Unifor National

Members and Youth Enjoy Unifor Day with the Argos

On Saturday night, as the Toronto Argonauts took on the Montreal Alouettes, the stands in Toronto were filled with union members and youth from across the city, sponsored to attend by Unifor.

The Unifor Community Day with the Argonauts was a celebration of family, solidarity, and sport.
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Random drug and alcohol testing ruling violates worker’s rights

Fort McMurray – Unifor says an Alberta Court of Appeal decision upholding random drug and alcohol testing of the union’s members at Suncor oil sands operations in Alberta is a gross violation of worker’s rights.

“This ruling supports an invasive and degrading policy that violates the fundamental rights of workers,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. “Safety is always our first priority but we know that random drug testing does not reduce accidents or improve safety.”

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Canada’s largest union Unifor donates $500K to Hurricane Irma aid

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

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

Unifor’s donation will provide direct assistance and emergency relief where it is needed most, in the hardest hit Caribbean countries.

“The Canadian Red Cross wants to thank Unifor for their support towards relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Irma,” said Conrad Sauvé, President and CEO of the Canadian Red Cross, in a press release.

“This generous donation will help assist many families who are in need following this devastating category five hurricane.”

In addition to the Social Justice Fund donation the Canadian Red Cross has also set up a portal for individual Unifor members to donate directly at www.redcross.ca/HurricaneIrma/Unifor. Unifor is also challenging other unions to donate to help the Canadian Red Cross in this humanitarian effort.

“In this great time of need we will work together once again to make a difference for the people impacted by Hurricane Irma,” said Unifor Director of Human Rights and International Mohamad Alsadi, in a press release.

The Unifor Social Justice Fund is a registered charity, maintained by contributions from Unifor employers negotiated during collective bargaining, for more information visit unifor.org/sjf

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing more than 310,000 workers in every major area of the economy.


NAFTA Took Good Canadian Jobs and Made Them Bad Ones in Mexico

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

By now you have been hearing about NAFTA and the renegotiating of that trade deal. Our National President, Jerry Dias, is at these negotiations.

He has been asked by the Canadian Government to be there to give a voice to the Labour movement and what we, as workers, need from this deal.

I have attached a letter below from Jerry that I feel you should read, just to give you a little more back ground about what your National Leadership is doing for you.

NAFTA Took Good Canadian Jobs And Made Them Bad Ones In Mexico

The deal was written to help corporations, not the working people that produce the products.

08/30/2017

HuffPost Canada

Jerry Dias, National President, Unifor

After a first round of negotiations for a renewed North American Free Trade Agreement two weeks ago in Washington, where all sides mostly outlined their opening positions, talks move this weekend to the place where much of the problem with the deal lies: Mexico.

When NAFTA was signed nearly 23 years ago, we were told the deal would lift up Mexican workers with new factories providing good jobs, fight poverty and build strong communities.

Well, it hasn’t happened.

The sad truth is that poverty has not gone down in the years since. Also, the average automaker in Mexico made just $3.95 (US) an hour in 2007, with many making much less. They cannot afford to buy the cars they make, let alone provide a decent standard of living for their families.

The deal was written to help corporations, not the working people that produce the products.

The reason NAFTA has not had the impact that was promised is simple. The deal was written to help corporations, not the working people that produce the products. It was written to bolster investors, not communities. Its primary purpose was always to encourage commerce, not to fight poverty.

In the neoliberal thinking of the day, helping corporations, bolstering investors and encouraging commerce were assumed to help create good jobs for working people.

Trickle down, someone called it. And it never happened, just as the labour movement and progressive groups in all three NAFTA countries predicted.

I have never hated to be so right before.

Ginnette Riquelme / Reuters Farmers from different states, holding a banner, take part in a march against the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) talks in front of the Angel of Independence Monument in Mexico City, Mexico July 26, 2017. The banner reads “Mexico is better without NAFTA.”

As poverty and wages have remained stagnant and purchasing power has declined,human rights abuses have mounted, as documented by the U.S. State Department’s Human Rights Report, which concluded in 2014 that the Mexican government did not consistently protect workers’ rights. In 2015, Human Rights Watch found that, “The dominance of pro-management unions continues to obstruct legitimate labour organizing activity.”

It is of little surprise, then, that there has been a steady flow of auto plants to Mexico for many years now. In just the last five years, nine of 11 new auto factories announced in North America were in Mexico. And while 3.6 million vehicles were built in Mexico in 2016, only 1.6 million were sold there.

Mexico’s 900,000 auto manufacturing jobs represent 45 per cent of the entire North American industry, compared with 125,000 jobs in Canada, or six per cent. Since 1993, employment in Canada at the Detroit Three has dropped by more than half, from 52,000 in 1993 to just 23,000 last year. Along the way, our automotive trade deficit with Mexico tripled from 2008 to reach $12 billion.

We need to be clear about one thing: none of this imbalance or pain to Canadian workers is the fault of workers in Mexico.

Faced with grinding poverty, few opportunities and a border that is increasingly becoming shut, no one can blame a young mother or father for taking whatever work they can, however poorly paying or exploitative it might be.

We need to be clear about one thing: none of this imbalance or pain to Canadian workers is the fault of workers in Mexico.

At the end of the day, workers need to put food on the table and provide for their families. Critics of NAFTA understand that, and we are fully aware of who is to blame here.

It’s the corporations that exploit the desperation of such workers, taking good jobs in Canada and the United States, and making them bad jobs in Mexico. It’s the investors who, through their favouring of stocks in companies who do this sort of despicable thing, encourage such behaviour.

And it’s the negotiators of such trade deals — and NAFTA isn’t alone in this — that pave the way for corporations to play off workers in different countries against another in a race to the bottom.

We won’t stop corporations from chasing lower costs, nor investors from chasing rising stock prices.

But we can stop negotiating deals that make it all too easy to drive down wages and working conditions in the name of free trade. As the talks open this weekend in Mexico, that is the message we need negotiators to hear.

In Solidarity,

 

Mark Mathewson
President
Unifor, local 848
Shell, Sarnia, Ontario
(519)466-1987
mark@mathewson.co


Trudeau Teams Up With Canadian Labor in Push for Nafta Reforms

In Mexico City’s Nafta talks last week, few Canadians had a higher profile than Jerry Dias.

He spoke to a labor rally and a conference. He met at length with Canada’s chief negotiator, Steve Verheul, over red wine and bar nuts. He held court with reporters regularly.

Yet Dias is no government minister or aide. He’s the head of Unifor, Canada’s largest private-sector union, and hates the North American Free Trade Agreement, whose second round of negotiations concluded Sept. 5. And he’s at the forefront of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s renegotiation strategy — a reminder that, like Trump, Trudeau has his own economic interests and domestic politics to cater to. That means giving labor a prominent seat after Trump spurred new Nafta talks.

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