Archive for Messages & Announcmenets

Executive Board statement regarding the transparency of Unifor Local 4304 Recreation Committee Finances

Unifor Local 4304
600 Wabanaki Drive
Kitchener, Ontario
Canada
N2C 2K4

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Subject: Transparency of Unifor Local 4304 Recreation Committee Finances

To all members of Local 4304,

Your Executive Board members have a responsibility to safeguard the union finances for the benefit of the entire membership.  The Local’s Financial Secretary reports monthly to General Membership Meetings on the financial status of the union and those finances are audited regularly by the Local’s Trustees which are then also reported to the National union.

For nearly a year, the Executive Board has been making requests of the Recreation Committee to be held to the same standard of financial accountability to the membership as the committee has been raising funds for union activities through 50-50 draws and other such efforts and then holding those funds themselves in a separate bank account away from union scrutiny.  Funds raised for union activities by union committees under the Unifor Local 4304 banner are the property of the union and need to be auditable.  The Executive Board has requested bank statements and other such documentation to ensure that funds that our members have been contributing to these draws are being held and used appropriately.  However, these requests have been largely ignored and even outright rejected by certain members of the Recreation Committee.

While fundraising for union activities is a laudable endeavour, the raising of funds through gambling activities, such as 50-50 draws, is actually illegal without a raffle license from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario; individuals and unions are not eligible for these licenses.  This, combined with a lack of financial transparency is extremely concerning to your Executive Board members.

As such, your Executive Board is asking all Unifor Local 4304 members to not continue to provide their personal funds to these 50-50 draws and other gambling activities since they are illegal and since we do not know how much money is being raised, where these funds are being held or how these funds are being used.  We are also asking that the Recreation Committee return to the appropriate members any funds raised through illegal gambling activities, that all future fundraising efforts for union activities be of a legal means and that all legitimately obtained funds be turned over to the union’s Financial Secretary to be included with all other union funds.

The Executive Board does not make this statement lightly, we simply want to ensure that all the funds raised by our Recreation Committee are raised legally and are appropriately accounted for to ensure they are used properly for the benefit of the entire membership.  If any member has further questions or concerns in this regard they may contact the President, Tim Jewell, at president@unifor4304.org or at 519-496-1201.

Yours in solidarity,

The Unifor Local 4304 Executive Board


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Summary of Unifor Strike Assistance Rules

In the event our union goes on strike the following rules apply for strike benefits from the National Union:

You are eligible for strike benefits if you meet the following qualifications:

1. Members must be in good standing before a strike begins to be entitled to strike assistance, provided they meet the other qualifications (this means that a member must be in good standing the day before a strike commences).

2. Probationary and new hires may become eligible for strike benefits only if they join the Union by paying the initiation fee and current months’ dues prior to the strike taking place. If workers signed a completed Application for Membership and a Union Check-off Card, which was forwarded to the company prior to the strike taking place, they would be considered a member in good standing and are entitled to strike assistance.

3. Only members who are on the active payroll at the time strike began are entitled to strike benefits.

4. You must participate in a strike activity assigned by your Local Union, including picket line duty and in addition may include: time spent on the community services committee, strike kitchen duty, educational classes, soliciting committee, lectures or other activities established by your Local Union.

5. You must register and make application for strike benefits on the day assigned by your Local Union.

6. You must pick up your strike pay cheque on the specific day and time assigned by your Local Union. NOTE: It is necessary to cooperate with your Local Union by registering for strike benefits on the day assigned. It is also important that you pick up your cheque on the day you are asked to be there.

You are not entitled to Strike benefits if:

7. Your dues are not paid up-to-date the day before the strike commences or you have not signed an Application for Membership and a Union Check-off Card.

8. You are on layoff prior to the strike.

9. You are drawing Sickness and Accident, Long Term Disability, Workers’ Compensation, E.I. benefits or vacation pay.

SCHEDULE OF BENEFITS

10. A member shall accumulate strike pay beginning with the 1st day of the strike (for this purpose, Saturdays and Sundays shall be used when determining the strike pay week). For each work day missed due to the strike, a member shall receive one day’s strike pay, at the daily rate.

11. Striking members receive $42.86 per day for each day they are on strike, commencing with the 1st day.

12. The weekly strike pay is $300.00 per week, payable to the member on or after the 8th day.

13. A Local Union must ensure that the Ottawa office has all current membership data and dues up-to-date. The Local’s Financial Secretary should contact the Ottawa Strike and Defence Fund Department to confirm all relevant membership information is current and up to-date.

14. Your active participation in the strike duty assigned will entitle you to the following group insurance benefits: hospital care (as provided), drug, life, accidental and dismemberment premiums (not optional Life-AD & D, for which the member must pay the premium) and out-of-province paid for by the Unifor Strike and Defence Fund. These benefits will only be provided if they are part of your collective agreement.

Lana Payne
National Secretary-Treasurer

If you have any questions regarding your dues payments, please see the Local Union Financial Secretary, immediately!

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Reject Decertification

Members of 4304,

As you know, for several months, a group has been working to dissolve our bargaining unit. Last week this group submitted a second application to decertify from Unifor, to the Ontario Labour Relations Board. In the event the OLRB orders a vote on the matter, we strongly urge you to reject decertification.

Here’s why:

What Unifor Does For Us

Grievances, Mediations, Arbitrations. Return to Work. Scheduling. Health & Safety. This is the bread and butter of what our union does. The work is sometimes slow, sometimes frustrating, and definitely not exciting but we move forward day by day.

Much of the work we do happens behind the scenes. Behind every steward and officer is an army of UNIFOR training, support, and legal staff, whose work most members will never see. These people devote their working lives to improving conditions for us and others. They are passionate and driven. We know, because we work with them every day.

When we call, our Union answers.

Risks

If we decertify, this support is gone, along with our stewards and committees. People who have worked in a non-unionized environment know that law and contracts will protect you only as long as you have the resources to defend yourself. Without a union, there is no one standing behind you.

We do not believe a recertification drive will go smoothly. Who will represent us? Who will be part of our local? The path here has been long and divisive. How can anyone expect building a new local to be quick or easy under such circumstances?

Some see supporting decertification as a way to express our unity to management. Nothing could be further from the truth. Skilled Trades members, ASAs, Mobility and Cambridge Conventional drivers are strongly against decertification. Dragging these members out of their union against their will risks cracks which may never mend. Many of these members will not support the same bargaining arrangement we now enjoy. Some will push to split our unit.

This is not “fear mongering”. This is reality.

What We Must Do

For these reasons and more, we strongly urge the membership to reject decertification. The unifying act that people are searching for is a strong vote against the motion. This shows:

We support our Department 2, Mobility and Cambridge Conventional members and will not drag them from their union against their will
We support our executive and bargaining unit
We may have disagreements, but we stand strong together at the end of the day
We will never willingly put our union, built over decades, at risk

No executive, local or national union can fight without the support of its members. The cause of our grievances is our employer, not our union. Show our employer that we are strong and unified by voting UNIFOR to remain as our bargaining agent.

As always, we are available to address concerns and answer any questions you may have. Let’s move on and move forward together.

In Solidarity,

The Officers of Local 4304

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Creation of a Unifor National Transit Strategy

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

This afternoon I participated in a conference call with our National Union; our union is working on developing a National Transit Strategy.  Included in the conference call were representatives from nearly all transit properties across Canada represented by Unifor.  Resolutions were passed at the Canadian Council in Halifax last year to develop a new National Transit Strategy to help Unifor address workplace issues relating specifically to our transit members across the country.  These resolutions are 15-17 in the document linked here…

https://www.unifor.org/sites/default/files/documents/document/cc2018_resolutions_eng_final_1.pdf

The major issues faced by transit workers across the country are pretty similar. On the list were issues such as:

– Proper access to washroom/break facilities for transit operators.
– Protecting transit operators from violence in the workplace from customers, etc. (ie. through the installation of barriers, etc.)
– Keeping public transit in public hands. And, where transit is already private to address the lack of successor rights when one company loses a contract to ensure members retain their seniority, etc.
– Addressing the lack of pensions for transit employees at privatized transit operations.
– Ensuring proper use of cameras/video surveillance for incidents of illegal activity and not for performance monitoring of employees.
– Lobbying for stable funding for public transit expansion and transit maintenance/operations.
– Improving/standardizing ergonomics for transit vehicles to reduce injuries to transit operators
– Working to ensure the procurement of transit vehicles from Canadian companies whenever possible by lobbying governments to not provide funding for vehicles from foreign countries (ie. China).
– Preparing for the impact automation/autonomous vehicles could have on transit operations and our members.
– Lobbying to ensure workplace compensation boards properly recognize mental health and physical assault issues relating to transit operators as legitimate compensation claims and not just ‘part of the job’.

National is going to compile the list into a draft policy which will be brought back to all the transit locals in the very near future.  I’ll continue to provide updates as I receive them.

Yours in solidarity,

Warren Schnurr
Recording Secretary
Unifor Local 4304

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Additional By-Law Amendment Proposal Information

NOTE: This message is being resent to all members due to a website error which caused the link to the PDF in the previous message, that was sent on July 3rd, to stop working.  My apologies in advance for this duplicate message.

To all Local 4304 Brothers & Sisters,

As announced at the June General Membership Meeting, a comprehensive By-Law review and proposed overhaul of the Local’s By-Laws was tabled under New Business on June 19th. Links to Google Docs versions of the By-Laws have been previously provided for the amended By-Laws; the motion made in June to introduce the By-Law amendments was to get the By-Law amendment process rolling. Your Constitution & By-Laws Committee purposely tabled this package at the June General Membership Meeting in order to give the membership the entire summer to review the amendments and ask any questions of the committee before they are voted upon in the Fall.

As promised in one of the previous messages from our Committee Chair, John A. McDonald, I have completed reformatting these amendment documents into an easier-to-read, comprehensive package that lists all the current by-laws, side-by-side with the new proposed by-laws and have also included more detailed descriptions where major changes are proposed to take place and/or why the changes or additions are being proposed. The articles have been formatted in the new document so they line up side-by-side with their new or old counterpart (as the case may be) for easy comparison of the language in each and every article.

I would encourage all members to download a copy of the proposed by-law amendment package PDF and take some time over the summer months to review the proposed changes and ask questions of the Constitution & By-Laws Committee. We have taken great care, over the course of a year, to try and bring forth a package that addresses many spelling and grammar errors in the existing By-Laws, reorganizes the By-Law articles into more a more organized format, expands on existing By-Law language to make our governance structure more robust and easier to follow, addresses holes in our governance structure that the current by-laws do not currently speak to at all, pulls additional information into our By-Laws from the National Union for easier reference by the membership, and ensures our By-Laws are in full compliance with the National Constitution and related policies from the National Union.

YOU CAN DOWNLOAD A COPY OF THE NEW BY-LAWS AMENDMENT PACKAGE PDF HERE:
HTTP://BIT.LY/4304BY-LAWS

It is also our intention to also put a hard copy of this package at each workplace location in the very near future so it may be reviewed in the workplace by those members who are not online.
As previously mentioned, we do encourage questions to be brought forth about the proposed By-Law Amendments so the membership fully understands the meaning and context of the new proposed By-Law articles as well as why the changes are being proposed. Questions are very welcome and can be directed to the Constitution & By-Laws Committee at bylaws@unifor4304.org or in-person to John A. McDonald (Committee Chair), Karen Koyounian, and Warren Schnurr.

It is our hope that, as the By-Law Amendment process moves forward, that the membership will support the proposed changes and vote in favour of them at the coming General Membership Meetings; the vote on these amendments is current scheduled to take place at the October General Membership Meeting with a prior reporting session from the Constitution & By-Laws Committee at the September General Membership Meeting.

Yours in solidarity,

Warren Schnurr
Recording Secretary
Constitution & By-Laws Committee Representative
Webmaster

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New Facebook Bulletin Board

Did you get your invite yet?

Unifor Local 4304 now has an official, members-only, Facebook ‘Group’ that will be used as additional union communication tool to help push union news and information out to the membership.  This new group differs from the union’s existing, public, social media pages/profiles (the union’s public social media accounts are used to publish press releases, share labour news, post bereavement notices, share community causes, etc.).

The new members-only group is called ‘Unifor Local 4304 – Bulletin Board’ and will be used to mirror notices and publications made on the bulletin boards in our workplaces and postings on the Unifor Local 4304 website for our members who use Facebook, it will not be a discussion forum, just a notice board.  Notices will continue to be posted in our workplaces and on the union website as has been the practice, there will be no change to this.

Many members on Facebook have already been invited to the new group by either an Admin or another Local 4304 member on their Facebook friends list.  If you haven’t yet joined the new group, and you’re on Facebook, check your notifications to see if you have received an invite.  If you haven’t received an invite simply visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/UniforLocal4304BulletinBoard/ and request to join, an Administrator will approve your request as soon as possible.  This new members-only group is open to all Unifor Local 4304 members in all bargaining units.

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Important Message

Important Message

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

RE: Motion from November to require the President to be present at the Union Office at the GRT Strasburg Garage a minimum of one day per week.

To all Local 4304 members,

At the November General Membership Meeting, a motion was made from the floor to require the President to be present in the union office at the GRT Strasburg Garage at least one day per week. The concerns raised by some members at the November General Membership Meeting relate to their perception that the President is not available or accessible to the membership. The text of that motion is as follows:

MOTION: That we have the president at Strasburg at least one day per week.
MOVED BY: Sue Turner
SECONDED BY: Sonya Taha

In consultation with our Unifor National Representative and during a discussion at our Executive Board Meeting on Tuesday, December 4th, we have determined that this motion is ‘Out of Order’ and will not be voted upon at the December General Membership Meeting.

The reasons for this decision are several:

1) The text of the motion as presented does not allow for unforeseen circumstances or for pre-scheduled meetings or activities that require the President’s attendance an entire week. The requirement to have the President at the Strasburg Garage is simply not enforceable if meetings or activities are planned for all 5 working days. The President could be in meetings with not only the employer at GRT but also at Great Canadian, the President could be at training or at arbitration or be in collective bargaining with one of our Local’s employers. The President could even be on vacation.

2) It is not appropriate for the President’s time to be restricted. The President needs to be accessible, not just to one group of members, but to the entire membership in all bargaining units as needed. Our Local includes not just GRT conventional drivers at the Strasburg Garage but employees at 3 workplace locations at GRT and also represents Great Canadian employees at 5 workplace locations. It is not appropriate or democratic for one group of members to place a monopoly on any of the time of the President of the entire Local. That being said, the President, as well as the Vice-President and Unit Chair, already do make themselves available at all GRT workplace locations and will continue to do so as their duties permit.

3) Members should be using the proper chain of command to bring issues to the Local’s attention. The President should not be the initial contact for all union concerns and business for the membership. It is important that all members use the union’s workplace representatives, our Stewards and Committee members, as the first line of communication for concerns that need the union’s attention. Per our By-Laws it is the duty of all Stewards (among other things):

a) To become familiar with all of the provisions of the Collective Agreement, the National Union Constitutions and Local 4304;
b) To promote solidarity in the workplace;
c) To be completely familiar with the grievance procedure;
d) To receive complaints and grievances of his/her division and to make every effort to conform to the grievance system to satisfactorily adjust and settle all grievances;
e) To maintain privacy of members’ issues at all times; and,
f) To assist in communication efforts in the Local.

Likewise, issues that pertain to one or more committees should be forwarded directly to the members of those committees to address the issues. The Stewards and Committees should always be the first members approached with union concerns; that is why they are there. Only when the Stewards and Committees cannot provide satisfactory assistance should members then seek the assistance of the Unit Chair, and then if the Unit Chair cannot provide satisfactory assistance should a member seek the assistance of the President and/or Vice-President.

For these reasons, we hope that the membership understands why this motion will not be moved to a vote at the December General Membership Meeting.

Yours in solidarity,

The Unifor Local 4304 Executive Board

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New AWOC Representative on Executive Board

New AWOC Representative on Executive Board

November 15, 2018

To all Local 4304 members,

The vacant Aboriginal and Workers of Colour (AWOC) Representative position on the Local 4304 Executive Board has been filled.  When the AWOC Executive position became vacant, the Executive Board invited members who identify as Aboriginal or a Worker of Colour to submit their expressions of interest in filling the position for the remainder of the current 3-year term of office.  Our current by-laws do not require an election to fill a member-at-large position on the Executive Board.

At this time we would like all members to congratulate Neil Patel as the member appointed to fill the AWOC Executive Board position, he has been appointed effective as of our most recent Executive Board Meeting on November 6th.  Although Neil was the only member to submit an expression of interest to the Executive, Neil expressed a strong desire to fully and fairly represent all workers of colour on the Executive Board of our Local.

Congratulations Neil!

In solidarity,

Warren Schnurr
Recording Secretary
Unifor Local 4304

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GRT Members – Proposed OMERS Pension Plan Changes

GRT Members – Proposed OMERS Pension Plan Changes

To all Local 4304 members at GRT,

As many of you have already know, OMERS is proposing to make changes to our pension plan at a coming OMERS Board of Directors meeting on November 15th, an article in the most recent edition of the uXpress, our Local’s newsletter, touched on this subject.  These proposed changes will negatively affect not only our members, but municipal employees across the province of Ontario.  Unifor National has set up a campaign and petition to tell the OMERS Board of Directors to vote to reject the proposed changes.  We all need to speak up as these proposed changes will  affect us all.  Please visit the linked websites, read about the proposed changes and sign the petition to tell OMERS to leave our pension alone.

The following information was provided by National for all our members:

In a nutshell, four of the 6 possible changes would impact negatively our members’ pensions under OMERS:

1. Replace guaranteed indexing with conditional indexing for future pensions (prospectively only providing PCOLA in future years if the condition of the plan in terms of funded status permits)

2. Integrate the pension formula with the new “Year’s Additional Maximum Pensionable Earnings” (YAMPE) introduced as part of the enhanced Canada Pension Plan (CPP) (lower accrual rate on those earnings)

3. Update the criteria for early retirement subsidies (this would limit the ‘subsidy’ for early unreduced pensions under the plan, i.e., no early unreduced pension before reaching age 60)

4. Eliminate the current 35-year service cap (done in tandem with limiting the early retirement subsidies to encourage longer work careers for those hired before age 25).

OMERS is voting on November 15, 2018 on a number of proposed pension plan changes including reducing the opportunities for early unreduced retirement. We need your support to share this campaign link with the Unit Chair at such workplaces to encourage them to distribute to Unifor members in their workplace that are OMERS plan members.

Please encourage folks to visit the Unifor OMERS campaign at http://www.unifor.org/omers and to send a letter to OMERS in the form of the petition at http://petition.web.net/unifor/node/93. Please visit the links for this campaign in English (French to follow tomorrow) on the main Campaigns page at https://www.unifor.org/en/take-action/campaigns.

We have developed this campaign website to link members to this online petition that can be sent to OMERS. Together, we can have an impact by encouraging Unifor members to engage and share their concerns with the proposed changes being decided on November 15th, 2018 at the OMERS Sponsor Corporation board meeting

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A.W.O.C. Representative Vacancy on Executive Board

A.W.O.C. Representative Vacancy on Executive Board

October 3, 2018

Unifor Local 4304 members,

The ‘Aboriginal and Workers of Colour’ Representative position on the Executive Board has recently become vacant. As a member-at-large position, our current by-laws do not require an election to fill the AWOC vacancy, so the Executive intends to appoint a member to this position, to fill the remainder of the 3-year term, at the next Executive Meeting on November 6, 2018.

The Executive Board would like any members who are interested in this position to write them a few paragraphs with the reasons why they feel they should be appointed to be the AWOC representative on the Executive Board. Keep in mind that only members of Unifor Local 4304 who identify as a member of the AWOC Community are eligible for this position. Interested members should submit their expressions of interest to recordingsecretary@unifor4304.org no later than Friday, November 2, 2018 so they may be reviewed by the Executive Board over the weekend before the Executive Board Meeting.

Warren Schnurr
Recording Secretary
Unifor Local 4304

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