skype, in English or French, please contact Unifor Director of Communications Natalie Clancy at Natalie.Clancy@unifor.org or 416-707-5794 (cell).
NAFTA Social Media Support
|Sisters and Brothers,
As NAFTA negotiations come down to the wire Andrew Scheer and the federal Conservatives are increasing the call for an immediate deal – no matter the cost.
Today in Washington, National President Jerry Dias recorded a video message asking Scheer what he is prepared to sacrifice in order to appease the U.S. as he called for political unity on the trade front.
Please help to get this important message out by sharing and liking this video on social media.