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From the desk of the President - August 2013
Published: August 7, 2013

May 30th, 2013 will be a date to remember. It was the day thousands tuned in – some in person, many online – to find out the long-awaited name of our new union. The word "Unifor" appeared on screen mid-way through a spectacular public event in Toronto. The new name appeared alongside a bold new logo – a shield housing a stylized letter "U" in the middle, reflecting the coming together of two unions. You could hear 200 participants in the room gasp, and then break into an uproar of applause. The most anticipated union renewal project in Canadian labour history finally had a name and an identity. Unifor: the new Canadian union.

In the days following the launch, many have asked: Why Unifor? I like it, but I don’t get it. Some have said they think it’s a refreshing change, something new. Others feel we've missed the mark – and that's okay too.

There’s no question, Unifor, has people talking. Not just with our members, but the public at large. And that's a good thing. Major television, radio and print news outlets across Canada and around the world carried the story. Online polls sprouted up, asking people to cast their votes about the name. Alternative media outlets reported on it extensively too. Marketing experts attempted to dissect it. And social media sites lit up with conversation ("Unifor" was actually a top trending topic on Twitter across Canada).

Unifor is a unique name. It's attention-grabbing. Part of its appeal, as we've seen since the launch, is that it's hard to ignore. And it's intentionally ambiguous. We want it to mean different and personal things to our increasingly diverse membership.

Unifor will be a union built for workers. But it will also be a union for the unemployed and self-employed, a union for women and young workers – a union for everyone. That's the strength.

For too long, unions have had their image constructed for them – by well-resourced opponents. Unions have always brought forward new, progressive ideas for a better society yet we have been tarnished as constantly fighting "against" the decisions of others. Unifor will push "for" positive and progressive ideas, and not get stuck fighting "against" bad ones. Our goal is to help set the progressive agenda.

As a national Canadian union it was essential that our name be bilingual. In French the name combines the words "unis" (united) and "fort" (strong). Unifor reflects, in both languages, the core values that our new union stands for: unity and solidarity, strength and determination, and a modern, forward-looking perspective.

Our new name is dynamic and versatile. It has possible applications as diverse as our membership. It reflects the hard work that our union will do to improve the lives of all Canadians. Unifor is strong, principled, and inclusive. New membership approaches will redefine who can be a union member and radically change the trade union landscape.

A strong union protects and defends its members and stands for safer workplaces, secure employment, wages and benefits. This was a message we heard loud and clear from both members and the general public, young and old. The shield logo reflects this sense of protection and strength.

The colours – a bold red and blue – were chosen to make Unifor stand out and have instant recognition. The fiery red conveys our passion and commitment to our members. We will be unmistakable.

With all of that said, it is difficult to part with the past. Our unions each have a long, proud history – one defined as much by our struggles as our successes. We will carry those memories with us, in our minds and in our hearts, as we bear down and face the challenging road ahead.

We wouldn't be honest if we said we weren't afraid of change. There's something unsettling with the unknown. But if we don't change, the movement dies and working people suffer. Canada becomes a more unequal, more unfair and less inclusive society. We would have betrayed those that have come before us.

Change is what the CAW did in 1985, when it broke from its U.S. - based parent to form a daring new organization. Change is what united Canadian Communications, Energy and Paper Workers together as a diverse and potent new union in 1993. Our willingness to change saved our unions. These changes made for a better Canada.

Let's never forget our history, but let's embrace change. It's served our union well in the past. We're certain it will serve us well in the future, through Unifor, and remember… Mine Mill 598 will keep its name.

OTHER ISSUES

As for the other issues surrounding your Union, this year is a heavy year for negotiations. We have ratified new collective agreements with Glencore (Xstrata Nickel), First Nickel, University of Sudbury and Brinks. As well, we have started negotiations with Finlandia Nursing Home, Villa St-Gabriel's Villa, St-Joseph's Villa and the Elizabeth Centre. We will also, before year end, bargain with Midas Muffler shops.

With respect to our campground, we have expanded and now have over 90 seasonal campers here. We have plans for many upcoming cultural and community events. Stay tuned! We also have our sites booked for numerous weddings this year; again our property is a gem within our community.

I have been going to various work sites and joining our Health and Safety committees on either their inspections or their meetings and from what I see, things are going well on that front. I have almost half of the units done and hopefully, by year end, I will have completed all of our sites.

We are also involved in many arbitrations at Glencore (Xstrata Nickel) and at some nursing homes.

HEALTHY WAYS TO RELAX AND RECHARGE

  1. Go for a walk
  2. Spend time in nature
  3. Call a good friend
  4. Sweat out tension with a good workout
  5. Write in your journal
  6. Take a long bath
  7. Light scented candles
  8. Savour a warm cup of coffee or tea
  9. Play with a pet
  10. Work in your garden
  11. Get a massage or have Reiki Relaxation Therapy
  12. Curl up with a good book
  13. Listen to music
  14. Watch a comedy

WHO PROMISED YOU A ROSE GARDEN?

A young man once told me that from the moment you are born you begin to die. This, from a young man who has just begun his adult life and at first thought, you think, "Wow, morbid much?" But really when you think about it that is exactly the way life is. We spend our life blaming others for our own transgressions, why even the bible has a part in the blame game, pinning the sin of eating the apple and coercing her mate to do the same. I believe that the time for the blame game is over. There is no magical elixir that is going to make your life better, it is your job to make the changes in order to live a healthier fruitful life. The first step in gaining in this life is to recognize that no one makes you more stressed than you.

If we are to look at stress we should understand that stress is nothing more than a socially acceptable form of mental illness. And that mental health costs Canada $51 billion dollars a year. Understanding how we deal with stress and learning to eliminate it is paramount to a more profitable and healthier lifestyle. It is important that we look at ourselves and realize that we are worth taking time each day to take care of ourself. I have broken it down to roughly 2 and ½ hours every day. That time can include, having a shower, brushing teeth, exercising and reading.

As long as it is time spent on you, the activity matters little. Adding even a small amount, say, 7 and ½ minutes to shut our minds down in Pause Of Thought (POT if you want to giggle) will definitely increase your ability to deal with and / or eliminate stress.

Women tend to devote little time to themself, compared to men. They worry and stress about so many things: the house, the kids, the bills and so on. Take a moment to realize that you do not have to take on all this added stress. That your children and husbands or partners will assist you with getting the things done if you would only take the time to ask. An experiment you might want to try at home is to gather some pillows. For everything you stress or worry about, add a pillow to your arms. You will see that you cannot possibly carry all the pillows. So my question to you is…..What and how many pillows are you holding on to?

On that note…I hope everyone is enjoying the summer months at both the workplace and at home with family.

With respect always,

Yours in Solidarity,
Richard Paquin, President
Mine Mill Local 598/CAW

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