The way Rob Latford sees it, Unifor will give skilled trades workers at Toyota support from across Canada. The millwright, working at the Woodstock plant, was at a recent workshop on skilled trades where he liked what he heard about the union’s National Skilled Trades Council.

“The biggest thing I got from it is the support Canada-wide. If you have a question, or an issue, there are trades guys in Canada who have had that issue,” said Latford.

Now, Toyota skilled trades workers are facing challenges such as scheduling, including being forced in on weekends. These are problems other plants have faced and resolved, and can lend a helping hand, he heard.

“Other workplaces have apprentices pulling those extra shifts so you don’t get forced in on weekends so much.”

Toyota has few skilled trades apprentices, he added.

Dave Cassidy, chairperson of the National Skilled Trades Council, and from Unifor Local 444 in Windsor, believes the council can help Toyota workers.

“They don’t have the opportunities they should, we showed them the big picture of what we can do for them,” said Cassidy. “We meet and bring bargaining proposals to local councils, then they go to national and through that they go to the bargaining table.”

That means Unifor trades workers use their meetings and contacts nationally to better working conditions at all plants, and they have real power at the bargaining table, he added.

“That would be huge for us,” said Latford.

One issue the council can help with is seeing non-trades workers doing some trades work, said Latford. “We have seen production guys running wire systems for their machines, to get them up and running.

That is work maintenance trades would do. If you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s dangerous,” he added. “I mean, we got our tickets for a reason.”


Unifor National Skilled Trades Council

  • National meetings sets policies and procedures trades workers will take to their workplace, and to collective bargaining.
  • Can help Toyota workers with pension and wage protection, health and safety, training, developing apprentice programs, tool allowance and representation in the plant, to name a few issues.
  • Unifor trades workers have their own contract language and separate ratification vote concerning skilled trades issues.