Top Five Questions & Answers on Unifor’s Disaffiliation

The following information is a quick guide to help Unifor members better
understand why the union has made a decision to disaffiliate from the Canadian
Labour Congress (CLC). It is important to note that this decision was to remove
Unifor as an affiliate from the CLC, it is not about removing the active
participation in Canada’s labour movement.

1) Why did Unifor Leave CLC?
This dispute is about the ineffectiveness of the CLC and its failure to prevent attacks on workers from their U.S. - based unions. The CLC lacks an effective mechanism for workers to change affiliations and it is a broad problem that has plagued the labour movement and requires urgent change. This difficult decision was made after a year of working with the CLC trying to resolve Unifor’s concerns about U.S.-based unions trampling on the rights of workers, including their democratic right to choose their own representation or to express dissent about the union. The CLC failed to act to address the aggressive and undemocratic tactics shown by U.S.-based unions, against the wishes of members in Canada.

2) What do we say to people who still do not understand why Unifor left CLC?
When Unifor was founded we committed to improve and build the labour movement.
That is why Unifor took a stand for union democracy and the rights of workers. Our union is
opposed to any union that threatens, harasses, intimidates, or silences workers for simply
asserting their democratic rights to choose a union or for the purpose of quelling dissent. It is
our hope that the action to disaffiliate from the CLC will trigger change to ensure that workers
in Canada have their democratic rights respected.

3) What needs to happen to fix the CLC?
Change never happens without challenge. Unifor’s leadership believes strongly that in order to
make things better for workers there is a need to advance this issue now, and by doing this
Unifor’s leadership hopes that there will be a stronger labour movement in Canada. The CLC
must establish a solution that will create a fair process to allow Canadian workers to change
their union affiliation, including leaving undemocratic U.S.-based unions, and to prevent,
bullying and intimidation of workers should they choose to leave. While Article 4 of the CLC
Constitution outlines a democratic process for workers to change unions, it is not enforced,
which means it is not working for workers. We must fix that.

4) Did the decision to leave the CLC violate Unifor’s Constitution?
No. Unifor’s Constitution makes it clear the National Executive Board (NEB) has authority to
make decisions in between councils and conventions. The NEB is empowered to make decisions
on behalf of the union as set out in the Constitution and it acted in keeping with Unifor’s
governance. This unanimous decision is subject to final review and approval by delegates at the Canadian Council and the next council, held yearly, is scheduled for August 17-19, 2018 in
Halifax.

5) Why is Unifor encouraging locals to continue to be active in federations, local
labour councils and other activities?
Unifor is proud to defend the rights of working people and unions and we will continue to
encourage all locals and members to participate in and support our collective campaign work
with federations and labour councils. Unifor’s issue is with the CLC and not with all of the
dedicated rank and file activists across from coast to coast to coast that are involved in creating social change and building workers power.
Unifor is disappointed that the CLC has advised federations and labour councils to remove duly
elected Unifor officers and is seeking to prevent our activists from participating in locally based campaign work. While Unifor works to sort out this serious issue with the CLC, the important work we are doing in communities across Canada must continue un-interrupted.
Let’s remember, solidarity is not about paying dues to a central labour body, it is about the
work that we do every single day. Our union will continue to be led by principles and act for
justice. Unifor will not rely on bureaucracy to determine how trade unionists build a better
world.

New labour laws in Ontario – what are my rights?

On November 22, Bill 148 was voted into law, ushering in a number of substantial changes to our outdated employment laws.

This overhaul to both the Ontario Labour Relations and Employment Standards Acts are the result of years of community and labour organizing, mobilizing and advocating for change.

Here’s what the new laws mean for workers:

Raising the standard

  • An increase in the minimum wage to $14 on January 1, 2018 and to $15 on January 1, 2019. This will result in a 29% pay increase for the lowest paid Ontarians over two years.
  • Equal pay for equal work for part-time, temporary and casual workers that are doing substantially the same work as full-time workers.
  • New rights for temporary agency workers. Temp workers must be paid the same wage as the regular/permanent full-time worker doing the same job, and termination notice and termination pay must be given to those workers with more than three months of service.
  • Fairer scheduling practices will mean three hours of pay for on-call duty, protected refusal of shifts with short notice and three hours of pay for cancelled shifts with less than 48 hours of notice.
  • Stronger enforcement and higher fines for employers who violate the law.

Improvements to time off the job

  • Two paid personal emergency leave days, with eight additional unpaid days. It now applies to organizations of all sizes, not just organizations employing 50 people or more. As with all employment standards, these new rules will apply unless a collective agreement provides different rules. In most cases, the collective agreement must provide a greater benefit in order for the Employment Standards Act not to apply. It is possible that some industry-specific regulations will modify these rules for workers in the auto sector. 
  • Support for domestic violence survivors that includes five paid days leave for domestic violence survivors and up to a total of 10 days off, plus an additional unpaid, job-protected 15 weeks.
  • Mandatory minimum of three weeks of vacation with five years on the job.
  • Card-based certification in three sectors: temporary help agencies, building services and home care and community services.
  • New rights around joining a union: greater access to lists, off-site and electronic voting, stronger certification powers.
  • Successor rights for building services contracts (cleaning, food services, security) and the ability to extend rules to agencies and institutions receiving public funds.

For a more comprehensive summary, please see the presentation developed by Unifor’s Research Department or check out the Unifor campaign page.

Many of these changes will come into effect in January – marking hard-fought new rights for the New Year a reality. 

It will be our job as a union and as trade union activists to ensure these rights are enforce for all workers and that we continue to push for further improvements. We will not go backwards! Let’s remember that the Ontario election is coming this June. 

Bill 148

All three parties introduced amendments to Bill 148. Because the Liberals have a majority government, theirs is a decisive vote.

Of note, the NDP tabled many progressive amendments. Unfortunately, the substantive changes they proposed, which would have built a framework for decent work in Ontario, were not adopted. They should be congratulated for their leadership and desire to make this legislation as beneficial to Ontarians as possible.

Opposition to decent work is real. The big business lobby including Metro, Loblaws and Magna corporations are campaigning against the $15 minimum wage and against Bill 148 in its entirety. We need to stay strong and mobilized in anticipation for the further amendments and a provincial election in 2018.

We were concerned that the push back from the big business lobby would have meant that some of our gains could have been lost. The PC party wanted an economic impact study and the phase-in of the $15 minimum wage to be much longer. They did not win either of these changes, and that is good.

Overall, we made some gains, but we also saw a couple of setbacks.

Highlights of what we campaigned to fix under Bill 148 and won!

Labour Relations Act:

Consolidating bargaining units: We had major concerns with Bill 148 allowing the labour board to involuntarily consolidate bargaining units with different bargaining agents. This would have been incredibly divisive for workers. That section was amended and fixed.

Employment Standards Act:

Contracting out of the ESA: Many unionized workers would have stood to lose gains made under the ESA if their collective agreement was in violation of the new law. That was amended to allow for union members to receive the higher benefit under the ESA – after a certain time frame.

Leave for Survivors of Domestic/Sexual Violence: we have been campaigning for 10 paid leave days for survivors of domestic and/or sexual violence and 60 unpaid days. The government amended Bill 148 to include a section for up to 15 weeks unpaid. We still need the days to be paid but this is a very important move in the right direction. Let’s keep going!

A few setbacks that we can still win:

Equal pay for equal work language was weakened to include more loopholes for employers.

The time period to access automatic first contract arbitration was lengthened.

We can still fix these changes!

Ontario Federation of Labour

Unifor calls on members to donate to BC fires relief

Unifor believes in the effectiveness of collective action—from the picket line to communities in need.

Unifor and the Social Justice Fund have already donated $100,000 to the Canadian Red Cross fire relief efforts.

National President Jerry Dias is encouraging every Unifor member and Local to show solidarity with those affected by the forest fires in British Columbia’s Interior.

There are at least three ways to help:

1. Donate online with a credit card.

Go to www.redcross.ca/donate  [http://www.croixrouge.ca/]

Need to donate via cheque?  Please make your cheque payable to Canadian Red Cross and mail to:

Canadian Red Cross

British Columbia/ Yukon Office

PO Box 4664 STN Terminal

Vancouver, BC V6B 9Z9

2. Spread the word.

Share the www.redcross.ca/donate donation link with other Unifor members on your Facebook and Twitter account.  Every

donation can help to make a difference.

3. Fundraise.

Organize a workplace collection, hold a bake sale, or host a lunchtime event to raise funds for BC's wildfire victims.

"My sincere thanks to the Unifor members who have already joined this urgent request.  I know it means a lot to our members in the BC's interior."  said Dias.