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Under attack?

Working Canadians are under attack by the federal government, says the president of a national union.
Unifor national president Jerry Dias says working people in Canada are under attack. (Jodi Lundmark,

Working Canadians are under attack by the federal government, says the president of a national union.

Unifor national president Jerry Dias was in Thunder Bay Wednesday morning at the Finlandia Club for the union's Canada-wide Rights at Work campaign, a protest against the federal government's Bill C-525.

The bill, also known as the Employees' Voting Rights Act, proposes changes to the rules for forming and dissolving unions.

Dias called it a political crisis.

"This is really about what our country is going to look like. This is about jobs for young people. This is about making sure we preserve the middle class," he said.

Thunder Bay is one of 19 cities Unifor is taking the campaign to and Dias said they need to go to all these communities to mobilize the leadership and get people talking about the issue.

He questioned the recent closure of the mill in Fort Frances, asking why do mill closures keep happening in a country where forestry is a key resource.

"We don't even have a forestry strategy in Canada," Dias said. "This is about the working class and the standard of living we're going to have for the short and long term. This is critical."

As a nation rich in resources, Dias asked why so many jobs are outsourced and why pipelines are built to ship resources to the U.S. and overseas.

"Why don't we have any sort of an economic strategy that utilizes our strengths as a nation?" he said.

Local 1075 president Dominic Pasqualino said unions are the backbone of society.

"The (federal government) is trying to take away our rights to unionize, trying to take away our health and safety rights," he said. "I think it's really important we all fight for those things," he said.

"I think people are realizing you can't just leave big business to take care of things because at the end of the day, they're just going to take care of their own interests."

The Canadian Auto Workers Union and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union merged last spring to form Unifor. The union represents 300,000 people across Canada in more than 20 sectors.




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