In this issue:
- We are District 3 and we are everybody’s union!
- Bargaining for better – Labour Day 2022
- Steelworkers at Evraz must be included in review of potential sale
- Airport security screeners demand better working conditions and respect from the federal government
- 2022 USW International Convention highlights
- Saskatoon Folkfest 2022
- Steel Pride ~ Love is love.
- More Starbucks workers vote to join the United Steelworkers
- Steelworkers Humanity Fund contributes $15,000 in emergency aid to support victims of floods in Pakistan
- NDP’s affordability victory is good news for all workers
- Local 480 donates $5,000 to sick children’s fund
- Local 9346 donates 99 backpacks to kids
- 1944 members rise up to demand a fair contract now
- New USW.ca website strengthens our union’s work now and for the future
We are District 3 and we are everybody’s union!
It has been a busy and exciting summer in District 3. Steelworkers across Western Canada participated in training and educational opportunities, attended pride events and parades, set up booths at community and labour day events, and continued the important work of negotiating collective agreements and representing our members through grievances and arbitrations. We were also excited to welcome a number of new Steelworkers through our organizing efforts, including new Starbucks stores.
It made me so proud to see all the District 3 delegates in attendance and participating at the 2022 USW International Constitutional Convention. Our delegation truly represented “Everybody’s Union”, with members from all industries and occupations and locals in Thompson, Manitoba to Vancouver Island and everywhere in between.
It was particularly inspiring to hear from District 3 delegates on stage representing their committees and at the mics speaking on human rights, NextGen, Veterans of Steel and so much more.
As we head into the fall, we look forward to our District 3 School in Kimberley, B.C., the National Gathering of Indigenous Steelworkers, the National Women’s Conference and the (re)launching of the District 3 WOS committee.
Later this fall, Steelworkers will head to Victoria and Edmonton to conduct “Lobby Days” by meeting with Ministers and MLAs to discuss the important issues that impact the livelihoods of our members and workers.
For the first time, District 3 will hold a Staff and Local Union Leadership Education Conference in December that will include speakers and educational sessions.
It’s an exciting time and I thank you for your continued activism and energy.
Scott Lunny, Director
Bargaining for better – Labour Day 2022
Across Canada, Labour Day is more than just a long weekend marking the unofficial end of summer. It’s a chance to look back and celebrate what working people have won together – including the weekend – and to recommit to fighting for more. This year, we have plenty of reasons to do both.
The last couple of years have been hard and now life is getting more expensive. In the face of all this uncertainty, workers in every sector have been looking for fairer treatment and more security. This year, over and over again, from manufacturing to forestry and health care to coffee shops, workers have looked to USW for that strength and solidarity and have taken the step of joining our union.
We’re bargaining in – and for – better days. Still, many of our members are facing big challenges in bargaining and it’s as important as ever that we come together and not let up on winning fair wages, better working conditions and guarantees for pensions and benefits for our members.
It’s also important for us to mark the victories we’ve had beyond the bargaining table, in the halls of government.
In British Columbia, Starbucks workers were the first to take advantage of the NDP government’s new card check law and became Steelworkers. Nationally, the union’s work helped the federal NDP secure clear commitments and timelines from the government on a number of our priorities including dental care, pharmacare, and the first federal anti-scab legislation.
Legislation still needs to be passed to lock in these commitments, fund federal jobs and protect pensions in the case of bankruptcy.
We also finally won our long fight for the right to file trade complaints on our own, without having to work with an employer. This means we can stand up against foreign dumping of everything from steel to mattresses and protect Canadian jobs and whole industries.
But we know our fight isn’t over. CEOs and some governments continue to put shareholders, insiders and the ultra-rich first.
We cannot stop pushing to make sure Canadian workers, materials and products are used in all infrastructure projects and are recognized as central to the success of any plan to rebuild the economy and fight climate change.
Solidarity means working together on the challenges we face and sharing in our opportunities.
And being a member of the United Steelworkers union means being part of the union that is leading the way.
The USW truly is everybody’s union.
Steelworkers at Evraz must be included in review of potential sale
USW members working at Evraz operations in Regina and Calgary learned of the corporation’s intent to sell the company’s North American operations.
“Given ongoing global events and Russia’s continued aggression in Ukraine, the union has anticipated this potential development,” said Scott Lunny, USW Director for Western Canada. “While the USW is in favour of Canada’s actions to support Ukraine, Canadian workers, like those at Evraz, should not have to shoulder the burden of these actions alone.”
“This potential sale creates a great deal of uncertainty for our members at these operations,” added Stacy Hanley, USW Local 6673 President. “We are confident in our members’ work to produce world-class steel with lower emissions than our global competitors.”
These steel-making operations provide family-supporting jobs for hundreds of workers, and workers’ wages support hundreds of others through indirect benefits to the local economy.
“We know our jobs, and the product we make is vital to Canada’s infrastructure needs, and we will work to ensure they remain operating,” said Mike Day, USW Local 5890 President. “Replacing our work with offshore steel is simply not an option for workers and would set back Canada’s efforts to transition to a green economy.”
The USW reached out to the federal government to ensure workers are included in any review of the potential sale and are supported to continue making the quality product they do. The USW also reached out to provincial governments in Alberta and Saskatchewan to ensure continued support of members and the industry.
Evraz operations make up the bulk of Western Canada’s steel-making capacity.
Airport security screeners demand better working conditions and respect from the federal government
Recent long lineups at B.C. airports are causing a public outcry to fix security screening services at the Abbotsford International Airport and Erik Nielsen Whitehorse International Airport.
Employees of Allied Universal Security, an American company contracted by the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) to handle security screening at the Abbotsford and Whitehorse airports, are responsible for pre-board screening of all passengers and non-passengers. Uniformed screening officers are trained to detect hidden weapons, explosives and other items that may be flammable or unintentionally cause a risk to safe air travel. Training is extensive and involves using x-rays, body scanners, metal detectors and full body searches.
“Airport security screening officers across Canada have been disrespected by the federal government for years,” said Marty Warren, USW National Director for Canada.
“Airport security screening officers face tremendous pressure, stress and demands in their jobs, but they are underpaid and undervalued by the federal government,” Warren said.
“Staff turnover is a longstanding problem, as many security officers simply quit to seek jobs with better pay and working conditions, and less stress. This has led to an untenable situation, with serious staffing shortages leading to greater pressure on security officers and unacceptable delays for travellers,” Warren said.
“Screening officers who are governed by hundreds of safe operating procedures are essential to air travel safety to prevent a tragic recurrence of an event like 9-11,” said Al Bieksa, USW Local 2009 President, representing screening officers at Abbotsford Airport. “We have a big problem here of employee recruitment and retention, and if it’s not addressed soon, it will lead to a further staffing shortage caused by burnout.”
Security screeners at numerous airports across the country, members of the USW, are in negotiations for new collective agreements. Members have been wearing jeans as part of “Casual Monday” actions at several airports, to bring public attention to their concerns over low pay and working conditions.
“The federal government is scrambling to respond to the public outcry over airport delays, but it is still failing to mandate the funding needed to provide the wages, working conditions and respect that security screening officers deserve,” added Warren.
The growing chaos in our airports is causing extreme delays for Canadian travellers and increased concern about safety and security in our airports and in the skies. If you agree that we need to end the chaos at our airports, then send a note to your MP today. Take Action: usw.to/supportscreeners.
Conway: ‘We are everybody’s union’
Over 130 delegates and staff from District 3 attended USW’s 2022 Constitutional Convention August 8-11 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
International President Tom Conway opened the Constitutional Convention with an address that celebrated the union’s victories and recommitted the USW to leading the fight for better lives for workers in the coming years.
“We make things. We help people. We are the backbone of this economy,” Conway told the gathered at the MGM Grand Conference Center. “And we are never, ever going to let anyone forget how essential we are.”
Conway, in his first convention address since becoming USW president in 2019, said that Steelworkers in all sectors of the economy – from health care to manufacturing – have proved repeatedly that they are an indispensable part of keeping the nation running, through the COVID-19 pandemic and other challenges.
“The work we’ll be doing here this week,” he said, “is some of the most important we do as a union.”
That work, he said, includes rededicating the USW to its core mission, and laying out a plan for the future to ensure that mission will be successful.
Throughout the week, the USW delegation heard from other speakers and passed a series of resolutions meant to strengthen the union’s commitment to those fights, including a resolution reinforcing the 2022 convention theme, “Everybody’s Union.”
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris addressed convention delegates.
“USW steel built our nation, and USW organizing built our middle class,” Harris said. “You created prosperity and opportunity.”
“This is the beginning of a new era in the American labour movement,” she said. “Led by you – the USW is charting that new era.”
Among the administration’s victories, Harris said, were the $1.2 trillion infrastructure law passed last fall, a new law providing $53 billion for domestic production of semiconductor chips, measures to cut health care and drug costs, and tax credits that reduced child poverty by 40 percent in less than two years.
View photos, videos, resolutions and daily recaps at convention.usw.org.
Order your USW Convention panoramic photo
Order this one-of-a-kind panoramic photo of the thousands of Steelworkers gathered recently for our 2022 Constitutional Convention in Las Vegas. Sold unframed, the photo features the “Everybody’s Union” convention logo. Order your copy at usw.to/47Y.
Bruske commends relentless USW advocacy
Canadian Labour Congress President Bea Bruske applauded USW members for their tireless work fighting on behalf of workers across Canada, through organizing, bargaining strong contracts and enforcing health and safety laws.
“When we need members to show up for workers, Steelworkers are always there,” Bruske said during her address. “You are strong, active members who never shy away from a tough fight.”
Within the current affordability crisis, there is an opportunity to make positive changes for workers, Bruske said.
The labour movement must be aggressive in organizing new members, pushing boundaries and looking to new industries. “We need to be bold, and we need to be loud.”
“This is our moment to seize,” she said. “It’s our time to use our influence and make substantial, lasting change happen.”
Jagmeet Singh: ‘We’re going to keep on fighting’
The Leader of Canada’s New Democratic Party Jagmeet Singh commended Steelworkers for their contributions that make communities a better place.
“Every one of you contributes to making your communities a better place,” said Jagmeet. “Every one of you works hard, for your members, for your fellow workers, where you work, and to make your communities better.”
Singh reminded delegates that changes impact all workers, not just Steelworkers. “Every single time you fight for better wages or good jobs, every single time you fight for better working conditions, you are improving the working conditions of your members, but really of all workers.”
In both Canada and the U.S., the pandemic took a toll directly on workers. “People are looking at this situation, the cost of living going up, who’s paying the price? Certainly not wealthy CEOs, certainly not rich corporations,” said Singh.
“We need politicians to show up for workers to respect workers and to deliver the help that workers need,” he said. “And, I can tell you that the New Democratic Party will always be there for workers.”
While much progress has been made in Canada, much more needs to be done. “We are going to keep on fighting every step of the way,” said Singh. “We’re going to fight to make sure the ultra-rich pay their fair share and reinvest that back into the people. We’re going to fight for more action on the climate crisis by creating new jobs. We’re going to fight for fair trade laws that protect workers and lift workers up.”
Saskatoon Folkfest 2022
USW Local 2014 President Malik Draz sets up a USW booth at the 2022 Saskatoon Folkfest, an annual festival with the purpose of educating the public about the different cultures within our society.
Steel Pride ~ Love is love.
Steelworkers across District 3 are proud to celebrate and support the expansion of rights based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. Members gathered in various cities including marching in the Vancouver and Calgary parades.
More Starbucks workers vote to join the United Steelworkers
Over the summer, more Starbucks workers in British Columbia and Alberta joined the United Steelworkers union.
In June, baristas at the Millrise Store in Calgary became the first corporate store in Alberta to unionize. That was followed by two stores in Sherwood Park, just outside of Edmonton.
“Our location has been more than willing to provide world-class service no matter the challenge we faced. Whether it was floods, tornados or even a pandemic, we worked through these challenges while maintaining a welcoming and affirming experience for our customers. But shipping issues, quality concerns and safety problems have slowly become daily issues instead of occasional challenges,” said Chey Watson (they/them), a barista at the Millrise store.
“This is an exciting time for our Starbucks crew to be uniting with the USW – a moment in history,” said Sara Doran, a barista at the Beaver Brook Square store in Sherwood Park. “As a partner who has worked for the company since the early 2000s, it is an honour to be a part of this process. I look forward to a united and strong future with the USW.”
In July, baristas at the Valley Centre Starbucks in Langley, B.C. had their application approved after successfully meeting the card-check threshold in the province.
“We believe that there are benefits that can only be achieved if we bond together to fight for them. We worked on the frontlines during the COVID-19 pandemic and have had safety and security issues that the company has not fully addressed,” said Sarah Anderson, a barista at the Valley Centre Starbucks. “In joining the union, we want to fight for all our partners to get what they deserve – a safe and unified workplace for all.”
“We are proud to welcome workers from unionized Starbucks stores in Alberta and British Columbia to our growing union family,” said Scott Lunny, USW District 3 Director.
“It’s great to see workers coming together to demand better workplaces and we look forward to assisting them to be heard and garner the respect they deserve from Starbucks. The baristas in Calgary and Sherwood Park are joining the growing number of Starbucks workers across North America who are organizing for better working conditions and wages, including employees at five stores in Lethbridge who are currently voting to join our union,” Lunny said.
After weeks of delays over the summer, baristas at five Lethbridge Starbucks stores finally had their vote counted by the Alberta Labour Relations Board. The vote was tied. Due to Alberta’s labour laws, the workers were unable to secure union representation rights with the USW at this time.
“We know that a majority of the workers in the five stores wanted to unionize and it’s extremely frustrating that legal tactics and delays stalled their efforts,” said Lunny. “It is totally unacceptable that joining a union is this difficult in the province of Alberta. Union representation is a fundamental right of workers, but the UCP government has made it very difficult in these last four years.”
“It takes a lot of courage for workers to step forward to join a union, especially when Starbucks is known for their aggressive anti-union campaigns. What’s promising is the vast interest in joining the union and workers have already reached out to say this is not over. We will continue fighting for Starbucks workers across western Canada as every worker deserves better,” said Lunny.
Steelworkers Humanity Fund contributes $15,000 in emergency aid to support victims of floods in Pakistan
The Steelworkers Humanity Fund has contributed $15,000 to humanitarian efforts to face the unprecedented floods affecting Pakistan.
In what has been described as the worst climate disaster to affect the country in a decade, floods and landslides caused by unusually heavy monsoon rains have affected over 33 million people in different parts of Pakistan.
According to United Nations reports, over 1,100 people have died, more than 1,600 have been injured, close to 300,000 houses have been destroyed, over 735,000 livestock have perished, two million acres of crops have been ravaged and communications infrastructure has been severely damaged.
This catastrophe falls on the heels of a financial crisis plaguing the country, representing a further obstacle to survivors facing significant increases in the price of food and other commodities.
The Steelworkers Humanity Fund will contribute $15,000 to Islamic Relief Canada to provide medical aid, food, clean water, hygiene items and emergency shelter through its emergency teams on the ground.
“As we are witnessing in Pakistan right now, the consequences of climate change are being felt more strongly in countries that lack the resources and infrastructure to face such devastation, even if their contribution to this global phenomenon is minor,” said Marty Warren, President of the Steelworkers Humanity Fund and USW National Director for Canada.
“Lending a hand is the least we can do in the face of this unjust situation,” Warren said.
NDP’s affordability victory is good news for all workers
The government and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh announced their plan to make good on covering dental care costs for children in need, with direct transfers to eligible families while a permanent federal program is established. Funding was also announced to provide support to those who are drowning with housing rental costs and nearly $500 for close to one-third of all Canadians to help them handle the rising costs of necessities.
“After two years of working and struggling through the pandemic, and now being forced to face the rising cost of almost everything, workers have been demanding more from their employers and calling for better from all levels of government,” said Marty Warren, USW National Director for Canada.
“Making life more affordable for those who need it the most opens the door for workers to win more at the bargaining table,” said Warren. “When the NDP’s dental plan is fully rolled out, Steelworkers will take that space to get even better benefits for the workers we represent.”
Warren noted that commitment in the agreement with the NDP to ban replacement workers must be implemented, if the government wants to genuinely be seen to be supporting workers in a time of huge inflation.
“We’re going to keep fighting to make sure all workers get the direct support they need,” said Warren. “Next, we need to see the anti-scab promise passed through legislation.”
Local 480 donates $5,000 to sick children’s fund
USW Local 480 in Trail, B.C. donated $5,000 to the Gordy Steep Sick Children’s Fund. This continues to provide financial assistance to families traveling for medical care through this fund, supporting local families during challenging times.
Local 9346 donates 99 backpacks to kids
Local 9346 donated 99 backpacks full of school supplies to kids in Fernie, Sparwood, Elkford and the CNP to go back to school this year. This was their 11th Back to School Backpacks campaign. Funds were raised through Bus Stop BBQs and donations.
1944 members rise up to demand a fair contract now
USW Local 1944 members are facing major concessions in bargaining with Telus and have been at the table for almost a year.
The local continues to meet with Telus virtually. However, the insistence from Telus on concessions is not helpful to reaching an agreement and has caused a log jam.
Members are rising up and gathered together at Telus Gardens in Vancouver and ‘The Boot’ in Burnaby to demand a “Fair Contract Now!” from Telus. Members from the USW International strategic campaigns department flew the bat light across North America to help bring attention to obtaining a fair contract.
The members’ key demands are clear: job security and improved compensation. This should be easy for a profitable company such as Telus. The continued insistence on concessions, contract after contract, must end!
New USW.ca website strengthens our union’s work now and for the future
The new website is based on more than a year and a half of work, including interviews with Steelworker members and staff about what they need in a new website and what tools they want to be able to find.
Thank you to our website provider Point Blank for its expertise and commitment to building a great website that strengthens the union’s work now and for the future.
Here’s what’s new:
- Attractive, intuitive new lay-out and navigation.
- New membership support area on the home page to help members find what they need!
- Member education can now be found in the main menu – after all, it’s one of the most popular areas on the site.
- Bold photos of USW members on all of the main pages and refreshed, sharp branding that will be carried through other USW materials.
- It’s mobile responsive on any device, including smartphones, iPads and laptops. You name it – it will work!
- Better search engine optimization to help members and potential members find the website.
- A new ‘Get involved’ section, with an area where members can choose their area of interest and tap into issues Steelworkers are engaged in.
- Revamped and more attractive district pages.
- High standards of accessibility to meet and exceed current requirements, to ensure Steelworkers and allies with disabilities can comfortably navigate the website and find what they need.
Check out the new website at www.usw.ca
Don’t forget to check out the District 3 section at usw.ca/districts/3Download
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