As the shameful lockout of Coop Refinery workers in Regina, Saskatchewan enters its tenth week, UE reaffirms our full solidarity with Unifor Local 594. The very right of workers to have an organized voice and a say in their workplaces is at stake in this dispute. We are encouraged by the solidarity shown to Local 594 by their national union and the rest of the Canadian labor movement, and we encourage all US unions to close ranks with our brothers and sisters in Canada to defeat this attack on our rights.
North American Solidarity Project
UE stands in full solidarity with the members of Unifor Local 594 who have been locked out by Co-op Refinery in Regina, Saskatchewan, and the members of Unifor who have come from across Canada to support them. We unequivocally condemn the heavy-handed and aggressive tactics used by the Regina Police, including the arrest on Monday January 20 of Unifor National President Jerry Dias, Western Regional Director Gavin McGarrigle, and other Unifor members.
UE’s national officers, the presidents of the Eastern and Western regions, and several senior staff met in Chicago the weekend of November 1-3 with leaders from other unions participating in the North American Solidarity Project: UE’s Canadian partner Unifor, National Nurses United, and the Inland Boatmens’ Union/ILWU. The group reviewed the project’s work and made plans for next steps in five core areas: Workers’ Rights and Workers’ Power, Equity and Anti-Racism, Medicare for All, Climate Change and Just Transition, and Trade and Migration.
More than three dozen UE leaders and staff traveled to Port Elgin, Ontario on November 9-11 to discuss key challenges and issues facing the labor movement with trade unionists from across North America, along with allies from Europe and Australia. The North American Solidarity Project Conference brought together 140 delegates from six unions in four countries.
A delegation of UE officers, leaders and staff joined UE’s Canadian partner union Unifor for their Canadian Council meeting from August 17-19 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. “They were very welcoming and continued to display the kinds of progressive political and trade-union principles that are fully in sync with the UE,” said UE Director of Organization Gene Elk.
The North American Solidarity Project, a joint project of UE and Unifor, Canada’s largest private-sector union, held a high-level study group meeting on union political action in March. Leaders and staff from both unions discussed the challenges of independent, working-class political action in an age of rising right-wing populism and abandonment of workers by the parties that claim to represent working-class interests.
Leaders of UE and Unifor, Canada’s largest private-sector union, met in Durham, North Carolina on January 11th and 12th, to further develop the North American Solidarity Project and discuss new approaches to organizing. The North American Solidarity Project was created by a cooperation agreement between UE and Unifor, ratified by UE members at the 75th Convention in August, with the aim of revitalizing and renewing the labor movement in both countries.
UE’s General Executive Board (GEB) met in Pittsburgh for three days last week to review the work of the union since the 75th convention and make plans for 2018.
A UE delegation delivered a message to a Kansas company that has locked out 32 workers at D-J Composites in a small Canadian town.
UE delivered flyers last week to the headquarters of D-J Composites, which owns the Newfoundland facility where aerospace workers, members of Unifor Local 597, were forced out of work and locked out a year ago, on December 19, 2016.
The North American working class and our combined labor movements face extraordinary challenges that call for bold ideas and new structures. Two years ago, UE’s 75th Convention committed to building the North American Solidarity Project (NASP) with Unifor, the largest-private sector trade union in Canada, in order to explore the possibility of building a continential labor alliance based upon democratic and militant social unionism and true internationalism.