George Orwell could not have imagined it better. The “doublethink” he described in the prophetic novel Nineteen Eighty-Four – with government calling its war department the “Ministry of Peace” – is paralleled absolutely by the Ontario Tory government’s new “workplace democracy” rules.
Ontario employers are now required to post information in the workplace on how a union can be decertified. UFCW Canada has steadfastly resisted this draconian act, and, in fact, we have gone on record that, as an employer in Ontario (where our national office is located), we will not comply with this offensive regulation.
This is not to say that workers should be shielded from knowing their rights with respect to belonging – or not belonging – to a union. That is the law, and it is on public record. But to decree, as the Ontario Tory government has, that employers must provide personal anti-union information without equally posting information about the right to belong to a union in both unionized and nonunionized workplaces, is simply disgraceful.
In spite of the ruling, and in the first case of its kind, UFCW Canada members at Dougherty Meats, near Niagara Falls in Allanburg, Ont., have put the anti-union rules to the test. Following the employer’s aggressive implementation of the required regulations, these packinghouse workers voted overwhelmingly to keep UFCW Canada to represent them.
Hypocrisy is too mild a term for the Ontario government’s attempt to decertify Ontario. But it is not working, and this vote demonstrates the fact.
UFCW Canada Local 1977 members at Pano Cap in Kitchener, Ont. have ratified a new agreement giving the 50 workers improvements in all areas.
Highlights of the one-year agreement include a 2% wage increase, $200 signing bonus, and improved shift premiums and overtime provisions. Benefit improvements include vision-care, weekly indemnity, pensions, safety shoe allowance, and accommodations for new mothers in the workplace.
Pano Cap is a plastic injection moulding company that manufactures caps for Heinz Ketchup and Hellmann’s Mayonnaise containers, as well as for shampoo, conditioner, and other types of bottles.
More: Rob Armbruster, UFCW Canada Local 1977
When Maple Leaf Meats worker Henry Bougie spoke to the company nurse about his medical problems, she told him they weren’t work-related, and that he would need to apply for short-term disability (STD) benefits.
But when the benefits were about to run out, Brother Bougie called UFCW Canada Local 832 workers comp advocate Marla Niekamp, who assisted him in filing a claim – which was subsequently denied. After an extensive research of the member’s medical condition, Sister Niekamp found numerous factors that could lead to his condition, including the demands placed on his body while working at Maple Leaf. This provided the basis for an appeal and favourable ruling by the Workers Compensation Board, to the tune of an award of $7,417 in lost wages.
More: Don Keith, UFCW Canada Local 832, www.ufcw832.com
Members of UFCW Canada Local 175 at several retirement homes have ratified new agreements.
In Ottawa, members at the Manoir Gallien retirement home have settled on a three-year agreement winning average wage gains of 16% over its term, with increases of $1.65 per hour. The start rate for part-time workers will increase by $1.50. There are also improvements to vacations and bereavement leave, and new language to ensure the workplace is free of harassment, abuse, and violence.
At Knollcrest Lodge in Milverton, members won wage increases of 30¢ per hour in each year of a three-year agreement. Employer contributions to the dental plan will increase by 27¢ per hour in the first year, followed by 28¢ and 29¢ in subsequent years. CCWIPP contributions will increase to $39, and there are improvements to vacations, as well as to language, especially as it applied to registered practical nurses (RPNs).
Local 175 members at the Listowel Retirement Home ratified a new agreement in January providing pay increases of 2% per year in each year of a three-year agreement. Employer contributions to CCWIPP and dental also increase in each year. There are improvements in bereavement leave, contract language, and additional float and stat holidays.
More: Cheryl Mumford, Kevin Shimmin, UFCW Canada Local 175, www.ufcw175.com
The “Health Employers Association of British Columbia” (HEABC), an employer association, has threatened UFCW Canada Local 1518 stewards and members with a gag order and discipline if they exercise their democratic right to protest.
Following on the massive slashes to the public and health care sectors by B.C. premier Gordon Campbell, members of Local 1518 have been joined by BCGEU, HSA, and HEU members at rallies to protest the provincial government’s bill that opens the door to massive privatization of home health care and an end to non-profit agencies providing services to communities.
The Liberal government plan would eliminate about 50,000 jobs currently covered by collective agreements – including some 3,000 Local 1518 members – and open the work to private-for-profit health care companies. UFCW Canada Local 1518 president Brooke Sundin says the local will do everything in its power to defend its members’ right to democratic protest of the Campbell government’s harsh new measures.
More: Tom Fawkes, Andy Neufeld, UFCW Canada Local 1518, www.ufcw1518.com
UFCW Canada Local 1400 members who work at the Tisdale Credit Union in Tisdale, Sask. (northeast of Saskatoon) have ratified an innovative new agreement. The 22 members won wage increases of 2-to-7% in the first year, plus 2.5% and 3% in subsequent years. The employer has agreed to new “market study” of wage rates paid in the banking and financial sector, and will provide additional improvements if the workers are shown to be underpaid. The employer will also review the issue of staff discounts, and improvements to that program are possible.
The agreement has been updated to reflect legislative changes relating to tech change, employer’s rights with regard to the termination of the agreement, and the extension of parental leave. There are also improvements in compassionate-leave and job-sharing language.
The premium for relieving bargaining unit jobs increases from $3-to-$7 per day, while the relief rate for non-bargaining unit jobs moves from $5-to-$10 per day.
More: Don Logan, UFCW Canada Local 1400, www.ufcw1400.ca
Since becoming national director of UFCW Canada in 1999, Michael Fraser has undertaken many new initiatives to make UFCW Canada the most progressive and fastest-growing union in the new century. Brother Fraser was previously president of the largest local union in Canada, Ontario Local 175, and a national union representative.
Following are the scheduled publication dates for the Consumer Price Index, or CPI, for calendar 2002. The figures provided in these indices are generally used in calculating negotiated cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) formulae.