With the songs and solidarity still fresh from the fierce fightback in Gander, Unifor delegates from across the Atlantic region came back to Newfoundland and Labrador for the Atlantic Regional Council. Delegates looked back on that occupation at D-J Composites to defend 30 locked out sisters and brothers as perhaps the most memorable, but far from the only fightback the union has had this year.
“That week in Gander will forever live in my heart as real evidence of what union solidarity can accomplish,” said Lana Payne, Atlantic Regional Director. “We know we have serious challenges ahead to push for worker safety in the offshore, to defend good forestry jobs, support our health care workers, to demand better wages and working conditions including for minimum wage workers and to stop employers from flipping contracts in order to bust unions or slash wages. Make no mistake, this past year is proof when we fight back, we can win big for workers.”
More than 250 members, local leaders and national staff met in St. John’s from May 1-5. They heard from National President Jerry Dias, invited guests and fellow members who addressed sector-related workplace issues, discussions on disability rights, immigration and fighting racism.
“From Goderich and Thunder Bay to Gander and GM, Unifor is fighting for workers, fighting for good jobs and fighting for investments in people and communities,” said Dias. “In the six years since we were formed our union has made a mark. We are relevant. We are a fighting union. And we are forcing those who may not like us - governments and employers alike - to respect us.”
Payne made recommendations to the delegates for action the union will take in the coming year. These included support for a national forestry campaign, ensuring workers’ rights are highlighted as an issue in upcoming elections, support and collaboration with student unions, and a commitment to ending the brutal practice of police racial profiling and carding.
“What affects one worker affects us all. We must challenge racism and the attacks on migrant workers. We must continue to demand better labour laws to protect workers’ rights. We must continue our fight for equality. We make a difference when we build solidarity and when we show that the real issues facing workers are the same ones we have always faced, an economic system that leaves too many behind and divides workers,” said Payne.
Photos from the Council can be seen here on Facebook.