President's address to April Council

Port Elgin, Ontario

April 13, 2012

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CAW Labour Day 2011
CAW Council
April 13&14, 2012

Port Elgin, Ontario
April 13, 2012

Ken Lewenza
CAW National President

"Part of my report is the challenges we have in big three. We are going o be going around to eight different communities, over the next two to three weeks to talk about the importance of auto jobs in our community. We are calling town hall meetings, we are asking Municipal, Provincial and Federal politicians that have the same interests as us to participate. To talk about the importance of the auto industry, the importance of the jobs and the important contribution that good decent jobs contribute to society more generally. There is a lot of confidence by employers today to try and get every one of us to race to the bottom so the idea of the town hall meetings is to educate, mobilize and again try to establish an industrial strategy in the auto industry for Canada for the future.

The Caterpillar situation in London has shown us that free trade threatens our basic economic security. The next generation will not nearly have the same opportunities that we've had if we allow theses trade agreements to be expanded because the Stephen Harper government doesn't represent you. Stephen Harper represents global capital, he represents the interests of the business community and that is clear.

I want to raise the CEP CAW discussions. The prospect of forming a new larger union representing over three hundred thousand members in virtually every sector of the economy, in every region of the country could help to galvanize other unions and open a new chapter in the Canadian labour movement. Discussions with CEP on the broad goals and structures of a new union are continuing and full reports will be presented to the CAW convention in August and the CEP convention that is scheduled in the latter part of this year. No formal steps toward forming that new organization will be taken until both conventions approve the plan. I want to raise organizing again.

Everyone in this room could act as an organizer in your workplace and in the community in which you live, whether you are in a coffee shop or whether you are running a bowling tournament. There are unorganized workers who are listening to us everyday and if we know those unorganized workers we should not be shy about talking about the importance of the union and making sure that there is a home for them in our union.

Boy there are a lot of unsettled jobs and workers in the public sector from one end of the country to the other. Brothers and sisters I think we have a responsibility to work with the public sector, we have public sector workers in this room in education, in health care and other sectors of the economy that require as much support as our private sector partners and when a government starves them out through collective bargaining and they have to look for other ways to cut costs and balance their budgets in schools, hospitals and universities the ones that feel the pain the most are working men and women in those facilities and we've got to fight like hell.

Our skilled trades folks and leaders get it. They understand that if there is an attack on the apprenticeship program that means there is an attack on journeymen. If there is an attack on workers more generally they know that it is an attack on their wages and benefits also. There is a connection to the progress of the skilled trades and all of our work places. There is an alternative to these attacks in the public sector, there is an alternative to losing good jobs by supporting reciprocal trade. There are alternatives, we can turn this country around even with a Harper majority government providing we come together within the labour movement, within the progressive forces with the same vision that we have, we can change, we can change this country for the better.

Thank you for your participation, thank you for your work on the ground. Continue the fight. Thank you brothers and sisters."

CAW Making A Difference.

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