Congratulations Unifor on our 5-year anniversary celebrating 315,000 strong. Unifor was created to be a larger force in the struggled to protect and grow social progress for all Canadians. Unifor continues to be very engaged in Canada’s political and social environment right across the country. Like our predecessor unions CCP & CAW we never settled on being strictly a service union. Unifor leadership recognizes the struggles in the workplace are not isolated from the struggles workers and their families face most every day in Canadian society.
The pass year Unifor frustration with the bullying and lack of democracy for Canadian Toronto Transit & Hotel workers by American union directors resulted in Unifor leaving the Canadian Labour Council. Separating from the CLC on January 16, 2018 was a very difficult decision by Unifor’s executive. Canadian Council reaffirmed this decision, knowing that the American unions were not honouring Article 4 of the CLC constitution. Workers in theory have the right to seek assistance from the CLC when a local union wants to leave its parent union. Instead the American union seizes the local assets, fires the local executive and creates unfair procedures that allow 10 members of a foreign union to block thousands of Canadian members from leaving. Just imagine an American director selecting your convention delegates rather than you directly choosing your own representation?
The time for foreign union control in Canada is over. Unifor recognizes the importance and is highly engaged in International worker solidarity. Witness our role in helping legitimate Mexican unions deal with fake corporate unions. We need laws forbidding foreign unions from draining Canadian assets. Unifor was not born out of silence and will not play nice for the sake of unrealistic solidarity when Canadian workers democratic rights are ignored by the CLC.
The Unifor Research Department has produced an updated Products and Service directory for members and the public who want to support Unifor represented businesses. Go to unifor.org/proudlyunifor.
Are you concerned about your Health, Safety and Environment? Stay up to date with the New Unifor-Health, safety and Environment e-newsletter at unifor.org/subscribe.
Unifor published its Local Union Task Force final report on building strong local unions. A full copy of the report can be found at unifor.org/lutf. Building a stronger union starts with Education. Check out the Unifor Education program online at unifor.org/education. Unifor has produced a New Member Orientation Kit. Visit unifor.org/yourunion. In a financial sense our local 1285 is an example of a strong Unifor local. We are able to provide service throughout the year from a locally owed debt free building made up of members from many diverse workplaces. The National has long encouraged small locals to merge with other locals giving them the resources to defend their members. Arbitration costs as the final step in the grievance procedure is not cheap. Unfortunately, many small locals do not become part of a bigger identity because of their leaderships desire to remain king of an ant hill rather than a part of a larger organization.
National Unifor President Jerry Dias addressed Canadian council in Halifax. He warned Unifor members to be aware of the resurgence of conservative forces. If we are leadership then we are not afraid to let people know our opinions. “Presently we have high hope for the B.C. Coalition NDP & Green government bringing about Electoral Reform through a B.C. Provincial referendum”. (Let’s not forget the Liberals broken promise on making our Federal Elections Democratic)
“We need anti-scab laws across the country”, stated Jerry Dias as he told us about the American Compass Minerals scabbing the Goodrich workers with New Brunswick replacement salt miners. The employer had no incentive to bargain with striking workers. The former Provincial Conservative government passed laws allowing scabs to steal your work and the successive Liberal government never objected. Unifor warned the company and province they would blockade the one road in and out with our members until it was resolved. The Courts said we had to leave but instead it became one huge community event, an outdoor summer festival so to speak. The scabs were anxious to leave by bus but the OPP never objected to the walk of shame. Our Unifor President and members marched them out of the largest salt mine in the world in front of the families that suffered and sacrificed during that strike. The power of solidarity and a Union called Unifor that will take on these battles.
I have spoken about a National Pharma care system in Canada before and Unifor is continuing to make it an election issue if the Liberal Federal government does not move on this. Canada is the only country in the world with socialized health care but not universal drug coverage. As a result, we have much higher drug costs (in the $billions); Canadians and our health care system is negatively impacted. Google price differences between New Zealand for example and Canada.
From Unifor perspective NAFTA has been poor for Canada. We lost our industrial base our sovereignty and probably our National Soul & Identity. As for Auto we lost four full assembly plants since we signed NAFTA and went from the 4th largest Auto producer in the world to the 11th. Let’s see what the Federal government is prepared to give up by the time this report is published. For a full account of Recommendations & Resolutions discussed and passed at council please visit www.unifor.org