Canada's union movement is under attack by extreme right-wing policies, say local labour leaders in response to a federal private member's bill that will place new accounting demands on unions.
"This bill is a blatant attack on unions across this country," said Motilall Sarjoo, president of Brampton-Mississauga and District Labour Council referring to Bill C-377, a proposed law that is set for a third reading in the House of Commons tomorrow. "Through the legislative backdoor, the Conservatives have submitted private members Bill C-377 with full support push from the Prime Minister's office."
In response to the pending legislation, the local labour council is currently staging protests outside the constituencies of Brampton Conservative MPs.
Nine people turned up at the office of Brampton West MP Kyle Seeback Tuesday morning. Seeback is in Ottawa and won't be available to comment until later this afternoon, according to staff.
Protesters weren't there long before police arrived and asked them to leave. The group then headed over to Brampton-Springdale MP Parm Gill's office at 180 Sandalwood Parkway. Similar protests are being held at constituency offices across Ontario.
Sarjoo said the labour council "and other members of the community" have requested meetings with various local MPs regarding this issue, but have been ignored.
C-377 would, in part, require unions to report expenditures to Revenue Canada, including listing receipts and expenses paid during a year. Moreover, individuals and organizations that do business with a union for an amount greater than $5,000 will have that information made public.
Opponents say the new reporting rules would introduce another expense on unions that will eat into the amount of money unions can give to charities.
The local labour leader also argued the cost to implement such a regime would be expensive.
"The government will have to spend millions of tax dollars to implement such a bill and millions more per year to maintain it. Not worth spending our tax dollars on legislation especially when it is not needed," Sarjoo said.
Conservative Russ Hiebert, the British Columbia MP that brought the bill forward, has posted information about Bill C-377 on his website.
The proposed bill is intended to promote transparency, Tories have argued, noting it will allow the public to know how unions spend their members' dues.
CAW Grieves the Passing
of Labour Icon Cliff Pilkey
November 23, 2012
CAW leadership and membership across the country are grieving the passing of former CAW Local 222 President and OFL President Cliff Pilkey on Saturday, November 17, 2012.
Cliff, who was 90 years-old, spent his life advocating on behalf of workers, human rights, women's rights, workplace health and safety and his community of Oshawa, where he served as alderman and deputy mayor, and later as NDP MPP.
Labour and community leaders lamented the loss of drive, determination and leadership that Cliff's death means for progressive causes and the broader labour movement.
"Cliff Pilkey's visionary and determined leadership inspired a better world and his legacy of accomplishments stands tall with the very best labour leadership Canada has ever had," said Ken Lewenza, CAW National President.
Former CAW National President Buzz Hargrove said Cliff was truly an inspiring leader. "Nobody loved the labour movement any more than Cliff Pilkey. He loved the solidarity and camaraderie. He used his incredible sense of humour to bring people together and he always had his feet on the ground and had an eye to what was achievable," Hargrove said.
Bob White, former CAW National President and former CLC President, said Cliff will be missed.
"Cliff was a leader who cared deeply about his union - the UAW/CAW - and Canada's labour movement. He learned about women's commitment to affirmative action, child care and choice and put those issues at the forefront of the OFL's agenda. He won great respect and support from women in the labour movement. Cliff had a great sense of humour and loved to laugh, which endeared him to all. He was a great personal friend to Marilyne and I. He introduced us to one another at the CLC Convention in 1976. We will always hold him dear in our hearts."
Cliff was actively involved in numerous causes. He was Past-President and Founder of the Workers' Health and Safety Centre, a President of the Oshawa and District Labour Council from 1957 to 1967 and a UAW National Representative from 1967 to 1973. Cliff was also UAW Director of the Citizenship and Legislative Department from 1973 to 1976. He was President of the Canadian UAW Council in 1957.
He served on various boards and committees including the Board of Directors of Green Shield Canada, York University and Durham College, and was a founding board member of the Oshawa Senior Citizens' Centre. Cliff was a World War II veteran and a 62-year member of the Royal Canadian Legion.
Cliff was also a recipient of the Order of Ontario and a Recipient of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal
New Union Founding Convention Slated for Toronto, Labour Day Weekend 2013
November 14, 2012
CAW-CEP Proposal Committee has decided that the founding convention for the new union will take place the weekend leading into Labour Day 2013 -starting on Friday, August 30 and concluding on September 1. The decision was made during a meeting of the committee in Toronto.
The timing will allow new union convention delegates to participate behind their new union banner in Labour Day events in their own communities.
The founding convention will be tasked with approving the constitution of the new union, the new name and logo, and elect its first leaders (including three national officers, three regional directors; and the first members of the inaugural National Executive Board).
"Launching the new union on Labour Day weekend is fitting and symbolic," said CAW Secretary Treasurer and committee co-chair Peter Kennedy. "Marching behind our new banner will be an electrifying beginning for an organization that will inject new energy and hope into the labour movement."
"The first three national gatherings of the new union will occur in Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal. This is a vivid demonstration of the inclusive, nationwide character of our new organization," said CEP Secretary Treasurer and committee co-chair Gaétan Ménard. "Our new union will have unprecedented scope and power, in every region of Canada, and virtually every major industry."
The Proposal Committee also suggested locations for the first meetings of the new union's Canadian Council (the body which will gather together delegates from across the union in years when there is no full convention).
The first meetings of the Canadian Council would occur in Vancouver in 2014, and in Montreal in 2015.
The Proposal Committee also began the process of establishing the six working groups to include the following areas Communications; Constitution; Implementation; Organizing; Staff Relations; and Convention Planning.
The crucial issue of the new union's name and logo will be determined on the basis of a thorough process overseen by the Communications working group, including consultation with media and design experts; professional testing; and with members of the two unions.
The Proposal Committee consists of eight senior leaders from each union, and is co-chaired by the Secretary-Treasurers of the two unions: Gaétan Ménard for the CEP, and Peter Kennedy for the CAW.
The first phase of the New Union project culminated in the approval of the idea by the CAW and CEP conventions. The Proposal Committee will meet again in March to review the progress of the working groups.
Full reports on the New Union project, including the complete report of the Proposal Committee ("Towards a New Union") can be found at: www.newunionproject.ca.
HARRY (Henry) CROSSLEY
(July 25, 1917 - November 6, 2012)
Retired January 1, 1983
39 Yrs Service
It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of Retiree Harry Crossley on November 6, 2012
Our condolences go out to his Daughter Sharon and the Crossley Family.
Henry George Crossley, age 95, of Mississauga died peacefully surrounded by family on Tuesday, November 6th, 2012. "Harry" was a proud retiree of The Ford Motor Company with 39 Years of Service, retiring Jan. 1, 1983. Predeceased by his cherished wife Dorothy and son Brian, loving father to Maureen and Sharon. Father in-law to Jeanette, Robert and Paul. Harry loved sports, travel but most of all time with his family and friends. He will be greatly missed by his four grandchildren and six great grand children. Memorial Service will be held at Cawthra Park United Church on Friday November 16, 2012 at 11:00 am. with reception to follow. Donations can be made in his memory to Cawthra Park United Church or the Canadian Cancer Society
A Celebration of Life November 16, 2012 Cawthra Park United Church 1465 Leda Ave, Mississauga
Parking is available behind
the church on Garnet Ave 11am
Here are some pictures from a Few weeks ago
at our Retirees Thanksgiving luncheon:
CEP backs merger with CAW to create 'super-union'
October 15, 2012
The move to create Canada's largest private sector union took another major step forward as the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers voted over 90 per cent in favour of joining forces with the Canadian Auto Workers.
The delegates to a CEP convention in Quebec City endorsed the merger on Monday, paving the way for creation of a new super-union with the financial resources and political clout to tackle the challenges facing the labour movement.
The new union would represent 320,000 workers across some 20 industries, including manufacturing, communications and transportation, and to a lesser extent public health care, education and transit.
"Today we witnessed history being made. This isn't just a step forward for the labour movement. It's a step forward for progressive people in this country," said Dave Coles national president of the CEP. "It sends a very clear message, we believe, to the conservatives and any other political group that thinks that they can attack workers.
The merger comes as organized labour faces growing pressures in both the private and public sector partly because of plant closures, the changing nature of work and eroding labour laws.
Union membership has fallen to 30 per cent from 40 per cent in the 1970s,. In the private sector, the rate is even lower, at 17 per cent.
The number of strikes in Canada, a measure of union clout, has fallen by 90 per cent during the same time period
The creation of a "super-union" is necessary because of the declining power of the labour movement, said Pradeep Kumar, a school of policy studies professor at Queen's University.
The two unions plan to hold a founding convention next year to create the blueprint for a constitution and new name.
Together, they hope to reinvigorate the labour movement by including non-traditional members, such as the unemployed, retirees, and students with similar social goals.
They also plan to double their spending to $50 million over the next five years to boost their presence and their bargaining power in key economic sectors.
The Canadian Auto Workers voted unanimously to join the CEP on Aug. 23.
The unions entered formal merger talks earlier this year.
In initial discussions for a new name, the two sides have agreed the words autoworkers and paperworkers will disappear. Instead, they'll focus on a name that reflects their new mandate.
The Canadian Press
October 1, 2012
Unionized workers at Chrysler's Ontario plants voted to accept a new contract on Sunday, marking the Canadian Auto Workers' successful negotiation of fresh agreements with the three big U.S. auto makers.
The Chrysler workers voted 90 per cent in favour of the tentative deal which was reached last week.
It was not immediately clear how many of the 8,000 workers at Chrysler's plants in Toronto, Brampton and Windsor cast ballots in the ratification votes held this weekend.
The deal was based on agreements already accepted by CAW members at Ford and General Motors by margins of 82 per cent and 73 per cent.
The four-year contract includes lump sum payments as well as job security provisions.
It also pays new employees less and extends the time it takes them to get to the top of the pay scale.
Chrysler was the last of the Detroit Big Three auto makers to hammer out a contract.
CAW president Ken Lewenza said the ratification of all three new agreements will now allow the union to focus on winning a national auto policy for Canada.
"One of our objectives coming into these talks was to position our industry for future growth and success, and we did as much as we possibly could on that front," Mr. Lewenza said in a statement released Sunday evening.
"But without a comprehensive sector development strategy, the future of auto manufacturing in Canada remains uncertain, at best."
He said a national auto policy could lay the groundwork for the industry's ongoing competitiveness and success and added that the union would be renewing efforts to win federal support for the issue.
The CAW's proposals for a national policy include the development of an auto investment policy, building a green industry and a buy-Canadian vehicle purchasing strategy.
The CAW represents 21,000 workers at the Big Three auto makers
CAW Local 584 Thanksgiving
food Drive was a
Donations Doubled from last year
This year's 3rd Annual Thanksgiving Food drive was one the best yet thanks to CAW Local 584 active & retired members. Sim-Tran (Ontario) Inc was a big supporter of our drive and were instrumental in us achieving those high numbers. We would also like to thank Colony Ford for their support.
Our total weight of food donated to the Knights Table was a whopping 2,347 lbs and we also raised $280.00.
Thanks again to everyone that donated, thanks to the Brampton Guardian for their usual support and getting the word out there and thanks to Doug Berry, Dave Champagne, The Women's committee, Brandy Lafortune and Thayne Smith for their hard work in making this all possible.
We all made a big difference in our community that we can all be proud of.
CAW Local 584 Receives Community Service Award from The Knights Table
Thanks to both our Active and Retired members for their
support both financially and through volunteering.
CAW members accept
four-year deal with GM
Globe & Mail
September 28, 2012
Canadian auto workers at General Motors have voted to accept the new contract that their union leadership negotiated last week, the union said Thursday.
The Canadian Auto Workers union said 73 per cent of its GM members accepted the four-year deal. The union said about half of the 5,500 workers at GM Canada cast ballots.
The union leadership also reached an agreement with Ford last week and Chrysler this week. Ford workers voted in favour of their deal last weekend, and Chrysler workers are set to vote on their tentative agreement this weekend.
GM and Chrysler matched the deal the union reached with Ford.
The contracts cut wages for new hires and freeze pay for current workers. But the contracts also give them lump-sum payments to cover inflation and for ratifying the deal.
The deals with the three Detroit automakers avoided strikes and the possibility production will move to the United States in the next four years.
David Wenner, a general director at GM, said Thursday they would work with the union over the next four years to enhance the competitiveness of the Canadian operations.
The auto companies had said Canada was the most expensive place in the world to make cars and trucks, and warned they could move production south if the CAW didn't cut costs. The CAW represents about 21,000 auto workers in Canada and about 16 percent of auto production in North America.
Canada's advantages in the past – a weak Canadian dollar and government health care – have all but vanished compared with U.S. factories.
Under the agreement new workers will receive 60 per cent of the current top wage of $33.89. That would mean new workers would be paid around $20.33. They can move up the wage scale and reach the top wage in 10 years.
U.S. workers at the Detroit automakers approved a similar two-tier wage agreement five years ago, but in those agreements, workers don't automatically get the top wage after 10 years.
In addition, the United Auto Workers union in the U.S. has agreed to steeper concessions than the CAW, making U.S. labour costs cheaper. Going into the talks, the Detroit automakers were paying an estimated $60 to $62 an hour for labour and benefits in Canada, compared with $50 an hour at Chrysler, $56 at Ford and $58 at GM, according to the Center for Automotive Research, a non-profit research group.
The federal Canadian and Ontario province governments worked in tandem with the U.S. government on auto bailouts in 2009 to maintain Canada's share of North American auto production. Canada's share peaked at 3.2 million cars in 1999, about 17.4 per cent of North American production. In 2011, Canada produced 2.1 million vehicles, or about 16 per cent.
CAW wins labour
deal with Chrysler
Globe & Mail
Sept 27, 2012
The Canadian Auto Workers union has reached agreements on new contracts with all three Detroit auto makers, avoiding a crippling strike and keeping labour costs low enough to win new jobs and new investments from the companies at their Canadian operations.
The final deal was reached late Wednesday with Chrysler Group LLC, which agreed to match key wage and benefit clauses negotiated first at Ford Motor Co. last Monday and General Motors Co. last Thursday.
Chrysler chief negotiator Al Iacobelli confirmed the agreement, but would not comment on how the deal affects the company until it is ratified.
Among the key victories for the union are a promise of $675-million worth of new Canadian investment from GM, 650 jobs at Ford operations in Canada and a commitment by Chrysler to maintain five shifts of operations and about 7,500 jobs at two Ontario assembly plants for the next four years.
The companies get a deal that holds the line on wage costs with a four-year freeze on pay and gives them an opportunity to begin cutting hourly labour costs through a reduction in pay and benefits that will apply to any employees hired between now and 2016. How much they save depends on how soon they are able to hire new employees and how many they hire.
CAW president Ken Lewenza hailed the agreements as a recognition by the union that it needs to help keep the companies competitive in Canada while still permitting workers to share in the auto makers' return to profits after the 2008-09 recession that sent two of them into bankruptcy protection.
"We should be able to defend good, value-added jobs; jobs that provide for our families, jobs that provide us the opportunity to send our kids to college and university to get the education they need," Mr. Lewenza declared before General Motors of Canada Ltd. workers in Oshawa Wednesday as they prepared to vote on the agreement.
The union fought off the companies' initial demands for drastic cuts in wages and benefits and insistence that Canadian workers match the 2011 agreement the auto makers reached with the United Auto Workers in the United States, which calls for permanently lower wages for newly hired workers and pay increases that are based on profit.
In the Canadian plants, newly hired workers will start at about $20 an hour and progress to full wages of $34 an hour after 10 years. Existing workers will receive a $3,000 signing bonus and bonuses of $2,000 in each of the final three years of the contract – whether or not the companies are profitable.
GM spelled out in its agreement with the CAW that the wage and benefit scheme for new hires will help make Canada more competitive when decisions on new investments are made.
"The company acknowledges that the recently negotiated new-hire provisions substantially enhance the labour cost competitiveness of new employees in the Canadian operations, which is one of the several important factors of consideration for investment."
The CAW and the companies avoided the worst-case scenarios, said industry analyst Dennis DesRosiers, which would have been an announcement of more plant closings or a strike at one or more of the auto makers.
The agreements indicate that "Canada is now moving toward being competitive with the U.S. industrial north," said Mr. DesRosiers, president of DesRosiers Automotive Consultants Inc.
The danger ahead for the industry in Canada – both the Detroit Three and the two Japan-based auto makers that build vehicles here – is that the Canadian dollar continues to soar against the U.S. currency. That would further harm the competitive position of auto makers and the manufacturing sector as a whole, which has already been battered by the dollar's rise to parity with the U.S. currency in recent years.
The most positive scenario, Mr. DesRosiers said, is a return to record vehicle sales levels in the U.S. market, which is the destination for about 80 per cent of the cars, minivans and crossover utility vehicles assembled in Canada.
Record sales would require all companies to throttle up vehicle production in Canada, providing more jobs and boosting the overall economy.
Canadian Ford Workers Approve New Deal
September 23, 2012
(Toronto) CAW members at Ford have approved a new collective agreement by 82 per cent. Voting took place at a series of ratification meetings Saturday and Sunday in Hamilton, Windsor and Brampton, Ontario.
The agreement with Ford was the first deal established at the Detroit Three companies and serves as a model for pattern bargaining with General Motors and Chrysler.
“Our members at Ford recognize that in these uncertain economic times, some of the most important elements of a new collective agreement are future investment and improved job security,” said CAW President Ken Lewenza. “This new agreement will ensure that our facilities are well-positioned for a strong future in the North American auto industry.”
The CAW reached an agreement with Ford on September 17 and General Motors on September 20, 2012. The union has yet to reach an agreement with Chrysler but will continue talks with the hope of reaching a new deal this week.
Below is the breakdown by classification:
Production – 81 per cent
Skilled Trades – 87 per cent
Office – 100 per cent
Ratification meetings are scheduled for CAW members at Wednesday and Thursday for General Motors.
Talks making headway with GM, Chrysler lagging: CAW
Globe & Mail
Sept 20, 2012
The Canadian Auto Workers union is closer to a new deal with General Motors Co. than it is with Chrysler Group LLC, union officials said Wednesday afternoon as they tried to wrap up negotiations on a new contract with the Detroit Three auto makers.
"Talks with GM have bogged down on some local issues," Peter Kennedy, the CAW's secretary-treasurer said. It's not clear when those will be resolved, Mr. Kennedy said, noting that union and company officials were trying to get them solved.
The union is trying to secure agreements from both companies that match the terms of a contract it negotiated earlier this week with Ford Motor Co.
The union is pushing Chrysler and GM to match the Ford deal in what is known as pattern bargaining, where an agreement reached with one of the Detroit Three auto makers serves as a template for all of them.
"The facts of the matter is the company hasn't met the pattern," CAW president Ken Lewenza said earlier Wednesday about GM, which submitted a proposal to the CAW that seeks ways of offsetting the costs of the deal the union and Ford signed.
If a company refuses to meet the pattern agreement established by one of its rivals, the union will go on strike.
As for Chrysler, "I think Chrysler is waiting to see what happens with GM," Mr. Lewenza said outside the downtown Toronto hotel where the union and officials from all three companies have been meeting since mid-August.
The GM talks are hung up on local issues that include language in the contract regarding work standards and job security for skilled trades workers.
Mr. Lewenza said morning discussions with GM on Wednesday were the equivalent of "pushing against a 100 mile an hour wind."
Another key issue in the GM talks is the union's attempt to convince the auto maker to reverse its decision to close one of its assembly plants in Oshawa, Ont., a shutdown that is scheduled to begin later this year and will eliminate more than 2,000 jobs.
"Our objective is to keep that plant running as long as we possibly can," Mr. Lewenza said, noting that the union has been unsuccessful at the bargaining table in convincing GM to keep it open.
The union leader said he's not yet ready to notify Chrysler and GM that a strike at their plants will begin in 24 hours.
The CAW extended its contracts with the two companies after reaching the deal with Ford on Monday.
At the time, the union agreed to the companies' request for more time to study the Ford agreement and assess how it would affect their operations.
The four-year tentative agreement with Ford calls for a four-year wage freeze, a signing bonus of $3,000 and annual bonuses of $2,000 in each of the second, third and fourth years of the contract. Cost-of-living adjustments are suspended until the final quarter of the final year of the deal.
Ford will hire about 600 workers – most of them at its assembly plant in Oakville, Ont., where it will start a partial third shift as soon as possible, and in 2014 begin assembling a new generation of the crossovers now made at the plant.
The union agreed to cut the starting wage rate for newly hired employees to about $20 and hour from $24 and stretch out the time it takes them to reach the full rate of $34 to 10 years from six. A new hybrid pension plan that combines defined benefits and defined contributions will also help reduce hourly labour costs of newly hired employees.
CAW, Ford reach
4-year labour deal
The Globe and Mail
Sept 17, 2012
The Canadian Auto Workers union reached a deal with Ford Motor Co., that will create about 500 jobs at a plant in Oakville, Ont., and cuts hourly labour costs for newly hired employees.
The four-year agreement includes bonuses of $2,000 for cost-of-living adjustments, and a $3,000 signing bonus but no increases on base wages.
The deal averts a strike at Ford's Canadian operations that was scheduled to begin at 11:59 p.m. ET Monday. The union was in negotiations with Chrysler Group LLC and General Motors Co. Monday about whether they would accept the agreement and head off a strike scheduled to shut their operations in several Ontario cities.
Those discussions were proceeding slowly without much movement, CAW officials in talks with Chrysler and GM said.
The Ford deal will help open up jobs for some of the 1,200 CAW members on layoff after the company closed its St. Thomas, Ont., assembly plant last year.
Assembly of a new vehicle that requires more workers will create jobs at the Oakville plant, CAW president Ken Lewenza said. A partial third shift at the Oakville plant will create 230 jobs.
Ford agreed with the CAW in 2009 to spend more than $1-billion redeveloping the plant so that it can manufacture vehicles for global markets, but said that plan depended on government financial assistance.
The government has been negotiating with the federal and Ontario governments for more than a year for about $400-million in assistance.
The union narrowed its focus to Ford Sunday after company officials expressed a willingness to reach an agreement, he told reporters Sunday, including accepting the union's position that permanent two-tier wages are unacceptable to the CAW.
"Ford has agreed that the principle of a two-tier wage system is not something that is sustainable long-term and they've supported the union's argument that we can be flexible recognizing the economic challenges and they recognize at least on paper that the two-tier system is not something they're going to extract out of the union," Mr. Lewenza said Monday afternoon.
Both Chrysler and GM had insisted on permanent two-tier wages - similar to an agreement all three companies made with the United Auto Worker in 2011 - but the question is whether they will maintain that position in the face of a potential strike that would shut down Chrysler assembly plants in Brampton, Ont., and Windsor, Ont., and GM's operations in Oshawa, Ont.
The three companies started out negotiations demanding that hourly labour costs be reduced at their Canadian plants, which they pointed to as having the highest such costs in the world.
The CAW disputed that, but agreed that the rise in the value of the Canadian dollar had severely harmed the competitiveness of the Canadian operations.
The union offered to cut labour costs by changing the way newly hired workers are paid. New employees now start at wages of $24 an hour and take six years to reach full wages of $34 an hour.
The CAW offered to cut that starting rate and stretch the time employees would reach full wages to 10 years.
CAW deal with Ford 95 per
cent complete: Lewenza
September 17, 2012
Globe & Mail
A deal with Ford Motor Co. is 95 per cent complete, Canadian Auto Workers president Ken Lewenza said early Monday afternoon.
"Last night was an incredibly constructive evening," Mr. Lewenza said of negotiations with Ford, which the union chose to focus on for a new agreement in contract talks with the Detroit Three auto makers.
There were some tweaks that needed to be made and there's always a danger of last-minute hitches, he warned, but he was hoping to have a written four-year agreement Monday afternoon.
Any agreement will be taken to negotiators for Chrysler Group LLC and General Motors Co. to determine whether they are willing to match the deal ahead of a strike deadline of 11:59 p.m. Monday.
"I'm trying to get this done early enough that I can run to GM and Chrysler and not tell them verbally what I anticipate but show them what's been signed and agreed upon by the committee," he said.
Negotiations with Chrysler and GM were proceeding much more slowly, CAW officials said.
At GM, it's up to the auto maker to reach a deal before the deadline, Chris Buckley, chairman of the CAW's GM bargaining committee said.
One of the key issues for the union in the Ford talks concerns about 1,200 employees who are on layoff after the closing last year of the company's St. Thomas, Ont., assembly plant.
Employees on layoff will be given employment opportunities during the terms of the next contract if Ford and CAW officials reach a final agreement on what has been negotiated, Mr. Lewenza said.
There will be jobs at Ford's assembly plant in Oakville, Ont., he said.
The deal with Ford would include incentives for older workers to retire which will help create more than 500 jobs at Ford's Oakville, Ont., plant sources said.
Ford agreed with the CAW in 2009 to spend more than $1-billion redeveloping the plant so that it can manufacture vehicles for global markets, but said that plan depended on government financial assistance.
The government has been negotiating with the federal and Ontario governments for more than a year for about $400-million in assistance.
The union narrowed its focus to Ford Sunday after company officials expressed a willingness to reach an agreement, he told reporters Sunday, including accepting the union's position that permanent two-tier wages are unacceptable to the CAW.
Both Chrysler and GM had insisted on permanent two-tier wages - similar to an agreement all three companies made with the United Auto Worker in 2011 - but the question is whether they will maintain that position in the face of a potential strike that will shut down Chrysler assembly plants in Brampton, Ont., and Windsor, Ont., and GM's operations in Oshawa, Ont.
The three companies started out negotiations demanding that hourly labour costs be reduced at their Canadian plants, which they pointed to as having the highest such costs in the world.
The CAW disputed that, but agreed that the rise in the value of the Canadian dollar had severely harmed the competitiveness of the Canadian operations.
The union offered to cut labour costs by changing the way newly hired workers are paid. New employees now start at wages of $24 an hour and take six years to reach full wages of $34 an hour.
The CAW offered to cut that starting rate and stretch the time employees would reach full wages to 10 years.
Mr. Lewenza said Sunday that Ford accepted the union's position that permanent two-tier wages are unacceptable and told the CAW that what was most important was making the Canadian operations competitive.
CAW says can see finish line in contract talks with Ford
TORONTO, Sept 17 (Reuters) - A senior official at the Canadian Auto Workers said the union hopes to reach a labor contract agreement with Ford Motor Co before Monday's end-of-day strike deadline, but added there is still work to do to get a deal.
The union, which represents about 20,000 workers at the Detroit Three automakers in Canada, chose Ford on Sunday as the lead company in contract talks, saying it has been most receptive to a CAW proposal to cut labor costs.
Talks continue with both Fiat SpA's Chrysler Group LLC and General Motors Co.
"We can see the finish line at Ford so I'm hopeful we can wrap up a deal with Ford today and announce a tentative agreement. But we still could stumble before we get there," CAW National Secretary-Treasurer Peter Kennedy told Reuters.
The union will meet with Ford later Monday morning and hopes to "put all of the final pieces together," he said.
Talks with GM have had a more positive tone than those with Chrysler, he added, but major hurdles remain.
"We're still running the race - we can't see the finish line at either General Motors or Chrysler, but I guess we're a little further around the track with GM than we are at Chrysler."
CAW picks Ford as
target; Chrysler 'very
concerned' about choice
September 17, 2012
Detroit Free Press
The Canadian Auto Workers shifted all of its attention to Ford on Sunday in the hopes of getting a deal that it can use as a pattern with Chrysler and General Motors.
"(Ford) has showed our membership a tremendous amount of respect," CAW President Ken Lewenza said Sunday. "We hope to get a reasonable deal."
Chrysler, which has the highest percentage of its North American production in Canada, said it is "very concerned" about the CAW's decision.
"While we respect Ford as a competitor, we do not think they are in the best position to take on this role given the significant reduction in their Canadian footprint in recent years," Chrysler said in a statement.
Lewenza said both GM and Chrysler are insisting on a second-tier wage for new hires that the CAW finds unacceptable.
"We are not ever going to agree to a permanent two-tier wage system," Lewenza said.
With just hours left before the union's agreement with all three automakers expires at 11:59 tonight, Lewenza said he is optimistic about reaching a deal with Ford that he will present to GM and Chrysler. At the same time, he reiterated the CAW's willingness to call a strike.
A strike would deplete the dealer inventories of certain models, which, in turn, could cause at least one company to lose market share, revenue and profits. It won't disrupt the shipment of parts to assembly plants in the U.S.
"We have the resources, and we have the solidarity of our members, and we have the support of the entire labor movement," Lewenza said.
Who has the leverage?
Thanks to a strong Canadian dollar that makes labor costs in Canada among the highest in the world, and to concessions the UAW made a year ago, the odds have appeared to be stacked against the CAW since negotiations began in August.
But in the short term, the CAW still holds significant leverage. Many of the cars, trucks and engines the CAW's 21,000 members produce are key products, and the CAW also has a hefty $90-million strike fund at its disposal.
Lewenza, 58, is a tough negotiator who -- like his predecessors -- is known for being willing to negotiate through the news media to get the his message out.
Lewenza said Sunday that the CAW entered contract talks with modest goals because he recognizes that although the Detroit Three have recovered from their economic crisis, their profitability is under pressure from tough competition and a recession in Europe.
"We want our companies to make incredible profits to invest back in their workplace," Lewenza said.
Market share at risk
The Detroit Three have collectively lost 2.1 points of market share in the U.S. this year as Asian automakers have recovered from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
Cars and trucks made in Canada accounted for nearly 28% of Chrysler's U.S. sales, 15% of General Motors' and 7.5% of Ford's through the first eight months of the year.
None of the automakers has stockpiled Canadian-made vehicles in preparation for a strike.
Chrysler had an 87-day supply of the Chrysler 300 and 82 days of the Challenger at the end of August, according to WardsAuto. That's not much more than the 65-70 days' supply considered ideal for the industry.
Chrysler makes its popular and profitable Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town and Country minivans in Windsor. The flagship Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger and Challenger are produced in Brampton, Ontario, near Toronto.
GM makes its all-new Cadillac XTS, Buick Regal, Chevrolet Camaro, Chevrolet Impala and overflow production of the Chevrolet Equinox in Oshawa, Ontario.
Ford builds Ford Edge and Flex crossovers, Lincoln MKX and MKT crossovers, as well as V8 engines, in Ontario.
Fiat and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has threatened to move production if the CAW doesn't agree to the automaker's demands.
But it would take months, if not years, to pull that off.
Meanwhile, most of the CAW's members are employed somewhere other than the Detroit Three, so they would continue contributing to that fund if striking members had to draw on it.
"The fact that only 13% of our members are employed at the Detroit Three is another asset, since the other 87% of the membership would keep paying dues," CAW economist Jim Stanford said in an e-mail last week. Those non-auto members work in aerospace, electrical, trucking, food and beverage, retail and health care industries.
The problem for the CAW is that even a short work stoppage could cause any of the automakers to cut future investments.
"A strike is possible, but it would be suicide," said Dennis DesRosiers of DesRosiers Automotive Consultants near Toronto. "It would result in disinvestment in Canada and the loss of jobs."
Ford closed St. Thomas Assembly in Ontario in 2011 and just began retooling its Flat Rock Assembly Plant so it can build its next-generation Ford Fusion there and add 1,200 workers.
GM just announced plans to follow through on plans to close an assembly line in Oshawa and has agreed to reopen its idled Spring Hill, Tenn., plant.
Chrysler is adding third shifts at plants in Detroit; Toledo; Belvidere, Ill., and possibly Warren, but has held back in Canada.
"These negotiations are pivotal in shaping the future of the automotive landscape in this country," Chrysler said in its statement Sunday. "Chrysler's goal in these negotiations is to develop an agreement that is conducive to long-term job security in Canada."
Labor costs for the CAW are among the highest in the world. The rising value of the Canadian dollar and the deeper concessions that the UAW has accepted in recent years have put the CAW at a competitive disadvantage.
In U.S. dollars, the CAW's total labor cost for hourly wages and benefits is about $60 per hour, compared with $58 for U.S. workers at GM, $56 at Ford and about $50 at Chrysler, according to the Center for Automotive Research.
Selling the deal
Lewenza and his leadership team understand that global forces have pinned the union against the wall.
But any new contract must be ratified by the CAW's members, who are more familiar with the concessions they accepted in 2008 and 2009. According to the union, CAW workers sacrificed total hourly wage and benefit costs of $19 per hour in 2009.
The CAW has a large percentage of workers who are nearing retirement and don't want to give up additional pay and benefits, DesRosiers said.
"Nobody wants to take a cutback at all," said Shawn Bezaire, a plant representative and strike marshal for CAW Local 444 in Windsor, which represents workers at Chrysler's Windsor Assembly Plant.
Amid the tough talk, the CAW also has been sending signals that it is willing to accept a variety of concessions as long as its core principles can be preserved.
For example, the CAW remains opposed to a separate wage structure for new hires. But on Wednesday, the union told all three companies it would accept a lower starting wage for new hires and a longer path to the top wage of about $34 per hour for current workers.
"I've said all along that they are not likely to agree to a made-in-the-U.S.A. type agreement," said Kristin Dziczek, a labor economist with the Center for Automotive Research. "Instead, they will find a way to reach an agreement that maintains their principles and achieves some of the company's demands."
CAW suspends high-level talks with Chrysler, GM to focus on Ford deal
The Globe and Mail
Sept 16, 2012
The Canadian Auto Workers has narrowed its focus to Ford Motor Co., as talks with the Detroit Three auto makers edge closer to a strike deadline Monday night.
High level talks with Chrysler Group LLC and General Motors have been put on hold.
The union's decision came after marathon weekend negotiations during which the Canadian Auto Workers union insisted it was prepared to shut down the Canadian operations of all three companies if they maintained their insistence on substantial cuts in pay and benefits.
A deal would avert a threatened strike that would put 20,000 auto workers on the street and deal a blow to an already sluggish economic recovery.
Sources said Ford has been the most flexible company all along, even as it insisted that its hourly labour costs in Canada match those at its U.S. operations.
The union is pushing hard, however, to win new investments from Ford.
About 1,200 CAW members at Ford's Canadian operations are on layoff.
"We've got to find them work," Gary Beck, chairman of the CAW's Ford bargaining committee said earlier Sunday. "If we don't have that in this agreement then we won't have any agreement."
The union's GM membership is seeking new investments in Oshawa, Ont., where a car assembly plant will close next year.
The CAW has offered to cut hourly labour costs for the three companies by reducing wages for newly hired employees to less than 70 per cent of the $34 an hour paid to longer term workers.
In addition, the union told the companies it would stretch the time it takes new employees to reach the full wage rate out to 10 years from the current six.
It also offered different pension schemes that would reduce the companies' costs.
"There hasn't been a proposal to the Chrysler bargaining committee that provides any reason for hope at this particular time," CAW president Ken Lewenza said earlier Sunday
He said CAW negotiators met with Ford Motor Co. officials Saturday night and settled some issues but several more remain outstanding.
Gary Beck, chairman of the union's Ford bargaining committee said the company has not offered any plans to invest in Ford manufacturing facilities in Canada.
Ford is insisting that the union first agree to make labour costs more competitive in Canada, Mr. Beck said.
Negotiators are trying to avert the first ever simultaneous strike by the union against all three auto makers.
About 20,000 employees at Detroit Three operations in the Ontario cities of Oshawa, Oakville, Brampton, Windsor, St. Catharines and Toronto are poised to go on strike.
CAW hopeful one of
Detroit Three will accept
new hires proposal
Globe & Mail
September 15, 2012
Two days ahead of a strike deadline, a senior official at the Canadian Auto Workers said on Saturday the union is hopeful one of the Detroit Three automakers will accept its proposed concessions on compensation for new hires, clearing the way for contract negotiations to address other issues.
The union, which represents some 20,000 workers at Fiat SpA's Chrysler Group LLC, Ford Motor Co and General Motors Co, is trying to reach three-year agreements before a contract and strike deadline of 11:59 p.m. ET on Monday.
CAW National Secretary-Treasurer Peter Kennedy told Reuters he hoped a morning meet with one of the companies, which he did not name, would lead to a conclusion of "discussions on our proposal, with respect to the new employee, and then move full speed from there to try and get the rest of the issues cleared up."
"In the case of at least one of the companies, you can see the finish line," he said. "That's just on this one issue. There's still a lot of outstanding issues. I wouldn't want anybody to think that we're close to a deal here."
Mr. Kennedy could not be reached later in the afternoon to discuss that meeting. GM said it continues to have open and constructive talks with the CAW while the other two companies were not immediately available for comment.
Jerry Dias, assistant to CAW National President Ken Lewenza, said in the early afternoon that nothing has been "buttoned down" on the new hire rate.
"We're making different inroads in different areas with different companies," he said.
Dias said talks with Ford were the "most respectful" but would not say whether negotiations with Chrysler and GM were farther apart on key issues.
On Thursday, the CAW offered the automakers key concessions on wages and pensions for new hires, yielding ground that might not overly upset current union members who must ratify any contract agreement.
In return, the union wants automakers to commit to investing in Canadian plants and allocating new product, ensuring members' job security.
Under the CAW proposal, new hires would start at lower wages than the approximate $24 an hour they currently get and be paid less than current workers for a longer period of time.
This is the so-called "two-tier" wage scale that the three Detroit automakers and the United Auto Workers in the United States have used for the past several years to bring labour costs closer to those of foreign automakers.
The CAW is adamant that new workers must over time reach the same pay scales as existing workers. It may be willing to extend its "earn-in," the time it takes new hires to reach the highest end of the pay scale, from six to as many as 10 years, a union source close to the talks told Reuters earlier this week.
"It's critical to moving forward as we've been saying from the outset. We're prepared to discuss and be flexible and entertain alternatives – except a permanent two-tier, second-class worker," Mr. Kennedy said.
Current employees do not contribute to their pensions but under the union's proposal, new workers would do so. The new workers still would be entitled to a defined-benefit pension, not a defined-contribution pension.
The union also has said it could relax the "30-and-out" provision for new hires. Instead of being allowed to retire after 30 years under any circumstances, they would be able to retire after 30 years only if they were above a particular age.
The more promising tone comes after Mr. Lewenza said late on Friday that all three companies had rejected the proposal, insisting on permanently lower wages for new employees.
"Somebody ultimately put pencil to paper and did some costing ... and said, 'Hey, this is a good proposal and we can work with it," Mr. Kennedy said of the shift.
The talks, which began last month at a downtown Toronto hotel and are now going around the clock, have been challenging, with labour costs a key sticking point.
Automakers adamantly argue that Canadian labour costs are the highest in the world and must drop to match those of the UAW or future production and investment will be put in question.
The union counters that its members deserve some payback from the now-profitable automakers after the their concessions in 2009 during a North American auto sector meltdown that pushed GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy.
CAW workers at the Detroit Three earn an average of $34 in a base hourly wage, compared with an average $28 for UAW employees, the CAW says.
Including benefits such as pensions, health care and overtime pay, the CAW's total average labor cost is about $60 an hour, according to the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan. That compares with $58 for U.S. workers at Ford, $56 for GM and about $52 at Chrysler.
The CAW says that the companies also want to permanently eliminate the cost of living allowance, move current and new hires to a defined contribution pension plan from a defined benefit pension plan, and eliminate the "30-and-out" pension.
The automakers have not publicly discussed what they propose to bring Canadian labour costs in line with those of the United States.
Canada's auto industry has suffered five plant closures and the loss of a third of its assembly jobs in the past decade as costs climbed along with a stronger Canadian dollar.
Concessions from CAW come
with a Canadian catch
Globe & Mail
September 14, 2012
The Canadian Auto Workers union wants new investments at the Canadian plants of the Detroit Three auto makers in return for the concessions it has put on the table.
"We think the proposal we've made keeps us competitive with the U.S. plants and the all-in active wage costs in the U.S. and it won't handicap or hurt us in terms of investments in Canada," CAW secretary-treasurer Peter Kennedy said Thursday.
The CAW has offered reduced wages and changes in pensions for newly hired employees that it says will cut overall hourly labour costs in Canada to the same level as unionized plants in the U.S. That would meet the key demand the companies made when talks started last month. Talks are continuing ahead of a strike deadline on Monday.
The move to match U.S. costs underscores a critical concern for CAW president Ken Lewenza and his lieutenants – how to ensure the medium-term future of the companies' operations here in the face of a high Canadian dollar and U.S. labour agreements that have clamped down on rising costs.
The proposal to cut costs "comes hand in hand" with investments by the companies that would secure jobs at the plants – and possibly add new ones – for the better part of a decade, one senior union source said Thursday.
At General Motors of Canada Ltd., for example, the union is seeking new investments at the company's Oshawa, Ont., operations, where one assembly plant is scheduled to close by the middle of 2013, eliminating as many as 3,000 jobs.
"We need to make sure General Motors has a long-term commitment to our country," Chris Buckley, chair of the CAW's GM bargaining committee, said earlier this week.
An investment in Oshawa would show the taxpayers that their $10.6-billion contribution to the bailout of GM's parent General Motors Co. in 2009 was worthwhile, Mr. Buckley said.
At the moment, he said, GM has made no firm commitments at its Canadian operations beyond an agreement – in return for the bailout money – that through 2016, it will produce 16 per cent of all its North American-made vehicles in Canada.
Union representatives for Ford Motor Co. of Canada Ltd. employees are seeking investment promises for the auto maker's Windsor, Ont., engine plant, which has no new products earmarked for it and is making V-8 and V-10 engines that are declining in popularity as gas prices soar.
For union officials at the negotiating table with Chrysler Canada Inc., the priority is a new paint shop at the company's large-car assembly plant in Brampton, Ont.
That's an investment of at least $400-million, and it would be in doubt if the CAW does not agree to reduce labour costs to match those at U.S. plants, Chrysler Group LLC chief executive officer Sergio Marchionne told The Globe and Mail last week.
The union has offered to cut wages for newly hired employees to less than the current level of about $24 an hour and stretch to 10 years from six the so-called grow-in period during which those wages rise to the level of those paid to longer-term employees.
Mr. Kennedy said Thursday that the union has also offered to cut pension costs for newly hired employees while maintaining the defined-benefit pension plan that now covers all CAW workers at Detroit Three plants.
"The costs associated with it for the companies would be less than what would be associated with the current defined-benefit plan," Mr. Kennedy said.
The union proposal could include newly hired workers contributing more than the $1 an hour to their pension plans than they currently pay, he said.
CAW Offers Wage Cuts
to Head off Strikes
Globe & Mail
Sept 13, 2012
The Canadian Auto Workers union has laid out a proposal to cut wages for new employees – a move it says will meet a key demand of the Detroit auto makers as the clock ticks toward a strike deadline just four days away.
The union, which has been at an impasse in negotiations with the Canadian units of General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC, has agreed to chop wages for new hires to less than the current rate of about $24 an hour, sources told the Globe and Mail.
It also agreed to extend the time frame on a "two-tier" system of paying workers. Currently, newly hired workers start at lower wages for their first six years on the job; the CAW proposal extends that to 10.
It is still unclear whether the union's move will be enough to satisfy the auto companies, which have told the CAW that labour costs in their Canadian plants must come down to match those in their U.S. factories. But the proposed compromise illustrates the huge stakes in the negotiations.
A strike deadline looms for next Monday and could involve walkouts by workers at the Canadian operations of all three companies, a disruption that would deal a serious, if temporary, blow to Ontario's economy.
The two sides are also discussing lower benefits for newly hired employees, sources involved in the talks confirmed Wednesday.
"Go lower [on wages], stretch longer and tie in more benefits [to that lower wage rate] and you get some pretty big savings," said one source involved in the discussions.
If wages for new employees were cut to 60 per cent of established employees' wages, it would mean a starting rate of about $20.40 an hour.
The gap in total labour costs between plants in the two countries varies by company, but it ranges between $2 an hour and about $8 an hour. Ford Motor Co. of Canada Ltd. has said wages alone are $6 an hour higher in Canada than they are in the United States.
Changing the existing rules on newly hired employees would move the Canadian operations closer to the full two-tiered wage system in place at the three companies' U.S. plants, but the difference is that the U.S. agreement set up a permanent two-tiered system.
CAW president Ken Lewenza has said the union opposes a permanent two-tier system.
The union said Wednesday that the tone of the talks has improved and Mr. Lewenza said he sensed more urgency on the part of the companies to get a deal done.
Sources involved in the talks said the two sides were taking "baby steps" toward a deal but that Chrysler Group LLC was taking the firmest stance.
Chrysler would benefit most from lower wage rates for newly hired employees in Canada because it's most likely to be in need of new employees soon.
It is considering adding a third shift of workers at its Brampton, Ont., large car assembly plant and has no employees on layoffs at its other Canadian plants – a minivan assembly plant in Windsor, Ont., and an engine parts casting plant in Toronto.
Ford Motor Co. of Canada Ltd. has about 1,200 employees on layoff after shutting its St. Thomas Assembly Plant near London, Ont., last year and is scaling back production at an engine plant in Windsor.
General Motors of Canada Ltd. is scheduled to begin laying off employees at its Oshawa, Ont., operations later this year when it begins the process of closing one of its car assembly plants in that city.
The CAW has still not chosen a so-called target company, with which it would reach an agreement that would serve as a template for the other two auto makers.
CAW approves formation of new union with CEP
August 23, 2012
Tony Van Alphen
The Canadian Auto Workers has voted unanimously to join the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers to form Canada's biggest private-sector union with the aim of changing the country's economic and social course.
More than 600 delegates at a CAW convention at the downtown Toronto Sheraton Centre accepted a package of proposals Wednesday for the new union that would pour millions of dollars more into organizing and open up membership to non-union workers and other Canadians.
"This union will pose a serious challenge to the unrepresentative, unfair economic and political systems workers now find themselves caught in." said CAW president Ken Lewenza after the vote.
"This new union has the potential to change the way workers are represented in this country, bringing about stronger democracy in the workplace and greater community involvement."
Delegates stood up in favour of a package that would improve the two unions' governing structure, financing priorities, servicing levels and strategic direction while making a major effort to extend their influence into communities for social change.
More than 40 delegates spoke in favour of the new union and many of them used their remarks to underline the need to mobilize workers and Canadians so they can dump right-wing governments in Ottawa and several provinces.
Several delegates said the new union and other groups must reverse a corporate agenda that is relentlessly cutting wages, retiree benefits and jobs while governments stand idly by. No one in the crowd of union activists. spoke to formally voice their opposition.
CEP will hold its own convention in Quebec City in October. If CEP delegates approve the same package, the two unions would hold a founding convention next year where they would consider a constitution and new name.
Peter Kennedy, the CAW's national secretary treasurer, said the new unnamed union could grow into a major political force by attracting people outside traditional workplaces that would be able to push for a better society.
The proposed new CAW-CEP union wants to open its membership to the unemployed, retirees, students and other people with similar social interests in communities around the country.
Among other changes, the unions want to double their spending on organizing to a combined $50 million during the next five years to build "density" in some sectors and improve their bargaining position
"We're imagining what this union can be," said Kennedy, who worked on the package with a group of other leaders over several months..
"Do you want to change the world," asked Gaetan Menard, the CEP's secretary treasurer.
"Yes," responded jubilant delegates.
The two unions started formal talks earlier this year in an effort to reinvigorate the labour movement whose membership and bargaining power has declined steadily during the last quarter of a century.
"The old ways haven't worked," said Local 222 preisdent Chris Buckley, who also worked on the package.
Former CAW president Buzz Hargrove applauded his union's move and said the labour movement has to fight back now otherwise the lives of workers, retirees and other Canadians will continue to deteriorate economically.
"Everything we're fighting for is under attack, and this is a turning point," he yelled.
"We're going to be a force to be reckoned with," added another delegate from Halifax.
At one point, Lewenza jokingly asked if their was a nurse in the convention hall as speakers became more emotional and passionate in their remarks.
The CAW and CEP currently represent 190,000 and 130,000 workers respectively in about 20 sectors.
The Canadian Union of Public Employees is the biggest union in the country with more than 600,000 members.
Don't blame high
Canadian dollar for export woes, Carney tells CAW
Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of Canada,
speaks before the Canadian Auto Workers union at
the Constitutional and Collective Bargaining Convention
August 23, 2012
The high Canadian dollar isn't the biggest problem facing Canadian exports, Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney said Wednesday in his first-ever public address to organized labour.
The high loonie accounts for just 20 per cent of the country's uncompetitive position on global markets, Canada's top central banker said at a gathering of the Canadian Auto Workers union on Wednesday.
The rest is due to Canada's excessive reliance on the U.S. market, which continues to recover slowly from the financial crisis of 2008, and the fact Canada is selling too little to emerging markets in India and China, Canada's top banker said.
The Canadian Auto Workers have complained the higher dollar is hurting their efforts to battle the Detroit Three automakers' demands for concessions in current contract negotiations.
"We're being challenged like never before throughout manufacturing as a result of the Canadian dollar," said Chris Buckley, chief negotiator on the CAW contract with GM Canada. "The Canadian dollar makes our negotiations with GM, Chrysler and Ford extremely difficult."
Carney acknowledged Canada's exports remain below pre-recession levels saying its export performance has been the second worst among the G20 developed nations for the past decade.
"In short, our underperformance prior to the crisis was more a reflection of who we traded with than how effectively we did it," Carney said. "We are overexposed to the United States and underexposed to faster-growing emerging markets."
In the new global economy where manufacturers can move production to the lowest-cost country, he said, Canada's best hope is to invest in education and training its workers to the highest possible level.
He used the aerospace industry as an example, where he said Canada enjoys a global advantage in engineering and design.
CAW president Ken Lewenza said later part of the problem is Canadian companies continue to hoard more than half a billion dollars in cash, instead of investing it in retraining and expansion.
Carney's appearance at the convention was a rare meeting of Bay St. and Main St. He came to the convention at the invitation of CAW president Ken Lewenza.
Lewenza said he saw an opportunity to raise the status of working men and women as equal partners in the future of the economy.
As bank governor, Carney influences policies that directly affect the union's members, including setting interest rates and controlling inflation.
The two men are a study in contrasts.
Carney, 47, an economics graduate from Harvard and Oxford universities, spent 13 years at investment house Goldman Sachs before joining the bank in 2003 as deputy governor. As governor, the soft-spoken, mild-mannered Carney has gained a reputation as the voice of reason in a chaotic global financial system.
Lewenza, 57, started at Chrysler installing mufflers in 1972. He ran the powerful Windsor Auto workers' local for 14 years and was also chief negotiator for the CAW's master agreement with Chrysler, where he forged a reputation for militancy and hard-nosed tactics.
A fiery speaker who has slammed his share of bargaining tables, Lewenza has seen first-hand the impact of the economic firestorm that has swept the North American auto industry in recent years.
Despite their differences, the auto workers gave Carney a standing ovation both before and after his wide-ranging address.
At one point, Lewenza said he planned to give Carney union cards for his four daughters to sign, and Carney agreed to do so. The union is trying to capture new, younger members.
He also invited Carney at some future date to tour CAW retraining centres, such as the one set up to help Electro-Motive employees, and witness first-hand the problems faced by older laid-off workers trying to find work
High flying dollar
looms over auto talks
August 22, 2012
The last time the Canadian Auto Workers negotiated a contract with the Detroit Three automakers three years ago, the Canadian dollar was trading around 80 cents U.S.
Today, it's worth more than the U.S. greenback (it fell 0.13 of a cent to close trading Tuesday at $1.0104).
That's made Canadian auto workers appear less competitive relative to their U.S. counterparts, the auto makers say.
It's one of the reasons GM, Ford and Chrysler all say they need a better deal from Canada's 20,600 auto workers in this round of talks.
GM's chief executive Dan Akerson has even gone so far as to say Canada is now the most expensive place in the world to build cars.
CAW President Ken Lewenza has said that's a ridiculous statement.
The high-flying loonie hurts Canadian exports of all kinds, not just cars, particularly since so much of Canada's exports go to the U.S.
But when combined with concessions the United Auto Workers have granted in the U.S., Canada's auto workers looking increasingly out of whack.
Depending on how the figures are calculated, Canadian labour costs are on average $2.50 to $10 an hour higher than in U.S. auto plants, according to the Centre for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich. (The difference depends on which auto makers are being compared and whether legacy costs, such as retirees' benefits, are included in the calculation.)
Ford of Canada maintains its all-in labour costs are $79 in Canada compared to just $64 in the U.S. That's partly due to the UAW's decision to accept a lower wage structure for new hires and profit-sharing in lieu of wage increases.
But the dollar doesn't help. That kind of gap — which the CAW disputes — didn't look as large when the loonie bottomed out at 62 cents U.S. in 2002.
The CAW says it's being unfairly blamed for a problem that's beyond its control. The Canadian dollar has soared in part because of higher global demand for oil, the country's image as a safe haven in troubled economic times and a corresponding decline in the U.S. dollar.
In fact, the loonie is currently overvalued and should be trading closer to 80 cents U.S., according to the Organisation for Economic Development and Co-operation.
Furthermore, Canadians' purchasing power is lower than Americans, the auto union's economist Jim Stanford notes. In other words, Canadians pay more to buy the same goods.
In any case, Stanford says what the auto makers lose on the production side they gain on imports into Canada because while about 80 per cent of the cars made in Canada are exported to other markets, about 80 per cent of the cars bought in Canada are imported.
(Each auto plant specializes in a few makes and models so the rest are imported.)
Indeed, many cars are priced higher in Canada than in the U.S. regardless of where they're made.
Instead of picking on Canadians, the CAW's Lewenza says, the U.S. auto makers should be focusing more of their attention on the problems in Europe, where they're losing billions of dollars.
In fact, the auto makers are over-capacity in Europe, partly due to the financial crisis in the Eurozone, but closing plants in highly unionized countries like Italy is a challenge.
For Canada's auto workers, the current round of contract negotiations isn't just how much they're paid, but whether they'll have a job in the future.
An increasingly global auto industry can pick and choose the cheapest places to make its products for sale around the world.
When the Detroit Three say Canada needs to become more competitive they're talking about where they're going to expand production.
A rising dollar doesn't just make labour costs look more expensive, it also increases the cost of investment.
Critics say Canadian policy makers could be doing more to bring the dollar down to more realistic levels.
The Bank of Canada could sell more Canadian dollars into foreign exchange markets, a strategy adopted recently by the central banks of Japan, Switzerland and Brazil to dampen their overvalued currencies, said Erin Weir, an economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
Or the Canadian government could raise taxes and royalties on the highly profitable resource sector to make it less attractive to foreign investors and thus dampen demand for Canadian dollars, Weir said.
The $15.1 billion bid by China national offshore oil company, CNOOC, for Canada's strategically important oil sands player, Nexen, is just the latest example, he said.
Mike Moffatt, an economist with the University of Western Ontario's Richard Ivey School of Business, disagrees.
"There's nothing wrong with having a higher dollar. We just have to recognize there are winners and losers. And one of the losers is clearly Canadian manufacturing.
"There are a lot of winners, too," Moffatt adds. "We're all wealthier. Our dollars go further when we purchased goods from other countries, whether they're goods or equipment or machinery."
Indeed, Canadian companies have been investing large sums in just the sort of technology and equipment that will ultimately make them more competitive in the long term, he says.
But will that create more of the kinds of relatively highly paid, low skilled jobs the auto industry used to generate?
In recent years, auto production has been growing faster in Mexico and the lower-wage southern U.S. than in Canada.
CAW says they want to share
Detroit Three automakers' profits
August 15, 2012
As Canada's first auto talks in four years got underway, CAW president Ken Lewenza issued a clear warning to the auto makers – stop asking for concessions.
Canada's 24,000 auto workers deserve to share in the gains the auto makers have made since 2009 when a multi-million dollar government bailout and worker concessions helped keep a struggling industry in business, he said.
"The companies have profited because of our members' sacrifices. They have no economic or ethical right to demand further concessions," Lewenza told a press conference Tuesday at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Toronto.
The CAW is holding its first formal meetings this week with each of the Detroit Three auto makers, General Motors, Chrysler and Ford, in what some have described as the most crucial auto talks in years.
At stake are the wages of some of the country's highest paid industrial workers, along with the future of auto industry investment in Canada, a key driver of Ontario's economy.
GM Canada opened the talks Tuesday morning saying it wants to cut its hourly labour costs in Canada, Lewenza said.
While the company has yet to make specific proposals, Lewenza said, "they made multiple demands in multiple areas that we would consider concessionary."
GM's U.S. chief executive Dan Ackerson has described Canada as the most expensive place in the world to build cars.
GM Canada recently announced plans to close an older assembly line in Oshawa and move some of that production to a lower cost facility in the U.S.
The company declined to comment on its demands saying only that "the North American auto industry today faces extremely challenging competitive conditions."
Ford of Canada will also be seeking more "overall labour cost competitiveness" both to protect its existing investment in Canada and also win new business, an official close to the talks said later.
Lewenza said Canada's higher pay rates are offset by the higher profits the auto makers earn on vehicle sales here. The cost of living in Canada is higher, and the Canadian dollar is overvalued by 20 per cent relative to the U.S. greenback, a problem that can't be solved in labour negotiations, Lewenza argued.
He added the union wants to work with the auto makers to make Canada's plants among the world's most productive. But it can't go back to its membership seeking more concessions, not when the companies have returned to profitability.
His members want to win back things like the Christmas bonus they gave up in 2009 to help GM and Chrysler avert bankruptcy, he said. The union also gave up several dollars per hour in pay, agreed to a four-year wage freeze, lost bonuses and time off, while retirees gave up pension indexing.
While he said he doesn't expect to regain all of the losses, the union can't agree to any further concessions given the companies are now profitable.
"One way or another our members have to make some progress," he said. He added the union would not agree to a U.S.-style two-tier wage system that would see new hires accept a lower pay grid.
Lewenza said it was too soon to say which auto maker the union will pick to negotiate a master agreement, which becomes the blueprint for the other companies.
The target last time, in 2008, was Ford. Ford is also looking at improving its overall labour-cost competitiveness in Canada, a senior official said Tuesday.
Lewenza said he's hoping to have a deal in place before the current contract expires Sept. 17. Bargaining will resume after the CAW's constitutional and collective bargaining conference ends Aug. 24.
The talks come amid strong growth in auto sales so far this year as pent up post-recession demand fuels purchases of newer, more fuel-efficient vehicles, a new report shows.
For the first six months, North America posted a double-digit increase in car sales, lifting purchases to the highest level since 2007, according to a global auto report by Scotiabank released Tuesday.
Light vehicle sales in North American have jumped 13 per cent so far this year.
Canadian auto sales are also beating expectations boosting the bank's 2012 forecast to 1.68 million units, the second highest annual total on record.
CAW set to open auto talks
Big Three in Toronto
August 14, 2012
The Canadian Auto Workers union is set to open contract talks with the Detroit Three auto makers this week, marking the official start of what could be the most challenging negotiations in years.
The union that represents about 24,000 auto workers in Canada has announced it will open a series of meetings with General Motors, Ford and Chrysler starting Tuesday in Toronto.
At stake are the wages of some of the country's highest paid industrial workers, along with the future of auto industry investment in Canada, a key economic driver for the province of Ontario.
The Canadian union, which made concessions during the government bailout in 2009 of a then struggling auto industry is hoping to play catch-up now that U.S. auto sales are recovering and the Detroit Three are back in the black.
Canada's auto industry, including Toyota, Honda and other car makers, has swung from a $1.5 billion loss in 2009 to an expected profit of $1.5 billion this year, the Conference Board of Canada estimated in June.
Despite this, the U.S. auto makers will be seeking concessions that bring Canadian wage rates more in line with their American plants.
"The Detroit Three have made it extremely clear that labour costs in Canada must be competitive with labour costs in the U.S. if the companies are going to invest in their Canadian plants," said Tony Faria, an auto industry expert at the University of Windsor.
This week's initial meetings at the Sheraton Centre in Toronto will give the bargaining teams a chance to lay out their positions. Full bargaining will begin Aug. 27 after the CAW's constitutional and collective bargaining conference. Closer to Labor Day, the CAW will pick one of the Big Three to negotiate a master agreement, which becomes the blueprint for the other companies.
The target last time, in 2008, was Ford.
The contract expires Sept. 17.
A key issue in the talks will be Canadian auto workers' wage rates.
The Canadian auto workers acknowledge its members make more than their U.S. counterparts -- on average $6 an hour, or $64 versus $58 an hour, including wages and benefits.
The United Auto Workers agreed last year to give up annual wage increases in favour of bonuses tied to the companies' financial performance. American workers also agreed to a two-tier wage structure that sees new hires start at lower rates.
The CAW, which split from its U.S. parent in 1985, has rejected both strategies though union president Ken Lewenza has recently softened his tone, Faria said.
A source close to Ford also recently indicated the auto maker is looking to be creative.
There are other ways the auto makers can cut costs, Faria noted, such as lowering the Canadian starting rate from 70 per cent of full pay to 60 per cent, or reducing the number of skilled trades on the plant floor.
The wage gap wasn't as noticeable before the Canadian dollar soared to par with the U.S. greenback in 2007, a fact the auto makers say they can't ignore
"We'll see whether we can get a solution on the table that makes sense given the economic environment and the differences between Canada and the United States on manufacturing costs," Chrysler Group CEO Sergio Marchionne said on a recent conference call to discuss financial results.
"When we built the plants in Canada, the exchange rate was materially different than it is today," Dan Akerson, GM chief executive officer said in June. "As a result, and the CAW knows this, building a car in Canada is the most expensive place to build a car in the world right now."
Labour rates aren't the only factor in future auto industry investment. Government incentives also play a role.
Canadian and Ontario taxpayers provided $10.5 billion in a historic bailout of the auto industry, which was on the verge of collapse following the U.S. financial crisis a year earlier. Including concessions from workers, the rescue package came to $14.4 billion.
For now, GM and Chrysler are committed to ensuring a certain percentage of their North American production takes place in Canada, a condition of the bailouts.
Chrysler is still well above its commitments while GM is close to falling below their limits.
Those commitments expire in 2016.
gear up for talks
Aug 13, 2012
The Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) union, which represents workers at Chrysler's Brampton assembly plant, will officially kick off contract talks with the Detroit "Big Three" automakers tomorrow (Aug. 14) in Toronto.
The CAW will hold separate meetings, starting with General Motors Canada and then Chrysler, followed by face-to-face sessions with Ford on Wednesday.
The CAW represents 24,000 members at Chrysler, Ford and General Motors and will aim, along with the employers, to strike new three-year agreements for workers.
Wages and the desire on the part of automakers to reduce production costs will be major hurdles to an agreement this time around.
Hurling the first shot, Ford, General Motors and Chrysler say Canada is now the most expensive place in the world to assemble vehicles, due largely to the recent strength of the Canadian dollar.
In contrast, the union wants its members to share in the relative prosperity of the automakers after agreeing to freezes on pay and benefits in the past few years.
Full bargaining won't start until after the CAW's constitutional and collective bargaining convention in Toronto, slated from Aug. 20 to 24. The union is expected to choose a strike target around Labour Day weekend.
Chrysler employs 3,500 assembly workers at its Brampton Assembly Plant, as well as 4,500 workers in Windsor and 300 in Etobicoke.
CAW: Union gaining ground
at Ontario Honda plant
August 10, 2012
Canadian Auto Workers President Ken Lewenza says his labour group is drawing closer to organizing workers at a Honda assembly plant in Ontario, WardsAuto reports, while efforts to get inside two Toyota manufacturing sites are moving more slowly.
"We're active in Honda, not so active in Toyota," Lewenza told WardsAuto in an interview. "We're getting some enthusiastic and strong support, but we're not there yet."
CAW starts contract talks with General Motors, Ford and Chrysler in September. The outcome of those negotiations could dictate the union's momentum in organizing the two Japanese automakers' workers.
As with U.S. counterpart Bob King, president of the United Auto Workers union, Lewenza has his eye on bolstering union membership rolls by organizing so-called Japanese transplants building cars and trucks in Canada.
And not unlike King, Lewenza says he faces "very anti-union employers putting a lot of resources and time into keeping the union out."
Workers at Honda's Alliston, Ont., assembly plant, which builds the Honda Civic and CR-V and Acura MDX and ZDX cross/utility vehicles, were recently provided a company handout showing that their wage is on par with the Detroit Three automakers that have production facilities in the region, the website said.
However, the CAW argues Honda's wage calculations fail to consider items such as lower-paid contract workers at Alliston and include full bonuses not every worker receives.
"When they are doing that in a very concerted way, you know we are getting (Honda's) attention," Lewenza says.
Beyond winning comparable wages between the transplants and Detroit Three in Canada, which Lewenza doubts would exist if the CAW were not representing workers at the GM, Ford and Chrysler factories, Lewenza says he seeks a common understanding of the competitive landscape between labour and management.
"We're all in this together," he says. "We're competitors, but if everyone is concentrating on wages, they're going to go down."
Weaker wages create a "race to the bottom," where multinational corporations see no obligation to the communities where they operate, Lewenza says.
Honda officials did not return calls seeking comment on the organizing efforts at Alliston, said the website.
The upcoming talks with the Detroit Three are seen as pivotal for CAW, which tinkered with its payroll structure during the industry crisis in 2009 just as the UAW did to bring all-in labour costs down to the level of transplants in order to receive government bailout money.
Since then, the Canadian dollar has strengthened and Canada has become the most expensive place to build vehicles, automakers say.
Lewenza would like the Canadian government to deflate the value of its dollar to make the region more competitive with countries such as Mexico, which has seen its auto industry grow in recent years while Canada's has shrunk.
Winning new union members would give the CAW, which represents some 25,000 workers at the Detroit automakers' factories, greater bargaining power.
Toyota operates a pair of Ontario assembly plants in Woodstock and Cambridge, where Lewenza says organizing efforts have yet to gain traction.
CAW, CEP present
merger plan but leave
divisive issues open
By Allison Martell, Reuters
August 2, 2012
TORONTO - Two major Canadian unions unveiled a formal plan to create the country's biggest private-sector union on Wednesday, but left open which political party they would support, who would lead the new organization and what it would be called.
The Canadian Auto Workers and Communications, Energy and Paperworkers want to join forces to form a 300,000-strong union that would span growing resource sectors such as Alberta's oil sands as well as central Canada's shrinking manufacturing economy.
The initiative is part of a strategy to shore up unions in the face of growing pressure on labor to make concessions, and a federal government increasingly willing to intervene in labor disputes, often to the benefit of management.
"Quite frankly, it will have the ability to fight," CEP President Dave Coles said as the two unions released the blueprint for their new organization, which members of both organizations will consider later this year.
The union would devote 10 percent of its revenue to organizing, up from 2 to 7 percent at CAW and 8 percent at CEP, pointing to a budget of about C$50 million over five years.
CAW and CEP will put the plan to delegates at their respective conventions in August and October. The blueprint cannot be amended, and a rejection by either membership could scuttle the scheme.
PARTY AFFILIATION PUT OFF
Canada has a relatively strong tradition of union membership and official statistics show that Canadian private-sector workers are more than twice as likely to belong to a union than their U.S. counterparts.
But union membership is falling as the manufacturing sector shrinks - CAW membership is down almost 30 percent in the last six years - and the Conservative federal government has stepped in several times to pass legislation that forces unionized workers back to work.
"If unions do not change, and quickly, we will steadily follow U.S. unions into continuing decline," the two unions said in a discussion paper earlier this year. "We must reverse the erosion of our membership, our power, and our prestige."
The unions' 45-page blueprint lays out a committee structure, a rough budget and priorities for the union - for example, looking for a way to represent contract workers, students and the unemployed.
The new organization won't decide on a leader or party affiliation - if any - until its first convention sometime in 2013. That means they will not resolve one of their biggest differences until after the merger.
CEP is formally affiliated with the left-leaning New Democratic Party, and in Quebec it supports the separatist Bloc Quebecois and Parti Quebecois. The CAW is more flexible, occasionally backing Liberal Party candidates.
Coles expects the new organization will opt to back the NDP outside Quebec.
"I am very confident that there will be a very positive outcome on the floor around the debate, of support for the NDP, at least outside of Quebec," he told Reuters in an interview.
CAW members will outnumber their CEP counterparts by well over 50,000 in the combined organization, but the NDP, which replaced the Liberals as the official opposition in 2011, may now be well-placed to woo unattached members.
"It's up to our members to decide," said Peter Kennedy, the CAW's co-chair on the joint committee that drafted the blueprint. "Whether or not we affiliate directly to a political party is a convention decision, and I think it's absolutely proper to leave that in the hands of the delegates."
Delegates will also select a president. Both Coles and CAW National President Ken Lewenza have been front and center through the merger process, and asked about succession on Wednesday, neither said whether they would run.
CAW, formed when Canadian locals split away from the United Auto Workers in 1985, now represents workers at dozens of companies across the country. Its members work at Air Canada Inc , Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd and Canadian National Railway Co as well as at the Canadian units of Detroit's Big Three automakers.
CEP, itself the product of a series of mergers, organizes in the energy industry, including Western Canada's expanding oil sands, as well as telecom giant Bell Canada among many other companies
When Hudak Says
"Flexible" Labour, He
Really Means "Cheap"
Sid Ryan - July 20, 2011
When Hudak Says "Flexible" Labour, He Really Means "Cheap"
This is part one of a three-part reply to Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak's series of HuffPost blogs about his party's "Path to Prosperity" white paper.
Since when was the middle class the enemy of Ontario's economic strength? It seems impossible to have a conception of prosperity that doesn't include the collective well-being and livelihood of the families of average income earners.
Yet according to Tim Hudak's white paper on "flexible labour markets," Ontario won't prosper until companies are allowed to convert workers' wages into shareholder gains. No mention, of course, how he will deliver on the promise that these profits will "trickle down" to everyday workers.
The paper lays out the Tories' new platform on workers' rights and unveils an economic scheme for the province that is centered on reduced public services and cheap labour. To accomplish this, Hudak plans to dismantle generations of hard-fought workers' rights to collectively organize through labour unions.
The main thrust of his argument is that trade unions have outlived their usefulness and that middle-class wages and benefits are driving employers (predominantly in the manufacturing sector) to pull up stakes and take their business south of the border, where they have their pick of anti-union jurisdictions where skilled workers earn little more than minimum wage.
In a recent blog post in support of his paper, Hudak concedes that "over time, unions have contributed to developing Ontario's middle class and to improving safety in the workplace," but he then calls on readers to overlook these "important gains" and recognize that the "world has changed."
Instead, he suggests, what today's workers really need is "flexibility."
In the future Hudak dreams for Ontarians, workers will shuffle from one low-wage, precarious job to another, competing with each other in a race to the bottom. This is what he means by "flexibility" and it is the path to poverty, not prosperity.
You see, rather than offering a plan for creating jobs and rebuilding our economy, Hudak simply blames Ontario workers for expecting middle class wages and financial security for their families. His paper celebrates research that suggests net manufacturing labour costs between the United States and China will "converge" in 2015.
Given that the average manufacturing wage rate in China was the equivalent of $3.10 per hour in 2010, compared to $22.30 in the U.S, it seems hard to imagine that such a yawning wage gap could be overcome in a mere five years. Would this mean that Chinese wages are finally catching up with those in the U.S.? Hardly. While there has been some wage growth in China in response to growing labour unrest (and a series of worker suicides), the real story here lies in the dramatic decline of manufacturing wages in the U.S.
Aircraft manufacturer Boeing has deliberately opened new plants in low-wage U.S. jurisdictions. They pay their employees an average US $14/hour -- half the rate paid at its Washington plant where workers have fought to maintain decent pay and benefits through union membership. Likewise, in 2011, Boeing posted record profit rates -- more than 20 per cent higher than even the previous year when the company's net income had soared by over 152 per cent.
When Caterpillar workers at Electro-Motive Diesel in London, Ontario rejected a 50 per cent wage cut, the company immediately announced that it would move the plant to Muncie, Indiana where the wages range from US$12 to about US$14.50 per hour -- just over half the average 2010 manufacturing wage rate in the U.S. and much less than half the wages earned by the workers in London, Ontario. In 2011, Caterpillar posted a nearly 60 per cent increase in fourth quarter profit and the highest yearly growth rate since 1947.
Rather than challenging a corporation that shut down Canadian operations in pursuit of cheap labour, Hudak was silent in the Legislative Assembly. Now he is trying to imitate U.S. legislators who are passing laws to prevent workers from collectively organizing and defending their interests against profit-hungry domestic and multinational corporations.
This has facilitated a downward trend in U.S. wages, not just among union members but also among all workers. As noted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the real median weekly earnings of U.S. wage and salary workers fell by almost two per cent between 2010 and 2011. But this should be no surprise. As Indiana's Commerce Secretary Dan Hasler stated plainly to the Wall Street Journal: "Our goal in Indiana is really pretty simple: It is to help companies improve profitability."
This is the bold new mantra of Hudak's Conservatives: "Flexible labour" is cheap labour. And in this respect, he differs little from his federal counterpart Stephen Harper, who, as Prime Minister, has presided over an expanded Temporary Foreign Worker Program, allowing employers greater leeway to import people from all over the world with precious little obligation for their well-being. When the work is done, or if the worker is maimed on the job, they are literally disposed of -- sent back to their home countries with nary a thought.
Most recently, the Harper government gave employers the green light to pay migrant workers between 5 and 15 per cent less than the average wage for that occupation.
And lest we think this could never happen to "Canadian" workers, the Harper government has already signaled its intent to push workers with active Employment Insurance claims into jobs earmarked for Temporary Foreign Workers, including those jobs paying five to 15 per cent less.
Cheap, flexible, and disposable: this is the Conservatives' shared agenda, from Stephen Harper to Tim Hudak. Their plan is hardly original. It is another variation on the race to the bottom where jobs are permanently in flux, wages are low and the social safety net has all but disappeared -- yet corporations make out like bandits. The Conservative vision for lean government and labour flexibility represents a fundamentally different future from the one most Ontarians expect -- and deserve.
CORRECTION: The post originally stated the average manufacturing wage rate in China was $3.10/hour in 2012, but has been corrected to read 2010.
Part 2: Hudak and
Harper Attempt to
Silence their Critics
From Queen's Park to Parliament Hill, if there is one lesson that Conservatives have learned from Indiana, Alabama, Louisiana and other states where "right-to-work" laws have decimated worker representation and driven down wages, it is that attacking unions is also the best way to silence your critics. It has become standard training for every new conservative strategist: you cannot implement a cheap labour economy without neutralizing opposition.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has led the way by attacking the finances of any group or individual that dared to criticize his policies: de-funding church-based charities and immigrant advocacy organizations, smearing environmental groups and firing outspoken public servants. And now, Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak is taking a page from the Harper playbook by attacking unions.
Because unions have an independent source of funding they are far less susceptible to the state-sanctioned bullying and financial blackmail regularly meted out by governments in collusion with the corporate elite. By undermining dues collection at source, Hudak hopes to undermine workers' ability to oppose his agenda.
Last month, Hudak released his party's white paper on "Flexible Labour Markets" and, in doing so, opened up a new attack on generations of hard-fought workers' rights. In seeking to repeal the Rand Formula, Hudak opens an affront on workers' rights that even former premier Mike Harris was unwilling to touch. The Rand Formula is a basic tenet of workplace democracy that was secured nearly 60 years ago to ensure that all those in the workplace who benefit from the improved wages and benefits achieved by the union make the same financial contribution. While the law allows workers not to join a union, they are required to contribute to charity an amount equivalent to the dues paid by union members.
For more than two centuries, working people have pooled their pennies to form unions and then shared their resources with other workers at home and around the world. Far from examples of "losing focus" as Hudak suggests, union members are proud of their record in support of human rights internationally. Indeed, as Ontario's workforce has become more diverse -- and more international -- these traditions of solidarity have grown stronger.
For union members, sharing resources also means giving to charities. As only one of numerous examples, in 2011 working people across Canada contributed more than 50 per cent of the United Way's $500 million budget, through its partnership with the Canadian Labour Congress. In this light, Hudak's attack on unions is also an assault on all those who depend on the services provided by the United Way and other worthy charities.
But there can be little doubt that what really offends Hudak is the fact that union members pool their resources to participate in municipal, provincial and federal elections. When voters pulled the rug out from under Hudak's 2011 electoral campaign, he blamed Harris-weary union members for campaigning against him and running television ads to expose his agenda.
It is no coincidence that Hudak released his 20 page attack on basic workers' rights immediately after an Ontario court struck down -- for the third time -- his legal challenge against the Working Families Coalition ads. A defiant Conservative MPP, Lisa MacLeod (Nepean -- Carleton), told reporters: "we will continue to fight this in the court of public opinion." And fight they did -- issuing their call for all workers to be stripped of their collective rights.
Stripped to its core, Hudak's vision is not about "modernizing" the labour market in the interests of prosperity for all. He seeks to usher in an era of permanent uncertainty for all working people to the overwhelming benefit of corporations. To accomplish this task, Hudak must neutralize his opponents in every possible arena, from the workplace to elections.
Unionized workers may be the first on his hit-list, but rest assured, you or someone you care about is next in the line of fire.
Part 3: Without
Corporations, Tim Hudak Wouldn't Be Elected
Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak's recent white paper, "Flexible Labour Markets," has been the centre of much controversy and debate.
Hudak trumps up a lot of nonsense and feigned concern about union democracy and transparency, but in the end offers little more than selfish individualism in opposition. That his hostility towards the union principles of social cooperation and compromise for the greater good puts him at odds with the basis of Canadian democracy -- from elections to tax collection -- appears to be lost on him.
However, the depth of his hypocrisy is perhaps best illustrated by his total lack of concern for fairness and transparency when it comes to his corporate backers. According to a recent study of Ontario elections, between 2004 and 2011, over 40 per cent of Progressive Conservatives' funds ($26 million) came from corporations.
By contrast, the New Democratic Party received a paltry $666,000 from corporations. Overall, corporate contributions comprised nearly 40 per cent of all election financing while union contributions made up a mere five per cent. And in a testament to the extent of internal democracy within the labour movement, it is worth noting that unions donated money to parties of all political stripes, including a handful who pitched in to the Progressive Conservatives.
In the last provincial election, the Conservatives received donations from over 500 corporations, including more than 40 numbered companies whose dealings we may never know, since there is no obligation for private corporations to reveal financial information. To add insult to injury, corporations enjoy a tax rebate that is more than double the tax rebate available to individuals, and corporations are allowed to carry forward unused tax credits for up to 20 years!
As individuals, wealthy CEOs and bankers -- along with their respective spouses and sometimes even children and extended family -- regularly make the maximum possible contributions to their preferred party or candidate. Such largesse is rarely possible for low and modest income individuals; for many workers the only campaign contributions they will ever be able to afford are the ones they make collectively through their union.
Clearly, Hudak's vitriol toward unions has little to do with protecting the interests of individuals and even less to do with protecting the integrity of our democratic processes. It is the modest efforts of union members to counter the influence of corporations and the wealthy that provokes the ire of Hudak and his followers.
You see, unions are nothing more and nothing less than the sum of its members. Any organization comprised of human beings is subject to the same fallibilities. That is precisely why democratic union processes are so critical. As in any form of representative democracy, union members use conventions, general meetings and other formal gatherings to hold their leaders accountable -- and to elect new ones.
Members create new policies as necessary, adopt campaigns, review the allocation of financial resources and accept audited financial statements as already required by law. The members themselves debate and decide on the political priorities of their union; this is a basic democratic right.
What Hudak simply can't wrap his head around -- and what has provoked his venomous campaign to try to clamp down on union campaigns during elections -- is the fact that working people aren't buying his pro-corporate political agenda and they invested their energies and hard-earned union dues to convince their neighbours to vote against the Hudak Conservatives.
Working people have long memories that harken back to when Hudak served under premier Mike Harris' conservative government when it dismantled social programs, spiked tuition fees, gutted workers' rights and turned provincial surpluses into a deep deficit. It is, therefore, pretty unsurprising that working people would pull their votes from the provincial Tories who they see as working against their welfare; just as it is no surprise when the corporate sector pulls out the stops to bankroll a Tory platform that promises to fuel their shareholder profits through deep government tax cuts. That's politics.
But when Hudak tables a plan to undermine union membership, gut dues collection, and limit the political campaigns that workers undertake through their unions -- while continuing to give corporations and the wealthiest Ontarians carte blanche to buy influence with his party -- that's duplicitous.
What Hudak forgets is that, regardless of the prevailing laws, working people have always come together to resist exploitation and to make working conditions better for the next generation of workers. That's why -- no matter what -- union members will continue to work hard, not only to address workplace issues, but also to engage in the fight for permanent, progressive legal changes so that their children will have decent jobs and better lives.
For all these reasons, I am confident that -- like they did eight months ago -- the majority of Ontarians will reject Hudak's politics of division, and instead choose to make Ontario fair for everyone.
Ford to cut labor costs
at Canada sites
Automaker to work with CAW as rising currency hikes costs
By Bryce G. Hoffman
The Detroit News
July 18, 2012
Ford Motor Co. says it will have to work with the Canadian Auto Workers to find a way to reduce labor costs in Canada so it can ensure its factories there are considered for future products.
"We're really looking at this round of negotiations as an opportunity to improve the competitiveness of the Canadian operations," said a senior Ford of Canada official, who spoke to The Detroit News on the condition of anonymity. "Canada has higher labor costs than anywhere else we do business. It's not sustainable."
According to Ford, the base wage for its 4,500 assembly workers at three factories in Canada is $34 an hour, compared with $28 an hour in the United States. For years, the gap has been masked by favorable currency exchange rates and legacy health care costs that no longer apply.
CAW President Ken Lewenza has acknowledged that a labor cost gap exists, though he argues that it is much narrower when all costs are factored into the equation.
"We have been meeting with all three companies and trying to define active costs," Lewenza told The News in a recent interview. "Where we're apart is because of the rising Canadian dollar. We don't have any control over that."
A stronger Canadian currency raises the cost of Canadian labor.
And Lewenza says Ford's calculations of labor costs do not take into account the productivity and quality of Canadian factories.
With good reason, Ford says.
"There really is no productivity or quality advantage," the company source said.
"We have a global environment — and it's very clear to us what it takes to compete in this industry at this time," the Ford person said. "It will be really important for us to help the CAW understand what their role is from a labor perspective to secure and sustain operations in Canada for the future."
But Ford is open to creative solutions. Its bargaining team will not be coming to the table with any "firm positions" other than improving competitiveness. That is unlike Chrysler Group LLC, which has said it will be looking for a deal similar to the one it negotiated with the United Auto Workers here last fall — a deal that replaced cost-of-living wage increases with a new profit-sharing formula.
"It's really about how we make progress on that labor cost gap in a way that works for everybody and works for Canada," the source said. "What works for the U.S. and the UAW may not work for the CAW."
Formal negotiations are scheduled to begin Aug. 15 at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Toronto.
CAW seeks commitment
from Big 3 in new pact
By Bryce G. Hoffman and Melissa Burden
The Detroit News
July 11, 2012
Canadian Auto Workers President Ken Lewenza is calling on Detroit's automakers to make new product commitments to Canadian factories as part of upcoming negotiations on a new national contract. But he acknowledges that a strong looney is making that a harder case to plead.
"The first thing we will try to do is get the investment necessary to secure future product," he told The Detroit News. "We also know we don't have a lot of space. The Canadian dollar is creating a little bit of a challenge."
The looney is trading near parity with the U.S. dollar. That means American automakers are paying Canadian auto workers a lot more than they were when the current contract was negotiated in 2009.
That agreement expires on Sept. 17, and formal negotiations are not expected to begin until August. But Lewenza said informal discussions are already under way with General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC.
All three automakers have made it clear that wage and benefit increases are not on the table. Instead, they want the CAW to accept the same sort of profit-sharing deals they negotiated last fall with the United Auto Workers.
"The Canadian system needs to be as competitive as the American side," Fiat-Chrysler Chairman and CEO Sergio Marchionne told reporters earlier this year. "They are not today."
CAW members make about $60 an hour in wages and benefits, while Chrysler workers in the United States receive about $50 an hour, according to the Center for Automotive Research.
Marchionne has said wage and benefit increases are off the table this year. Instead, he wants CAW members to embrace the U.S. model that provided lump-sum payments when workers achieved specific productivity and profitability goals.
The CAW has historically opposed profit-sharing, and Lewenza said that has not changed.
"That argument is pretty consistent from all three companies. We've got the message," he said. "We are opposed to profit-sharing. But this is a time in our negotiating lives when you're going to have to be creative, you're going to have to be innovative and you can't ignore the realities around you."
And current exchange rates are creating some harsh realities.
Canada most expensive
Speaking to reporters before the company's annual shareholders' meeting last month, GM Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson said Canada is the most expensive place in the world to build a vehicle. Akerson's comments came just days after the company announced plans to close one line at its assembly plant in Oshawa, Ontario, in June 2013 — a move that puts about 2,000 Canadian auto jobs in jeopardy.
CAW Local 222 President Chris Buckley told The News the line closure was "offensive," given the concessions that workers and retirees were forced to make to help GM survive its recent near-death experience.
Those concessions were part of a broader bailout deal that included $9.5 billion in cash from the Canadian and Ontario governments. In exchange, GM made a series of product commitments to Canada — including the launch of five new vehicles and the introduction of a new Canadian-made hybrid — and promised to keep at least 16 percent of the company's North American production in the country through 2016.
"GM is committed to meeting its production targets as agreed to during the 2009 restructuring," GM spokeswoman Faye Roberts said in an email. She noted that closing the consolidated line in Oshawa would not keep the company from meeting its commitments.
Chrysler, which also received a bailout, paid back the Canadian government last year and says it is under no such restrictions.
GM is still partly owned by the Canadian and Ontario governments.
Ford, which did not take a bailout, said it is taking a hard look at its Canadian manufacturing footprint.
"When it comes to future investment, labor costs are one of the most important considerations. Labor costs at Ford of Canada need to become competitive now to sustain its manufacturing operations and to position the company for consideration for future investments," the Dearborn company said in a statement. "Ford is committed to working with the CAW to find innovative, unique-to-Canada solutions to improve the competitiveness of the Canadian operations while providing employees the opportunity to earn a good living. The 2012 agreement has the potential to either improve or erode Canada's labor cost competitive position."
CAW: We are competitive
Lewenza said most of his discussions with American automakers about competitiveness have been "one-sided."
"They're saying, 'You're not competitive anymore.' But they rarely talk about their retail success in Canada," he said. "We know how to measure ourselves against global competitors — and that doesn't just mean the United States. We still have an advantage because of our national health care program. We have better infrastructure and education. We still have some significant advantages."
But automakers say those advantages are not what they used to be.
In addition to less favorable exchange rates, the game-changing contract the UAW negotiated with Detroit's Big Three in 2007 — which transferred responsibility for hourly retiree health care from the companies to a union-run trust fund — went a long way toward closing the historic labor cost gap between the United States and Canada.
Since then, GM and Ford have closed factories and reduced their Canadian manufacturing capacity.
Chrysler has not, but it does plan to eliminate the Chrysler Town & Country, one of the two minivans it produces at its Windsor Assembly Plant, in 2014.
Two unions move closer to biggest merger in Canadian labour history
Tony Van Alphen
July 2, 2012
The two unions contemplating the biggest merger in Canadian labour history have moved significantly closer to reaching that goal.
A special committee of the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers (CEP) announced Friday they have reached agreement on structure, principles and financing, and are unanimously recommending the formation of a new union to their respective boards.
"The whole process is something like climbing Mount Everest," said committee co-chairman Peter Kennedy. "We've reached the first base camp. It's a critical point."
CAW and CEP leaders started discussing the formation of a new union late last year in an effort to become stronger and more relevant to workers as the labour movement struggles in difficult economic times. The CAW represents 195,000 members while the CEP has more than 110,000.
The executive boards of the two unions will consider the report and recommendation at meetings in early July. If they show support, delegates of the two unions will vote on it at separate conventions in August and October. Acceptance would lead to a founding convention next year.
The committee report recommends a 25-member national elected board with representation from all regions, major industries and workers of colour.
It calls for the invitation of new members who are in unorganized workplaces, unemployed and retired to broaden the union's appeal and build support in communities.
The report also says the new union must develop a brand and use better techniques in organizing and attracting members.
Furthermore, the report details numerous principles that will provide the framework of a constitution for the new union. If the boards and convention delegates approve them, working groups will then handle the issues of a formal constitution, operating procedures, a name and logo in preparation for the founding event.
Kennedy, who is also the CAW's secretary-treasurer, said the special committee received input from more than 1,000 people in meetings across the country during the last few months.
"There was a lot of debate and some of the meetings were intense," he said. "But there was a tremendous amount of goodwill among everyone. Ultimately, they know it's the right thing to do."
Tim Hudak's Tory vision for a
low-union, low-wage Ontario
July 1, 2012
By Cohn, Martin Regg
Remember the Caterpillar catastrophe? That London factory closing marked a low point for Ontario early in the new year.
No lives were lost, just the livelihoods of 460 skilled workers when they rejected a humiliating demand to halve their wages. They were locked out, then laid off when Caterpillar relocated to a low-wage, right-to-work state.
Now, Ontario's PC party is coming to Caterpillar's defence — by branding the victims as the villains. Yes, blame the union — because big labour can't see the Caterpillars marching.
That's the forward-looking vision you'll be hearing from Opposition Leader Tim Hudak, who has unveiled a radical anti-union agenda to help rebrand his putatively Progressive Conservative party: the end of unionism, replaced by a more "flexible" future.
Hudak eschews the loaded phrase, "right-to-work," which evokes an aggressive, Wisconsin-style anti-union movement. But make no mistake, this is a declaration of war against organized labour by a politician firing the starter's pistol in a race to the bottom.
Under his new Tory roadmap, Ontario will become a province where Caterpillars crush unions. A place where workers who still benefit from collective bargaining need not pay union dues — so that membership atrophies, money dries up, and the labour movement is disemboweled.
"The recent loss of the Caterpillar locomotive plant in London was just one example of Ontario's new reality," Hudak's latest policy paper declares ominously.
He relegates unions to the dustbin of history, comparing them to rotary phones and typewriters that have been overtaken by smartphones and touchpads. Best to unplug unions so as to placate Caterpillars — and please other predatory employers.
The Tory policy paper, Flexible Labour Markets, would undo the so-called Rand formula, the grand compromise that requires workers to pay union dues in a workplace where collective bargaining has raised their wages and improved conditions. Not even former Tory premier Mike Harris tried to unravel Rand.
Hudak is turning sharply right, and not by accident. He was flanked for this announcement by the most extreme right-wing member of his caucus — Randy Hillier, the zealous libertarian who once led the Ontario Landowners Association that resembles a rural Tea Party rump.
He boasts of being a former electrician, but revels in the role of Joe the Plumber. Hillier not only opposes union dues, his household didn't pay its full tax bill until the Canada Revenue Agency came calling — a disclosure he failed to make as an MPP. Now, the politician who flouts the rules wants to rewrite them for the rest of us.
Together, Hillier and Hudak make the specious argument that Ontario's declining manufacturing sector and rising unemployment, relative to other provinces, can be blamed on unions. Their analysis ignores the upheavals of globalization, the appreciation of the Canadian dollar, and the commodity booms that benefited other regions.
And it conveniently overlooks the historical reality that in Ontario's boom times, the private sector was far more heavily unionized than it is today. Competing against right-to-work states won't prepare Ontario's highly educated workforce for the high-tech, high-value jobs of tomorrow.
As a final sop to business, the Tories want to privatize workers' compensation by allowing private insurers to compete with the WSIB, leaving it as an "insurer of last resort" for the most risky (and costly) enterprises. First emasculate unions, then endanger the already precarious protections for injured workers.
These labour proposals are not so much thought provoking as deliberately provocative. Hudak is scapegoating organized labour when unionization rates are down.
His attack may well strike a chord with the Hillier wing of the party. But aligning himself with that anti-union streak won't resolve the deep-seated economic challenges facing all Ontarians.
Blaming labour for Ontario's lagging productivity and manufacturing setbacks, while ignoring the inertia of our business brain trust, only undermines his credibility — and the Progressive Conservative legacy
(**As Union Members we can't let this happen - We can all have a say at the ballot box)
RETIREE BOB ALLISON
December 4, 1933 - June 9, 2012
Retired Dec 1, 1996
28 Years Service
It is with great sadness that we inform you of the sudden
passing of Retiree Bob Allison on June 9, 2012.
Our Deepest Condolences go out to his family.
Funeral and visitation will be at
St Andrew's Funeral Home
8190 Dixie Road, Brampton
Visitation: Tuesday June 12 - 2 PM to 4PM
and 7 PM to 9 PM
Allison Robert (Bob) It is with much sadness that we announce the sudden passing of Bob Allison on June 9. With his late wife Dorothy (2005) he was the proud father of daughters Lynn and Laurie and twin sons Russell and the late Rob (2008). He is survived by his sister Ruth Trainor and his friend Shirley Lukala. Bob will be sorely missed by his eight grandchildren Allison, Joshua and James Alderton, Samantha and Callan McCorriston, Tyler Allison and Jacob and Connor Allison. Also by his sons-in-law Jeremy Alderton & Doug McCorriston, his daughter-in-law Jill Brennan- Allison and his many nieces and nephews.
Listening to Bob talk about the people he had met throughout his life made it seem like he knew everybody. From his years as a manager at various Dominion stores, his work at Ford Motor Company in Bramalea, his home away from home at Sand Lake, and from the years spent coaching girls' and women's softball, Bob could recall everyone he had ever met and tell stories that always brought a laugh.
Bob was a story teller. His laugh and humor filled any room he was in. Bob was hard not to notice; he was a big man with a big personality and will leave a big hole in all of our lives. We will miss his quick wit, the twinkle that was always in his eye and his larger than life presence. He was Bob.
Visitation to be held at the Andrews Community Funeral Centre (8190 Dixie Rd., Brampton N. of Steeles Ave. 905-456-8190) on Tuesday from 2-4 & 7-9 pm. A Celebration of Bob's Life will take place Wednesday June 13th, 2012 at 11:00 a.m. in the Chapel. Interment to follow at Brampton Memorial Gardens. If desired donations to the Canadian Cancer Society would be appreciated by the family.
Bob Allison sitting with Orville Shaw, Doug Berry and
Peter Zebedee following the May 2012 Retirees Meeting
Auto makers tell union wage hikes won't happen
Globe & Mail
June 10, 2012
The Detroit Three auto makers have fired an early salvo at their unionized Canadian work force, warning that they are determined to hold the line on wages and other fixed costs in contract negotiations that begin next month.
Each of the companies sent a letter to the Canadian Auto Workers asking the union to forego a small wage increase, known as cost of living adjustment (COLA), that went into effect this month. The auto makers want the workers to agree instead to lump-sum payments, and are warning that such automatic wage increases would further damage the competitive positions of their Canadian plants.
The auto makers' declarations offer a glimpse of their key goal in bargaining – holding down their hourly labour costs, one of the key fixed costs they can control. They also want wages to be more closely tied to profitability. That sets the stage for difficult bargaining, because the union is intent on raising wages and recovering some benefits they surrendered during the 2008-2009 auto crisis.
"One of GM's main objectives for 2012 bargaining is to ensure that we maintain our break-even point by not adding fixed costs," David Wenner, general director of labour relations of General Motors of Canada Ltd., told CAW head Ken Lewenza in his letter.
The union rejected the request to trade the COLA increase for lump-sum payments or bonuses, which means workers will get their first wage increase since 2007 – even though it's only 28 cents a hour on wages of about $32.
The companies' proposal frustrated Mr. Lewenza, who noted the union agreed to freeze cost-of-living adjustments – and base wage rates – until the final quarter of the cost-saving contracts it signed during the crisis.
Those agreements helped secure federal and Ontario contributions of about $14-billion to the bailouts of General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC.
Ford Motor Co. did not seek a bailout, but many of the cost-saving initiatives in the GM and Chrysler contracts were extended to Ford.
"That was part of the sacrifices and at the very first opportunity, they're looking at mechanisms to pay out differently or in some cases, which isn't in writing, eliminate it totally," Mr. Lewenza said in an interview.
In a sign of how far apart the union and the companies are even before bargaining that covers about 18,000 employees starts next month, they can't agree on the size of the gap in all-in hourly labour costs between Canadian and U.S. plants.
Ford's Canadian plants were operating at a $15 an hour disadvantage to U.S. plants, Michael Hyland, Ford Motor Co. of Canada Ltd. labour affairs manager said in his letter to the CAW.
Restoring the COLA payment will help increase that gap to $30 an hour by the end of 2012, Mr. Hyland said.
"It is the company's opinion that together we must do all that we can to reduce this disparity and restore some of Canada's cost competitiveness, not erode it further," he wrote.
But the $30-an-hour figure is "absolutely ridiculous," Mr. Lewenza said.
The figures for all-in labour costs are closely guarded secrets at the companies, but the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich., pegs Chrysler factory costs at $52 (U.S.) an hour in the United States, those of GM at $56 and Ford's at $58.
Costs at Chrysler factories in Canada are $10 (Canadian) higher than they are in the United States and a COLA clause in a new four-year contract would add another $4.80 to the gap, said a letter to Mr. Lewenza from Todd Bested, Chrysler Canada Inc.'s director of labour relations.
Sergio Marchionne, chief executive officer of Chrysler, has been the most vocal among executives about Canadian costs, but each of the companies wants the CAW to shift compensation to pay based on company profit, rather than annual percentage increases.
The CAW has rejected pay based on profit.
GM to close one
of Oshawa plants
Globe & Mail
June 1, 2012
The Canadian Auto Workers union squeezed five more years of production than originally scheduled out of a car assembly plant in Oshawa, Ont., but received the official news Friday that the factory will close next year, eliminating as many as 1,500 jobs.
General Motors Co. told the union the plant will cease production next June, five years later than the original closing date of 2008. That 2008 date was the time frame set out in 2005 when GM first announced the closing in one of a series of plant shutdowns and job cuts it made before the biggest restructuring of all when it went into chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2009.
"This is absolutely sickening," said Chris Buckley, president of CAW local 222, which represents workers at the two GM car plants in Oshawa.
The plant produces the Chevrolet Impala mid-sized sedan and the Chevrolet Equinox crossover.
Impala production will shift to the neighbouring flex plant that also produces Chevrolet Camaro, Buick Regal and Cadillac XTS cars, which means some workers whose jobs will disappear in the plant that's closing could be hired on next door if that plant it adds a third shift. About 2,000 people work in what is known as the consolidated line and will have first crack at the third shift jobs, but GM would not confirm Friday that it will add a third shift at the remaining plant, Mr. Buckley said.
If a third shift is added, employment in what is known as the flexible plant would rise to about 2,500 from 2,000 now, he said.
But that means direct layoffs of at least 1,500 people, plus thousands more at suppliers.
The Chevrolet Equinox crossovers that were being shipped to Oshawa from Ingersoll, Ont., for final assembly will instead be built at the company's former Saturn plant in Spring Hill, Tenn., which GM is reopening after closing it when it killed off Saturn during the chapter 11 restructuring.
The Spring Hill plant is reopening because the United Auto Workers agreed to allow the company to hire a large number of workers at wages of about $14 (U.S.) an hour and minimal benefits. That compares with about $32 (Canadian) in hourly wages in Oshawa.
The CAW calls such wage-cutting a race to the bottom and has stood fast against wage reductions.
If the Canadian union agreed to such cuts, it would soon be asked to match the $6 an hour Mexican workers are being paid, Mr. Buckley argued Friday.
He added that workers in Oshawa and other GM and Detroit Three auto maker operations in Canada made sacrifices in 2009 when GM Canada's parent company went into chapter 11 protection, but the Canadian unit stayed out of protection under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act.
The redesigned version of the Impala will also be assembled at a plant in the Detroit suburb of Hamtramck, Mich., beginning next year.
CAW president Ken Lewenza said there's a faint hope of keeping the plant open if the current recovery in the market continues and GM finds it needs to boost capacity, as Ford Motor Co. has discovered in recent months.
The closing is the final piece of GM's pre-bankruptcy restructuring, which included shutdowns of two other large Canadian plants that eliminated about 5,000 jobs—a full-sized pickup truck plant in Oshawa that closed in 2009 and a transmission making factory in Windsor, Ont., that closed in 2010.
(September 23, 1969 - May 29, 2012)
It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of Kim Clout past CAW Local 584 Plant Chairman on May 29, 2012.
Our heartfelt condolences go out to his wife Clare and Family.
Passed away peacefully with his family by his side at the age of 42 after a long battle with cancer. Beloved husband of Clare. Loving father of Austin, Victoria, and Jennifer. Loving brother to Chris (Darlene), Don, and Christine (Craig). Lovingly remembered by many nieces and nephews. Beloved son-in-law of Dave and Donna Symonds. Predeceased by his father Kimball Clarke Sr. Forever loved and missed by all family and friends. Friends may call at the Brampton Memorial Chapel & Visitation Centre, 10061 Chinguacousy Rd (at Bovaird) 905-460-9155 on Friday, June 1, 2012 from 2-4 & 6-8p.m. Funeral Service to take place on Saturday, June 2, 2012 at 10a.m in the Chapel. Private family interment. If desired, donations to Prostate Cancer Canada would be appreciated by the family.Online condolences may be made here.
LOCATION: Brampton Memorial Chapel & Visitation Centre
10061 Chingcousy Rd.
Friday, June 1, 2012 2-4 & 6-8 pm
CELEBRATION OF LIFE
DATE: Saturday, June 2, 2012
Location: Brampton Memorial Chapel
TIME: 10 am
INTERMENT: Brampton Cemetery, Monday June 4, 2012 at 11 am
Ford puts free
trade on agenda
CEO to discuss Japan's Trans-Pacific bid with lawmakers
By David Shepardson
Detroit News Washington Bureau
May 31, 2012
Washington— Ford Motor Co. President and Chief executive Alan Mulally will meet with members of Congress and the Obama administration today to convey its position on free trade talks.
The Dearborn automaker has raised concerns about allowing Japan into the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Talks are under way with nine nations, but Canada, Mexico and Japan are interested in joining.
"As part of a regular check-in, Mr. Mulally is touching base with government officials to share the progress Ford is making and to highlight a pending trade issue," Ford spokeswoman Christin Baker said.
Mulally will meet with members of Michigan's U.S. House delegation and brief them on the company's progress, including its return to investment credit grade, which allowed it to reclaim collateral offered as part of its $23.5 billion loan in 2006.
In January, Detroit's Big Three automakers said they oppose allowing Japan to enter free trade talks with the United States and nine other countries, but are open to allowing Mexico and Canada to take part.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue said this month that all three countries should be allowed into the talks but that "there needs to be continued pressure for Japan to open its market" to autos.
Japanese automakers note the auto imports in Japan have been rising and question whether U.S. automakers are offering the right types of vehicles to meet Japanese consumer preferences.
U.S. automakers say Japan has intentionally kept foreign cars out. They note that Hyundai Motor Co. recently withdrew from the Japanese market.
A free trade agreement could drop tariffs on Japanese vehicles entering the United States and make it more economically viable to build vehicles in Japan and export them to the U.S. The Japanese pay a 2.5 percent tariff on cars and a 25 percent tariff on trucks exported from Japan to the U.S.
Ford says less than 5 percent of all autos sold in Japan are imported, compared to 40 percent import penetration in most developed markets. Japan, the world's third biggest automobile market, has almost 5 million cars sold yearly.
Japanese automakers have complained about the value of Japanese yen, which tends to increase the cost of its exports to the U.S., and are considering moving more production outside of the country unless the yen weakens. U.S. automakers argue such a move could amount to currency manipulation and an unfair trade practice.
The trade talks include Australia, Chile, Peru, Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia, New Zealand and Vietnam.
A new round of talks is set for July 2-10 in San Diego after a 12th round of talks was held last week near Dallas.
U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said last week that progress has been better than expected.
Kirk will meet with his counterparts at a trade ministers meeting in Kazan, Russia in early June to discuss progress achieved to date and to agree on a plan forward.
TRIENNIAL ELECTION RESULTS MAY 2012
Dave Champagne 136 Elected
Alison White 88
Total Ballots Cast: 226
Spoiled Ballots: 2
Christine Parise 107
Michelle Hilts 116 Elected
Total Ballots Cast: 226
Spoiled Ballots: 3
Pam Lyon 131 Elected
Jim Williams 88
Total Ballots Cast: 226
Spoiled Ballots: 7
Sergeant at Arms
John Honcharsky 133 Elected
Bryan Levasseur 91
Total Ballots Cast: 226
Spoiled Ballots: 2
Arlene Rudolph 148 Elected
Chris Brookbanks 106
Sandy Brook 153 Elected
Terri Fletcher 61
Brad Mayberry 142 Elected
Total Ballots Cast: 226
Spoiled Ballots: 2
Committeeperson – Shift 2
Barb Morrison 100
Dan Armstrong 105 Elected
Total Ballots Cast: 210
Spoiled Ballots: 5
Committeeperson – Shift 3
John McCloskey 106 Elected
Tony Gilmour 99
Total Ballots Cast: 210
Spoiled Ballots: 5
Alternate Committeeperson – Shift 2
Vito Bellomo 99
Michelle Harwood 107 Elected
Total Ballots Cast: 210
Spoiled Ballots: 4
Alternate Committeeperson – Shift 3
Greg Barnard 98
Nasir Naghar 108 Elected
Total Ballots Cast: 210
Spoiled Ballots: 4
Health and Safety Rep
Thayne Smith 139 Elected
Francois Bilodeau 70
Total Ballots Cast: 210
Spoiled Ballots: 1
Alternate Health and Safety Rep
Kim Timmins 93
Steve Burns 115 Elected
Total Ballots Cast: 210
Spoiled Ballots: 2
Michelle Harvey 105 Elected
Monica Pelyea 34
Sandy Knight 70
Total Ballots Cast: 210
Spoiled Ballots: 1
Alternate Benefit Rep
Sandy Pitman 100
Claudio Parise 104 Elected
Total Ballots Cast: 210
Spoiled Ballots: 6
Women's Committee Chairperson
Tammy Dempsey 70
Brandy Lafortune 140 Elected
Total Ballots Cast: 226
Spoiled Ballots: 16
By-Laws Committee (2)
Jason Karaim 161 Elected
Mariola Lombardi 124 Elected
Gerald Andrukonis 96
Total Ballots Cast: 226
Spoiled Ballots: 11
CAW Council Delegate (2)
Gary Rumboldt 174 Elected
Dave Champagne 151 Elected
Alison White 94
Total Ballots Cast: 226
Spoiled Ballots: 2
CAW Convention Delegate (2)
Dave Champagne 152 Elected
Gary Rumboldt 176 Elected
Alison White 90
Total Ballots Cast: 226
Spoiled Ballots: 1
The polls will be open on May 8 from 11:30am - 5:00pm in the downstairs cafeteria. Run offs, if necessary, will take place on May 23 from 11:30am - 5:00pm.Advance ballots, for active members, are available from Brian Neilson from April 25th through May 4th. Proof of unavailability is required for an advance ballot. Acceptable reasons are : S&A, WSIB, union business, company business or parental & maternity leave.
at Arms *
Committeeperson Shift 2
Committeeperson Shift 3
Alternate Committeeperson Shift 2
Alternate Committeeperson Shift 3
and Safety Rep
Alternate Benefit Rep
CAW Council Delegate (2)*
CAW Convention Delegate (2) *
*Retirees can vote for Executive and Standing Committee Chairs. They are not eligible to vote for in plant, health and safety, benefits or any of their alternates. Retirees will be required to enter through the lobby on Dixie and sign in with security.
May 11, 2012
Volume 42, No. 18
SNC-Lavalin Puts High-tech Jobs at Risk, says CEP and CAW
SNC-Lavalin is jeopardizing the future of the struggling CANDU industry, and sending highly-skilled workers out of the country, by forcing its employees into a strike position, say two of Canada's top labour leaders.
CEP and CAW have each pledged $1 million to help finance a potential strike by the Society of Professional Engineers and Associates.
More than 94 per cent of SPEA members voted recently to take strike action following repeated attempts by their employer to extract concessions at the bargaining table, including a weaker pension plan.
"Our joint support sends a clear message about the importance of keeping highly-skilled workers here in Canada," says CEP President Dave Coles. "We need to be taking measures to keep these jobs in here, not send them down south."
"SNC-Lavalin appears intent on provoking a labour dispute, instead of working to strengthen the industry and promote much needed innovation," said CAW President Ken Lewenza. "This is extremely short-sighted and we will continue to support the SPEA."
Coles says a strike will undoubtedly result in a serious shortage of highly-skilled staff, impacting ongoing projects as well as thousands of spin-offs jobs.
Evraz Camrose Works Locks Out Local 551 Members
CAW Local 551 members locked out at Evraz Camrose Works in Alberta.
Pipeline manufacturer Evraz Camrose Works has locked out workers at its plant in Camrose, Alberta.
The company locked out members of CAW Local
551 on May 5, including trades persons, machine operators and labourers in an attempt to extract pension, retiree benefits and other concessions from the workforce.
"Despite a recent collective agreement with a sister plant the company continues to refuse to offer a fair and equitable agreement for our members," said CAW national representative Todd Romanow. At an emergency meeting on May 4, the membership unanimously endorsed the bargaining committees' recommendation not to accept the company's last offer.
Romanow said the CAW bargaining committee remains determined to negotiate an agreement and urged the company to return to the bargaining table.
The CAW contract with Evraz expired on February 1, 2012 and negotiations have been ongoing since November 2011. Evraz manufactures tubular goods and line pipe for the oil and natural gas industries.
Lobster Pricing Dispute Over in Newfoundland
The FFAW/CAW and the Seafood Producers of Newfoundland and Labrador have reached an agreement on lobster prices for the remainder of the 2012 season, which brings to an end a two-week dispute in which many lobster buyers refused to buy lobster
The agreement continues to tie prices to market conditions, adjusted on a weekly basis.
FFAW President Earle McCurdy said the key factor from the union's perspective is that the price to harvesters will continue to be based on market conditions.
During collective bargaining this spring, the union proposed a price-to-market formula, while buyers wanted to set the price themselves. Most of those buyers refused to buy after a provincial panel ruled in favour of the FFAW.
The union filled the vacuum by organizing harvesters into a co-operative structure in partnership with the Fogo Island Co-op. The co-op has shipped five tractor trailer loads of lobster or about $1million worth.
"The buyers were convinced we would fall flat on our face with this initiative," McCurdy said in a May 4 news release. "They only got serious about settling the dispute when they realized that we meant business, and that the harvesters didn't need them to move their lobsters."
McCurdy said it was "remarkable" that a fledgling organization was able to coordinate the sale on short notice, but with the lobster season set to open on the Northern Peninsula and other areas the co-op would have been "hard pressed" to keep up with demand.
Establishing the co-op structure was crucial to getting buyers back to the table, McCurdy said.
But he added that the co-op is here to stay. With the price impasse resolved the elected board of directors will have the time, in co-operation with the union and the Fogo Island Co-op, to develop a long term plan.
"Now we have time to organize the kind of infrastructure and marketing structure you need to be a major player in that industry."
McCurdy said he's confident that 2012 will end up being a "turning point in the evolution of the lobster fishery in this province."
Walk for Peace Highlights Native Land Claims
CAW members from numerous local unions took part in The Walk for Peace, Respect and Friendship on April 25 in Caledonia, Ontario.
(Photo by Kevin Konnyu).
The Walk for Peace, Respect and Friendship in Caledonia, Ontario on April 28 remained a peaceful expression of support for native land claims, despite predictions from critics it would turn nasty.
"Everyone who took part, including many CAW members, are just so pleased with the peaceful, incident-free way that the walk unfolded," said retired CAW national representative Steve Watson, an organizer of the event. Caledonia is located about 35 kilometres south west of Brantford, along the banks of the Grand River.
Ken Hewitt, Caledonia's mayor, tried to get an injunction to stop the Walk for Peace. No injunction was granted.
"I was so impressed by the young activists in the Six Nations Solidarity Network and the skill and resourcefulness they displayed in navigating one of the trickiest disputes in Canada," said Watson.
The CAW was well represented in the walk. There were members from CAW Locals 504, 1106, 1285, 252, 2163, 636 and the Retired Workers Chapter of CAW Local 127. They included two Local Union Presidents Bill McLachlan (1106) and Carl Cywink (Local 2163).
McGuinty says Ontario
will assist its 'leading
goal scorer' – the auto sector
KAREN HOWLETT AND GREG KEENAN
Globe and Mail
May 9, 2012
The cash-strapped Ontario government is prepared to invest more money in the auto sector to help car companies respond to a strong sales recovery, Premier Dalton McGuinty says.
"They are in a sense our leading goal scorer," Mr. McGuinty told reporters Tuesday. "They put the puck in the net over and over again on behalf of the Ontario economy. We need to find ways to ensure that they remain healthy.
Mr. McGuinty made the comments after speaking to a business audience at the Bloomberg Canada Economic Summit in Toronto.
He was responding to a Globe and Mail report about a study done for the federal government that said the Detroit Three auto makers could run short of vehicle-making capacity later in the decade after slashing capacity deeply during the 2008-2009 recession and auto crisis.
The need to increase capacity by 2018 comes as Ottawa and the Ontario government assess a Ford Motor Co. plan to spend $1.2-billion to upgrade its Oakville, Ont., plant to assemble vehicles based on a global platform. The auto maker wants financial assistance for the project and has said it will not go ahead unless there is government support.
Based on the 20-per-cent financing level the two governments provided for the retooling of that plant in 2005-2006, the auto maker is seeking at least $240-million in financial help for the global platform.
Mr. McGuinty said he will look at whether his government should "deploy our limited business supports" in the auto sector, which is a key pillar of Ontario's battered manufacturing sector and is bouncing back so strongly that Ford, its Detroit rivals and other auto makers are boosting production as quickly as possible.
The Detroit Three slashed production capacity by 2.6 million vehicles in 2008-2009 and now they're struggling to meet demand that is recovery more quickly than their ability to meet it.
Ford said Tuesday that the usual two-week summer shutdown will be cut to one week at U.S. assembly plants and seven North American engine and transmission factories – including the Essex Engine Plant in Windsor, Ont. – as it tries to crank out more cars and trucks.
Those moves will boost production by 40,000 vehicles during the third quarter, Ford said.
Ford operated its North American assembly plants at 108 per cent of capacity during the first quarter.
"This is a great kind of a problem to have," Mr. McGuinty said. "They're telling us that we need to produce more cars, so we'll have an opportunity to consolidate if not indeed enhance our standing as the No. 1 producer of cars in North America."
The auto sector has grown in Ontario and retained its pre-eminence even in the "darkest days of the recession," Mr. McGuinty said, because his government has worked hand in hand with it.
Canada seen benefiting as
U.S. auto makers scramble
to restore capacity
GREG KEENAN AND STEVEN CHASE
Globe & Mail
May 9, 2012
The Detroit Three auto makers suddenly can't make enough vehicles – a development that could benefit Canada and give the federal and Ontario governments the upper hand as the companies seek hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to redevelop Canadian vehicle assembly plants.
Chrysler Group LLC, Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. slashed so much production capacity during the 2008-2009 crisis that they have to rush now to restore it to respond to a strong sales recovery and forecasts that the North American market will be even more robust later in the decade.
"By 2018, capacity shortages are projected to be an issue for the Detroit Three," says a study done for the federal government by the Center for Automotive Research (CAR), an industry think-tank based in Ann Arbor, Mich., and obtained by The Globe and Mail.
The current shortage and the one looming near the end of the decade will make it difficult for the companies to close any more Canadian facilities and to persuade policy makers to step up with subsidies or see billions of dollars in auto investment directed elsewhere.
There are also implications for the Canadian Auto Workers union in crucial talks on a new contract this summer with the companies. The need to keep pumping out vehicles to meet robust demand means the companies will be less willing to risk a strike.
The production shortages even raise a glimmer of hope for a shuttered GM truck plant in Oshawa, Ont.
While each of the Detroit companies is adding production at U.S. plants, the CAR study indicates Chrysler and GM will run short of capacity to make pickup trucks and other full-frame vehicles by 2015, while Ford will need more capacity for passenger cars and crossovers – known as unibody vehicles – by 2018.
The CAR report, which was designed to assess the importance of the companies' Canadian factories to their North American operations, was submitted to the federal government on Feb. 27 and obtained through an Access to Information request by The Globe and Mail. Industry Canada refused to make public 21 pages of the 28-page study.
If forecasts that GM's sales will rise to 3.6 million vehicles by 2015 and 3.7 million by 2018 are correct, GM could lose market share because it won't be able to build enough trucks, the CAR study said.
"GM's Oshawa plants (including the idled Oshawa Truck) could each be candidates for full-frame investment or conversion," it said.
Ford has asked the governments for financial aid to build a global platform at its assembly plant in Oakville, Ont., a project worth more than $1-billion. The plant makes crossovers, the kind of unibody vehicles for which demand is rising.
Ford had said before the market turnaround that the project wouldn't go ahead without government support, and that if it was scrapped, the factory likely would have to close.
"I don't see them having the room, frankly, to shut another plant," said one industry source familiar with Ford's future production needs.
But keeping the factory open will likely still require help from the governments and the CAW, which will be under pressure to reduce labour costs.
The robust market that's causing the Detroit Three to add shifts and cancel summer shutdowns strengthens the union's position. Chrysler's plant in Brampton, Ont., for example, is the only factory assembling the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger and Challenger full-sized sedans.
Combined sales of the three cars soared 63 per cent in the first four months of the year, so Chrysler could be reluctant to undergo a strike.
Auto makers eliminated 2.6 million units of production capacity between 2008 and 2011.
"If the U.S. market is coming back at 10 or 11 per cent a year for the next three years, where are you going to make them?" asked one U.S. industry analyst.
May 4, 2012
Volume 42, No. 17
Ontario Northland Target Premier McGuinty's Office
Demonstrators rallied outside Premier Dalton McGuinty's Ottawa constituency office on April 27.
Two Ontario Northland Motor Coaches with concerned Northerners on board traveled to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty's constituency office in Ottawa on April 27 to tell him Ontario Northland is not for sale. The General Chairperson's Association (GCA) representing all unionized employees at Ontario Northland chartered the buses.
"As the Premier has so far refused to meet with anyone from the North on this important issue, we thought we would save him the trip and travel to his home town to voice our displeasure with his government's ill-advised decision to sell off Ontario Northland," said GCA spokesperson Brian Kelly.
"We had requested a meeting for today with the Premier but instead of meeting with the Premier we were told that we could only meet with his assistant. As is his usual response to Northern issues Mr. McGuinty simply is too busy to meet with Northerners," said Kelly.
"From the lumber industry to the closing of the Kidd Creek smelter in Timmins and now the selloff of Ontario Northland the Premier's disdain for the North can no longer be ignored," Kelly said.
"We call upon Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath to hold this government to account and ensure that Northern issues are no longer treated with total disregard by the McGuinty government," concluded Kelly, who is also president of CAW Local 103, which represents approximately 450 Ontario Northland workers.
CAW Takes Auto Policy Pitch to Ontario Minister Duguid
Approximately 150 CAW members, family, politicians and community allies crowded into the CAW Local 27 hall on May 1 for the final auto community town hall meeting. In all, there were eight meetings across southern Ontario spanning three weeks.
CAW President Ken Lewenza and CAW Economist Jim Stanford met with Ontario Minister of Economic Development and Innovation Brad Duguid to present the union's proposals on strengthening the province's auto industry.
The pair was joined by GM Master Bargaining Committee Chair and CAW Local 222 President Chris Buckley, Ford Master Bargaining Committee Chair and CAW Local 707 President Gary Beck and CAW Pensions and Benefits Director Jo-Ann Hannah.
The April 30 session was the first meeting with government officials since the launch of the CAW's Re-think the Economy, Re-think Canada's Auto Industry campaign on April 16. Other meetings are currently being scheduled.
Lewenza described the meeting as constructive and positive, with the presentation being well-received by government officials. Lewenza said that the union plans to take the proposals to all federal and provincial party auto caucuses.
The campaign policy proposals include developing a transparent and consistent auto investment policy, building a green industry, negotiating Canadian manufacturing footprint commitments, in addition to a number of other measures. See the entire list of proposals at: http://www.rethinktheeconomy.ca/resources.
For more information on the Re-think the Economy campaign or for an outline of the CAW's proposals, please visit Here.
CAW Local 222 Family Auxiliary Celebrates 75th Anniversary
CAW Family Auxiliary #27 celebrated its 75th anniversary at CAW Local 222 hall on April 21. Pictured are CAW President Ken Lewenza; Jackie Finn, CAW Family Auxiliary #27 President and CAW Director of Women's Programs Julie White.
CAW President Condemns Changes to TFWP
Changes to the temporary foreign worker regulations will only increase abuse and lower conditions for migrant workers, CAW President Ken Lewenza says.
Lewenza was responding to a change in regulations which now allow employers to fast track bringing in skilled temporary foreign workers and paying them up to 15 per cent less than the prevailing wage, effectively paying foreign workers less than Canadian counterparts.
"This government-endorsed, employer-driven program is already rife with exploitation," said Lewenza. "In its current form, there are few checks and balances in the program, leaving workers with little protection and few avenues to enforce rights afforded to Canadian workers."
Lewenza voiced outrage that changes made by federal Human Resources Minister Diane Finley will only serve to lower conditions for workers right across the board. Under the new rules, employer requests for importing highly skilled workers will be responded to within 10 days, as opposed to the current 12-14 weeks required for a Labour Market Opinion. And the government has indicated that while these changes only apply to highly skilled occupations, it could soon expand to other classifications.
The CAW already has temporary foreign workers in some of the workplaces the union represents, including some fish processing plants, resorts and aerospace firms and is familiar with the complex set of problems the program creates, said Lewenza.
"The federal government has allowed the corporate agenda to dictate the terms and conditions of our immigration system. This is not the model of fairness that Canadians support," said Lewenza
"With more than 1.5 million unemployed Canadians, there is no labour shortage in this country.
Suggesting that Canada has a labour shortage and that these changes are necessary is dishonest and deceitful."
As a nation, Canada has a dark history of bringing workers into the country to toil in terrible conditions for paltry wages, said Lewenza. "No government of any political stripe should ever attempt to turn back the clock."
Women's Rights Are Not Up for Debate: Open Letter
The following are excerpts from an Open Letter by the CAW on Women's Rights
"Women's rights are not up for debate - in the House of Commons or anywhere else in Canada.
Yet the federal Conservative government seems to think they are.
The issue of a woman's legal right to safe and accessible abortion services was settled by the Supreme Court in 1988. The only question that still remains is whether women across Canada have the ability to exercise this right. Even today, women in rural settings still do not have adequate access to services - a situation that must be addressed.
Women and men alike watched in disgust as Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth's motion, supported by a number of his colleagues, called into question the ability of women to make choices over their own bodies. M-312 proposes the creation of a Parliamentary Committee to examine whether the Criminal Code definition of "human being" should be expanded to include fetuses. In effect, the motion opens the door for the criminalization of abortion and the revival of the long concluded debate over women's reproductive rights and autonomy over their own bodies.
Time and time again, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has pledged that the Conservative party would not reopen the abortion debate...
The CAW stands with the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada and the YWCA's call to uphold women's legal right to abortion and prevent the infringement on women's Charter rights. We will continue to work alongside women's and other progressive organizations across our country to defend women's reproductive and legal rights in the weeks and months ahead.
Stephen Harper, women's reproductive rights are not up for debate. Live up to your word."
Download and send a postcard to tell your MP that your choice is pro-choiceHERE
Planning for Your Future in Winnipeg
"On April 21, a one day Planning For Your Future Area School was held at the Winnipeg Regional Office, instructed by discussion leader and CAW Local 468 President Mark Armstrong.
The course was very well received by participants who were encouraged and thankful for the wealth of information provided.
This seminar-based course featured several guest speakers including representatives from Service Canada, the Financial Assiniboine Credit Union, and Myers Weinberg LLP. CAW retired member John Marlow was in attendance to assist and deliver a presentation which shared insight about being "retired from the job but not the fight." CAW retired member Jack Morrison was also in attendance to observe and add some tips on how to keep active in the union as a retired member.
Evraz Serves 72-Hour Lockout Notice to Alberta Workers
Evraz Camrose Works has issued a 72-hour lockout notice to the CAW in an effort to extract pension, retiree benefits and other concessions from the workforce. The company intends to lockout the employees as of 9 am on May 5.
CAW Local 551 represents a bargaining unit of 105 workers at Evraz Camrose Works in Camrose, Alberta including trades persons, machine operators and labourers. Major outstanding bargaining concerns include wages, benefits, pension contributions, and job security clauses. Few economic or language issues have been settled to date, with the company offering no general wage increases over a three year contract.
"It is completely unfathomable that workers in the oil and gas industry working in the hottest economy in North America are being attacked and threatened to give back long fought gains," said CAW National Representative Todd Romanow. "The company has begun an attack on these workers and the community, who have supported the plant for over 60 years and have helped make the company incredibly profitable."
The CAW contract with Evraz expired on February 1st, 2012 and negotiations have been ongoing since November 2011. The union has met with the company for over 9 days of negotiations with no success, with the company still intent on extracting major concessions from the workers.
Evraz located in Camrose, Alberta (previously known as OSM Tubular Camrose) manufactures tubular goods and line pipe for oil and natural gas.
New Pay Equity Training Program
Participants in the CAW's new Pay Equity Training Program gather at the CAW Family Education Centre in Port Elgin, Ontario
No matter how you look at it, women still earn less than men in every sector of the economy and Ontario is no exception.
Ontario has one of the highest gender pay gaps in the world - for every $1 earned by men, women earn 71 cents. And we know without enforceable laws or the CAW's work at the bargaining table, employers will continue to pay workers as little as possible - and history tells us that if they can get away with paying women less, they will.
As the CAW continues to negotiate improved wages and benefits for all members, it recognizes that wage inequities between men and women still exist. The new pay equity program was designed to assist CAW bargaining committees to develop the skills, tools and confidence to work to close the wage gap between men and women who work in different jobs but have similar skills.
To that end, the CAW Education Department, working with the Women's Department, developed a new four day Ontario Pay Equity Training Program that was launched on April 22-25 in Port Elgin at the CAW Family Education Centre.
Through a variety of exercises, including a mock pay equity session, participants were able to identify ways to end discriminatory pay affects and ensure that their employers are meeting their obligations under the law.
"In the last 25 years the wage gap has closed by only 7 per cent through the Pay Equity process," said Theresa Farao, President of CAW Local 240. "This course is a good step forward to ensure and correct the inequities between men and women wages in our workplaces."
To download a copy of this letter please visit Here
April 27, 2012
Volume 42, No. 16
Orion Bus Closure Caused by Government Inaction, says CAW
The closure of Orion Bus in Mississauga has been unnecessarily caused by the chronic underfunding of public transit right across Canada, said CAW President Ken Lewenza. Lewenza was responding to the announcement by Daimler that it will end production at Orion Bus, throwing hundreds out of work.
"For years, successive federal, provincial and municipal governments have failed to live up to the needs of Canadians for affordable, accessible public transit and adequately invest in infrastructure," said Lewenza.
"And as we see today, the implications are disastrous for our communities who are poorly served and workers who lose their jobs because of government inaction. This lack of foresight on public transit and government procurement contracts is having the effect of hollowing out our industrial base," said Lewenza.
When governments prioritize the local procurement of goods and services, particularly for transit investments, communities thrive. When this doesn't happen, communities feel the brunt of poor decisions through job loss and a dwindling tax base, said Lewenza.
Lewenza said that he is worried the plant could be closed immediately, despite assurances by the company to wind down production over the next 12 months. Lewenza voiced concern that Orion may be planning to move remaining work to its facility in Oriskany, New York and pledged that the union will be watching the situation closely.
CAW Local 2011 represents nearly 200 active workers at Orion and another 200 on layoff.
Rally Against Austerity Budget Descends on Queen's Park
More than 15,000 people assembled at Queen's Park on April 21 to protest the proposed Ontario Liberal austerity budget.
The demonstration and march, organized by the Ontario Federation of Labour, saw the convergence of more than 90 community groups, student organizations and trade unions under the banner of "We are Ontario." Nearly 100 buses brought people to the Ontario legislature, some travelling from as far away as Sudbury and Timmins.
Speaker after speaker warned of the impact the budgetary cuts would have on the poor, on Ontario's schools, and Ontario families more generally.
"Legislated wage freezes do not save the government money and have no place in Ontario," said NDP leader Andrea Horwath. "You cannot have collective bargaining unless you sit at the table and actually bargain."
OFL President Sid Ryan said it is "shameful" that the burden of paying down Ontario's deficit will be shouldered by ordinary citizens - many of them getting by on mid-to-low incomes or social assistance. He warned that Premier Dalton McGuinty was losing the support of Ontario workers, many of whom had voted for him and his party in the last election.
CAW President Ken Lewenza railed against cuts to social assistance which would have seen rates frozen for thousands of assistance recipients. On April 23, in a deal reached by the Ontario Liberals and NDP to win support for the budget, social assistance rates were raised by 1 per cent per year, along with a few other changes such as an additional tax on the wealthiest in the province.
Hundreds Demonstrate in Support of Navistar Workers
More than 300 workers, family members and supporters took part in a noisy demonstration at the National Truck Show in Mississauga, Ontario on April 21, calling on Navistar to bargain a decent closure agreement for its Chatham workforce.
The demonstration was held outside the entrance to The International Centre, where Navistar was sponsoring Truck World, Canada's National Truck Show.
At one point in the demonstration hundreds of participants crowded into the foyer of the centre blocking the entrance to the show and calling on Navistar to bargain a fair agreement for its Chatham workforce.
CAW President Ken Lewenza blasted the company for failing to treat members of CAW Local 127 and Local 35 with respect and dignity after officially announcing the closure of the Chatham truck plant in July 2011. Production ceased in 2009, forcing hundreds out of work.
Outstanding issues in the Navistar dispute revolve around pensions, severance pay and other matters. Demonstrators were reminded of how important Navistar was to the Chatham community - including the fact that at one point the facility had more than 2000 workers.
"These jobs were vital to the community. I am dismayed that although Navistar is still able to sell its trucks in Canada, the company is under no obligation to maintain jobs here in Canada," states a leaflet signed by hundreds outside the truck show.
"This is particularly deplorable considering Navistar received tens of millions of dollars in public monies to put towards re-tooling its facility. The workers must now move on with their lives, but in the meantime, they have the right to be treated fairly."
CAW Local 27 President Tim Carrie said Navistar took tens of millions in government support, but failed to keep production and good jobs in Canada.
Other guest speakers included Ontario Federation of Labour Secretary-Treasurer Nancy Hutchinson and CAW Local 127 President Rick Reaume.
CAW Calls on Government to Reform Bankruptcy Legislation
Since Nortel entered bankruptcy protection in January 2009, its pension plans have been devastated; incomes for disabled and terminated employees have been lost, and the health benefits paid for with years of service have vanished. In the meantime, "vulture" investors have been arguing that not only are they entitled to enormous profits on their investment, but interest amounting to almost a billion dollars.
The CAW is calling on the federal government to review and amend the legislation that allows one creditor group to reap an enormous reward on a speculative investment while those who worked to build the company are treated as second class creditors.
"Amendments to the bankruptcy laws must ensure that all Nortel's creditors are treated equally and equitably," said CAW President Ken Lewenza. "Our bankruptcy laws fall far short and there is not a greater example of this injustice than that of Nortel."
Three years after first entering bankruptcy protection, almost all of Nortel's assets have been sold to international bidders and the proceeds, almost $7 billion, are sitting in a trust account awaiting some sort of plan to distribute them to the company's global creditors. The claims of those creditors are far greater than the amount available to pay them.
The bulk of Nortel's creditors are pensioners and former employees in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. Pensioners in Canada have seen their pensions reduced by up to 50 per cent and others will suffer a similar fate, given the massively underfunded status of Nortel's pension plans.
Financial speculators dealing in Nortel bonds, many of which were purchased for as little as 12 cents on the dollar after January 2009, are seeking not only the full value of those bonds, but interest as well.
April 23, Ontario's Chief Justice Warren Winkler began a court ordered mediation which could overcome the impasse that has kept billions of dollars locked away in a New York bank. However, unless the government acts now, the bond holders will persist with their demands for outrageous profits and the likelihood of success in the mediation will be dramatically reduced.
CAW Brings Severance Fight to Bay Street
CAW activists demonstrate in downtown Toronto at 77 King St, outside the Royal Trust Tower, urging severance pay for Snowbear workers. CAW Local 112 President Rolly Kiehne mc'd the event, which was the 2nd downtown Toronto rally in support of these workers.
CAW activists demonstrated in the heart of Canada's financial district and outside the offices of private equity firm Catalyst Capital on Monday April 23, protesting the company's refusal to provide severance pay to workers laid off from a plant closure in Guelph.
CAW Local 1917 members at Snowbear, the largest Canadian manufacturer of utility trailers and snowplows, have been left without hundreds of thousands of dollars in severance pay since their facility was idled in the fall of 2011.
The workers, along with over 150 CAW supporters, marched from the Sheraton Centre in downtown Toronto to the front doors of the Royal Trust Tower, head office of private equity firm (and secured lender to Snowbear) Catalyst Capital, demanding a meeting with the firm's top executive Newton Glassman. The Tower entrance was locked down by security personnel and patrolled by police.
"We've been reaching out to Catalyst Capital for months to discuss this issue of severance pay, without any response," CAW President Ken Lewenza told the crowd that was waving placards and holding a banner asking: "Where's Our Fair Share?"
Catalyst is trying to sell the assets of the company to recoup lost investments, said Jerry Dias, Assistant to the CAW President. Dias said the CAW has not been provided any assurances that 36 laid-off workers at Snowbear will receive the approximately $500,000 in severance pay they are still owed.
"Current rules in Canada put workers at the end of the line when it comes to recouping lost severance pay," Dias said. "For many of these workers, severance pay is what puts food on the table and pays the rent as they look for new work."
CAW Local 1917 President Robin Dudley said a few thousand dollars doesn't mean much to rich executives like Newton Glassman but it means a heck of a lot for the rest of us.
Gary DeLong, CAW Plant Chairperson at Snowbear and Bill Gibson, CAW Kitchener Area Director also addressed the crowd.
Snowbear joins a long list of Ontario workplaces that have denied workers severance pay in the wake of a plant closure, including Aradco/Aramco in Windsor, Progressive Moulded Products in Toronto, Polywheels Manufacturing in Oakville and Edscha in Niagara Falls, among others.
To hear independent social justice reporter John Bonnar's podcast of the Snowbear rally, visit: http://www.rabble.ca/
Re-think Canada's Auto Industry Meetings in Full Swing
As part of its Re-think Canada's Auto Industry campaign, the CAW launched a series of 8 community town hall meetings that have so far travelled through the Ontario cities of Windsor (pictured above), St. Catharines, Oshawa, Brampton, Ingersoll and Oakville, from April 17 through April 25. The community town hall meetings have been used, in part, to articulate the CAW's 10-point package of policy proposals to revitalize and strengthen the auto sector.
The meetings have also provided an opportunity for the union's community partners (including social service agencies, food banks, women's shelters, and others) to highlight the importance of creating and sustaining good jobs as a means to building stronger communities. Upcoming town halls will be taking place in Kitchener (April 30) and London (May 1). The CAW is also planning a town hall meeting in Alliston, home to Ontario's Honda manufacturing facilities.
CLC's Hassan Yussuff Elected President of TUCA
CLC Secretary-Treasurer Hassan Yussuff, middle and CLC President Ken Georgetti at TUCA convention
Canadian Labour Congress Secretary-Treasurer Hassan Yussuff has been elected to a four-year term as president of the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas. Yussuff was elected on April 20 at a TUCA convention occurring in Brazil.
"I am pleased to be elected president, especially with the many problems facing our movement in this hemisphere," says Yussuff. "We live in a world where transnational corporations have a global reach and this poses special challenges for the labour movement. In this difficult context, we also have to work aggressively at a global level to promote union membership, to push for government policies that create employment, and to protect our labour and human rights."
Yussuff is the former CAW Human Rights Director and has been a CLC officer since 1999.
TUCA represents more than 50 million workers belonging to 50 active trade union affiliates in 29 countries, including Canada, the U.S., Brazil and nations in Latin America. TUCA belongs, in turn, to the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), with headquarters in Brussels.
TUCA has offices and permanent staff in Brazil and Costa Rica. Yussuff will perform his duties from the CLC's Ottawa office and will continue in his role as CLC Secretary-Treasurer.
CAW Easter Bunny Drive for Children in Calgary Hospital
CAW Local 4050 executive members Jim Connelly and Dawn Munro donated more than 215 Easter bunnies to the Alberta Children's hospital in Calgary, Alberta.
This was enough for every child staying in the hospital who received a bunny to help bring a smile to their face during the recent Easter weekend.
This initiative was started by Dawn Munro and Valerie Saliba, two members of the women's committee, who canvassed the local for donations and support. Members from DHL Calgary came out in full force and managed to bring in more than 60 bunnies from a workforce of 30. A further cash donation was made from the members of Pincher Creek Co-op in Southern Alberta.
After the success of this years drive, the women's committee will be making this an annual event with next year's goal to reach all children's hospitals across the province. CAW Local 4050 is an amalgamated local with 12 employers and 1300 members in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Lobster Fishermen Set Up Co-op in Newfoundland and Labrador
Following meetings in Marystown, Harbour Breton and Stephenville, more than 300 lobster fishermen in Newfoundland and Labrador have decided to set up a co-op to buy their lobster.
FFAW/CAW lobster harvester members voted to form their own company following the meetings on April 22. The company will be based on co-operative principles and will begin buying lobster at prices set by the province's Fish Price Setting Panel.
"This comes as a result of the companies, represented by the Seafood Producers of Newfoundland and Labrador, refusing to buy lobsters this season," the FFAW said.
"We have to have more of that fishery returned to the primary producer," said FFAW President Earle McCurdy. "There's no real processing content there. Essentially people buy it and flip it.so the idea is to cut down on cost and get as much of the return as we can to the primary producer," McCurdy told CBC News.
CAW Long Term Care Bargaining Leadership Meeting
National President Ken Lewenza addresses a gathering of 100 workplace leaders at CAW-represented long term care facilities throughout Ontario during a bargaining leadership meeting and strategy session in Toronto at the Sheraton Centre on April 23.
The CAW is gearing up for a string of important, and challenging, provincial bargaining negotiations in the long-term care sector, covering workers in large, privately owned nursing home chains (like Extendicare and Revera) as well as a series of independent homes. Lewenza said the recent Ontario austerity budget includes demands for wage freezes on health care workers (and others in the public sector), which creates a difficult bargaining climate, even for workers at profitable nursing homes. CAW Director of Health Care, Katha Fortier and Assistant to the President Deb Tveit organized the meeting which ran from April 23-24.
CAW Retiree Cashes-In On Group Insurance Contest
CAW Local 200 Retiree Ernest Pinsonneault took home $1,000 for winning the CAW Group Home and Auto Insurance program "Refer a Friend" contest. Pinsonneault was presented with his cheque at the CAW Local 444/200 hall in Windsor, Ontario on February 24. Shown in the photo (from L-R) is Kevin Kiely (Breckles Insurance), Dan Cassady (CAW Local 200 Financial Secretary), Ernest Pinsonneault, Marilyn Pinsonneault, and Marc Renaud (CAW Local 200 Vice President). For more information about the CAW Group Insurance Program and to participate in the next Refer a Friend contest, visit www.insuranceandwin.com/caw
(Photo by Mike Lovric, CAW Local 444)
Vol 42, No.15
April 20, 2012
April 13-15, 2012 Port Elgin, ON
A New Vision for Canada's Auto Industry
The CAW is calling on the federal and Ontario governments to launch a National Auto Policy to ensure the Canadian auto industry and the jobs in communities across the country supported by this key value-added industry flourish and grow.
CAW President Ken Lewenza announced the new auto policy at a press conference in Toronto on April 16.
The 50-page report called "Re-thinking Canada's Auto Industry" outlines a new vision for the industry based on a ten point policy program, which includes changes to automotive trade policy, establishing a fair value Canadian dollar, and negotiating Canadian manufacturing footprint commitments, among others.
Lewenza said Canada's auto industry is at a critical juncture for a number of reasons and that it's vitally important for all Canadians that the country adopt a National Auto Policy to help ensure more investment and more good jobs in local communities.
"If both governments step back from their responsibilities, for their own reasons, it will make things much worse," Lewenza said. "We need good jobs now and into the future, to support our families, to strengthen our communities, and to pay taxes."
CAW Economist Jim Stanford outlined details of the policy paper, stressing that Canada is one of the only auto-producing jurisdictions in the world that doesn't have a formal National Auto Policy.
While Canadian communities and workers have suffered through five auto assembly plant closures since 2001 other auto producing countries have not been impacted nearly as hard, he said.
"Germany has not closed an assembly plant since World War II," Stanford said. "So the idea that you have to accept this wholesale destruction of an industry simply isn't true."
The CAW will outline details of the policy at community forums in eight cities in Ontario over the next three weeks.
CAW Council unanimously voted to support the campaign.
To find out more about the CAW's new auto policy, please visit http://www.rethinktheeconomy.ca/.
You can sign the Good Jobs Pledge addressed to governments and auto companies.
Galvanizing the Labour Movement
CAW and CEP leadership attended CAW Council together in Port Elgin, Ontario. Pictured are CAW National Secretary Treasurer Peter Kennedy, CEP National Secretary Treasurer Gaetan Menard, CAW National President Ken Lewenza and CEP National President Dave Coles.
More than 600 CAW Council delegates unanimously endorsed a recommendation expressing support for continued discussions aimed at moving the CAW/CEP New Union Project forward.
Delegates went to the microphones April 13 stressing the importance of promoting the New Union Project, which if approved will bring together more than 300,000 CAW and CEP members into a new, broad based and vibrant union.
Former CAW President Buzz Hargrove said the new union would not only inspire change across the Canadian labour movement it could also, through its example, reinvigorate the American labour movement.
"This is one of the most exciting opportunities for our two unions and the broader labour movement," Hargrove said. He stressed the importance of labour and the progressive movement not accepting the status quo.
CEP Secretary-Treasurer Gaetan Menard, who attended CAW Council along with other CEP leadership, said it's an exciting project, aimed at building a new union with strong connections into all the communities where it represents members.
This new union will not only work hard to defend it's members interests, but also fight corporate greed and the right wing governments that constantly challenge workers rights, Menard said.
"We are in the process of developing the machine that will defeat Harper," Menard said to a huge round of applause.
CAW Local 199 President Wayne Gates said he strongly supports the new union project that will lead to the creation of a stronger and new Canadian union.
He and other delegates congratulated the leadership of CEP and CAW for their courage and vision in pushing ahead with the project, which will be critical to building a more progressive Canada in the years ahead.
CAW President Ken Lewenza said the discussions between CEP and CAW and all the work being done by the New Union Process Committee amount to an important opportunity to define a brighter future for workers, their families and countless Canadian communities.
He said the new union will represent 300,000 members from its onset with members in all regions of the country and all sectors of the economy. Lewenza said it's not about CAW or CEP alone, but is really about creating greater union density and creating a more vibrant movement.
CAW National Secretary-Treasurer Peter Kennedy provided a detailed analysis of both the challenges and the opportunities which the New Union Project presents. He also outlined the work of the Proposal Committee, made up of representatives of both unions, which are preparing proposals to be brought forward to the conventions of each union later this year.
The New Union Project, could be a powerful response to the increasingly aggressive nature of global capitalism, says CEP National President Dave Coles.
New approaches are needed to ensure that workers are not crushed, said Coles and the creation of a larger, stronger and more militant union should be one of them. "We must change to ensure responses from workers are not only heard, but are victorious," said Coles, in a fiery address to CAW Council. "Our plan is that all workers will be able to unite under this New Union Project."
Coles spoke of the growing unification and consolidation of labour organizations that is taking place around the globe to create a stronger force for working people. The most recent example is the merger between global union federations - the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions (to which the CEP is affiliated) and the International Metalworkers' Federation (to which the CAW is affiliated), which are in the process of uniting under the new name of IndustriALL. The new body will represent 55 million workers.
Coles said that unions should be proud of their storied histories, but these histories should not be a barrier to moving forward with a new model and new reality. Within CEP, there are local unions who have been certified for more than 140 years, the early printing press unions who were among the first in the country to organize.
"We understand the premise that together we can win, but divided we will lose," said Coles. "It's our game to win, so let's win it."
In a special presentation to CAW Council, Brigette DePape, the 22-year old woman best known as Canada's "rogue page" told delegates that the path to stopping a Stephen Harper government can be found if progressive groups break down barriers and work more closely together.
DePape is known as the rogue page for staging a protest using a 'Stop Harper' sign during the 2011 federal Throne Speech.
"This is such a critical time right now in Canada with the Harper government attacking everything we value," DePape said. "We have to recognize the power we have if we are going to reclaim our vision for the future."
DePape spoke about her upbringing in Winnipeg and how she perceived a "palatial" House of Commons and the federal government as a means to make a difference.
"I thought I'd maybe become a politician one day, starting as a page and working my way through the bureaucracy, until I saw what the federal government actually did," DePape said.
"I saw how the Harper government is disrespecting workers, disrespecting the environment, disrespecting Indigenous people, and I felt compelled to act." DePape acknowledged the work of the CAW in leading the fight for workplace justice as well as for climate justice in Canada. DePape is an active volunteer for the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition, a youth-lead environmental organization that the CAW co-founded in 2006, and is helping to organize Power Shift 2012, alongside young CAW members across Canada.
DePape led delegates in rousing chants of "Stop Harper," and expressed her enthusiasm for the CAW/CEP New Union Project as a means to better engage non-union workers and young people in the broader progressive movement.
CAW Council President Tim Carrie named DePape an honourary CAW member.
Continuing the Fight Back after Electro-Motive
CAW Council delegates are calling for major government policy changes in the wake of the closure of the Electro-Motive Diesel plant in London, Ontario. Delegates from the Electro-Motive plant thanked CAW members, locals and community activists for supporting them during the company's lock out of workers and the closure.
Todd Sleeper, who worked 23 years at Electro-Motive, said the picket line support and community support of the workers in London made a huge difference.
"We had great public support," Sleeper said during an emotional address.
CAW President Ken Lewenza said the local and the community came together during the Electro-Motive fightback. He urged delegates to continue fighting back against the anti-worker agenda of the corporations and the Harper government.
"The corporations have the government on their side. These guys are working together. We've got a Harper government that wants to turn the clock back by 50 years," Lewenza said.
Delegates unanimously approved a recommendation with demands for four major policy changes to prevent another Electro-Motive closure. These changes are:
. reform the Investment Canada Act to prevent foreign giants from taking over and then shutting down Canadian operations;
. reform Canadian trade policies so that companies like Caterpillar must pay a penalty if they eliminate Canadian jobs;
. reform the tax system, forcing companies like Caterpillar to pay back the tax assistance they received from government, if they eliminate Canadian jobs;
. reform labour laws to give workers more protection at the bargaining table against lockouts and plant closures.
CAW Local 27 President Tim Carrie urged delegates to continue the fight against corporate greed by actively supporting the four major policy demands.
Delegates Commit to Challenge Harper's Free Trade Agenda
CAW Council delegates unanimously endorsed a call to step up efforts in coming months to oppose a new generation of free trade deals being negotiated by the Harper government that includes deals with the European Union and Japan.
The Harper government has placed a heavy emphasis on signing trade agreements as a centerpiece of its economic policy and this is cause for concern, said CAW President Ken Lewenza.
"Free trade is not about trade," Lewenza said. "Free trade, in the eyes of Stephen Harper, is about allowing multi-national corporations to move global capital from one country to the other, unimpeded by government."
Since coming to office in 2006, the Harper government has signed deals with the European Free Trade Association (that includes Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Lichtenstein), Peru, Jordan, Panama, Honduras and Colombia. There are over a dozen more deals in active negotiation.
Canada's experience with free trade has not been a favourable one, said Angelo DiCaro, CAW national representative who delivered a presentation on the topic to delegates.
Since the signing of the North America Free Trade Agreement in 1994, Canada has seen a dramatic rise in its manufacturing trade deficit (a $12 billion surplus in 1996 has turned into a $90 billion deficit in 2011), hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs have been eliminated, real wages have stagnated and governments are hamstrung to introduce new, jobs-creating policies for fear of breaching trade rules and reprisal.
CAW Local 199 President Wayne Gates urged delegates to participate in a campaign targeting municipal governments, urging them to call for an exemption from the EU-Canada CETA. The proposed CETA includes never before seen language that would empower private corporations to challenge public policy across all levels of government.
"This is a bad news trade deal for cities and for workers and their families," Gates said. "CETA is a first glimpse into a new breed of free trade deals that could radically re-shape Canada."
Gates, also a Niagara Falls, Ontario city councillor helped pass a motion on April 11 requesting a permanent exemption from Niagara Falls from the CETA. CAW members in Mississauga, Ontario and New Westminster, BC have also led efforts to pass similar motions in their communities.
Emil Mesic CAW Council Health and Safety Committee Chairperson from Local 707 plays a song that he wrote in honour of the Day of Mourning. The day was named 28 years ago, but since then the rate of workplace deaths, accidents and illnesses have not dramatically decreased, said CAW Director of Health, Safety and Environment Sari Sairanen. Each year 1000 workers in Canada die on the job. She called for increased militancy and vigilance on health and safety issues in the workplace.
Ontario Northland Not For Sale
The Ontario Liberal government must live up to the commitment made by Premier Dalton McGuinty to maintain and enhance the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission as a provincial crown agency, CAW Council delegates are demanding.
Delegates approved a recommendation calling on the provincial government to maintain the northern Ontario rail, bus and telecommunication service rather than privatizing or crapping it altogether.
CAW Local 103 represents 450 workers at Ontario Northland.
CAW national representative Brian Stevens urged delegates to actively support the campaign to maintain Ontario Northland by sending a message to Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath outlining that they oppose the sale of Ontario Northland. The NDP's support is particularly crucial under a Liberal minority government.
Delegates were also urged to go to the Ontario Northland Facebook page to send messages of support and to find more information.
On March 23 the Ontario Liberal government announced plans to wind down Ontario Northland as part of cutbacks under its latest budget, despite McGuinty's pledge from years before.
Stop Pipeline Construction and the Export of Natural Resources
Delegate after delegate urged all CAW locals to support the campaign of CEP and other progressive Canadian organizations to stop construction of pipelines to export raw bitumen from western Canada.
In addition they called for the development of a progressive national energy strategy for Canada, based on concepts promoting the use of Canada's natural resources for sustainable economic development.
This national energy strategy would feature policies that maximize Canadian content in mining, processing and refining Canadian resources. Delegates unanimously approved a recommendation on the issue.
CEP President Dave Coles, who was a guest at CAW Council, said a key national energy issue for Canadians is the lack of a pipeline from Alberta to anywhere in Ontario, Quebec or the Maritimes. As a result oil and gas must be imported to eastern Canada, he said.
Coles stressed that the export of bitumen from Western Canada has killed tens of thousands of Canadian jobs which would have existed if the bitumen were refined in Canada.
"We need to have access for the majority of the citizens of Canada to the oil and gas of the west," Coles said.
Despite the Harper government's push for a northern pipeline to B.C.'s coast, it will never be built, Coles stressed. He said CEP members don't support the export of raw bitumen to foreign countries and that a strong and growing coalition of First Nations, small business, labour and other progressive groups are determined to stop its construction.
CAW British Columbia Area Director Susan Spratt said if a single ship carrying raw bitumen were to go down along Canada's west coast, it would destroy the fisheries. She stressed that B.C. First Nations, progressive groups and British Columbians in general are totally opposed to the construction of a pipeline to the west coast.
"We need to build refineries in B.C. and Alberta and keep these jobs in Canada," said Spratt.
CAW Economist Jim Stanford blasted the Harper Conservatives for pushing policies that have destroyed hundreds of thousands of good jobs in manufacturing, tourism and other economic sectors.
There is no doubt that Harper's strategy for the Canadian economy is to dig out natural resources like western oil and gas as fast as possible and export it for refinement faster than ever, Stanford said.
But Stanford stressed that the rapid export of natural resources drives up the value of the Canadian dollar which at the same time destroys other sectors of the economy like manufacturing, exports, and tourism that flourish under a properly valued Canadian dollar.
He said Canadians must demand that jobs and investment used to extract our natural resources is done in a careful and sustained manner that benefits the Canadian economy and creates Canadian jobs.
Preserving Good Jobs in the Gaming Sector
Delegates spoke out against a recent Ontario Lottery Gaming Corporation report that calls for greater privatization which will impact thousands of workers and their families as pressure increases to reduce full time work.
"They are saying that the government is no longer going to play that role and that the private sector will have a larger role," said Lewenza. "This means that we are going to have more social ills and more precarious work. Working full-time in the gaming industry and diversifying the economy is going to be challenged as the race to the bottom continues."
Lewenza said the gaming recommendations released March 12 were based on talks with 50 stakeholder groups, but none represented the interests of OLG workers in casinos, racetracks, teletheatres and other gaming sites.
Days after the report's release the OLG abruptly announced the closure of three slot operations in Windsor, Fort Erie and Sarnia, which threw 500 people out of work. Lewenza cautioned that further plans to eliminate slot subsidies to racetracks and to encourage privatization will wreak havoc on the good jobs this sector was meant to create.
Council delegates also called on the Ontario Racing Association to demand the provincial Liberal government, through the Ontario Lottery Corporation, preserve the revenue sharing agreement with the industry, preserving the 60,000 jobs associated with it.
"We are going to fight hard to say to the gaming industry that you do not have the right to eliminate 60,000 jobs in Canada, mostly in rural communities."
The CAW is Canada's largest gaming workers' union with more than 7000 members at Caesars Windsor Casino, Brantford Casino, Slots at Sudbury Downs, Great Blue Heron Casino, Edgewater Casino, the Woodbine Racetrack and other locations.
Friends of Wind Ontario Commends CAW for Action on Environment
In a special address to CAW Council delegates Gary Zavitz on April 15, co-founder of wind energy advocacy group Friends of Wind Ontario, congratulated CAW for its long-standing commitment to protecting the environment and for embracing sustainable energy sources, through it's newly constructed wind turbine (located on the grounds of the Family Education Centre in Port Elgin).
Zavitz was on hand for the weekend council speaking to delegates about the work of Friends of Wind and the importance of wind power more generally. The CAW wind turbine is fully constructed and tentatively scheduled to begin operation in mid-May. The turbine was the site of a weekend protest, involving representatives of the federal and provincial Conservative parties as well as the Ontario Federation of Agriculture and members of the Saugeen Shores community. The union is continuing dialogue with the town in the hopes of launching a community-based committee to oversee the turbine's operation. Locked-Out Fishing Trawler Workers Ratify New Agreement
FFAW/CAW member James Antle of the Newfoundland Lynx votes at the ratification meetng in Marystown, Newfoundland and Labrador.
CAW/FFAW members who had been locked out from the Newfoundland Lynx fishing trawler have overwhelmingly approved a new collective agreement, ending the labour dispute which began February 4.
The FFAW represents 44 workers on the vessel who voted 100 per cent in favour of the new agreement, which expires September 15, 2014.
FFAW Industrial Director Greg Pretty said the deal includes an agreement on halibut, turbot and redfish prices. He said it also establishes a committee to monitor the income of fishermen.
Ocean Choice International locked the workers out and brought in a replacement crew, but workers tried to prevent them from gaining access to the vessel. Police were called in during this dispute
Walk for Peace, Respect and Friendship - April 28
River territory (near Brantford, Ontario) will be holding a walk and rally for "peace, respect and friendship," to remind all Canadians and government that Six Nations land rights and treaties need to be respected.
The event is being organized by the April 28 Coalition, comprised of indigenous and non-indigenous groups and individuals who are trying to promote a peaceful and respectful dialogue between the larger non-native population, government leaders and the Six Nations at the Grand River Territory.
You'll be able to sign up for a bus ride to the event. Buses will be travelling from Toronto, Guelph, Kitchener, Brantford, St. Catharines, Hamilton and Dundalk.
Walkers are asked to gather at Edinburgh Square (link to map: http://g.co/maps/fwd4a across from the Caledonia Fairgrounds in the Township of Caledonia. From the square, participants will peacefully walk down Argyle Street to the site known as Kanonhstaton or "protected place", where there will be a potluck meal, live music, games, activities and discussions.
Grand River Territory is the site of a centuries old land dispute between Six Nations and the government of Canada that remains unresolved. A 2006 protest against a controversial housing development sparked tensions among native and non-native residents of Caledonia, casting a national spotlight on native land claim disputes in Canada.
For a detailed timeline of the Grand River Territory land dispute, click here (link to: )
For more information, contact retired CAW national representative Steve Watson at email@example.com or (416) 727-3793.
Canadian Auto Workers' leader confident
union will make gains
GREG KEENAN — Globe & Mail
April 17, 2012
The Canadian Auto Workers is gearing up to win new investment for Canadian plants and regain benefits its members surrendered during the crisis, setting up a battle with auto makers determined to hold the line on labour costs.
Union president Ken Lewenza said Monday he believes the CAW can achieve both goals in negotiations with Chrysler Group LLC, Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. later this year.
"I'm confident that we're going to make some progress," Mr. Lewenza said. "Not significant progress. We're going to make tiny steps forward."
That confidence butts up squarely against public comments by senior auto industry executives – notably Chrysler chief executive officer Sergio Marchionne – that labour costs in Canada need to be reduced and annual pay increases eliminated in favour of profit sharing.
The difference of opinion sets the stage for tough negotiations at a critical time in the industry as the Detroit Three collectively ponder whether to make billions of dollars worth of investment at their Canadian operations, where competitiveness has taken a beating because of the rise in the value of the Canadian dollar.
At the same time, the companies have slashed their U.S. labour costs and governments in Mexico and some southern U.S. states are throwing hundreds of millions of dollars at auto makers to land assembly plant investments. Volkswagen got more than $500-million (U.S.) from the state of Tennessee and municipal governments, while Honda Motor Co. Ltd. and Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. have announced that they will be building new assembly plants in Mexico.
Contracts covering about 25,000 auto workers at plants in the Ontario cities of Windsor, Oshawa, Oakville, Brampton, St. Catharines and the Toronto suburb of Etobicoke expire in September. The two sides will kick off negotiations in July. After those talks, the CAW chooses what is known as a target company, with which to reach a contract that will serve as a template for the other two.
The CAW leader made his comments as the union released a policy paper beseeching the federal government to adopt a national automotive policy as Brazil, Japan, Germany and other major auto making nations have done. Canada does not have a policy despite more than 10 years of discussion, reports and policy initiatives set out by the Canadian Automotive Partnership Council, a joint industry-government-union group set up in 2002 to assess the health of the industry.
The federal government could follow its own precedents, such as its participation in the more than $13-billion bailout of Chrysler LLC and General Motors Corp. it shared with the Ontario government or recent shipbuilding contracts that were open only to Canadian companies, the CAW said.
Federal and provincial governments need to jump in again to help win the new investments and make sure the industry continues to grow, Mr. Lewenza said, adding that an official policy is necessary rather than ad hoc decisions.
"We're not going to grow jobs without an effective auto industry strategy," he said. "Make no mistake about that. We can't deal with this in bargaining, in isolation without the government."
The paper calls on the federal government to lead the way with strong government intervention in the sector. The CAW wants Ottawa to encourage the creation of a Canadian-owned auto maker, cease free-trade talks with South Korea, Japan and the European Union, and slap tariffs on auto makers that sell vehicles in Canada without making any here.
Much of the paper sets out to refute the idea that labour costs are higher in Canada.
They're about $60 (Canadian) an hour, including wages, pension contributions and health care and other benefits, the CAW said.
The Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich., says agreements signed with the United Auto Workers last year cut Chrysler's U.S. costs to $52 (U.S.) an hour, GM's to $56 and Ford Motor Co. all-in hourly costs to $58.
But CAW economist Jim Stanford says those figures don't take into account the fact that Canadians pay higher prices for goods and services than Americans – including for those vehicles CAW members put together at assembly plants in Ontario.
The higher prices mean a basket of goods and services that costs Canadians $1 would cost Americans 81 cents when the dollar is at par, he said.
April 13, 2012
Volume 42, No. 14
Austerity Plans a Gross Miscalculation for Canada
CAW President Ken Lewenza welcomed the news that Canada's economy created 82,000 new jobs in March. But he also raised concerns that the large boost in employment signals a gross miscalculation on the part of the Harper government, as well as various provincial governments, aiming to push through austerity budgets.
"Tens of thousands of new jobs could be the first hopeful sign of a real jobs recovery in Canada," said Lewenza, responding to the release of March unemployment figures via the Statistics Canada monthly Labour Force Survey on April 5. "But the federal government's austerity budget and those of other provincial governments will strongly undermine the hope of any economic turnaround, as thousands more join the ranks of the unemployed, due to massive budgetary cuts."
"Economists the world over have warned politicians to steer clear of harsh, short-term austerity measures as a means of balancing budgets yet Canadian governments have chosen to plug their ears," said Lewenza.
"The worry now is that workers and their families will pay the price of this short-sightedness and misjudgement. With spending cuts poised to eliminate tens of thousands of jobs at all levels of government, what could have been a hopeful sign of positive change for Canada's approximately 1.5 million unemployed could be no more than a temporary blip."
Lewenza renewed his call for a national jobs strategy which would seek to create good, sustainable, permanent jobs and stop the growth of precarious, temporary jobs.
Vote to Kill Gun Registry a Loss for Canadians, CAW says
CAW President Ken Lewenza called the April 4th final vote to pass Bill C-19 and officially kill the national long-gun registry a win for gun industry lobbyists and a loss for Canadians. Bill C-19 aims to fully dismantle the long-gun registry, weaken the oversight requirements for gun purchases and destroy years of records used to track gun ownership.
"Today, I can't help but think of all the victims of gun violence and the families of those victims, past and present, and shake my head at the Harper government's motivations," Lewenza said.
"This registry was an important tool used to protect against dangerous weapons falling into the wrong hands. The Harper government is pushing an agenda of zero accountability for gun ownership. It's shameful and it's unacceptable."
Canada's gun lobby has made it clear that the dismantling of the long-gun registry is only a first step in weakening the country's gun control program. Members of the Public Safety Minister's Firearms Advisory Committee have called for licensing to be weakened, including one member testifying at the Senate hearings that spousal notification should be eliminated.
Lewenza said it is shameful that the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs opted not to invite women's safety experts or front-line women's organizations to participate as witnesses during the review process of Bill C-19 - despite the fact many organizations had requested to speak and that it is well-known that this issue disproportionately affects women's safety.
The province of Quebec, which has been a strong proponent for maintaining the long-gun registry, has filed for an injunction with the province's Supreme Court to prevent federal government from deleting the existing registry data. The injunction is expected to be heard after Bill C-19 receives royal assent.
Lewenza said he is encouraged by the Quebec government's efforts. He hopes that other Canadian provinces will speak out and put a stop to the destroying of existing registry data and consider establishing sub-national registries.
"There's an absence of leadership and lack of vision from the top of the house and it's incumbent on our provinces to pick up this ball in the best interests of Canadians."
The CAW has been a long-standing supporter of strong gun control and the national long-gun registry. In 1993, the CAW Council (the union's parliamentary body made up of workplace representatives) voted to support initiatives aimed at stricter gun control in the wake of the 1989 fatal shooting of 14 women at L'Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal.
No Justice After Vancouver Bus Driver Assault, CAW says
In the wake of a conditional sentence for a man who assaulted a Vancouver bus driver, CAW Local 111 is continuing to push for changes to the criminal code to ensure harsher penalties for assaulting transit drivers.
The local union, which represents more than 3,800 Coast Mountain bus drivers, is seeking changes to the federal criminal code that would ensure assaults of transit operators are treated the same as assaults of police, paramedics and other first responders.
CAW Local 111 President Don MacLeod said the BC provincial court decision on April 3 sends a terrible message.
The conditional sentence was too lenient and provided "no justice" - not for the victim (bus driver Charles Dixon) not for other bus drivers who face assaults, and not for bus riders.
"The Crown asked for nine to twelve months in jail because Del Louie had previously been convicted of attacking a woman bus driver, assaulted Dixon and his son and broke his bail conditions three times, including further assaults on a police officer and emergency service workers," MacLeod said in a news release.
"Our members felt even that sentence would have been inadequate but at least a step forward to deterring the ongoing violence against bus drivers," MacLeod said.
"Instead, the Judge gave Del Louie 18 months house arrest and gave bus drivers another message that the courts do not regard violence against them as serious - a terrible message to send."
MacLeod said bus drivers are furious with the sentence. There have been more than 1000 assaults on bus drivers in Vancouver in the past 10 years and more than 145 since Dixon was attacked in February 2011. Dixon suffered serious injuries to his face, a concussion, neck and other injuries. He has not worked since the assault.
Snowbear Demonstration: Monday April 23 at 11 a.m. in Toronto
Snowbear, the largest Canadian manufacturer of utility trailers and snowplows, has since the fall of 2011 shut down production and issued layoff notices to members of CAW Local 1917.
The Catalyst Capital Group, secured lenders to Snowbear obtained a court appointed receiver for the purpose of selling the assets of the company, which is located in Guelph, Ontario. CAW members who worked at Snowbear are owed approximately $500,000 in severance.
Catalyst Capital is a private equity investment firm located in downtown Toronto, which has billions in assets under management.
The CAW has been calling for a meeting with Catalyst founder and managing partner Newton Glassman to no avail.
As a result a demonstration has been called for Monday, April 23 at 11 a.m. outside the offices of Catalyst Capital Group Inc, Royal Trust Tower, TD Bank Centre, 777 King Street West, (King and Bay) in Toronto.
Ontario Day of Action Against Cuts: April 21
Join thousands of other Ontarians concerned about cuts to jobs and public services following banker Don Drummond's 400 recommendations to the provincial government for cutbacks.
The Ontario Federation of Labour is holding a Day of Action Against Cuts on Saturday, April 21 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Queen's Park in Toronto. Participants are being asked to tell Premier Dalton McGuinty to build Ontario, not tear it apart.
At a time when Ontarians are in desperate need of economic recovery, these cuts will jeopardize every aspect of society: from health care to full-day kindergarten to pensions. For more information visit www.ofl.ca
April 21, at Truck Show
The CAW is planning a mass demonstration in support of Navistar truck employees from Chatham, Ontario who are seeking a fair and equitable closure agreement with the company.
Since the official notification that the Chatham truck plant was closing in July 2011 the union has been unable to convince the corporation to treat these CAW Local 35 and 127 members with respect and dignity, said CAW President Ken Lewenza.
"At one point in their history, this facility had over 2000 people," Lewenza said. "It is unconscionable that after many years, Navistar refuses to bargain a decent closure agreement. To date the issues revolve around pensions, severance pay and other matters," Lewenza states in a March 26 letter to southern Ontario CAW locals.
The demonstration will be held Saturday, April 21 at 12 noon at Truck World - Canada's National Truck Show, the International Centre, 6900 Airport Road in Toronto. The show is being sponsored by Navistar.
Canada's dented auto union
seeks new road map
By Allison Martell
April 10, 2012
OSHAWA, Ontario, (Reuters) - Bev McCloskey had only been working at General Motors for a couple of weeks in 1949 when word went out that there was trouble on the line.
It was her first strike, but not her last. In those years, McCloskey and the other workers at GM's Oshawa, Ontario, plants walked out over almost every contract, winning a string of concessions and forging Canada's most powerful union.
"In every strike we've ever had, we've made gains...until we had a good standard of living," says McCloskey, whose mother cleaned houses to support her five children in the years before GM turned Oshawa into a mini-Detroit. "We were middle class, you know. You could go travel."
Twenty-seven years after breaking away from the United Auto Workers, the once-mighty Canadian Auto Workers may disappear, subsumed into a new mega union as jobs vanish in Central Canada's manufacturing sector.
The CAW's membership has fallen almost 30 percent in the past six years, and its leaders see a merger with the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers (CEP), another major private-sector union, as the best way to stay relevant.
"If unions do not change, and quickly, we will steadily follow U.S. unions into continuing decline," the two unions said in a joint discussion paper released last month. "We must reverse the erosion of our membership, our power, and our prestige."
In a move that underlines the seriousness of the threat, CAW and CEP leaders want to build a new 300,000-strong union, the private sector's largest by far, with a new name that has yet to be decided.
It would span more sectors, tap into sentiment that has driven the Occupy movement, and do more to appeal to non-unionized workers. The new union would also inherit CEP's strength in Alberta's oil industry, the strongest sector in the Canadian economy.
It is too early to say whether the plan will go ahead, let alone achieve its goals. But the combative CAW, which has long dominated collective bargaining in Canada thanks to its political savvy and financial clout, knows it has to change.
DOWNSIZING THE CAW
According to a government survey of major unions, the CAW's membership has fallen 28 percent since 2006. The union says the decline is closer to 23 percent, from 250,000 to 193,500 members. Either way, it has been a sharp, painful reversal.
After splitting with the UAW in 1985, the CAW increased its membership through 2004. Mergers brought in members in new sectors, from airport check-in staff to university lab assistants.
A well-paid membership and a centralized structure that let media-savvy national presidents speak on behalf of any local gave the CAW outsized political influence, which boosted its forays into other sectors.
It was a remarkable performance, given that overall Canadian unionization rates peaked in the 1980s. By contrast, the UAW diversified less, and its membership has fallen about 75 percent over the last three decades.
The CAW has held more radical positions than the UAW, and it has taken over 42 smaller unions since 1985, mostly under its charismatic former national president, Buzz Hargrove.
Front and center in every CAW dispute from 1992 to 2008, Hargrove was prominent in mainstream politics and the labor movement, a tough-talking leader who was accessible to union members, management and media alike.
"You have to know Buzz," says Ken Lewenza, the CAW's current national president. "There was a natural attraction to the CAW. I mean, we didn't get 40 mergers, the majority of them under Buzz, without him reaching out and saying, 'you can do better with us'."
But now, Lewenza says, job losses are outpacing growth from organizing drives and mergers. That has hurt the union's revenue, especially since new recruits in the service sector earn less than auto workers. Since 2008, the CAW has trimmed its own head office staff through attrition.
The CEP merger talks, first acknowledged in December but not much discussed until the two sides launched slick joint websites last month, suggest that a gradual decline has reached a critical point. ()
Gary Chaison, a professor of industrial relations at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, says unions turn to big mergers when they are in trouble: "This is really dramatic stuff. This is where unions are going to have to give up some of their identity."
"Usually a merger is not the first course of action, but the last," he says. "It's something unions do very reluctantly."
CEP's membership has also fallen more than 20 percent over five years, to about 110,000, as the pulp and paper industry has faded. The union, itself formed when three unions merged in 1992, is among Canada's largest, but with a highly decentralized structure, it lacks the CAW's political clout.
It's hard to fault any Canadian union for coveting the CAW's influence, if not its membership base. The labor movement feels under fire as governments step in more frequently to prevent labor disputes, and companies, hit by a strong Canadian dollar, push to cut costs.
That's something the CAW used to fight more or less successfully. Indeed, even as trade liberalization eroded organized labor's power through the 1990s, the CAW held onto its confrontational tactics, and its bargaining power.
Take October 1996: CAW Local 222 members took over GM's Oshawa north plant after they heard the company was planning to restart production during a strike over a new contract, potentially breaking the strike.
Gary Ainsworth, then a shop floor rep, recalls that a carefully selected group broke down the front door. Once management and security were out, Ainsworth circled the plant, welding doors shut.
It's difficult to imagine a similar scene playing out when Local 222 goes into talks this summer.
Foremost in CAW leaders' minds is Caterpillar Inc's Electro-Motive plant in London, Ontario. On Jan. 1 the company locked out CAW members, demanding up to 50 percent wage cuts. A month later, it shut the locomotive-making facility, laying off at least 450 workers. The next day, it hosted a job fair in Muncie, Indiana.
"It's a highly competitive industry, and right now, at the current exchange rates, Canada is a high-cost producer," says Art Schwartz, a consultant and former GM negotiator. "I think they're being asked to kind of get in with everybody else."
In contract talks with the CAW this year, the Detroit Three automakers will push for performance pay, a concession the CAW, unlike the UAW, has resisted for decades. This time around, Chris Buckley, who heads up Local 222, will not rule it out. He worries about GM leaving Canada entirely.
Buckley, who with his handlebar mustache has been a fixture around the Oshawa plant for almost 30 years, doesn't see the next generation making the same gains he did. He wishes his daughter, who works in auto parts, was in another industry.
"I think we're going to scratch and claw for every job we hang on to for a very, very long time," he says.
A NEW UNION
Lewenza says the CAW has the resources to survive without CEP, but says the union should do something more ambitious - try to boost unionization rates nationally, and shift trade policy to protect high-quality jobs.
He emphasizes the political advantages of a merger. CEP organizes in the energy industry, including Western Canada's expanding oil sands, as well as at telecom giant Bell Canada . While the CAW's power is concentrated in Central Canada, a merged union would be a significant force across the country.
Dave Coles, CEP's president, focuses on the benefits of a merger in bargaining, building big strike funds and drawing on support from other sectors during long conflicts.
"In our union ... there's a history of having industrial disputes that last a year or more, and winning them," he says.
Members may object, however. The CAW is highly centralized, unlike CEP. Also, CEP is aligned with the left-leaning New Democratic Party nationally, and in the province of Quebec with the separatist Bloc Quebecois and Parti Quebecois. The CAW has been more flexible, occasionally supporting Liberal Party candidates to counter conservative parties.
Any deal will require compromises on both sides.
"There's going to be a new name for this organization. Is the Canadian Auto Workers near and dear to my heart? Absolutely. But I can get over that," Buckley says.
Ainsworth, from the 1996 occupation, says he will trust Buckley. But he doesn't reach for upbeat talking points as quickly.
He grew up around the labor movement - his father once served 15 days in jail for joining another company's picket line in defiance of a court order.
Ainsworth became a union rep at GM and stuck with it even though it didn't win him many friends.
"I haven't thought of it a whole lot, but yeah, I hate to see it," he says of the merger. For a moment, he struggles for words. "I hate to see us have to join somebody to keep our head above water."
April 5, 2012
Volume 42, No. 13
Budget Cuts Won't Deliver Progress for Canadians, CAW says
The Harper government's retirement reforms will cause needless hardship for poor seniors and worsen the growing concern over youth unemployment in Canada, said CAW President Ken Lewenza, following the release of the 2012 federal budget.
The budget called for an extension of Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplement age requirements to 67, a move Lewenza said is reckless.
"We have a problem in Canada where seniors can't afford to retire and young people can't find adequate jobs," Lewenza said. "So, instead of fixing that problem, our government announced a plan to make retirement less affordable and to keep young workers unemployed."
Lewenza urged the government to reconsider its OAS/GIS reform proposals and to expand the Canada Pension Plan as a means of solving Canada's pension funding crisis.
In the budget, the Harper government announced major departmental budget cuts that are expected to eliminate 35,000 public sector jobs, which marks a major setback on Canada's job creation efforts. These cuts offset six months' worth of modest job gains in Canada.
Lewenza said this austerity budget comes at a time when economists continue to warn that wrong-headed spending cuts could actually do more harm than good to struggling economies.
"Canadians were looking for a jobs budget and a growth budget," Lewenza said. "Instead, Mr. Harper and Mr. Flaherty have saddled us with job cuts, pension reductions and delayed retirement."
Rally Against Rio Tinto Lockout in Alma, Quebec
CAW Supports Locked-Out Workers in Quebec. Left to right: CLC Secretary-Treasurer Hassan Yussuff; CAW Secretary-Treasurer Peter Kennedy; CAW President Ken Lewenza; Mark Maltais, President of USW Local 9490; USW Canadian Director Ken Neumann; USW Quebec Director Daniel Roy and (centre) CAW Local 2301 President Ed Abreu.
Thousands of activists, including CAW representatives from Quebec to British Columbia, marched through the streets of Alma, Quebec demanding an end to the lock out of Rio Tinto Alcan smelter workers.
CAW President Ken Lewenza spoke at the March 31 rally which was attended by CAW Quebec Director Jean Pierre Fortin, activists from CAW Local 2301 as well as Pierre Deschenes, president of CAW Mining Council.
"It's outrageous that this giant, multi-billion dollar corporation is bullying workers into accepting needless concessions here in Quebec," Lewenza said.
CAW Local 2301, which represents Rio Tinto workers in Kitimat, British Columbia, has decided to temporarily increase dues during the lock out to help support the Alma workers. This is expected to yield approximately $78,000 in support per month over the next four months.
"This is a tremendous show of solidarity by the CAW Local 2301 membership in support of our brothers and sisters at Rio Tinto in Quebec," said CAW Local 2301 President Ed Abreu.
In addition the CAW national union has donated $25,000 to help this group of Quebec workers and the CAW Mining Council an additional $2,500.
"Companies such as Rio Tinto need to remember that they are making their profits thanks to the communities in which they are operating," said Jyrki Raina, President of the International Metalworkers' Federation. "They need to show respect for current and future workers and stop callously cutting labour costs and decent jobs without any regard for the local economy."
The United Steelworkers represent 780 workers at Rio Tinto Alcan's (RTA) smelter in Alma Quebec, who were locked out December 30. The dispute centres on RTA's plan to replace regular workers with subcontractors paid at half the wage rate, the USW states in a release.
Thousands of demonstrators at the rally came from across the Lac Saint-Jean region and Quebec, as well as communities outside the province. Supporters also included union representatives from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the United States, Mexico and several other countries.
Earth Hour a World-Wide Success
On Saturday, March 31, 2012 between 8:30- 9:30 p.m. people across Canada in 511 cities joined millions around the world in participating in Earth Hour. Now in its fifth year, Earth Hour has continued to grow, spreading to more than 150 countries in approximately 6,525 cities, towns and municipalities - showing once again that citizens around the world believe that together, we can inspire action on climate change.
Earth Hour is more than just switching off lights for one hour once a year. It is meant to raise awareness about climate change issues, which continue to worsen.
At the CAW's Family Education Centre (FEC) in Port Elgin, Ontario, guests and staff joined the leadership of CAW Local 2458 to recognize Earth Hour and to cheer our very own FEC Clean Energy Wind Turbine.
The CAW Wind Turbine is a symbol of the union putting its principles of environmental protection and sustainability into practice. The union's progressive approach to generating clean energy along with the many other environmental initiatives our members participate in every year is helping to create a better future for generations to come.
Financial Appeal for Locked Out Trawler Crew
CAW President Ken Lewenza is urging financial support and messages of solidarity to the locked-out crew of the factory freezer trawler Newfoundland Lynx.
The dispute began on February 5, 2012 when Ocean Choice International locked out the crew of the trawler. The FFAW bargaining unit is made up of 44 members, divided into two crews who work on a trip-on, trip-off basis.
The main issues in dispute at the start of the lockout were fish prices, employer demands for exclusions from the bargaining unit, and the employer's attempt to circumvent the Collective Agreement by moving high-valued shrimp to a non-union vessel, and demanding that the crew of the Newfoundland Lynx fish lower-valued species. This would drastically reduce their incomes.
The dispute escalated dramatically when the company brought in a scab crew. The locked out trawlermen held the scabs at bay for several days, but eventually about 75 riot police forced the issue and got the crew on board the vessel. Since then the vessel has sailed with a scab crew, landing in Nova Scotia.
The company has compounded the issue by adding additional demands during bargaining sessions aimed at settling the dispute.
Donations in support of the locked out crew can be sent to FFAW/CAW President Earle McCurdy, P.O. Box 10, St.John's, NL, A1C 5H5. Make cheques payable to the FFAW/CAW.
Workers Owed Severance Demonstrate in Toronto
Frustrated CAW members owed approximately $500,000 in severance payments demonstrated near King and Bay in downtown Toronto outside the headquarters of the private equity firm which is a secured lender to manufacturer Snowbear Limited.
The March 22 demonstration was held outside the Royal Trust Tower, which houses the offices of Catalyst Capital Group Inc. and its founder and managing partner Newton Glassman.
Snowbear has shut down production and gradually wound down operations since the fall, when it employed up to 200 workers. All the workers have now received layoff notices.
The CAW has been calling for a meeting with Mr. Glassman to discuss the situation.
Catalyst Capital Group has billions in assets under management, according to the Financial Post Magazine. Catalyst's portfolio has included major firms including Allsteam, Canwest, Hollinger Inc, IMAX and Stelco Inc, among many others.
Jerry Dias, Assistant to the CAW President, said it is unbelievable that such a rich company is hanging a small group of 40 workers out to dry on severance owed.
"A few thousand bucks might not mean a lot to guys like Mr. Glassman, but it sure does mean a lot for folks living paycheck to paycheck."
Dias said the demonstration was held in an effort to secure a meeting with Catalyst Capital to negotiate the full severance payments owed to Snowbear workers. So far, repeated union requests for a meeting have gone unanswered.
Catalyst has since moved to put Snowbear into bankruptcy. Dias said this is an attempt to avoid paying the workers severance.
CAW Local 1917 represents workers at Snowbear Limited, which manufactures utility trailers and snowplows at its Guelph, Ontario plant.
CAW Youth Activist Program
On March 25 to 29 the union ran its first week-long Youth Activist workshop at the CAW Family Education Centre in Port Elgin. This pilot session was attended by 19 young CAW members from across the country. Through a mixture of workshops, open forums and activities, young members explored issues relating to the union's structure and its history as well as the challenges young workers face at work and in society. The course also helped inform participants about ongoing union campaigns and, through interactive exercises and role-plays, helped instill confidence in members to play a greater participatory role in the union. The Youth Activist workshop is set to run again in 2013. Visit www.caw.ca/education for more information.
CAW Local 725 Members Approve New Contract at WAJAX
CAW Local 725 members who work at WAJAX, formerly Detroit Diesel, in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia have overwhelmingly approved a new three-year agreement.
The CAW represents Diesel technicians who work on diesel engines at WAJAX.
The agreement includes a wage increase of three per cent in each year, a new vision care benefit, improved vacation accrual, increases to premiums and a boot allowance.
The company also wanted to introduce an incentive which the committee was reluctant to accept based on their negative experience with the current incentive program. In response the new contract secures a guarantee that the plan must payout in the first year of the agreement and if not the second and third year of the agreement will be increased to 3.5 per cent. This was a first income "insurance" protection ever negotiated for this group.
The bargaining committee was made up of chairperson Matt Hutt, shop steward Tony Kearley and national representative Chad Johnston.
Education Conference - Registration Deadline April 13
Activists will gather in Port Elgin from May 4-6 for the 2012 CAW Education Conference. The theme for the conference is Building the Union through Education. A key focus will be the role of education in building and strengthening CAW locals for the challenges ahead.
Due to the overwhelming popularity of 2011 community rain barrel sales, RainBarrel.ca will again partner with CAW Durham Regional Environment Council in support of local environmental education and community cancer prevention initiatives.
You can order now for a Monday, April 16th, 2012 pickup for a $50 rain barrel in the Oshawa, Ontario area.
Each rain barrel comes fully equipped with a leaf and mosquito filter basket, an overflow adaptor that permits multiple barrels to be connected in series, 1.2m of overflow hose and a spigot that attaches directly to a garden hose. (Additional overflow hose can also be purchased if required).
Distribution will be on April 16 from 6:30 am to 6:00 pm at CAW Local 222 Hall, 1425 Phillip Murray Ave. Oshawa. No household limits and no residency requirements are imposed however, only barrels ordered in advance are guaranteed to be available.
Order your barrel online at http://rainbarrel.ca/oshawa/the sale event) or call Dave at 905-404-1279 or Jesse at 905-434-0491 for information not available on the website or if you need assistance with online ordering. Bring your receipt to CAW 222 Hall, 1425 Phillip Murray Ave. in Oshawa to the south parking lot tent to pick up your barrels on April 16.
CAW Employment Insurance and CPP Conference
The CAW's Employment Insurance and CPP Conference will be held May 25 to 27 at the CAW Family Education Centre in Port Elgin, Ontario.
The convention will focus on EI rules, policies and practices; Canada Pension Plan benefits; networking and building a support system, advocacy and much more.
The registration deadline is Friday, May 13. For more information contact CAW National Representative Cammie Peirce at 416-495-3759 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ontario Budget Fails to Live up to Election Promises, CAW says
CAW President Ken Lewenza is voicing concern about the plan by the government to privatize the Ontario Northland Rail (ONR) service, as indicated in the March 28 Ontario budget, in addition to other significant cuts to social programs.
"Selling off ONR will have a huge impact not only on the workers there, but on the economic development of the north," said Lewenza. "In the October election, the provincial government pledged to enhance ONR operations -selling it off will in no way accomplish this goal." The CAW represents approximately 450 workers at ONR.
Lewenza applauded the government's decision not to further lower the corporate tax rate, as earlier proposed but expressed major concerns over the announcement to freeze social assistance rates; a move that will only deepen poverty across the province and create greater economic uncertainty for Ontario's most vulnerable.
"Ontario's poor already face the harshest conditions, brought on by years of Conservative government attacks," Lewenza said. "Making poor Ontarians pay for the bad decisions made by rich investors and corporations is absurd and fundamentally unfair."
Lewenza also voiced his frustration with the plan by government to freeze public service wages and reduce pensions. "Mandating a wage freeze is an infringement upon free and fair collective bargaining.
"Governments should be looking to find ways to enhance retirement security for all workers," said Lewenza. "If retirement becomes impossible for a growing segment of the population, there will be even fewer job opportunities for young workers.
Navistar Demonstration at Truck Show: April 21 in Toronto
The CAW is planning a mass demonstration in support of Navistar truck employees from Chatham, Ontario who are seeking a fair and equitable closure agreement with the company.
Since the official notification that the Chatham truck plant was closing in July 2011 the union has been unable to convince the corporation to treat these CAW Local 35 and 127 members with respect and dignity, said CAW President Ken Lewenza.
"At one point in their history, this facility had over 2000 people," Lewenza said. "It is unconscionable that after many years, Navistar refuses to bargain a decent closure agreement. To date the issues revolve around pensions, severance pay and other matters," Lewenza states in a March 26 letter to southern Ontario CAW locals.
The demonstration will be held Saturday, April 21 at 12 noon at Truck World - Canada's National Truck Show, the International Centre, 6900 Airport Road in Toronto. The show is being sponsored by Navistar.
Federal NDP Leadership Convention
Current NDP MP and former assistant to the CAW national president Peggy Nash delivers her speech as part of the showcase of NDP candidates on March 23. Despite an energetic and enthusiastic campaign by Peggy, Thomas Mulcair won the NDP leadership race on the fourth ballot. Congratulations Peggy on an excellent and truly inspiring campaign! (Photo by Joel Duff, OFL Communications Director.)
Free Trade with Japan Will Worsen Trade Deficit, CAW says
CAW President Ken Lewenza is raising serious objections to the new free trade discussions with Japan, charging that a free trade deal with Japan is unnecessary and would hurt the Canadian economy.
"Canada already has a $5 billion bilateral automotive trade deficit with Japan in 2011 alone," said Lewenza. "This occurred even though Japan doesn't have a tariff on auto imports. There will be no benefit to our auto industry or other important sectors of the economy like manufacturing and processed goods. Instead there will be a huge cost to key sectors when we eliminate the small tariff on goods coming into Canada."
Most of Japan's imports from Canada consist of raw or barely-processed resource products, while it sells back to Canada a portfolio of sophisticated value-added products, said Lewenza. "Canada also experiences a chronic deficit in its bilateral trade with Japan and a free trade agreement with Japan would only exacerbate both these problems."
"The federal government seems determined to sign as many trade deals as possible, regardless of the impact on the Canadian economy and Canadian jobs," said Lewenza. He listed new agreements with Colombia and Honduras and trade deal discussions with Thailand, Europe, India and Korea, as well as the Trans-Pacific Partnership as further proof.
"The Harper government is attempting to reinforce the stranglehold globalization has on our economy. This government has repeatedly failed to put Canadian jobs at the top of its priorities and must now do that in its discussions with Japan," said Lewenza.
Pay Equity Course: April 22 to 26
A new four-day Pay Equity training program will help participants and especially bargaining committee members better understand the obligations of the CAW under the Ontario Pay Equity Act.
The course will be held at the CAW's Family Education Centre in Port Elgin, Ontario from Sunday, April 22 to Thursday, April 26.
For more information please contact Jo-Anne Stephenson at 1-800-265-3735 ext. 3268 or email email@example.com
FUNERAL ARRANGEMENTS FOR Adam Gregory Son of Mike Gregory
1991 - 2012
Suddenly as the result of an automobile accident on Monday March 26th in his 21st year. Cherished son of Mike and Angela and loved brother of Justin and Sarah. Loving grandson of Jean and the late Bob Campbell and Jean and Frank Gregory. Sadly missed by his girlfriend Caitie Duguid, Aunts, Uncles, family and many, many friends. Family and Friends will be received at The Ward Funeral Home, “Brampton Chapel” 52 Main Street South, (Hwy #10) Brampton on Thursday from 5-9 pm. Funeral Service will be held on Friday March 30 , 2012 at 11:00 am at North Bramalea United Church, 363 Howden Blvd. (At Vodden), Brampton. Cremation to follow.
Visitation: Thursday March 29th 2012
5:00pm - 9:00pm
Ward Funeral Home, "Brampton Chapel"
52 Main Street South (905-451-2124)
Funeral Service: Friday March 30th 2012 11:00am
North Bramalea United Church
363 Howden Blvd.
is new leader of federal
Bruce Campion-Smith and Joanna Smith
March 25, 2012
Thomas Mulcair, who campaigned on a promise to bring the federal New Democrats to the centre of Canadian politics in a strategy to win government, is now at the helm of Canada's official opposition.
Mulcair, 57, took the leadership Saturday night in fourth ballot run-off, watching his initial lead grow round-by-round to best his chief rival Brian Topp, a backroom party strategist who fell short in his bid to vault into the political spotlight despite strong support from the party establishment.
It was an historic moment, the first time the federal NDP has chosen the leader of the Official Opposition, thanks to their record showing in the general election last year.
After the announcement of the voting results, Mulcair made his way through a crush of supporters, who had endured a marathon day of voting, and took the stage where he joined the six other leadership candidates he had beaten for the post.
He thanked the team that had helped to win and then laid out the challenge ahead — building supporters to unseat the Conservatives in the 2015 election.
"Our party must go outside its traditional base to unite all progressive forces under the NDP banner," Mulcair said to applause from the convention floor, which by the time he spoke was emptier than it had been earlier in the day. "We are looking to unite progressives, but we will not do it by sacrificing the unity of our country."
He accused the Stephen Harper's government of appealing to fear, stoking division and "leaving the tab for our expenses to our grandchildren."
"If the policies of the current government are not challenged if not changed, the next generation will be the first in our history to inherit a lower standard of living than that of its parents," Mulcair said.
For New Democrats, the dream of basking in the crowing of a leader to replace the late Jack Layton at what was by far the biggest and most closely watched leadership convention in party history was badly overshadowed by computer woes.
Members faced long line-ups for voting stations at the convention in Toronto and many more took to social media to complain about being unable to vote online, with party brass — after pleading for patience — eventually charging that they had been victims of a deliberate cyber attack.
The time between each round of ballots, originally scheduled to last about two hours, stretched on for four hours and more, pushing the announcement of the winner into the late evening, long after audiences at home had already switched to watching the hockey game.
Brad Lavigne, the principal secretary to the leader of the official opposition, blamed the delays on deliberate attempts to tie up electronic voting.
"Somebody outside of the party was attempting to mess with our one-member, one vote but that the sanctity of our system was preserved because of the fail safes," Lavigne told a swarm of reporters on the convention floor. "The only thing they were able to achieve was a little delay."
Party officials said later that they had isolated the attack to several IP addresses, but they did not reveal where they were located.
The attack comes as Elections Canada is already probing complaints of electronic dirty tricks from the 2011 federal election, when so-called robocalls were used to try and steer voters in Guelph and other ridings to bogus polling stations.
The technical headaches added to the drama of the lengthy day of voting to pick a new leader.
A day after the party paid emotional tribute to Layton, who died of cancer last August after leading the NDP to a record 103 seats in the spring election, NDP members elected the man to replace him.
They were not swayed by the eleventh-hour appeal of former federal leader and party legend Ed Broadbent, who issued a bitter-sounding warning that Mulcair had trouble getting along with others and would tack the party to the centre of the political spectrum at the expense of its social democratic roots.
Indeed, in the end the bellicose deputy leader was the one smiling as members from all corners — including pre-2011 MPs who Broadbent suggested had steered clear of Mulcair due to fears over his leadership style — made their way to him.
Mulcair had run a campaign based on the idea that achieving Official Opposition – while celebrated as a historic achievement for the party – was just a mathematical fact and that it would take a change in state of mind and method to turn those numbers into a real shot at government.
Mulcair ran on his record, which includes three productive years as a progressive former environment minister from Quebec who quit cabinet rather than accepting a demotion for refusing to sign off on allowing developers into a provincial park, but also a proven ability to hold his own in debates.
The policies he proposed were progressive but pragmatic enough to appeal to the general electorate, such as a cap-and-trade system to combat climate change without any talk about stopping the development of the oil sands.
When Mulcair was declared winner, Topp stood up and applauded. In a brief statement to reporters, Topp said Mulcair will be an excellent leader and was legitimately elected.
"He has my entire support," said Topp, who joined Mulcair on stage.
Soon after he left, Erin Sikora, a Topp supporter, walked towards the centre of the room to listen to Mulcair's speech.
"Obviously I wanted (Topp) to win but now we have a new leader and it's time to rally behind him," she said.
The process of smoothing over leadership divisions gets underway Sunday when MPs will gather for their first caucus meeting with Mulcair as leader.
Mulcair came out of the gates strong with 30.3 per cent of the vote on the first ballot and tightened his hold with each subsequent ballot.
The field was whittled to four after the first ballot results — last-place finisher Niki Ashton was knocked out, Paul Dewar, in fifth place, dropped out as did Nova Scotia pharmacist Martin Singh, who immediately backed Mulcair.
On the second round, a disappointed Toronto MP Peggy Nash was knocked out, leaving Topp, Mulcair and B.C. MP Nathan Cullen.
The surprise strong showing by the Cullen – who survived three rounds of voting—was seen as much of an endorsement by the grassroots of his proposals to form alliances with Liberals and Greens to defeat the Conservatives as it was of his charismatic personality.
While some thought the controversial idea would kill Cullen's popularity, he instead mounted a surprisingly strong campaign that saw him raise a lot of money and finish third.
"That we were not dead on arrival with this says something about the state of progressive politics," said veteran party strategist Jamey Heath, who was Cullen's campaign co-chair.
"What's happened here is that New Democrats are certainly open to having a respectful conversation about cooperation. People, whether they like it or not, believe it's a conversation the party should have," he said.
"Nathan deserves enormous credit for being brave enough to do it," he said.
March 23, 2012
Volume 42, No. 11
Ontario Gaming Reforms, CAW Responds
The national president of Canada's largest gaming workers union is urging the Province of Ontario and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation to engage in meaningful dialogue and consultation with their workers, unions and the public-at-large before instituting any further reforms to the gaming sector.
CAW President Ken Lewenza said the slate of recommendations released on March 12 as part of a provincially-mandated strategic business review conducted by the OLG will radically reshape Ontario's gaming sector, possibly for the worse, impacting thousands of workers and families.
"This is a total overhaul of a vitally important sector in Ontario's economy that will impact thousands of front-line workers who drive this business each and every day," Lewenza said. "I find it disheartening that no one thought to consider them a key stakeholder in this process."
Lewenza noted the report listed over 50 stakeholder groups directly consulted during the review process, none of whom represented the interests of OLG workers in casinos, racetracks, teletheatres and other gaming sites.
The OLG report estimates that over the next five years it will add 2,300 net new industry jobs, a prediction Lewenza said Ontarians should be wary of, since it does not consider the underlying quality of the jobs on offer.
"What we don't need now is for OLG to slash and burn good-paying gaming sector jobs only to replace them with double or triple the number of low-paying part-time and temporary jobs. That's not a net gain for Ontario," Lewenza said.
Within days of the report's release the OLG abruptly announced the closure of three slot operations in Windsor, Fort Erie and Sarnia, throwing 500 people out of work. Lewenza warned that additional recommendations to eliminate slot subsidies to racetracks and to encourage the use of privatization schemes may help pad the OLG's bottom line, but will wreak havoc on the good jobs this sector was meant to create.
The CAW represents over 7,000 gaming workers across Canada at Caesars Windsor Casino, Brantford Casino, Slots at Sudbury Downs, Great Blue Heron Casino, Edgewater Casino and the Woodbine Racetrack, as well as other locations.
Now is the Time to Change Status Quo, Labour Experts say
At a conference organized to kick-off the new union discussions between the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, labour experts stressed that corporate power and anti-worker governments are driving the need for union renewal.
Pradeep Kumar, Queen's University Professor Emeritus, Lana Payne, Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour President, and John Cartwright, Toronto and York Region Labour Council President, were among the top labour movement thinkers who spoke to more than 100 leaders and activists about the need for union renewal.
Professor Kumar noted that "the main reason for urgency on union renewal is declining union power and influence due to a fundamentally different political, economic and social environment hostile to unions, combined with a sense of complacency and possibly 'battle fatigue' after more than two decades of defensive struggles."
"Union renewal and labor movement revitalization will remain fragmented and ineffective without a coordinated approach and a common vision and agenda," he said. "This is an opportune time to reflect on the current state and future prospects. There is clear opportunity for unions in the present moment."
John Cartwright and Lana Payne echoed those sentiments. "Most importantly you are saying the status quo is no longer OK and we're going to do something about it," added Payne.
Cartwright stressed the need "to go back to the grass roots to find the strength to prevail against powerful corporations and their political servants. We do that best by looking to our roots - the patient, tough, sustained work that was done by those who first built our unions. Those future conversations at kitchen tables - about the kind of future we want for our families, our neighbours and our world - will be the key to our success in the 21st century."
The two unions have set up a website to keep members updated and engaged in discussions about the possibility of creating a new union. http://www.newunionproject.ca/ features the conference presentations, statistics on CEP and CAW -- which together would represent some 300,000 members in almost every sector of the Canadian economy -- a timetable, and other information and resources.
The kick-off conference was held on Feb. 25-27 at the Sheraton Hotel in Toronto. The two unions continued discussions in Ottawa from March 15-17.
To read the joint letter from CAW President Ken Lewenza and CEP President Dave Coles visit Here:
CCPA Releases Alternative Federal Budget 2012
The CCPA's Alternative Federal Budget (AFB) called "2012: A Budget for the Rest of Us" was released March 15. This year's AFB, prepared by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, presents a public investment plan that promotes a better quality of life for all Canadians, not just an elite few. The AFB is designed to:
. tackle poverty and income inequality by investing in public programs like education, affordable housing, public pensions, universal pharmacare, and national child care;
. get Canadians working again by creating jobs and lowering the unemployment rate;
. close tax loopholes for the wealthy, and put an end to the federal government's failed corporate tax cut experiment;
. get serious about environmental leadership with a forward-looking green strategy;
. repair our cities and build sustainable communities with a long-term physical infrastructure program.
To view the complete Alternative Federal Budget visit Here:
New Study Confirms Benefit of Support to Auto Industry
A new study released March 21, by the Institute for Research on Public Policy has established that government support for important capital projects in auto assembly pays dividends for the larger economy and even for the government. This comes in the form of higher auto employment, exports and tax revenues.
Other conclusions drawn by the study's authors have raised concerns. CAW Economist Jim Stanford has written a response, including refuting the claim in the report that cutting auto wages by $10 eliminates the need for active auto investment supports.
To read CAW Economist Jim Stanford's detailed response, visit Here:
No Cuts to Injured Workers' Benefits: Open Letter to McGuinty
The Ontario Network of Injured Workers Groups is raising concerns over WSIB staff lay-offs and reductions in workers' compensation at the same time that WSIB President David Marshall could receive a bonus of up to $400,000 after five years, if certain financial goals and objectives are met.
The ONIWG outline the concerns in an open letter to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty released March 15 at Queen's Park.
"He's getting paid to cut our benefits," said ONIWG President Peter Page. "We have always been concerned that WSIB funding would be tackled by cuts to injured workers."
In the open letter the ONIWG outline that the terms of Marshall's appointment create a huge conflict of interest between the government's commitment that "full funding will not be achieved on the backs of injured workers." It also highlights Marshall's significant financial incentives to reduce WSIB spending on injured workers.
"It's wrong to give executive bonuses at a time when injured workers are struggling because their benefits are being cut further," said Scott McIlmoyle, chair of the CAW WCB council committee. "The McGuinty government needs to correct this situation
so that injured workers don't suffer more because of executive incentives to reduce benefits," he said.
Newfoundland and Labrador fish processor Ocean Choice International locked out 45 fishermen, who are FFAW members, from the trawler Newfoundland Lynx back on February 5. Police talk to FFAW members alongside the Lynx in Mugrave, N.S. The dispute continues although talks resumed March 21.
win wage battle with UAW,
but the future is cloudy
By Grace Macaluso, The Windsor Star
March 19, 2012
Almost 30 years of profit sharing at the Detroit Three have failed to propel UAW hourly wages above those of their Canadian counterparts.
CAW base wages are about $6.71 an hour higher than the rate earned by UAW members, said Kristin Dziczek, director of labour and industry group at the Centre for Automotive Research (CAR) in Ann Arbor, Mich. The figure includes a blend of rates for skilled trades and production workers.
Other labour costs, such as overtime, layoff benefits, paid time and holidays are almost double on this side of the border, she added.
Add to that the two-tiered wage system that pays new UAW hires about half of the regular hourly rate and the CAW faces enormous pressure to lower its costs when the union heads into Detroit Three bargaining this fall.
"I don't know if Ken Lewenza (CAW president) is willing to take less jobs and more cash," said Dziczek. "It's that kind of a tradeoff and the real question is how are they going to address their cost disadvantage."
In the 2011 round of Detroit Three-UAW talks the union secured pledges for investment and job creation from Ford, GM and Chrysler. In fact, Chrysler, alone, has exceeded its the number of promised entry-level jobs from 2,100 to 3,000 said Dziczek.
The CAW's diehard preference "is for workers to be paid a known wage for the work that they do, instead of having their income unknown and dependent on things like overall corporate profits which they have no control over," said Jim Stanford, CAW economist.
Unlike wage increases, bonuses do not get built into a worker's base compensation.
"That's why, in later years, wage increases add up to more than bonuses of any kind, whether it's lump sum or profit sharing," said Stanford.
"Profit sharing is the worst of both worlds. You get a bonus rather than a wage and you don't even know what the bonus is going to be until the end of the year, which makes it very hard for a family to plan."
Companies favour profit-sharing because it shifts some of the risk to employees, he added. "They prefer a situation where a company's profits aren't high, their costs automatically go down and it is in essence shifting some of the risk of the business from the owners to the workers."
Canadian pay rates remain higher even with recent payouts as high as $11,000 at GM, said Dziczek. The $7,000 instalment distributed to GM workers earlier this year amounted to $3.75 an hour per worker, she said. "It's not going to make up the $6.71 and it doesn't accumulate which is the CAW's big point, that it doesn't roll in."
Figures compiled by CAR show that there were several years when zero profits at Ford, GM and Chrysler, meant zero payouts.
At GM, for example, there were 13 years when workers did not receive profit-sharing cheques.
An hourly worker at a Canadian plant earns about $34 compared to $29 across the river.
An "overvalued" Canadian dollar is making life miserable for the manufacturing sector, said Stanford.
There are still advantages in this country, he added. "Our health care costs are about one sixth of the UAW's. Productivity in the Canadian industry is higher."
In fact, Canada is holding on to its auto manufacturing footprint. Canada now accounts for 17.3 per cent of North American vehicle production, up slightly from pre-recession levels of about 16.8 per cent, according to a recent study by DesRosiers and Associates.
But that footprint could shrink as more vehicle production shifts to lower-cost Mexico and parts of the U.S, warned Tony Faria, business professor at the University of Windsor.
"The CAW approach is a disaster for the future of the Canadian auto industry," said Faria. "(Chrysler Group CEO) Sergio Marchionne has been most outspoken on this, but there's no question the Detroit Three want the same deal they got in the U.S. last year."
In terms of vehicle assembly, Ontario has been outproduced by Mexico over the last four years and will fall farther behind, he noted.
"Ontario is not getting any new plants, and last year, Michigan production started catching up to Ontario."
Over the past four years, only $98 million was invested in Canada to increase assembly capacity," said Fari. "This represents only 0.001 per cent of all capacity growing investments made globally over the past four years. In other words, one-tenth of a per cent. Not good."
Last year, Mexico drew more than $3.3 billion in auto investment announcements, while the U.S. attracted about $1 billion, said Faria. Canada drew zero dollars.
The CAW's biggest challenge is to "hang on to what we have," said Stanford, who cites a Canadian dollar that is either at par or higher than the greenback as the most serious threat to the industry.
"If you look at the level of prices and costs in our country versus America and elsewhere, our currency should be around 81 cents.
That's the fair value based on the relative costs; that's what international groups like the OECD, IMF say. We're at parity or slightly higher and that means everything in Canada is artificially 25 per cent too expensive.
"That's a terrible challenge."
The CAW does not have to abandon wage hikes altogether, said Dziczek. "I don't think they have to bend on any particular issue but what they will have to address is with the loonie at par, their costs are higher and the companies are going to come to them and say 'how can you address the cost issue.'
"There's lots of ways to do that. Certainly the companies are going to pull out the UAW contract, but they've got a different philosophy, a different kind of membership at the CAW and a different approach. So how can they achieve costs reductions in different ways? It doesn't have to be patterned after the UAW."
Retiree Don McElhinney
June 20th, 1932 - March 14th, 2012
It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of Retiree Don McElhinney.
Our Condolences go out to his wife Jean and family.
Don retired from Ford on October 1, 1994 with
22.5 Years of service.
After a hard fought battle, Donald passed away surrounded by family at Credit Valley Hospital. Mac was a truly blessed man who enjoyed a busy and wonderful life. Beloved husband of Jean; father of Shirley (Paul) and Debbie (Ray); grandfather of 8 and great-grandfather of 6. Donald will be greatly missed by many friends and his family.
A Celebration of Life Service will take place at the Dods & McNair Funeral Home & Chapel, 21 First St., Orangeville on Saturday, March 24, 2012 at 3:00 p.m. with visitation 1 hour prior to service time.
The family wishes to thank all the staff and doctors of the Credit Valley Palliative Care Unit for all their kindness and support.
If desired, donations in Donald's memory may be made to Pancreatic Cancer Canada or Credit Valley Hospital - Palliative Care Unit
A tree has been planted in memory of Donald in the Dods & McNair Memorial Forest at the Island Lake Conservation Area, Orangeville. A dedication service will be held on Sunday, September 9th, 2012 at 2:30 p.m
Dods and McNair Funeral Home
21 First Street
CAW Local 3000 President and National Executive Board member Jean Van Vliet (right)presented a donation to Lori Wasyliw of Monarch Place, in New Westminster, B.C. in honour of International Women's Day, from the CAW's Social Justice Fund. Monarch Place offers shelter and support services to women who are fleeing abuse.
The CAW has donated $100,000 to 50 women's shelters across Canada in conjunction with International Women's Day on March 8, 2012.
International Women's Day (IWD) is a day to celebrate and mobilize, a day to energize and strengthen the feminist movement for the future. It's a day to reflect on the advances women have made over the past century: the right to vote, to get an education, to earn a living, the right to lead and the right to choose, said Julie White, Director of Women's Programs.
On IWD, CAW women will join with other women at forums, marches and rallies in communities across the country.
"As IWD celebrations go ahead on this day, it's critical to remember that the gains women have made are not secure - and that the assaults on gender equality in Canada have been broad and sweeping under the Harper Conservative government, past and present," White said.
Funding cuts to women's programs and services, attacks on pay equity, childcare and gun control all illustrate this government's disregard for a more equal society for women.
"In the months and years ahead leading up to the next federal election we must work to renew and strengthen our fight for economic, social and political equality and refuse to be silent," said White.
"We know that every action matters - that one person, one group, one community can make a big difference. Women becoming involved in the political process are the key to change. Raising our voices and taking action ensures that issues women care about - from childcare, to pensions, to gun control, to good paying jobs - are on the agenda in the next federal election."
In addition to making an annual donation, the CAW is urging the federal and provincial governments to provide core funding to agencies that provide services to women and their children who are fleeing violent relationships.
New Agreement Reached for Marine Communications and Traffic Service Officers
CAW Local 2182, which represents 360 officers at Marine Communications and Traffic Service centres, has reached a tentative agreement with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Federal Treasury Board.
The tentative agreement, which was reached March 7 in Ottawa, covers officers at 22 locations across Canada.
"The bargaining committee felt it was important to bargain a collective agreement with this difficult employer prior to the Harper government releasing the federal budget on March 29," said CAW Local 2182 President Martin Grégoire. "The budget is sure to have further austerity measures that will negatively effect the work force right across the federal civil service," he said.
The three-year agreement provides wage increases in each year as well as various improvements to the leave provisions.
"This is another example of how collective bargaining is intended to work," said CAW President Ken Lewenza. "This agreement was reached without any government interference which is becoming more and more difficult to accomplish during these tough economic times."
CAW Local 2182 members will vote on the tentative agreement over the next three weeks at meetings across Canada.
CAW Criticizes U.S. Subsidy to Caterpillar Sales in Canada
CAW President Ken Lewenza has reacted angrily to news that a U.S. government agency is subsidizing sales of U.S.-made locomotives to a Canadian mining operation - locomotives made by the same company that recently closed its only Canadian manufacturing facility.
"This is just another indication that the so-called rules of free trade are not working for Canada," said Lewenza.
The Export-Import Bank of the United States (known as Ex-Im), owned by the U.S. federal government, recently announced approval of $83.1 million in loan guarantees to support the purchase of six locomotives made by Electro-Motive Diesel Inc., along with other U.S.-made railway equipment. The machinery is being purchased by the Iron Ore Company of Canada (a subsidiary of global mining giant Rio Tinto) for a mining operation in Labrador.
Electro-Motive is owned by Caterpillar, the U.S.-based machinery giant that recently shuttered its London, Ontario, locomotive plant.
"These locomotives will be used to extract Canadian resources, and they should be made in Canada," Lewenza said. "It's an incredible slap in the face, given how offensively Caterpillar treated Canadians."
Ex-Im subsidized a total of $550 million in U.S. locomotive exports in 2011, as part of an overall $33 billion package of preferential loans and loan guarantees offered last year to foreign purchasers of U.S.-made products.
Lewenza recently wrote to federal Trade Minister Ed Fast, with several proposals for how Canadian trade policy should be reformed in light of the Caterpillar debacle.
Lewenza asked Minister Fast to impose emergency duties on Caterpillar imports in wake of the London closure, to offset the impact of major U.S. subsidies on Caterpillar's operations and location decisions. In addition to the Ex-Im support, Caterpillar's U.S. locomotive operations have also benefited from large municipal and state subsidies paid to the company's new factory in right-to-work Indiana, as well as Buy America regulations that establish minimum U.S.-content in major projects. Lewenza's complete letter to Minister Fast is available at http://www.caw.ca/assets/images/fast-caterpillar-trade_policy.pdf.
"Canada is surely the only country in the world that would allow a multinational corporation to purchase an important industrial asset, blackmail our workers, shut down the plant entirely - and then sell the same products back to us, helped by government subsidies, to extract our own natural resources."
"This is a symbol of the incredible failure of our entire trade and industrial policy framework," Lewenza said.
CAW Supports B.C. Teachers
CAW members came out en masse to support B.C. teachers at a rally the B.C. legislature in Victoria and at events planned at schools across the province. The B.C. Liberal government has tabled back to work legislation which would effectively allow it to freeze teachers wages and remove limits on class sizes, in a forced settlement. To find out how to support B.C. teachers, please visit: http://www.standupforbc.com/
Decline in Job Seekers Must Prompt Immediate Action
CAW President Ken Lewenza is calling on the federal government to take meaningful steps toward crafting a national good jobs strategy, as more Canadians continue to give up on the country's labour market.
Lewenza's comments came on the heels of Statistics Canada releasing its monthly jobs report on March 9 that revealed the national labour market participation rate dropped to its lowest level in a decade.
There were fewer Canadians employed or looking for work in February 2012 (66.5 per cent of the working age population) than there has been since March, 2002. This means more and more Canadians have given up looking for work.
Lewenza said this should send shockwaves through the halls of all federal and provincial governments.
"We're in the midst of a full-blown jobs crisis in this country," Lewenza said. "The alarm has been ringing for years yet the Harper government just keeps hitting the snooze button."
Lewenza said that it is dangerous for government and policy-makers to look too closely at the national unemployment rate as a measure of economic health, as it fails to account for the quality of jobs on offer and it totally ignores those workers who have given up the search.
Lewenza noted that structural changes in the labour market, including the loss of over half a million good-paying manufacturing and processing jobs, the rise of more precarious forms of employment (like temporary and contract jobs) as well as the flat-lining of real wages has ruptured workplace standards and the quality of work.
Lewenza said the federal government has an obligation to show leadership to spur job creation in Canada. He said the upcoming federal budget is a critical moment that will show Canadians whether they fully understand the gravity of the jobs situation, or not.
"I want Jim Flaherty to announce in the budget that the government is organizing an urgent multi-stakeholder, national good jobs summit," Lewenza said. "That summit should then translate into a national good jobs strategy.
Owner-Operator, Fleet Separation Policies Must be Saved, says FFAW/CAW
The FFAW/CAW is demanding the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans maintain status quo with its Owner/Operator and Fleet Separation policies after a review paper on modernization was released by the department.
Fleet separation prevents a company from both catching and processing seafood, while the owner-operator policy requires the fishing license holder to catch the fish.
The discussion paper makes no mention of policies known as owner-operator and fleet separation, Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield has refused to say whether the policies will remain.
FFAW/CAW members are worried a change to these policies will allow big, possibly foreign companies to enter and dominate the inshore fishery decimating the current license holders who have carved out a living for their families from the sea for decades in Newfoundland and Labrador.
FFAW/CAW President Earle McCurdy said the future of the under 89-foot fleet in Newfoundland and Labrador, is at high risk.
"There's a concerted effort to open the door to outright ownership of licenses by fish processors, or by anybody else for that matter. They (DFO) want to actually uncouple the license from the fishing activity. The right to fish should be associated with the people who catch the fish," said McCurdy.
The removal of the owner-operator and fleet separation policies in BC resulted in an unmitigated disaster for the people who catch fish there. The result in New Zealand was also devastating with over 60 per cent of its fishing fleet today from foreign countries. A ministerial inquiry into what transpired in the fishery is ongoing in that country.
McCurdy said when large companies buy licenses and quota they peddle it around to the highest bidder, oftentimes at a price which is far beyond what they're worth.
The review affects fisheries in all Atlantic provinces. Nova Scotia's government has called on the federal government to explain whether it will maintain policies protecting inshore fisheries as it seeks to modernize Canada's commercial fisheries. The Newfoundland and Labrador Fisheries Minister Darin King says he first wants input from all the players before taking a position.
Free Trade with Europe Could Inflict Economic Pain on NS
A panel of trade experts gathered in downtown Halifax on March 6 to discuss the possible impacts a Canada-EU free trade deal will have on the Nova Scotia economy.
CAW Economist Jim Stanford said the proposed Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) could cost Nova Scotia up to 3,000 net direct jobs as a result, even more once spin-off and multiplier effects are considered.
"Nova Scotia's trading relationship with the EU is even more precariously unbalanced than is the rest of Canada's," Stanford told the crowd of over 100 labour, government and business representatives. "Nova Scotia accounts for barely 1 per cent of Canada's already inadequate exports to Europe, yet Nova Scotia imports 7.5 times as much from Europe as it exports there."
"There is no conceivable scenario in which Nova Scotia could benefit from this agreement."
Scott Sinclair, a senior research fellow with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, stressed that a top priority for EU negotiators in these talks is for unconditional access to provincial and municipal markets for goods and services.
Sinclair said that the CETA could prohibit "offsets," which are defined as any condition that encourages local development and can include 'buy local' provisions, similar to those utilized in the recent record federal shipbuilding contract awarded to the Halifax shipyard under the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy.
"Why shouldn't the sensible approach taken in the shipbuilding contracts be applied to other major contracts such as mass transit, food purchases by hospitals and nursing homes, or renewable energy?" Sinclair said.
Greater Halifax Partnership Vice President and Chief Economist Fred Morley argued the deal could have some benefits to Nova Scotia's fishing and agricultural industries but also acknowledged the need for a greater level of engagement in these trade talks from all sectors of the economy, something that has so far been lacking.
The government of Nova Scotia (along with other Canadian provinces and territories) has not disclosed any of its offers with respect to public services or procurement contracts under the CETA. This closed-door approach to trade negotiations is fuelling mistrust and frustration among those concerned that this deal will favour corporations over the rights of citizens, said CAW Atlantic Region Director Les Holloway.
Holloway has called on Premier Darryl Dexter to engage Nova Scotians in a more open and honest discussion about the potential impacts of CETA and says he hopes the government heeds the message delivered by the panelists.
The event was organized by the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour, in conjunction with the CAW.
So far, over 50 municipalities across the country have raised concerns over the deal. Dozens, including the City of Toronto, have called on provincial governments to exempt them from the deal.
Deadline Approaching for CAW 2012 Family Education Program
The deadline for applying to the CAW Family Education Program in Port Elgin, Ontario is fast approaching! Applications must be postmarked no later than Friday, March 23, 2012.
The program is an exciting way to spend time with your family while learning more about current issues from a worker's point of view. All CAW members in good standing are eligible to apply to attend along with their immediate family. The National Union covers accommodation and meals as well as airline travel (where required). You contribute your time and enthusiasm.
The CAW Family Education Program will feature three one-week English sessions in 2012:
Sunday, July 1 through Sunday, July 8;
Sunday, July 8 through Sunday, July 15;
Sunday, July 29 through Sunday, August 5.
If you have questions please contact Michelle at 1-800-268-5763 (ext: 8484) or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Design the PowerShift 2012 Logo!
This fall, the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition and a wide range of partners from across Canada is organizing PowerShift 2012. This gathering will bring together thousands of youth from across Canada to take a stand against environmental destruction and social injustice, and they need your help to make it happen.
PowerShift needs a great looking logo, and to make that happen organizers are launching the PowerShift 2012 logo design contest and asking you to make PowerShift 2012 look hot!
Designers, artists and anyone interested in making this happen are invited to submit logo designs to email@example.com. If your design is selected it will be used on posters, t-shirts, online, and in all public communications materials seen by thousands of people. Your name will also be credited in the documents distributed to all participants. Runner up designs will be used for posters and other promotional materials.
The logo should use the words "PowerShift" and "2012# and capture the spirit of building a just, sustainable future.
Submissions should be high resolution (1000 pixels wide minimum) and submitted in an image format before April 1, 2012.
The CAW and CEP are exploring the idea of forming a brand new Canadian union - to revitalize the trade union movement and provide an even stronger voice for working people and social justice issues.
Together the two unions have launched a joint website to provide current and relevant information to members on the new union discussions, now taking place.
RETIREE BILL DINSMORE
Our Deepest Condolences go out to his family
on behalf of all the CAW Local 584 Retirees
DINSMORE, William Dean - Peacefully on Saturday, March 10, 2012 at Credit Valley Hospital at the age of 90. Beloved husband of the late Coralie. Loving father of Florence (David), Sharon, Bonnie, Debbie (Bill) and the late Ruthie (Mel) and Bev (Noel). He will be sadly missed by his grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great- great-grandchild. Dear brother of Doris, Audrey, Barb and the late Ron, Ken and Jerry. Mr. Dinsmore is resting at the funeral home of Skinner & Middlebrook Ltd., 128 Lakeshore Rd. E. (1 block west of Hurontario St.), Mississauga, on Tuesday from 6-8 p.m. and Wednesday from 2-3 p.m. Funeral service in the chapel on Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 3 p.m. Cremation. Memorial donations to the Peel Shrine Club would be appreciated.
Beginning in July, salaried
employees can take lump sum
By Melissa Burden The Detroit News
March 10, 2012
Beginning in July, retiring Ford Motor Co. U.S. salaried workers will be eligible to receive a lump sum payout of their pensions instead of the traditional annuity option, the automaker said Friday.
About 25,000 U.S. salaried workers were told in October memos that they would have the option beginning in July, and a Ford representative told analysts about the option during a webcast Friday, said Ford spokesman Todd Nissen.
"We did say that we plan to begin offering lump sum payouts as an option to future retirees," he said.
Ford announced in late January that it is working to reduce its pension risk.
Its worldwide pensions at the end of 2011 were underfunded by $15.4 billion — up from $11.5 billion a year ago.
In the U.S., Ford's pension obligations are underfunded by $9.4 billion, up from $6.7 billion. Ford, which contributed $1.5 billion to its global pension plans in 2010, plans to make $3.5 billion in contributions to those plans this year, including $2 billion to its U.S. pension funds.
The Dearborn-based company isn't releasing any savings estimates on the move or its expectations, but the payouts would reduce the automaker's pension liability.
"If you have less people drawing in the future … it reduces the risk to the overall plan," Nissen said.
Ford would not provide age or any other demographic breakdowns of its salaried work force, Nissen said.
David Kudla, CEO and chief investment strategist of Mainstay Capital Management LLC in Grand Blanc, said there are several advantages for employees to take a lump sum distribution.
"The advantage of the lump sum, you can invest any way you want and take the distributions at any time you want," he said, adding that can aid in tax liability.
The current low interest rates also would benefit workers, because they would receive a higher lump sum payment, Kudla said.
"It's a favorable time to be doing it," he said.
NDP leadership: Peggy Nash,
a pit bull who is always
there for her neighbourhood
Joanna Smith - Toronto Star
March 10, 2012
Peggy Nash lights up when she talks about her favourite place in the city — the heart of the neighbourhood where she lives and works.
"High Park," Nash, 60, says without hesitation when asked where she goes to find rejuvenation.
Her slow, deliberate way of speaking picks up pace as she talks about how much she loves the zoo, running in the park, how her children, now three grown men, played sports on its grassy lawns, how the trees surrounding Grenadier Pond change with the seasons, the deer, foxes and coyotes she has spotted there.
"To me, High Park is a magical place," she says.
She is deeply concerned some of that magic will disappear, as the year-round, free-admission zoo is threatened with closing due to municipal budget cuts.
"The mean-spiritedness of eliminating one of the pleasures we have in this city," Nash says when she talks about the possibility of saying goodbye forever to the wallabies, peacocks and other animals in the paddocks. "We need our bread, but we also need our roses."
Peggy is always there.
The statement echoes like a refrain through every conversation about the role the New Democratic leadership candidate plays in the Parkdale—High Park riding she represented from 2006 to 2008 and reclaimed in the federal election last year.
"Every event you go to, she is there. She's smiling, she's shaking hands, she's answering questions," says Toronto Councillor Sarah Doucette (Ward 13), who is leading the effort to save the High Park zoo. "Even when she lost the election . . . she was still there. She was still out in the community. She was still coming to the garage sales, the craft shows, the church services, the festivals. She was still there, but she lives there."
This reality becomes apparent when Nash stops mid-sentence and looks up with a start and a smile.
"Oh, God, there's my old next-door neighbour," she says as she cranes her neck for a better view of the cash register at Coffee and All That Jazz, a café in Roncesvalles Village just a short walk away from the home she shares with her partner, Carl Kaufman. "Do you mind if I just quickly run and just say a quick hi to him?"
Nash was born and raised in Toronto.
Early childhood was in the area of Dufferin St. and Rogers Rd., where memories, albeit still vivid, are the stuff of little girls: a backyard swing set, the smell of good food wafting from the kitchen of the Basso family next door, riding in the first car of the subway with her grandfather to St. Lawrence Market or the flagship Eaton's department store on Saturday mornings.
Then came the move out to suburban Rexdale in northern Etobicoke, where Nash recalls a strong sense of community, playing with other kids on the banks of the Humber River and watching her father help the neighbours put up fences for all the homes.
"We were a pretty close-knit little street," she says.
A grassroots Quebec New Democrat who is planning to vote for another candidate recently described Nash, a former NDP president, in casual conversation as a rassembleuse, the feminine form of a word that Jack Layton used to describe himself, meaning someone who is a unifying force, someone who rallies people together.
That could be why she is often categorized as a potential compromise candidate, someone appealing to those who are looking for some happy medium between the high-profile but abrasive Thomas Mulcair and Brian Topp, who like Nash is a favourite of the party establishment but does not have a seat.
The campaign managers for Topp and Nash recently said there would be no open alliance between the two candidates to stop front-runner Mulcair.
Nash always felt connected to the city.
She loved going downtown to visit the museums and felt excited by the immigration she believed was changing her hometown in a positive way, but sometime after graduating from the University of Toronto with an honours degree in French language and literature in 1973, she felt restless and wanted to see the world.
Taking leaves of absence from her job as a passenger agent for Air Canada at Pearson International Airport, Nash travelled to Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela. She is fluent in Spanish.
It made her thankful that she lived in a peaceful and politically stable country, but also somewhat wistful that Canadians were not more politically aware and engaged, something she still wishes were the case today.
"We all know, vigilance is key," she says of the importance of political awareness even when a country is not experiencing the kind of crises she witnessed during her travels. "Every generation has to fight for things all over again."
She explains that she is talking about the rights of women being threatened by the Conservative government doing things like refusing to include funding for abortion in the G8 initiative on maternal child health, but also about growing economic inequality through job losses and attacking collective agreements.
"There has been pressure building for several years, but it's increasingly gaining velocity. It's accelerating and I think we should all be concerned about it," says Nash.
Nash fought hard for those rights as an organizer with the Canadian Airlines Employees Association and then as a senior negotiator for the Canadian Auto Workers union.
She was the first woman union negotiator to lead talks with the automotive industry in 2005. Another woman, Stacey Allerton Firth, vice-president for human resources at Ford, was in charge of the other side. They avoided a strike.
"Put two women in charge and they'll get it done," then CAW president Buzz Hargrove once told the Star he overheard Nash saying to Allerton Firth as the chuckling pair passed him in the hallway when he was taking a break from a difficult bargaining session.
Nash became instrumental in pushing for same-sex benefits, anti-harassment and anti-racism policies and employer-funded child care during her time at the CAW and advocated for better equality for minorities and diversity within the union too.
"That by far is her legacy in the union," CAW president Ken Lewenza, who recently rejoined the NDP to support Nash, along with his union. "She was like a pit bull on those issues."
Nash is a founding member of Equal Voice, the non-partisan organization advocating the election of more women, but she was not sure at first whether to run for office herself when Layton encouraged her to do it, soon after he became the federal NDP leader in 2003.
"It's a question of where can you do the most." Nash says. The NDP had fewer seats in Parliament then than the Liberals, the Canadian Alliance and the Bloc Québécois. "I had a senior position in my union, where I felt I could make a concrete difference, so I had to ask myself: why do this and run for a fourth party?"
She says it was her frustration with the Liberals, who had come to power in 1993 promising to increase the number of child care spaces and then cut social spending to balance the federal budget, that helped her make her choice.
"I just thought: you know what? It matters who's elected. It matters who is actually there in Parliament making decisions," she says.
It was not to be the first time around, when Nash lost the 2004 election in Parkdale—High Park to Liberal incumbent Sam Bulte, but she got a taste for politics and never let go.
"I knew that I would run again," says Nash. "I thoroughly enjoyed it."
Victory came two years later and Nash set about using that beachhead to turn the riding orange at all three levels of government.
"Her reputation was golden. It helped me get elected, there's no doubt," says Cheri DiNovo, the United Church minister turned Ontario NDP MPP for Parkdale—High Park, who Nash had lured into politics for a 2007 byelection.
Terry Burrell, chairman of the board of directors of the Revue Film Society, recalls Nash playing an important role in the effort to save the Revue Cinema on Roncesvalles Ave. during her first stint as MP.
"She gave the issue a real profile, appearing at key events, and donated generously to the cause," said Burrell, who has worked on her campaigns.
Being there was not enough for Nash to win re-election in 2008 against Gerard Kennedy, who had been the well-regarded Liberal MPP for Parkdale—High Park but ran for the Commons seat that year after having left the Ontario government to run unsuccessfully for federal leader.
DiNovo recalls sitting in the living room of Nash's home on that election night as they both watched the poll-by-poll returns — something DiNovo avoids doing when her own name is on the ballot because it feels like "being eaten to death by guppies."
"Most people would have felt pretty devastated by that, and she didn't," says DiNovo of Nash, who returned to her old job at the CAW. "Within months of the loss she was out again and back again."
Kennedy remembers Nash still being around in the riding when he was the MP and he credits her "city councillor kind of presence" with her success against him in the next election campaign, in 2011, but noted there is a difference between being present and solving problems when it comes to politics.
David Miller, both a neighbour and a friend to Nash in addition to being the former mayor of Toronto, believes that being from the city is one of her greatest strengths. He sees it in her plan for green cities that includes federal investment in public transit and environmentally friendly infrastructure projects.
"The heart of our neighbourhood is High Park, physically and symbolically," says Miller, who is not endorsing anyone in the leadership race. "You'll often run into Peggy running in the park and I think that's symbolic of her attachment to the neighbourhood: that she is there at its heart."
March 9, 2012
Volume 42, No. 9
CAW Members at 407 ETR Ratify New Collective Agreement
CAW Local 414 members working at the 407 ETR call centre ratified a new three-year collective agreement on March 5, ending a nine-day strike.
Members approved the new contract by 84 per cent. The agreement includes hourly wage increases for each job classification and in each year of the agreement. The new contract also includes improvements to workplace scheduling processes as well as dental and other benefit gains.
Deb Tveit, Assistant to the CAW National President, said that in addition to these contract gains the employer also came to terms with the underlying frustration and animosity of those in the bargaining unit, the root cause of the strike.
"We said right from the onset that this dispute was, at its core, about fairness and respect," Tveit said. "No one here ever wanted to resort to strike action, but it was a necessary step to get the company's full attention. We think this agreement sets the stage for a more constructive and respectful work environment moving forward."
CAW Local 414 President Christine Connor acknowledged the hard work of the bargaining committee for reaching this settlement.
"This agreement is a testament to the commitment of our bargaining team and of our members," Connor said. "This strike has demonstrated that our members are prepared to stand up and speak out against unfairness in the workplace."
CAW Local 414 represents 130 members who handle customer inquiries, billing, registrations and other job duties for the express toll highway that runs from Pickering to Burlington, Ontario.
CAW Charges Forward at Navistar in Chatham
More than 600 members of CAW Local 35 and 127 at Navistar Truck in Chatham, Ontario came out to hear an update from the union on the negotiations with Navistar and next steps. The meeting took place on March 4.
Negotiations have been ongoing since the company formally announced the Chatham truck plant's closure in July 2011. CAW President Ken Lewenza and the bargaining committees have rejected the latest offer tabled by Navistar on February 28. The proposal fell short in a number of areas, including the legal requirements around pensions as they relate to closures. Navistar has not returned to the bargaining table.
"Navistar has no intention of reopening the plant, so they have a responsibility to bargain a good closure agreement," Lewenza said at the meeting. "This employer is trying to restrict the benefits the people earned as they worked at Navistar (International Truck) and we're not going to let that happen."
At the meeting, members expressed frustration at the company's refusal to recognize the workers' longstanding efforts.
Lewenza vowed that the union would use every resource at its disposal to ensure that members at Navistar receive due justice and compensation for the closure.
International Day for the Elimination of Racism: March 21st
As March 21 approaches CAW members are reminded of their responsibility to speak out and take a stand against racism in all its forms.
"Racism contradicts and undermines our union struggle for equality, inclusiveness and social justice," said CAW Human Rights Director Vinay Sharma. "Intolerance, hatred and discrimination lead to the denial of basic human rights and fundamental freedoms, endangers peace as well as economic and social security."
"Racism is destructive to our members and to our solidarity, which are the pillars of our strength," Sharma states in a letter to all CAW local unions. "It is in our interest as a union to work towards removing barriers and to help build a just and equitable society."
Systemic racism is taking increasingly diversified forms including racial profiling, non-recognition of acquired skills, discriminatory hiring practices, exploitation of migrant workers, to name a few. People of colour are three times more likely to be poor than other Canadians because of inequalities in access to education, barriers to employment and low wages, he said. Likewise, aboriginal people face persistent health and income inequalities.
"Eliminating racism must continue to be a priority not only for the CAW but for the working class as a whole. No doubt there is still a lot of work to be done as racism still exists in our workplaces, Canadian society and right across the world. That's why we need to pay special attention to this issue every day leading up to March 21 and every day after," Sharma said.
The United Nations declared March 21 the International Day for the Elimination of Racism in 1966.
Fishers Warn Government Reforms Could Undercut Workers
Atlantic Canadian fishers are raising flags over a federal government proposal to deregulate the fishery, including the institution of major reforms to the licensing system that would extend access to large corporations.
FFAW/CAW President Earle McCurdy said that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans fishery modernization proposal (released in a discussion paper entitled "The Future of Canada's Commercial Fisheries") makes no mention of owner-operator and fleet separation policies that have been used to prevent large companies from buying up and controlling inshore fish quota.
The absence of these policies could open the door for large corporations to hold licenses to catch lobster, crab and shrimp stocks that McCurdy said will undercut the self-employed, independent fishers.
"The Ottawa bureaucracy of DFO has very little understanding of the industry and the coastal communities that they are managing," said McCurdy. "We urge the Minister to listen to the owner-operators in the coastal communities, not the bureaucrats in Ottawa."
In a joint response to the DFO discussion paper released on February 29, 33 owner-operator fleets from Quebec to Newfoundland (including the FFAW/CAW) chided the government initiative, labeling it a "top-down, centrally controlled and manipulative policy process without any notice" in a media release on March 5.
The organizations say they are fearful the DFO plans to introduce a licensing leasing policy to the Atlantic fishery that's similar to British Columbia.
"The leasing policy in B.C. allows non-fishermen to control licenses and quota and lease them to working fishermen for up to 75 per cent of the value of their landings."
Ontario School Bus Drivers Support Possible Strike
School bus drivers employed by multinational operator First Student have overwhelmingly supported a strike mandate after more than six months of fruitless negotiations.
CAW Local 4268 represents approximately 750 school bus drivers who provide services for school boards and customers in various locations across southern Ontario. Some or all of the customers may see service interruptions if the parties fail to come to a tentative agreement later this month. The strike mandate expires on March 30, so notice may be given prior to that date, at any time.
"The employer, school boards and other customers constantly come up with new procedures, policies and job requirements that add even greater time and responsibilities beyond the route times for drivers," CAW Local 4268 President Debbie Montgomery said. "The issue is not with the new procedures or regulations, but the fact that the time they require is often not compensated."
"Drivers are expected to fulfill various tasks before, between and even after their routes. This practice has become so widespread that driving a school bus is now partially volunteer work - instead of regular paid employment."
Negotiations have been ongoing since October 2011 and the union has been in a legal strike position since December.
School bus drivers operate large commercial vehicles with a load of up to 70 children and assist students with special needs to attend programs or schools, all on a tight schedule. Many times, school bus drivers have multiple routes or destinations built into their schedule.
"We are trying to enshrine a higher level of respect and dignity for these drivers. It's very troubling that the industry requires so much of these drivers, yet the pay scale is often close to minimum wage," said CAW National Representative Len Poirier.
Poirier said there is another round of meetings between the two sides set up for early March. Should the negotiations continue to fail to produce a settlement, the union will set a strike deadline before the end of March. In addition to these negotiations another 120 members of CAW Local 4266 in Cornwall and Kingston are in a similar position as they have rejected one tentative agreement and continue with negotiations.
First Student is operated by First Group, the largest provider of school bus services in the home to school market.
CETA Exemption Request a Responsible Move by Toronto
CAW National President Ken Lewenza called the City of Toronto's decision to request a clear, permanent exemption from a proposed Canada-European free trade accord a responsible move in the face of major uncertainty. To date, it is unclear what is being negotiated in the deal and how it will impact municipalities.
"We are in the midst of signing the most far-reaching international trade deal in Canadian history that aims to bind our cities and towns, yet local councils have been left in the dark, with no voice at the negotiating table," Lewenza said. "The City of Toronto is exercising an intelligent amount of caution on a trade deal that could impact its ability to manage public spending in the best interest of Torontonians."
City Council supported the call for an exemption from the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) March 5. The final resolution was an amended version of an earlier executive committee motion calling for, among other things, an accelerated dialogue with the province on the potential impacts of CETA on Toronto. The amendment to include a clear, permanent exemption was introduced by Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam and received overwhelming support.
Leaked negotiating texts and various news reports indicate that CETA threatens to undercut the power of municipalities to create local jobs, establish "buy local" procurement policies, enact environmental protections and provide services and programs in a manner it sees fit.
Proponents of the CETA (including the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters) argue the deal will open up public purchasing markets for corporations in both Canada and Europe and will be a boon to the economy, an argument Lewenza said carries little weight.
"It's wrong to say this deal will open up markets to cross-border competition when there's next to nothing stopping competition from European firms right now," Lewenza said. "Unlike many of our trading partners, Canada has been reluctant to impose rules on public purchasing, often to our own detriment."
Lewenza said that the City of Toronto's 25 per cent Canadian-content policy for new light rail transit vehicles ensured that a portion of the record-breaking public purchase would help boost the local and national economy.
Toronto is the latest in a growing list of cities and towns across Canada to raise concerns over the CETA. A number of municipalities, including Oshawa, Hamilton and Ingersoll have also called for a clear, permanent exemption.
The Toronto resolution comes on the eve of a Federation of Canadian Municipalities Board of Directors meeting in Kitchener, Ontario (that runs from March 7-10). The FCM Board is expected to speak with Canada's lead CETA negotiator Steve Verheul at the meeting.
CAW President Ken Lewenza Visits the University of Manitoba
CAW President Ken Lewenza toured the University of Manitoba recently to visit with CAW Local 3007 members. Tractor operator David Wikdahl has more than 33 years of service at the university, while Local 3007 recording secretary Samantha Tomchuk, a labourer/groundskeeper has more than 20 years. Frank Wright, left, is the grievance chair and a painter with more than 13 years and Brian Kelly, Local 3007 president, is a truck driver with 18 years. Along with Ken is Bob Orr, assistant to the CAW president. The CAW represents approximately 500 members at the University of Manitoba including skilled trades, groundskeepers, food service workers, power engineers and caretakers.
Unanswered Questions in Nova Scotia Health Care Bargaining
Provincial government and employer plans to merge some hospital administration in Nova Scotia have left many workers with unanswered questions and concerns regarding the future, the CAW says.
CAW Locals 4600, 4603 and 4606 represent approximately 2,000 workers in Nova Scotia hospitals and the locals are currently in bargaining for new collective agreements. The CAW represents Nova Scotia health care workers who include pharmacists, occupational therapists, licensed practical nurses, carpenters, cooks and laundry workers.
The Nova Scotia government, district health authorities and the IWK Health Centre in Halifax recently announced the merger of several administrative services after consultants Ernst and Young were hired to analyze whether savings could be found.
After considering the final report, the province and district health authorities agreed to merge some administrative and laundry services. But the Nova Scotia Health Minister has since indicated the province won't act on all recommendations, including the contracting out of services such as laundry to private companies.
"We are not surprised that private consultants Ernst and Young recommended privatizing some services in our health care system,"said Jim Mott, business agent for CAW Local 4606. The employer track record clearly supports this direction.
Jimmy Callahan, president of CAW Local 4603, said "the fact that the government did not accept Ernst and Young's recommendation to privatize laundry services is positive. But this is only phase one of the review exercise. The uncertainty of the future cuts and merger of services is very unsettling for our members," Callahan said.
"Exactly who will be providing these merged services?" asked Wayne MacPherson, CAW Local 4600 President. "The minister talked about an 'alternative service delivery' model. The report by Ernst and Young mentions other services such as Diagnostic Imaging. What are the government's plans for other services? None of this has been revealed," MacPherson said.
International Women's Day-March 8, 2012
International Women's Day is a time to celebrate the progress women have made, and a time to take action to break down the obstacles to women's equality.
Women in Canada now make up half of the workforce. But equal numbers do not necessarily mean equality at the workplace. Women work hard, but take home less pay, and are more likely to work in part-time and precarious jobs with fewer benefits and little or no workplace pensions. And women still take on the lion's share of caregiving and household responsibilities.
Women are under tremendous pressure to balance work and family life, whether it is caring for children, looking after ageing, disabled or sick relatives, or contributing to their community.
Yet the Harper government has failed to take concrete steps to relieve the pressure on working women and their families.
One of Stephen Harper's first acts in power was to cancel agreements with the provinces and territories for early learning and child care and cut $1 billion in funding. He replaced it with a monthly payment directly to parents-at an amount that barely covers a couple of nights of babysitting. The search for quality, affordable child care is a huge burden on many families, and child care is the second biggest household expense Canada lacks a national housing strategy and a plan to address growing poverty and inequality. About 1 in 3 children living in poverty has at least one parent who is working full-time. More than half of single mothers with children under six live in poverty. They face considerable challenges to find adequate, affordable child care and secure housing while balancing work, education or training and community service.
The Harper government has failed to take necessary steps to improve women's retirement security. Instead of improving the Canada Pension Plan, the government has chosen to promote another RRSP-style scheme called Pooled Registered Pension Plans, which will benefit banks, mutual fund and insurance companies more than they will help Canadians save for retirement. Now they are musing about changing access to Old Age Security, a move that will only drive more senior women further into poverty.
The Conservative government has also put women's safety at risk by abolishing the gun registry and destroying its database. Not only has the registry helped save lives by reducing the rate of women murdered with firearms by 69 per cent but many workers have relied on the registry to help keep our workplaces and our communities safe. And their failure to take real action to address the national tragedy of missing and murdered First Nations, Inuit and Métis women and girls has now triggered an inquiry by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.
On this International Women's Day, Canadian Auto Workers union in conjunction with the Canadian Labour Congress call on the Federal government to do more to help women achieve economic, social and political equality in this country by investing in child care, establishing a national housing strategy, improving the Canada Pension Plan, taking meaningful action to end violence against women and address the national tragedy of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls.
On this International Women's Day, Canada's labour movement will continue to break down the barriers to women's equality in the workplace and in society. We will fight for fair contracts for our members and for better labour standards for all workers. We will push for provisions that help women balance work and family life, like flexible work schedules, job-sharing, and family emergency leave. We will stand against austerity measures and cuts to public services, an important source of good jobs for women. We will take on corporate greed and advocate a clear vision for a Canada that works for everyone. Give Us Bread, but Give Us Roses
As the refrain goes, "Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes; Hearts starve as well as bodies; give us bread, but give us roses!"
UAW pacts put heat on Lewenza
Detroit Three pushing for U.S. model
By Beatrice Fantoni, The Windsor Star
March 8, 2012
WINDSOR, Ont. -- The Canadian Auto Workers union is under pressure from the Detroit Three to accept performance pay and bonuses rather than across-the-board salary increases, CAW president Ken Lewenza said on Wednesday.
"We know it's not business as usual," Lewenza told The Star, adding that a strong Canadian dollar has made it difficult for the auto industry here to remain competitive.
Lewenza said Chrysler, Ford and General Motors are pushing the recent deal with autoworkers in the U.S. as the model to follow in Canada when contract negotiations with the CAW start in September.
In its last two contracts, the United Auto Workers union accepted a deal that links pay to company performance.
The CAW is still opposed to profit-sharing schemes, Lewenza said, but it cannot ignore that times have changed.
"We have managed to resist what we call gimmick pay. But the UAW did something that we cannot ignore, considering where we are today," Lewenza said.
"I want us to stick to the traditional way of compensating workers, with no gimmicks attached," he said.
Tony Faria, an auto industry expert at the University of Windsor, said the Detroit Three — and especially Chrysler — have indicated that they will bargain aggressively with the CAW for a shift to performance pay and bonuses in lieu of an hourly wage increase because they want to keep their fixed costs steady.
Thanks to a good year in 2011, UAW workers in the U.S. are getting cheques for as much as $7,000, Faria said, which shows that when times are good, profit-sharing can be effective.
"But if we hit a year like the end of 2008 where the auto market just tanks, of course it's not good for the workers," he said.
At the same time, the argument in favour of an hourly wage increase works in times companies are doing well in the market.
But GM and Chrysler went bankrupt in part because they had agreed to contracts with wage increases that were not sustainable when the market turned, Faria said.
"The companies are right to try and not repeat the mistakes they've made in the past," Faria said.
"That's the big problem. Taking on contracts that may be affordable this year but aren't necessarily affordable years and years into the future," he said.
Rick Laporte, CAW Local 444 president and head of the bargaining unit for Chrysler, said workers at Chrysler are asking about profit-sharing now that they see big cheques cut for autoworkers in the U.S.
"I don't think it's the right direction, but it's enticing," he said.
While he expects Chrysler to do well this year, the union still has to be "creative" in its bargaining position and find different ways to bring profits to autoworkers, Laporte said.
An hourly wage increase is not an impossible demand, Lewenza said.
"Pay them the wages based on the employer's ability to pay," Lewenza said.
"General Motors, Ford and Chrysler are going to make an incredible amount of profit in the next couple of years," he said. "The question is, how do you share in the success?"
After the sacrifices the union made three years ago, the CAW wants to see some progress, he said, adding that the union is meeting regularly to discuss how to keep Canada competitive and how the industry should position itself in the future.
While Canadian autoworkers can't price themselves above other markets, Canada does offer advantages in productivity and health care, he said.
CAW contracts with the Detroit Three expire in September.
High loonie has taken its
toll on auto sector, banks say
Globe & Mail
March 3, 2012
Canada has turned from an automotive powerhouse with an industry trade surplus of $20-billion to a country coping with a $12-billion deficit – a staggering turnaround that reflects the steady rise in the Canadian dollar and a decade of turmoil in the sector.
The $32-billion shift in the auto trade balance highlights how the surge in the value of the currency has pulverized the manufacturing sector since the dollar hit its record low of 62 cents (U.S) 10 years ago this quarter, three of Canada's big banks say in reports released this week. The Canadian dollar continued its recent rally Thursday, reaching about $1.0143.
"While there are many factors at play, the robust loonie has its wing-prints all over that momentous shift," Bank of Montreal deputy chief economist Douglas Porter said in a report.
The trade figures underline the dramatic transformation the auto industry over the past decade as a commodity and oil boom sent the dollar surging, which in turn hammered the competitive position of auto makers and parts suppliers in Canada. The bank reports add to the debate about the impact the oil-fuelled rise of the dollar is having nationally as Alberta revels in record revenues and Ontario bleeds manufacturing jobs.
As the dollar has appreciated, almost 500,000 manufacturing jobs have vanished, Mr. Porter noted. More than half of those job losses came before the 2008-2009 recession, he said, "and virtually none of the recession losses have been recouped."
A substantial chunk of the lost jobs are in the auto industry, a pillar of the Ontario economy because all vehicle assembly plants are located there, along with the vast majority of auto parts-making.
At peak levels in the early 2000s – as the dollar was hitting its record low – 198,000 Canadians were employed in assembly, auto parts, tool mould and die making and truck body and trailer manufacturing. By the end of November last year, that number had plunged to 131,000, a decline of one-third.
"This is the real live picture when we go from big surpluses to big deficits," said industry analyst Dennis DesRosiers, president of DesRosiers Automotive Consultants Inc. "These are some of the best jobs in the economy. It is perhaps one of the absolute best examples of what the [high] dollar can do to an industry."
As the last decade began, Canada was riding high with production of close to 3 million vehicles annually, most of which were exported to the United States. That helped create a surplus. Production fell to 1.5 million vehicles during the recession, and although output has rebounded it's still almost 1 million vehicles below the peak.
"Canada once punched above its weight in this industry and we're now punching below our weight," said Canadian Auto Workers economist Jim Stanford.
Another little-noticed but significant change between 2001 and 2011 was the gradual disappearance of dozens of parts plants as U.S.-based giants such as Collins & Aikman Corp., Dura Automotive Systems Ltd., Dana Corp. and others scaled back operations or abandoned Canada entirely.
In addition to battering the manufacturing sector, the 10-year rise in the currency is helping redraw the economic map of the country, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce economists Avery Shenfeld and Warren Lovely said in their look at the dollar.
"As the producers of higher-priced commodities, Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador and Saskatchewan have enjoyed a huge advantage over Central Canada and the Maritimes," they wrote.
Ontario meanwhile, has trailed the rest of Canada in economic growth for nine straight years, a period that coincides with the dollar's rise.
March 2, 2012
Volume 42, No. 8
Prevent Another Caterpillar Modernize Labour Laws
CAW President Ken Lewenza discusses the need for labour law reform in Ontario at the media conference announcing a closure agreement for more than 465 CAW Local 27 members at U.S. multinational Caterpillar's Electro-Motive plant in London. Along with Lewenza are CAW Local 27 President Tim Carrie, CAW National Secretary-Treasurer Peter Kennedy, Electro-Motive plant chairperson Bob Scott and Assistant to the CAW President Bob Orr.
CAW President Ken Lewenza is calling on the province of Ontario to modernize its labour laws to better adapt to the current economic reality in light of the Caterpillar lock out and closure.
Lewenza, in a letter sent February 29 to Ontario Labour Minister Linda Jeffrey, calls for new rules that would give the Ontario Labour Relations Board the power to expedite interest arbitration in the case of a lengthy breakdown; apply provisions of previous collective agreements in the case of a lockout then closure; lengthen the notice period for mass termination and increasing severance, among other changes to the Ontario Labour Relations Act.
Lewenza said that multinational corporations are able to exploit weak legislation to easily buy up other companies, take what they want and close up shop at little cost and with few barriers - all to the detriment of Ontario workers and the communities where they live.
Lewenza said that Caterpillar, who owns Electro-Motive Diesel in London, used the province's labour laws to its advantage. "Caterpillar did not misjudge or misinterpret Ontario's labour laws; rather, they understood them all too well, and exploited the laws' weakness as a key part of their overall strategy," Lewenza said.
Lewenza is also calling for Minister Jeffrey to immediately establish an Industrial Inquiry Commission to investigate the experience at Caterpillar, a rarely used measure provided for under section 37 of the Ontario Labour Relations Act. The commission would then make recommendations to the minister on how to proceed in the future in other cases.
"London Electro-Motive workers, their families and the thousands of workers whose livelihoods were dependent upon supplying the facility will pay the price for this failure of policy for a long time to come," Lewenza writes.
Following a lengthy tour of ratification meetings that included visits to many of the 63 airports where CAW Local 2245 members work, Flight Service Specialists have ratified a new agreement with Nav Canada.
CAW Local 2245 represents 750 Flight Service Specialists across Canada, providing essential advisory services to the aviation community. Flight Service Specialists advise pilots on aviation safety issues at airports.
The two-year agreement provides wage increases in each year of the deal.
"The high level of attendance and participation at the meetings was truly appreciated by the bargaining committee," said CAW Local 2245 President Derek Yakielashek. "The members' support for their union during these difficult times is encouraging and a strong foundation to build on."
He stressed the agreement was reached between the two parties without any interference from the federal government.
This marks the third time that a CAW represented group of workers has ratified an agreement with Nav Canada during the last year. CAW Local 5454 represents controllers and CAW Local 1016 represents data specialists at Nav Canada. The baggage handling contract at Toronto's Pearson International Airport (GTAA) has been successfully renewed for two years after a concerted fight by the union to preserve approximately 100 jobs.
In January, a new company was awarded the baggage handling contract, which would have hired back CAW Local 2002 members at approximately half their current wages. The GTAA extended the current contract for Jarvis Webb, keeping CAW members on the job.
"By utilizing a provision in the contract that gives the GTAA the right to extend the Webb contract, the airport authority has provided significant stability for our members at Webb," said CAW Local 2002 President Jamie Ross.
"We're ecstatic that these workers will continue to be compensated fairly for the work they do," said Ross. The new agreement will stretch to April 30, 2014.
Halifax Picket Line Solidarity
CAW Atlantic Area Director Les Holloway, centre, was recently helping out on the Barrington Street picket line with striking Halifax bus drivers in a show of solidarity. More than 600 drivers, who are members of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 508 have been on strike since February 2. The main issue in the dispute is scheduling.
CAW Champions Human Rights of Temporary Foreign Workers
The CAW is continuing its nearly four year-long human rights case against Jose Pratas, the former owner of Presteve Foods.
In 2008, Pratas was alleged to have subjected a number of workers to sexual assault and harassment while they were employed at Presteve Foods in Wheatly, Ontario (near Windsor). The workers were also being paid significantly less than their Canadian counterparts for performing the same work.
Many of the workers had been housed at a bunk house, attached to the facility and their work permits were tied to their jobs at the plant. Many feared deportation or worsening abuse if they complained or brought in the authorities.
The union intervened on their behalf after Local 444 became aware of their predicament.
The situation at Presteve points to fatal flaws in the temporary foreign worker program, said CAW Local 444 President Rick Laporte. "These women were vulnerable exactly because of the circumstances of the program," said Laporte.
"Their work permits were tied to their source of employment and if they left this abusive employer, they would be threatened with deportation. The Canadian government is repeatedly turning a blind eye to companies who exploit migrant workers and place them in unsafe workplaces, with few, if any, protections. We know from recent examples that this can have tragic consequences," said Laporte.
CAW Local 3000 President and National Executive Board member Jean Van Vliet and CAW BC & Alberta Area Director Susan Spratt presented a cheque for $25,000 on behalf of the CAW to the USW for the victims of the Burns Lake explosion and fire. The cheque was given to Steve Hunt, USW District Director and Bob Matters, USW Wood Council Chair.
A massive fire broke out at the Babine Forest Products mill in Burns Lake, B.C. on January 20 - killing two workers and injuring 19 others. The mill is located about 220 kilometres west of Prince George and employs approximately 250 people. The workers are represented by USW Local 1-424. For more information, please visit: http://www.usw1-424.ca/
New Pay Equity Course
The new four-day Pay Equity training program will provide hands on knowledge to help participants gain a better understanding of our union's obligation under the Ontario Pay Equity Act. Participants will be asked to develop a mock pay equity plan that will provide them with skills, knowledge and confidence required to achieve and maintain pay equity. The plan will then be evaluated to ensure it meets all the requirements needed to fulfill the union's ethical and legal obligations under pay equity legislation.
Ontario has one of the highest gender pay gaps in the world -a shocking 29%. For every $1.00 earned by men, women earn just 71 cents.
The most vulnerable women-Aboriginal women, women of colour, racialized or immigrant women, women with disabilities and women without a union in their workplace-face an even greater wage gap.
Racial minority women earn 36% less than men and Aboriginal women earn 54% less.
The course runs April 22 - 26 at the CAW Family Education Centre in Port Elgin, Ontario.
For more information, please contact Jo-Anne Stephenson at 1-800-265-3735 ext. 3268 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
New Agreement Ratified at Marine Atlantic
CAW Local 4285 and 4286 members who work on Marine Atlantic vessels have ratified a new three-year collective agreement with wage gains in each year.
The workers voted 70 per cent in favour of the agreement on February 28. It includes a 2.5 per cent increase in each year of the deal, contract language changes, and some benefit increases.
"It's a very good deal for these economic times," said CAW Local 4285 President Mavis Grist.
It's the first time these workers have ratified a collective agreement since 2004. The previous two contracts were settled by binding arbitration.
"The bargaining committee is very proud and pleased to have negotiated an agreement without third party involvement," said Grist.
"I'm very impressed that we reached a bargained agreement instead of going to arbitration," said Local 4286 President Bill Walsh. "The membership was solidly behind the bargaining committee, which helped ensure a strong agreement was ratified," he said.
CAW Locals 4285 and 4286 represent approximately 560 vessel workers at Marine.
Marine Atlantic provides a constitutionally mandated passenger and commercial marine transportation system between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.
Betrayed: The Story of Clergy United
The new documentary film Betrayed tells the story of Clergy United, a group of United Church ministers and families who are organizing to become part of the CAW.
Betrayed examines the issue of bullying against consecrated men and women working in faith communities in North America, with a particular emphasis on the United Church of Canada.
The documentary was produced by US Films. It features interviews and discussion by pastors of multiple denominations, their families, theologians, lawyers, a historian and CAW leadership, among others.
A private pre-screening of Betrayed will be held at CAW Local 112 hall in Toronto, 30 Tangiers Road, on Monday, March 5 starting at 5 pm. An open floor discussion will follow the one hour and 42 minute documentary. A light meal will be provided.
CAW Skilled Trades Bargaining and New Technology Conference
Over 200 delegates, staff and guests from across Canada gathered for the 9th Bargaining and New Technology conference in Toronto from February 22 to 24.
In his opening address to the conference, CAW President Ken Lewenza emphasized the important role that the skilled trades have played in building the union.
"The ability of tradespersons to speak with a distinct and unified voice in contract talks and during conferences, like this, where bargaining and political campaign priorities are set, has created a stronger, more informed union, that sets us apart from others," Lewenza said.
Lewenza also noted the challenges faced by workers at the Electro-Motive facility in London, the need for governments to reform existing investment and labour laws, as well as upcoming contract negotiations between the union and Detroit Three automakers.
Conference delegates also debated and endorsed a series of resolutions including: the need to push for apprenticeship ratios in both private and public sectors (of 1 apprentice for every 4 journeypersons), the need to prevent the downgrading of skills and trades standards by employers and governments, and to ensure strong work ownership language for tradespersons, among others.
CAW Skilled Trades Director Colin Heslop said he is constantly encouraged by the resolve of CAW tradespersons to work tirelessly for the benefit of all tradespersons, young and old, organized or unorganized.
"In my view, there's no group better positioned to champion the rights of skilled trades workers and to protect the integrity of the skilled trades than our union," Heslop said.
Heslop has held the position of Skilled Trades Director for 7 years and will be retiring in March. He said it's been an honour working with the CAW-TCA Skilled Trades Council and in representing the hardworking men and women in skilled trades, and encouraged delegates to keep up their important work, especially in social commitment projects like Hurricane Katrina relief work in New Orleans 9th Ward and with the Assembly of First Nations.
"It's critical that we keep up our efforts to create, preserve and provide access to recognizable apprenticeships and bona fide skilled trades jobs for all Canadians. Our voice is widely respected in skilled trades circles and it must continue to be heard."
The conference included a number staff presentations and special guest speakers, including Rob Johnston, Executive Director for the International Metalworkers Federation; Sid Ryan, President of the Ontario Federation of Labour; Kevin Evans, CEO for the Industry Training Authority in British Columbia and The Canadian Council Directors of Apprenticeship; Sarah Watts-Rynard, Executive Director for the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum and Ron Johnson, Chair of the Ontario College of Trades.
CAW Staff Representative Pat Blackwood will replace Heslop as Skilled Trades Director.
CAW Supports B.C. Coalition Against Child Labour
CAW local union youth committees in B.C.'s Lower Mainland are collaborating with First Call: B.C. Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition and other community organizations to raise awareness of the need to improve provincial child labour laws that are among the worst in the developed world. The Coalition is running a Child Labour Standards Improvement Project which aims to shine a light on the issue for British Columbians.
CAW Local 3000 President and National Executive Board member Jean Van Vliet said this advocacy work is critical because young workers are the most vulnerable to exploitation and serious injury on the job.
"It's scary to know that our province allows children as young as 12 to take on paid employment with employers in almost every industry without strong regulatory oversight."
Adrienne Montani, provincial coordinator for First Call, said the Coalition first started raising alarm bells in 2003 when the B.C. government lowered the work start age to 12 years and weakened existing child labour protections.
A report entitled "What's Happening to Our Children?" released in 2009 documented a ten-fold increase in accepted WorkSafeBC injury claims among children 14 and under over a four-year period after the legislation was changed.
CAW Local 3000 member Jeni Mathers chairs a minimum age working group under the B.C. Employment Standards for the Next Decade Coalition that includes CAW youth committee members from Locals 111, 2200 and 114 as well as representatives from First Call. Mathers said it is troubling that Canada remains one of the few nations to so far refuse to ratify an international child labour agreement set by the International Labour Organization.
"Elementary school-aged children deserve the opportunity to develop their capacities through the normal course of childhood development which does not include worrying about punch-clocks and pay-cheques."
First Call is collecting information on young B.C. workers between the ages of 12 and 18 through an on-line survey that asks questions about health and safety in the workplace, wages and working conditions, and the impacts of work on their education.
Young workers, as well as parents of young workers and teachers, can participate in the survey by going to www.nochildlabour.org
In December 2010, CAW Council delegates unanimously passed a resolution calling on the federal government to ratify ILO Convention 138 (minimum age of work) and for provinces to improve minimum age laws.
Sunwing Pilots Assocation (SUNPAC), Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and Quebec, 180 members
Cantaux Leasing Ltd, Belleville, ON, 9 members
February 24, 2012
Volume 42, No. 7
Electro-Motive Closure Agreement Approved
CAW Local 27 members from Electro-Motive Diesel in London, Ontario have voted 95 per cent in favour of a closure agreement that provides enhanced severance packages.
The agreement includes three weeks of severance pay for every year of service, a $1,500 lump sum payment and maintenance of disability benefits and extended benefit coverage for all workers and their families.
More than 450 workers attended a February 23 meeting in London to review details of the agreement negotiated by the CAW, which came after the company announced February 3 it would close Canada's only train engine manufacturing plant.
The workers were locked out by the company on January 1 after refusing massive concession demands by Caterpillar, the parent company, including 50 per cent pay cuts.
CAW President Ken Lewenza thanked the OFL, CLC and other unions for showing their support throughout an incredibly difficult and bitter dispute.
He stressed that the free movement of global capital from country to country must be stopped because it's undercutting workers' wages.
"We have to continue the fight," Lewenza said. "Because too many workers are losing their jobs, both union and non-union, because of dead-beat employers - in everything from manufacturing plants to call centres," Lewenza said.
CAW Local 27 President Tim Carrie commended the workers for their solidarity and support, which he said the bargaining committee brought to the negotiating table each day.
"The company didn't just see the committee, they saw you, your families and the community," Carrie said.
New Agreement at High Liner Foods
Top L-R: Dwight Eisenhouer, unit chairperson Kevin Banfield, Alan Surrette and Tony Ernst. Bottom L-R: Donna Conrad, CAW Local 1944 President Marilyn Crook and CAW national representative Carla Bryden.
CAW Local 1944 has ratified a new agreement with High Liner Foods in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. The new three year agreement includes wage increases of 2.8, 2.5 and 2.5 per cent and an increase in the defined benefit pension plan. The agreement also features an increase in bereavement, health care benefits as well as increases to the protective clothing allowance. Workers will now also be able to bank overtime up to 24 hours per year.
CAW President Re-joins NDP to Support Peggy Nash
CAW National President Ken Lewenza has officially taken out membership in the NDP to support the candidacy of MP Peggy Nash.
The union has thrown its support behind Nash and will be encouraging all registered CAW members to pick Nash as their number one choice when they cast their ballot next month. Many CAW members and staff across the country have rejoined the party to support Nash.
"The opportunity to make Peggy Nash the leader of the official opposition and our next prime minister is one we can't pass up," said Lewenza.
"She's a fighter with a long career in community building," said Lewenza. "I know she can bring progressive Canadians together to defeat Stephen Harper in 2015."
"Of any of the candidates, Peggy has the strongest commitment to building a more equitable economy, protecting our environment, and sustaining our social programs," said Lewenza. And she has a proven record of doing so. I support Peggy wholeheartedly."
CAW Members Strike for Fair Deal at 407 ETR
Call centre workers at 407 ETR, the Ontario private highway operator that runs from Pickering to Burlington, have set up pickets outside the company headquarters in Woodbridge after voting down a contract proposal that did not fully address concerns around wage improvements and stronger job classification language.
CAW Local 414 members, who handle customer inquiries, billing, registrations and other job duties, hit the picket line February 21.
Deb Tveit, Assistant to CAW President Ken Lewenza, said this dispute is a matter of fairness and respect for front-line workers.
"This employer has created a situation where two sets of workers are performing essentially the same tasks at different rates of pay," Tveit said. "The animosity this has created has reached a boiling point for our members."
CAW Local 414 President Christine Connor said there is a great deal of frustration among the members right now that the company has to recognize.
407 International Inc, (the parent organization of 407 ETR), recently announced year-end 2011 profits of $128 million.
CAW Local 414 represents 130 members at the 407 ETR.
Drummond Sets Wrong Direction for Economic Recovery, CAW says
Following the release of the long awaited Drummond Report on February 15 the CAW is reiterating that deep cuts and more private sector involvement is the wrong way to reform Ontario's Public Services.
The report was prepared at the request of the Ontario government by a commission led by former bank economist Don Drummond. It prescribes seven years of unprecedented reductions in public spending growth in tandem with a sweeping reform agenda advocating greater private sector involvement.
By Drummond's own admission, the scale and depth of the impact on health services will exceed the cutback agenda of the Harris-Eves era in reforming health, which largely focused on the hospital sector alone.
The Commission was mandated to ignore revenue measures such as fair taxes for corporations, including a financial (Tobin) transaction tax on banks.
"Fair and progressive revenue options including an increase in the tax rate on incomes above $500,000 could potentially raise $10 billion in needed revenues," said CAW President Ken Lewenza in response to the report.
The recession, spurred by the financial market collapse, caused the provincial deficit, after years of surplus. Renewing economic growth and especially job creation is key to eliminating the provincial deficit, as is the need to reconsider further shrinking revenues through corporate tax cuts.
"Hastily eliminating the provincial deficit through drastic cuts to public spending and job elimination will only deepen and extend the recession," said CAW Health Care Director Katha Fortier.
The CAW represents over 26,000 public sector workers in Ontario including those in health, post-secondary education, municipal utilities and the urban transit sector.
Lewenza also stressed that the CAW is calling for the provincial and federal governments to use the same determination as in the case of the Drummond Commission to set up a new commission to deal specifically with the creation of a good jobs strategy.
CAW Local 3000 members, along with NDP leadership candidate Peggy Nash, took part in the Canadian Federation of Students "All Out" Day of Action event at the Vancouver Community College on February 1. Local 3000 representatives spoke with culinary students about the challenges of working in the hospitality industry and the benefits of unionization.The CFS is demanding greater access to education through lower tuition fees, more public funding and less student debt. CAW members participated in local events in cities across the country in support of the student protest.
Photo by: Paul Finch from BCGEU.
ratify closeout deal
Tavia Grant & Greg Keenan
February 24, 2012
Globe & Mail
Workers at Caterpillar Inc.'s London, Ont., locomotive operation have approved a deal on severance pay and pensions, bringing an end to an acrimonious plant closing that left almost 700 employees out of work.
Caterpillar's Electro-Motive Canada unit locked out workers on Jan. 1 after they rejected the company's proposal to slash wages by as much as 50 per cent, citing the need to become globally competitive. On Feb. 3, Caterpillar closed the plant for good, and appears to be planning to shift work to its Progress Rail unit in Indiana.
Workers voted 95 per cent in favour of the severance package, which provides three weeks of pay for each year served. Labour laws stipulate workers with less than five years of experience aren't required to receive severance, while those with more than five years on the job get one week's pay for each year served to a maximum of 26 weeks.
Though the severance package is above the required minimum "nobody is walking out of here celebrating," CAW national president Ken Lewenza said Thursday at a news conference at the Marconi Club in London's east end. "People are now walking out of here with a soft transition to job loss."
Peoria, Ill.-based Caterpillar bought the 62-year-old locomotive plant 18 months ago. The closing garnered media attention from as far away as the U.K., U.S., Australia and Sweden.
Wes Gatschene, 28, said he will use the severance to pay down debt, which has ballooned since the lockout. The welder and millwright has two children, and a mortgage on a house. Like other plant employees, he said he might head to booming Western Canada to look for work, leaving his family in London.
"I'm relieved," said John Vandergulik, a quality auditor with almost 23 years at the plant, who is hoping to find work at local John Deere facilities. "Now a lot of the uncertainty is gone."
Details on pensions are still being ironed out, partly because the plant was formerly owned by General Motors and 190 workers had pensions with GM.
After 29 and a half years at the factory, Ross Seeley said he was planning to retire in six months. "It's disappointing," he said of the potential impact on his pension. He's not yet sure of how it will be affected, but estimates it could be reduced by a third or more, given his long tenure at GM. The shutdown feels like a "bad divorce," he said.
Outside the plant, several workers started dismantling the picket line – taking down flags, loading lumber from a makeshift shelter onto a pickup, and folding tarps. They talked of Ontario's future – of maybe going North to the mines – before going home.
In addition to the three weeks pay per year, each employee will get a lump-sum ratification bonus of $1,500 and a drug plan to Aug. 31. The CAW will receive a lump sum payment of $350,000 for settling grievances, job-retraining and job-search assistance.
Company officials were not available for an interview on Thursday. In a statement, the company said it is now focusing on a safe and orderly wind-down of the facility.
"While it is regrettable not being able to reach an agreement with the union that would have sustained the London plant, EMC is pleased that the parties were able to successfully negotiate a generous severance agreement for represented employees," it said. "We wish them all the best for the future."
A total 190 plant employees, some just six months from retirement, spent years as employees of General Motors Corp., which owned the plant before selling it to a hedge fund in 2005. Caterpillar bought the operation from the hedge fund in 2010.
Those workers will receive a combined pension from the General Motors of Canada Ltd. unionized pension fund and the pension fund of Electro-Motive Canada.
But the CAW is negotiating with GM Canada about whether those employees will be allowed to participate in so-called grow-in provisions, which would allow them to begin drawing a GM pension earlier than age 65.
"We are currently in discussions with GM about GM's obligation to this group of 190 people with respect to both pension and other benefit entitlements, " CAW benefits specialist Jeff Wareham said.
Mr. Lewenza said discussions with GM continued Thursday. "We think we have some very sound arguments on behalf of our members," he said.
"General Motors sold this facility with the commitment that workers would have long-term job security and obviously that did not happen."
GM still facing huge
Globe & Mail
Feb 22, 2012
General Motors of Canada Ltd. still faces a massive shortfall in its unionized pension plan despite a $3.2-billion contribution taxpayers made to the fund when the auto maker's parent company went into bankruptcy protection in 2009.
The shortfall stood at $2.2-billion as of Sept. 1, 2010 (the latest data available), which is a vast improvement on the $5.1-billion deficiency in the plan before the special payment was made. But it is still a significant amount for a plan that covers more than 30,000 retirees.
Addressing that legacy is a daunting challenge facing GM Canada and other storied names in corporate Canada. Investment returns on pension funds have been weak, interest rates have fallen to extremely low levels, and retirees are living longer than people from earlier generations.
That combination is raising questions about the sustainability of pension plans at scores of Canadian companies, particularly in the manufacturing sector, where many older companies are, like GM, supporting thousands of retired workers with a smaller number of current employees. When a company goes out of business with an underfunded pension plan, it can put pressure on the public to pay the tab – either directly or through government-backed insurance plans such as Ontario's Pension Benefits Guarantee Fund.
The GM Canada plan stands out in part because it was the looming crisis of the $5.1-billion shortfall that company executives pointed to in 2008 when they sought a bailout from the federal and Ontario governments.
The Canadian taxpayers' share of the bailout eventually amounted to $10.6-billion as part of the $60-billion rescue of the auto maker's parent company, General Motors Corp.
Although the data are from September, 2010, and GM Canada is in the midst of a five-year program that requires contributions of $200-million annually, it is believed the shortfall was not reduced significantly in 2011, if at all, because returns for pension funds in Canada were generally poor.
"Most defined-benefit pension plans in Canada are underfunded currently because the investment markets have done so poorly over the recent past," actuary Paul Duxbury said in a November examination of the GM Canada plan that was commissioned by a group of Canadian Auto Workers retirees.
"However, this plan is in far worse shape than most."
The $2.2-billion shortfall in 2010 was as measured on a solvency basis, which calculates the assets and liabilities in a plan and their value if it were to be wound up on the date of the calculation.
If the GM plan had been wound up on that date, benefits for retirees, surviving spouses and currently active workers would have been reduced by more than a third, Mr. Duxbury noted.
GM Canada president Kevin Williams said he does not foresee any problems meeting the commitments the company has made.
Demographic trends are working against GM Canada, as they are for other companies with large numbers of retirees and dwindling numbers of active workers, such as Air Canada, Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. and the former Stelco Inc., now part of United States Steel Corp., which locked out Hamilton, Ont., workers for nine months in a dispute that focused on pensions.
Employers with defined-benefit plans "have to be putting pressure on [Ontario] to try and deal with this situation because with the collapse in the long-term bond rates, all of these plans are massively under water," said one pension expert, who requested anonymity.
About 30,000 unionized retirees drew pensions from GM Canada in 2010 – while the number of active workers stood at 6,168. That compared with 23,735 retirees and 15,223 working employees in 2006.
The situation at GM Canada is significantly worse than at Chrysler Canada Inc. and Ford Motor Co. of Canada Ltd. There were 2.6 retirees for every active worker at Ford in 2011, while Chrysler's ratio was less than two to one.
The GM ratio is likely to deteriorate even further if it goes ahead with the scheduled closing of one of its two car-assembly plants in Oshawa, Ont., in 2013.
That closing will eliminate as many as 2,000 more GM Canada unionized jobs, said Chris Buckley, head of the CAW's GM bargaining committee and local 222 in Oshawa.
Mr. Buckley said he is not sure how prominent the pension issue will be in negotiations that begin this summer on a new labour agreement.
"I believe the company's going to be extremely aggressive when we get to bargaining this summer," he said.
Ford board members' compensation rises 25%
By Craig Trudell Bloomberg
Feb 22, 2012
Ford Motor Co. boosted annual compensation for board members by 25 percent and will pay 29 percent more to Edsel Ford II, its founder's great-grandson, for his work as a director and consultant.
Ford, the second-largest U.S. automaker, will pay its board members an annual retainer of $250,000, up from $200,000, the Dearborn based automaker said Tuesday in a regulatory filing.
Edsel Ford, a director, also will receive $650,000 a year in cash as a consultant, up from $500,000.
Ford reported $20.2 billion in net income for 2011, the most since 1998. The results were boosted by a noncash gain of $12.4 billion from eliminating a valuation allowance against deferred tax benefits.
The company's shares lost 36 percent last year after gaining 68 percent in 2010 and more than quadrupling in 2009. The shares have climbed 16 percent this year.
"We review all the compensation levels on a regular basis, and in the case of the board, determined this was needed to ensure we continue to attract and retain the talent we have," Todd Nissen, a Ford spokesman, said in a phone interview.
Ford cut compensation to directors in half to $100,000 in 2006, when the company hired Alan Mulally as its chief executive officer and borrowed $23 billion to restructure its operations, Nissen said.
The board elected to forgo cash payments entirely in 2009, Nissen said. The compensation was re-established to $200,000 in 2010.
Sixty percent of director compensation is deferred into Ford common stock units, the filing said.
Edsel Ford, 63, has had a consulting contract with Ford Motor since 1999. The increase in Edsel Ford's consulting compensation is the first he's received since the arrangement began, Nissen said.
The company realized "substantial benefits" from Edsel Ford's activities on its behalf, according to the filing. His services include dealer relations and representing the company through education projects, heritage events and motor sports, Nissen said.
February 17, 2012
Vol. 42, No. 6
Close Loopholes in Investment Canada Act, CAW Demands
CAW National President Ken Lewenza is calling on the federal government to release detailed financial data associated with Caterpillar's 2010 acquisition of Electro-Motive Canada.
That acquisition went ahead without being formally reviewed under the Investment Canada process, purportedly because the Canadian company was too small under the regulatory threshold (which was $299 million for that year). But no public, independently verifiable data was provided to support that claim, and it is not clear that federal officials ever checked the accuracy of the claims submitted by Caterpillar (through its subsidiary Progress Rail).
Lewenza noted that Caterpillar's own financial statement reported $1.3 billion (U.S.) in assets associated with its takeover of the entire Electro-Motive business. Electro-Motive's Canadian subsidiary represented its largest and most strategic asset, and almost half of its total employees.
"Unless this data is divulged and independently authenticated, we're simply taking Caterpillar's word for it that this acquisition was not subject to Investment Canada review," Lewenza said. "That's no way to deal with powerful, self-interested corporations like Caterpillar. Corporations cannot be left to police themselves."
In a letter to federal Industry Minister Christian Paradis (who oversees the Investment Canada process), Lewenza has asked for the public release and independent verification of the data associated with the purchase. If that data turns out to be inaccurate, Lewenza noted, the government can impose penalties on Caterpillar up to and including annulling the acquisition.
The letter pointed out that the Minister and the federal government retain considerable policy flexibility to intervene in foreign investments that pose a danger to Canada, as demonstrated by its ad-hoc interventions in previous controversial acquisitions (such as MDA and Potash Corp.).
Lewenza's letter also called on the government to strengthen regulations over foreign investment, by:
Improving transparency of the ultra-secretive Investment Canada process.
Allowing broader stakeholder input to reviews.
Closing loopholes that exempt most takeovers from scrutiny (including takeovers that are "too small" or reflect "indirect purchases" of companies).
Strengthening and more clearly defining the "net benefit" test.
Insuring that government can enforce commitments attached to approved takeovers.
The government must address the immediate circumstances of the Caterpillar case, while also taking on the longer-run task of strengthening the regulations, so that the terrible situation at Electro-Motive does not continue to repeat itself in other locations.
Labour Leaders Challenge Raitt on Caterpillar Closure
Labour leaders in the Halton Region west of Toronto welcomed the chance to meet with Federal Labour Minister Lisa Raitt on February 3 and urged the Minister to take action to support workers at Electro-Motive in London in the wake of the announced plant closure.
"The Minister made it clear to us that while she sympathizes with the workers who've lost their jobs in London, her hands as federal labour minister are tied, which is not the answer we wanted to hear," said Oakville and District Labour Council President Dave Millar. "We need Minister Raitt to send a strong message that this kind of corporate cut-and-run behaviour can't be accepted. We will keep pressing her on this. We need all levels of government speaking out on this."
The meeting included representatives of the CAW as well as the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation, the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers and the Canadian Labour Congress.
CAW Local 707 President Gary Beck said that the issues of retirement security (including the protection of Old Age Security) and job creation were front and centre.
"We told the Minister that creating good, quality jobs must be a top priority in the upcoming budget," Beck said. "We feel that the government's current program of tax cuts and service cuts won't help build the economy we need."
Air Canada In-Flight Schedulers Ratify New Deal
CAW Local 2002 members who work as Air Canada in-flight crew schedulers have overwhelmingly voted in favour of a new collective agreement.
The 76 crew schedulers, who are based in Montreal, voted 97 per cent in favour of the new agreement at a meeting on February 15.
The major issue in bargaining was the company's sudden announcement that they wanted to move these jobs to Toronto.
The new agreement ensures about 40 per cent of the jobs remain in Montreal with guaranteed alternate employment with Air Canada in Montreal, with recall rights.
In addition the date for relocation has been moved from March 2014 to March 2016 and voluntary separation packages have been negotiated for those who don't want to relocate.
Wages were increased two per cent in each of the first three years and three per cent in the fourth year, retroactive to May 23, 2011. The deal also includes changes to the pension plan, similar to Air Canada customer service and sales agents. The deal expires May 22, 2015.
CAW President Ken Lewenza said the new agreement is good news for these workers especially after such a tough round of bargaining.
"Our negotiating committee worked very hard to achieve this new agreement and have received overwhelming support from the membership," Lewenza said. "It's critical to note this agreement was reached between the two sides without any interference from the federal government."
"The bargaining committee did an outstanding job of bargaining the new agreement under very difficult circumstances," said Ross. "The committee took on the issue of the move head on and with a 97% ratification the members have clearly endorsed the new agreement and their efforts. This is proof that free collective bargaining can work and is the best way for the parties to reach an agreement," she said.
CAW Blockade at Guelph, Ontario Snowplow Plant
Members of CAW Local 1917 in Guelph, Ontario are blocking access to a SnowBear Limited plant, which makes snowplows and trailers, seeking severance payment guarantees from the company which has shut down production.
The plant has been gradually wound down since the fall when it had up to 200 workers. More recently it employed roughly 45, but now all workers have received layoff notices.
CAW Local 1917 President Robin Dudley said with the layoffs and indications the plant is being closed down the union wants guarantees that severance payments will be made to the workforce.
Dudley said the union is seeking an assurance the company isn't moving equipment out of the plant, selling it, and declaring bankruptcy in an attempt to avoid severance.
"CAW members at SnowBear and across the local have demonstrated real solidarity during a difficult period," Dudley said. "Hopefully a resolution will be found soon, but until there is a resolution we will stay strong and keep fighting back."
Attention CAW Members: CAW Group Insurance Program
The CAW Group Insurance Program is a voluntary auto and home insurance benefit plan available to all CAW active and retired members and their families.
Members are able to access home insurance and automobile insurance (except in those provinces where public auto insurance is available). Discounted rates are available and exclusive to CAW members and their families.
CAW Group Insurance Program staff are licensed insurance professionals and members of CAW Local 1524 in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario.
Caterpillar fiasco highlights failure of economic and social policy
Feb 15, 2012
I have likened recent events at Electro-Motive Canada in London, Ont., to an "economic home invasion." The factory operated profitably and productively for decades. Then suddenly its workers and the whole community were confronted by an uninvited visitor — who barged in, demanded money, and then left, leaving a shuttered plant and immeasurable social despair in its wake.
When someone experiences a real home invasion, they call the police. In this case, however, the relevant authorities failed to protect the citizens of London. Indeed, the federal government's Investment Canada process invited the invaders in, without so much as a cursory review of the possible effects of Caterpillar's 2010 takeover of Electro-Motive.
Caterpillar had no sooner digested its new subsidiary, than it began shifting production to Indiana (where new right-to-work laws effectively ban unions) and Mexico (where more straightforward, violent techniques are used to keep workers in line). But moving jobs out of Canada won't stop Caterpillar from raking in billions in revenue here — including lucrative sales to Canadian mines, oilsands and government-financed infrastructure projects. Rich tax incentives (like corporate tax cuts, special writeoffs for locomotive purchasers, R&D subsidies, and government financing for exports) all sweetened the pie.
Yet nothing was demanded from Caterpillar in return for this largesse; that's like offering a home invader a home-cooked dinner, while they're rampaging through. Meanwhile, outdated labour laws gave the company free reign to lock out workers, bargain in bad faith, and ultimately close down entirely, with impunity.
The Electro-Motive debacle reflects an all-round failure of economic and social policy. Perhaps that's why the issue touched such a chord with average Canadians. Indeed, I cannot recall another labour-management dispute in recent memory that garnered so much public support for the workers' cause. This is partly because of the offensive nature of the company's demands: imagine the arrogance of a global company that declares its highest profits in history one week, then demands 50 per cent cutbacks from Canadian workers the next.
But I believe the public spoke out because the Electro-Motive case symbolizes so painfully the negative social and economic trends that are destroying the Canada we love. If those 465 hard-working Canadians can lose everything just because an extremely profitable corporation demands it, then no middle-class Canadian is safe. The dream of inclusive mass prosperity, supposedly a core principle of our society, is very much on the ropes.
A union can fight for a better deal for its members, and for all working people. But a union cannot succeed on its own. Just as homeowners need the police to protect them against aggressive strangers, Canadians need governments to actively assert their authority and protect our interests.
Both the federal and provincial governments must intervene to assist the Electro-Motive workers in this desperate moment, using all the tools at their disposal. We've asked the federal government to reveal the specific terms of Caterpillar's original notification to Investment Canada, and subject that data to independent audit. Ottawa should also utilize strategic trade policy (as other countries do), including the potential application of countervail tariff, in an effort to change Caterpillar's decision. Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty should demand taxpayers' money back from Caterpillar. Provincial labour officials can intervene, too, to make sure the workers receive a modicum of fairness in their final dealings with this shameless corporation.
But ultimately we need permanent policy changes that respond to the unprecedented flexibility, power, and arrogance of companies like Caterpillar. Foreign investments must be carefully scrutinized to ensure they genuinely benefit Canada. Companies cannot harm Canadians, and still expect unfettered access to our markets. Tax incentives must have genuine strings attached, so we get fair value for our fiscal support to companies. Labour laws must be strengthened and modernized to support fair treatment for unionized and non-union workers alike.
We must equip ourselves as a society to deal with the new power alignments of the global economy, so average people can build decent lives. Otherwise, the tragedy that has befallen 465 hard-working, productive Canadians and their families in London, will be repeated many times over in decent communities across our land.
February 10, 2012
Volume 42, No. 5
CAW Outraged at Closure of Electro-Motive in London
CAW President Ken Lewenza expressed his anger and frustration at what is he calling the "callous move" by Caterpillar to suddenly close its London Electro-Motive Diesel plant, announced on February 3.
"Caterpillar had no intention of keeping this plant open," said Lewenza. "From day one, we believed that Caterpillar was trying to provoke a crisis, by forcing deep cuts that were not possible," said Lewenza.
Caterpillar locked out approximately 465 workers on January 1, after tabling a final offer that would cut wages and benefits in half. Caterpillar recently announced $4.9 billion in annual profits, the highest in its 86 year history.
Lewenza also pointed the finger squarely at government inaction in allowing the closure. "The Stephen Harper government is entirely in the pocket of the corporate elite and has shown absolute disregard for Canadian workers and their families," said Lewenza. "I am disgusted at this government and its indifference towards the suffering of workers and the unemployed. The Harper government was elected by Canadians, but only seems able to represent multi-national corporations."
"Even though we predicted that the plant could close, it's devastating when it actually happens," said CAW Local 27 President Tim Carrie. "This is truly rotten behaviour. Now we're going to do everything we can for these members."
CAW Electro-Motive chairperson Bob Scott said that members only learned the morning of the announcement that the plant would close. "Imagine the shock that our members felt at hearing about losing their jobs, on the radio," said Scott. "It's unbelievable that Caterpillar would string our members along and lock them out in the cold for six weeks, when it had no intention of reopening the plant," said Scott.
The union has begun negotiating a severance agreement with Electro-Motive and will be launching a multi-pronged strategy, targeting both the company and the provincial and federal governments, in order to ensure that this situation does not continue to repeat itself.
In a letter to CAW local unions, federations of labour and labour councils, CAW President Ken Lewenza thanked members and affiliates for their support and asked for their continued participation.
Over the next two weeks, the CAW will be calling for:
an overhaul to the Investment Canada Act, including closing a number of loopholes that allow corporations to buy up other companies, with no job commitments and increasing transparency;
imposing tariffs on Caterpillar products coming into Canada;
the federal government to force Caterpillar to pay back its tax breaks and other fiscal supports;
reforms to provincial labour laws to introduce a mechanism to intervene in lengthy labour disputes and prevent companies from evading severance obligations by locking out its workers, as well as improving existing severance entitlements;
an Industrial Inquiry Commission (possible under the Labour Relations Act).
CAW Local 2182 Pacific Region Director Allan Hughes (left) and local president Martin Grégoire urge the federal government and Coast Guard to rethink proposed service hour cuts at a press conference in Ottawa on February 8.
CAW President Ken Lewenza welcomed the release February 8 of a public petition to the House of Commons opposing the decision of the federal government and Canadian Coast Guard to cut service hours at 11 of 22 Marine Communications and Traffic Services centres, and close another by the end of 2012.
"This government has to wake up to the fact that it's simply not worth putting Canadian lives at risk to save a few bucks," Lewenza said.
"These marine communications officers are the eyes and ears of our coastal waters and play an integral part in rescue support efforts during times of crisis. Cutting these hours only creates conditions for failure."
The public petition was officially released in Ottawa at a joint press conference that included CAW Local 2182 President Martin Grégoire and CAW Local 2182 Pacific Region Director Allan Hughes alongside NDP Opposition Critic for Fisheries and Oceans Fin Donnelly and Deputy Critic for Fisheries and Oceans Phillip Toone.
Lewenza said he hopes other federal politicians lend their support to the union's effort to reverse these cuts.
"The federal government's relentless push for cost
savings under its national austerity program is proving reckless, especially when it directly interferes with the ability of workers to ensure the public is safe," Lewenza said. "We cannot support these efforts and must speak out against them."
MCTS cuts came into full effect on February 1 and have impacted stations located in Vancouver, Victoria, Tofino, Comox and Prince Rupert, British Columbia; Sarnia, Ontario; Quebec City and Les Escoumins, Quebec; Saint John, New Brunswick; Halifax, Nova Scotia; and St. John's, Newfoundland.
The CAW represents 350 marine communications and traffic services officers across Canada.
The CAW wind turbine is located on the north-eastern part of the main parking lot at the union's Family Education Centre. The turbine is expected to offset 350 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually.
Construction of the CAW's wind turbine is complete after the blades and final components were installed on February 3. The turbine, which stands 100 metres tall, is located on the grounds of the union's Family Education Centre in Port Elgin, Ontario.
"This is an historic day for our union," said CAW President Ken Lewenza. "This windmill is a symbol of our union's commitment to the preservation of our environment and of the role working people can play in building a sustainable future."
The union's wind turbine project, originally spearheaded by environmentally-active CAW members, received the support of union leadership in 2003. The wind turbine is in full compliance with all current safety regulations, as laid out by the province of Ontario. It is the first union-owned wind turbine in the province's history.
It is anticipated that the turbine will be fully operational and generating power by the beginning of April, once it has been wired to the provincial power grid.
Making good on an earlier promise, the union has proposed the establishment of a community advisory committee that will enable the union to share information with the community and deal with public concerns about the turbine's operation. For more information please visit: http://www.caw.ca/cleanwindenergy
CAW 2012 Family Education Program
If you're considering a family vacation this summer think about applying for the CAW's Family Education Program in Port Elgin, Ontario. The program is open to CAW members in good standing as well as their immediate family.
The CAW Family Education Program will feature three one-week English sessions in 2012.
The dates for these sessions are:
-Sunday, July 1 through Sunday, July 8;
-Sunday, July 8 through Sunday, July 15;
-Sunday, July 29 through Sunday, August 5.
Remember: you can apply for the Family Education Program if you are a CAW member in good standing - you do not require Paid Education Leave in your contract.
If you have questions please contact Michelle at 1-800-268-5763 ext, 8484 or by email at email@example.com
Applications to the program must be postmarked no later than Friday, March 23, 2012.
To download the Family Education Program application please visit: www.caw.ca/familyeducation.
Vol 42 No 4
Feb 4, 2012
Caterpillar Record Profits Means Demands for Cuts Groundless
January 26 Information picket line at Tormont in Toronto, ON Local 112 members show their support for the locked out Electro-Motive Local 27 members.
CAW President Ken Lewenza is demanding that Caterpillar take its concessionary demands off of the negotiating table in light of the recent announcement of the company's record-setting profits of $4.9 billion - a stunning 83 per cent increase over last year.
On January 1, Caterpillar locked out nearly 500 CAW Local 27 members at its locomotive facility in London, Ontario (Electro-Motive Diesel), demanding wages and benefits be cut by more than half.
"Today's announcement is outrageous and it is infuriating," said Lewenza, shortly after Caterpillar announced it profits on January 26. "This corporation is turning out record profits and making money hand over fist, and at the same time cutting our members off at the knees."
"What we're experiencing in London is a total injustice. It's shameful. And it's completely hypocritical," Lewenza said.
At dealerships and service centres in a dozen cities across the country, Caterpillar customers were being greeted January 26 by information picketers, who asked customers to tell the company they want fairness for these locked-out workers.
The information pickets were held in: St. John's, Newfoundland; Darthmouth, Nova Scotia, Montreal, Quebec; Chicoutimi, Quebec; Concord, Ontario; London, Ontario; Windsor, Ontario; St. Catharines, Ontario; Sudbury, Ontario; Winnipeg, Manitoba; Edmonton, Alberta and Vancouver, British Columbia.
Caterpillar profits far surpassed expectations. And sales of Electro-Motive Diesel products increased by $861 million in the past year. The company forecasts the year ahead to yield even higher revenue, with growth pegged between 13 and 20 per cent.
CAW Local 27/Electro-Motive Diesel Plant Chairperson Bob Scott said the company has absolutely no justification for keeping on its hard-line stance to reduce wages.
"We've been locked out for nearly a month and would like nothing better than to get back to work, and continue providing for our families," Scott said.
Workers picket outside a CAT service centre in Pointe Claire, just west of Montreal, as part of the national information picket.
To see more pictures from the National Information Pickets on January 26, please visit our flickr page HERE
Premier McGuinty Urges Caterpillar to Show Flexibility
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty urged Caterpillar to return to the bargaining table and "demonstrate some flexibility" during a January 31 speech to the London Chamber of Commerce.
McGuinty said the lock out of CAW Local 27 members who work at Electro-Motive a subsidiary of U.S. based Caterpillar, doesn't fit with the pattern of labour relations in Ontario.
The Premier was quoted in a Toronto Star story as indicating the dispute doesn't represent the generally "fair and balanced and responsible and respectful" nature of labour relations in the province.
We have the case of an employer here which is clearly not meeting Ontario's legitimate and recent expectations," McGuinty said. He was quoted as calling on the company to "come to the table and demonstrate some flexibility." Locked out CAW Local 27 members demonstrated outside the London speech.
CAW President Ken Lewenza thanked the Premier for his support. But Lewenza also strongly urged McGuinty to take legislative action to end the lock out.
CAW Local 114 Members Ratify New Contract at Viking Air
Viking Air bargaining committee members, from left to right, are Andre Tune, Jeannie Blaney (Local Rep), Gavin McGarrigle (National Rep), Dave Ingram, Don Haug (Chief Steward).
CAW Local 114 members who work at Viking Air in British Columbia have voted 95 per cent in favour of a new contract with the aircraft maker.
The CAW represents 270 workers at Viking Air, which builds the latest model of Twin Otter airplanes.
The new agreement includes a $1000 payment for 2010 to 2011, a 2 percent wage increase retroactive to November 2011, a wage increase of 2.5 per cent in November 2012 and another 3 per cent in November 2013. In addition, the union achieved 100 per cent employer paid benefits, vision and LTD improvements and a new drug card. A further gain is a 50 per cent increase in the protective footwear allowance.
On job security issues, the union negotiated a 50 per cent increase in the maximum severance payable in the event of redundancies, making it far more expensive to reduce the work performed by CAW members.
CAW National Representative Gavin McGarrigle said CAW members who work at Viking Air held firm in support of the bargaining committee and negotiated a strong aerospace agreement in difficult times.
"Our members at Viking Air refused to accept concessions and zero wage increases and instead decided that fighting back would make a difference," McGarrigle said.
"The skilled workers at Viking Air stood shoulder to shoulder and insisted that a fair agreement was needed when a company has dozens of orders for planes in its order books. Viking should be making plenty of Twin Otters moving forward," he said.
The CAW represents aircraft mechanics, machinists, sheet metal mechanics, painters, welders, storepersons and labourers at Viking Air, which is an aircraft manufacturing and repair firm based on Vancouver Island near Sidney, British Columbia. Viking is re-starting production of the famed de Havilland DHC-6 Twin Otter aircraft.
Veterans Transportation First Agreement
CAW Local 504 members who work at Veterans Transportation in Hamilton, Ontario have voted 82 per cent in favour of a first agreement.
These workers transport disabled citizens to and from appointments and are part of the Darts Transportation group. The CAW represents 28 workers at Veterans Transportation.
The agreement includes language on grievance procedures, human rights, health and safety and monetary gains. On top of their base trip rate the amount paid per trip increased 35 cents in the first year, 20 cents in the second year and 20 cents in year three. Also, there is a guarantee of 20 trips per day and 10 trips per day if a snow day is declared.
Other improvements include the August Civic holiday, bereavement coverage and PEL funding. They are also guaranteed use of the company vehicle to and from work.
CAW Local 504 President Randy Smith said "this is an important step forward to achieve this first collective agreement for this small group of workers.
This is a good foundation for collective bargaining with this group down the road."
Occupy Movement Continues to Highlight Inequality
The tents may be down from St. James Park, but the Occupy movement in Toronto is continuing its work to highlight issues of inequality, corporate greed, and the need to build a new economy.
Occupy TO is sponsoring a series of public forums called "Occupy Talks."
The most recent event on Wednesday, January 18 featured CAW Economist Jim Stanford, author Linda McQuaig (who addressed the recent CAW Council meeting on her new book, The Trouble With Billionaires), former CAW Research Director Sam Gindin, and Nathan Okonta from York University. It was attended by almost 200 people, showing clearly that the spirit of Occupy is still vibrant.
The meeting also discussed the solidarity rally January 21 with the Electro-Motive workers in London, and other specific ideas to build stronger links between Occupiers and the labour movement.
Solidarity Message to Locked-out Rio Tinto Workers
Leaders and members of CAW Local 2301 at Rio Tinto in Kitimat, B.C. made a long haul solidarity visit this week to the picket at Rio Tinto in Alma, Quebec. Included in the photo here is: Marc Maltais, President of USW 9490 , Martin McIlwrath, Trustee CAW 2301, two USW bargaining committee members, Ed Abreu President CAW Local 2301, Sean O'Driscoll Business Agent CAW 2301, Pierre Deschenes President Local 666 Mine and Mill Council, Alex Frechete, USW member at Rio Tinto.
CAW President Ken Lewenza has sent a message of solidarity and support to the nearly 800 locked out United Steelworker union members at Rio Tinto in Alma, Quebec. The company locked out the workers within the first few moments of the New Year.
"I was shocked and angered to see the arrogance of Rio Tinto, who not so long ago, merged with Alcan, lock out nearly 800 of its workers on New Year's Day," writes Lewenza.
Our nearly 200,000 members of the CAW share in your frustration and anger at your employer attempting to turn good jobs into precarious, temporary contract jobs.
The Quebec government has even been complicit in allowing Rio Tinto to try to railroad Quebec workers. That the Quebec Superior Court would rule USW members must limit their picket line numbers is outrageous - worse still that the Quebec government, led by Premier Jean Charest, has not intervened in this injustice."
Lewenza likened the fight at Rio Tinto to the one at Electro-Motive in London, Ontario - both essentially caused by government inaction and corporate greed.
Workers at the aluminum smelter rejected the company's final offer, which included contracting out new jobs as existing staff retires.
Rio Tinto merged with Quebec-based Alcan in 2007. The CAW represents Rio Tinto workers in Kitimat, B.C. and Saguenay, QC.
Air Canada Crew Schedulers Vote to Strike if Necessary
Inflight and flight operations crew schedulers have voted overwhelmingly to go on strike if necessary.
Inflight crew schedulers voted 96 per cent in favour of going on strike if necessary, while flight operations crew schedulers have voted 97 per cent in favour. No deadline has been set. Negotiations have been ongoing since the summertime and the current collective agreement expired on May 22.
Raising the ire of members is the plan by Air Canada to move the scheduling operations from Montreal to a new centre in Toronto. The CAW, representing the crew schedulers, has offered up a number of solutions that would be more cost-efficient than relocating staff and building a new centre - both of which will come at a significant expense to Air Canada. The move would cause what the union is calling the unnecessary uprooting of 120 families.
"Our members gave us a strong and informed mandate going forward. This sends a clear message to Air Canada to address our concerns and bargain a fair contract for our members," said Gaetano Amodeo, CAW chairperson at Air Canada flight operations.
Air Canada crew schedulers have not taken a strike vote for more than 21 years.
"Clearly it is time for the company to get serious and reach a fair collective agreement. Our members are extremely frustrated at what they see as an unnecessary and destructive move by the company to relocate approximately 120 people," said Frank Spinelli, CAW bargaining committee member at Air Canada's inflight crew scheduling.
CAW Local 2002 represents 76 members in inflight and 46 flight operations crew schedulers.
CAW members working in customer service at Air Canada went on strike in June, lasting until the two sides were able to reach a collective agreement three days later.
CAW Urges Ontario to Support Maintenance of Gun Registry Data
The CAW is calling on Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty to take a public stand and call on the Harper government to protect all existing data from the national long gun registry, in the wake of the government's effort to kill the registry and delete its records.
In a letter sent to the Premier on January 31, CAW Women's Program Director Julie White called on the provincial government to actively consider the establishment of a long gun registry and to take a "principled and public stand" against the Harper government's proposed legislation (Bill C-19) to dismantle the registry and demand the existing
records be maintained.
"The CAW accepts that citizens have the right to own firearms in Canada. However we cannot accept the logic that the conditions are such that firearm ownership goes unchecked," White said. "A long gun registry is one piece of a national gun control program that fosters a culture of safety and accountability for Ontario communities."
White said that there are over 2 million non-restricted firearms currently registered in Ontario that would disappear in the eyes of police officers and other law enforcement officials if the national registry is dismantled.
The province of Quebec has publicly stated that it will consider the establishment of a provincial long gun registry. Alberta Premier Alison Redford also stated recently that she doesn't oppose the transference of existing national data to provincial registries.
Bill C-19 has passed both first and second readings in the House of Commons and is currently being voted on by a parliamentary committee. So far, the federal Conservatives have rejected all proposed amendments to the Bill brought forward by members of the opposition.
Oshawa Calls for Exemption from European Trade Deal
Oshawa City Council joined a growing list of municipalities across Canada raising concerns around a proposed Canada-European Union free trade deal that would strip local governments of the right to manage public purchases and lock in the privatization of public water and wastewater services, among other impacts.
On January 30, Oshawa City Council voted in favour of a resolution, brought forward by local union leadership, calling on the government of Ontario to issue a clear and permanent exemption for Oshawa from the proposed Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).
CETA negotiations have been ongoing since 2009, and have directly involved federal, provincial and territorial governments. If signed, CETA would mark the first time in history that Canadian provinces and territories would be bound by the terms and conditions of a bilateral trade deal.
CAW Local 222 President Chris Buckley said this would have a direct effect on the day-to-day work of municipalities.
"This trade deal will likely change the way our cities and our towns do business by opening up local services, investment and procurement to global competition, yet they have no official voice at the negotiating table," Buckley said.
Buckley and Durham Region Labour Council President Jim Freeman spoke to city councillors about the potential dangers this trade deal could have on municipalities and criticized trade negotiations as lacking transparency.
"Our governments have been tight-lipped about what's at stake for cities in this trade deal, and we see that as unfair and unproductive," Freeman said, noting the deal could be finalized as early as March of this year.
In addition to the request for an exemption, the resolution calls on the government to disclose its offers on procurement, services and investment and asks for a clear explanation on how the CETA will impact municipal governance.
Oshawa is the latest in a growing list of
municipalities in Canada to speak out against the CETA, including the cities of North Vancouver, Hamilton, Cape Breton and others.
For more information on the CETA campaign, and to download copies of the municipal resolution, visit: .
Sunwing Pilots Association Merges with CAW
The association representing pilots at Sunwing Airlines Inc. has merged with the CAW.
An agreement was recently finalized merging approximately 150 members of SUNPAC, the Sunwing Pilots Association, with the CAW.
"We are pleased that this group of pilots has decided to merge with the CAW and I want to welcome them into our union," said CAW President Ken Lewenza.
SUNPAC President Captain Dave Matkovich said "the merger with CAW Canada will assist the Sunwing Airlines Pilot group in a number of areas. The CAW's considerable experience in the aerospace and airline sector was a key factor in our decision to join with CAW Canada and we look forward to utilizing the services now available to us. "
The CAW represents approximately 12,000 airline workers across Canada, including ticket agents, ground handling, pilots, mechanics, airline catering, cargo and crew schedulers.
Don't Forget - February is African Heritage Month, a time to commemorate African Heritage and those individuals who fought to enrich it - changing the world for the better.
For more information visit: http://www.caw.ca/en/7342.htm
Caterpillar to shut Ontario plant amid labour dispute
Globe & Mail
February 3, 2012
Caterpillar Inc. is closing a locomotive plant in London, Ont., where locked out employees have been off the job since Jan. 1.
Caterpillar did not say when it will close the Electro-Motive Canada plan operated by its Progress Rail Service, which employs more than 400 people.
The employees, members of the Canadian Auto Workers union, were locked out after the union refused company demands to cut wages by as much as 50 per cent.
The work will be shifted from London to Progress Rail's other assembly plants in North and South America, the company said in a four-paragraph news release Friday.
"All facilities within EMC, EMD and Progress Rail Services must achieve competitive costs, quality and operating flexibility to compete and win in the global marketplace, and expectations at the London plant were no different," the company added in the statement.
The gulf between the company's position on how to reduce costs and increase flexibility and the union's position was too wide so market actions dictated that the plant be closed, the statement added.
The closing announcement brought a condemnation from Canadian Auto Workers union president Ken Lewenza.
"Caterpillar had no intention of keeping this plant open," Mr. Lewenza said in a statement. "From day one, we believed that Caterpillar was trying to provoke a crisis, by forcing deep cuts that were not possible. Our members would have happily continued working under the previous conditions, but that wasn't enough for this incredibly profitable company."
The closing came eight days after Caterpillar reported record revenue of $60.1-billion (U.S.), a profit surge of 83 per cent to $4.9-billion, results that it said it hasn't seen since the days of U.S. President Harry Truman, who presided over the first years of a postwar economic boom when he occupied the Oval Office from 1945 to 1952.
Despite strong '11,
Material costs add to worry; workers
to get rest of bonus in March
By David Shepardson Detroit News Washington Bureau
January 29, 2012
Ford Motor Co. had its most profitable year in more than a decade, and its 2011 performance translated into about $6,200 in profit-sharing checks for the automaker's 41,600 hourly workers,
But investor worries about headwinds abroad in 2012 — including uncertainty in Europe and higher commodity prices — sent the company's stock tumbling Friday.
Dearborn-based Ford, first among the three domestic automakers to announce its fourth quarter and 2011 full-year earnings, reported $20.2 billion in net income for 2011.
It was Ford's best year since 1998 and second-best year ever, as its results were boosted by a one-time accounting gain.
This marked Ford's third consecutive annual profit, after losing $31 billion between 2005 and 2008.
But the company's fourth-quarter results didn't meet expectations. There are concerns about Ford's hedging strategy and higher commodity costs, and Ford is cautious about 2012 — especially in Europe and South America.
Under a formula agreed to by the United Auto Workers as part of a new labor agreement, Ford's earnings generated $6,200 in annual profit sharing for each of its 41,600 hourly employees.
Those workers received payments for the first half of the year of $3,750 per person in December. For the second half of 2011, the formula generated approximately $2,450 per employee, which is to be distributed in March. Profit-sharing payments for individual employee depend on how many hours each worked.
The payments will provide a big economic boost to workers and communities.
Ford said this month that it is awarding bonuses and merit raises for the first time since 2010 to its 20,000 North America salaried employees. It hasn't paid a bonus and merit pay increase in the same year since 2008.
Salaried workers will get 2.7 percent average salary increase based on performance.
Ford's stock fell sharply on Friday's financial results, but recovered some of the losses in afternoon trading. The automaker closed down 4.2 percent to $12.21, $0.53 in very heavy trading.
The automaker reported fourth quarter earnings of $0.20, excluding the accounting change. That's below the Wall Street consensus of about $0.25 a share.
"If you get over the small disappointment over the fourth quarter, this has been a good year," Ford Chief Financial Officer Lewis Booth said in an interview, noting the economic uncertainty in Europe and Asian natural disasters.
Ford's 2011 results were boosted by a one-time, noncash gain of $12.4 billion in prior year tax losses that had been set aside starting in 2006.
Excluding the one-time tax gain, it was still Ford's best annual operating profit since it earned $11.5 billion in 1999, the company said.
Ford's pre-tax operating profit was $1.1 billion in the fourth quarter. Excluding the special item, the company earned $8.8 billion in operating income in 2011.
Ford has now reported 10 consecutive profitable quarters. For the year, Ford earned $6.2 billion in operating profits in North America, up from $5.4 billion in 2010.
But the company's results for 2012 didn't impress some analysts. JPMorgan analyst Himanshu Patel called the fourth quarter results "weak."
Morgan Stanley auto analyst Adam Jonas said in a note that Ford missed its forecasts for fourth-quarter results — especially on margins. But he said Ford's "2012 outlook for 'about equal' total company pretax profit with higher auto profit and auto margins is encouraging. 2012 may be shaping up to be a very good year for Ford."
Standard & Poor's Ratings said Ford's results were "consistent with our assumptions incorporated in the fall 2011 upgrade."
Significantly, the automaker cut its debt from $19 billion to $13.1 billion by the end of 2011. Ford's results also were boosted $400 million via the sale of its Ford Russia operations to a joint venture.
Ford said it expects its market share this year to be "about equal" to 2011 in the United States and Europe. Last year, it forecast market share gains in both the U.S. and Europe. Ford's market share was up 0.1 percent to 16.5 percent in 2011 in the U.S., but its retail share was flat at 14 percent.
The company reported a $190 million loss in Europe in the fourth quarter, up substantially from its $51 million loss in the same period in 2010. The company lost $27 million in Europe for all of 2011, compared with a $182 million profit the previous year.
Ford said it has challenges to address in Europe and South America. Uncertainties about the debts of major European countries have raised fears about a major economic slowdown in Europe.
And it still faces questions — as does its rival General Motors Co., which will announce its 2011 earnings Feb. 16 — about its large pension liabilities.
Ford's pension plans worldwide are underfunded by $15.4 billion, an increase from $11.5 billion the previous year. In the U.S., its pension obligations are underfunded by $9.4 billion, up from $6.7 billion. Ford contributed $1.5 billion to its global pension plans in 2010 and plans to make $3.5 billion in contributions to those plans this year, including $2 billion to its U.S. pension funds.
JPMorgan said Ford may be considering UAW pension buyouts — a move that industry analysts have said GM may announce this year.
"Like GM, Ford is more actively discussing 'de-risking' steps for its pension, which include limiting liability growth, discretionary contributions … and 'other actions under development,' which may hint at UAW pension buyouts," said JPMorgan's Patel.
Booth said the automaker is considering unspecified "strategic actions" to address its pension underfunding and plans to fully fund them within "the next few years." He declined to answer whether Ford is considering pension buyouts.
Ford Motor Credit Co. earned $2.4 billion in profits in 2011, down from $3.1 billion in 2010, because fewer leases are being terminated.
Chrysler Group LLC is to report its 2011 earnings Feb. 1, and is expected to report a full-year profit. GM has earned about $8 billion in the first nine months of the year.
Vol. 42, No. 3
Jan 27, 2012
Massive Rally in Support of Electro-Motive Workers
London Day of Action- January 21, 2012 (Top: CAW President Ken Lewenza; Left Representatives of Occupy London; Right: Bob Scott, CAW Local 27/EMD plant chairperson).
More than 15,000 demonstrators rallied in London's Victoria Park Saturday, January 21 in a show of solidarity with 465 CAW Local 27 members who have been locked-out by U.S. multi-national corporation Caterpillar.
Labour and community leaders (including students and representatives of Occupy London) as well as interim federal NDP leader Nycole Turmel and London Mayor Joe Fontana addressed the massive crowd.
CAW President Ken Lewenza said the struggle at Caterpillar today is a struggle that has been going on across Canada's manufacturing sector for more than five years as half a million Canadian workers have lost their jobs through no fault of their own.
He blasted the greed of corporate executives who have taken advantage of increasingly weaker government rules and regulations under the Harper government and around the globe.
Lewenza told the crowd that Caterpillar has made
billions in profits, its top executives have made tens of millions in bonuses, and yet the company wants to cut workers wages in half at its London diesel engine manufacturing plant, Electro-Motive Diesel.
He said the Electro-Motive lock-out should be a rallying point for all workers to pull together to demand equality and good jobs.
OFL President Sid Ryan said the rally demonstrates that Canadians are tired of corporate greed and are seeking a new economic model that distributes wealth fairly.
"We've come here today to send a signal to Harper," Ryan said. He stressed that foreign purchases of Canadian plants must provide a "net benefit" under the Investment Canada Act.
The real net benefit, Ryan said, are jobs for Canadians that provide a decent standard of living and which allow workers to retire with dignity.
The Harper government has yet to comment on the lock-out directly, other than to say that the situation involves a private corporation and falls outside of federal jurisdiction (although the Investment Canada Act is federal legislation). In 2008, the Prime Minister visited the plant to tout a $5 million package of tax breaks.
Sister Sue Wilson, director of Systemic Justice, said the situation at Caterpillar is more than a labour issue; rather it's an issue of justice.
Wilson said recent studies show the gap between the rich and the poor continues to grow and the result is that communities are weakened and the social contract is unraveling.
"Too many people are being excluded from the benefits of the economy," Wilson said.
As Contact went to press, CAW members were staging a cross country picket at Caterpillar dealerships, raising the profile of the current dispute with the company's customers on January 26.
The information pickets were set up shortly after the company issued it's year-end financial report earlier
in the day. It was announced that Caterpillar profits jumped a stunning 83 per cent over the previous year to $4.9 billion. These profits are the highest ever recorded by the company.
CAW and CEP to Begin Talks on New Union
The executive boards of the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers unions have unanimously approved a process to explore the possibility of creating a new Canadian union as soon as mid-2013.
Leaders of the two unions have held preliminary discussions for several weeks, reviewing the current labour relations climate and the challenges facing organized labour, and considering whether the formation of a new Canadian union would help the movement to address those challenges. Now those discussions have been formally endorsed by the elected National Executive Boards of both unions. At separate meetings within the last week, the two boards unanimously approved a "Process Protocol" document. This document sets out the terms of reference and a timeline for union representatives to explore issues related to the formation of a new union.
"Events like the lockout at Caterpillar have made it increasingly obvious that Canadian workers need a stronger, more active, and more innovative labour movement to defend them," says Ken Lewenza, CAW National President. "Our movement cannot afford a 'business-as-usual' approach in light of the attacks we face from both business and government. We need to combine our resources and use them more effectively if we are to protect Canadian jobs and push for greater equality in this incredibly hostile economic environment."
"Our goal is to create a new, Canadian union," says CEP National President Dave Coles. "We are examining every aspect of our work as trade unions, from organizing to bargaining to political activism. We are working to create a stronger union movement and a better future for workers."
Under the Process Protocol, a representative committee will work over coming months to investigate specific issues related to a new union (including dues and finances, representative structures, and regional issues). It will issue a report on whether a new union is feasible and desirable in time for the upcoming conventions of both unions (August 2012 for the CAW, and October 2012 for the CEP).
To see the Process Protocol document please visit:
CAW President Calls on Feds to Stop Cuts to Coast Guard Centres
CAW President Ken Lewenza called on the federal government and the Coast Guard to stop a shortsighted plan to cut servicing hours for Marine Communications and Traffic Services personnel who provide critical distress and safety services on Canadian coastal waters.
The Canadian Coast Guard's proposal is to cut servicing hours at 11 of its 22 active stations located in Vancouver, Victoria, Tofino, Comox and Prince Rupert, British Columbia; Sarnia, Ontario; Quebec City and Les Escoumins, Quebec; Saint John, New Brunswick; Halifax, Nova Scotia; and St. John's, Newfoundland.
Lewenza called this a reckless cost-cutting measure that puts lives at risk.
"This situation offers a glimpse into how blindly the Harper government is approaching austerity measures," Lewenza said. "Harper's own security and energy policies are putting greater pressures on the Coast Guard to monitor our waters, yet the government is trying to reduce services in this exact area. It doesn't make sense."
Marine Communications and Traffic Services officers are often the first point of contact for distressed mariners, fishers, recreational boaters, kayakers, and others in coastal waters. MCTS centres handle over 7,000 marine search and rescue cases each year.
The full roll-out of the Coast Guard's cost-cutting plan is set to begin on February 1, although a partial program was rolled out at the beginning of the year.
CAW Local 2182 President Martin Grégoire, who represents over 350 MCTS officers, said he was disappointed in the public remarks made recently by Keith Ashfield, Federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans (published in the Comox Valley Echo), who considered this an effort to put "the proper resources in place when and where they need to be available."
"To suggest that the Coast Guard can reduce hours depending on whether a crisis is likely to occur is simply absurd," Grégoire said. "The whole point is to ensure that we're fully prepared to deal with any situation, no matter how big or small, at all times."
CAW President Ken Lewenza has appointed Aaron Neaves, President of CAW Local 127, to staff as a service representative working out of the CAW's Windsor office, effective Sunday, January 22, 2012.
CAW, CEP talk possible
merger by mid-2013
Andrea Janus, CTVNews.ca
Jan. 25, 2012
Two of the country's largest labour unions announced Tuesday they are engaging in talks that could potentially end in a merger as early as the middle of next year.
The Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers unions said in a statement the talks are in response to "the challenges facing organized labour," citing the lockout at the Caterpillar-owned Electro-Motive plant in London, Ont. as one example of a strained labour relations climate.
The two unions, which together have more than 320,000 members, said they have been engaging in preliminary discussions "for several weeks," and the executive boards have unanimously voted to formally explore a merger.
CAW National President Ken Lewenza said the boards of both unions believe workers "need a stronger, more active, and more innovative labour movement to defend them.
"Our movement cannot afford a 'business-as-usual' approach in light of the attacks we face from both business and government," Lewenza said in a statement.
"We need to combine our resources, and use them more effectively, if we are to protect Canadian jobs and push for greater equality in this incredibly hostile economic environment."
The talks are also a response to moves by the federal government to curb strikes by Air Canada workers represented by the CAW.
Last summer, Labour Minister Lisa Raitt threatened to enact back-to-work legislation for thousands of Air Canada employees, which led to a negotiated settlement between the CAW and the airline.
The unions have approved what they're calling a "Process Protocol" document that sets out the terms of reference for future talks and a timeline for union representatives to consider issues related to a potential merger.
According to the protocol, those issues include dues and finances, executive structures and regional concerns. The two unions are also open to allowing representatives of other unions to join the talks "as appropriate."
The committee will issue a report on whether a merger is "feasible and desirable" ahead of each union's convention. The CAW meets in August, while the CEP meets in October.
"Our goal is to create a new, Canadian union," Dave Coles, president of the CEP, said in a statement.
"We are examining every aspect of our work as trade unions, from organizing to bargaining to political activism. We are working to create a stronger union movement and a better future for workers."
Strengthen Public Services and Expand the Ontario Economy, CAW Urges Commission
The CAW is stressing that more private sector involvement is the wrong way to reform public services in Ontario.
In a 19-page submission to the Commission on the Reform of Ontario's Public Services, the CAW challenges many misconceptions about the best way to reshape public services in the province.
It reaffirms key principles of public service delivery and urges that long-run efforts to reduce the provincial deficit be paired with an expansionary macroeconomic strategy to put Ontarians back to work and paying taxes.
The CAW represents 145,000 workers in Ontario including 26,000 public sector workers including those in health, post-secondary education, municipal utilities and the urban transit sector.
In its submission, the CAW outlines suggestions for controlling costs associated with delivery of public services, but not by handing more responsibility and control to private sector corporations.
Instead, it challenges the waste and irrationality associated with many existing forms of private sector participation in the delivery of public sector services.
Various sections of the paper identify waste and irrational practices associated with private sector procurement, private clinic operation, public-private partnerships in infrastructure construction and public capital subsidies for long-term care homes.
"In all of these areas, funding constraints are made worse, not better, by private sector involvement at various stages of the delivery process," the CAW submission states.
Other parts of the CAW submission consider broader economic benefits associated with public service delivery in Ontario, including research and innovation. It concludes with a discussion of ways in which costs could be reduced and service quality improved.
The CAW analysis emphasizes issues related to health care, because that is where the majority of the CAW's broader public sector members work in Ontario, although many of the concepts can be applied to other public services in Ontario.
The Greater Toronto Area Aboriginal and Workers of Colour Caucus met to celebrate the holiday season by having a potluck dinner. The caucus meets monthly to share ideas, inspire and to educate. This caucus is presently preparing for March 21st, International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
CAW Serves 72-Hour Strike Notice at Viking Air
As Contact went to press the CAW had served strike notice with a deadline of noon on January 19, at Viking Air in British Columbia.
"The skilled workers at Viking Air have been patiently waiting for well over a year for a new contract that addresses wages, benefits and job security issues," said CAW National Representative Gavin McGarrigle. "The union reached a new contract with Cascade Aerospace in Abbotsford last year without any disruption and that pattern should work for Viking Air as well," he added.
The workers at Viking Air voted 94 per cent in favour of strike action on October 28, 2011.
"We're going to work hard in bargaining this week to reach a fair deal as a strike at Viking Air will completely disrupt production and further delay deliveries of many new Twin Otter aircraft that are already behind schedule," said McGarrigle prior to the deadline.
Viking Air is an aircraft manufacturing and repair firm based on Vancouver Island near Sidney, British Columbia.
CAW Local 114 (http://www.cawlocal114.com/) currently represents a bargaining unit of 270 workers at Viking Air including aircraft mechanics, machinists, sheet metal mechanics, painters, welders, storespersons and labourers.
CAW Reaches Tentative Agreement with Nav Canada
CAW Local 2245, which represents flight service specialists at Canadian airports, reached a tentative collective agreement with Nav Canada on January 18.
CAW Local 2245 represents 750 Flight Service Specialists at 63 airports across Canada, providing essential advisory services to the aviation community. These Flight Service Specialists advise pilots on aviation safety issues at airports.
It marks the third time that the CAW and Nav Canada have reached a collective agreement without government intervention during the last year.
"This agreement helps recognize the hard work and dedication our members provide to the aviation industry," said Derek Yakielashek, CAW Local 2245 President.
Details of the new agreement will be voted on by the membership in upcoming weeks.
Court Victory for Toronto Limousine Drivers
An Ontario Superior Court Judge has dismissed two claims by employer Aaroport Limousine against CAW Local 252 members paving the way for first contract arbitration to finally get underway.
Dismissal of the two actions by Justice E.P. Belobaba is a major victory for these Local 252 members who are airport limousine drivers in Toronto. The drivers had been locked out by the employer in a bitter dispute for six months in 2010 to 2011.
CAW Local 252 represents 200 Toronto airport limo drivers who are employed by McIntosh, Air Cab and Aaroport, all owned by the same individuals.
More than a year ago Aaroport Limousine brought two claims against these drivers in Superior Court for recovery of monies the drivers didn't pay them during the labour dispute, which amounted to more than $13,000 per member.
The company also sought to terminate the service agreements that form part of the employment relationship with some of the drivers/brokers, which would have the effect of firing those members.
"During the course of negotiations the company maintained that all of its financial proposals were contingent upon agreement by the union that the members would pay all the "back fees" including "goodwill" which the company said it lost during the public dispute," said Sukhvinder Johl, CAW National Representative.
Obviously the company's proposal and the two court actions were an impediment to getting a first agreement, he said.
"Now the CAW can move ahead with the first contract arbitration hearing, which is likely to commence in April," Johl said.
CAW Wind Turbine Construction Nearing Completion
Photo taken of the turbine construction site at the CAW Family Education Centre in Port Elgin, Ontario on January 14.
Photo credit: Avis Peterson
Construction of the first union-owned and operated wind turbine in the province of Ontario is nearing completion.
The CAW wind turbine, a project now eight years in the making, is scheduled to be completed in the coming weeks on the grounds of the union's Family Education Centre in Port Elgin, Ontario. The turbine is expected to begin producing power by the end of March, 2012.
The windmill will stand 100 metres tall and will operate at 500kw, offsetting about 60 per cent of the FEC's overall energy needs.
After a second review of the project's Certificate of Approval the Ontario Ministry of Environment reaffirmed it's approval of the union's wind turbine in December, 2011. The project was deemed to meet all current provincial rules and regulations governing wind turbines. Some concerns have been raised by the community which the union continues to address.