Unifor activists gather to plan regional campaigns


Dozens of Unifor activists at the Family Education Centre in Port Elgin raise their fists in solidarity.

Activists from across Canada gathered in Port Elgin last week to plan the next phase of Unifor’s Local Union Task Force with a goal  of deepening  political activism at the grassroots level.

“Unifor was formed to be a social union and an agent of change and seeing the passion of all these dedicated local activists who do this hard work every day was inspiring,” said Lana Payne, Atlantic Regional Director.

The Local Union Task Force was first launched in April 2015 and at the 2016 Convention, a report including 28 recommendations on ways to build stronger local unions and a progressive movement was presented. To date the Local Union Task Force has been one of the biggest internal projects undertaken since Unifor was formed. To launch this second phase of the Task Force and deepen the union’s activism, Regional Directors, members representing each region and staff held strategy sessions before dividing into regional groups to brainstorm and set local priorities.

“As the country’s largest private sector union, we need to ensure that Unifor is making the space and providing the resources for activists to run effective campaigns to defend our rights and our future,” said Naureen Rizvi, Ontario Regional Director.

Workers in Ontario are organizing the fightback to Doug Ford’s already-sweeping conservative actions against workers and the environment. Organizers and coordinators planned to meet regionally as political action committees to take immediate action on the most pertinent threats against good jobs including the $15 per hour minimum wage, and to demand that the government of Ontario address climate change.

In Western Canada, Unifor members resolved to bolster the union’s presence at Pride celebrations and Labour Day. In addition to visibility at key community events, activists in the Western region are also in the process of capacity building for two provincial by-elections and a referendum on electoral reform in British Columbia and two general elections in 2019.

“We have made it a priority to create as many ways as possible for rank-and-file members to get more involved,” said Joie Warnock, Western Regional Director. “From bargaining to protesting Trump’s tariffs to marching for justice and equity, all Unifor members have a valued place at the table.”

In the Atlantic region activists agreed to prioritize the fight for paid domestic violence leave and will launch a new campaign to demand the Newfoundland and Labrador government fix labour laws to prevent long labour disputes, such as the lockout that began 79 weeks ago at D-J Composites in Gander. The Atlantic Regional Council will also work to mobilize members in  New Brunswick  to support progressive candidates during the provincial election happening in September.

Any member who wants to get involved can email politicalaction@unifor.org