July 27, 2012
Volume 42, No. 27
Ontario Government Interference Ends Talks, CAW says
The CAW is expressing anger at the Ontario government for interfering in collective bargaining with a for-profit corporation, after negotiations abruptly ended with long term care provider Extendicare.
"We don't agree with arbitrary government interference in free collective bargaining in any case. Given that Extendicare is an extremely profitable private sector corporation, this intrusion by the provincial government is beyond the pale," said CAW President Ken Lewenza.
Negotiations with Extendicare opened in mid-June and had continued into July. Talks were sharply halted after a dictate issued by the Ontario government that broader public sector employers (which in some cases include for-profit firms) must have all forms of compensation frozen in collective agreements.
"Long term care workers, are predominantly women and work long hours, doing strenuous work, taking care of our elderly loved ones," said Lewenza. "It is deplorable that the provincial government would devalue this important work to such a degree. It is especially galling when the for-profit corporation employing them can well afford to compensate their work fairly."
"The CAW takes great pride in bargaining collective agreements in health care and the government has jeopardized the bargaining process here," Lewenza said.
The union will be going to arbitration with Extendicare in September, with the expectation that a contract will be awarded by the end of October.
The CAW represents 1,200 full and part-time Extendicare workers at 10 homes. The communities affected are Sault Ste. Marie (CAW Local 1120), Ottawa (CAW Local 830), Kingston (CAW Local 830), Oakville (CAW Local 504), Windsor (CAW Local 2458), Port Stanley (CAW Local 302), and London (CAW Local 302).
Wage Cuts a Non-Starter in Auto Talks, Lewenza says
CAW President Ken Lewenza has sent a clear missive to the Detroit automakers that the union views wage cuts as a non-starter when contract renewal talks kick off in Toronto on August 14.
"There's no question they're going to want more concessions," Lewenza said in an interview with the Hamilton Spectator. "We're going to be just as aggressive about making sure they understand the concessions we've already made to help them turn around."
In 2009, the CAW was pulled into contract renegotiations with GM and Chrysler (later at Ford) as the two companies faced bankruptcy and sought financial loan assistance from government.
The union made significant sacrifices in order to help salvage the automakers Canadian operations, even though the root cause of the challenges facing automakers was centred on the global credit freeze and financial crisis - not workers wages or benefits, Lewenza said.
"We will talk about investment in technology, changed work processes and improved productivity. We will work with the companies on those issues," Lewenza said, adding that two-tier wage structures, as adopted in the carmakers U.S. facilities, is non-negotiable.
GM and Chrysler have since repaid their government loans and are enjoying a jump in both revenues and profits.
"Workers deserve to share in the benefits of the auto sector recovery they helped achieve."
New Agreement at Nova Scotia Bus Line
CAW members at Local 725, who work at Acadian Inter City Bus in Nova Scotia, have negotiated a 10% wage increase as part of a one-year extension to their current agreement.
Last year members ratified a three-year agreement with increases of 4%, 4%, and 4% as well as a clause that ensured they would receive a matching wage increase to any increases negotiated in other bargaining by the bus line.
That clause came under review after members filed a grievance out of frustration over company actions at another bargaining table. CAW Local 725 requested the company return to bargaining and was able to ratify the one-year extension with the support of the members and the bargaining committee. The wage grievance was withdrawn.
Local 725 President Scott Webber thanked the members for their patience and for standing behind the local union during this challenge.
"We can now continue to do our jobs safely, serving the public knowing we have been treated fairly," said Webber.
CAW National Representative Chad Johnston said
he's proud of the members for staying united and giving the union the opportunity to fix this without a long drawn out legal fight.
CAW Local 725 represents approximately 40 members at Acadian Inter City Bus, which provides motor coach services throughout Nova Scotia. The extension agreement will expire June, 2014.
CAW Urges Government to Study Economic Impact of Horse Racing Industry
Endorsing a plea by RacingFuture.com, the CAW is calling on Premier Dalton McGuinty to put an immediate hold on the withdrawal of slot machines from Ontario's racetracks - a move that threatens to wipe out the province's horse racing and breeding industry and throw 55,000 hard-working Ontarians into unemployment - at least until a detailed cost-benefit analysis of the move has been ordered, carried out and made public.
"In suddenly ending a successful 14-year partnership that has been benefiting both the industry and the Ontario economy, the McGuinty government is failing to make a distinction between the wealthy people who own racehorses and the 55,000 ordinary people who mostly live in rural areas, running small farms, breeding and boarding horses, providing veterinary, training, feed and transport services, or working at racetracks grooming and walking horses, keeping the horses healthy and fed, sweeping the floors and cleaning the horse stalls, running the paramutuals and maintaining the slots," said CAW President Ken Lewenza.
RacingFuture.com, was established by long-serving former Liberal MP and corporate executive Dennis Mills and seeks to be a voice for these 55,000 voiceless primarily rural workers in bringing their plight to the attention of the Ontario public, and particularly of their urban neighbours living in the cities.
In throwing CAW's support behind this appeal, Lewenza noted that the horse racing and breeding industry directly contributed more than $2.3 billion to Ontario's annual income in 2010, and three times that much when the indirect and induced multipliers are factored in.
CAW Joins in Dundalk EcoWalk
CAW members are siding with the community members of Dundalk, Ontario (northeast of Toronto) in protesting the proposed installation of a massive sludge processing facility. Union members from across the Greater Toronto Area joined community protesters on July 7 for a peaceful march, dubbed an EcoWalk, demanding developers close the sludge dump, respect Aboriginal land rights as well as the rights of the environment. The facility is slated to be built on pristine land near the headwaters of the Grand River, that's also territory of the Six Nations. The community outcry over this proposal has united both native and non-native residents. In April, the community erected (and continues to maintain) a blockade preventing the sludge facility development.
Photo: Camila Ignacia, Basics: Community News Service
CAW Inks New Deal with Marmon Keystone
CAW Local 1256 members working at Marmon Keystone in Burlington, Ontario ratified a new three-year collective agreement by a margin of 86 per cent. The new deal includes wage, benefit and other contract gains.
Workers will see hourly wages increase in each year of the deal (by 40 cents in year one and 65 cents in each of the subsequent years), in addition to receiving a $1,000 signing bonus. Negotiators were also able to secure improvements to the dental plan and worker pensions as well as time off the job for Ontario's Family Day holiday.
CAW Local 1256 President Angus MacDonald considered this a very successful round of bargaining, that delivered well-deserved enhancements to the members, especially in difficult times.
"Bargaining solid agreements for members today is a challenge," MacDonald said. "Economic times are tough and many employers are using that fact to press workers for concessions. With the help of the CAW national office we've continued to move forward at Marmon Keystone and that's encouraging."
Acting unit chairperson Kevin Jay commended the bargaining committee and the members for their commitment to the bargaining process and their solidarity.
The CAW represents 30 workers at Marmon Keystone, a distributor of pipe, tubing and specialty bar with operations across North America. The ratification meeting was held on June 23.
CAW Local 3003 Member Wins 2012 Dick Martin Award
Manitoba Federation of Labour President Kevin Rebeck presents the 2012 Dick Martin Award to CAW member Tony Zienkiewicz.
CAW Local 3003 member Tony Zienkiewicz was recently presented with the Dick Martin Award at the Manitoba Federation of Labour Convention.
The Dick Martin Award recognizes dedication to the betterment of occupational health and safety for all workers in Manitoba. This award is one of the Manitoba Federation of Labour's (MFL's) highest honours and commemorates the hard work and dedication of the late CLC Secretary-Treasurer Dick Martin in establishing the MFL Occupational Health Centre.
Tony Zienkiewicz has been a union activist since 1974 and is employed at New Flyer Industries where he is a production electrician. Tony was at one time a union-appointed member of the New Flyer Board of Directors (when it was a Crown Corporation), until it was privatized. He has held many positions in the union from local president to unit chairperson and co-chair of the safety committee as well as chair of the bargaining committee including worker advocate for WCB and EI.
CAW Manitoba Area Director Tom Murphy said Tony is a tireless advocate for greater health and safety in the workplace. "Tony sets a tremendous example and inspires everyone around him to fight for healthier and safer workplaces at all times," Murphy said.
Harper Cutbacks Threaten Canadian Culture and Heritage
The CAW is calling on the Harper government to reverse ongoing cutbacks to Canada's culture and heritage programs, including putting an end to dramatic cutbacks at Library and Archives Canada (LAC).
CAW Economist Jim Stanford, CAW Research Director Bill Murnighan and CAW Librarian Kathy Bennett outline concerns regarding ongoing federal government cutbacks in a July 23 letter to Heritage and Official Languages Minister James Moore.
Here are some excerpts from the letter:
"These cuts and changes must be stopped. Library and Archives Canada is mandated to maintain a comprehensive collection of Canada's documentary heritage, yet LAC officials are now arguing they can only keep a "representative" collection. This raises serious questions about what histories, whose history, and ultimately how much of Canada's history will be preserved for future generations to explore.
The Harper government is putting the possibility of maintaining a complete record of Canada's past at risk. In the context of other measures affecting Statistics Canada, the CBC, the work of government scientists, and other anti-democratic reductions in the collection and dissemination of information, these cuts indicate a dangerous willingness on the part of this government to suppress knowledge.
Of particular interest to us, many decades of labour documents, photos, moving images and histories are stored at LAC, including CAW archival materials as well as material from other unions and workers organizations."
".These ongoing attacks against our national heritage and culture must be stopped and reversed. Instead, the government should commit to continuing to fund the collection, storage, and access to these important materials.
To read the complete letter please go to: http://www.caw.ca/en/11360.htm
New Food Rescue Program Launched in Windsor
CAW Local 444 President Dino Chiodo addresses reporters at the official press launch of the food rescue program Plentiful Harvest in Windsor on July 17. Chiodo is joined by Unemployed Help Centre CEO June Muir.
On July 17 the Windsor-area Unemployed Help Centre launched a new food rescue program, Plentiful Harvest, that's aimed at tackling hunger in the community.
CAW Local 444 President and Unemployed Help Centre board member Dino Chiodo was on hand for the program's unveiling, championing Plentiful Harvest as a common-sense approach to fostering a healthier community.
"Every year millions of pounds of fresh food go to waste while thousands of our neighbours are in need. This simply doesn't make sense," Chiodo said. "Not only does this program get food to those who need it, it helps us reduce waste. This is a win-win for the Windsor-Essex community."
The program utilizes a refrigerated truck to collect food from producers, farmers, restaurants, banquet halls and other food service and processing operations in the community, before it's discarded. The food is then stored safely at a 3,000 square foot storage facility that houses a walk-in fridge and freezer.
Chiodo said this is the initial phase of the Plentiful Harvest program, with plans to complete a community kitchen by October that can serve food and teach families how to cook. Plans are in the works to eventually dispatch two vans that can deliver food to clients.
The Unemployed Help Centre currently houses a 180-plot community garden that allows families to plant and harvest their own fruits and vegetables.
CAW's McCloskey Recognized for Women's Rights Work
CAW Local 222 retiree Beverly McCloskey was awarded the prestigious Agnes Macphail Award, honouring her tireless work on equality issues in the workplace and in broader society.
McCloskey spent 60 years as a trade union and political activist, much of that time pushing for women's equality rights at General Motors in Oshawa, among other social justice causes. She pioneered the first local union women's committee in Local 222 in 1968 - a group credited as being the catalyst for Ontario's adoption of landmark legislation banning sex and marital status discrimination in the workplace.
"It gave us the right to transfer to so-called male jobs. they paid 22 cents more an hour and they didn't have to work as hard," said McCloskey in an interview with Oshawa This Week.
McCloskey's activism also spanned across her community. She is a founding board member for the Unemployed Help Centre and also sits on the board of Sunrise Seniors Place.
The Agnes Macphail Award was established in 1990 and is awarded through the Ontario NDP Women's Committee. Macphail was the first women ever elected to the House of Commons in Ottawa and was the first woman sworn into the provincial legislature of Ontario. Among her many accomplishments, Macphail played a leading role in the passage of Ontario's first equal pay legislation in 1951.
McCloskey was presented the award at a luncheon held at the YWCA in Oshawa on May 27. McCloskey retired from General Motors in 1984 and is still active in the union and in her community.
Helping Hungry Kids in Saskatoon
The CAW was a proud participant in this year's kick off of the Saskatoon and District Labour Council's Summer Snack Program at inner city parks in Saskatoon on July 6. The program has been providing nutritious lunches to children who would otherwise go hungry since 1998. The program started after two teachers realized that while children received food at their school during the regular school year, these children didn't have the same resource during summer. The CAW took part in the Pizza in the Park kick off to the program by donating chocolate bars and will be participating in a second day later this summer. The chocolate bars were donated by Local 252, representing workers at Nestle.
For more information visit: http://www.rethinktheeconomy.ca/