President's Address December Council

Toronto, ON

December 2, 2011

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CAW Labour Day 2011
CAW Council
December 2 & 3, 2011


Toronto, Ontario
December 2, 2011

Ken Lewenzal
CAW National President

       "So I think it is appropriate to start with the economic out look. You know, the corporate community, I want to emphasize again, said boy if you establish a union you'll ruin the economy. It is not because of unions, it is important that all of you always remember that. Not because of taxes and it is just as important that you remember that. Not because of social programs, we are in trouble because of pure ugly greed.

Brothers and Sisters lets not buy into this tax deficit argument. You can't cut the tens of thousands of jobs in the public services and expect the services to be the same. So when people are advocating cutting public services jobs you are advocating cutting the services that Canadians need. There is a correlation between their jobs and the services that we provide and we have to be on the job side and we have to be on the services side during this particular time.

So lets get focused on the issues that are important to our members because today it is not about politics in isolation. It's about workers, it is about people in Ontario and every other province in the country that need government at this particular time of a recession. So I would like to challenge the labour movement to think outside the box. To think about how we can get in there and work with government in the interest of our members, in the interest of public services.

 I want to talk a little bit about the Occupy movement. I went to Toronto, and I watched with great interest, their general assembly where they got together, no bureaucracy, they just got together and people were raising issues in their general assembly as they called it. They were talking about inequality, they were talking about the joblessness, they were talking about the lack of opportunity. They taught us a lesson brothers and sisters and the lesson is; We cannot ignore the social inequalities that is happening in our nation. We have a responsibility, the same way we need to fight for retirees to retire in dignity and respect through our Canada Pension and old age system. We also have to fight for the next generation.

Good news, I know you were waiting for it to come. Ship building. The Irving group won a twenty five billion dollar federal contract to build navy ships and brothers and sisters it is a victory for Canadians, it is a victory for our union, it is a victory for ship builders but more importantly than ever it is an important victory for the next generation of ship builders. Because in this room we have to talk about the unemployed, we've got to talk about the opportunities that are not available to them and during this ship building campaign we generated jobs for the next generation and to me that is the biggest victory. Enhancing jobs for our existing members is great but the next generation of workers excite me, the next generation of trade unionism excites me even more.

Another good news story, it is not all bad news but it doesn't happen without our collective work. Rio Tinto in Kitimat is going to be announcing that a 2.7 billion dollar investment is going to become a reality and the jobs as a result of that 2.7 billion dollars is going to start immediately in the construction of a new facility in Kitimat. That is good news for the CAW and it is good news for Canadians.

We need to increase union density in this country and the only way that we can do this is that all of us become organizers. Everyone of you can have a lead in the workplace. Everyone of you can build pride in that restaurant, build pride at that family table, build some respect for the institution and tell people what the union strands for and what it means when you join the union.

We want to thank you for the work that you do day in and day out to advance the causes of our members and advance the causes of economic and social justice. To talk about the important issues, important to our union and our membership throughout this country. So brothers and sisters thank you with the greatest amount of respect."

CAW Making A Difference.

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