In this issue:
June remains a special month on the UFCW Canada calendar, representing as it does Leukemia Awareness Month. The majority of our union’s fundraising efforts take place at this time, culminating in the gala evening in recognition of the many volunteers who are making a difference.
This is truly a wonderful cause. Each year, thousands of UFCW Canada members across the country raise enough money to make our union the largest single contributor in the battle against leukemia. It takes tremendous effort by many people, but it is effort that is paying off. We have been fortunate to witness breakthroughs in leukemia research – such as the important work being done on stem-cell research – that have been directly funded by UFCW Canada donations.
But while the events each June play a major role in the success of our ongoing campaign, it is important to recognize the need to make fundraising for the fight to find a cure an ongoing, everyday activity.
In recent weeks, I have been fortunate to attend a variety of local union events such as policy conferences, steward training, and other similar gatherings. What was truly impressive was the way many of these locals worked in leukemia fundraising as a part of their activities. In some cases, this formed part of the official agenda; in others, the fundraising activities were peripheral to the main activity, but there nonetheless.
The important thing is that, in the 17 years during which UFCW Canada members have been active in raising funds to find a cure, the concept of fundraising and helping others in this way has become part of our union’s culture. And, while some feel, with justification, that we don’t always get the recognition appropriate for these efforts, it is a fact that leukemia fundraising has elevated the positive profile of UFCW Canada in many communities.
What we are doing to help others is especially gratifying. And the fact that through helping others we are helping our union, too, makes the effort all the more worthwhile.
A tentative resolution to the more than year-long dispute between SEIU Canada and the CAW has been announced by the Canadian Labour Congress. No details are being publicized at this time, but both unions say they have come to terms. They have reached agreement on how to resolve outstanding issues, and it is expected that sanctions against the CAW will end following a meeting of the CLC executive next week.
More than 120 delegates representing UFCW Canada local unions and national staff attended the May 21-25 UFCW Solidarity Conference, held in Las Vegas.
UFCW International President Douglas Dority challenged delegates to shoulder the challenge of change, and find new ways to encourage member involvement. He added that members don’t want to be the victims of change, but rather want to take charge of change, and it is up to UFCW locals to help them do so.
“We don’t need to change our values, because our values have always been good. We believe if you work for a living, you’ve earned the right to a voice at work. You’ve earned the right to a living wage, and the right to retire in dignity,” Dority said.
UFCW Canada Director Michael Fraser addressed the international conference on a panel examining Changing Work: The Economy, Health Care, Technology, and Collective Bargaining. He emphasized that the best strategy for protecting members from changes in the workplace is to be proactive, to anticipate problems and find solutions. He cited examples of UFCW Canada locals negotiating training and transfer guarantees into collective agreements for meatcutters when the shift to counter-ready meat began.
UFCW Canada Local 478T members at St. Lawrence - Caldwell in Iroquois ON began a strike in a fight against concessions on May 25. The 220 members have been working without a contract since November of last year. Members voted 78% for strike action after rejecting the company’s latest offer, which demanded a 5% rollback of wages over a three-year period.
More: Pierre Jean Olivier, UFCW Canada, Montréal
Changes to the structure of the Alberta Federation of Labour’s executive body were established at the fed’s convention in May, including the elimination of the position of secretary-treasurer as a full-time paid position. The first rank-and-file secretary-treasurer is UFCW Canada Local 401 member Kerry Barrett, a Safeway worker from Medicine Hat, who had been that labour council’s rep on the executive. It’s estimated the new position will entail a seven-to-10 day per month commitment, which Local 401 President Doug O’Halloran says the local is happy to provide.
Outgoing President Audrey Cormack (CEP) has been succeeded by former Secretary-Treasurer Les Steel (CUPE). Joining the revamped executive is the AFL’s first youth representative, also a Local 401 member – Chris O’Halloran, from the Forest Lawn IGA in Calgary.
More: Doug O'Halloran, UFCW Canada Local 401
UFCW Canada Local 1518 is utilizing leaflets and its web site in addition to the grievance procedure to fight Canada Safeway’s failure to abide by the current collective agreement with its members. The local has collected hundreds of customer names on petitions after producing a flyer explaining the impact new scheduling policies are having on the quality of service in stores. The problem arises from general clerks, many with long service on day shifts, being moved to night crews to perform restocking and cleaning overnight, instead of during the day when customers need the service. Meanwhile, bargaining unit work is being performed during the day shifts by excluded management and service personnel.
More: Tom Fawkes, Andy Neufeld, UFCW Canada Lcoal 1518, www.ufcw1518.com
On April 22, 30 UFCW Canada Local 1288P members at the M&S Fooodservice distribution centre in Moncton ratified a new contract by 81%. New language will protect bargaining unit work and full-time jobs while restricting the number of part-time hours. The centre was formerly a unit of Sobey’s before the federal competition bureau ordered it sold.
On the same day, 21 members of the local at Northumberland Co-operative in Fredericton ratified their new contract by a margin of 89%. “These are both excellent agreements,” says Rick DeSaulniers, president of Local 1288P. “There are substantial improvements in language, benefits, and money.”
More: Rick DeSaulniers, UFCW Local 1288P
Five UFCW Canada members are enrolled in Labour College of Canada’s Class of 2001, currently in session in Ottawa for a four-week residential program. They are: Cory Andress (Local 175, Guelph ON), Lise Bockstael (Local 401, Edmonton), Rob Nicholas (Local 175, Cobourg ON), David Noonan (Local 1977, Brantford ON), and Chris O’Halloran (Local 401, Calgary).
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