In this issue:
I welcomed the opportunity recently to sit down with the “Class of 2001”, the 10 young activists from across Canada who make up this year’s UFCW Canada Youth Internship Program.
We enjoyed a very frank and open discussion on a variety of subjects, and, as is so often the case, I was very impressed with the level of awareness this group of members already possesses, and their willingness to ask the kind of straightforward questions that will get them the answers they’re looking for. By all reports, their meetings later that week with members of Parliament in Ottawa were similarly candid.
In addition to being well-informed on the issues of the day, there is a welcome sense of focus and spirit of unionism already in place in these young members. Still, nothing is taken for granted. “How high, realistically, can I set my sights in UFCW Canada?” one of the group asked. The answer, of course, is “As high as you like.”
That may sound like a pat answer, but in UFCW Canada, as in many labour organizations, it is absolutely true. The leadership of our union is made up of activists from shop floors everywhere – from supermarkets, packinghouses, and virtually every other industry and sector we represent. UFCW Canada activists now sit in federal and provincial parliaments, and hold key posts in NDP governments. Members have used what they learned as union and social activists as a foundation to study in new fields and go on to work in them, as lawyers, teachers, and even labour mediators.
What the UFCW Canada youth program does is open doors. The opportunity is already there for any member. We’re just helping some younger members get started a bit sooner than they might have otherwise.
A workplace explosion that killed UFCW Canada Local 459 member John Pinard on May 23 is under government investigation.
Pinard, 50, a maintenance worker at the Heinz plant in Leamington ON, was testing a new pressurized ketchup-processing tank when the door blew off, killing him instantly.
UFCW Canada Director Michael Fraser has assigned national Health & Safety Coordinator Sue Yates to provide assistance to the local and the investigation, as well as to Pinard’s family.
Meanwhile, a new agreement has been ratified by the membership at Heinz, covering 750 full-time workers and 300 seasonal workers. The contract provides increases of $1.70 an hour over the life of the agreement, plus shift premium increases. There are also improvements in benefits for pensioners, as well as coverage increases for dental, vision, and chiropractic care. The chief steward will now work full-time for members while continuing to be paid by the employer. The company has also agreed to discuss a number of health and safety improvements with the Health and Safety Committee, and agreed that more than one person will be assigned to test new or substantially modified equipment.
More: Bob Martin, UFCW Canada Local 459
The UFCW-RWDSU Northern Ontario Joint Council has begun publication of a new biweekly, RWDSU e-News, for computer-savvy members. View it through the council’s web site, or contact the council directly to request that your e-mail address be added to the mailing list.
Almost 100 members of UFCW Canada Local 832 went on strike on June 4 at two locations of Faroex Ltd. in Winnipeg and Gimli MB. Major unresolved issues include the company’s repeated failure to respect workers, as well as its insistence on forced overtime and rotating shifts.
In December 1999, the Manitoba Labour Relations Board imposed a one-year first contract at Faroex, which manufactures plastic components for agricultural, automotive, and consumer products. UFCW Canada Local 832 has the option under labour legislation passed by the NDP goverment last fall, to seek an imposed renewal if a settlement hasn’t been reached within 60 days.
More: Don Keith, UFCW Canada Local 832, www.ufcw832.com
UFCW Canada Local 864 has won a battle to represent 50 Prince Edward Island workers at a Polar Foods fishery plant in Summerside (see Directions 1.2). The province’s labour board found the company guilty on all counts of unfair labour practice charges, and ordered Polar to reinstate five people fired during the organizing drive, and to pay them full wages and benefits from January 31, 2000.
UFCW Canada Local 864 President Bruce Durno says, “We’re very happy about the outcome and optimistic about our chances for certifying the company’s other eight plants.”
More: Bruce Durno or Ray Gallant, UFCW Canada Local 864
UFCW Canada Local 500R has successfully intervened on behalf of a member in Longueuil QC to reduce a fine for selling cigarettes to an underage, undercover agent.
Although the fine can be as high as $8,000 in Québec, the originally levied $604 was still a substantial penalty for the part-time cashier. Legal counsel was able to get the amount reduced to the minimum fine of $200, payable in four installments.
“This is the first time one of our members has been fined under this law, but enforcement is becoming stronger,” says UFCW Canada Local 500R President François Lauzon. “It’s very important that all retail workers, no matter how busy they are, protect themselves by asking for proof of age before selling tobacco products.”
More: François Lauzon, UFCW Canada Local 500R
After 25 years of service, most recently as secretary-treasurer, UFCW Canada Local 1518’s Jack Allard has retired. Staff representative Ivan Limpright has been elected to complete the balance of the term.
UFCW Canada Local 1518 President Brooke Sundin praised Allard’s dedication: “He has set the benchmark for those who come after him to achieve, and that benchmark is very high.”
Limpright became a member of Local 1518 in 1975 at the Overwaitea warehouse, where he was elected chief steward. He is a 1991 graduate of the Labour College of Canada.
More: Tom Fawkes or Andy Neufeld, UFCW Canada Local 1518, www.ufcw1518.com
The following change to the UFCW Canada national staff has been announced since the last report:
Hired: Marg Jessop, national office support staff (effective June 10)
Additional data available in PDF version
Source: StatsCan; youth definition = workers aged 15-24 inclusive