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National Communications

16 Days of Activism for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

November 25 starts a global campaign of 16 Days of Activism for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. This year’s theme is Unite: Activism to End Violence Against Women. In the spirit of unity, Unifor is raising awareness among the membership about the Signal for Help, which began in 2020 as a way for women to silently show they need help and want someone to safely check in with them.

Over the next 16 days, we ask you to commit this signal to memory and teach it to 16 other people. This small action can lead to more women feeling comfortable asking for help, and help us all learn what resources are available to support women in unsafe situations.

Across Canada on December 6, 2022 we mark the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. It has now been 33 years since the tragic murders of 14 young women at L’Université de Montréal’s École Polytechnique. These women lost their bright lives and futures in the span of 20 minutes at the hand of someone who openly declared his misogyny. We also mourn Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and all who have lost their lives to femicide and violence.

This year we will return to in-person vigils and memorials to remember the women and girls we have lost and recommit ourselves to the fight to end gender-based violence.

Everyone, regardless of sex or gender, is called to speak up and speak out in a meaningful way against violence. Allyship is essential. Men must equally take a role alongside women in the labour movement to stop harassment when they see it and build safe workplaces and communities for all.

As a union, we make workplaces safe through collective bargaining language, and we must continue to push for better. One of the concrete ways we can take action at the bargaining table is to bargain new Women’s Advocates. Women’s Advocates are one of the support systems Unifor has pioneered to ensure there is someone to turn to at work when home is not safe.

The pandemic and ongoing health crises have only intensified the impacts of violence against women and girls.

  • 45% of women reported that they or a woman they know has experienced a form of violence.

  • 7 in 10 women said they think that verbal or physical abuse by a partner has become more common.

  • 6 in 10 felt that sexual harassment in public spaces has worsened.

  • Globally, 1 in 3 women experience violence with the most recent global estimates showing that, on average, a woman or girl is killed by someone in her own family every 11 minutes.

As we witness a rise in anti-rights movements, including anti-feminists, we must speak up and speak out against the dangerous rhetoric that is impacting our lives.

As Unifor members and leaders, we heed the call to increase our activism to ensure feminist voices are at every table influencing policy decisions that impact our lives.

Together we will continue to push for safe workplaces and homes for all women and girls.

Learn more at unifor.org/women and canadianwomen.org/signal-for-help.

Read this statement on our website here.

Trans Day of Remembrance

Unifor recognises November 20 as the Trans Day of Remembrance (TDOR). November 20 is a day of mourning, as our union comes together to recognize those whose lives - overwhelmingly Black trans women and femmes - have been taken due to anti-trans violence.

Unifor’s own constitution asserts the union’s commitment to equity and inclusion, to ensure equality for all members regardless of gender identity and to fight for their rights in our workplaces, communities, and in broader society.

On November 20, 2021, Unifor recognizes that the fight for safety and equity for trans and non-binary people is far from won.

We mourn the lives lost and stand alongside trans members and their families as they seek to live with the dignity, safety and freedom that we all need and deserve.

Trans rights are human rights. No person should be subject to discrimination, intimidation or violence because of their gender expression or identity.

Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) was started in 1999 by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith as a vigil to honor the memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was murdered in her home in 1998.

"Transgender Day of Remembrance seeks to highlight the losses we face due to anti-transgender bigotry and violence. I am no stranger to the need to fight for our rights, and the right to simply exist is first and foremost. With so many seeking to erase transgender people -- sometimes in the most brutal ways possible -- it is vitally important that those we lose are remembered, and that we continue to fight for justice."

- Transgender Day of Remembrance founder Gwendolyn Ann Smith

  1. Attend a vigil on November 20 and learn the names and stories of those who were lost. Many TDOR vigils include the reading of the names of people taken by to anti-trans violence. This is an important memorial to victims around the world.

  2. Include a moment of silence for murdered trans people at your next union event or meeting. Take time to pause and recognize those who have been taken by this violence, and commit to continue to work against it as a union.

  3. Support trans people in your union and community. Members can also support trans people in the workplace, and at the bargaining table by negotiating gender-natural washrooms, gender-inclusive PPEs and uniforms, expanded medical benefits including mental health care, and other bargaining priorities in Unifor’s 2019 Collective Bargaining Program.

Download the shareable

Download the poster

Unifor invites all trans and gender non-binary members to become involved in their locals and union. Reach out to Sarah McCue, LGBTQ Staff Liaison at pride@unifor.org.

Affordability Crisis in Canada

Greetings,

Many of you have reached out in recent months to share your concerns on the rising cost of living that is affecting our members and their families, from coast to coast. Everything from the price of groceries to the price of fuel and electronic goods has risen sharply. This is only adding to pre-existing challenges in the high cost of housing, family care, travel and home utilities and diminishing retirement security that workers face. Canada has stared down an ‘affordability crisis’ for many years – afflicting the most vulnerable – that is now spreading even farther and wider. As a union, this is a challenge we must fully understand and confront.

Attached you will find a primer on the current affordability crisis prepared by the Unifor Research Department, entitled: Understanding and Addressing Canada’s Affordability Crisis. It documents the root causes of present-day inflation, the soaring profits of private corporations, as well as workers’ wages that are struggling to keep pace. The document also presents a series of worker-focused recommendations presented to Minister Freeland in a formal letter (which you can read here).

Threats that rising interest rates will plunge Canada’s economy into another recession are very real – and we continue to monitor these developments closely. A careful, thoughtful and targeted approach to combating affordability (not just consumer price inflation) is critical at this time. That means doing more to invest in an affordable future.

Conservative calls to kill-off Canada’s climate policies, double down on crypto-currencies or sack the Bank of Canada’s Governor, are not only wrong-headed but, frankly, embarrassing. We must push back against these bad ideas wherever possible.

So far, the National Union has developed a variety of tools to inform a worker-centred understanding of inflation, including through a series of Research Department blogposts, as well as op-eds. There is also a webinar geared to staff and locals that helps explain inflation, its root causes, and how unions can bargain Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) clauses into collective agreements (with a major victory on this front in bargaining at Whistler Transit). Please be sure to visit Unifor’s Online Education website for information on future sessions.

Should you have any questions, or need to contact the National Union on any matter related to rising cost of living, please do not hesitate.

Thank you, as always, for your tireless work in support of our members – and for building this great union of ours.

Be sure to check in regularly at www.unifor.org for ongoing updates, actions and news stories on the union’s work.

In solidarity,

Lana Payne

National Secretary-Treasurer

Overturning Roe v. Wade

Reports the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) is about to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that protects a woman’s bodily autonomy in choosing to have a safe abortion, have sent a shockwave around the world.

Our collective grasp on women’s rights is frail, even, clearly, in countries that view themselves as world leaders. Generations of women have had to fight against the systematic and purposeful erosion of the ability to exercise our freedom of choice. There is perhaps no greater symbol of lost ground on our basic freedoms than the impending defeat of Roe v. Wade.

Canadians must be loud in our disdain for this decision by our neighbours, but we must also focus our energy and attentions on our own communities and governments, to prevent the erosion of our rights here at home. Tenuous, fragile threads tie our rights to theirs. The border between our two realities is not so wide, nor does it protect us from American anti-choice groups pouring money and disinformation into our country to pull our legislation in the same direction.

In many jurisdictions in Canada, social conservatives are dragging our politics to the right. Just last year, a motion was put forward by a Conservative Member of Parliament to amend the criminal code to chip away at abortion freedoms, and 82 MPs voted in support. And provincial governments have used the Notwithstanding clause twice in recent years to overrule the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

This decision by the justices of the SCOTUS is the product of nearly 50 years of attempts to tear down abortion rights in the United States. This news adds to the wave of demoralising laws that criminalize and harm LGBTQ families and children in many US states. The language of the draft decision hints that similar logic could be used to overturn certain other fundamental rights, including those protecting the right to marry a person of a different race, private consensual sex for adults of the same gender, gay marriage, contraception and the right to not be forcibly sterilised, among others.

Those of us who fight for workers’ rights and human rights must be just as relentless.

While abortion remains decriminalized here in Canada, we still struggle with access to abortion services in many regions. We have our own battles to continue to fight.

No one who can become pregnant can know if they will need access to abortion services at some point in their life. This includes some trans-men, two spirit, non-binary and gender diverse people. Those necessary medical services need to be available freely, and on demand.

Unifor will defend reproductive rights. We will march for freedom and speak out against oppression and control. We cannot allow wealthy power brokers to intervene in the decisions made by a woman and her health care provider. We will vote.

It is impossible to ban abortions. It is only possible to ban safe abortions; to deny health care to those with a uterus.

Abortions are health care.

Unifor unequivocally denounces the overturning of Roe v. Wade.


Lana Payne, National Secretary-Treasurer

Renaud Gagné, Québec Director

Linda MacNeil, Atlantic Regional Director

Naureen Rizvi, Ontario Regional Director

Gavin McGarrigle, Western Regional Director


View the statement on our website here.

National Day of Mourning

On the Day of Mourning, we remember the thousands of workers who have been killed or injured on the job, or contracted a workplace-related disease or illness.

As we carefully exit the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, with the virus becoming endemic, we remind all locals and their leadership to use this moment to review protocols, identify opportunities for training, and raise awareness among your members about the importance of workplace health and safety.

As we approach the Day of Mourning, take the time to review this checklist with Health and Safety representatives and Local Executives:

  • Have you reviewed the negotiated language in collective agreement(s) to ensure it meets the health and safety needs of your workplace(s)?

  • Does your collective agreement have Paid Education Leave (PEL) to ensure your members have access to ongoing health and safety training?

  • Has a representative from each workplace or unit taken recent Health and Safety courses from the Unifor Family Education Centre in Port Elgin, at an Area School, or through Unifor Online Education?

  • Have you called a special meeting of your Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee to identify gaps in knowledge or processes both in the prevention and in the aftermath of a workplace incident or hazard identification?

  • Are Local leadership well-trained in Health and Safety, knowledgeable about their responsibilities, and able to identify when employers, regulators, police or other stakeholders need to be involved in a workplace incident or hazard identification?

We encourage you to participate in the Day of Mourning. Participation may include moments of silence in the workplace, flags at half-mast for the day, flying the Day of Mourning flag, and wearing Day of Mourning armbands that can be ordered from the national union.

Local unions may also want to get involved in planning and preparation for Day of Mourning events in their municipality.

Create an opportunity to discuss this day with your members, as it is difficult to prioritize health and safety if members are not aware of the ongoing incidents of workplace injuries, illness and death. Since the founding of Unifor in 2013, there have been 56 members who have died due to workplace injury or illness. We must do all we can to prevent this from happening again.

As April 28 approaches, let’s review and renew our efforts to make this important day meaningful for our members and the victims who must never be forgotten by taking action to keep each other safe at work.

Equal Pay Day

In Canada, this year Equal Pay Day is April 12, 2022. Equal Pay Day marks the day that the average woman must work in order to have earned what the average man did in 2021. It’s 2022 and unions and other progressive organizations are still fighting to close the pay gap in Canada. We pride ourselves on so many progressive labour conditions but when it comes to ensuring women are paid equally we still fall short.

The pay gap is not just about gender. It’s about the intersectional lives of women of colour, Indigenous women, immigrant and migrant women, women with disabilities, elderly women and women who identify as LGBTQ. As women’s lives intersect with other forms of discrimination they experience, the gap increases substantially.

This year will be marked with an Ontario All-Party Leaders Debate on Women’s Economic Justice, making it the first Women’s political debate since 1985. It is well past time for women to be included in shaping policy to remove the gap. Visit equalpaycoalition.org to RSVP to watch the debate live on April 12 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. ET!

Unifor believes in equal pay for equal work. That belief informs our advocacy for legislation at the federal and provincial levels to ensure working women are treated equitably by all employers, unionized or not.

The union also works with coalition partners to fight for progressive policies that will shape a better future for all women. We join the Equal Pay Coalition in five key asks to end the gender pay gap.

  • Raising the minimum wage to a living wage,

  • Mandating paid sick days for workers,

  • Implementing the Pay Transparency Act,

  • Establishing affordable, accessible public child care with decent wages and conditions for child care workers, and

  • Rebuilding the economy by funding public services and providing health, community & social services, and education workers with decent wages and working conditions.

Just last month, we took a strong step toward these goals as Ontario joined every other province and territory and finally signed a child care agreement with the federal government. Progress is possible when we fight together.

For more information on Equal Pay Day, including facts to dispel common myths, please visit www.equalpaycoaliton.org.

Download the statement from our website.

Trans Day of Visibility

Unifor recognizes and invites all members to celebrate the International Transgender Day of Visibility on March 31, 2022. This annual day celebrates the value and resilience of transgender people both within the union and around the world.

Trans people are those who identify with a gender other than the one assigned at birth and exist within all countries, communities and religious groups around the world. This identity is separate from an individual’s sexual orientation.

Transphobia and anti-trans discrimination remains prevalent in Canada and is closely associated with growing far-right movements and political parties. This makes workers’ commitments to equity and justice more urgent and demands that we celebrate and build off tangible wins.

On December 8, 2021, Canada’s conversion therapy law, passed unanimously by the House of Commons, received Royal Assent.

Activists and survivors from across the country campaigned for decades to discredit and ban this dangerous practice.

The fight for trans rights, dignity, and equality is not yet won. The continued need for solidarity and allyship with the trans community is a must for workers. As workers, we understand the importance of allyship. As an ally you inform those around you that you are supportive and attentive to the needs of the trans community. We must never forget that our allyship is predicated on actively listening and making change with, and for, trans communities.

A slew of anti-trans laws adopted across the United States reverberated in LGBTQ2 communities and families in recent months. These laws should serve as a reminder to all workers of the fragility of legal protections, and the importance of continued, devoted solidarity for trans, non-binary and two-spirit people.

Unifor wishes to honour trans, non-binary and two-spirit members, who continue to help build our union and strengthen our movement. Our union and society are made better, more educated, and compassionate through their contributions and labour.

Unifor asks members to share a message of support and solidarity on the Trans Day of Visibility.

Click here to download poster

Click here to download shareable

Ukraine Invasion

Working people bear the brunt of any war.

They are the ones sent into battle. Their neighborhoods in war zones are left in ruins. Families are devastated, even far from the frontlines, as sons, fathers, daughters and mothers are sent into battle, never to return. Or returning broken.

With the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, working people will pay that price once again.

Unifor condemns this invasion, and we express our deep concern that further escalation of military conflicts will bring the world to the brink of war with enormous humanitarian consequences.

There is no such thing as a foreign war. Many Canadians have their roots in Ukraine, and still have families there. When a major power such as Russia invades another country, the resulting instability threatens us all.

Unifor stands with our trade union organizations in Europe to call for urgent dialogue and political solutions to ensure a stable outcome for Ukraine and guarantee security in Europe.

Unifor joins with IndustriALL and the European Trade Union Federation in calling for trade union solidarity across borders, and endorses their statements that only peace and security can ensure both the sustainable economic recovery workers need and the social justice programs working people and their families rely on.

We must spare a moment, too, for the journalists covering this and other wars. War correspondents put their lives on the line to keep us informed.

In solidarity,

Lana Payne, National Secretary-Treasurer

Renaud Gagné, Québec Director

Black History Month

For Unifor, Black History Month isn’t an event we only acknowledge in February.

This year, Canada recognizes Black History Month as February and Forever: Celebrating Black History Today and Every Day.

The Canadian government first recognized Black History Month in December 1995 in the House of Commons, following a motion introduced by the Honourable Dr. Jean Augustine.

Unifor has long been advocating that it is vital to acknowledge and recognize Black members everyday.

As a union, we featured Black members from locals for the past few years and allowed the different regions to see the remarkable leadership within our union.

We are committed to more than statements and more than a month of solidarity. We know that Black Canadians have made tremendous contributions and possess the skills, talents, intelligence, innovation and determination to have meaningful impacts within Unifor, across Canada and throughout the world.

It is our daily choices and actions that matter.

This month, we ask our local unions and workplace union representatives to celebrate Black Unifor members and safely support community events.

We also ask them to recognize Black Unifor members, not only in February, but each day of the year, in order to combat anti-Black racism and to continue to remove barriers in institutions that prevent Black members from fully participating.

We need to ensure physical and emotional health for all Black Canadians and continue to celebrate, appreciate and acknowledge Black communities across the country.

Information about Black History Month events can be found here.

Persons Day

To local union Presidents, Recording Secretaries, and Staff

Each October 18, Canada marks Persons Day. On this day, the Privy Council declared some women to be persons under the Constitution they gained the right to be appointed to public office including the Senate of Canada.

This right was not open to most women based on class and race. Reviewing our legislatures and the Senate today, not a lot has changed.

Women continue to make up fewer than 32 per cent of lawmakers. Women of colour, Indigenous women and working-class women make up a small fraction of that number.

The importance of having a diversity within our lawmakers can’t be overstated. The pandemic has shone a light on pre-existing gender and racial inequality and has increasingly widened the gap. Inequality has especially deepened for women and non-binary people facing multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination.

Having women in the legislature has undoubtedly influenced supportive laws passed during the pandemic. There has even been some gains in the area of child care, sexual harassment laws and pay equity.

We’ve seen the vital importance of women’s leadership in all elected spaces, including unions, throughout this pandemic. Work needs to be done to bring down the barriers to women’s access to these positions and the challenges that drive them out.

Women who have stood for office or been elected continue to face gender-based harassment and violence. Indigenous and Black parliamentarians have spoken out about the racist and sexist treatment they’ve been subjected to and they, along with other women, have made the difficult decision to leave the legislature.

Persons Day can’t just be about achieving the right for women to be appointed or elected to public office. It must also be about the wider campaign for gender justice. And we can win this campaign only through collective action.

Unifor members’ activism at the bargaining table, at the ballot box and in the streets hasn’t been easy but fighting back always makes a difference. We have stepped into a leadership role during the pandemic recognizing that women, particularly racialized women, have been disproportionately bearing the brunt. We’ve been pressing for workers’ rights, mobilizing to elect progressive governments, and standing firm for safety at work and at home. Our work to Build Back Better and its companion bargaining agenda includes an equity lens and lays a roadmap to a better world.

Persons Day may have started with the push for the right of white, upper class women to gain what white, upper class men had. It has since become a day to examine the structures that existed then and continue to exist. These structures must be reformed and dismantled if we are ever to achieve true equity for all genders and people of all classes. Collectively we will continue that fight.

Read this statement online

In solidarity,

Jerry Dias Lana Payne

Unifor National President National Secretary-Treasurer

Employment Insurance Program

To local union Presidents and Recording Secretaries,

This week, Unifor launched a broad vision for a more inclusive, equitable, and resilient Employment Insurance (EI) program for workers in Canada.

In order to achieve this vision, workers across the country will need to unite and participate in our calls to action.

The release of Unifor’s new report entitled “Build Back Better: An Inclusive, Equitable and Resilient Employment Insurance Program for Workers in Canadaopened a week of engagement and lobbying to present the vision both to Unifor members and federal decision-makers.

We also premiered the first campaign material, an explainer video on how to Build Better EI.

The pandemic exposed the crisis in the existing EI program and Canadians quickly learned it was completely inadequate and that more workers needed to be able to access this program. Unifor has campaigned and lobbied non-stop throughout the COVID crisis to ensure that federal income support programs meet the needs of more workers. The changes that we have seen in the past year cannot be temporary.

It’s time for the federal government to rebuild the EI system so that all workers can rely on it.

Our EI program only works when unemployed people can access it and survive on the benefit. Today, that’s not the case for most workers.

On average, only 40% of unemployed workers had access to EI benefits. Rebuilding this social safety net is a key component of the union’s plan to Build Back Better. In the summer of 2020, as the devastation of the COVID-19 recession was becoming clear, Unifor charted its vision for a fair, inclusive and resilient economic recovery through its Build Back Better plan.

The union’s campaign to Build Better EI and corresponding paper focuses on necessary improvements in three key areas;

  • Employment Insurance Eligibility Criteria,

  • Employment Insurance Benefits, and

  • Administration of the Employment Insurance System.

A summary of the recommendations as well as a downloadable copy of the paper is available at buildbackbetter.unifor.org/EI.

Join the campaign, take action and spread the word!

In solidarity,

Jerry Dias

Trans Day of Visibility 2022

Unifor recognizes and invites all members to celebrate the International Transgender Day of Visibility on March 31, 2022. This annual day celebrates the value and resilience of transgender people both within the union and around the world.

Trans people are those who identify with a gender other than the one assigned at birth and exist within all countries, communities and religious groups around the world. This identity is separate from an individual’s sexual orientation.

Transphobia and anti-trans discrimination remains prevalent in Canada and is closely associated with growing far-right movements and political parties. This makes workers’ commitments to equity and justice more urgent and demands that we celebrate and build off tangible wins.

On December 8, 2021, Canada’s conversion therapy law, passed unanimously by the House of Commons, received Royal Assent.

Activists and survivors from across the country campaigned for decades to discredit and ban this dangerous practice.

The fight for trans rights, dignity, and equality is not yet won. The continued need for solidarity and allyship with the trans community is a must for workers. As workers, we understand the importance of allyship. As an ally you inform those around you that you are supportive and attentive to the needs of the trans community. We must never forget that our allyship is predicated on actively listening and making change with, and for, trans communities.

A slew of anti-trans laws adopted across the United States reverberated in LGBTQ2 communities and families in recent months. These laws should serve as a reminder to all workers of the fragility of legal protections, and the importance of continued, devoted solidarity for trans, non-binary and two-spirit people.

Unifor wishes to honour trans, non-binary and two-spirit members, who continue to help build our union and strengthen our movement. Our union and society are made better, more educated, and compassionate through their contributions and labour.

Unifor asks members to share a message of support and solidarity on the Trans Day of Visibility.

Click here to download poster

Click here to download shareable

Asian Heritage Month

Speak. Listen. Learn.

During Asian Heritage Month in May, Unifor joins with our members to celebrate accomplishments and honour people's diverse experiences from all across Asia including north, southeast and west Asia.

Unifor wants members to share their stories, hear others’ experiences and take away the lessons learned from each other in the workplace to build our solidarity. Let's embrace the history of our workers’ successes and understand the challenges and barriers faced by Asian and South Asian members of our communities and of our union.

With anti-Asian sentiment and racially motivated crimes against people of Asian descent still on the rise, we must also see Asian Heritage Month as a time to act, to come together to combat all forms of anti-Asian racism and discrimination.

As a union, we remain committed to supporting diverse communities. Also, during this time, we have clear calls of action to demand the governments support Asian community organizations, demanding the end of racism and discrimination.

We are asking for members of the diverse Asian Communities to spread their messages of calls to action, successes, and positive achievements on social media, using the hashtag #Unifor4AsianHeritage.