Monthly Archives: July 2018

Jul 31, 2018 · Steelworkers Welcome Criminal Charges in Sudbury Worker’s Death


Steelworkers Welcome Criminal Charges in Sudbury Worker’s Death

SUDBURY – The United Steelworkers (USW) welcomes criminal charges against a Sudbury company and its owner in relation to a worker’s death in 2017.

“The criminal investigation and charges validate our union’s campaign for greater enforcement of the Westray amendments to the Criminal Code. We hope the charges will be prosecuted as soon as possible,” said USW Ontario Director Marty Warren.

“We have lobbied for several years for stronger enforcement of the 2004 Westray Law that was intended to hold corporate directors, executives and managers criminally accountable for workplace death and injury,” Warren said.

Rheal Dionne, 39, an employee of Rainbow Concrete, was killed on Feb. 15, 2017, when a concrete slab fell on the dump truck he was operating, trapping him inside.

Rainbow Concrete owner Boris Naneff has been charged with criminal negligence causing death. The company also faces the same Criminal Code charge.

The Ontario Ministry of Labour has laid 12 charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act against Rainbow Concrete, its owners and two supervisors in relation to the fatality.

Rheal Dionne is survived by his wife and their son, as well as his parents. Rheal’s father Julien Dionne is a retired USW member in Sudbury who was a lifelong workplace health and safety activist.

USW Local 6500 in Sudbury has been supporting the Dionne family and has offered representation to the family for the criminal prosecution process. The union also has worked with Sudbury police on awareness and training issues related to the Westray Law.

“We commend the Greater Sudbury Police Service for conducting a criminal investigation into this tragedy and for proceeding with Criminal Code charges,” said USW National Director Ken Neumann.

“There have been more than 10,000 workplace-related deaths in Canada since the Westray Act was enacted and there have been very few criminal convictions and even fewer jail sentences for employers responsible for these deaths,” Neumann noted.

“Unfortunately, police officers in Canada are still not trained and directed to properly enforce the Westray Law. Our union and many allies across the country will continue with our national campaign to demand that the Westray Law is enforced to the greatest extent possible,” he added.

The USW campaign, Stop the Killing, Enforce the Law, calls on provincial and territorial governments to implement specific measures to ensure greater enforcement of the Westray Law. For details on the campaign, visit

The USW also is calling on the new Government of Ontario to do more to hold companies and their directors accountable for workplace death and injury.

“The Premier and his Attorney General and Labour Minister must initiate protocols and training for prosecutors and law enforcement to ensure enforcement of the Westray Law. These are critical investments that are needed to ensure safe and healthy workplaces in Ontario,” Warren said.

“The Ontario government must step up and enforce the law – for the people.”


For further information:

Ken Neumann, USW National Director, 416-544-5951
Marty Warren, USW Ontario Director, 416-243-8792
Sylvia Boyce, USW District 6 Health and Safety Coordinator, 905-741-9830,
Denis St. Pierre, USW Communications, 416-544-5990, 647-522-1630,

Solidarity Action Required: Support for Striking Members of OPSEU Local 276

July 31, 2018






Solidarity Action Required: Support for Striking Members of OPSEU Local 276


The Ontario Federation of Labour and the Grey Bruce Labour Council are making an urgent request for solidarity.


The nurses, clerical and custodian staff at the Owen Sound Family Health Organization, who are part of OPSEU Local 276, have been on strike since May 22nd. They are striking because of low wages and unfair working conditions and are demanding equal pay with other similar organizations. Some of these healthcare providers earn as little as $14 per hour. The employer has hired scabs and has become verbally disrespectful to the striking workers. The atmosphere is increasingly toxic.


OPSEU has launched a campaign to support these courageous members to help win the strike and affiliates from local area unions have been bolstering the lines.


However, more solidarity support is needed.


Any support that labour councils can send will make a difference. Specifically, the workers are asking for financial support and solidarity in the form of people.


Below are the two ways you can show support:


·         Join the picket line: 1415 1st Ave West, Owen Sound, anytime from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday to Friday.


·         Make a donation: cheques should be made out to OPSEU Local 276, with a note “donation for striking workers.” (Please mail cheques to OPSEU Owen Sound Regional Office, 1717 2nd Ave East, #100, Owen Sound, ON N4K 6V4)


For more information on the strike visit the OPSEU website link here: and follow this and other ongoing labour actions across Ontario at


If you have any further questions, please contact Melisa Bayon, Director of Political Action and Outreach at


Thank you for your solidarity.








C:           P. Coates, A. Gaied, R. Halpin, M. Bayon

Patients, workers fight ‘Wal-Mart’ health care in Owen Sound

Publication Date

Tuesday, July 24, 2018 – 6:30am

A delegation of striking health care workers and their patients has asked Owen Sound City Council to demand that the owners of the Family Health Organization keep nurses and trained clerical workers on staff.

“It’s the Wal-Mart approach” to health care, said 91-year-old Sylvia Moss on the news website Blackburn News.

“People in Owen Sound and surrounding area really should have quality health care,” said striking Local 276 member Kiff Harvey, an RN.

“They’ve got their physicians, that’s wonderful, but behind the scenes the nurses and clerical staff are really the backbone.”

Local 276 city council

Local 276 city council

Local 276 city council

Local 276 city council


Deadline, August 1st. Apply for the 2018 OFL/AIL Labour Post-Secondary Scholarships today!

Dear OFL Members,

The OFL is proud to be joined in partnership by American Income Life (AIL) Canada in calling for applications for the annual OFL/AIL Labour Post-Secondary Scholarships.

Two OFL members, or the children of members, will be selected from a pool of applicants to each receive a scholarship in the amount of $2,500 to support them as they enter their first year of full-time post-secondary study in September 2018. The scholarships will be awarded in honour of distinguished trade union activists who have made a significant contribution to the life and growth of the labour movement in Ontario.

Eligible candidates must:

•         Be a current member, or the child of a member, of a local union affiliated to the OFL;

•         Be enrolled for September 2018 to enter their first year of full-time study (leading to a diploma or certificate) at a public Ontario community college or the first year of an undergraduate program (leading to a degree) at a publicly funded Ontario university;

•         Not have any prior post-secondary studies; and

•         Be currently enrolled or not more than two years out of secondary school.

The criteria for selection of the scholarship winners will be based on:

•         An original essay, poster, or video submission on the topic outlined in this year’s application package.

•         A brief résumé outlining non-academic interests and activities, such as community or political involvement as well as goals for the future.

•         Evidence of understanding the role and significance of the Canadian labour movement.

The deadline for receipt of applications is August 1, 2018. An Application Form is attached below. This year’s scholarship winners will be announced in late August/early September 2018.

The OFL is committed to social justice and equity and believes strongly that post-secondary education provides important opportunities that should not be limited by tuition fees or student debt. We hope this scholarship helps make education more affordable while we fight to make access universal. We proudly encourage women, people of colour, Indigenous peoples, LGBTQI* people, people with disabilities, and those from other equity-seeking backgrounds to apply for this scholarship.

The OFL represents more than one million unionized workers in Ontario from 50 affiliated unions and is proud to have the support of AIL Canada, a 100% union company that is a leader in providing supplemental insurance benefits. For more information on AIL Canada, visit:

Please circulate this call for applications to help ensure that these scholarships are made known as widely as possible.

In solidarity,

Chris Buckley

Doctors at Owen Sound clinic punch drunk with greed: Thomas

Doctors at Owen Sound clinic punch drunk with greed: Thomas

Publication Date

Tuesday, July 17, 2018 – 11:15pm

Owen Sound – The appalling greed of the doctors who own the strikebound Family Health Organization has made it impossible to continue negotiations, OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas said Wednesday.

Talks between striking OPSEU members and the doctors who own the Owen Sound clinic broke down Tuesday after the physicians said they want to lay off all but a couple of the striking workers.

“I can’t believe the arrogance and the shameful greed of these doctors,” said Thomas.  “They’re selling out their dedicated employees to stuff their pockets with as many public dollars as they can, they’re punch drunk with greed.”

An agreement seemed within reach Tuesday but the doctors are insisting on laying off the Registered Nurse, nine Registered Practical Nurses and five clerical staff positions at the clinic. They indicated they wanted to create new positions titled “Medical Office Assistant,” “Patient Flow Coordinator” and “Custodial Support.” The new positions would not be part of a professional college that ensures patient confidentiality, standards of care and health care teamwork.

“It takes a dedicated team to provide quality health care,” Thomas said. “How can we have universal health care if these clinics are solely run for profit?”

“Owen Sound deserves a lot better than ‘Patient Flow Coordinators,’ whatever they are.”

Thomas is calling on Health Minister Christine Elliott to intervene in the strike and hold the doctors accountable.  He also called on Elliott to order an audit of family health care clinics.

“During this strike we’ve seen public health dollars spent on high-priced Toronto lawyers and private security, it’s time to lift up the rock and scrutinize all of these clinics,” Thomas said.  “Taxpayers need to know the public money being spent in these clinics is being spent on health care.”

The workers at the Family Health Organization have been on strike since May 22, they’ve only asked to be paid the same as employees doing the same work at other facilities.

First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida urged the striking OPSEU members to stay strong and not be disheartened.

“We haven’t seen anything so ridiculous from physicians since the Three Stooges did a skit on doctors, Almeida said. “But Dr. Larry , Dr. Curly and Dr. Moe were meant to be funny. What we’re seeing in Owen Sound is no laughing matter.”

“I say to our members on the picket line, OPSEU will go to the wall for you.”

For more information:  OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931

Thomas calls on Ford to intervene in health care strikes

OPSEU in the News

Thomas calls on Ford to intervene in health care strikes

Publication Date

Tuesday, July 17, 2018 (All day)

Global News reports that Warren (Smokey) Thomas has called on Premier Doug Ford to take action with regards to the ongoing strikes of health care workers in Owen Sound and Thunder Bay.

Thomas explains that the team is back at the bargaining table as of July 17: “We’re hoping that this added pressure in Owen Sound will get a deal,” says Thomas in a video clip from the joint OPSEU/Unifor July 16 press conference. “They may be good doctors, but they’re bad bosses, and we will see that they are somehow held to account.”

Strike at Goderich mine ends after collective agreement ratified


Strike at Goderich mine ends after collective agreement ratified

July 16, 2018

GODERICH – Members of Unifor Local 16-O have voted to accept a collective agreement with Compass Minerals, putting an end to a 12-week strike at the salt mine.

“These members stood up to an American employer that was using scabs to undermine their power. I am so proud of the incredible solidarity we have seen in Goderich to send a clear message that scabs will not be tolerated by our union,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President.

The new three-year deal includes a 2.5 per cent wage increase this year and next, and a three per cent increase in 2020, and maintains previous pension and benefits.

The strike began April 27, when workers rejected a company proposal that included mandatory overtime, 16-hour shifts and 72-hour work weeks.

“We pushed back on all of those concessions, with the support of this community as thousands of people attended our rallies, concerts and events on this picket line. It was powerful and that solidarity helped us at the bargaining table,” said Scott Doherty, Lead Negotiator and Executive Assistant to Unifor’s National President.

The company returned to the table last week after Unifor barricaded the mine and refused to allow any more busloads of scabs to cross the picket line.

“We want to thank the people of Goderich and all the union members who stood with us on this picket line but most of all I want to thank our members and their families who stood strong with our bargaining committee through 12 long weeks,” said Gary Lynch, President of Local 16-O.

For more information, please contact Unifor National Communications representative Natalie Clancy: or (902) 478-9238 (cell).




July 6, 2018

Dear Editor;

Along the shoreline of Lake Huron and inland from there the Grey Bruce Labour Council and Huron Labour Council have worked to be the voice of workers for over sixty years. Labour Councils work diligently to make sure that workers and unions have a voice and have a place to come together and seek support in good and bad times. There is perhaps no time more critical for this support than during strike situations. At this very moment two strikes now in excess of six weeks in length are underway within the confines of Grey-Bruce and Huron.

The workers on the picket lines, OPSEU 276, and Unifor 16-0 in Grey -Bruce and Huron, have endured for a very long time. They are in a fight that they did not want or ask for. Both employers have been extremely intransigent and have failed to meet in meaningful negotiations to bring about a fair and reasonable settlement. Although one would think that failing to meet with the union representation would be insult enough, the employer’s choice to bring in replacement workers or “scabs” is a profound insult to the workers and to the communities.

Now, for those that are confused about replacement workers or scabs, let’s be clear on what they do.   Workers and their union representatives have met with the employer to try and negotiate a fair deal. This has been done over considerable time with worker input on what the main issues are, and, in the end, workers have the final say on any tentative deal with the employer. When, for whatever reason, the workers use the one tool they have to bargain with-their labour-and withdraw this labour it is with full knowledge that the upcoming hardships with no pay and with the employer being without its labour force will be arduous. The anticipated outcome is that this puts enough pressure on people to get back to the negotiating table. Enter the scab. The employer, rather than working hard to find the elusive deal, pulls in people to do the work of those on the picket line.

There is no point lower for the employer as they have now told the strikers and the community that they have nothing but contempt for both. The immediate outcome is a schism in the community and a permanent split in the worker-employer relationship. No matter the final outcome of the dispute, trust in the employer is never fully restored. Scabs undermine the pressure that the workers can put on the employer, they extend the strike and have no loyalty other than to the opportunity to make money while those involved in a legal and legitimate labour action spend longer on the picket line without an agreement and without a paycheque.

Labour Councils and Organized Labour in general have called for legislation that prohibits the use replacement workers. Some articles and publications have suggested that anti-scab legislation has little effect on the duration of labour disputes. It seems much more probable that if the parties are forced together sooner rather than later, as scabs are not permitted, that there is a much stronger likelihood of a shorter dispute. In the broader sense, keeping replacement workers out of a dispute aids in the healing of the worker-employer relationship after the strike and prevents long term resentment in the community.

Perhaps there is one plus when the employer brings in scabs. The use of scabs will bring the workers together faster than anything the employer may do. In addition, this action is likely to bring broad support from the affected communities to those on the picket line.

As we look at what is going in Owen Sound and Goderich the time for provincial and national legislation that finally ends the use of replacement workers forever is here. Ontario had anti-scab legislation in the early 1990’s, but successive Liberal and Conservative governments did not continue this support as they lack the will to say that workers are worthy of the respect that fair and reasonable negotiation between the parties in the workplace demonstrates. Enacting and entrenching such legislation is not ground-breaking and has existed in a variety of jurisdictions for many years.

Both Grey-Bruce and Huron Labour Councils are active in supporting the workers in the two strikes and as tough as this will be, will work diligently with our partners to bring anti-scab legislation back on the legislative agenda.

Dave Trumble

VP Grey Bruce Labour Council