United Steelworkers Canada News Feed http://www.uswca.org/news/media-centre/releases/rss United Steelworkers Canada Releases Feed Sat, 22 Jan 2022 23:43:49 -0500 AMPS en hourly 1 Steelworkers ratify new contract at Teck’s Highland Valley Copper https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2022/steelworkers-ratify-new-contract-at-tecks-highland-valley-copper Sat, 22 Jan 2022 23:43:49 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2022/steelworkers-ratify-new-contract-at-tecks-highland-valley-copper Members of the United Steelworkers union (USW) Local 7619 at Teck’s Highland Valley Copper (HVC) Operations ratified a five-year collective agreement late Friday night after an 81.2% vote in favour of the new contract. The union had filed strike notice on January 10.

Ratification of the agreement comes following 42 days of discussions at the table, along with six days of mediated talks. On January 16, the parties had bargained to an impasse, and mediators Vince Ready and Corinn Bell made non-binding recommendations to take to the membership for a vote. 

“We gained a significant amount of new language to improve the lives of our members, and while we were apart on wages, the membership accepted the recommendations from the mediators,” said Kyle Wolff, USW Local 7619 President. “We have worked through floods, fires, and the pandemic like all others in the province, and the lack of recognition was evident during ratification talks. Accepting this deal was a tough decision, but the majority of our members have agreed to accept the contract, so we move on.”

“I want to thank the bargaining committee for their hard work, dedication and sacrifice during this round of bargaining, and I extend a big thank you to the members for standing by the committee every step of the way,” said Wolff.

The new contract has secured an Employment Insurance top-up for 17 weeks for birth mothers on parental leave, multiple Indigenous rights, improved safety and time-off language, along with increases in wages and benefits.

Steelworkers: Saskatchewan workers win big as union certification goes electronic https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2022/steelworkers-saskatchewan-workers-win-big-as-union-certification-goes-electronic Fri, 21 Jan 2022 15:25:15 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2022/steelworkers-saskatchewan-workers-win-big-as-union-certification-goes-electronic In a historic decision, the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board (LRB) has ruled workers in the province can now join a union by signing an electronic union membership card. The decision comes following an application for reconsideration of LRB File No. 092-21 from the United Steelworkers union (USW).

The USW congratulates JSN Motors Inc. employees in becoming the first workers in the province to use electronic union cards to join a union.

“The decision to allow electronic support evidence for union certification is historic and precedent-setting in our province and we are excited to proceed with welcoming the workers from JSN Motors to our union,” said Darrin Kruger, USW Staff Representative. “The electronic cards will now make it easier and safer for workers to join a union and brings them one step closer to deserving better at work.”

In its unanimous decision, the LRB stated that electronic support evidence addresses many concerns by “improving access to employees, facilitating the dissemination and collection of support cards, and reducing physical impediments. In some cases, electronic support evidence may provide an additional layer of security and privacy from an employer who may be tempted to interfere with the exercise of employees’ rights under the Act.”

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, the ability to hold in-person meetings to organize workers and to sign physical paper cards became more difficult, especially while maintaining physical distancing,” said Kruger. “Electronic cards will now give workers the ability to sign their cards safely and confidentially, and it brings Saskatchewan in line with other jurisdictions across Canada.”

In recent years, labour boards across the country, including B.C., Alberta, Ontario and federally, have begun accepting electronic support evidence.

Workers interested in joining the USW are encouraged to learn more at BetterWorkNow.ca.

United Steelworkers statement on 10th anniversary of Babine sawmill explosion https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2022/united-steelworkers-statement-on-10th-anniversary-of-babine-sawmill-explosion Thu, 20 Jan 2022 17:14:36 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2022/united-steelworkers-statement-on-10th-anniversary-of-babine-sawmill-explosion Ten years ago, on January 20, 2012, two workers went to work at the Babine Forest Products sawmill near Burns Lake, B.C., and didn’t return home to their families. Twenty other workers were seriously injured.

“Ten years later, we continue to remember the tragic events at the Babine sawmill explosion that killed two workers and injured many more, and our thoughts are with the families, friends and colleagues on this difficult anniversary,” said Stephen Hunt, United Steelworkers District 3 Director. “There are still many people asking how this tragedy happened and how it could have been prevented. Today we are renewing our call for the provincial government to protect workers.”

In 2019, the B.C. Ministry of Labour contracted Vancouver lawyer Lisa Helps to review the actions by WorkSafeBC and the provincial government in relation to worker safety. Helps released her report later that year, making 11 recommendations to strengthen worker safety, ensure a criminal lens is applied to workplace fatalities and put workers back at the centre of WorkSafeBC.

While the government has made some progress implementing the recommendations from Helps, more needs to be done.

“What happened at the Babine sawmill should never have happened, and while we can’t change the past, we can work to make sure tragedies like these don’t happen again, and if they do, employers are held criminally accountable,” said Hunt. “It’s been over two years since Helps made her recommendations, and the implementation by the provincial government is overdue – it’s time to get going and it’s time for WorkSafeBC to get on with the combustible dust regulation review.”

The United Steelworkers union is renewing its call for the provincial government to implement the recommendations from the Lisa Helps report and to create ongoing training for police officers and Crown counsel for workplace criminal investigations.

“When police are called to a workplace fatality or serious injury, the police need to seize the scene and rule out criminality, not defer it to WorkSafeBC,” said Hunt. “A workplace fatality or injury should be treated no different than a car crash investigation by the police, it should not be a WorkSafeBC issue, and there should be proper workplace-specific training for the officers.”

Since the start of 2022, three Steelworkers in Canada have been killed in workplace fatalities, including one in British Columbia at the Interfor Acorn Division in Delta.

The United Steelworkers has a long history of standing up for the health and safety of workers. The union’s past efforts have resulted in the creation of the Westray Law and a dedicated Crown Attorney for forest industry fatalities. 

Calgary Chinook Centre Starbucks workers file application to join Steelworkers union https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2022/calgary-chinook-centre-starbucks-workers-file-application-to-join-steelworkers-union Wed, 19 Jan 2022 15:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2022/calgary-chinook-centre-starbucks-workers-file-application-to-join-steelworkers-union The United Steelworkers union (USW) has filed an application with the Alberta Labour Relations Board (ALRB) on behalf of Starbucks workers at the Chinook Centre in Calgary.

“Starbucks workers across North America are steaming over the treatment they are receiving, and they deserve better,” said Pablo Guerra, an organizer with the USW in Western Canada and the Territories.

Starbucks workers concerned over health and safety issues and increased pressures on the job are turning to the USW, the leading union for health and safety in North America.

“This is about more than money, and it’s about dignity and respect from both their employer and customers. Throughout the last few years, the job of the barista has changed. In addition to brewing your standard coffee order, baristas now have to enforce mask mandates and deal with complex custom-order drinks while enduring the added pressures of mobile ordering. Often baristas are faced with angry and verbally abusive customers with some subjected to coffee thrown in their face,” said Guerra.

There are 17 workers at the Chinook Centre food court location.

“It takes courage for workers to start an organizing drive to join a union, and we are honoured that these workers from Starbucks would like to join their colleagues from Victoria and be part of our union,” said Stephen Hunt, USW Western Canada Director.

The ALRB will hear objections from Starbucks on Jan. 28, 2022, and is expected to authorize a vote of the workers shortly after.

Following a successful vote, the Chinook Centre location will become the second unionized Starbucks in Canada. The USW represents Starbucks workers at a drive-through location in Victoria, B.C.

Alexa McDonough was a hero – United Steelworkers https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2022/alexa-mcdonough-was-a-hero-united-steelworkers Sat, 15 Jan 2022 18:07:29 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2022/alexa-mcdonough-was-a-hero-united-steelworkers TORONTO – The United Steelworkers union (USW) is paying tribute to the memory and solidarity of Alexa McDonough, who, as leader of the federal New Democratic Party from 1995-2003, was instrumental in the unanimous passing of the Westray Bill, aimed at holding corporate leaders criminally accountable for workplace death and injury.

“Alexa is a hero for our union,” said USW National Director Ken Neumann. “She blazed a trail for women in politics and she engineered the successful passing of the Westray Bill, an important win for workers’ rights in Canada.”

Neumann said McDonough engineered the eventual unanimous vote in favour of the Westray Bill, which made significant changes to the Criminal Code.

2022 will mark the 30th anniversary of the tragic and deadly Westray coal mine explosion in Plymouth, Nova Scotia, that killed 26 miners on May 9, 1992. An inquiry concluded that the explosion was preventable, yet criminal charges against the mine’s managers were dropped.

“Ms. McDonough worked closely with our union and Lawrence McBrearty, who was the USW National Director until 2004,” said Neumann. “The law was passed unanimously by the House of Commons in 2003, and by the Senate in 2004.”

Neumann said the struggle to enforce what has come to be known as the Westray Law continues, as workers continue to be killed on the job – as we’ve seen tragically just this week, with a Steelworker killed at Interfor in B.C., and one worker killed and five more presumed dead from the Eastway Tank explosion in Nepean, Ont.

McBrearty said the struggle for workers’ lives and safety continues almost 20 years after the law was passed.

“Alexa McDonough brought it to the House of Commons, and was with us all the way.” McBrearty said. “She was a true champion of workers’ rights.”

The United Steelworkers union extends condolences to Alexa’s family, friends and to her broader political family.

ADT Calgary call-centre workers join the United Steelworkers https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2022/adt-calgary-call-centre-workers-join-the-united-steelworkers Tue, 04 Jan 2022 14:15:55 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2022/adt-calgary-call-centre-workers-join-the-united-steelworkers ADT Security by TELUS call-centre workers in Calgary have voted to join the United Steelworkers (USW) union.

After a majority of workers signed union cards to join the USW, an application to certify the union was filed with the Alberta Labour Relations Board in the early summer. In the fall, the labour board ordered a vote by employees, and a large majority of workers voted in favour of joining the union. The labour board counted the vote on Jan. 4, 2022.

“We are proud to welcome these workers to the United Steelworkers in Western Canada,” said Stephen Hunt, USW Director for Western Canada and the Territories. “Our union is proud to represent over 8,000 TELUS workers across the country, and we are ready to support the ADT workers as they negotiate a collective agreement that recognizes their vital contributions to the success of ADT and TELUS.”

The next steps for the workers will include electing a bargaining committee and negotiating their first collective agreement with the employer.

“The USW has been great to work with, assisting us with our goal of organizing our call centre,” said a worker from ADT. “I know the union believes in us, and they will be there to support us in our negotiations with TELUS. We look forward to becoming members of the Steelworkers and participating within our new union.”

Over 200 workers from the ADT Security Calgary call centre will join the USW.

“This vote was successful because workers know that a union will make their workplace a better one,” said Pierre-Luc Dick, National Vice-President of USW Local 1944.

“For too long, big corporations such as TELUS have been pursuing bottom-line profits over the people that work for them and taking advantage of their non-unionized workforce by not fairly rewarding the work that they do,” said Dick.

“This victory not only belongs to the newly organized workers but also to the telecom sector workers in Canada. We are very happy and proud to welcome these new members into our ranks, and we will work together to ensure that they receive the respect and proper working conditions that they deserve.”

Workers interested in joining the USW can learn more about the benefits at www.betterworknow.ca.

Steelworkers deliver petition demanding Canadian Tire pay global garment workers a living wage https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2021/steelworkers-deliver-petition-demanding-canadian-tire-pay-global-garment-workers-a-living-wage Mon, 13 Dec 2021 13:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2021/steelworkers-deliver-petition-demanding-canadian-tire-pay-global-garment-workers-a-living-wage TORONTO, – Today the United Steelworkers union (USW) visited a Canadian Tire store in downtown Toronto to deliver a petition addressed to CEO Greg Hicks demanding Mark’s/Canadian Tire pay living wages to workers in its global supply chain. The USW petition capped a month-long action campaign, part of the ongoing Justice for Global Garment Workers campaign by the Steelworkers Humanity Fund (SHF).

Throughout November, Steelworkers across the country mobilized to tell Canadian Tire to pay living wages to the women working in its supply chains, visiting 30 store locations across the country and circulating a petition that echoes those demands.

For years, trade union leaders and workers’ rights advocates in Bangladesh have denounced the appalling working conditions of the millions of Bangladeshi garment workers who make our clothes, and have fought to improve health and safety standards and increase wages.

“Canadian Tire is very focused on promoting the positive impact it has in local communities in Canada through its corporate social responsibility programs,” says Ken Neumann, USW National Director. “But it can, and must, make a difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of Bangladeshi garment workers and their families. We are looking for leadership from Canadian Tire on an issue of fundamental justice for women garment workers worldwide.”

In March 2021, the SHF issued Not Even the Bare Minimum, a report that documents the working and living conditions of the women and men working for Canadian brands in Bangladesh, including factories producing for Mark’s and its owner, Canadian Tire. The wages that Bangladeshi garment sector workers are paid do not come close to what is needed for women to escape poverty, no matter how hard they work.

Meanwhile, Mark’s/Canadian Tire has continued to generate profits during the pandemic. Canadian Tire’s CEO Greg Hicks earned $4.49 million in 2020. In just two weeks, Hicks will earn the equivalent of 25 years’ salary for an entry-level garment worker.

The Steelworkers Humanity Fund is a registered Canadian charity funded by USW member contributions. For more than 25 years, the SHF has supported international development projects, trade union and workers’ rights in the global south and provided emergency humanitarian aid for disasters in Canada and around the world and more.

CFLPA and United Steelworkers support Hamilton Minor Football Association skills development camps https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2021/cflpa-and-united-steelworkers-support-hamilton-minor-football-association-skills-development-camps Sun, 12 Dec 2021 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2021/cflpa-and-united-steelworkers-support-hamilton-minor-football-association-skills-development-camps HAMILTON – The CFL Players’ Association (CFLPA) along with Athabasca University (AU) and the United Steelworkers union (USW) have together made a commitment to support the Hamilton Minor Football Association skills and development camps that will be hosted again next summer.

“Grey Cup week is an opportunity to celebrate Canadian football and encourage more kids and families to play and embrace the game. Football is a popular sport in the Hamilton community and the CFLPA is thrilled to partner with USW and the Hamilton Minor Football Association to support their work in developing local football players of tomorrow,” said Brian Ramsay, CFLPA Executive Director.

The CFLPA, AU and USW will provide funding for the facility as well as the apparel necessary to host the 2022 football skills development camps in Hamilton by the Hamilton Minor Football Association. The camps play an important role in teaching kids and youth football skills that will contribute to their love of the game, their safety and improve their overall abilities.

“Our union and our members in Hamilton are happy to support the participation and development of youth in minor football in the community,” said Steelworkers’ Ontario Director Marty Warren, who, as USW National Director-elect, will assume the role of the union’s Canadian leader on March 1, 2022.

“USW members across Canada are actively engaged in countless community-building projects and activities, particularly to support our youth, and we’re proud to partner with the CFLPA in this great program,” Warren said.

About the USW

The United Steelworkers represents 225,000 members across Canada in nearly every sector of the economy. Each year, thousands of workers choose to join the USW, recognizing the union for its strong record in health and safety, workers’ rights, winning good collective agreements and more. The USW and CFLPA signed a strategic partnership in 2019.

About the CFLPA

The Canadian Football League Players’ Association (CFLPA) is the union for professional football players in the Canadian Football League (CFL). Since 1965, the Association has worked to establish fair and reasonable working conditions while protecting the rights of all CFL players. In addition to negotiating and enforcing the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), the CFLPA provides a variety of member services, builds corporate and community partnerships and works diligently for the betterment of its membership. Find us online atcflpa.com.

CFL Players’ Association and United Steelworkers join together to take on gender-based violence https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2021/cfl-players-association-and-united-steelworkers-union-join-together-to-take-on-gender-based-violence Mon, 06 Dec 2021 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2021/cfl-players-association-and-united-steelworkers-union-join-together-to-take-on-gender-based-violence TORONTO – On December 6, the Canadian Football League Players’ Association (CFLPA) and the United Steelworkers union (USW) join together to remember the 14 women murdered at Montreal’s École Polytechnique, whose lives were lost in an act of gender-based violence in 1989.

Today, the two organizations not only remember their lives, and the lives of all impacted by gender-based violence, we also renew our calls for action and commitment to end gender-based violence.

As part of this commitment, the USW and the CFLPA are working together to take a stand and speak out on gender-based violence. The two groups will do this by training (male-identified) members of each organization to be leaders, allies and spokespeople to stand up against all forms of gender-based violence – as part of the Be More Than a Bystander campaign.  

The program will work to break the silence surrounding violence against women and girls by providing tools, language and practical ideas about how to be more than a bystander, how to speak up and how to communicate that violence and abuse are not acceptable.

“We have trained a number of spokespeople to facilitate sessions in our local unions and workplaces to call out gender-based violence and challenge the culture that nurtures it.  We are excited that our partnership with the CFLPA will continue to build on this program and that together we will be standing up to speak out against gender-based violence,” said Ken Neumann, USW Canadian National Director.

“Today, we remember the 14 women who were senselessly murdered at Montreal’s École Polytechnique on December 6, 1989, and affirm the commitment of the CFLPA in standing together with the United Steelworkers against these harmful acts and violence toward women and girls. We accept this important challenge and pledge to be more than bystanders by helping to prevent and, one day, end gender-based violence. Thank you to the United Steelworkers for this important partnership which has the potential to help protect so many others from gender-based violence,” said Brian Ramsay, CFLPA Executive Director.

The CFLPA and USW signed a strategic partnership in 2019. The USW represents 225,000 members across Canada in nearly every sector of the economy. Each year, thousands of workers choose to join the USW, recognizing the union for its strong record in health and safety, workers’ rights, winning good collective agreements and more.

The Canadian Football League Players’ Association (CFLPA) is the union for professional football players in the Canadian Football League (CFL). Since 1965, the Association has worked to establish fair and reasonable working conditions while protecting the rights of all CFL players.

120 food banks across Canada receive $233,750 from the Steelworkers Humanity Fund https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2021/118-food-banks-across-canada-receive-233750-from-the-steelworkers-humanity-fund Fri, 03 Dec 2021 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2021/118-food-banks-across-canada-receive-233750-from-the-steelworkers-humanity-fund TORONTO – In 2021, the Steelworkers Humanity Fund is contributing $233,750 to 120 food banks and other organizations across Canada.

As more and more Canadians return to their pre-pandemic lifestyle and habits, it is easy to forget about the hardship that many are still experiencing. Over the course of the past year, inequalities have continued to soar, making the holiday season a difficult period for even more families.

“The fact that in 2021 people are still living in poverty in a country like Canada is outrageous in itself. We have also seen how some of the most affected by the pandemic are also the poorest of our society,” said Ken Neumann, President of the Steelworkers Humanity Fund.

“In that context, the Steelworkers Humanity Fund is an important tool we have as Steelworkers to help mitigate part of the lasting impact of the pandemic on communities,” Neumann added. “But while we believe we must do our part through our annual donations to food banks and other organizations, we will continue to demand bold action from our governments in order to tackle the root causes of those inequalities.”

Founded in 1985, the Steelworkers Humanity Fund is a registered charitable organization that focuses primarily on development projects and emergency aid in developing countries, but also supports Canadian communities. USW members contribute to the fund through clauses negotiated into collective agreements. In some cases employers make matching contributions to the fund.

View the list of food banks receiving contributions in 2021 from the Steelworkers Humanity Fund.

USW demands federal action to stop new U.S. softwood lumber tariffs https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2021/usw-demands-federal-action-to-stop-new-u-s-softwood-lumber-tariffs Wed, 01 Dec 2021 16:28:51 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2021/usw-demands-federal-action-to-stop-new-u-s-softwood-lumber-tariffs Workers need the federal government to do more than talk to reverse new tariffs

BURNABY, B.C. – As Members of Parliament prepare for another debate in the House of Commons to discuss growing softwood lumber tariffs, the United Steelworkers union (USW) is calling on the federal government to move from empty talk to tangible action to support the workers whose jobs and ability to support their families are at risk.

“A week has gone by since the U.S. said they were doubling softwood lumber tariffs. The thousands of Canadians who work in the industry across this country deserve real action from the federal government,” said Jeff Bromley, Chair of the USW Wood Council, representing 14,000 Canadian forest sector workers. “More empty words won’t put food on the table or keep a roof over their heads,” 

Tonight, Members of Parliament are scheduled to have a debate of no more than four hours to discuss the United States Department of Commerce’s decision to double the average tariff on Canadian softwood lumber to 17.9% from 8.99%.

Even though the decision appears to be in contravention of fair trade and virtually all WTO decisions on the softwood lumber dispute, the federal government failed to resolve it during the Canada-U.S.-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) negotiations. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government also failed to make any headway in the recent summit with U.S. President Joe Biden and the meetings that followed.

“The federal government just keeps talking. And the U.S. keeps hiking tariffs,” said Bromley. “Tens of thousands of families in more than 600 communities across Canada depend on our forestry sector. The federal government needs to finally fix this conflict for good.”

The USW Wood Council has organized a nationwide advocacy campaign, Forestry Is for Everyone, calling on the federal government to resolve the softwood dispute and to implement a strategy to support workers and struggling forestry companies. For information on the USW campaign, go to www.forestryisforeveryone.ca.

Casual contract workers win new deal with University of Toronto https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2021/casual-contract-workers-win-new-deal-with-university-of-toronto Fri, 19 Nov 2021 12:16:46 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2021/casual-contract-workers-win-new-deal-with-university-of-toronto Members of the USW Local 1998 Casual Unit bargaining team.

TORONTO – Casual workers at the University of Toronto who were seeking better treatment from the nation’s richest university have achieved a new collective agreement, including long sought-after paid sick days.

USW Local 1998 represents approximately 3,500 casual workers at the university. After pandemic-related delays at the bargaining table, the local union and the employer worked together to reach a new contract.

In bargaining, the local union demanded better treatment for casual workers, who work alongside full-time workers on the same projects, programs and departments but were not treated similarly. Casual workers are on contracts with the university, ranging from a few weeks to a full year. Many of the casual contract workers have been employed with the university for decades, without access to permanent position.

“We were bargaining with the nation’s richest university and it was reasonable for casual workers to expect the basic level of fairness from the university,” said Colleen Burke, USW Local 1998 President. Burke mentioned that the union also worked with the Decent Work and Health Network to campaign for a fair contract, including paid sick days.

The local union came away with some important wins, despite being constrained by the provincial government’s Bill 124, which prevents bargaining more than a 1% increase in wages and benefits. The USW has opposed and continues to oppose the government interference and restrictions on collective bargaining.

Major highlights of the three-year contract are a 1% wage increase, two paid sick days, better protection for members facing discipline or termination and improvements to the dental benefits.

USW Local 1998 represents over 8,000 administrative and technical workers at the University of Toronto, Victoria University, University of St. Michael’s College and University of Toronto Schools, including approximately 3,500 casual employees.

The USW represents approximately 10,000 post-secondary education workers in Canada. The union represents 225,000 workers across Canada, in nearly every sector of the economy with 850,000 members continent-wide.

Steelworkers Humanity Fund contributes $50,000 to support victims of floods in B.C. https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2021/steelworkers-humanity-fund-contributes-50000-to-support-victims-of-floods-in-b-c Fri, 19 Nov 2021 09:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2021/steelworkers-humanity-fund-contributes-50000-to-support-victims-of-floods-in-b-c TORONTO – The Steelworkers Humanity Fund is contributing $50,000 to United Way British Columbia’s flood response efforts, in order to provide immediate and longer-term support to victims of the floods in British Columbia.

The sudden floods that hit parts of B.C. resulted in the evacuations of thousands of residents, washed out major highways and left many communities cut off from the rest of the province. The floods are following on the heels of the wildfires that continue to impact many communities in B.C.’s Interior, Lower Mainland, Central and Northern Vancouver Island.

Building on its successful partnership with United Way British Columbia during last summer’s wildfires, the Steelworkers Humanity Fund support will flow through the United for BC Flood Response Fund, which will provide grants to support those who are displaced or have lost housing, belongings and/or employment, suffered physical or mental health trauma, among others.

“Entire communities, many of them in which Steelworkers live and work, have been affected by the floods” said Ken Neumann, President of the Steelworkers Humanity Fund. “A variety of programs and essential services will be critical as B.C. residents recover physically and emotionally from the devastation of flooding, and we encourage others to donate available resources and time to those in desperate need today.”

All those in need of immediate resources in B.C. are encouraged to use bc211 by dialling 2-1-1 or visiting bc.211.ca, a free and confidential service that connects people to helpful and vital resources in their community. Those who are looking to provide additional support can also visit ivolunteer.ca to learn about volunteer opportunities in regions of the province where this resource is available.

“We recognize the deep trauma that these floods are having on individual lives as we respond in local communities across British Columbia,” said Michael McKnight, President and CEO of United Way British Columbia. “The United for BC Flood Response Fund, bc211, and volunteering are ways that everyone can provide support during such challenging days,” added McKnight.

Founded in 1985, the Steelworkers Humanity Fund is a registered charitable organization that focuses primarily on development projects and emergency aid in developing countries, but also supports Canadian communities. USW members contribute to the fund through clauses negotiated into collective agreements. In some cases, employers make matching contributions to the fund.

Steelworkers Humanity Fund to contribute to flood relief in British Columbia https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2021/steelworkers-humanity-fund-to-contribute-to-flood-relief-in-british-columbia Wed, 17 Nov 2021 18:46:55 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2021/steelworkers-humanity-fund-to-contribute-to-flood-relief-in-british-columbia Today, the Steelworkers Humanity Fund (SHF) Board of Directors authorized a contribution to relief efforts to assist residents in British Columbia impacted by severe flooding.

The SHF will contribute $50,000 to assist with relief efforts in communities where record flooding has devastated residents and their families.

“Many people, including our members, have been deeply affected by flooding this week that has forced the evacuation of entire communities and the closure of every major road in and out of the Lower Mainland,” said Stephen Hunt, District Director for Western Canada and the Territories and a director of the SHF.

“British Columbia has been hit hard this year with extreme heat, wildfires and now severe flooding. This has caused real hardship for some of our members, their families and communities and the Steelworkers Humanity Fund is pleased to provide funds to flood relief efforts,” said Hunt.

"This support is possible thanks to Humanity Fund contributions by thousands of individual USW members across Canada," added Hunt.

Founded in 1985, the Steelworkers Humanity Fund is a registered charitable organization that focuses on development projects and emergency aid in developing countries but also supports Canadian communities in crisis. United Steelworkers members contribute to the fund through clauses negotiated into collective agreements. In some cases, employers make matching contributions.

B.C. forestry decision will cost thousands of jobs and devastate communities https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2021/bc-forestry-decision-will-cost-thousands-of-jobs-and-devastate-communities Wed, 03 Nov 2021 15:40:50 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2021/bc-forestry-decision-will-cost-thousands-of-jobs-and-devastate-communities The United Steelworkers union (USW) is speaking out against the B.C. government’s decision to remove up to 2.6 million hectares from B.C.’s working forest. The government’s deferral process of up to two years will have an immediate impact on jobs, while the long-term impacts of the permanent removal will be devastating to thousands of workers, families and communities across B.C.

“If even half of the 2.6 million hectares identified by the government are removed, jobs will be lost as multiple sawmills, value-added operations and pulp mills close permanently,” said USW Wood Council Chair Jeff Bromley. “In the past three years, eight operations with USW workers across B.C. closed and 1,000 good-paying, family-supporting jobs were lost. The impact from this process will almost certainly multiply across the province.”

The government says 4,500 jobs will be lost, but USW’s information suggests the real number could be four times that.

“The government’s approach to reconciliation with First Nations in B.C. is the right approach and sorely needed. But the fact is, First Nations across B.C. are already a very big part of the forest industry. It is Indigenous-owned companies and Indigenous workers who are all going to feel the brunt of these losses,” said Bromley. “If First Nations who’ve been given 30 days to respond, reject the plan? Will the government listen to them?"

With four of its five members having direct ties to the Sierra Club, the USW is also concerned about the bias of the Technical Advisory Panel struck by the government.

“We cautioned the government that without having a panel of experts that had a balance of perspectives, it would lead to preservation over a sustainable harvest and the corresponding loss of thousands of jobs and serious damage to the industry,” said USW Local 1-1937 President Brian Butler. “The government would not listen to the USW Wood Council and quite frankly they sold out forest workers and the industry in the process.”

“All USW Wood Council members across B.C. feel betrayed and abandoned by this government,” said USW Local 2009 President Al Bieksa. “We were promised meaningful input and a voice at the table as government crafted a sustainable and strategic forestry plan. We are quickly losing trust in this government that they truly care about working people, particularly those that depend on the working forest for their livelihood.”

“Some in the environmental movement has been strategically misleading the public for years with false claims about the forest industry and it appears the government is now willing to cede forest policy to the very same groups,” said Bromley. “There has to be a better, unbiased approach that is based on the science.”

The USW Wood Council represents over 12,000 forestry workers in B.C. and is continuing to call for an immediate meeting with the Premier to hear the concerns of forest workers and discuss viable solutions for this untenable situation.

United Steelworkers Union and TELUS Kick Off Contract Negotiations https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2021/united-steelworkers-union-and-telus-kick-off-contract-negotiations Thu, 28 Oct 2021 11:58:51 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2021/united-steelworkers-union-and-telus-kick-off-contract-negotiations BURNABY, B.C. – This week TELUS and its 8,000 unionized United Steelworkers union (USW) members kicked off negotiations to renew the collective agreement. The current contact between the parties expires on Dec. 31, 2021.

“The workers are engaged, fired-up and ready to go. They see that TELUS is a multi-billion-dollar telecom giant and are demanding respect,” said USW Local 1944 President Donna Hokiro.

Key priorities for the union in this round of bargaining include job security, pay equity, health and well-being and securing dignity and respect on the job, including for remote work.

“It all starts and ends with job security,” said Hokiro. “TELUS has been shipping off good middle-class Canadian jobs overseas in droves over the years and it needs to stop.”

Hokiro said that the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of the telecommunications sector and the work that happens each day to keep it running smoothly.

Personal Support Workers Seek Community Support for a Fair Deal https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2021/personal-support-workers-seek-community-support-for-a-fair-deal Thu, 28 Oct 2021 08:30:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2021/personal-support-workers-seek-community-support-for-a-fair-deal BARRY’S BAY, Ont. – Personal Support Workers (PSWs) will be in the centre of the Eastern Ontario town of Barry’s Bay on Friday, Oct. 29, seeking community support for their efforts to improve working conditions at Valley Manor long-term care home.

The 87 full-time and part-time PSWs, members of United Steelworkers union (USW) Local 6946-12, care for 80 seniors at Valley Manor. The workers are in contract negotiations with their employer.

The PSWs are asking community members to support their calls for a fair deal at work by emailing Valley Manor CEO Trisha DesLaurier to call for better treatment of workers and improved scheduling and staffing levels.

The Community Awareness Event takes place on Friday, Oct. 29, from from 1 to 3:30 p.m., outside the BMO building at 19544 Opeongo Line, Barry’s Bay (at the intersection of Hwy. 60 and County Road 62).

“The Valley Manor staff have put in a gruelling effort throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure the vulnerable seniors they care for are protected. Now, it’s time for the employer to recognize their hard work – with a fair deal,” said Briana Broderick, USW spokesperson.

As health-care workers, the staff are covered by the Hospital Labour Disputes Arbitration Act and can’t go on strike. They’re taking community action instead, to draw attention to the issues Valley Manor has so far ignored, such as consistent staffing levels, a limit of working five days in a row, and an end to forced bookings that require workers to take on additional shifts, leading to fatigue and risk of injury – all of which compromise resident care.

Valley Manor is suppressing worker wages using Bill 124, the Conservative government’s law that caps public sector wage gains at 1%. This will result in even more staffing crises as qualified workers leave for other long-term care homes with higher pay.

“The changes the workers are requesting will have a positive impact for everyone – the residents, the home and the staff. All they’re asking is that Valley Manor come to the table and engage meaningfully on these workers’ collaborative proposals,” said Broderick.

Gender pension gap can be addressed by higher minimum wage and removing barriers to unionization https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2021/gender-pension-gap-can-be-addressed-by-higher-minimum-wage-and-removing-barriers-to-unionization Wed, 27 Oct 2021 14:25:20 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2021/gender-pension-gap-can-be-addressed-by-higher-minimum-wage-and-removing-barriers-to-unionization TORONTO, Oct. 27, 2021 – Governments and employers must do more to address the gender pay gap and other employment issues to improve retirement outcomes for women, the United Steelworkers union said today, in light of new report that ranked Canada #13 among OECD countries.

Commenting on the latest annual Mercer CFA Institute Global Pension Index (MCGPI), USW National Director for Canada Ken Neumann said that although pay equity legislation has recently come into effect federally and is already in place in several Canadian provinces, the gender pay gap is persistent, and brings with it a troubling retirement income gap between men and women.

This year’s report – which ranked Canada’s retirement income system overall at 13th place out of 43 countries – had a special focus on the pension income gap at retirement. It found that regardless of the country and the type of pension system plan in place, the average retirement income was higher for men than for women.

The range of the global gender pension gap is very broad, from Japan having a gap of almost 50% to Estonia, where it is less than 5%. Canada’s gender pension gap is recorded at around 22%.

“It is a vicious, unrelenting problem,” Neumann said, remarking that women are more likely to work part time, more likely to earn less than their male equivalents, and more likely to take on caring responsibilities. “Women are usually negatively impacted financially in relationship breakdowns and in general have shorter careers than men and live longer, so require more retirement savings,” he said.

Neumann emphasized that the gender pension income gap cannot be solved by individual women. As a systemic problem, it needs to be addressed by systemic solutions, including increasing the minimum wage; legislating card check certification to ensure fewer barriers in joining a union and expanding and facilitating collective bargaining in female-dominated jobs, including in the service sector; enforcing strong pay equity legislation; and investing in universal and affordable high-quality child care.

“These gendered dynamics have been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, where women disproportionately have taken on increased family responsibilities,” said USW researcher Adrie Naylor, referring to feedback received from members across the country over the course of the pandemic.

Ruling Confirms Long-Term Care Workers’ Rights to Join United Steelworkers https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2021/ruling-confirms-long-term-care-workers-rights-to-join-united-steelworkers Wed, 27 Oct 2021 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2021/ruling-confirms-long-term-care-workers-rights-to-join-united-steelworkers BURLINGTON, Ont – Following a protracted legal battle, the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) has confirmed the democratic rights and the will of approximately 500 employees of long-term care operator CONMED Health Care Group to join the United Steelworkers union (USW).

“This is a tremendous victory for these workers who have had to wait several months to have their legal and democratic rights recognized,” said USW Ontario Director Marty Warren.

“These courageous workers voted by a large majority to join a strong union to achieve their goals of improving their working and living standards. These workers maintained their solidarity as their democratic rights were challenged by their employer as well as an employee ‘association’ that purported to represent their interests,” Warren said.

CONMED and the Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC) simultaneously pursued legal challenges in an attempt to thwart the will of the long-term care workers to join the USW. The legal challenges delayed the outcome by months, but ultimately failed, as the OLRB upheld the workers’ rights and clear desire to join the USW.

“We welcome these new members to the United Steelworkers union and we will support them every step of the way as they prepare to negotiate a good collective agreement with their employer,” Warren said.

The workers are employed at four long-term care homes operated by CONMED Health Care Group in southern Ontario – Billings Court Manor in Burlington, Millennium Trail Manor in Niagara Falls, and Crescent Park Lodge and Maple Park Lodge, both in Fort Erie. They include personal support workers, nursing staff, and kitchen and dietary staff.

In a secret-ballot vote supervised by the OLRB, the long-term care workers voted by a large majority to join the United Steelworkers union and to leave the CLAC. CLAC is not affiliated with, or recognized by, the federal and provincial labour federations – including the Canadian Labour Congress and the Ontario Federation of Labour – that represent the majority of unions in Canada.

“These workers are among the front-line heroes who have gone beyond the call of duty throughout the pandemic to care for our most-vulnerable citizens. They deserve a collective agreement that recognizes the vital work they perform every day, under extremely challenging circumstances,” said Warren.

Workers Demand Better from the Nation’s Richest University https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2021/workers-demand-better-from-nations-richest-univ Fri, 22 Oct 2021 16:04:05 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2021/workers-demand-better-from-nations-richest-univ TORONTO, Oct. 25, 2021 – Casual workers at the University of Toronto are seeking better treatment from the nation’s richest university as they head into bargaining a new collective agreement, says the United Steelworkers union (USW) Local 1998.

Among the top asks for the bargaining unit of about 3,500 casual workers are paid sick days and better language on job security. Casual workers include a wide range of administrative staff in all areas of the University who work on short-term or part-time contracts and are represented by USW Local 1998. Despite the intention that casual contracts are less than six months, many casual workers are on extended contracts and some have been employed with the university for years.

“This bargaining round, we are demanding better treatment for casual workers. Our members who work as casual staff, work alongside full-time workers on the same projects, programs and departments,” said Colleen Burke, President of USW Local 1998. “The only difference in this situation is that casual workers don’t have paid sick days as the full-time worker beside them does.”

Some departments at the university rely on a revolving door of temporary workers with no paid sick days or job security.

“The University of Toronto is the richest university in Canada. Meanwhile, casual workers like me are having to decide between going into work sick or not paying our bills,” added Scott Eldridge, a casual employee at the university for 19 years. “You’d think we would have learned a thing or two about not going to work sick during a pandemic.”

In addition to paid sick days, the union is prioritizing a better path for casual employees to convert to full-time staff, the ability to apply as internal candidates for U of T jobs and require departments to post full-time jobs and stop the overuse of temporary jobs.

“We hope to achieve our bargaining goals with the university in this bargaining round. Providing paid sick days and securing jobs at the university is the basic level of fairness for casual workers,” Burke said.

USW Local 1998 represents over 8,000 administrative and technical workers at the University of Toronto, Victoria University, University of St. Michael’s College and University of Toronto Schools, including approximately 3,500 casual employees.