August 10, 2012
Volume 42, No. 28
Unions Launch Proposal for Largest Private Sector Union
The blueprint for the creation of what would be Canada's largest industrial union was released August 1 at a press conference in Toronto.
Representatives of the CEP and CAW launched the final report from the joint committee on the creation of a new union.
"In this report, our unions are mapping out the way to a new union that will focus on advancing the interest of all Canadian workers," said CAW National President Ken Lewenza. "This blueprint has the potential of giving working Canadians the strength they deserve to fight for their basic rights."
The joint committee report highlights the founding principles of the potential new union, as well as a number of new aspects. The new union will:
. represent over 300,000 members from across Canada, with a strong presence in every province;
. prioritize organizing new members by allocating $50 million over five years to recruiting new members and developing new local unions;
. challenge the traditional definition of membership by opening the door to temporary agency, contract and other precarious workers, as well as unemployed workers and students;
. unite workers in more private sector industries than any Canadian union to this day;
. mark the single largest coming together of two private sector unions in Canadian history.
"The proposal for a new union was built on principles of democracy, transparency and progress for working people," said Dave Coles, National President of CEP. "This report is the first step towards reaching out beyond traditional workplaces and increasing the political influence of working people in Canada."
The final report to form a new union will be presented to members of both unions at their respective conventions, who will vote on the proposal. The CAW convention will be held in Toronto August 20-24 and the CEP convention will be held in Quebec City October 14-17.
The report, including the sectoral and geographic breakdown of the new union, can be found at: http://www.newunionproject.ca/.
New Deal with Rio-Tinto Alcan in Kitimat
CAW Local 2301 members ratified a new collective agreement with Rio Tinto Alcan in the northern community of Kitimat, B.C on July 27. The deal was ratified by an overwhelming margin of 94 per cent.
After a grueling round of negotiations, which resulted in a 29-hour extension of talks beyond the initial strike deadline, the union bargained wage increases of between 2.5 and 3 per cent in each year of the deal, with an additional signing bonus of $2,500. The committee was also successful in re-signing a joint job security letter which ensures no layoffs during the life of the agreement and made gains on pensions and benefits for active members and retirees.
Local union president Rick Belmont said the demands of the mining corporation mirrored many of those that saw nearly 800 United Steelworkers union members in Alma, Quebec locked out for six-and-a-half months. The list of company concessions included the contracting out and outsourcing of work as well as demanding a defined contribution pension plan for new hires.
"In a show of solidarity, our members voted to increase monthly dues and have those sent as strike support funds for Rio Tinto Alcan workers in Alma," Belmont said. "We wanted to send the company a strong message that workers will stand together and won't be forced into accepting below standard contracts."
Belmont said that the company is now investing $4.3 billion into building a new smelter in Kitimat, with construction already underway.
The bargaining committee also successfully converted all 51 temporary workers employed in the smelter to full-time jobs. Five terminated temporary welders were also hired back on full time.
"We made sure no one was left behind in this round of bargaining," Belmont said.
Jerry Dias, CAW Assistant to the President, said this employer entered negotiations thinking they could bully the membership as well as the local leadership and community into accepting their demands.
"Our bargaining committee wouldn't stand for it and continued bargaining beyond the deadline in an effort to avoid an employer-driven strike. Without that push by the local leadership, the outcome of these talks could have been very different."
CAW B.C./Alberta Area Director Susan Spratt said the local bargaining committee received the highest ever strike mandate, as well as the largest margin for ratification, of any contract in the local's history.
"The fact that the membership was united with the local, national and community leadership made a huge difference for all of us at the bargaining table. Rio Tinto Alcan got the message loud and clear: the community of Kitimat supported the union."
CAW Local 2301 represents 1150 workers at the Rio Tinto Alcan aluminum smelter and Kemano power generating facility in Kitimat.
CAW Celebrates Community Diversity in Brampton
CAW Local 1285 President Leon Rideout and Carabram Committee Co-Chair Patti Johnston pose together with the Canadian National Exhibition mascot during Carabram festivities in Brampton.
CAW Local 1285 participated in the 2012 Carabram celebrations, in Brampton, Ontario from July 13 to 15.
Celebrating its 30th year, the annual Carabram festival is designed to promote an understanding and appreciation of the various cultures that make up the City of Brampton.
Local 1285 hosted a Canadian Pavilion at the union hall during the festival, offering visitors the opportunity to meet local suppliers and sample locally-made jams, jellies and other goods. Displays were set up to promote the work of community artisans and painters and a live band played a set of classic Canadian songs.
CAW Local 1285 President Leon Rideout said he is proud of the local's continued support for the festival and that the spirit of inclusivity, tolerance and community solidarity within Carabram reflects the values of the CAW and social unionism.
CAW volunteers spoke to visitors about important issues facing workers in Canada, including proposed Employment Insurance reforms and changes to the Temporary Foreign Workers Program.
Hundreds of signatures were collected for the CAW's Good Jobs Pledge.
CAW Turbine Commissioning Set to Start
The CAW's new wind turbine, located at the union's Family Education Centre in Port Elgin, Ontario, is tentatively scheduled to start generating power in the fall of 2012 with the commissioning process set to begin in the coming weeks.
The union had originally anticipated that construction of the 100-metre turbine would be completed in January, with the turbine operating in February - an ambitious timeline that has subsequently been readjusted. Construction of the turbine was not completed until March, 2012, with the installation and final connections of the main transformer occurring in recent weeks.
CAW Operations Director Graeme Brown said the commissioning process is multi-dimensional with timelines extended for a number of reasons, including the coordination of schedules and the cooperation of weather.
"I think we're working on a more realistic operational schedule now that allows for some flexibility," Brown said. "On top of it, we recognize that ours is a relatively small project among massive developments of wind farms across Ontario."
"Our project is coming on nine years now, and we can certainly afford a few extra months to ensure that everything is done right and in accordance with Hydro One's connection processes and timelines."
The commissioning process involves a series of final component installations as well as final reviews. It also involves various parties, including the turbine manufacturer (Enercon) and Hydro One officials. For part of the commissioning phase, the turbine blades will be turning but not yet generating power.
The CAW turbine meets all current provincial health and safety requirements (including setback regulations) and will generate renewable wind power to a capacity of 500 kilowatts.
The union has had preliminary discussions with the Town of Saugeen Shores about the possible start-up of a community advisory committee that will review the turbine's operation.
CAW Files Unfair Labour Complaint Against New Beginnings
The CAW filed an unfair labour practice complaint with the Ontario Labour Relations Board on July 26 alleging eight Windsor-area health care workers were unfairly denied an opportunity for re-employment following a relocation of services earlier in the year.
The eight workers (members of CAW Local 2458) were formerly employed by Glengarda Child and Family Services in a day-treatment facility that offered youth-centred rehabilitation services, including supervised access programs for visiting family members.
In April, Glengarda's supervised access programs were relocated to the Windsor Regional Hospital and now delivered by a new service provider, New Beginnings Child and Youth Services.
"Our understanding was that all members would follow their jobs, and no one would be left out of work," said CAW Local 2458 Financial Secretary Tullio DiPonti. "New Beginnings opted to hire all former Glengarda supervisors, but refused to hire, or even interview, any of the existing front-line service workers."
CAW Director of Health Care, Katha Fortier, said the union's at a complete loss as to why New Beginnings would deny these workers the opportunity to keep their jobs and help ensure the transition of services is seamless.
"These workers have years of expertise and experience and have built strong relationships with clients," Fortier said. "There's simply no justification for the company's actions."
Health care workers in the supervised access programs provide a safe, neutral and child-focused setting for visits between children and non-custodial parents or other family members.
The Ontario Labour Relations Board has not yet set a date for a hearing.
CAW Fall Education Schedule Now Available
The Fall schedule for upcoming education courses in Port Elgin is now available. The schedule includes three new courses:
. Steps to Successful Campaigns;
. Women, Power and Politics;
. Members in the Middle.
Steps to Successful Campaigns will assist leadership, activists and union members in developing more effective campaigns whether they are focussed on workplace issues or on broader social change.
Women, Power and Politics invites women who have taken one or more of the Women's Activist, Aboriginal Worker of Colour or 4-week PEL programs to gain knowledge and tools to continue our struggle for equality, both in the union and in the broader political realm.
The Members in the Middle course is designed for Team Leaders, Lead Hands, Head Cashiers and other members who hold a unionized position in their workplace that situates them between the majority of their membership and management. This course aims to help members bridge the gap and develop strategies to effectively balance their role while building and strengthening the union.
Visit the CAW Education Department website (www.caw.ca/education) for more information on these and other great courses.
Download the fall education schedule at: www.caw.ca/educationschedule.
Contact your local union leadership for information on how to apply for courses in Port Elgin or for information on upcoming regional programs.
Good Jobs Pledge Wins Supporters at Tory BBQ
On July 12, CAW members helped secure dozens of new signatures for its national Good Jobs Pledge during a community barbeque in Mississauga, Ontario hosted by Conservative MP Ted Opitz. Opitz, a former Ford worker, recognized the importance of the union's call for decent, well-paying and productive jobs in our communities, although he refused to sign the petition.
The barbecue was one in a series of events CAW activists have attended during the summer to promote the Good Jobs Pledge and the union's Re-Think the Economy campaign. Over 11,000 Canadians have so far signed on to the pledge, which is available online at www.rethinktheeconomy.ca
[shown in the photo L-R: Aruna Dahanayake (law student, campaign volunteer), Vito Beato (CAW Local 1285), and Hopeton Taylor (CAW Local 1285)].