United Steelworkers Canada News Feed http://www.uswca.org/news/media-centre/releases/rss United Steelworkers Canada Releases Feed Wed, 06 Dec 2017 13:42:00 -0500 AMPS en hourly 1 Ken Neumann Statement for International Human Rights Day, December 10, 2017 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/ken-neumann-statement-intl-human-rights-day-2017 Wed, 06 Dec 2017 13:42:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/ken-neumann-statement-intl-human-rights-day-2017 Each year on December 10, the United Steelworkers observe Human Rights Day. The day commemorates the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) by the United Nations. The recognition of human rights is at the core of Steelworkers' values and activism.

This year, along with recognizing the routine good work of our local equality activists, I would like to highlight three areas of national and international interest. These are the effectiveness of international solidarity, the income gap for racialized and Indigenous workers and hate crimes against equality seeking groups.

The Steelworkers is an international union. It is notable that recently the successful settlement of our nine-month strike at Glencore demonstrated the power of international solidarity. On December 10 this year, our global partners, including IndustriALL, will take global action on International Human Rights Day to highlight Glencore’s violations of workers’ rights around the world. This action relates to Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, maintaining the right to join a union and to take part in union activities.

As a union promoting the wages of our members and economic fairness in Canada, it is important to note that the 2016 census from Statistics Canada shows significant income inequality for three equality-seeking groups – Indigenous people, racialized Canadians and immigrants.

For Indigenous people, the income gap is 25% when compared to the rest of Canadians. Further broken down, there is a 45% income gap between Indigenous women and non-Indigenous men.

There is also significant disparity between racialized and non-racialized Canadians. The income gap for racialized Canadians is 26% compared to the non-racialized population. Holding true to the trend of gender disparity, there is a 47% gap between racialized women and non-racialized men. For recent immigrants, the income gap was 63% when compared to non-immigrants. And for women who are recent immigrants, there is a 59% difference to non-immigrant men. 

Based on the 2016 census from Statistics Canada, we see that hate crimes against equality-seeking groups continue to rise in this country. It is important to note that one-fifth of Canadians in 2016 were foreign born, with diverse religious practices.

2017 began with a violent mass shooting at the Grande Mosquée de Québec. This violence left six men dead. Actions such as these are recognized in the Criminal Code of Canada as crimes recognized to be hate propaganda or hate crimes. These types of crimes include advocating genocide, public incitement of hatred, willful promotion of hatred and mischief motivated by hate in relation to religious property.

Yet hate crime extends beyond Islamophobia. According to Statistics Canada, police-reported hate crime in 2016 showed increases against South Asians, Middle Eastern people and the LGBT2S population. Notably, the 2016 census shows that more hate crimes were violent. Seventy-one per cent of hate crimes motivated by the victims' sexual orientation were violent crimes, and 27% of hate crimes targeting religion and 45% targeting ethnicity were violent.

As a union committed to human rights, I call on Steelworkers to:

  • Continue to lobby for equality legislation both in Canada and internationally.
  • Continue our strong presence in the labour movement in Canada and internationally.
  • Negotiate strong equality language in our collective bargaining agreements, particularly with global companies.
  • Support global solidarity through negotiated contributions to the Steelworkers Humanity Fund.
  • Close the income gap for workers from equality-seeking groups in our workplaces.
  • Extend our support for associations and social justice partners in the fight against hate crimes.

In solidarity,

Ken Neumann
National Director

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Marty Warren Statement for International Human Rights Day, December 10th, 2017 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/marty-warren-statement-intl-human-rights-day-2017 Wed, 06 Dec 2017 13:29:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/marty-warren-statement-intl-human-rights-day-2017 Each year on December 10, the United Steelworkers observe International Human Rights Day. The day commemorates the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) by the United Nations.

The recognition of human rights is at the core of Steelworker values and activism. As the Director of District 6, I strongly support human rights internationally, and specifically, for the regions of Canada that District 6 covers. 

In Ontario, it is significant that new labour laws came into effect in November. Some of these laws have direct consequences for equality-seeking groups, specifically women, people with physical and mental disabilities and parents.

Victims of domestic or sexual violence, or parents who have experienced or are threatened with it, will get five days of paid leave and 17 weeks of job-protected unpaid leave. Employers will not be allowed to request a sick note from employees taking personal emergency leave. Parents whose children die will get unpaid leave of up to 104 weeks.

We know that most workers in home care and community services are women and racialized people. It is important that new legislation makes unionization easier for workers in these sectors.

In major urban areas, carding and racial profiling of equality-seeking groups continues to be a problem. It is notable that the Human Rights Commission in Ontario is launching an inquiry into police practices in Toronto. The inquiry will insist that data be used to determine the impact of police practices on Black and other racialized communities. The use of data is important as it moves police bias away from public stereotypes of racialized people. 

In the Maritime provinces, the United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent (the Working Group) visited Halifax in 2016. In the 1960s, the city of Halifax forcibly evicted Africville’s Black residents, demolished their houses and church, and relocated them to a housing project in the north end of Halifax. Few residents saw any compensation for the loss of their homes and livelihoods. The Working Group’s report recommended that Canada apologize for slavery, pay reparations and build a national department of African Canadian Affairs. 

To advance human rights in our District, I urge members to:

  • Join with like-minded labour and community allies to stop racial profiling by police.
  • Continue our organizing efforts in sectors of employment and workplaces with large numbers of equality-seeking workers.
  • Create and maintain Human Rights Committees in our locals and units.
  • Promote and attend Steelworkers education workshops in human rights and anti-harassment in the workplace.
  • Lobby federal, provincial and municipal politicians to implement the UN’s Working Group recommendations.

In solidarity,

Marty Warren
USW District 6 Director

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Steelworkers To Rally Outside Saskatoon City Hall In Defence of Taxi Jobs http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/steelworkers-rally-in-defence-of-taxi-jobs Mon, 04 Dec 2017 14:33:23 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/steelworkers-rally-in-defence-of-taxi-jobs SASKATOON – Members of the United Steelworkers Local 2014 and the Steelworkers Taxi Council will hold a rally outside Saskatoon City Hall to protest the introduction of ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft to the city.

The rally will take place during the Transportation Network Companies Committee meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 5 at 2:00 p.m. CST.

“Our drivers work every day of the year providing our community safe, comfortable and reliable service,” says Malik Draz, President of USW Local 2014. “Ride-hailing apps offer no guarantees about accepting fares around the clock, and the notion that they will help with transportation needs during peak times, such as holidays or peak events is completely unfounded.”

The Steelworkers want to see a modernized taxi industry that will be beneficial to both the public and taxi workers.

Details:

What: United Steelworkers Taxi Council Rally

When: Dec. 5, 2017 at 2:00 p.m.

Where: Saskatoon City Hall (222 3rd Ave North)

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Ken Neumann’s Statement for December 6, the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/ken-neumann-statement-dec-6-2017 Fri, 01 Dec 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/ken-neumann-statement-dec-6-2017 Harvey Weinstein was the first revelation. Now the news and social media are full of reports of powerful men sexually harassing women who just want to work. It’s shocking to see what has passed for “normal”, because of fear on the one hand, and apathy or self-interest on the other.

Sexual harassment grows from a poisoned root: the undervaluing and oppression of women, just because they are women. It’s the same root that produces all forms of violence against women.

On December 6, we remember the women murdered at Montreal’s École Polytechnique, and all women whose lives have been taken by husbands, fathers, boyfriends, or others who put no value on their lives.

On December 6, let’s recommit ourselves to valuing women’s abilities, potentials, and lives. As individuals or as members of organizations and of society, our actions have an impact and do make a difference.

In solidarity,

Ken Neumann
National Director

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Marty Warren’s Statement for December 6, the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/marty-warren-statement-dec-6-2017 Fri, 01 Dec 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/marty-warren-statement-dec-6-2017 Violence against women continues to be a significant problem in Canadian society. For all of our modern technology, we haven’t yet put an end to sexual harassment, domestic violence, sexual assault, mainly perpetrated by men against women.

As we solemnly mark December 6, the national day to remember and act on violence against women, I am pleased to say that our district is taking some important steps to acknowledge and address the problem.

Beginning in December 2017, it will be district policy that all USW bargaining committees go to the table seeking language to support survivors of domestic violence in our workplaces. That support includes leaves of absence as well as other measures. And work will begin soon in our district to pilot the creation of a system of domestic-violence first responders in a local union.

December 6 is a reminder for us to take action to end violence against women. Acting to end the problem is one of the best ways to honour and remember those whose lives have been taken. 

In solidarity,

Marty Warren
USW District 6 Director

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Ontario Labour Reforms a Start Toward Fairness in a Changing Economy, says USW http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/ontario-labour-reforms-a-start-toward-fairness-in-a-changing-economy-says-usw Thu, 23 Nov 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/ontario-labour-reforms-a-start-toward-fairness-in-a-changing-economy-says-usw TORONTO - Yesterday's passage of Bill 148 (the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act) by the Ontario Legislature makes changes to Ontario's labour and employment laws that should be seen as the first in a series of necessary steps toward fairer employee rights, says the United Steelworkers (USW).

"Bill 148 is not the comprehensive overhaul that is needed for Ontario's labour laws, but it will help many employees and our union is proud of the role our members played in its development," said USW Ontario Director Marty Warren.

The new laws provide a fairer path for some employees to choose union membership as well as strengthened employment standards in areas including minimum wages and scheduling. Other measures include better rights for union members during lockouts and strikes and greater powers for the provincial labour board to remedy illegal actions by employers.

"Our union works hard for improved labour and employment laws," said Warren. "We gave the government's advisory process our best input and ideas, but just as importantly, our members were front and centre at the hearings and in the streets making their views heard."

Absent from Bill 148 is an innovative shift in bargaining structures that could have efficiently and fairly addressed the needs of tens of thousands of workers in the franchise sector. Broader-based bargaining, recommended to the Minister of Labour by his own expert advisors, was absent from Bill 148.

"We'll keep on pushing for more effective and durable solutions like broader-based bargaining," said Warren. "We hope that this government will soon set up plans to consider this and we expect the opposition parties to take a stand as well."

The USW was a strong supporter of the Ontario Federation of Labour's "Make It Fair" campaign and supported amendments proposed by the Ontario NDP such as three weeks of paid vacation after the first year of employment and extending card-check certification rights to all employees.

"We are disappointed that those amendments did not find support from the government. We'll keep employee rights on the front burner in next spring's provincial election campaign," said Warren.

View the full list of the labour law reform priorities identified by the USW

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Open Letter to Community and Social Services Minister Jaczek http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/open-letter-to-community-and-social-services-minister-jaczek Mon, 20 Nov 2017 11:09:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/open-letter-to-community-and-social-services-minister-jaczek Dear Hon. Minister Jaczek,

I am writing to you on behalf of the 12 women who are staff at the Sudbury Counselling Centre to bring to your attention a situation at the centre and ask for your assistance.

Members of the Sudbury community, particularly the francophone community, are experiencing hardship and a loss of services they need due to the intransigence of management in a labour dispute at the Sudbury Counselling Centre.

The Sudbury Counselling Centre is supposed to be there to help, but its clients are suffering as the centre’s management prolongs a strike with staff.

Twelve members of USW Local 2020, all women, have been on strike at the Sudbury Counselling Centre since Oct. 16. While the union has compromised in negotiations, the employer maintains a hard line demanding unnecessary language changes in the contract.

Clients have been without their counselling and programs for over five weeks and it’s time for the Sudbury Counselling Centre’s partners to get involved. Partners include the Ministry of Community and Social Services, the Ministry of the Attorney General, the Ministry of Transportation and the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

Partners such as your ministry rely on the centre to be offering needed services to the community.         

The staff at the centre provide counseling and psychotherapy, Employee Assistance Programs, partner assault response for women and men, counselling for women experiencing domestic violence, assistance for male survivors of sexual violence, mental health counselling and more.

Staff are passionate about their work, invested in their jobs and their clients. Staff want to continue helping the people of Sudbury, as they have done since 1971, including providing programs for the francophone community that are not available anywhere else in the community.

There has never been a problem with the collective agreement at the centre, until now, under the centre’s new management.

Negotiations have been difficult with the employer demanding concessions around working conditions and a significant re-write of an employment contract that has been effective for over 30 years. The employer is attacking its loyal and dedicated staff for no reason, and as a result, the community is without services it needs, compounding hardship on people who are already vulnerable and in traumatic situations.

The Ministry of Community and Social Services is a partner of the Sudbury Counselling Centre.

As a partner of the centre, you can help by asking management to respect staff and return to the bargaining table with an honest commitment to reaching a fair agreement.

You can reach Sudbury Counselling Centre Executive Director Carole Lamoureux at 705-524-9629 ext. 203 or CLamoureux@counsellingccs.com.

The staff and the union have demonstrated goodwill and an interest in progress towards a fair contract. Unfortunately, and to the detriment of the community, centre management continues to hold to hard-line positions, prolonging the strike.

Please ask management at the Sudbury Counselling Centre to return to the negotiating table with a commitment to respect staff and reach a fair contract.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Yours truly,

Marty Warren
Director, District 6 (Ontario & Atlantic Canada)
United Steelworkers

c.c. Hon., Yasir Naqvi, Attorney General, Hon. Steven Del Duca, Minister of Transportation, Katharine Bambrick, Chief Executive Officer, Ontario Trillium Foundation

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Community Suffers As Counselling Centre Management Hardens Line Against Staff http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/community-suffers-as-counselling-centre-hardens-line Thu, 16 Nov 2017 11:01:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/community-suffers-as-counselling-centre-hardens-line SUDBURY – The Sudbury Counselling Centre is supposed to be there to help, but its clients are suffering as the centre’s management prolongs a strike with staff.

Talks broke down yesterday as management refused to move off hard-line positions in the dispute.

The 12 staff, all women, members of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 2020, have been on strike for a fair deal since Oct. 16. The Sudbury community has shown support for staff at a number of rallies and picket-line events.

“If it was the employer’s intent to divide the staff, the opposite has happened. Staff are stronger, more united than ever,” said USW Staff Representative Lynne Descary.

While the union has compromised in negotiations, the employer maintains a hard line on unnecessary language changes. Talks have broken down and the employer has left the table, leaving clients without the services and programs they need.

“By refusing to negotiate fairly, the centre’s management is compounding hardship on people who are already vulnerable and in traumatic situations,” said Descary.

The staff offer counselling and psychotherapy, deliver Employee Assistance Programs, partner assault response for women and men, counselling for women experiencing domestic violence, assistance for male survivors of sexual violence, mental health counselling and more.

“The union has made significant movement on contract language at the employer’s request, even though the employer can demonstrate no history of problems with the language,” said Descary, noting the counselling centre has operated since 1971.

“These women are passionate about the work they do. They’re invested in their jobs and their clients. They come to work because they care about the clients. Unfortunately, the new management suddenly doesn’t feel the same way,” said USW Ontario Director Marty Warren.

“The employer is demanding concessions around working conditions and a significant re-write of an employment contract that’s been effective for over 30 years. There’s been no history of grievances with the employment contract. The employer is attacking these workers for no reason,” said Descary.

Management continues to demand concessionary language changes; demands the staff find unacceptable and that will lead to a degradation of the counselling centre’s services.

Staff want to continue helping the people of Sudbury, as they have done since 1971, including providing programs for the francophone community that are not available anywhere else in the community.

Staff are asking supporters to contact management and request that the employer respect staff by returning to the table with an honest commitment to reach a fair agreement. Contact Executive Director Carole Lamoureux at 705-524-9629 ext. 203 (CLamoureux@counsellingccs.com) and Program Manager Sika Eliev at ext. 212.

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End Pension Theft http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/end-pension-theft Wed, 15 Nov 2017 10:47:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/end-pension-theft Protect pensions from corporate theft.

Canadians rely on their pensions to retire with dignity. But when big companies fail, they take the money meant for pensions and pay off wealthy CEOs, banks and investors instead.

Steelworker and NDP MP Scott Duvall is calling on the Liberals to fix the bankruptcy laws that put their wealthy insider friends ahead of hardworking Canadians.

About 150 Steelworkers and supporters, including USW National Director Ken Neumann and District 6 Director Marty Warren, joined Duvall (NDP Hamilton Mountain) at the Hamilton Steelworkers Hall in September when he announced the NDP’s End Pension Theft campaign.

On Nov. 6, Duvall introduced his private member’s bill in Parliament, Bill C-384. Busloads of Steelworkers joined Duvall and new federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh on Parliament Hill in Ottawa for the announcement.

Under the bill, pensioners would become secured creditors in bankruptcy cases and their pension plans would have to be fully funded before other creditors could be paid.

The legislation would prevent companies and courts from suspending retirees’ health benefits during restructuring proceedings – an insidious practice that recently victimized thousands of USW pensioners at U.S. Steel (Stelco) in Ontario and at Cliffs Natural Resources in Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador.

The Sears Canada bankruptcy case – just the latest such scandal to devastate thousands of workers and pensioners – adds to the mountain of evidence that federal laws must be reformed.

“Far too many Canadians have suffered due to decades of inaction by successive Liberal and Conservative governments,” said Neumann. “It is time for the Trudeau Liberals – who campaigned on improving retirement security – to support meaningful change that will protect workers and pensioners.”

Steelworkers stand with Duvall and Canada’s NDP in this effort to End Pension Theft.

Add your name to the NDP’s End Pension Theft campaign

Sign the e-petition to the House of Commons (E-1261)

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New USW Women’s Committees Course Pilot a Huge Success http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/new-usw-womens-committees-course-pilot-a-huge-success Mon, 13 Nov 2017 11:51:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/new-usw-womens-committees-course-pilot-a-huge-success ORILLIA—November 3, 2017—Six new USW Women’s Committees will be up and running soon, after Women of Steel representing local unions attended the pilot of “USW Women’s Committees—Leading Together” at the District 6 fall school, October 30-November 3.

“It helped to answer questions and gain confidence in our ability to set up and run a committee,” said one participant.

“I would recommend this course to any woman who is interested in becoming involved in any way in her local union”, said another sister. “It was very informative and really hit home as to why it is important to have women involved in making sure women’s needs are considered in every local union.”

“USW Women’s Committees—Leading Together” provides tools for starting up a new committee as well as for revitalizing an existing committee. Participants identify issues that are important to women in their local unions, develop action plans and budgets to support work on those issues, and learn techniques to engage more women in committee events.

“I came in having very little knowledge and I’m leaving ready and able to make a difference,” one participant remarked.

The women’s committee course was recently revised and updated. For more information or to see about scheduling the course in your area or region, please contact your District Education Coordinator or District Women of Steel Coordinator.

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Be More Than a Bystander - Break the Silence on Violence Against Women http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/be-more-than-a-bystander-break-the-silence-on-violence-against-women Tue, 31 Oct 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/be-more-than-a-bystander-break-the-silence-on-violence-against-women “Be More Than a Bystander” is a groundbreaking initiative between the Ending Violence Association of BC (EVA BC) and the BC Lions aimed at substantially increasing awareness and understanding about the impact of men’s violence against women.

TRAINING OPPORTUNITY FOR DISTRICT 3 MEMBERS: BE MORE THAN A BYSTANDER SPOKESPERSON

The United Steelworkers in District 3 are partnering with the Ending Violence Association of BC (EVA BC) in a ground-breaking initiative to “Break the Silence” on violence against women. The “Be More Than a Bystander” campaign is the result of a partnership between the Ending Violence Association of BC and the BC Lions Football Club that has trained over 100,000 people in British Columbia since 2011 on how to speak up and break the silence on violence against women. 

The campaign has also made two new films and numerous videos on the subject, won many awards, has reached over 800 million impressions on social and mainstream media and has been profiled by the United Nations at the 57th Commission on the Status of Women in New York City. 

Working together, EVA BC and the BC Lions have developed and delivered a number of three-day intensive train the trainer courses and developed sector specific tailored programs that raise awareness and change attitudes. Some of the other groups they have trained and supported the implementation of the Bystander program include the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Saskatchewan Amateur Football, British Columbia Institute of Technology, Simon Fraser University, and others. 

In order to ensure USW leaders and the entire organization are confident and ready to take on this important work, intensive training will be developed and delivered to build skills, competencies, abilities and analysis to prepare spokesmen for their roles as leaders for the organization in this program.

After the intensive training, the successful applicants will be equipped to lead sessions in USW locals and workplaces.

The curriculum will cover the following:

Overview of Violence Against Women
• Understand the incidence of sexual assault, domestic violence and sexual harassment in Canada
• Understand the historic role of women’s leadership in this area
• Understand the partnerships this program is built upon
• Understand the basics of the psychological impacts of gender-based violence to build empathy
• Understand why women rarely come forward
• Understand the various impacts on communities such as Indigenous women, immigrant and refugee women, women who live with disabilities and others

Understanding the Response System
Have basic knowledge related to what anti-violence programs do:

  • Crisis response
  • Empowering approaches
  • Assisting with reporting
  • Supporting women to get medical attention
  • Making effective referrals and other advocacy

• Have basic skills to respond appropriately to a disclosure themselves in the immediate, such as during or after a presentation. They will know what to do, what to say and where to refer.
• Understand the laws surrounding domestic violence and sexual assault, including sexual consent.

The Bystander Model
Have in-depth understanding of the bystander intervention model including:

  • Why these are men’s issues
  • What role socialized masculinity plays towards violence in society
  • What is sexism and misogyny
  • The pressure to be tough and not empathic
  • Media literacy and understanding the role of media in establishing and maintaining social norms
  • The power of men stepping in and speaking up
  • The role of bystander intervention as a men’s leadership issue
  • Know what options there are to speak up/interrupt abuse and violence; with people they know and with strangers
The first training session will be held in conjunction with the 2018 Canadian Labour Congress Winter School, February 13th to February 16th in Harrison Hot Springs, BC. All costs will be covered by the District.

The in-person training course will include participation from the BC Lions and Winnipeg Blue Bombers players, who will be working in conjunction with an experienced EVA BC trainer.

Click Here to Apply

Application deadline is December 1, 2017



          

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USW Taxi Workers Council Responds to Government's Move to Open Door to Uber, Lyft http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/usw-taxi-workers-council-responds-to-governments-move-to-open-door-to-uber-lyft Thu, 26 Oct 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/usw-taxi-workers-council-responds-to-governments-move-to-open-door-to-uber-lyft REGINA, Oct. 26, 2017 - The United Steelworkers (USW) Taxi Workers Council is expressing serious concerns regarding the Sask Party Government's move to open the door for Uber, Lyft and other ride-hailing alternatives.

While the Premier has cloaked the effort as an initiative to reduce drunk driving, Steelworkers are pointing out that if he is concerned with public safety then unregulated taxi alternatives will achieve the exact opposite.

"Our drivers adhere to strict safety rules, from police background checks to annual car inspections, as well as enhanced driver training," says Malik Draz, Chair of the USW Taxi Workers Council. "Premier Wall fails to think of our most vulnerable populations like people with disabilities and the elderly who require specialized transportation service which our industry offers."

Ride hailing apps offer no guarantees of service for these vulnerable members of our society or the guaranteed availability of service 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

"The government is rushing a decision that neglects public needs and safety and ignores the livelihoods of taxi industry workers," says Stephen Hunt, USW Western Canada Director.

The union believes it is essential that the government commit to a public consultation process with affected individuals, organizations and the public at-large.

The USW Taxi Workers Council represents 600 drivers and dispatchers across Western Canada. The Council was established this week to advocate on behalf of workers and our communities for a fairer and safer taxi industry.

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United Steelworkers Endorse Trent Wotherspoon for Saskatchewan NDP Leader http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/usw-endorse-trent-wotherspoon-sask-ndp-leader Thu, 26 Oct 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/usw-endorse-trent-wotherspoon-sask-ndp-leader REGINA, Oct. 26, 2017 - The United Steelworkers, with its 16 local unions and two retiree chapters in Saskatchewan, is proud to announce its endorsement of Trent Wotherspoon for Leader of the Saskatchewan New Democratic Party.

USW represents over 6,000 active members working in the private sector in the province. USW members work as uranium and potash miners, making steel and pipe, in sawmills and forestry operations, as taxi drivers, in offices and in a range of other manufacturing and service industries.

"Our members work hard and contribute to their communities and province and we see in Trent a leader who understands and embodies that hard work," said Stephen Hunt, USW Western Canada Director.

"Our union and our locals are fully behind Trent and the Saskatchewan NDP. The people of Saskatchewan need a Premier and government that puts working families first and governs for everyone, not just the privileged few," Hunt said.

"It's a tremendous honour to earn the support of the United Steelworkers, workers who build our economy and build communities all across Saskatchewan," said Wotherspoon. "Together, we are committed to defeating the Sask. Party and building a province that works for everyone."

USW made the decision following a meeting of its local leaders. The union heard from both leadership candidates – Wotherspoon and MLA Ryan Meili – before unanimously endorsing Wotherspoon.

"While our local leaders were unanimous in their endorsement of Trent, they were equally strong in their praise for Ryan, for his contributions to the party, his ideas to move the province forward and for putting himself forward as a candidate for Leader," said Hunt. "Our union is extremely proud to be a part of the Saskatchewan NDP and we are optimistic about the leadership of our party heading into the next election."

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Gélinas Calls for Fairness for Counselling Centre Staff http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/gelinas-calls-for-fairness-for-counselling-staff Thu, 19 Oct 2017 09:08:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/gelinas-calls-for-fairness-for-counselling-staff SUDBURY – Nickel Belt MPP France Gélinas will visit the picket line of Local 2020 on Friday to show support for counselling staff and call for fairness.

WHAT: Picket Line Support Event for USW Local 2020
on strike at Sudbury Counselling Centre

WHEN: Friday, Oct. 20, 2017, 11:00 a.m.

WHERE: USW Local 2020 Picket Line
Sudbury Counselling Centre
260 Cedar St.

WHO: Nickel Belt MPP France Gélinas and members of USW Local 2020

A staff of 12, including psychotherapists, counsellors and administrative staff – all women – are on strike. Working at a charitable non-profit centre is by no means highly paid, but it’s not about the money.

Staff want to continue helping the people of Sudbury, as they have done since 1971, including providing programs for the francophone community that are not available anywhere else in the community.

On strike since Mon., Oct. 16, staff welcome the support from community allies such as Gélinas.

“The employer is demanding concessions around working conditions and a re-write of an employment contract that’s been effective for over 30 years. There’s been no history of grievances with the employment contract. The employer is attacking these workers for no reason,” said Lynne Descary, USW Staff Representative.

Counselling staff offer counselling and psychotherapy, deliver Employee Assistance Programs, partner assault response for women and men, counselling for women experiencing sexual and domestic violence, assistance for male survivors of sexual violence, mental health counselling and more.

“Staff on the picket line are emotional because clients are showing up for appointments and leaving in tears when they find out the services they need aren’t available. Management has made no effort to let clients know services are suspended,” said Descary.

Counselling staff are apologizing to clients and to community partners who refer clients to the centre. While on strike, the counselling staff will continue to offer the Child Witness Program to young children scheduled to appear in court.

The staff members are asking clients and agency partners to contact management and ask the employer to respect the staff and return to the table with an honest commitment to reach a fair agreement.

The existing collective agreement expired on July 31. Bargaining since August 24, there’s been no movement after four conciliation meetings.

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Brutal Assaults on Saskatoon Taxi Drivers Must Stop http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/brutal-assaults-on-saskatoon-taxi-drivers-must-stop Tue, 17 Oct 2017 15:08:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/brutal-assaults-on-saskatoon-taxi-drivers-must-stop SASKATOON, Oct. 17, 2017 - A taxi driver from Comfort Cabs is recovering after a brutal attack by a passenger on Oct. 13. The attack serves as a reminder of the dangers that taxi drivers face every shift. The driver was left with severe bruising to his face, as well as other defensive injuries as he attempted to protect himself from an abusive passenger

Despite calls to mandate protective guards and amber flashing emergency lights on taxis, these measures were not implemented. Instead, the status quo of emergency buttons continues to be used so drivers can press them to notify dispatch of emergency situations. Then the dispatcher can use integrated GPS technology to call emergency services. The status quo continues to be inadequate to prevent assaults.

"We are calling on our city council to reopen the discussion about taxi driver safety," said Malik Draz, President of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 2014, representing over 500 drivers in the Saskatoon area. "With three recent, serious incidents against drivers, the time to act is now. We must work together to legislate protective equipment and ensure that the violent perpetrators are held criminally accountable for these assaults."

"Health and safety for workers is a top priority of the United Steelworkers and one of the reasons that our union has started representing taxi drivers," said Steve Hunt, USW Western Canada Director. "No worker should ever be put at risk during a regular work day. Everyone has the right to return home safely. Taxi drivers are no exception."

In March of this year, a driver form Comfort Cabs was stabbed multiple times as he tried to defend himself during a robbery. March also saw the shocking and racist attack on Mohammad Ahkgar, who said such attacks have occurred in the past.

In July of this year, Saskatoon City Council discussed the need to enforce plastic protective guards or amber light call buttons; however no change was officially made to the Taxi Bylaw. A proposed amendment to the bylaw, which would require safety equipment and amber flashing lights that signal an emergency to passersby, was referred back to the Standing Policy Committee on Transportation in August.

"Drivers can't wait for action any longer," said Mike Pulak, a USW staff representative. "These assaults are not isolated incidents and these three attacks are just the ones that were reported. Many drivers face verbal and physical assaults. City hall needs to take action to improve their working conditions now."

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Regina Cabs Ignoring City Bylaw Change, Taxi Drivers Blocked from Using City-Issued Licenses http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/regina-taxi-drivers-blocked-from-using-city-issued-licenses Thu, 12 Oct 2017 11:46:57 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/regina-taxi-drivers-blocked-from-using-city-issued-licenses REGINA, Oct. 12, 2017 - Taxi drivers are calling out Regina Cabs management for their refusal to recognize drivers with taxi plates issued through a newly amended city distribution system.

In August of this year, a change was made to a city bylaw to issue taxi plates directly to drivers, instead of brokers who lease them back to drivers for steep monthly fees. This change is a first step to a fairer, equitable system, which provides better service to the public and gives more choice and control to drivers over their working conditions.

Regina Cabs, which in previous years would have been issued the plates directly, is refusing to allow drivers who were awarded plates through the new lottery system to work under their name.

"This move by Regina Cabs is a slap in the face to public, taxi drivers and Regina City Council," says Muhammad Ameer, a driver with Regina Cabs.

"We knew that the brokers weren't happy about the change. In fact, the owner of Regina Cabs lobbied to keep the former, broken system intact," says Leslie McNabb, United Steelworkers Staff Representative.

United Steelworkers represents over 500 taxi drivers in the province of Saskatchewan and has been fighting for better working condition for the industry for over five years.

"Our members have been mistreated, bullied and taken advantage of by the broker companies that charge fees to drivers which in many cases means they don't even make minimum wage per-hour," says Steve Hunt, Western Canada Director for the United Steelworkers. "The taxi industry has run with impunity for many years and it's time for them to be held accountable."

The Regina system is not unique as it was modelled after a similar system in Saskatoon. The Steelworkers are demanding that the City take steps to ensure that all the seasonal taxi plates are in operation for the winter season when our community so desperately needs them.

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Steelworkers at PTI Manitoba Inc. Ratify New Agreement, Company Must Work to Rebuild Trust After Lockout http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/steelworkers-at-pti-manitoba-inc-ratify-new-agreement Wed, 27 Sep 2017 17:26:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/steelworkers-at-pti-manitoba-inc-ratify-new-agreement WINNIPEG, Sept. 27, 2017 - Members of United Steelworkers Local 4297, employed by PTI Manitoba Inc., have voted in favour of ratifying a new collective agreement with their employer.

The agreement comes after a challenging round of bargaining during which PTI Manitoba management demanded a number of concessions that would have rolled back decades worth of improvements to the collective agreement and proceeded with a lockout of their own employees.

"Our members have demonstrated the true meaning of solidarity. Faced with attacks by management, Steelworkers stood together and supported the work of the bargaining committee to achieve a fair deal that protects the pension plan and maintains retirement security for all employees," says Roy Leslie, USW Staff Representative.

"USW members at PTI Manitoba Inc. take great pride in their work and have given 100%. Management's attempts to turn the clock back have done tremendous harm to the relationship with their employees as well as the community," says Stephen Hunt, United Steelworkers Director for Western Canada.

"The ball is now firmly in their court to rebuild a relationship based on trust and respect."

Local 4297 thanks the family members of Steelworkers and the many community members and organizations for their support during the lockout.

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Statement from USW District 6 Director Marty Warren for October 4, National Day to Commemorate Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/marty-warren-statement-october-4-2017 Tue, 26 Sep 2017 12:15:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/marty-warren-statement-october-4-2017 On October 4 we remember the many hundreds of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls across this country. We especially remember the Steelworker sisters who have been taken from us, and we remember the Steelworker families who are grieving.

October 4 is a day of sadness, but also of some hope. I hope that the National Inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women will provide a safe, effective space for families to share their stories and for the inquiry commissioners to make wise recommendations to end the violence.

Please attend an October 4 vigil wherever you are. The list below is one source of details about the many events being organized.

USW District 6 is also happy to support the “Walking with Our Sisters” travelling art installation, next in Toronto October 15-29 at the Aboriginal Education Centre, 16 Phin Avenue. If you can, attend this beautiful and moving exhibition to commemorate those who are gone but not forgotten.

In solidarity,

Marty Warren
Director, District 6

 

Check the Native Women’s Association of Canada’s list of vigils 

Walking with Our Sisters 

USW Support to Attend the National Inquiry 

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Statement from USW National Director Ken Neumann for October 4, National Day to Commemorate Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/ken-neumann-statement-october-4-2017 Tue, 26 Sep 2017 12:03:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/ken-neumann-statement-october-4-2017 October 4 is the day Canadians attend vigils and other events honouring missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Sadly, included in the missing and murdered are Steelworker sisters and the family members of Steelworkers.

The National Inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women was created just over one year ago, and has now held some community hearings. The families need a chance to tell their stories, and all Canadians need to listen, in particular those who shape our country’s laws and institutions.

To support Steelworkers who have lost loved ones to this crisis and who want to attend or testify at a hearing, USW has set aside funds to cover some costs. Members who are interested in applying for financial support or learning more about how they can take part in the National Inquiry should contact USW’s National Inquiry Coordinator, Carolyn Szilva, at coord@usw.ca or at (705) 207-8515.

This October 4, hundreds of Steelworkers will be in Vancouver at our National Health, Safety, Environment, and Human Rights Conference. We will remember and honour missing and murdered Indigenous women during the conference, and join in a community event later in the day.

Please attend an October 4 event in your community. Look at the list below, prepared by the Native Women’s Association of Canada, or check with women’s shelters or Indigenous people’s organizations in your home community.

In solidarity,

Ken Neumann
National Director

 

Check the Native Women’s Association of Canada’s list of vigils 

USW Support to Attend the National Inquiry 

Ken Neumann’s open letter to the Prime Minister 

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N.L. Government Ignoring Safety Concerns at NARL Refinery http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/nl-government-ignoring-safety-concerns-at-narl-refinery Thu, 31 Aug 2017 08:41:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/nl-government-ignoring-safety-concerns-at-narl-refinery COME BY CHANCE, NL, Aug. 31, 2017 - The union representing North Atlantic Refining Limited employees is calling out the provincial government for ignoring concerns reminiscent of the troubling conditions leading up to a fatal explosion at the Come By Chance refinery in 1998.

"Our concerns over health and safety have fallen on deaf ears for too long. The government's duty is to protect working people. They're shirking that duty," said Glenn Nolan, President of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 9316.

"We feel that we've got the company and the government working against us," said Perry Feltham, USW Local 9316 Vice-President and chair of the union's health and safety committee at the NARL refinery.

"This is what our people experienced 20 years ago – an environment in which workers felt ignored by the government and the employer," said Feltham, who worked at the Come By Chance refinery in March 1998, when an explosion and fire caused the deaths of two co-workers, Jerome Kieley and James Mercer.

The current NARL ownership group purchased the refinery in 2014.

For the better part of two years, the union has repeatedly raised health and safety concerns to government bureaucrats and cabinet ministers, including most recently Sherry Gambin-Walsh, Minister Responsible for Workplace NL.

"The minister says her staff are looking into our concerns, but the government has known about these issues for so long, we can't keep waiting. We need action," Nolan said.

The union's concerns include its contention that both the government and NARL have failed to live up to commitments to embrace a Process Safety Management code of practice that was adopted by all three parties in 2014.

The Process Safety Management system gives workers a right to be involved in planning process changes, developing safe work procedures, training and other aspects of process safety in the refinery.

"Our refinery became the first one in the country to adopt this Process Safety Management system. But we've repeatedly raised concerns that the government and the company have not lived up to the commitments they made. Those concerns haven't been taken seriously by the government," Nolan said.

"We're calling on the government to engage with us and take meaningful action to help resolve the legitimate health and safety concerns that our members have at NARL, before things get worse."

A public inquiry into the fatal explosion at the Come By Chance refinery in 1998 uncovered a dysfunctional and confrontational labour-management relationship at the refinery – particularly regarding health and safety issues – as well as a lack of provincial government involvement and oversight.

"It is clear that a wide gulf existed between the ground-level unionized employees and management before March 1998," the inquiry's final report stated.

"Ground-level employees, in particular maintenance, safety and operation employees, almost without exception testified that they felt out of the loop when it came to planning and changes to operating and working procedures. This is nowhere more apparent than in safety issues."

The inquiry report cited a "union/management deterioration of relations to a point where employees described the situation as 'us' versus 'them' in the work environment. This can be seen in the minutes of the (health and safety) committee where employees often brought up matters and it is apparent that they were only dealt with slowly and sometimes not at all."

"We have been experiencing many of the same concerns that existed at the time of the tragedy, but the government doesn't seem to care. Our joint health and safety committee has been dysfunctional for almost two years. The management of change process is not being followed," Nolan said.

"It's back to the 'us-versus-them' culture. Many, if not most of our health and safety concerns are dismissed by the employer and by the government," Feltham said.

In two recent investigations of workers' concerns, government health and safety officers conducted inspections of the refinery alongside management representatives but without participation of affected workers or their union representatives, Feltham said. In each case, the inspectors endorsed company decisions and declared the workers' concerns resolved, he said.

"The government isn't even following its own rules," Feltham said. "An inspector lifted a stop work order related to emergency response, before the emergency response plan was approved and accepted by the government, which should not happen."

Union representatives were shocked to learn earlier this month of a significant change regarding NARL's policy for responding to a serious fire at the refinery. The union contacted government and company officials directly but has received no response to its questions and concerns.

Despite Feltham's elected positions as the union's vice-president and health and safety committee chairman, he has been barred from the NARL property since July.

Due to a workplace injury last year, Feltham was assigned to perform work that accommodated his injury. But last month the company sent him home, citing a lack of work. The company also changed his employment status to inactive and barred him from the property.

The union has filed a grievance to challenge the company's decision and is considering a human rights complaint based on provincial legislation intended to help injured employees continue working following an injury, Nolan said.

The union also is fighting a grievance over a recent decision by NARL management to suspend three veteran operators at the refinery. The operators were suspended after they had each concluded they could not sign a safe-work permit that would have authorized work they believed could be hazardous.

"This is a very troubling message to send to workers. If they sign off and somebody gets injured, or worse, they'll be the ones who get blamed. If they don't sign off, they're suspended," Feltham said.

Marty Warren, USW District Director for Ontario and Atlantic Canada, called for proactive intervention from the N.L. government.

"It's time for this government to acknowledge the serious concerns of our workers at NARL and to intervene to help resolve these issues," Warren said. "We're not predicting another tragedy; we're saying we are very concerned that history is repeating itself."

For further information:
Glenn Nolan, President of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 9316, 709-730-5146, usw9316@gmail.com; Perry Feltham, USW Local 9316 Vice-President, 709-427-8233, perryfeltham@hotmail.com; Marty Warren, USW District 6 Director, 416-243-8792

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