Unifor Local 6006 held a special new member orientation on June 28 to welcome about thirty members who were new to the union, but not new to Bell Canada, their workplace. The new members were former contractors who had initially been hired to work on site to do clerical work but were converted to unionized positions and happily accepted.
In the last round of negotiations, finalized on March 7, 2018, members organized against widespread erosion of bargaining unit jobs that had in some cases, seen unionized workers forced to train and work alongside contractors who would then perform their job.
“Before the last round of bargaining, Unifor members were not respected and felt anxious about their job security,” said Naureen Rizvi, Ontario Regional Director. “Because of Unifor members mobilizing and bargaining, we reversed these attacks. It’s important to the union to do everything we can to defend member’s jobs and build an effective, strong union all members can take pride in.”
The bargaining committee won language to address the issue, and all contractors doing the same work as clerical members in Bell workplaces, some 225 jobs, will be converted to the bargaining unit job classifications that they should have been hired as in the first place.
As a Local 6006 chief steward and Bell Clerical member in the engineering department, Jillian Waterfield has had firsthand experience both of the discouraging experience of working alongside contractors, and of this new, positive transition.
“We’re getting to know the former contractors better now, and they’re already some of the most engaged new members that I’ve met, always asking questions and looking for ways to get involved,” Waterfield said.
The local has a newfound sense of unity and solidarity that clerical workers and former contractors have not known for many years. Local 6006, President Pearl Almeida describes the difference it has made.
“We recently welcomed about 30 new members into the union so far, former contractors. It has improved morale and inclusiveness for existing members and former contractors. The change has been so refreshing, to see the right thing being done,” said Almeida.
“Welcoming these new members is about Unifor’s goal of ensuring that all workers have access to join a union, and for Bell Clerical members to have strong language protecting their jobs against future erosion,” added Chris MacDonald, Assistant to the National President. “If you’re hired to do bargaining unit work, then you deserve bargaining unit protection, and to be a member of our union.”
New Unifor members can learn information about the union thought the New Member Kit, which is available free of charge to all local unions.