In this issue:
Today, July 13, members of the UFCW Canadian Council executive will make history for our union when they meet in Calgary to, among other things, consider the formal establishment of the UFCW Canada Humanitarian Fund.
For several years, the UFCW Canada national office has become involved in helping worthwhile projects in Canadian communities as well as overseas where the need is great. Many of these projects, I’m happy to say, are extensions of work begun by UFCW Canada local unions that recognize the need to share what we have with those in need.
Two ongoing projects in which UFCW Canada is involved in funding are an orphanage in Pernambuco, Brazil and a medical clinic/feeding centre for street children in Khartoum, Sudan. Both of these are areas where children in poverty and without homes are numerous, and in serious danger from not only a lifestyle they didn’t choose, but from authorities and vigilantes who would rather murder them than help them lead productive lives. Both projects have been developed by the Margarite D’Amelio Children’s Foundation, a Canadian charity that approached UFCW Canada Locals 175 and 633 in the 1990s.
Contacts through those locals and through the CLC have also put us in a position to assist sisters and brothers closer to home, in Cuba. Locals 175 and 633’s donation to that nation’s labour central, CTC, has enabled the organization to restore and reopen its labour hall of fame and education centre. UFCW Canada has also become involved with an ongoing commitment to Bicycles Crossing Borders, a Canadian effort to supply bicycles and related services on a co-operative basis to Cubans whose transportation services continue to be devastated by the 42-year-long U.S. embargo.
As trade unionists, we have a mission to help others. Our first job is always looking after the interests of UFCW Canada members, but we have a social responsibility to go beyond that, to whatever degree we are able. The establishment of the UFCW Canada Humanitarian Fund formalizes the direction we have already taken, and sends a clear message that we are committed to making this a better world for all.
About 600 new members of UFCW Canada Local 503 employed by Salaisons Brochu (Charcuterie Lafleur) in St-Henri-de-Lévis QC approved a new contract on June 25.
The agreement provides new benefits and language improvements over a former agreement, and integrates some employees formerly excluded from the wage scale and winning them increases of up to $4.50 an hour in the first year. New benefits include entry into CCWIPP and the UFCW dental plan for Québec members.
Members at the Québec City plant joined UFCW Canada last fall after leaving the non-affiliated CSD. They produce pork products including wieners, hot dogs, hams, and cold cuts.
More: Murielle Desjardins, UFCW Canada Local 503
UFCW Canada RWDSU Local 1177 members at Sudbury Downs horse racing track in Chelmsford ON began a strike on Canada Day for a first contract.
The approximately 100 members work in food service, mutual ticket sales, security, and maintenance at the Sudbury-area facility. While the track and casino continues to operate with scab labour, initial reports show both casino and racing attendance has dropped by about 80-90%, with picket line support from Sudbury’s mining unions.
More: Blake Crothers, UFCW-RWDSU, www.rwdsu.ca
Nine members of UFCW Canada Local 503 are back to work at the offices of the Québec lumber manufacturers association (AMBSQ) in Ste-Foy QC after a six-week strike. Improvements won include salary gains of 8% over the life of the agreement (2% per year), plus employer-paid group insurance premiums and free parking.
More: Murielle Desjardins, UFCW Canada Local 503
UFCW Canada Local 1993 members at the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) distribution centre in Brampton ON ratified a new contract on June 13. The centre, officially known as the Eastern Big Ticket Centre (EBTC), is the retailer’s only facility shipping “big ticket” items such as appliances, furniture, and electronics throughout Canada. Orders are shipped to The Bay and Zellers stores, as well as to regional distribution centres.
The new three-year agreement provides the 90 members with an annual wage increase of 3.5% or more, as well as a signing bonus, and improvements to language and a severance package.
More: Paul Magee, UFCW Canada national office
A year ago, in July 2000, Manitoba’s Department of Workplace Safety and Health issued four improvement orders requiring Safeway to make modification to its “Extend-A-Belt” checkstands in Manitoba stores. One of the orders required the company to widen the opening of the step-through opening on existing stands from 15 5/8 inches to 20 inches (from approximately 40 cm to 50 cm).
Safeway agreed to the required modifications, but appealed to the labour board the requirement for changes to existing equipment, citing economic infeasibility. The board agreed to hear the appeal over the objections of UFCW Canada Local 832 as well as the department itself, but shortly before the appeal was to be heard in April, Safeway withdrew the appeal and announced the modifications would be completed by May 31. Work was completed on schedule, setting new standards for Safeway checkstands across North America. In photo (viewable in PDF version), Local 832 union rep Michelle Massery (right) discusses the improved step-through with union steward Rhoda Garrioch at Safeway Polo Park store 723 in Winnipeg.
More: Don Keith, UFCW Canada Local 832, www.ufcw832.mb.ca
The inagural meeting of UFCW Canada’s new national Youth Committee took place at the union’s national office in Rexdale and National Training Program offices in Mississauga on June 18. Members of the committee are (viewable in PDF version, standing, l-r) Kelly Provost, UFCW Canada Local 175, Cobourg ON; Alan Mahood, Local 864, Charlottetown; Ruth Basa, Local 1000A, Ajax ON; Debora De Angelis, national staff rep and committee chair; (seated, l-r) Darrin Kurmey, Local 1400, Saskatoon; Trisha Malabar, Local 832, Winnipeg; Jessica Varga, Local 1518, Pitt Meadows BC; with UFCW Canada Director Michael Fraser. Absent from photo is Nynon Lessard, Local 503, Sillery QC.
Sources: CEP, government, and on-line reports
Additional data available in PDF version