UFCW Canada has always placed a high priority on organizing the unorganized – that is, bringing union membership to workers who need representation in their workplace.
Organizing the unorganized is vitally important to our members because it allows us to be in a stronger bargaining position when renegotiating their collective agreements. At the bargaining table, we continually hear arguments from the employers about non-union competition.
It also makes sense that we organize the unorganized because the labour movement is about more than winning good contracts and representing the concerns of current members – it is about fighting for what is right and striving to improve the lives of all working people.
Organizing, however, can be a difficult endeavour. In recent years, right-wing governments have set roadblocks in our way, and many employers have become increasingly ruthless in their efforts to squeeze even greater profits out of fewer and fewer employees.
As a leader in organizing the unorganized, UFCW Canada is ready to meet those kinds of pressures head-on. We are getting back to basics and will refocus our energies and resources on this job. This doesn’t mean turning our backs on any of the many other important things we do for members, but rather working harder, as a national union, to find ways to organize new members at the same time.
Starting next week, UFCW Canada leaders and staff will be receiving a bi-monthly Organizing bulletin, giving them the latest information on new members who have been brought into our union, and where in Canada and in what sectors these programs are taking place.
This is a first step in many to come to revitalize not just our union, but to help strengthen the Canadian labour movement. The entire labour movement in Canada needs to focus on organizing the unorganized. Like generations of unionists before us, we must continue to fight for what is right.
With 400 members of UFCW Canada Local 175 picketing three Safeway stores in Thunder Bay ON since October 1, several thousand members of Local 832 in Manitoba are poised to take similar action.
“Our members are doing a great job and showing tremendous commitment and solidarity in Thunder Bay,” says Wayne Hanley, president of Local 175. “They really have the community on their side.”
Meanwhile, with just more than a week remaining before a November 12 Manitoba strike deadline, UFCW Canada Local 832 has filed bad-faith bargaining charges against the California-based company, which is threatening to close the Manitoba stores unless workers accept massive concessions. Local 832 President Bernard Christophe says, “There is no justification for this threat. Safeway admits they are making money in Manitoba, and we have no intention of negotiating reductions of any kind to wages or benefits.”
Local 832 members, who have already voted in favour of strike action if a settlement is not reached, will hold province-wide meetings on November 4 to review whatever offer is on the table at that time and vote on it. This timing would allow the local to provide the company with required one-week notice of strike action.
UFCW Canada Local 864 won the certification of 25 new members at six Hakim Optical stores in Nova Scotia in September. The decision by the province’s labour board followed hearings into conflicting unfair labour practice complaints by both the employer and UFCW Canada, which had kept the workers’ votes on membership sealed since May.
Atlantic Assistant to the Director Mark Dobson says Hakim workers were eager to join once they found out some workers in the chain in Ontario already belonged to UFCW Canada. “Scheduling and workplace treatment are important issues, and now, for the first time, they are being addressed,” Dobson says. UFCW Canada Local 1993 has members at four Ontario stores. See Facts on File (below).
More: Tim Hosford, John Forster, UFCW Canada national staff
UFCW Canada Local 503 welcomed 30 new members in two bargaining units in the Québec City area in September. The local won certification for 10 cafeteria workers in the Cégep de Ste-Foy, employed by Aramark Québec, and 20 workers at l’Auberge des Peupliers Cap-à-l’Aigle, a Charlevoix hotel.
More: Murielle Desjardins, UFCW Canada Local 503
UFCW Canada Local 1518 was successful in winning more than $70,000 in retroactive long-term disability benefits for a member who had been terminated by Canada Safeway. The termination followed a lengthy absence due to personal difficulties.
More: Tom Fawkes, Andy Neufeld, UFCW Canada Local 1518, www.ufcw.1518.com
The following changes to the UFCW Canada national staff have been announced since the last report:
Shane became a member of UFCW Canada at National Sea Products in St. John’s NF, where he was a steward and later unit chair. He worked on defending UFCW Canada against raids beginning in 1987, came on staff in 1988, and earlier this year was names Western Assistant to the Director.
Additional Source: www.hakimoptical.ca