On Tuesday afternoon, Teamsters Canada President Francois LaPorte addressed Convention delegates to provide a recap of recent victories Teamsters have had in the great white north.
“We achieved great things over the past five years,” LaPorte said. “Our members, stronger and more united than ever, have shown incredible solidarity in the face of adversity.”
Teamsters across Canada reported significant improvements in their collective bargaining agreements, at a wide variety of companies, including UPS, Robert Transport Group and TST-CF Express.
“This is the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” said TST-CF Express Driver Mike Pitt. “My family’s security is much better, and, let’s put it this way – I’ve bought and sold three new homes because I make a better living. I’ve secured my family’s future because of the Teamsters. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
The most notable contract victory took place at Canada Rail, where over 3,000 Teamsters went out on a nationwide strike. Laura Soutar works for Canada Rail and serves as the Division 90 Local Chair.
“Workers in Canada, it’s very important that we put a stop to the race to the bottom,” Soutar said. “The chipping away, chipping away at our rights as employees, our finances, quality of life issues of work; it’s so important for Teamsters and unionized employees to stick together and be united.”
As the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc throughout the world, Teamsters working throughout Canada’s health care system, like Local 419 Shop Steward Sherenne Allen, were on the frontlines doing everything they could to save lives.
“The work we do as health care workers, as essential workers, embody the values of the union because at the primary of it, we’re looking out for one another,” Allen said. “You’re looking out for your fellow man, your fellow woman, you’re helping someone along the way who might be having some difficulties.”
In spite of the challenges of the past year, Canadian Teamsters remain optimistic.
“One thing will never change,” LaPorte said. “Teamsters will be here for workers and their families – always.”