Members unite to shape new national bargaining strategy

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A group of participants to the Mississauga BWP meeting.

What would a strategic bargaining program look like that truly represents members? Unifor is on a mission to find out.

The union is engaging in ‘Bargaining Worker Power’ sessions, a cross-country consultation to uncover current issues and priorities across Unifor’s many industries and gather new ideas to strengthen the union’s bargaining position.

“This is an ambitious project. It’s essentially a Canada-wide bargaining survey, we’re asking any member who wants to come out to tell us what their priorities and ideas are. We want to hear it all!” said Lana Payne, Unifor National President. “Our national working group will take this feedback and put together Unifor’s first member-driven national bargaining program to share ahead of this summer’s Canadian Council.”

Meetings already swept through most of Quebec and New Brunswick, and are continuing across Ontario, the Western Region, the Atlantic and back to Quebec in the coming weeks.

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In Quebec, discussions on the national collective bargaining agenda took place as part of the Quebec Director's tour. The Unifor Quebec leadership team met with Locals from across Quebec, from Baie Comeau to Abitibi. The discussion sessions were a resounding success. Local union officers, bargaining committee representatives and Unifor activists actively participated in these discussions on bargaining priorities and increasing bargaining power.

Daniel Cloutier speaks to members.

"The active participation of members is crucial to building an effective common strategy and to strengthening the bargaining power of workers. I thank the participants for sharing their experiences, concerns and ideas to strengthen bargaining power and advance the priorities of Unifor members," said Daniel Cloutier, Unifor's Quebec Director.

The Director's tour will continue in the coming weeks and will stop in Gatineau on April 17.

Meetings in New Brunswick kicked off the Atlantic leg of the Bargaining Workers Power tour with stops in Saint John, Fredericton, Edmundston, Miramichi and Moncton in the last two weeks of March.

“We quite literally circled the entire province making sure to get as close to as many members as we could to hear their priorities and challenges around collective bargaining,” said Jennifer Murray, Unifor Atlantic Regional Director. “There were many common themes about worker recruitment, young worker engagement and educating the broader membership about what happens during bargaining. These meetings, and others in our region, will give the national union valuable insight into local issues.”

In a first for the union, a meeting was held exclusively in French outside the province of Quebec.

Jennifer Murray speaks to a member

Olivier Carrière, the Executive Assistant to the Quebec Director, joined Murray and other staff to lead the conversation in French.

“Unifor members in Edmundston are mostly francophone, so we wanted to ensure everyone felt comfortable sharing their thoughts in their own language,” said Murray. “We were fortunate and grateful to have Olivier join us and help deepen the connection with our francophone New Brunswick members.”

Upcoming dates in the Atlantic region include stops in Sydney, Port Hawkesbury and Halifax, Nova Scotia, Gander, Corner Brook and St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.

Meetings in Ontario began with a big showing in Windsor, and continued this week in Kitchener-Waterloo and Toronto with a session this evening in Peel. Members in the GTA and South-West who missed this week’s meetings can still join upcoming meetings in Halton, Hamilton, and London in the coming weeks.

A group of participants attending the ON BWP meeting.

“Ontario is the union’s largest region in terms of population, and we’re aiming to hear from as many members as possible,” said Naureen Rizvi, Unifor Ontario Regional Director. “This is the perfect time to craft a national strategy to build worker’s power. In Ontario, we’re ready to push for better wages, key industrial investments, and to stop the ongoing erosion of good, full time jobs.”

The Ontario tour continues moving East throughout the month, find the meeting in your region and sign up today!

Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor Western Regional Director, is looking forward to kicking off the western tour in New Westminster, B.C. on April 13, “Across B.C, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, Unifor members will have vastly different experiences and priorities to share. I’m hoping to respect these differences as we also try to find out what unites us as workers today. That’s what this project is all about.”

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