- Strike pay increased
- Agreement at J.H. McNairn
- Sunrise Poultry members ratify
- Metro workers join Local 503
- UFCW Canada Supports strike
- Credit Union workers win contact
- Agreement at CNIB
- Support appreciated
- First national soft-drink conference held
- Message to management: scram!
Public, affordable, accessible health care is something we as Canadians are privileged to take for granted. But there is a danger in doing so – taking it for granted can make us complacent, and there are those who would destroy the system on which we rely if given the opportunity.
Medicare is a right, not a privilege. Our medicare system in Canada is a relatively recent development, and not something we can rely on keeping if we do not defend it.
Medicare saves Canadians millions of dollars. Because health care is regulated and governments are the single payer, our health care is 66% less expensive (per capita) than it is in the United States.
Yet, medicare today remains under attack by governments and politicians who want to turn our health care system into a for-profi t system based on your ability to pay private companies. Imagine a health care system in which you might not be able to take a seriously ill or injured child to hospital because you can’t afford it; imagine a system that is built on the premise of making profi ts from the victims of disease or accidents. It is simply unacceptable.
In the coming months, voters in as many as six other provinces will be going to the polls, as they are this month in Québec. These elections will determine the future of medicare in Canada.
We urge everyone to join UFCW Canada members in the fi ght to keep our public, affordable, accessible health care system. As part of our union’s effort, we have launched a postcard campaign through UFCW Canada local unions, encouraging voters to take candidates in these elections to task on the issue of preserving our health care system. Public, affordable, accessible health care is Canada’s pride – and it would be Canada’s shame if we were to lose it.
The UFCW executive committee has voted to increase basic strike pay for UFCW Canada members from $60 to $100 per week, effective February 1, 2003.
The basic strike pay is in addition to the $40 (full-time) and $20 (part-time) benefi ts paid by the UFCW Canada National Council strike fund, the $100 per week payment available through the optional UFCW Canada National Defence Fund, and any additional benefi ts provided by local unions.
Members of UFCW Canada Local 175 employed in the manufacture of paper packaging products at J.H. McNairn Ltd. recently ratifi ed a new collective agreement with substantial gains.
In addition to the 40-50¢ per hour wage increases in each year of the agreement, the agreement provides substantial increases to the trusteed dental plan, short- and long-term disability plans, life insurance coverage, and vision care. The 100 workers at the Whitby, Ont. facility will also receive matching RSP contributions to the amount of 2% in the fi rst year, rising to 3% by the third year.
Details: Cheryl Mumford, Local 175
After more than a year at the bargaining table – during which the company had demanded wage rollbacks and other concessions – 400 members of UFCW Canada Local 1518 who work at Sunrise Poultry in Surrey, B.C. have ratifi ed a new collective agreement.
Members will receive a lump-sum payment of $600 for the year from July 1, 2001 to June 30, 2002, with a 30¢ per hour increase retroactive to July 1, 2002, and another 30¢ as of July 1, 2003.
Other highlights include improvements to job security language and conditions of employment in the event of transfer to other company locations. Employer contributions to the pension plan will increase to 60¢ per hour, retroactive to July 1, 2002, and there is increased coverage for physiotherapy.
Details: Tom Fawkes, Andy Neufeld, Local 1518
Following a vote conducted by the Québec labour relations commission in late March, 90 workers at the Métro Gagnon supermarket in Trois-Rivières, Qué. chose UFCW Canada Local 503 and Québec federation of labour (FTQ) affi liation over their former independent union.
Details: Herman Dallaire, UFCW Canada
In a public statement on March 25, UFCW Canada national director Michael Fraser announced the union’s support of an ongoing walkout by members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) on strike against the St. John’s Airport Authority in Newfoundland and Labrador.
“As unionists, we encounter employers that do not respect the collective bargaining process, but it is unusual to see an employer as disrespectful of labour relations as the St. John’s Airport Authority,” Fraser says. “The employer has shown bad faith in refusing to accept a deal tentatively agreed upon by the president of the authority and PSAC representatives.”
PSAC national president Nycole Turmel responded to Fraser’s announcement, saying, “On behalf of all strikers and PSAC members, our thanks to UFCW Canada for your support. It is much appreciated.”
UFCW Canada staff required on business in St. John’s, meanwhile, are having to fl y instead to Gander, a more than threehour drive from St. John’s.
Details: Diane Kalen, UFCW Canada
The seven members of UFCW Canada Local 1400 who work at the Saskatoon City Employees Credit Union recently ratifi ed a new two-year collective agreement.
All employees will receive a pay increase of 3% in the fi rst year, except Group 2 employees who will get 4%. In the second year, there will be an across-the-board 3.5% increase.
In addition, the employer agrees to continue all benefi ts while a member is disabled or on parental leave, and workers will continue to accumulate seniority while on disability.
Details: Greg Eyre, Local 1400
The 19 members of UFCW Canada Local 832 who work at the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) in Winnipeg will receive wage hikes totalling 11.2% over the course of their new three-year collective agreement.
In addition to the wage increases, a $200 signing bonus was paid to all employees following ratifi cation. The new agreement also increases Saturday and Sunday premiums from 50¢ per hour to $1.00 per hour over the life of the contract, and employee travel premiums rise from $25 per day to $40 per day.
Details: Grant Warren, Local 832Back to top
UFCW Canada’s traditional support of the New Democratic Party (NDP) takes many forms, including contributions made to the political action efforts of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC). National director Michael Fraser recently received the following letter from the CLC’s Pat Kerwin:
“No, this is not yet another letter from me asking for money for the party. Rather it is a brief note to express my great appreciation for the generous support that UFCW Canada has given to political action over the many years I have had the privilege of being the CLC director of political action. Again, thank you and your colleagues very much.”
National director Michael Fraser addresses delegates. Seated beside him is national health-and-safety coordinator Sue Yates who conducted workshops during the convention.
Almost 40 delegates from across the country gathered in March for UFCW Canada’s first-ever conference dedicated to the needs of members in the soft-drink industry. Styled on regular conferences held for members in other industrial sectors – including packinghouse, poultry, and flour-milling workers – the two-day meeting provided representatives of soft-drink workers across Canada to compare notes.
“This is specifically as a result of our national task force,” says UFCW Canada national director Michael Fraser. “Members from soft-drink local unions told us that they needed a venue to take a close look at the industry and to be able to examine common issues they and fellow members face.” The agenda covered issues such as repetitive strain injuries (RSIs) and their causes, ergonomics, provincial health-and-safety laws, and solutions to common concerns in the industry. Delegates were provided with a comprehensive reference guide created by the national office allowing them to compare contracts across the industry. Delegates also decided to develop and distribute a semi-annual newsletter for members highlighting workplace issues and concerns and creating a network amongst locals across Canada. The first issue is planned in August 2003.
The conference concluded with remarks and a question-andanswer session with director Fraser, who told delegates this was the first of what should become an annual event. Several delegates expressed the value and importance of the gathering. In the end, delegates unanimously endorsed the concept of the annual meeting. For more information on the conference or other information regarding the soft-drink industry, or to obtain a copy of the UFCW Canada Soft-Drink Industry Reference Guide, contact Brian Noonan or Dorothy Gossi at the national office.
Ontario NDP labour critic Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold) was the guest speaker on the opening night of the conference. Seated next to him is national representative Dorothy Gossi.
It isn’t often you fi nd a Web site that actively tries to get a certain audience to not view it. But that’s the case with UFCW Canada Local 401’s new site, launched recently. It leads off with a message to management that says, in part, “We believe any management viewing or use of the site to be unlawful. It is interference with the internal administration of a trade union, prohibited by the [Alberta] Labour Relations Code, and may breach the Code or other laws, in other ways as well. Also the material on this site is subject to solicitor-client privilege. The site acts as a conduit of advice and communication between counsel and union members. Management: please leave this site immediately. Do not behave unlawfully or unethically.“ With a theme that tells members “You are connected”, Local 401’s site features a contest for members to search for their names in the site, which then allows them to enter a draw for a television giveaway. In addition, the site can be visited at both its conventional URL (www.ufcw401.ca) or, alternatively, at www.gounion.ca, matching the local’s 1-888-GO-UNION organizing hotline.
Have a favourite site you would like to share? Please e-mail mike@ ufcw. ca.