Teamster Leaders Laud Lifting of U.S. National Security Tariffs

Pictured: Teamsters Canada President François Laporte

 
Laval, QC, May 17, 2019 – Jim Hoffa, General President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and François Laporte, President of Teamsters Canada, made the following statements today on the lifting of the U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs:

In Washington, Hoffa was quick to offer his support for the announced solution: “When this overdue announcement was made, I personally thanked Ambassador Lighthizer and congratulated him for the successful resolution of this irritant in our traditionally excellent bilateral trade relations.

“We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Canada and with the Steelworkers unions in both countries. As we all know, steel and aluminum are the backbone of North America’s integrated economy, critical infrastructure and mutual defence.”

Laporte echoed Hoffa’s response: “I spoke with Minister Freeland earlier today to congratulate her on the government’s work on getting the U.S. national security tariffs lifted. This is truly excellent news for both countries.

“These tariffs put hundreds of our members out of work, primarily in auto parts factories in Ontario and at a steel mill in British Columbia. We hope the laid-off workers will be promptly reinstated, and we are currently studying ways to help get our affected members’ lives back on track as soon as possible.”

Hoffa and Laporte agree: “American and Canadian workers are united by a tight bond. We are each other’s closest trading partners and closest allies. We have worked together, fought together, and built great things together.

“Teamsters on both sides of the border lobbied their respective governments for an end to these tariffs. Our combined efforts, against these tariffs and for Fair Trade, exemplify the international solidarity of working families, and illustrate the importance of international unions in the global economy.”

Teamsters represent close to 125,000 members in Canada in all industries. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, with which Teamsters Canada is affiliated, has 1.4 million members in North America.

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Media requests:

Christopher Monette
Director of Public Affairs
Teamsters Canada
Cell: 514-226-6002
cmonette@teamsters.ca

Teamsters Canada President François Laporte is in Winnipeg tonight to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Winnipeg General Strike. He is accompanied by a large delegation of Teamster representatives, including International Vice-Presidents Craig McInnes and Stan Hennessy.

The following is an article on what the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike teaches every working person by Hassan Yussuff, as published in the Winnipeg Free Press and in the Toronto Star. Important reading on an important day…

What the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike teaches every working person

by Hassan Yussuff, President, Canadian Labour Congress

The year 1919 was fraught with discontent.

Workers in Canada were struggling to make ends meet and inflation had risen by 65% over a six-year span.

Men who had just returned from a horrific war in Europe could not find employment; factories were shutting down and bankruptcies were a common occurrence. Tens of thousands of people in Winnipeg alone lived in substandard housing where disease was a deadly reality. Working-class immigrants faced deep divisions along ethnic, linguistic, and religious lines.

This was the backdrop to what would become the most significant workers’ movement this nation has ever seen – one that holds lessons for us today. Key amongst them: organized and united workers are much better positioned to negotiate better working conditions than those who aren’t.

On May 15, 1919, over 35,000 Winnipeg public and private workers united to send a clear message to employers and to governments: they would strike in order to win better wages and the right to collective bargaining.

Workers overcame cultural and gender divisions to organize and effectively shut down the entire city of Winnipeg for six weeks while maintaining key services. Women were at the forefront – among the first workers to walk off the job.

While the strike was eventually broken and many of its leaders were imprisoned or deported, it left a legacy of labour law reforms that redefined fair and safe work across the country.

We have a far stronger social safety net than those workers could have ever dreamed of. We have universal health care, minimum wages, old age pensions, and employment insurance. We have maternity leave, weekends, health and safety standards, due in part to their sacrifices.

Nowadays, we take many of these things for granted, but we can’t afford to become complacent. Just as the various industrial revolutions transformed society, we are currently experiencing what some have described as the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This means the world of work is shifting and that brings both opportunities and challenges.

Over half of Canadian employees are worried about not having the training and skills they need to get a good paying job in our evolving labour market.

And with fewer workers belonging to a union, it becomes harder to stand up to the power of big business and government in the interests of workers.

“We know that employers are making greater use of employment agencies and short-term contractors to replace salaried employees,” remarked Carolyn A. Wilkins, Senior Deputy Governor at the Toronto Region Board of Trade in a speech this past January. “Unionization rates in the private sector are down. And we hear from labour market experts that this has changed the social contract between companies and their workers.”

In blunt terms, as corporate profits soar in the billions, wages continue to stagnate for the majority. (CEOs now earn more in one day than the average worker’s annual salary) Statistics Canada estimates that over the past four decades, wages for people between the ages of 18 and 35 have literally risen by about a $100 a year – nowhere comparable to the rise in the cost of living. Compounded with the astronomical costs of housing, the opportunities to own one’s own home for today’s young workers– historically a marker of economic health – have shrunk considerably.

When workers are isolated and unorganized, it is far too easy for companies to squeeze their workforce for the maximum amount of profits. Corporate profits soar while the salaries of the people adding value to the company languish.

Corporate tax cuts also benefit shareholders, while diminishing the ability of government to support a functioning society built on reducing inequality. Canadians are taxed on personal income at a significantly higher rate and contribute far more to government coffers than corporations. This wasn’t always the case. In the early 1950s, corporations and households contributed the same share of income tax. Nowadays, corporations contribute around 15%; the rest of us contribute close to 50%.

With a changing economic landscape that continues to threaten certain industries and create whole new ones, the key lesson from the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike must be for workers to overcome fear and division to unionize and safeguard their rights.

Canada’s unions are proud of the contributions they have made to raise the bar for everyone. We are committed to advocating on behalf of all working families – for universal pharmacare, pay equity, better pensions, safer workplaces, and much more.

But if history has taught us anything, it’s that we need every worker to stand up and be counted.

Québec City, May 14, 2019 — A provincial decree to impose common working conditions in residential and long-term care centres (CHSLDs) and private retirement homes has become inescapable. That is the conclusion reached by the Teamsters Union, which has the support of Québec solidaire and Parti québécois opposition critics Catherine Dorion and Harold Lebel.

A decree would ensure that public and private sector workers have similar conditions and guarantee healthy competition between companies that own retirement homes. Moreover, such a measure would help with the sector’s labour shortage because it would improve wages for care workers in Québec.

A more reasonable worker/resident ratio would also guarantee better services for seniors.

“We’re happy that opposition parties are supporting this initiative,” said the president of Teamsters Local Union 106, Jean Chartrand. “During the last few years of my dad’s life, I had the opportunity to witness the dedication of retirement home workers. I can guarantee you that they deserve more and better, and that improving their lives would also improve the lives of the people they care for.”

Public/private wage gap

While they do exactly the same type of work, private sector care workers are paid up to $5/hour less than their public sector colleagues. That makes the private sector less attractive and fosters a labour shortage.

The shortage means that there are less people to feed, clean and care for seniors. Because there aren’t enough workers to meet the province’s growing needs, seniors will not benefit from all the services they should be receiving.

“Difficult working conditions for care workers reflect the absurdity of a world in which we dare not ask companies and the super-rich to do their fair share, but keep pushing care workers to do more and more with less and less. We’re sickening the people we pay to care for us. It’s institutional violence, and it’s time to push back,” said the MNA for Taschereau and Québec solidaire opposition critic for seniors, Catherine Dorion.

“In the current context, given the aging population, care workers are becoming vital actors for the well-being of our seniors,” added Harold Lebel, the Parti québécois MNA for Rimouski. “We need to adapt working conditions for the people who are giving their all for the profession, especially at a time when the need for care workers is expected to rise. The well being of our society, the quality of life of our seniors and the efficiency of our health care system are all at stake. It’s not just care workers who will reap the benefits, but the whole of society.”

Making the rounds at the National Assembly

Over the last few months, the Teamsters have been meeting with provincial politicians to raise awareness about these issues. Chantal Cardinal, Denis Ouellette and Yanick Chartrand, all three business agents with Local Union 106, took part in meetings with elected officials, which is what brings them to the National Assembly today. They will be accompanied by union members who work in private retirement homes.

Because MNAs Catherine Dorion and Harold Lebel have accepted to support the Teamsters Union’s proposals, a press conference was held this morning at the National Assembly. The goal was to send a clear message to the province’s Minister for Seniors and Informal Caregivers: the time for parliamentary commissions, public consultations, studies and surprise visits to care centres is over.

The government must act now.

Teamsters represent over 1000 workers in CHSLDs and private retirement homes in Québec. Teamsters Canada and its 125,000 members are affiliated with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which represents 1.4 million members in North America.

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Media requests:

Stéphane Lacroix, Director of Communications and Public Affairs (Québec)
Cell: 514-609-5101
slacroix@teamsters.ca

Pei Vanden Brink (left) and Lukas Eichel-Fominov (right), business agents with Teamsters Local Union 362, at Grande Prairie Airport.

Grande Prairie, AB, May 11, 2019 – In a three-to-one vote on Thursday, airport screeners at the Grande Prairie Airport turned down representation from the Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC). The CLAC was attempting to raid the bargaining unit.

“We managed to reassure the membership that they were better off with the Teamsters than with the CLAC,” said Lukas Eichel-Fominov, a business agent with Teamsters Local Union 362 assigned to Grand Prairie Airport.

The CLAC has a reputation for reaching substandard agreements with employers. In one case, the CLAC had negotiated an agreement which stated that current wage rates would be reduced by 20% for time worked in excess of 40 hours a week.

In another case, they proposed wage rates in a first collective agreement that were $1.25 per hour less than what any employee in the bargaining unit was currently earning. In yet another case, they attempted to ratify an agreement that did not include a wage schedule.

These examples come from a study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), which also found that the CLAC had regularly negotiated collective agreements that were below prevailing provincial standards.

With the CLAC raid defeated in Grande Prairie, the Teamsters are turning their attention to reaching a new collective agreement for the airport screeners. Main issues include more flexibility for part-time workers, scheduling, vacation time, and wages.

“Wages are the biggest issue at this airport, given the high cost of living in Grand Prairie,” explained Pei Vanden Brink with Teamsters Local Union 362, who has over eight years’ experience at the airport as an airport screener, trainer and shop steward.

Teamsters represent airport screeners at most airports in Alberta and at many airports in the rest of Canada. The union has all the necessary resources and experience to ensure airport screeners get the possible agreement.

“We’ll be working hard to tackle these issue and others, because airport screeners deserve nothing less than to be treated fairly and with dignity,” added Vanden Brink.

Teamsters Canada represents 125,000 members in Canada in all industries. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, with which Teamsters Canada is affiliated, has 1.4 million members in North America.

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Media requests:

Christopher Monette
Director of Public Affairs
Teamsters Canada
Cell: 514-226-6002
cmonette@teamsters.ca

Today is the National Day of Mourning, a day to remember those who died, or were injured or made ill, from their work. It is also a day people are asked to recommit to improving health and safety and preventing tragedies in the workplace.

Since November 2017, we have lost eight of our sisters and brothers to a range of accidents and derailments in the rail industry.

Their names are Dimitrios Bakertzis, Melissa Heins, Kevin Anderson, Tony Nenasheff, Pierre-Luc Levesque, Andrew Dockrell, Dylan Paradis and Daniel Robert Waldenberger-Bulmer.

Nobody should expect or accept so many tragedies in such a short amount of time. The Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) published its own letter to commemorate the Day of Mourning, which includes more details and information on how railroaders are remembering.

Our other affiliates are doing their part, too. Today and tomorrow, Local Union 419 will be paying tribute to Virgilio Bernardino, a warehouse worker at Versacold in Toronto who died after being crushed by falling debris in 2003. Follow their Facebook page for pictures of the commemoration.

Work-related tragedies are on the rise in Canada. According to the latest statistics, the number of workplace fatalities rose from 905 in 2016 to 951 in 2017. Close to half of these fatalities occurred the transportation, construction and manufacturing industries, which collectively employ the bulk of our members.

Beyond the statistics and the individual lives lost, we must never forget that these tragedies affect scores of family members, friends and co-workers.

Many people are still unaware of the significance of April 28. I invite everyone to raise awareness about the National Day of Mourning by sharing this post or the countless others you will come across today. You can also light a candle or wear a black ribbon in honour of those we lost, or attend one of the many Day of Mourning ceremonies held across the country.

But most importantly, you can honour the memory of those we lost by fighting for safety of the living. That means getting involved in health and safety committees, focusing on prevention, and never being afraid to speak up when you see something dangerous at work.

All accidents are preventable, and our union will always be there for those who stick up for safety.

In solidarity,

François Laporte
President
Teamsters Canada

Laval, April 24, 2019 — Owner operators of the Dicom courier company in Drummondville have joined the ranks of the Teamsters Union.

Alain Coursol of Teamsters Local Union 931 filed an application for certification yesterday afternoon with the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB).

Workers have reported that the company has reduced its pay scale in the past few weeks, reducing their salary to what it was fifteen years ago.

“We are very happy to welcome these new members to our great Teamsters family,” said Local Union 931 president, Richard Lamoureux. “We’re going to start working on improving their conditions as soon as the certification has been approved by the CIRB.”

The Teamsters Union is the dominant force in the parcel and package delivery sector in Canada, with more than 17,000 members. We defend the interests of workers at Purolator, UPS, Intelcom, ICS, Nationex, Dynamex, MGM, CMC Express, Loomis and Colispro, among other companies.

“I would like to congratulate the organizing team, especially brothers Alain Coursol and Alain Turcotte, for their excellent work,” Coursol added.

The Teamsters Union represents close to 125,000 workers across Canada, including more than 35,000 workers in various industries in Quebec. Teamsters Canada is affiliated with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which has 1.4 million members in North America.

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Information:
Stéphane Lacroix, Director of Communications and Public Affairs
Cell: 514-609-5101
slacroix@teamsters.ca

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Teamsters Make Historic Breakthrough at Dicom

Laval, QC, April 18, 2019 – A tentative agreement has been reached between the Teamsters and managers at Autobus DL. The company’s 30 school bus drivers are members of Teamsters Local Union 106.

Sylvie Duval, business agent at Teamsters Local Union 106, will present the company’s proposals at a union meeting next week.

This means 3000 to 3500 students at the Eastern Townships School Board and the Commission scolaire du Val-des-Cerf will continue receiving school bus service next week. Workers had previously voted to authorize strike action.

More details will be made available once members vote on the tentative agreement.

Teamsters represent close to 125,000 members in Canada in all industries, including over 1000 school bus drivers in Québec. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, with which Teamsters Canada is affiliated, has 1.4 million members in North America.

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Media requests :

Stéphane Lacroix,
Director of Communications and Public Affairs (Québec)
Cell : 514 609-5101
slacroix@teamsters.ca

MORE LIKE THIS

SCHOOL BUS STRIKE IN QUÉBEC’S EASTERN TOWNSHIPS SET FOR APRIL 24
POSSIBLE SCHOOL BUS STRIKE IN QUÉBEC’S EASTERN TOWNSHIPS

It is with a heavy heart that I learned that Brother Andy Mastoris, a legendary usher at the Scotiabank Arena and long-time member of Teamsters Local Union 847, died last week at the age of 80.

Andy started working as an usher in 1964 at the Maple Leaf Gardens. On his first day, the Beatles were playing at the Gardens. He was there when Toronto last won the Stanley Cup, in ’67.

Over the years, fans came to know and love Andy and went out of their way to stop at Gate 1 to have a chat with him, and maybe take a picture with him. His smile was contagious.

He was mentioned in and profiled in various publications, eventually becoming part of the sports lore in Toronto.

Andy loved his job, and he loved people.

Andy, in turn, was loved by his co-workers, his friends, his family, and thousands of sports fans.

He will be sorely missed.

In solidarity and mourning,

Fernanda Santos
President
Teamsters Local Union 847

April 8, 2019, Prince Rupert – Fresh on the heels of opening a new office in Prince Rupert last December, Teamsters Local Union 31 is pleased to welcome twenty-six new brothers and sisters employed at the Coast 2000 Prince Rupert and Ridley Island Terminals.

The local union’s newest members operate lift equipment to offload lumber from either railcar or flatbed trucks. The wood product is then carefully handled by Teamsters and stuffed inside sea containers en route to international customers. The Teamsters container lift operators stack sea containers within the yard and lift sea containers on and off trailer chassis. The hostlers operate truck equipment that moves sea containers within the terminals.

The Coast 2000 Prince Rupert bargaining unit is one of two Coast 2000 units that Local Union 31 represents, the original being in Richmond, British Columbia. Over time, Teamsters members have helped create Coast 2000 into the largest leading third party logistics export service provider to the pulp and paper, lumber, and international steamship line (sea container) industries.

“Our members and Coast 2000 have had a long productive history together”, stated local president Stan Hennessy. “New Teamsters in Prince Rupert will now be able to utilize their collective agreement that contains great work-life balance, including extended vacation time, banked vacation overtime and accumulated time off.”

In late February, Local Union 31 President Stan Hennessy, Business Agent Anthony Kirk and Organizer Ben Hennessy conducted a union meeting with the new Coast 2000 Teamsters at the Highliner Hotel in Prince Rupert. Hennessy chaired the meeting and guided new members through their collective agreement. Since then, Anthony Kirk has met with members at the job sites.

“I’ve had a great time meeting with our new members”, stated Business Agent Kirk. “Everybody is enjoying the new contract and are happy to be Teamsters.”

The new collective agreement commenced on March 1, 2019, and will expire on February 28, 2022. The hourly rates of pay and benefits will make Coast 2000 the industry leaders in Prince Rupert.

“Our new Coast 2000 Prince Rupert brothers and sisters will now have access to Teamsters Health and Welfare and the Teamsters Pension Plan,” stated Organizer Ben Hennessy. “This contract is a difference maker to the lives of the Coast 2000 workers. The Organizing Department will be at non-union work sites to share the positive results of membership in the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.”

To organize your workplace in British Columbia, please contact Ben Hennessy, Director of Organizing at Teamsters Local Union31 at 604-527-2722 or bhennessy@teamsters31.ca

Workers elsewhere in Canada can confidentially fill out a form HERE to have a local organizer get in touch with them.

Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) represents more than 1.4 million active members employed in a wide range of industries in North America.

Teamsters Local Union 31 proudly represents 8,000 members in British Columbia and the Yukon Territory, including general truck drivers, transit and bus drivers, warehouse, grocery, courier, public sector, pulp and paper workers and limousine chauffeurs.

Wages are the main sticking point. The pay increases management is proposing will not allow our members to keep up with the cost of living…

Laval, QC, April 12, 2019 – Barring significant progress at the bargaining able, school bus drivers at Autobus DL will walk off the job on Wednesday, April 24 at 7 a.m. Between 3000 and 3500 students at the Eastern Townships School Board and the Commission scolaire du Val-des-Cerfs may find themselves without school bus service. Wages are the main sticking point.

“The pay increases management is proposing will not allow our members to keep up with the cost of living. School drivers are already the lowest-paid professional drivers in Québec, earning on average $20,000 a year,” explained the president of Teamsters Local Union 106, Jean Chartrand.

On Wednesday, it was announced that members had voted by a margin of 91% to walk off the job at a moment deemed appropriate by the union. But the latest talks with the company indicate that there is no way forward for the time being.

The collective agreement expired last summer. The union remains open to continue negotiating, but management is not ready to make any new offers and no new meetings between parties have been scheduled at this time.

“Out of solidarity with parents, the union had committed to providing advance notice of any work stoppage. We sincerely hope this 12-day notice will give them enough time to find other options for taking their kids to school,” added Jean Chartrand. “Meanwhile, we will continue doing everything possible to avoid a strike and reach a fair and equitable agreement for our members.”

Working conditions in this industry are difficult. On top of low wages, school bus drivers have to deal with split shifts, bad weather, poor roads, students’ behaviour and impatient or aggressive motorists.

A strike at Autobus DL would mainly affect the cities of Cowansville, Bromont, Adamsville, Waterloo, Knowlton and Farnham.

Teamsters represent close to 125,000 members in Canada in all industries, including over 1000 school bus drivers in Québec alone. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, with which Teamsters Canada is affiliated, has 1.4 million members in North America.

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Media requests:

Christopher Monette
Director of Public Affairs
Teamsters Canada
Cell: 514-226-6002
cmonette@teamsters.ca