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By Katie Underwood, Maclean’s, 

Canada’s labour movement is ripe for a resurgence after decades of stagnant wages—not to mention the health-and-safety nightmare that was the pandemic. Leading the charge is Unifor, the country’s largest private-sector union, which represents more than 315,000 employees. Recently, Unifor made headlines for its own internal conflict: in March, former president Jerry Dias was charged with a breach of Unifor’s code of ethics after he allegedly accepted $50,000 from a Canadian supplier of COVID-19 rapid test kits and promoted the product to union employers. (Dias denies the allegations.)

Restoring solidarity won’t be easy for Lana Payne, but luckily it’s one of her strong suits. In August, the 57-year-old activist, who previously served as Unifor’s secretary-treasurer, was elected the organization’s first female president and is, in her words, looking to “turn the page.” So far, that’s meant recruiting members from growing industries, like electric vehicle production and warehousing, and pressing for wage hikes that match the rapidly rising cost of living. Believe it or not, she’s getting them. Here, Payne discusses her version of work-life balance and riding the new wave of worker action.

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