Bell Craft Bargaining – update


Campaign Update

Bell Craft Bargaining History, Issue 1 of 8

3/2/2021The Ongoing Diminishment of the Once Mighty Craft and Services Bargaining Unit

The Craft and Services Bargaining Unit included 20,000 members  (15,000 Technicians and 5,000 Operators) in 1988. Where did Bell move the work?

The company consistently and drastically reduces the number of jobs in out unit, here’s how.

Between 1994 and 1996 with the formation of Expertech (Formerly part of the Bell Construction Department) and the elimination of Residential Service Technicians which had been replaced by Newco/Entourage, as of July 1st 1999, the bargaining unit had shrank by almost 63% to 7,356 members.

When Bell purchased Entourage outright in 2005 they renamed it Bell Technical Solutions (BTS). Not only has Bell cut a huge volume of employees through spinning off residential technician work to BTS, now they have began to accelerate the pushing away of business work performed by Bell Craft technicians.

In 2012, the Bell Craft unit had been reduced to 30% (4,546 members) of 1988 staffing levels, a trend that the company committed to stopping and levelling out at 2012 bargaining.

The premise was a new wage scale and more flexible job security would result in more hiring and a stabilization of the membership count. Unfortunately, these commitments were not honoured, and the trend continued into 2016 when we saw levels continue downward to 27% (3,987 members) of 1988 staffing levels.

The Craft Bargaining unit currently sat at 3,466 members as of August 31, 2020.

This is a reduction of 83% since 1988, and a stark reminder that for the next generation of craft workers, a good job, with good compensation and benefits will be even harder to find.

Frequent Retirement Incentive Offers helped pave the way for where we are today, but the reality it is the company that has not met their end of the bargain. Jobs have not returned, work is not being replaced and so the time to question our job security is far past due.

Bell, it’s time for respect and job security for the Craft and Services Bargaining Unit.

Information Bulletin #10

2/26/2021 -Sisters and Brothers,

The Bargaining Committee met on Tuesday via teleconference with the Local delegates from the various regions of our unit, Southwest, North/East, Quebec and the GTA. We spoke to them about how the Company’s concessionary demands would undermine our priorities on jobs as well as job security. Furthermore, they were advised the decision to file a notice of dispute was not simply made because our demands were ignored, but because the concessionary demands would eventually lead to the elimination of the bargaining unit.

Once the Committee filed the notice of dispute on February 19th, a window opened until March 6th for the Company to file with the Canadian Industrial Relations Board an application to intervene over a lack of an agreement over Maintenance of Activities in the event of a lock out or strike.

On Wednesday, we held an all delegates call via Zoom with Unifor National lawyer Anthony Dale to explain to the Local delegates what this means for our bargaining unit moving forward. The Canadian Labour Code under section 87.4 mandates an agreement between the unit and the company must be concluded by either negotiated agreement or CIRB decision prior to the process moving forward and well before a lockout or strike can occur.

This does not mean negotiations cannot restart.  If talks do resume we will advise the delegates of a change of bargaining status. Currently we are moving forward with an understanding the Company will apply to the Board, as negotiations have not proceeded sufficiently to solve the Maintenance of Activities issue, in regards to the number of employees needed to provide essential services without intervention.

If this does happen, the process could be delayed, which will directly affect bargaining timelines. The Committee stands ready to bargain, but not with ourselves. We recommend members reach out to their Locals for further clarification if needed.

As always, your patience and support is greatly appreciated.

In Solidarity,

Your Bargaining Committee

Advocates announce day of action for affordable internet, as Supreme Court delivers defeat to Bell Canada

Read more courtesy of The Toronto Star  Click here for the full article

A coalition of advocates, organizations and researchers is launching a nationwide day of action to demand affordable-internet policies from the federal government.

The online Day of Action for Affordable Internet, March 16, will “demand the immediate implementation of federal measures to deliver affordable internet and wireless services in Canada and to put an end to constantly increasing bills,” according to a press release Thursday.

The pandemic has made affordable internet access — already an issue before COVID-19 — an acute need, said Laura Tribe, executive director of grassroots organization OpenMedia.

People who once could get by with just a cellphone, or who relied on internet access at the library, now need internet at home to work, get education, or access basic services, she said.

“People have really been forced to prioritize their internet access, even though … it hasn’t been any more available or affordable for them,” Tribe said, adding that while there is a patchwork of national and regional programs aimed at bridging the digital divide, many fall through the cracks…..

continue reading…click the link at the top

Program for 6,000 new PSWs, “tip of what’s needed, gravity of shortage requires Ontario double that number to tackle long-term care staffing crisis,” say health care unions

TORONTO, ON – Long-term care staffing in Ontario remain far below pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels. The gravity of the staffing shortage requires a substantive and comprehensive recruitment, training and retention workforce strategy, say health care unions representing approximately 70,000 Personal Support Workers (PSWs).

Today’s announcement is a step in the right direction from what was announced just 48 hours ago, but it lacks the comprehensive strategy required to hire the requisite number of PSWs to reach the goal of four hours of hands-on care per resident per day that seniors need for dignified, quality care. Paid training and free tuition for workers, most of whom are women, is much needed news and will help remove a barrier for those considering becoming PSWs.

Key among the strategy to retain workers must be a plan to turn part-time work into full-time jobs, as well as a living wage to ensure PSWs have the financial security they need to make this essential work a career. The temporary PSW wage enhancement is set to expire in just a few weeks and must be made permanent for all.


“Without a commitment to workers in the care economy, Ontario’s most vulnerable seniors will continue to wait for the care they deserve. After shouldering the crushing weight of the pandemic, PSWs deserve no less than a living wage and they should receive it right away. Our ability to recruit the PSWs we need is directly correlated to the conditions of work, so let’s get that done.” – Sharleen Stewart, President, SEIU Healthcare

“With the province losing thousands of PSWs to attrition each year, the announcement of 6,000 trainees is only the tip of what’s needed. The province must commit to additional investments to train the tens of thousands of PSWs that are required to address the crisis at the bedside. They must also implement a comprehensive retention strategy that addresses the abysmal working conditions in our Long Term Care homes.”– Candace Rennick, Secretary-Treasurer, CUPE Ontario

“We have been calling on the government to provide fast-tracked, paid PSW training in our public colleges, and with today’s announcement, it shows they listening. We know that 6,000 PSW’s is just the start of what is needed so getting those numbers up even higher is critical, along with making sure the conditions of work in the long-term care sector improve, including access to full-time work and better wages and benefits. Retention must be a high priority as well, and ensuring we recognize and support the front-line workers who have carried an enormous burden through this pandemic.” – Jerry Dias, Unifor National President

Unifor members safe after close call at sea

Twenty-eight Unifor members were rescued in high-wind conditions on March 2 after their vessel, the Atlantic Destiny, caught fire off the coast of Nova Scotia.

“There was no panic. The guys did their jobs and worked together. They performed perfectly,” said Garfield Forward, deck hand aboard the Atlantic Destiny and Local 1944 member.

Garfield was off-shift and asleep when the fire alarm sounded. All hands immediately met on deck and went to work with fire extinguishers, but they proved ineffective and a fire suppression grenade had to be deployed to extinguish the fire.

After the fire was out it was discovered that the vessel was slowly taking on water in the engine room and the control panel that operated water pumps was inaccessible. At that stage the distress call was issued.

The nearby fishing vessel Cape Lahave where Forward’s brother works was first on the scene. Approximately an hour later the Canadian Coast Guard plane from CFB Greenwood arrived and parachuted a rescuer onto the Atlantic Destiny.



The fishing vessel Maude Adams staffed by fellow Local 1944 members arrived two hours later to assist with the rescue efforts.

With the help of the U.S. Coast Guard, it took almost eight hours to evacuate the entire crew of the Atlantic Destiny, in part because of a malfunction in the Canadian Coast Guard rescue helicopter’s winch cable. The crew were all taken to Yarmouth for food, shelter and medical attention.

In his 36 years at sea, Forward had never had to abandon ship, and is glad it went as smoothly as it did. His only moment of fear was being lifted to safety on the helicopter.


“I’m afraid of heights. I’m sure that my brother was watching from the Cape Lahave as nervous as I was,” he said.

Local 1944 President Trevor Banfield credits the successful fire fighting and evacuation to the skill and training of the crew.

“I am so glad all members are safe. We have to give credit to the fact that they train for this before every shift on that vessel going out during every shift change,” said Linda MacNeil, Atlantic Regional Director.

Despite salvage efforts the Atlantic Destiny could not be saved.

The Atlantic Destiny employed 60 Unifor members in all, as two 30-person crews rotate on three-week shifts. Banfield says he will be meeting with representatives of the employer, Ocean Choice International, to determine next steps.

“We’re going to do everything in our power to help these skilled fish harvesters get safely back to work,” said MacNeil