Fellow Workers of Local 3000,
This year has been unlike any other in Local 3000's nearly fifty year history, and arguably the worst and most complex existential crisis this union has ever faced.
As we represent the hospitality sector, this meant that we were one of the hardest hit Locals in the country by the pandemic. Many of our hotels, and all of our casinos, were closed. White Spot announced that four union locations would permanently shutter, with that bargaining unit also being thrown into utter disarray. At the peak, a majority of our entire membership was laid-off. I also regret to report that just prior to the lockdown, one of our Shop Stewards in KFC, Vince McIvor, tragically passed away.
The Unifor Benefit Trust spent hundreds of thousands of dollars out of pocket to extend medical benefits to members for free for as long as we could, but sadly many have now lost their benefits such as workers in Parq Casino who are still languishing in limbo. It is heartbreaking to hear stories from members struggling to make ends meet and unable to afford needed medications for themselves or their family.
The crisis has been calamitous, and underscored how we are truly a union of the precariat.
On that note, if you are working again but have lost a significant amount of hours, I would highly recommend you apply for EI and then the "Canada Recovery Benefit." You may be eligible for the CRB if you are denied by EI and have had a 50% reduction in your average weekly income compared with last year.
Despite these turbulent headwinds however, our Local has managed to financially weather the storm well, and was even able to invest in increased servicing that we felt was necessary to address these historic challenges. We avoided any material concessions in all of our units notwithstanding the impossible bargaining position we found ourselves in, or the legal obstacles there were to protect rights like severance pay in which we were succcessful. In some workplaces we managed to negotiate an extension of medical benefits, and recall periods up to 19 months. Our Executive Board also decided to vastly increase support for food banks which seemed like the most constructive and targetted charitable donation we could make in these circumstances.
It has been a trying time for all, but with the vaccine now being distributed the prospects for 2021 are much brighter. We are cautiously optimistic and resolute that we will rebound from this and move forward to build on the real progress we felt we were making across the Local prior to the pandemic. I'm reminded of Tommy Douglas' eloquent response to his ignominious defeat in the 1962 federal election:
I am hurt, but I am not slain; I'll lay me down and bleed a-while, And then I'll rise and fight again.
I hope you have managed to endure this very strange and difficult year, and wish you all the best in coming one.