Directions Newsletter Vol. V Nos. 1 - 3

In this issue:
  • O Canada, we stand on guard for thee?
  • Focus on: Wal-Mart
  • In Memoriam Marie-Josée Lemieux
  • National logo updated
  • PharmaPlus deal reached
  • Loblaws members make history
  • Youth grants again available
  • A&P fined for H&S violation
  • Taking action on Wal-Mart
  • Canadian Tire agreement
  • Conference expanded again
  • CALM conference in Ottawa
  • Montréal office moved
  • Bargaining time in Brooks
  • Focus on: Communications
  • Manitoba local president takes to the floor
  • Union membership pays
  • Focus on: Training & Education
  • www.riniart.org

    O Canada, we stand on guard for thee?

    For years now, UFCW Canada has worked with and advocated on behalf of migrant farm workers who come to our country from a number of locations, mostly from Mexico. From establishing migrant worker support centres with bilingual staff in five locations (Ontario rural centres Leamington, Bradford, Simcoe, and Virgil, as well as St-Rémi in Québec), to compiling an annual report to Canada's federal government on the experiences of migrant workers during the prior growing season and their current status, UFCW Canada has left few stones unturned in the fight to win basic human rights for these workers. Finally, it appears, the voice we have helped provide to these workers is beginning to be heard. The federal government, in each year we have provided it detailed information – and despite meetings with some of the cabinet ministers responsible for the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program, or SAWP, under which these workers are permitted to work in Canada – has failed to implement any of the recommendations that would ameliorate conditions for the workers. Yet, today, there is a growing realization that something at SAWP, quite simply, smells. Recent media reports have focused on actions taken by UFCW Canada on one simple issue (one of many) that is indicative of the unfair treatment migrant workers receive while in our country – Employment Insurance. That's right, migrant workers are forced to pay EI, even though they can never collect it. As soon as their jobs end each year, they are returned to their home country. (In rare cases, a few migrant workers are eligible for EI's parental benefits, but, of those few, most don't even know about it, and are not advised.) The requirement for migrant workers to participate in the EI program, even though it is inaccessible to them, is simply without reason or justification. That is why, in addition to our annual appeal to the federal government to change this policy voluntarily – which thus far has fallen on deaf ears – UFCW Canada has taken the major step of challenging the constitutionality of this policy in the court of law. This is not the first time UFCW Canada has provided a legal voice for disenfranchised workers. After the then-Tory government of Ontario retroactively took away the right of agriculture workers to be represented by a union, we went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada in a six-year argument that resulted in a victory for agriculture workers (although successive Ontario governments have yet to follow through on making the necessary amendments to bring the province's laws into line with the top court's decision). Our duty, as a trade union, is to represent our members in their workplaces, and – in accordance with another Supreme Court decision – to represent their interests in other areas that have an impact on their lives. Our moral duty further extends to representing those workers who have no one to otherwise represent their interests, and that is a commitment we will continue to uphold. In solidarity, Michael J. Fraser National Director
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    Focus on: Wal-Mart

    Following is the complete text of the statement of Michael J. Fraser, national director of UFCW Canada, on Wal-Mart's announcement it would close the first unionized store in North America. The statement was read to open a Toronto news conference on February 11, 2005, attended in person or by electronic link by an international audience of media participants. Seen on the dais with Fraser and also participating in the conference as invited guests are (l-r): Ontario New Democrats leader Howard Hampton, Ontario Federation of Labour president Wayne Samuelson, Fraser, and UFCW Canada legal counsel John Stout.

    Wal-Mart closure about absolute power, not profits

    Nearly 30 years ago, I started out as a grocery clerk – which is the kind of work that many UFCW Canada members do today. Our members – 230,000 across Canada – are your neighbours. They work in grocery stores and meat packing plants and hotels. Some of them work in nursing homes, car rental agencies, grain elevators, and many other places. Some work as security guards. Others work at the Beer Stores here in Ontario. Our members are the people who make Maple Leaf hot dogs. Others make Heinz ketchup. They're working women and men. They're not rich. They don't have glamorous jobs, but, over the years, their jobs in union workplaces have held their families together. Their union jobs have helped send their kids to college; given them security; and allowed them to earn a penson so that they won't face poverty in retirement. About six months ago, 200 women and men in Jonquière, Québec became the newest members of our union. For taking that initiative, for seeking to improve on and protect their futures – for exercising their fundamental legal right to form a union – their employer, Wal-Mart, decided to teach them … and their families … and their community … a very bitter lesson. Wal-Mart fired all of them by telling them their store would be shut three months from now. Wal-Mart says it wasn't because they had joined a union. Wal-Mart says it was just a "business decision" – and, in a way, it was. Wal-Mart decided to become union-free because, to Wal-Mart, its employees are worthless. Wal-Mart, which now controls the working lives of 70,000 Canadians, made a business decision that the cost of disposing of 200 men and women in Jonquière was a good long-term investment in instilling fear in the rest of its employees across Canada and in the United States. I want to assure our members and their families in Jonquière that UFCW Canada is there for you. We will continue to be there for you for as long as it takes until the wrong that Wal-Mart has done to you is made right. In Québec, we will be filing charges against Wal-Mart for bargaining in bad faith – because it is clear, over the past months, that Wal-Mart was bargaining only on the surface. Wal-Mart never had any intention of reaching a collective agreement. Wal-Mart made its decision to close the store months before we sat down at the table with the company. It made the decision the day the labour commission certified the union. Everything since then has been a charade. On behalf of our members, we will also be filing unfair labour practice charges regarding Wal-Mart's vindictive actions in Jonquière. We will be asking the Québec labour relations commission to force Wal-Mart to prove that the store in Jonquière was losing money, because we know that (despite the company's statements) Wal-Mart's decision to wreck the lives of 200 workers, their families, and their community was not about profits. The store was making money and would have continued to make money like other unionized retail chains in Québec. Wal-Mart's calculated ruthlessness was not about profit. It was about power; the absolute power that Wal-Mart insists over its workers, its suppliers, and the communities in which it does business.

    Wal-Mart turns suddenly nasty

    Wal-Mart worker and union supporter Brent Fralic stands in front of Windsor, Ont. Wal-Mart store the week a vote was announced there."We never had any illusions that Wal-Mart was going to welcome with open arms its employees' attempts to form unions in their workplaces," says UFCW Canada naitonal director Michael Fraser. "But the cold and calculating callousness this corporate giant exhibited when it threw 200 people out of work in Jonquière is simply devastating to that community." UFCW Canada is helping workers and their families pick up the pieces in Jonquière, Qué., after Wal-Mart's announced closure of the first unionized store in North America, setting up a job action centre and helping to provide training or retraining for workers. "The timing of the announcement, just as the campaign by workers in Windsor, Ont. to also become union members was picking up momentum, was deliberate," says UFCW Canada organizer Andrew Mackenzie. "There is no doubt in my mind that Wal-Mart not only stonewalled the bargaining process in Jonquiére, but used it as an excuse to close the store and intimidate other workers to equate signing a union card with losing their job. Only an employer that cares nothing for its workers, their rights, and their community would do such a thing." In making the closure announcement, Wal-Mart claimed that the union had ceased bargaining and its demands made the store uneconomical – in fact, bargaining had, at the union's request, progressed to a conciliator under the terms of Québec's labour laws, and no monetary issues had yet even been discussed with the employer. One immediate consequence of the Jonquière closure was the chilling effect it had on what had been, until then, a positive organizing drive at the Windsor store, with a labour board vote held soon after the announcement showing a decline in support over what had been indicated just weeks earlier. Unfair labour practice charges against the company have been filed in Ontario as well as Québec, with further charges in Ontario relating to Wal-Mart's third-party tactics in subverting this and an earlier union drive in Windsor, as well as documented ties to the then-Tory government's involvement in assisting Wal-Mart with undermining workers trying to exercise their rights. Hearings begin later this month. Meanwhile, campaigns at various Wal-Mart stores continue (see sidebar, right), despite workers' questions about the possibility of store closure. "What's Wal-Mart going to do? Close every store in Canada?" asks Mackenzie. "That's just not going to happen. Wal-Mart moved into Canada to make a profit, which it is doing. Now it's time for Wal-Mart to treat the people who make those profits – its workers – with the fairness, dignity, and respect they deserve."

    The story thus far...

    British Columbia: Wal-Mart has already been found guilty of unfair labour practice charges; UFCW Canada Local 1518 has applied to represent workers at seven Wal-Mart Tire & Lube Express (TLE) stores located in Surrey, Terrace, Dawson Creek, Fort St. John, Quesnel, Kamloops, and Langford, and is awaiting board decisions on those applications; an earlier negative ruling by the board on an application for the full store in Terrace is under appeal. Saskatchewan: Applications by UFCW Canada Local 1400 for stores in North Battleford, Weyburn, and Moose Jaw all remain pending; Wal-Mart is appealing an earlier court ruling against it over the Weyburn store, in which it has challenged Canadian labour laws as a violation of the employer's rights; hearings in the Moose Jaw case resume later this month. Ontario: Application made for Wal-Mart store in Windsor earlier this month, but mandatory labour board vote was lost; unfair labour practice charges have been filed against the employer, with hearings to begin later this month. Québec: Three Wal-Mart locations have been certified, in Jonquière (UFCW Canada Local 503), Saint-Hyacinthe, and the TLE in Saint-Hyacinthe (Local 501); vote to be held for members at store in Brossard (Local 501) on April 1; Wal-Mart found guilty of unfair labour practice in Sainte-Foy organizing campaign (Local 503); Wal-Mart has announced it will close the Jonquière store, the first store unionized in North America; negotiations began this week in Saint-Hyacinthe, and the bargaining process continues in Jonquière despite the closure announcement. Finally, as this publication went to press, it was announced that UFCW Canada Local 486 had filed two separate applications to represent members at a Wal-Mart store and TLE in Gatineau, Qué.
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    In Memoriam Marie-Josée Lemieux

    It is with great sadness that the UFCW Canada national office learned as this issue of DIRECTIONS was being prepared for press of the sudden death of Marie-Josée Lemieux, president of UFCW Canada Local 503 in eastern Québec. "Marie-Josée was completely, 100% devoted and committed to representing her members to the best of her abilities. During an age of cynicism, she retained the idealism that motivated her each and every day," says UFCW Canada national director Michael Fraser. "We have lost a friend, a colleague, and a true champion of the labour movement." Sister Lemieux worked at the local union for more than 15 years. During this time, she held various positions in organizing, member servicing, negotiations, employment insurance claims, secretary-treasurer, and, for the past four years, president of the local union.
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    National logo updated

    Sharp-eyed readers will have noticed a change to the UFCW Canada logo on the front-page banner of this publication. In keeping with the recommendations of the international Committee on the Future of the UFCW – which were officially adopted by the International Executive Board at advisory board meetings earlier this year – a new, standardized logo has been adopted by the UFCW Canada national office. "In the United States, the idea was to have a single, unified image for the union," says UFCW Canada national director Michael Fraser. "This uniquely Canadian version of the logo is an expression of our solidarity with the international union, while maintaining our identity as a national union within that larger body." The logo retains UFCW Canada's trademarked maple leaf logo, with its unique curves and 15-degree axis, and replaces the U.S. slogan A voice for working America with the simpler Your voice at work. "Incorporating this motto into our logo, and thus having it appear wherever the logo is used, is important in promoting the essence of what our union does," Fraser says. "We represent our members, and provide them with a voice – with the respect and dignity they deserve – in the workplace." The rollout of the revised logo will take place over a period of time, as various items such as stationery, flags and banners, and other signage are replaced and updated as needed, while newly-produced publications such as DIRECTIONS, other periodicals, one-off flyers, and the website will be updated right away. The Committee on the Future was established by international president Joe Hansen in 2004, shortly after he was elected to that office. UFCW Canada representatives on the committee were Yvon Bellemare, president of UFCW Canada Local 501 in Québec; Paul Meinema, president, Local 1400, Saskatchewan; and Scott Penner, secretary-treasurer, Local 1977, Ontario. "I want to thank UFCW Canada's representatives on the Committee on the Future for their work, and we will be discussing the remainder of the committee's recommendations at the next regular meeting of the UFCW Canada national council," Fraser says. "We look forward to the creative ways in which Canadian local unions will be incorporating these image changes into their own communications programs." For more information, contact Bob Linton in the UFCW Canada national office.
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    PharmaPlus deal reached

    More than 1,500 full- and part-time workers at 152 PharmaPlus drug stores across Ontario recently reached a new three-year agreement. In addition to monetary and benefit improvements, the UFCW Canada Local 175 members have achieved a new No Violence clause in their contract. "We take every step possible to protect the safety of workers in their workplace through improved contract language and the enforcement of clauses like this one," says Local 175 president Wayne Hanley. Members of the bargaining unit receive wage increases of between 90¢ and $2.08 per hour over the life of the agreement. In addition, workers assigned to relieve a store manager for a day or more receive an hourly premium of $2.00. Those designated as "in charge" of store openings receive a $1.00 premium for the first three hours of work, or the same premium for four hours when responsible for store closing. Full-time workers get a 25¢ per hour premium for every hour worked after 6:00 p.m. In addition, employer contributions to the Canadian Commercial Workers Industry Pension Plan (CCWIPP) will rise 20¢ per hour over the life of the agreement, and the employer has agreed to pay the cost of one eye examination (recently delisted for Ontario's medical coverage by the McGuinty Liberals) in each 24-month period for each person covered by the plan. Dental plan contributions also are increased. For more information, contact Cheryl Mumford or Jennifer Tunney, UFCW Canada Locals 175 & 633 communications, Mississauga, Ont.
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    Loblaws members make history

    The largest group of retail workers in Canadian labour relations history has joined together to head to the bargaining table with Canada's largest retailer – Loblaw Companies Limited, or LCL. Members of UFCW Canada Local 1000A recently voted strongly in favour of opening talks early with LCL, joining members of Locals 175 & 633 and Local 1977. Leaders of the locals had earlier signed a Declaration of Solidarity, binding each local to live by the results of separate votes – on whether to open early negotiations, and to any settlement reached. "There's no risk," says Local 1000A Murray Lawrie, an Ottawa-based steward. "It makes sense to go for it." Vanessa Gunn, a steward at a Real Canadian Superstore in Mississauga, adds, "If we don't like the settlement, we can wait until next year. We can't be outvoted by other locals, so it's a win-win situation." There is also no possibility of a strike or lockout during early negotiations – if no agreement is reached, existing contracts remain in force. Local 1000A president Kevin Corporon says, "There's no doubt this is an historic opportunity for retail workers. We will all be at the same table, speaking for 27,000 workers." Local 1977 president Brian Williamson adds, "We would have done this long ago if we could have got the employers to agree." The difference today, he explains, is that the company is interested in reaching a new agreement that cuts across local union and store banner lines. For more information, contact the presidents of UFCW Canada Locals 175 & 633, 1000A, and 1977 respectively.
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    Youth grants again available

    UFCW Canada youth activists are being encouraged once again to submit proposals to qualify for up to five Working Together Grants (WTG) being made available in 2005. "This has been a very successful program for encouraging more youth participation and activism at the local union level," says UFCW Canada national director Michael Fraser. "By making relatively small amounts of money available for worthwhile projects, young members are reaping the benefits of union participation, and that benefits all members in the long run." Five grants of up to $1,000 each will be available to local union youth committees or activist members, based on a short written submission to the UFCW Canada national youth committee. Past projects have included various entertainment and fundraising events, creation of a public mascot for use at a Labour Day parade, and a project working together with young artists during May Week to commemorate the achievements of workers. For more information or to receive a WTG application form, contact Chris O'Halloran in the national office.
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    A&P fined for H&S violation

    In the midst of outrage over the Ontario government's plan to begin handing out "tickets" to workers for health-and-safety violations, the province's Ministry of Labour has slapped A&P (The Great Atlantic and Pacific Company of Canada) with a $150,000 fine for failing to maintain a lift truck involved in a 2003 incident that left a worker disabled. The worker was critically injured when the lift truck he was operating failed to stop due to an improperly-maintained brake system, and he had to try to get off the moving vehicle in order to avoid a collision with the wall. As of the announcement of the fine in January, the worker remained unable to return to work. The fine is accompanied by a 25% victim-fine surcharge, which goes to a government fund to assist victims of crime.
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    Taking action on Wal-Mart

    Late last year, the UFCW Canada national office received information about a "study tour" being conducted for senior Ontario government bureaucrats by none other than Wal-Mart's Canadian headquarters. UFCW Canada national director Michael Fraser wasted no time in confronting Ontario Liberal premier Dalton McGuinty on the subject, challenging the government to instead send its managers to Wal-Mart stores themselves to talk to employees, or to sit down with union members and representatives to learn about the needs of workers rather than the predatory management practices of Wal-Mart. Just two days later, the Ontario government's response was in hand. The Wal-Mart experiment had been cancelled because "the ongoing attention to the Wal-Mart study tour has … taken away from the key focus on learning." The study-tour program with other corporate sponsors, however, lives on. For more information, contact Bob Linton in the UFCW Canada national office.
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    Canadian Tire agreement

    After more than seven months of talks, negotiations between Canadian Tire and the 100 UFCW Canada Local 1518 members employed at the company's store in Prince George, B.C. resulted late last year in a new collective agreement. The union had made an application to have a mediator appointed to the talks, and an agreement was reached in November. The new agreement includes wage increases and a signing bonus. For details or further information, contact Andy Neufeld at UFCW Canada Local 1518 in Burnaby, B.C.
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    Conference expanded again

    UFCW Canada's annual "NDF conference", as it is informally known, has been expanded yet again to include more sectoral members this year, with the addition of a conference for members in the health care sector. Now encompassing not only the National Defence Fund for which it is named (traditionally a mainstay of the food-production industries), the three-day conference will now have sectoral sessions for members working in industries including packinghouse, poultry, flour milling, hospitality, soft drink, and health care. The conference has been scheduled for July 10-12, 2005 at the Hilton Vancouver Metrotown hotel in Burnaby, B.C. For more information or registration and reservation forms, contact Bryan Neath in the national office.
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    CALM conference in Ottawa

    The annual skills conference of the Canadian Association of Labour Media (CALM) has been relocated to Ottawa this year. Traditionally held on the weekend prior to the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) convention during convention years, the lack of availability of accommodations in Montréal on that weekend due to the Formula 1 race meant an alternative venue had to be found. The CALM conference will be held at Algonquin College in Ottawa, home to the Labour College of Canada, from June 10 to 12, 2005. The conference is designed for local union activists who prepare their local's newsletter or website, with workshops designed for a variety of skill levels. The conference also includes an awards banquet that gives recognition to some of the best in labour communications across Canada. For more information, visit CALM's website at www.calm.ca.
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    Montréal office moved

    The Québec office of UFCW Canada has moved from its former Pie IX location to the following address:
    100-1405 boulevard Henri-Bourassa Ouest Montréal QC H3M 3B2
    The telephone and fax numbers remain unchanged. The Québec provincial council office has also moved to the same location.
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    Bargaining time in Brooks

    Late last year, a meeting took place for which many had waited years – the first meeting of the negotiating committee for UFCW Canada Local 401 and its newest members at the Lakeside Tyson packinghouse in Brooks, Alta. "This is an historic occasion," says local president Doug O'Halloran. "So many people worked long and hard, and the persistence and dedication of the members at Lakeside have finally paid off." The initial meetings to determine what would go on the bargaining table when the committee meets with the company coincided with the last days of the Alberta election last fall, and members took the opportunity to attend an all-candidates meeting in Brooks. Incumbent Conservative MLA and Learning Minister Dr. Lyle Oberg (pictured) was surprised to see more than half of the audience was made up of Local 401 members, intent on grilling him about why the Alberta labour relations code fails to provide facilitation processes for first collective agreements. "He didn't have much to say," reports Local 401 representative Don Crisall. Photos by Don Crisall, UFCW Canada Local 401
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    Focus on: Communications


    Participants in this year's UFCW Canada Communicators Conference, held in Toronto, included (front row, l-r) Michael Forman, national office; Nancy Quiring, assistant to the national director for the western provinces; Dalia Stewart, UFCW Canada Local 832, Manitoba; Sylvie Cadieux, Local 501, Québec; Suzanne Hodge, Local 247, British Columbia; Bob Linton, national office; (second row) Mike Freeman, national office; Kathryn Hiller, Local 1400, Saskatchewan; Murielle Desjardins, Local 503, Québec; Victor Carrozzino, Locals 175 & 633, Ontario; Ashleigh Vink, Locals 175 & 633; Josefina Moruz, national office; (third row) Dan Goodman, Local 247; Cheryl Mumford, Locals 175 & 633; Sylvia Waller, national office; Jennifer Tunney, Locals 175 & 633; Bill Barfield, Local 12R24, Ontario; Andy Neufeld, Local 1518, British Columbia; (rear) Rob Armbruster, Local 1977, Ontario; Jeff Ketelaars, Local 333, Ontario; Andrew Mackenzie, national office; Bill Gillett, Local 333; and Tim Langley, Local 12R24.
    About 30 UFCW Canada communicators from the national office and local unions across the country got together in February to learn from one another how to better communicate the union's message to members and to the public. "Everything we do is, in some way, a service to our members," UFCW Canada national director Michael Fraser told participants. "It is vital that, whether we are organizing new members, or protecting the rights of existing ones, we keep the lines of communication open and unobscured." From clear language usage to analysis of Internet communications, participants spent an intensive two days in workshops, focus groups, and hearing from guest panellists and speakers. Communicators were given instruction on interview techniques – from both the perspective of the interviewer and subject – and learned of recent tech advances such as web "radio" and opt-in email lists. "This conference provided a lot of good, usable information," says Jeff Ketelaars, secretary-treasurer of UFCW Canada Local 333, which, among other bargaining units, represents the workers at the Radisson Admiral hotel in Toronto at which the conference was held. "Everyone is able to come away from this with something new that will improve the way they communicate." Bob Linton, national communications coordinator, says the conference is about more than just learning techniques. "It's about an exchange of ideas, and creating a lasting network of UFCW Canada communicators," he says.
    Among guest panellists at the conference were (top photo, l-r): Edward Keenan, reporter for Toronto's EYE Weekly; Suann Kelman, a television producer and professor at Ryerson University; and Rick Salutin, columnist with The Globe and Mail., who discussed getting labour's message out to the media. Immediately above, IATSE sound and video technician Jim Sheppard (rear) monitors proceedings while web "radio" developer Greg Warren prepares recordings for webcasting.
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    Manitoba local president takes to the floor

    In a novel approach to better understanding members' needs, UFCW Canada Local 832 president Robert Ziegler (wearing blue bump hat in both photos) recently spent a four-day workweek in various jobs at the Maple Leaf pork plant in Brandon, Man. "Learning the jobs and actually doing the work is very different from the many tours I've had of these facilities previously," Ziegler says. During the four-day experience, Ziegler worked in various parts of the plant in short shifts, adding up to as much as 13-hour days. From general plant health-and-safety training to condensed courses in Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) and Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS), Ziegler went on to work in numerous areas of the plant, including laundry, primal break, picnic, packing neck bones, wrapping loins, organ harvest, cheek trim, clean kill, front-end kill, pack and hambone, packaging, and sanitation. "The jobs were much more complex than they seemed," he says. "I certainly coudn't keep up with experienced workers." Ziegler says he learned more about issues that will become part of the local's next negotiations with the employer. "For example, the 15-minute break doesn't give members that much time – they have to remove equipment, walk a couple of minutes to the break room, wash their boots, then repeat the process to return to work, all during that 15 minutes," he says. "And some of the jobs involve skills that clearly have been rated by academics at lower levels than they should have." Ziegler says he plans further workplace experiences following the success of the Maple Leaf week. "This was definitely worthwhile. I learned some things that will help me do my job of president better in the future," he says. For more on Ziegler's experiences at Maple Leaf Pork, visit the local's website at www.ufcw832.mb.ca.
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    Union membership pays

    Union Savings is the new name of what had been known as the Canadian Union Advantage Benefit Program (CUABP). And the benefits to union members are real – from legal services to an affinity credit card program, discount travel, mortgage consulting, accident insurance, and more. There are real savings for all UFCW Canada members, simply because they belong. UFCW Canada national director Michael Fraser has asked local unions to provide information about these benefits through printed materials, and especially by creating links on their websites directly to the service providers who participate in this program. For more information on the Union Savings program, contact Chuck McCormick at www.unionsavings.ca, or by calling toll-free 1.877.231.1889.
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    Focus on: Training & Education

    UFCW Canada training utilized in 2004

    The UFCW Canada Training and Education Department had another busy year in 2004, delivering nearly 50 programs – some as much as a week in length – to nearly 500 UFCW Canada members. "As some UFCW Canada local unions grow very large, they are able to take on more of the responsibility for training members in basic union elements, such as stewardship, arbitration, and health-and-safety," says UFCW Canada national director Michael Fraser. "So it becomes all the more important that the national office is equipped to assist smaller locals in training and education, while at the same time developing programs in areas of expertise that aren't yet part of the mainstay of local union programs," he adds. "By sharing these resources, we are creating better opportunities for all members." UFCW Canada training and education coordinator Bryan Neath says the department delivered or assisted in delivering programs for 13 local unions across the country in the course of the year. "Even local unions with their own training centres and advanced programs find elements of the national office training and education that can benefit their members," Neath says. Locals taking advantage of national office training and education included Locals 373A (Alberta), 401 (Alberta), 511 (Alberta), 864 (Maritimes), 1000A (Ontario), 1118 (Alberta), 12R24 (Ontario), 1230 (Ontario), 1288P (New Brunswick), 1400 (Saskatchewan), 1869 (Manitoba), 1977 (Ontario), and 1993 (Ontario). Programs successfully delivered by UFCW Canada national office trainers in 2004 ranged from basic steward and health-and-safety training to jurisdiction-specific legislative codes, and on to needs-specific programs like Dignity at Work and Facing Management. In addition, the training and education department made presentations at a number of venues, including at universities such as Brock, Queens, and Ryerson, on issues ranging from Wal-Mart to the plight of post-secondary education itself. Finally, for the first time ever, the national office was able to, in conjunction with the Labour College of Canada (LCC), provide the provincially-specific legislative component of the LCC program to UFCW Canada members from Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario (pictured, this page, along with a week-long health-and-safety program run simultaneously at the same venue).

    SFH to Go!

    The UFCW Canada National Training and Education Department's initiative to create a long-distance education safe-food handling course – titled SFH to Go! – is now a reality, with the financial support of the National Literacy Secretariat. Originally announced in this publication last summer (DIRECTIONS 4.07), the online self-learning program has been moved to its own website, www.ufcwfoodsafe.com, where anyone can take the course, free of charge. The program prepares them – at their own pace and convenience – for food-handling certification in the hospitality, retail food, and institutional sectors, or simply to learn about handling food more safely in their everyday lives. And to help keep learning on the light side, the site is populated with fun characters – including "Sam 'n Ella", pictured at right. For more information, visit the site, or contact Bryan Neath at the UFCW Canada national office.

     

    For the fifth straight year, a group of young union activists from across the country participated in UFCW Canada's Youth Internship Program (YIP). From classroom study to working directly with experienced union representatives to meeting with politicians and other decision-makers, the 10 members who completed this year's program were immersed in union activity that will help them as involved members at the local union level. The program consists of four weeks of activities, broken up into three sessions throughout the year. YIP participants are nominated by their local union presidents. During the two-week mid-program session held last year in Saskatoon, the youth activists were able to work in the field, and successfully organized workers at a Winners department store there. This year's program begins in April, with further sessions in June and August. Pictured above with UFCW Canada national youth coordinator Christopher O'Halloran (top left) are (l-r) Kristin Olejacrik, UFCW Canada Local 1118, Alberta; Brandi Tracksell, Local 1400, Saskatchewan; Mindy Estey, Local 1288P, New Brunswick; Colin Olsen, Local 401, Alberta; Kay Isokauppila, Local 832, Manitoba; Keith Murdoch, Local 12R24, Ontario; Adrianna DiLoreto, Local 12R24, Ontario; Matthew Reardon, Local 1288P, New Brunswick; and Sharon Wall, Local 175, Ontario. Pictured to the right during a classroom session is the tenth participant, Marcel Bilodeau from UFCW Canada Local 501, Québec.

    Talking Union grows

    Talking Union – the UFCW Canada program that has local union youth members speaking to other youth in schools and universities about knowing their workplace rights – is still on the rise. Nearly 100 separate presentations were made in Ontario high schools in 2004, mainly in the Toronto region, reaching about 2,500 students. Training for the program in Saskatchewan has now been completed and will be brought online in 2005, and it is expected that Alberta will also become part of the program this year. "We are just starting to realize the potential of this program," says UFCW Canada Training and Education coordinator Bryan Neath. "In the next year, and the years to come, we are truly reaching out to the next generation of workers to help them on their way to realizing what the benefits of union membership really are in the reality of the workplace."
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    www.riniart.org


    Buffalo, N.Y.-born artist and activist Rini Templeton died nearly two decades ago, but the "Xerox art" she created for countless labour and other socially progressive leaflets, banners, T-shirts, buttons, and more in the U.S., Mexico, and Central America lives on, thanks to the Rini Templeton Memorial Fund and this website. The familiar bold line drawings have been carefully organized and cross-referenced by subject, and are available as free downloads at the site. There is also a biography of Rini and notes on her work, as well as information on the San Francisco-based fund that supports it.