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Unifor sets up innovative community fund to help local organizations

MONTREAL, Feb. 18, 2015 /CNW/ - Unifor President Jerry Dias is reacting strongly to what he calls an intentional misrepresentation of the union's new Canadian Community Fund, first negotiated at CP Rail on Saturday.

Dias said that the union established a pattern at CP Rail when Unifor settled on a tentative agreement on Saturday night, including the new fund.

"The Canadian Community Fund is part of a long history of making gains at the bargaining table that are shared in the community," said Dias. "CP understood the value of this fund, it's unfortunate that CN does not see this opportunity."

"Over the years, the union has been able to make donations to youth and women's shelters, disaster relief, help with providing legal advice to migrant workers and supporting workers who don't have access to a union," said Dias. "Our members are proud of these contributions and the good work that we're able to do in communities across the country, as well as internationally."

The new fund is part of the union's broader social mandate which emphasizing working alongside community groups to improve the lives of working people and those who are most vulnerable, said Dias. 

The Canadian Community Fund will have terms of reference and input from members.

"This is an issue of economics – plain and simple.  CN is highly profitable," said Dias. "The year 2014 was the best year ever for the railway. CN's after-tax net income for the year was $3.2 billion – up over a half-billion from 2013. If we can establish this fund at CP, we can do the same at CN."

The 5 cent per hour, per member Canadian Community Fund is part of a larger collective bargaining package which also includes funding for women's advocates who help women facing violence and paid leave for skilled trades members to participate in relief efforts, conduct repairs at local women's shelters or other similar work.  

The union will be holding a press conference tomorrow at 12-noon ET giving an update on talks with CN, including how the union plans to proceed.