Delegates: Jaspal Brar, Danny Price, Vito Beato, Jessica Ridgwell, Wendy Oliver
The Ontario Regional Council was held in Toronto from November 30 to December 1, 2018. The council started with an Aboriginal welcome and acknowledgement.
Naureen Rizvi, Unifor Ontario Regional Director, presented her report on the events of the year in Ontario. Naureen spoke about all the rallies over the year in support of locked out Unifor members in Goderich, Thunder Bay and Gander Newfoundland.
Andrea Horwath, Leader, Ontario New Democratic Party:
Andrea spoke to the delegates about protecting jobs in Oshawa and fighting to protect all good paying jobs in the province. “Gm did not build Oshawa, Oshawa built GM. Your president Jerry Dias is not backing down, you are not backing down and I’m standing with you!
Tracey Ramsey, MPP for Essex:
Tracey spoke to the delegates to inspire leader to hold the government accountable to keep our jobs in Canada. Tracey also described the long fight against TPP and asks, why do we keep signing bad trade deals and expecting trade to increase when we keep seeing our trade decrease.
Linda Bogle-Mienzer, 2nd Vice President, Bermuda Public Service Union
Linda challenged delegates to have an uncomfortable and reflective discussion about looking at ourselves. How we need to better understand each other and realize at times we could be biased without even knowing about it.
Maria de Lourdes Zea Rosales, Electricians Union and New Workers Central, Mexico:
Maria spoke to the delegates highlighting the importance of workers organizing against Donald Trump across borders, in the face of job losses, work becoming more precarious and working buying power falling to alarming levels.
Jerry Dias, President of Unifor:
President Jerry Dias opened his speech with recognizing December 6th as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. He said we must do more to end this type of violence and each year he participates in supporting the Halton Women’s Shelter by taking part in “Walking in High Heels.” Jerry said it is the 25th anniversary of the Women’s Advocate Program and our union has 375 Women’s Advocates who assist our members.
Jerry Dias spoke of the gains made under Bill 148 for the working class people and how the Ford government repealed most of the gains with Bill 47. Ford said that $14.00 an hour is a job killer and yet since January 2018 there were 81,000 jobs created. He said the first of Ford as Premier was to attack the most vulnerable in our society.
Jerry said our union went to Goderich and how the scabs were walked out, he spoke of the members at the Thunder Bay Port Credit Health Centre who had been out on the picket line and the employer had refused to negotiate with them. In the end our union fenced off the clinic shutting down the clinic. Then in Gander where the members were on strike going on their third year, our union showed up and said we’ve had enough. We took down the American flag and put up our Unifor Flag. He said “we can do anything we want because we have the power.” Jerry met with the premier Dwight Ball and told he hasn’t anything to help the workers. He told him to recall the legislature and impose binding arbitration. Jerry then met with the media and told them the premier is recalling legislature and is imposing binding arbitration (the premier hadn’t said he would at the time).
Jerry Dias spoke of the G.M. announcement saying they have violated the collective agreement and that they are going to have a product or 2019 will be the worst year for G.M. He spoke of how he received a call from G.M. about wanting to have a conference call on Sunday November 25th 2018. He then gets a call from CBC asking if GM is going to close down the Oshawa Plant, Jerry told them he hasn’t anything from G.M. At 4.00pm on Sunday Jerry is on the conference call with G.M. and told what he heard from CBC. G.M. said they wanted to share news with the union. Jerry told him how disappointing it is to hear some from G.M. leak out information to the media and our members have to hear it from the media first. Jerry called Premier Ford who said he had contacted G.M. and was told there’s nothing anyone can do and that ship has already sailed. Ford then started telling the media that the union is raising false hopes for the workers, the union is not sending false hopes it’s giving hope because that is what leadership is supposed to do. Jerry said he is telling G.M. that they violated the contractual obligation which states there won’t be any plant closing during the term of the collective agreement. He said he will keep fighting to keep the Oshawa Plant open, saying G.M. needs to live up their part in the agreement otherwise 2019 is not going to be a good year for G.M.
Unifor Statement on Human Rights Day – 2018 (December 10, 2018)
This year marks the 70th anniversary that the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Human Rights Day commemorates the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document that states that human rights are not the preserve of any one nation, race, or gender but that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
Unifor is committed to advocating, defending and furthering human rights for all. The union’s social justice fund is one of many ways in which Unifor provides solidarity to defenders of human rights. The union’s social justice fund engages in this vital work in Canada and across the globe. The fund promotes and supports the role of trade unions and workers groups in their efforts to strengthen democracy, promote equitable development, and contribute to poverty reduction, social justice and education reform.
The union’s Human Rights Department has been actively promoting human rights campaigns in workplaces, the local unions and communities. Most recently, Unifor conducted an equity audit over nine months during 2016 and 2017 and included semi-structured interviews with 470 local unions across the country, and asked questions about the diversity of local membership, the executive committee, stewards, and bargaining committees.
While the union is aware that representation gaps exist, the purpose of the audit was to understand the specific barriers better to overcome our collective challenges. The union is currently implementing the recommendations made from the national equity audit report. Members are encouraged to read the full equity audit report and learn more about Unifor’s findings and action plan. Visit the link for full report https://www.unifor.org/sites/default/files/documents/document/equity-audit-report-en-web-final_20170730.pdf
Attaining human rights for all will not come easy. But if we actively incorporate promoting human rights in our daily lives, it can be attainable. Members can become active human rights defenders by:
- Ensure your local union participates in Unifor Human Rights training.
- On December 10, use Unifor’s social media shareableto highlight the union’s human rights work.
- Read the full Unifor equity audit report and promote the report to your members.
International Human Rights Day is a reminder that inequity, intolerance, discrimination, exclusion, and hatred threaten us all. It is a reminder of our shared humanity and of the necessity of standing up not just for ourselves, but for those most in need. Wherever they are challenged, it is our responsibility to offer a collective response.
Delegates to the 2018 Ontario Regional Council made it clear that they represent a bold movement to defend workers’ rights in the province.
“We are going to move forward to implement a working peoples’ agenda in this province and stop Ford in his tracks,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “If it’s not our role to lead and give hope, to fight and fix a wrong, then why are we here?”
Operating in opposition to a Conservative government that already rolled back hard-won rights, Unifor leadership and speakers at the Council emphasized the strength of members to organize and win. In a moving show of solidarity and commitment to action, members unanimously passed a resolution to strengthen mobilization efforts in support of Local 222 members and all workers affected by GM’s threat to close the Oshawa facility.
Fight for Workers’ Rights
In response to the conservative rollback of workers’ rights and minimum wage through Bill 47, delegates adopted a provincial bargaining strategy to bargain for decent work.
As a result of the bargaining directive a $15 minimum wage, fair scheduling, paid personal emergency leave and equal pay for equal work will be presented at every Unifor bargaining table.
To mark the passing of the recommendation, the more than 900 ORC delegates marched to the Minster of Labour’s office to announce the new program.
“We are giving notice to employers– that you may have hid behind this government and pushed for lower standards for your workers, but we will bargain back those labour standards,” said Naureen Rizvi, Unifor Ontario Regional Director.
Diversity and Community
The two-day Council was preceded by a provincial President’s Meeting, industry council meetings and ORC standing committee meetings, all coming together to reflect and plan for the year ahead.
At the Presidents’ Meeting, ORC Chairperson Scott McIlmoyle led an exciting discussion about current issues and upcoming challenges for local unions, saying, “the year ahead presents a challenge for Unifor members from every corner of this province. But looking around this room I know that together we will win.”
A Young Workers’ Conference also welcomed more than 50 young activists for the day before Council. During the council, members also had the opportunity to attend a round-table discussion on human rights, racism and Islamophobia in Ontario. Over caucuses, delegates were able to learn more about the work of Unifor’s five equity committees. Following council adjournment, an allies caucus brought together activists working in this various realms.
A Strong Leadership Team
Elections were held for ten positions at the Ontario Regional Council and the following members joined the ORC executive and standing committees: We are pleased to say that Unifor Local 1285 Delegate Jessica Ridgwell was acclaimed for one of the positions.
- Stephanie Haskell (Local 938), Vice Chairperson
- Carly Finch (Local 87-M), Member at Large
- Jamie Martinez (Local 1090), Member at Large
- Jim Fling (Local 34-O), Member at Large
- Sandy Knight (Local 584), Health & Safety Committee
- Dharshan Rajasinham (Local 6006), Young Workers Committee
- Kelly Janes (Local 1120), EI/CPP Committee
- Dan Cushenan (Local 504), EI/CPP Committee
- Kathleen Brooks (Local 8300), Workers’ Compensation Committee
- Jessica Ridgwell (Local 1285), Employee and Family Assistance Committee
The various Ontario region council committees gave their reports on the years events that they have been a part of or have worked on.
Women’s Committee report:
The committee’s presentation displayed the prevalence of violence against women and what, we as individuals and as a union, must do to put an end to it. In Ontario alone this year 54 women have been killed by gender based violence.
AWOC committee Report: Stop Racial Carding.
Members passed a resolution vowing to strive against the discriminatory practice of carding and racial profiling and to further the conversation on racism and islamophobia.
We’re happy to share the recap video of the O.R.C. with you by visiting this link ;