The federal election of 2004 has come and gone, and left a sense of unfinished business for many voters. This is often the case when voting results in a minority government, but more so when there is not a clear balance of power. While Paul Martin’s Liberals get a chance to form the government by virtue of having the most seats, Jack Layton’s NDP came up just short of the number needed to make a coalition – informal or otherwise – a possibility. And, despite gains for both parties, it seems unlikely the Liberals will be looking to either the Bloc Québécois or the Conservatives as partners. Would it have been different with electoral reform? That depends on what kind of formula was employed, but it is certain that some nature of reform is needed. For the NDP to receive only 19 seats (6.2%) with almost 16% of the popular vote is an injustice. On the other hand, it is worth noting that more than half of the MPs elected did not receive the majority of votes in the ridings that elected them. UFCW Canada supports proportional representation, or PR, endorsed by the NDP, but it is clear that there are many complicating issues that need to be addressed in the quest for electoral reform. One national newspaper columnist has even suggested that voters be paid $10.00 for exercising their franchise, on the theory that it would encourage the young and less-affluent to vote while not providing any real incentive to the wealthy power brokers. This suggestion recalls a story told by a longtime UFCW Canada organizer, now retired, Brother Abe Peters. Abe tells of the 1949 federal election in which he was first eligible to vote, during which, he says, the Liberal party machine in Montréal offered him $10.00 to vote – as many times as he could. Abe managed to cast 11 ballots during the course of the day, but when he went to collect his $110.00, they turned him down, citing the fact that they knew he had voted CCF all 11 times! Thankfully, those days are behind us. One thing is clear in the results of election 2004: Canadian voters have said they are not happy with the current government, and equally that the alternatives before them are not the answer. Paul Martin’s task will be to build new alliances with others in Parliament, in order to set and keep to an agenda that reflects the needs and desires of the average working people of Canada. He can start by continuing to follow the socially-responsible lead of Canada’s New Democrats, and to recall Parliament sooner rather than later. As Jack Layton and the NDP have repeatedly said, "Let’s get started!" When it comes to labour issues, both the NDP and the Bloc are ready and willing to take on the issues with the Liberals, and that will only help Canada’s working people. In solidarity, Michael J. Fraser National Director
Just a week following the disastrous flooding in Peterborough, Ont., organizers announced a fundraising concert at the city’s Memorial Centre on August 6, 2004, with a line-up featuring the legendary Rompin’ Ronnie Hawkins – thanks, in large part to UFCW Canada’s contribution as title sponsor for the event. “After the success we experienced with our involvement raising funds for the Leukemia Research Fund of Canada at the Mariposa Folk Festival earlier this month (see page 7), we saw an opportunity, through the union’s Humanitarian Fund, to help a community in dire need,” says UFCW Canada national director Michael Fraser. Peterborough’s downtown core bore the brunt of disastrous flooding from an unusually intense rainstorm on July 16. The sudden deluge caused the city’s sewage system to back up, flooding basements as well as downtown streets. Clean-up is expected to take many weeks, and volunteer crews from other cities have been working around the clock to help out. The relief concert was well on its way to surpassing its fundraising goal on the day it was announced, having already brought in $84,000 of the target $100,000, with UFCW Canada’s $40,000 donation leading the way to make the union the concert’s title sponsor. In addition to other emergency funding, the provincial government has pledged to match all money raised by the concert. Tickets to the six-hour concert were to go on sale July 26. “UFCW Canada members live and work in Peterborough, and members are among those pitching in to help clean up and restore the city,” Fraser says. “UFCW Canada is proud to be part of the effort to help Peterborough recover.” For more information, contact Bob Linton in the UFCW Canada national office.
UFCW Canada Local 501 has filed the sixth active application to represent Wal-Mart workers, this one for a store in Brossard, Qué. Applications are also before respective labour boards for Jonquière, Qué. (UFCW Canada Local 503); Thompson, Man. (Local 832); Weyburn and North Battleford, Sask. (Local 1400); and Terrace, B.C. (Local 1518). “The new application demonstrates the desire of the Wal-Mart employees to improve their working conditions in spite of the underhanded dealings of the company to prevent unionization,” says UFCW Canada Local 501 president Yvon Bellemare. “I applaud the courage and determination demonstrated by the workers throughout our organizing campaign.” For details, contact Sylvie Cadieux, UFCW Canada Local 501 Communications, or Andrew Mackenzie in the UFCW Canada National Organizing Department.
Wal-Mart Canada has gone to court in Saskatchewan to challenge the constitutionality of the province’s labour regulations and the authority of the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board (SLRB). UFCW Canada currently has two applications for certification of Wal-Mart locations before that board. “It is hard to believe the arrogance of Wal-Mart,” says UFCW Canada national director Michael Fraser. “This multinational giant has come into Canada – often against the wishes of the communities in which it has set up shop – and then, in a transparent effort to prevent its workers from joining a union as is their right, Wal-Mart has the temerity to tell Canadians our laws are wrong!” Wal-Mart went to court in response to the Saskatchewan board’s subpoena of training materials used by the company to counter union organizing activity. The subpoena followed testimony in hearings about UFCW Canada Local 1400’s application to represent workers in Weyburn, during which a Wal-Mart manager confirmed such materials existed and were used by the company. “Wal-Mart is arguing the regulatory powers of the SLRB infringe on its freedom to communicate with its own workers during an organizing drive,” says Local 1400 president Paul Meinema. “That’s simply ludicrous. What about the freedom to join a union without fear? What about the right to respect from your employer? Wal-Mart respects nothing but its own agenda.” The Weyburn hearings are scheduled to resume August 17, depending on the result of Wal-Mart’s application to the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench. For more information, contact Paul Meinema at UFCW Canada Local 1400, or Andrew Mackenzie in the UFCW Canada National Organizing Department.
UFCW Canada Local 832 members employed at Arctic Co-operative in Winnipeg will see their wages or salaries grow following ratification of a new collective agreement on July 22. About 40 members will receive increases totalling at least 10.5% over the term of the agreement. A number of language and benefit improvements are also part of the new contract. Workers now have on-call rates in place with a guarantee of one hour’s pay for those on standby. Allowances for salaried employees working out of town will also rise by $3.00 per day. The right to refuse dangerous work is now entrenched in the agreement, as is better contract language in areas such as paternity leave, discipline, and bereavement. The UFCW Canada members at Arctic Co-op provide support and assistance from their Winnipeg office to Co-op stores located throughout the north. For more information, contact Grant Warren, UFCW Canada Local 832 Communications, ufcw832.mb.ca.
UFCW Canada Local 175 members providing custodial services for two separate employers have recently ratified new agreements. Cleaners employed by Hallmark Housekeeping, which provides building maintenance services for the Scotiabank building in Toronto, approved a three-year contract in July that provides for a 25¢ per hour wage increase in each year of the agreement, with the first increase retroactive to January 4, 2004. The members also will see increased employer contributions to the Canadian Commercial Workers Industry Pension Plan (CCWIPP), providing an improved retirement benefit for members. The new collective agreement also provides improvements in language regarding sick days, plus stronger member representation on the Health & Safety Committee, and Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) training for all members of the bargaining unit. Hurley Corporation workers, meanwhile, who work at the Pickering Town Centre, ratified a new agreement in June. Wages will increase a total of 80¢ per hour over the life of the agreement, and lead hands will receive a premium of 50¢ per hour. Company contributions to the union benefit trust fund increase to 89¢ per hour per employee, and language covering union security has been improved. For details, contact Cheryl Mumford at UFCW Locals 175 & 633 Communications, ufcw175.com.
UFCW Canada Local 1000A has won an important arbitration decision in its years-long battle against engineered standards at National Grocers warehouses in Ontario. “This is an historic victory,” says Local 1000A president Kevin Corporon. “It’s the first time a union in the North American food distribution sector has won an equal say with the company to resolve standard-related issues.” The decision awards back pay to workers who have been disciplined for failing to meet standards, and calls for a senior level standards committee at each location with equal representation from management and the union. The award is an interim award pending further hearings and studies. For details, contact Kevin Corporon at UFCW Canada Local 1000A.
Several hundred UFCW Canada leaders and guests got together in Toronto in June to pay tribute to Doug Dority, the retired international president of the union, well-known in the labour movement as the “Organizing President”. Seen above at the event’s head table are (l-r) UFCW Canada National Council president Brian Williamson, Joyce Williamson, international secretary-treasurer Marc Perrone, international president Joe Hansen, UFCW Canada national director Michael Fraser, Brenda Dority, Doug Dority, and retired Canadian director Cliff Evans. Also in attendance to honour Brother Dority were retired executive vice-president Mike Leonard, and retired Canadian directors Tom Kukovica and Bill Hanley. At right, Dority is congratulated by UFCW Canada Local 175 president Wayne Hanley. In addition to speeches from the principal guests, two short films were shown: one that had been prepared for an event in the U.S. earlier in the year, which included tributes to Dority from the likes of former U.S. vice-president Al Gore; and a special tongue-in-cheek video produced by UFCW Canada.
The 15th Annual UFCW Canada LRFC Gala Evening was a celebration of a new achievement in fundraising, with more than $750,000.00 raised by UFCW Canada members to find a cure for leukemia. Members of UFCW Canada local unions from across Canada got together at the Westin Harbour Castle hotel in Toronto (a UFCW Canada-represented hotel) on June 18 to proudly announce their individual fundraising successes for the past year, adding up to a whopping three-quarters of a million dollars. The largest donors were, as usual, the locals of TUAC Québec, and Ontario Locals 175 & 633, on whose behalf François Lauzon and Wayne Hanley presented cheques for $230,000.00 and $225,000.00 respectively. As a theme at this year’s gala, UFCW Canada announced that the sunflower is now the official symbol of the charitable work of our members, representing warmth, hope, health, perseverance, resilience, and gratitude. Tables and programs at the event were festooned with sunflowers. Entertainers for the evening included cowboy crooner Ian Tyson and country rocker Tom Cochrane (pictured below), as well as popular dance band The Carpet Frogs. Above right, UFCW Canada national director Michael Fraser says thank you to inspirational speakers Liam Bowen (left) and Michael Seccarecia (right), and special guest for the evening, Olympic gold medallist Catriona Le May Doan. In remaining photos (top to bottom), Liam’s dad Joe Bowen, “The Voice of the Toronto Maple Leafs”, provided emcee duties; Leukemia Research Fund of Canada (LRFC) president Wally Lumsden, a retired UFCW Canada officer, accepts a cheque for $10,000.00 from boxing legend George Chuvalo; UFCW Canada Local 12R24 president John Montgomery and The Beer Store executive Foster Brown present a cheque for $60,000.00; and UFCW Canada’s national training and education coordinator Bryan Neath presents Dr. Catherine June McGlade, a leukemia researcher, with UFCW Canada’s annual research award at the LRFC awards luncheon held earlier in the day.
2004 first half summary of activities As of the end of June, the UFCW Canada National Training and Education Department has compiled a detailed report on programs delivered by the national office through the first six months of 2004. More than 200 UFCW Canada members have received training in areas such as union stewardship, health and safety, facing management, collective bargaining, and instructor training. Local unions involved in the programs include UFCW Canada Local 401 in Calgary and Edmonton, Alta.; Local 1000A in Woodbridge, Ont.; Local 1118 in Red Deer, Alta.; Local 1230 in Cobourg, Ont.; and Local 1869 in Winnipeg, Man. A total of 218 certificates were awarded through the programs. National training and education staff also made UFCW Canada presentations on a number of issues ranging from Wal-Mart to the plight of migrant agricultural workers at various universities and colleges, including Brock and Ryerson Universities, as well as George Brown College. In addition, UFCW Canada conducted a pilot distance-learning program on Safe Food Handling (this page), with 38 members from four locals participating. UFCW Canada’s youth-to-youth Talking Union program has proved popular in the first half of the year, with 37 separate presentations to students at secondary schools in the greater Toronto region, reaching nearly 1,000 students. Student interns working with the department this summer are assisting in the preparation of a series of provincial “Know Your Rights” booklets that will assist in the expansion of the Talking Union program across the country. In addition to the training and education conference featured above and right, the department is also conducting the annual Youth Internship Program and planning further conferences and training later this year. The UFCW Canada Training and Education Department is also looking forward to working with locals of TUAC Québec in delivering French-language training once the CFACQ opens in Montréal later this year. SFH course available online Following a highly successful national pilot program run last April, the National Training and Education Department has finished tweaking UFCW Canada’s innovative online course in Safe Food Handling, titled SFH to Go!, making it available to all members on the UFCW Canada national website. “SFH to Go! will now be available to any member who needs it,” says national director Michael Fraser. “This UFCW Canada designed and developed course gives our members all the fundamentals of safe food handling, and it will be a tremendous resource for members preparing for the Food Handler certification test.” A total of 38 members involved in food preparation – including hospitality, retail food, and institutional kitchens – from UFCW Canada Locals 175 (Ontario), 247 (British Columbia), 832 (Manitoba), and 1000A (Ontario) took part in the month long trial run of SFH to Go!. “The convenience of this course is a big plus,” says training and education coordinator Bryan Neath. “Students can connect to it any time of day to suit their own schedule, and learn at their own pace. And for members in remote areas, SFH to Go! gives them equal access to great training about a subject concerning everyone these days.” The SFH to Go! interactive course combines two earlier National Training and Education initiatives – a classroom-delivered Safe Food Handling course developed in 2001, and a smaller-scale distance-learning course tested with UFCW Canada members in Ontario in 2002. SFH to Go!, incorporating aspects of UFCW Canada’s clear language initiatives, received funding assistance from the National Literacy Secretariat. SFH to Go! is also available for UFCW Canada local unions to download and customize to meet local union needs. For more information, contact Bryan Neath in the National Training and Education Department. Educating the educators: Kempenfelt 2004 More than 40 UFCW Canada trainers and educators got together at the Kempenfelt Centre near Barrie, Ont. in June to compare notes and bring each other up to date on developments in their local unions (photos this page and opposite). “UFCW Canada has always been in the forefront of member training and education,” says UFCW Canada national director Michael Fraser. “Our National Training and Education Department has been mandated to work more closely with all levels of member education in order to ensure we are bringing members the programs they want and need.” Participants heard from various guest speakers, including Canadian Food Industry Council director Bill Dawson (bottom right) on sectoral initiatives in which UFCW Canada is participating, but most of the conference was spent in workshop and panel discussion modes. “This was the first conference of this type on a national basis that we have held, and it was a big success,” says UFCW Canada training and education coordinator Bryan Neath. “With the assistance of the National Literacy Secretariat, we were able to bring together both full-time and member trainers from across the country to share their experiences and discuss what they are doing in their locals to tailor UFCW Canada training and education programs to their requirements.” One conference highlight was a panel discussion on innovative developments at the local union level. Panelists were Victor Carrozzino of UFCW Canada Locals 175 & 633, Ontario (Distance Computer Education); Marv Funk of Local 1977, Ontario (New Skills Training); Sandy Labermeyer of Local 247, British Columbia (Essential Skills Training); Tammy Sigurdur of Local 832, Manitoba (High School Diploma); and Glenn Toombs of Local 1518, British Columbia (Training Stewards). In workshops, participants worked on three main themes, each incorporating the use of clear language and literacy, based on program development and the special needs of members in particular situations. Conference evaluations from participants were overwhelmingly positive, with most hoping for similar events in the near future. “We had an excellent, comfortable atmosphere where we networked with other UFCW Canada educators. It was a good refresher – being a student again!” one said.
More than 50 cafeteria and custodial workers at two locations at Toronto’s York University have successfully joined UFCW Canada Local 1993, and the drive is on to bring the benefits of membership to others there. The workers are employed by Aramark, a service agency that provides labour on contract to the university facilities. Above, UFCW Canada national organizers Richard Pollock (left) and Dustin Magee (right) celebrate the victory with Aramark worker Jaime Jesalva, who is also a UFCW Canada member working for the union’s benefit and pension plan administrators in the UFCW Canada Building in Rexdale (seen in photo). Like many workers seeking union representation for the first time, Aramark employees at the university are looking for job security, basic respect and dignity at work, and more of a voice in the workplace, says Brother Jeselva. The Aramark workers made that clear in their Ontario Labour Board-sponsored secret ballot vote on July 19, with an overwhelming majority voting in favour of joining UFCW Canada. At press time, union members at Aramark were in the process of electing a negotiating committee for a first agreement, while organizers continued speaking with Aramark workers at other locations.
Several thousand fans of folk and progressive music spent a balmy weekend in July at Tudhope Park in Orillia, Ont. for the annual Mariposa Folk Festival, this year supported by UFCW Canada through the national office, the Ontario Provincial Council, and Locals 12R24, 175 & 633, 1000A, and 1977, with additional donations from UFCW Canada employers The Beer Store, Loblaws, and A&P. The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) and OPSEU also participated. “It was a great success, and really helps to raise our union’s profile in the community,” says UFCW Canada national director Michael Fraser. “We are committed to more outreach of this nature in the years to come.” In addition to acknowledgements with numerous signs and stage appearances, donated items were sold at UFCW Canada tents, raising more than $10,000 for leukemia research. Above right, duos Easily Amused and Châkidor perform at the UFCW Canada Local 12R24 beer tent stage. Bottom photos, left to right: UFCW Canada LRFC fundraising tent; OFL president Wayne Samuelson, Local 12R24’s Frank Falconer, and national communications coordinator Bob Linton take to the mainstage; Mariposa’s mainstage was sponsored by the national office. Photos at left, top to bottom: headliner Murray McLauchlan; Mary de Keyzer and Melody Ranch; UFCW Canada-sponsored artist Thomas Canning (see DIRECTIONS 4.05), who was featured in the festival’s Artisan Village, with folk hero Gordon Lightfoot, an Orillia native; and UFCW Canada 1000A’s Carrie Chenier, a volunteer at the event, greets Prairie Oyster’s Russell deCarle. Even though UFCW Canada’s two-year commitment to the Racing for a Cure team has officially come to an end, the Kerry Micks #02 CASCAR racer – now known as the O2 Power Water-sponsored stock car –continues to raise funds and awareness for leukemia research. Micks Motorsports and Power Water have announced they will continue fundraising for the LRFC, and CASCAR’s annual charity golf tournament will once again contribute to the LRFC as well. In the meantime, a very limited number of handcrafted replica diecast cars commemorating UFCW Canada’s racing team are available for a contribution of just $60.00 each (does not include race hauler replica seen in photo). Only three dozen of these were made, and most were snatched up quickly. Commissioned exclusively from Ontario modeller Joe Hamilton, each 1:24 scale metal model is hand-painted with computer-generated graphics based on the real thing. The car features the UFCW Canada livery of its first year of racing, including the UFCW Canada crest on the hood and the “Union Made” logo on the rear. Based on the popular Hot Wheels NASCAR replicas, each UFCW Canada car is about 20cm or 8-inches in length. For more information or to order, please contact Mike Freeman in the UFCW Canada national office.
Have you seen the “must-see” documentary film Fahrenheit 9/11 yet? Michael Moore’s somewhat obsessive look at the Bush White House and what’s behind it has people on both sides of the fence talking, inside the United States and beyond. Whether you’re a fan of Moore’s or not, his website at michaelmoore.com is some essential browsing. More than just a rehash of his well-known opinions (Mike’s Blog) or an advertisement for his many products (Dude, Where’s My Country? now in paperback!), the site is full of interesting articles and book excerpts by other thinkers, not all of them in lockstep with Moore. Particularly interesting at the moment is a recent Newsweek article by Patti Davis, daughter of Ronald Reagan. Whether you are boning up on the facts for your next barbecue battle with a Bush-supporting neighbour, or want to read some cogent arguments about global affairs, michaelmoore.com should not be missed. Have a site to share? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org