October 12, 2012

Volume 42, No. 35

First Agreement at CUSCO

CAW Local 112 members at newly organized CUSCO Fabricators in Richmond Hill, Ontario have voted 83 per cent in favour of a first collective agreement.
Contract talks began in May with the bargaining committee determined to eliminate a tiered wage system with more than 40 different rates of pay in the wage grid.
"This employer had a corporate philosophy that based wage increases for workers on favourtism," said Local 112 President Roland Kiehne. "Through the hard work and tenacity of the bargaining committee, all active workers within their respective job classifications will be making the same rate of pay by the end of this three year agreement," Kiehne added.
In addition, the committee negotiated a 3 per cent lump sum payment in the first year of the deal on top of the 2 per cent increase the employer gave the workers in January. In year two, the workers will get an increase of 2.5 per cent to base and another 2 per cent in year three. Improvements were also made to benefits.
"Our members now know what it means to belong to a strong union," said CUSCO Unit Chairperson Paul Ledrew. "I am proud of our members decision to join the CAW."
CUSCO manufactures mobile vacuum equipment for industrial, commercial and environmental applications.


Bud Jimmerfield Award 2012

Nominations for the 2012 Bud Jimmerfield Award for outstanding contributions in health, safety, the environment or workers' compensation are being sought.
The award, named in recognition of the late Bud Jimmerfield, CAW Local 89 president, is made each year at the CAW's December Council meeting.
Bud gave a moving address to CAW Council in December 1997. He only had a few months left to live. Bud was a machinist for 31 years and was exposed every working day to cancer causing metalworking fluids at an auto parts plant in Amherstberg, Ontario. He contracted esophageal cancer in 1996 and died 18 months later at age 49, leaving his wife Diane and eight children.
In his December 1997 speech, Bud charged delegates with an important responsibility - don't mourn my death, fight for the living and do your best to try to prevent future occupational diseases, death and injuries from occurring.
Bud was a tireless health, safety and environment and workers' compensation activist and the annual award is named in his honour.
Eligible health, safety, environment or workers' compensation activists must be CAW members and be nominated by their local union leadership or local workplace leadership. Nominees must have shown leadership in helping fellow workers and also have participated in activities beyond their workplace.
Nominations for the Bud Jimmerfield Award to the CAW Health and Safety Department must be received no later than Friday, November 9, 2012.
For more information contact the CAW Health and Safety Department at cawhse@caw.ca

MCTS Station Closures a Major Safety Risk

Allan Hughes, Pacific Region Director of CAW Local 2182 speaks at an October 3 press conference







Closing Vancouver's Marine Communications and Traffic Service centre will endanger both the environment and lives in Canada's busiest port, said Allan Hughes, Pacific Region Director of CAW Local 2182.
Hughes addressed Vancouver media at a press conference held on October 3 at the Harbour Centre observation deck, just above the MCTS centre where officers monitor B.C.'s coastal waters and provide critical distress and safety services. The Vancouver MCTS centre is one of three in the province (including centres in Comox and Ucluelet), and among the ten across the country, slated to close by 2015.
These closures are a result of wrong-headed federal government cost-cutting with no recognition of the huge safety risk this will create, Hughes said.
"At a time when the Conservative government is aggressively trying to expand Canada's trade in goods across coastal waters why would they choose to close these centres, which are integral parts of our marine safety system?" Hughes said.
Hughes was joined by Jim Sinclair, President of the B.C. Federation of Labour as well as Constance Barnes, Commissioner of the Vancouver Parks Board and Ben West of the Western Canada Wilderness Committee, all of whom opposed these closures.
"These communication centres were built to ensure the safety of people working up and down the West Coast," said Sinclair in an interview with The Province. "It is short-sighted and narrow-minded and, at the end of the day, we have to stop it."
Hughes said the union will continue raising public awareness on the impacts of these closures and continue its dialogue with municipal, provincial and federal politicians.
At a recent convention of the Union of B.C. Municipalities provincial mayors overwhelmingly endorsed a resolution to oppose the closure of the three MCTS centres. The mayors also committed to lobby federal politicians with the hope of having this decision reversed.
CAW Local 2182 represents over 350 MCTS officers across the country.
For more information and to add your name to a petition opposing these closures, visit: http://www.2182.ca/ 


National Jobs Strategy Long Overdue, CAW says

Canada's economy is failing to churn out enough new jobs to keep pace with the rate of job loss and unrelenting joblessness, said CAW National President Ken Lewenza. 
Responding to September's unemployment figures, released on October 5 which saw an increase in the unemployment rate from 7.3 to 7.4 per cent nationally, Lewenza called the figures worrisome and further proof of need for a long term strategy.
Lewenza raised particular concern about the bump in youth unemployment up to 15 per cent, chronically high since before the beginning of the recession in 2008, currently double the national average. "Young workers will be most impacted by the lack of meaningful economic recovery, now and through-out their entire lifetime," said Lewenza.

These figures were released by Statistics Canada only days before the World Day for Decent Work on October 7.  The International Trade Union Confederation estimates 75 million young people are without a job today and millions more trapped in precarious employment situations. During the global financial meltdown, 40 per cent of all laid off workers were between the ages of 15 and 24.
"What's even worse, for those coming out of college or university, they're being saddled with high levels of debt, with few meaningful job prospects," said Lewenza. He said that the government must take action to remedy youth unemployment and ensure the creation of meaningful employment prospects for Canada's young workers.


Power Shift 2012: Help End Fossil Fuel Subsidies

Every year, Canada hands out $1.4 billion dollars in subsidies to big fossil fuel companies, a gross mismanagement of our public funds.
In 2009, Prime Minister Harper promised to put a stop to the waste. Yet, instead of cutting the subsidies as promised, the government is now slashing the services Canadians depend on.
A motion drafted by youth-led climate justice movement PowerShift is about to be brought before Parliament that could end these handouts for good, but only if enough Canadians pressure their MPs to vote for it.

It's time for the government to keep its promise and stop giving out a massive bonus to rich oil companies that don't need it.
The CAW stands with PowerShift and is encouraging members to send a strong message to MPs urging them to support the motion and stop the handouts.
To sign the petition and find out more about the Power Shift 2012 conference , visit: http://www.wearepowershift.ca/


 Put Food in the Budget - Ontario Campaign


 CAW members from the Greater Toronto Area joined with 100 community activists to chart a course for the provincial Put Food in the Budget (PFIB) campaign at a strategy session held in Toronto on September 28.

The PFIB campaign aims to raise awareness of the rising number of Ontarians living in poverty and champion concrete income security and social policies to address this crisis. In 2011, nearly 400,000 children in Ontario were living in poverty.
The PFIB campaign is centred on four central policy demands, including: raising social assistance rates, raising the minimum wage (to ensure it is a living wage); invest in public and community services; and making corporations and the very rich pay their fair share of taxes.
Retired CAW staff representative Steve Watson said that as poverty rates remain devastatingly high in Ontario, the government is not providing the support needed to help those most vulnerable, especially with respect to social assistance benefits.but that is exactly what an individual on Ontario Works receives," Watson said.
CAW members James McDowell and Hopeton Taylor attended the September 28 event on behalf of Local 1285 in Brampton, Ontario.
The PFIB was launched in January 2009. Since its inception it has organized rallies and campaigns throughout the province.
For more information on the Put Food in the Budget campaign, visit: http://www.putfoodinthebudget.ca/


CEP Convention and Final Vote October 14-17

The national convention of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP) will soon get underway in Québec City from October 14-17, 2012. This convention will set the stage for numerous discussions, debates and presentations related to some of the most pressing issues of the day for CEP members and the labour movement as a whole, particularly the final vote on the New Union Project on October 15.

The theme of the convention is "Action for New Times." Speakers will include CEP President Dave Coles, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, Québec Federation of Labour President Michel Arsenault, CAW President Ken Lewenza, CAW Secretary-Treasurer Peter Kennedy, Canadian Labour Congress Secretary-Treasurer Hassan Yussuff.
Before and during the convention, members and the public can get updates on a dedicated convention section of the CEP website. The site will provide up-to-the minute news stories, videos, photos, live streaming of speakers, and much more.
Social media fans will also be able to follow all the news and events from the Convention through CEP's Twitter account at @CEPinfoSCEP.
Be sure to keep an eye on the site for more information about speakers, workshops and general details related to the convention: http://www.cep.ca/convention2012 



CAW Statement on World Day for Decent Work 2012

The following is a statement issued by CAW President Ken Lewenza on the World Day for Decent Work:
Since 2008, the international labour movement has observed October 7 as the World Day for Decent Work. This is in recognition of the unique challenges working people face in today's hyper-competitive and imbalanced global economy. The downward pressure on wages and working conditions, the short-term, temporary nature of a growing number of jobs and a slow breakdown of publicly-provided social programs and services - all part of a corporate-led agenda for greater "flexibility" - have made our jobs more precarious.
The theme for this year's World Day for Decent Work focuses on one of the most significant economic and social crises we face today: youth unemployment.
Overall, the International Trade Union Confederation estimates 75 million young people are without a job today and millions more trapped in precarious employment situations. How precarious are young workers? During the global financial meltdown, 40 per cent of all laid off workers were between the ages of 15 and 24.
Poor job prospects early in life will limit important skills-building and training opportunities for young people. High unemployment also leads to lower overall career earnings and limits access to social supports like Unemployment Insurance and pensions. Chronic youth unemployment has negative health and social consequences as well: depression, anger, substance abuse, and others.
In Canada, youth unemployment has been on the rise over the past decade. Although, unemployment isn't as high for young Canadians as in other, more economically-depressed, countries (like Greece) it's still double the national unemployment average (youth unemployment was near 15 per cent in August, 2012). It's a problem government policy-makers must address.
A new Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives report on youth unemployment highlights a number of key concerns that warrant some attention.
For starters, the quality of jobs on offer for young people is declining. Precarious work among young people, under the age of 30, is growing at a faster rate than for older workers. In fact, the proportion of young people in temporary jobs has nearly doubled since 1997.
The official youth unemployment rate may be relatively low compared to other nations, but that doesn't reflect the rate of under-employment - including those young people caught in dead-end jobs and taking on these jobs involuntarily. Youth underemployment sits at 20 per cent. That's one-in-five. That's cause for concern.
Federal initiatives to tackle youth unemployment (including the Youth Employment Strategy) have been, despite their best intentions, frustratingly ineffective. To be fair, many of these programs aren't equipped with sufficient resources to tackle the full extent of Canada's youth unemployment challenges today. Private businesses continue to sit on their hands, opting not to invest in young workers. It's up to government to take the lead.
Our union will keep on the federal government, urging them to launch a national good jobs summit. We think a multi-stakeholder summit must ultimately lead to a comprehensive good jobs strategy for Canada. And this strategy must include clear and concrete proposals for how we create quality job opportunities for the next generation of workers.
This could include financial incentive programs for businesses, as well as NGOs, to hire young workers. It could also include new government spending of long-overdue infrastructure projects, putting young people to work on our roads and in our factories. And it could require government's to hire young workers themselves - perhaps within a massive job-creating initiative designed to solidify and modernize our public service, from environmental scientists and researchers to health care professionals and other service providers - infusing our workplaces with bright, young talent.
In support of World Day for Decent Work activities, the CAW is encouraging members to contact federal labour minister Lisa Raitt, urging her to take immediate action in addressing youth unemployment in Canada.
To send a letter, visit: http://www.workforecast.org/
The CAW made an official submission to the Law Commission of Ontario, offering feedback on a series of labour law reform recommendations released in an interim report entitled "Vulnerable Workers and Precarious Work."
To read the submission, visit: http://www.caw.ca/en/11600.htm



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