Union News:

Inspection understaffing threatens summer BBQ season

A backyard or cottage BBQ is one of the great Canadian pleasures that banish thoughts of frigid Februaries. However, BBQers in Ontario and across the country should be on their guard as chronic understaffing in food inspection could well impact the safety of the meat and poultry they’re throwing on that griddle. This high-risk situation was revealed in a staffing survey released by the Agriculture Union at a July 28 Toronto news conference. It was based on a report of the inspection situation by frontline Canadian Food Inspection Agency staff and the CFIA’s own 2015-16 Report on Plans and Priorities. The survey found Toronto area inspection teams frequently operate with only two-thirds of the required number of slaughter inspectors. Central and South Western Ontario regions are also operating with fewer than the number of inspectors needed to ensure compliance with safety requirements. “In the rush to cut the current slaughter inspection program no appropriate assessment of the risk associated with their new program has not been conducted. “In the meantime, the Agency is allowing the current slaughter inspectorate to atrophy, refusing to fill vacant positions and turning a blind eye when meat slaughter establishments operate with short-handed inspection teams. “It’s a recipe for disaster. These are frighteningly similar to the circumstances that led to the Maple Leaf listeriosis outbreak that killed 22 unsuspecting people.” The answer, Kingston says, is for the Harper the government to increase food safety inspection resources and place them where they are needed on the frontline to allow the CFIA to meet its inspection requirements. The text of the Agriculture Union news release can be...

In-depth Global TV investigation supports our stance on food safety and security

An in-depth investigative report by Global TV has echoed the Agriculture Union’s concerns over cuts to both the quality and quantity of food inspection. The report, entitled Tainted lunch: Navigating gaps in Canada’s food safety system, was aired the first week in June. A lengthy article posted HERE on the Global TV Web site summarizes the results of the investigation. Seeking information through freedom-of-information laws, Global focused on last summer’s e-coli outbreak in Alberta. Contaminated pork sickened over 100 people, many of them children who were stricken with failing kidneys. The province’s food-safety inspectors never found the source of the tainted meat. Although federal inspection was not involved in this instance, the Alberta outbreak paralleled the infamous 2008 Maple Leaf listeria crisis and the XL Foods e-coli outbreak of 2012. In both cases, the food safety and security system failed to catch the problem at the source, endangering the public. Pointing to a recent Ipsos poll that revealed 78 per cent of Canadians are concerned about the safety of the food they eat, the Global report noted that “even as food supply chains become more complex, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has fewer resources to police it and less of an emphasis on preventing outbreaks rather than responding to them after the fact.” Agriculture Union National President Bob Kingston, in an extensive interview that formed part of the Global report, noted that Canadians are being misled when the Conservative government and CFIA management say that “everything is fine”. “Every program is being cut. In some way, shape or form there are corners being cut. There are processes being expedited...

CFIA Bargaining Team kicks off work in Ottawa

The Bargaining Team charged with negotiating a new collective agreement for Agriculture Union members employed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency kicked off its work in Ottawa on May 26 to 28. Team members came together for the first time since their election at the CFIA National Bargaining Conference. Assembling a package of bargaining demands to present to the employer was the first task at hand. The Team’s bargaining update, issued at the close of their inaugural three-day Ottawa meeting, can be read HERE. We urge our members to sign up for future Team updates to stay informed as a likely challenging round of negotiations proceeds.­ The above photo of the CFIA Bargaining Team was taken May 28. Jacques Rousseau was absent at the time. Other team members are: Eryn Butterfield; Rick Cormier; Richard Hilson; Bob Kingston; Terri Lee; Randy Olynyck; Marlene O’Neil and Karen Zoller. Supporting the team are Hassan Husseini (PSAC Negotiator) and Bonnie Bates (PSAC Research Officer)...

New Alberta Agriculture Minister traces his activist roots to involvement in our union

Once, he was ‘Brother Carlier’. Now, he’s ‘Mister Minister’! Oneil Carlier has just been appointed Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development by Premier Rachel Notley as part of the ‘Orange Chinook’ that swept the NDP to an unexpected majority government in Alberta’s May 5 election. Carlier has a unique connection to both his farm constituents and the labour movement. While coming from a farming family who raised cattle and grew crops for several generations, he worked for 20 years as a geotechnical technician with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Throughout those two decades, Carlier honed his activist skills through his work for the Agriculture Union. In 2002, he was hired as a regional representative with our bargaining agent, the Public Service Alliance of Canada, in Alberta. Carlier is one of only 12 Ministers in a perfectly gender-balanced Cabinet that is the smallest in Alberta history. We wish ‘Mr. Minister’ great success in his new portfolio. ‘Brother Carlier’ is a fine example of the labour movement’s credo: What we have for ourselves, we desire for all!...

Summerland members among those protesting Conservatives’ latest attack on free collective bargaining

Agriculture Union members are joining PSAC members across the country in protesting Bill C-59, the Budget Implementation Act. The proposed law, introduced in the House of Commons in mid-May, is the latest attack on free collective bargaining by a vindictive Harper government. It would permit the employer to unilaterally modify collective agreements to remove sick leave and impose a short- and long-term disability plan outside of collective agreements. The Conservatives’ legislative hammer would ignore both current collective bargaining and existing public service labour laws. Our bargaining agent, the Public Service Alliance of Canada, had temporarily suspended contract talks while considering its options. The photo below shows our members at the Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre in Summerland, B.C. who answered the call by the PSAC to protest Bill C-59. During the May 19 event, the participants also signed a banner in support of their negotiating team members. Local 20043 president Darrell-Lee McKenzie and her members were joined by Bob Jackson, an Agriculture Union member and PSAC Regional Vice-President for British Columbia.  ...

Agriculture Union delegates to PSAC Convention strongly back political action campaign

The last week in April drew hundreds of delegates to the Triennial National Convention of our bargaining agent, the Public Service Alliance of Canada. Those attending the important event, held in Quebec City, were determined to forge a strategy to oppose ongoing Conservative government cuts to public service jobs and services. Next October’s federal election provided added focus for action. That action came in the shape of an emergency resolution adopted unanimously with great enthusiasm. Agriculture Union delegates were front-and-centre in voicing their strong support for the PSAC’s call to go on the offensive against escalating attacks on our membership by the Harper government. The resolution directs PSAC to spend up to $5-million from its surplus to conduct a strategic campaign to: oppose government actions that will compromise any of our members’ rights; continue organizing and mobilizing our members through concerted and strategic actions with other unions to defend our bargaining rights; take the necessary legal action to defend our constitutional right to free collective bargaining; and work to elect a federal government that respects worker and union rights and federal public services, and that governs for the benefit of all Canadian workers. The emergency resolution was one of a record number of resolutions dealt with by a hard-working Convention united in its determination to defend workers’ rights, public services and human rights. All this was managed in the context of a balanced budget that will see an increase in PSAC dues. Robyn Benson, who was elected to her second three-year term as PSAC National President, urged members to take the energy generated at the Convention and channel it...

Two of our veteran Quebec leaders awarded Agriculture Union Life Memberships

The work of two veteran members from Quebec has been recognized by the National Council with Life Memberships in the Agriculture Union. It’s a relatively rare but well-deserved honour. The prestigious award pays tribute to those women and men whose selfless dedication to the well-being of their union ‘brothers and sisters’ have earned them a special place in the history and progress of our union. The maximum number of Life Memberships is set by the National Council, which reviews nominations for this exclusive group. The two latest long-serving members to receive Life Memberships are indeed worthy of the tribute. Raphaël Tarasco retired from Montreal’s Local 10012 after three decades of working for Agriculture Union members. From first serving as a Local steward in 1983, Raphaël became ever-more-deeply involved: from Local Health and Safety Chair to Local Vice-President and President and ultimately Regional Vice-President for Western Quebec. He capped his union career as our Third National Executive Vice-President from 2011 to 2014. Denis Sicard, who has also retired from Local 10012, devoted almost a quarter-century of his life to defending the rights of Agriculture Union members. His labour career in many respects paralleled that of Raphaël. Denis first became a Local Union officer in 1988, and by 1994 had been elected as Vice-President, a post he was to hold for three years. In 1996, he was chosen by our Western Quebec members to serve as their Regional Vice-President on the National Council. In 2002, Denis held successive three-year terms as Fourth, Third and finally Second National Executive Vice-President. Well-deserved congratulations on this special recognition to both Raphaël and Denis! You...

Newly-elected National Council ready to face challenges of next three years

Delegates to last month’s Triennial National Convention have elected a new National Council to chart our union’s course through the next three years. The Council – comprising the National Executive, Regional Vice-Presidents and the National Director for Human Rights – is the Agriculture Union’s governing body between Conventions.

Convention delegates raise major donation for very deserving Winnipeg charity

A very deserving Winnipeg charity has received what it calls a “windfall” gift of nearly $10,000 from the generosity of the Agriculture Union and its delegates to last month’s Triennial National Convention. The recipient of this unsolicited donation is Sunshine House, a community-based resource centre that works to increase the health and well-being of the least fortunate Winnipeggers — the homeless, the marginalized, AIDS sufferers and multiple drug users.
Margaret Ormond, Sunshine House’s Special Projects Manager

Update on CFIA agreement

Please be informed that unfortunately there were delays in receiving the translated copies from the Employer to proof read. This meant that proofreading won’t begin until September. More information will follow shortly. Thank you.

CFIA PAY CONCERNS – URGENT

With the transition of pay services to Miramichi, a number of members have experienced problems and delays with pay issues and services. Some examples we have to date are: delay payments for acting pay, overtime, increments, errors in payments, and inability to contact for services.

CFIA members ratify new contract

It’s official. Agriculture Union members employed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency have ratified a new collective agreement. Our bargaining agent, the Public Service Alliance of Canada, announced the result of the contract vote on June 6. Pay increases negotiated at the table, are retroactive to January 2012. Our CFIA members owe a large debt of thanks to the members of their bargaining team, who never let up their determination to achieve the best possible agreement through two years of very difficult negotiations. Details of the new contract may be found HERE on the PSAC Web...

Voting on new CFIA contract underway

Voting is now well underway on a new collective agreement for our members employed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. A tentative agreement was reached between the CFIA and our bargaining agent, the Public Service Alliance of Canada, last February.

Friendly reminder to all locals

Locals are reminded that during this round of Annual General Meetings (AGMs) and Regional Seminars resolutions to conventions and selection of delegates to conventions are to be made.

Parliament Hill news conference part of growing momentum to halt proposed gutting of workplace health and safety protections

Agriculture Union National President Bob Kingston is warning that workers will be forced to choose between their job and their health or even life if the Harper government’s planned gutting of current workplace health and safety protections proceeds.

Kingston’s pointed comments came as part of his remarks to a November 20 Parliament Hill news conference called to condemn the watering down of workplace health and safety protection contained in the Harper government’s omnibus budget bill, C-4.

Our Social Justice Fund donates $10,000 to Philippines typhoon relief

The Agriculture Union Social Justice Fund is making a $10,000 contribution to the massive relief effort now underway following the devastating typhoon that struck the Philippines with incredible force on November 8.

The donation, which was moved by the National Executive, is being made to Oxfam Canada. As the federal government has pledged to match private contributions dollar-for-dollar, the impact of our donation will be doubled.

Conservatives’ changes to health and safety protections will literally put your life at risk

The Conservative government is set to ram through unprecedented changes to federal labour laws that will dramatically undercut your workplace rights and our ability to protect you and advance your interests.

These radical actions were buried in a massive ‘omnibus’ budget bill tabled in the House of Commons on October 22. The measures – amendments to various labour laws, including the Public Service Labour Relations Act and the Canada Labour Code – were brought down without either advance warning or consultation.

Donation from our Social Justice Fund will help rebuild lives in wake of last summer’s Lac-Mégantic tragedy

The Agriculture Union Social Justice Fund is making a one-time $10,000 donation to help the people of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec rebuild their community – and their lives – following last summer’s horrific train car explosion.

The request for the donation was made by Jacquelin Carrier, President of Local 10008, whose work as a meat inspector often took him to the picturesque Eastern Township town.