July 13, 2012

Volume 42, No. 26


Employment Stats Show National Good Jobs Summit Needed

Despite some slight gains on the jobs front, monthly job statistics for June reveal continuing cause for concern with fewer Canadians choosing to look for work, CAW President Ken Lewenza says.
 
Lewenza was reacting to Statistics Canada's Labour Force Survey (LFS) released today, which showed little change for June with the unemployment rate nudging down 0.1 per cent to 7.2 per cent overall. The Statistics Canada survey shows fewer people were looking for work last month.
 
While there were job gains in health care, educational services, building and other support services, the survey also shows declines in information, culture, recreation, agriculture and manufacturing.
 
Private sector employment was also down and youth employment continues to be a concern, said Lewenza.
 
"Our elected representatives need to take proactive steps to spur job creation throughout the economy and they especially need to focus on the creation of good full-time jobs for young people," Lewenza said.
 
The June's LFS shows that the unemployment rate among youth aged 15 to 24 rose 0.5 per cent to 14.8 per cent in June. Further, the unemployment rate among students looking for summer work was 13 per cent in June, up from 11 per cent a year earlier.
 
Lewenza again called for a national good jobs summit with the involvement of stakeholders from across the Canadian economy. He stressed that the massive structural changes in the Canadian labour market have meant the loss of more than half a million good paying manufacturing and processing jobs in the last seven years.

Settlement at Coutts Information Services 

CAW Local 199 members who work at Coutts Information Services in Niagara Falls, Ontario have overwhelmingly approved a new three-year contract with wage and benefit gains among many others improvements.
 
The new contract was approved July 4 and covers 81 CAW members at Coutts, which sells books and library related services to universities and other customers worldwide.
 
The new contract includes an $800 signing bonus plus a two per cent wage increase in each of year two and year three. It also provides new dental coverage, increased shift premiums, and severance pay.
 
Despite the potential of job loss due to business restructuring, severance pay of up to 2.5 years of service plus a six month extension of health benefits will be of great assistance to the membership, said Wayne Gates, President of CAW Local 199.
 
CAW Local 199 and Coutts management have also agreed to pursue assistance from local federal and provincial members of parliament to identify opportunities to grow the Canadian business.  

Federal Cuts to VIA Rail Hurts Passenger Rail Service

The federal government's so-called 'modernization plan' at VIA Rail is resulting in major cuts to passenger rail service for Canadians from coast to coast, the CAW says.
 
After weeks of delay, speculation and anxiety for workers and passengers VIA Rail announced a 'modernization plan' on June 27 that comes in the wake of funding cuts announced by the federal Conservative government. "Unfortunately the modernization plan does not include many of the current VIA customers or the 9% of VIA's unionized workforce," said CAW National Representative Bob Fitzgerald. CAW Local 100 and Council 4000 represent 2500 workers at VIA.
 
"Under the guise of modernization VIA is cutting services from coast to coast," said Heather Grant, Secretary Treasurer of Council 4000. "The cuts to routes and to day-to-day services will force some of VIA's current customers to look elsewhere for transportation and tourism options and in some cases VIA will be eliminated as a transportation option completely," she said.
 
The cuts in services will further stress fixed costs at VIA causing even more harm to the passenger rail service, said Ken Hiatt, President of Local 100.
 
"VIA has a long history of providing an important option for people traveling from community to community for personal, business, medical and tourism needs from coast to coast and these cuts will clearly affect many customers who have come to rely on the rail passenger services," Hiatt said.
 
Barry Kennedy, President of Council 4000, said the CAW plans to meet with the employer regarding the announced cuts and the impact on the membership and their families and to ensure that job security and income maintenance provisions of the collective agreement are honoured.
 
"The CAW will continue to campaign for a National Transportation Policy that would enhance and improve rail passenger service in Canada rather than the cut and slash approach that has been directed by the federal government and the corporation," Fitzgerald said.

CAW Members at Toromont CAT Ratify New Agreement

CAW Local 112 members at Toromont CAT in Concord, Ontario have ratified a new collective agreement that provides a 6% wage increase over the life of the agreement for skilled trades workers and eliminates a tiered wage system for production workers that had been in place since 2003.
 
Roland Kiehne, CAW Local 112 president, said eliminating the tiered wage system was key to reaching a deal.
 
"The bargaining committee was determined in its resolve to eliminate the divisive tiered wage system that had been in place since 2003," Kiehne said.
"It makes absolutely no sense that workers performing identical work be paid differently. It's wrong and we fixed it," he said.
 
CAW Local 112 Plant Chairperson Melrose Cornwall said, "Without the strong support of our skilled trades members standing in solidarity with the production workers, resolving the tiered wage problem would not have been possible."
 
"It demonstrates that collectively we have the power to impact change in our workplace," said Cornwall.

The workers voted 95 per cent in favour of the agreement. CAW Local 112 represents 250 skilled trades and production workers at Toromont CAT.

Laid Off Workers Face Wage Cuts, Precarious Work, CAW study finds 

A ground breaking study tracking a group of laid off workers in Ontario shows that they continue to struggle to find decent jobs amidst the turmoil of the current labour market.
 
The final phase of the CAW's Worker Adjustment Tracking Study released earlier today shows that many laid off workers are forced into lower quality and more precarious jobs (including temp agency work), with a significant reduction in pay following the loss of good full-time employment.
 
"This study provides pretty clear evidence to contradict the notion that all jobs are created equal," said CAW President Ken Lewenza.
 
"There's a problem in our economy when the jobs being created don't provide stability, when they fuel insecurity and when they make people less healthy. This is exactly the track we're heading down and there are huge negative implications for Canadians as a result," Lewenza said.
 
The study, which is the first of its kind in Ontario, tracks the long term experiences of 260 workers laid-off from three manufacturing plants. The plants are Collins & Aikman in Scarborough, which closed in October, 2007; Kitchener Frame in Kitchener, which closed in April 2009 and the elimination of the third shift of Chrysler's Brampton assembly plant in March 2008.
 
While the majority of workers from Collins & Aikman and Kitchener Frame are currently working, most are earning significantly lower wages and incomes, fewer or no benefits with greater income and employment instability. A majority of workers from these locations have experienced wage reductions of 20 per cent or more. Although most workers participating from the Chrysler location have returned to their jobs, a majority express concern over their long term job security.
 
The study also found that workplace action centres continue to be a useful point of contact and support for laid off workers. The Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities sponsored action centers deliver services and interventions that both enhance re-employment prospects and support laid-off workers and their families during a difficult period of transition.
 
Workers reporting high use of action centre services are overall the most likely to report a more positive adjustment to the impact of job loss.
 
"When workers have one-on-one job search and retraining supports, they do better. If they're left to fend for themselves, they're worse off. If policy-makers can take something away from these results today, it's that adjustment services are a vital lifeline for workers and have to be kept up." 
 
Other study highlights include:
 
. Over 1 in 5 reported being without income for longer than one year;
. 31% reported their general health has deteriorated as a result of layoff;
. 48% reported they had done without something they needed in order to pay the rent or mortgage;
. Employment and job characteristics for most workers are poorer than in their previous jobs;
. Nearly 60% of those who completed job retraining programs found related employment.
 
The CAW released the initial phase of this study on June 7, 2010. The second phase of the study, titled Finding Their Way, Second Round Report of the CAW Workers Adjustment Tracking Report, was written by Sam Vrankulj of the McMaster University School of Labour Studies.
 
To read the complete report, please visit: http://www.caw.ca/assets/images/Phase_Two_Tracking_Study.pdf


 
CAW-McMaster Labour Studies Grads Honoured

June 23, 2012 marked the fourth graduation ceremony of the CAW-McMaster University Labour Studies Certificate Program. Sixty-six new graduates were honoured, including the first 14 recipients of the new Advanced Certificate.


The 2012 CAW-MAC Labour Studies Certificate Program Graduation Ceremony was held at the Hamilton Convention Centre. The new grads were addressed by Lisa Kelly, CAW Director of Education, and Tony Leah on behalf of the CAW; and by Wayne Lewchuk and Sam Vrankulj on behalf of McMaster University.

The innovative CAW-MAC program offers an opportunity for labour activists to take university level courses to deepen their understanding and activism. Originally funded through negotiated tuition assistance programs at Ford, GM and Chrysler; it is now entirely administered by the CAW out of dedicated funding negotiated with the auto companies.
 
The program was the brainchild of David Robertson, former CAW Director of Workplace Organization and Training, and Wayne Lewchuk, Professor in the School of Labour Studies at McMaster University. Over the years hundreds of CAW members have taken courses, and 184 have completed a full Labour Studies Certificate. The certificate can provide partial credit towards an undergraduate degree at McMaster University as well.
 
The graduation this year was held at the Hamilton Convention Centre. The new grads were addressed by Lisa Kelly, CAW Director of Education, and Tony Leah on behalf of the CAW; and by Wayne Lewchuk and Sam Vrankulj on behalf of McMaster University.
 
More pictures can be viewed at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/81964832@N06/

Jazz Acquisition Results in London Closure

On July 12, Air Canada Jazz announced the acquisition of six new Bombardier Q400 NextGen aircraft and removing nine existing regional jets from its fleet, resulting in the elimination of heavy maintenance work at the airline's London base, impacting 150 CAW Local 2002 members.
 
The closure is expected to occur in the summer of 2013.
 
Ron Smith, CAW Director of Transportation, said the union will work diligently to mitigate the negative impacts this closure will have on members, through workplace relocation opportunities, buy-outs and severance packages.
 
CAW Local 2002 President Jamie Ross called the company's actions "irresponsible" and worries that other bases could be left vulnerable to similar moves.
 
"We understand that the replacement of older regional jets by newer aircraft translates into better operating economics, but this should not be accomplished at the expense of Jazz's own employees and CAW members," Ross said.
 
Contract talks between the union and Jazz stalled in June after the company failed to address many of the members' concerns and refusing to negotiate beyond contract concessions.
 
Discussions between CAW and Jazz are tentatively schedules to resume on July 23 in Toronto.

 

To download the CAW's 2012 Labour Day poster, please visit: http://www.caw.ca/en/11311.htm
 
 

 


 


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