October 26, 2012
Volume 42, No. 37
New Agreement at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario
CAW Local 555 members at McMaster University ratification meeting.
CAW Local 555 members at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario have ratified a four- year collective agreement with 85 per cent voting in favour of the new deal.
Negotiations began in June of this year. Following two initial rounds of talks with the employer, the bargaining committee was faced with a policy letter from Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan, calling for a two-year wage freeze in the broader public sector, among other demands.
"In spite of the outside pressure from the provincial government, our bargaining committee persevered and managed to achieve a settlement that was unanimously endorsed by the bargaining team and a majority of the local's membership," said Matt Root, CAW Local 555 president.
The agreement does reflect the compulsory two year freeze, but provides for 1.5% across the board increases to wages in each of years three and four. It also includes a lump sum offset payment in the third year to cover an increase to employee pension contributions. A major victory in this agreement is that step progression through the wage grid is not frozen. Members will continue to receive step increases for the life of the deal.
Major improvements to language were also achieved, including language surrounding layoffs, and job postings. The language was strengthened to reflect that current members who experience layoff will be placed into vacant positions before postings go external. The Job Evaluation dispute system, was simplified and expedited to allow for final offer selection arbitration in the event the parties are unable to reach an agreement.
The supplementary unemployment benefit for parental leave was increased to 19 weeks at 90% of salary, and the alternative parental leave provision was increased from 2 weeks to 4 weeks.
"The union will now be able to better advocate on behalf of members experiencing workplace harassment issues," said Beth Couchman, unit chairperson. The committee negotiated a Joint Union and Employer Harassment Investigation committee and a process that includes input from the union in every step of the process.
CAW Local 555 represents 2300 members at McMaster University and Regional Medical Associates of Hamilton and is a member of the ETOP (Education, Technical, Office and Professional Workers Council).
Northern Gateway Pipeline Protests in BC
CAW members in British Columbia joined with other trade union activists and protestors from across the province recently to speak out against the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.
More than 3,500 protestors gathered outside the B.C. legislature in Victoria on October 22 raising concern about the proposed route of the pipeline in northern B.C. and the devastating impact a spill from the pipeline would have on pristine ecosystems.
Susan Spratt, CAW B.C. area director, was co-master of ceremonies at the protest, which included members from a diverse group of labour unions including the CEP, BCTF, PSAC, CUPE (BC), BCGEU, and CAW. CEP President Dave Coles also spoke at the event.
"There is widespread opposition to the Northern Gateway pipeline in this province which continues to grow," Spratt said. "We must ensure that all the voices in opposition to this pipeline are heard loud and clear and that the viewpoints of First Nations, fisherman, coastal workers, small businesses and residents throughout BC are not only raised but thoroughly understood and considered," Spratt said.
Enbridge plans to build a 1,100 kilometre dual pipeline carrying bitumen from Alberta to the BC coast. Regulatory hearings into that plan are being held in Prince George, B.C. Although the hearings are adjourned they resume October 29.
"We cannot continue to build new pipelines just to export raw bitumen overseas while leaving our own communities with no jobs or means to prosper," said CEP President Dave Coles. "We believe that Canada needs to focus on jobs that treat crude oil here in this country instead of rushing to grow our unrefined oil export capacity."
"In the face of growing opposition, Harper and his government does not have a choice but to back down on their export pipeline plans and start engaging with Canadians on their long-term energy needs," Coles said in a release.
Guy Johnson, a commercial fisherman who fishes for salmon and shrimp and who is a member of the CAW-United Fishermen and Allied Workers' Union (UFAWU) spoke to the crowd outside the BC legislature about the importance of stopping the pipeline. Johnson stressed the vital importance of maintaining healthy ecosystems to sustaining fish and ocean life and the important coastal jobs the fishery provides.
The UFAWU-CAW made a formal written submission earlier this year to the Environmental Review Panel studying the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline proposal. The 440 page submission outlines the socio-economic value of the commercial fishery on the BC coast and the devastating impact an oil spill would have on communities and the fishery.
Following the legislative protest, sit-ins and rallies were held October 24 outside NDP and Liberal MLA offices as part of the Defend Our Coast day of action, organized in part by Lead Now. These protests were held in at least 62 B.C. communities.
For more information, please visit: www.defendourcoast.ca
CAW National Representative Gavin McGarrigle, CAW BC Area Director Susan Spratt and CEP National Secretary Treasurer Gaetan Menard at the B.C. legislature protest.
CETA Threatens Thousands of Jobs in Nova Scotia: CCPA Study
A highly controversial free trade deal between Canada and the European Union could wipe out thousands of jobs in Nova Scotia, according to a new study published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
The study entitled The CETA and Nova Scotia: Who pays for free trade?, co-authored by Angela Giles, Leanne MacMillan and Christine Saulnier, finds that over 2500 net jobs could disappear in Nova Scotia as a result of the proposed Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement. CETA negotiations began in 2009. Federal government officials expect talks to wrap up at the end of 2012.
"Close consideration of the probable costs and benefits of the CETA for Nova Scotia reveals that the agreement's benefits are being oversold, while its costs and consequences are minimized or even ignored," the October 23 study states.
The study examines the unbalanced trade in goods and services between Nova Scotia and the European Union. European firms import twice as many goods and services to the Nova Scotia economy as Nova Scotia exports back (the ratio of European imports to exports balloons to 7:1 once car and truck data are added to the trade calculation), creating an unfavourable trading relationship for the province that will likely be made worse once European firms have more open access to the provincial market.
The study also notes the CETA is expected to drive up the province's prescription drug costs by $70 million each year, undermine Nova Scotia's renewable energy program, and impose never-before-seen restrictions on government purchasing powers, among other impacts.
"Given that our unbalanced trade relationship favours the EU, merely opening up the possibility for greater competition in Europe will not automatically create economic benefits for Nova Scotians," the study states.
CAW Atlantic Region Director Les Holloway welcomes the new study and encourages provincial politicians to take heed of its findings.
"This free trade deal with Europe will bind the hands of provincial and municipal governments more than any trade deal in the past and we need to know that the province will take into account the best interests of Nova Scotians," Holloway said. "We can't afford to watch another 2500 jobs disappear in this province. Our provincial government doesn't have to support this deal, at least not until a full accounting has been done."
"Nova Scotians deserve information and data weighing the full economic and social costs and benefits. An informed, democratic decision about entering into the CETA requires an ongoing public dialogue and democratic process wherein the public can have meaningful input," the study concludes.
To read the full study, visit: www.policyalternatives.ca
CAW-CEP Urge Feds, Ontario to Protect Green Jobs Program
CAW President Ken Lewenza and CEP President Dave Coles have issued the following joint statement in response to recent reports that the World Trade Organization could deem Ontario's "buy-local" requirements under the Green Energy Act a violation of global trade rules:
"Canadians are facing a double-barrelled crisis. On the one hand, we've witnessed the hollowing out of our manufacturing and processing capacities. Over half a million manufacturing workers have been displaced through plant closings and mass lay-offs within the last decade. Valuable manufacturing and processing skills and technologies are washing up on foreign shores. Canada's industrial base is withering.
On the other hand, we face an impending climate crisis. Carbon emissions have hit unsustainable levels and must be reduced. For its share of the global population, Canada contributes far more to the problem than it should.
Both of our organizations have long held the belief that tackling the climate crisis could provide an opportunity to also tackle our current jobs crisis. And governments have the tools at their disposal to make this happen.
We lauded the Ontario government's initiative to spearhead the development of the green energy sector. Although not perfect, the Green Energy Act of 2009 included key policy proposals to revitalize the province's hard-hit manufacturing sector and set Canada on a path of greater local, and sustainable energy development. The "Made-in-Ontario" requirements for renewable energy providers supplying Ontario's energy grid helped create thousands of much needed jobs, and incubate a new, forward-looking 'green' manufacturing industry that benefits all Ontarians.
Recent reports suggest a World Trade Organization (WTO) tribunal is set to rule in favour of a joint complaint filed by Japan and the European Union that Ontario's domestic-content requirements are in violation of existing global trade rules (namely under the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs). We find this outrageous.
Domestic-content rules under the Green Energy Act are intended to spur local economic development and help us live up to our responsibilities in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
We urge both the federal and Ontario governments to defend this crucial policy and file an immediate appeal of the decision, should it come to pass. The CAW and CEP are moving forward with plans to establish a new Canadian union that will initially represent over 300,000 members, following overwhelming votes of support from both unions at recent conventions.
Nestle Workers ask Toronto to Stop Rezoning
Nestle workers, represented by CAW Local 252, are reaching out into the community to warn of possible problems on the horizon related to the rezoning of the area. Part of the outreach includes canvassing and dropping a leaflet at neighbouring residences in Toronto's Ward 18, in both English and Portuguese.
The leaflet, signed by Nestle workers, reads in part:
"This large condo development could have a direct impact on the factory operations and our future employment. Over the years, Nestle has invested tens of millions of dollars in the facility. Past experience shows that when developments of this scale take place, new residents inevitably complain about local industry, calling for restricted activity and jeopardizing the jobs that have been there for generations.
Nestle workers live and have family ties in the community. There is a deep concern that the proposed high-rise condo will have a direct impact on the community and place enormous stress on traffic, parking, schools and local services."
A condo developer has already applied to the City of Toronto for rezoning of the neighbouring area, in order to build a large three tower development. Nestle workers are asking residents to get in touch with their city Councillor Ana Bailao to express their concerns about the development and to ask that the rezoning application be rejected.
Located on the west side of Toronto, the Nestle facility has been in operation for more than 100 years and employs 500 workers.
The Nestle facility produces such Halloween favourites as Smarties, Coffee Crisp, Aero and Kit Kat. To lend support to the effort, please call CAW Local 252 Financial Secretary Barry Lines at 416-495-3774.
Nova Scotia WCB Board of Directors Appointment
CAW Local 2216 President Dean Tupper has been appointed as a worker representative to the Nova Scotia Workers' Compensation Board of Directors.
"I am looking forward to trying to make changes to the policies and procedures of WCB in Nova Scotia that will benefit workers," said Tupper, who stressed he is open to ideas and suggestions that would help improve the system for workers.
Tupper is also President of the Annapolis Valley Labour Council, sits on the Board of Referees for Employment Insurance, and is a Vice President of the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour.
He thanked CAW Atlantic Canada Director Les Holloway and Rick Clarke, President of the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour for their endorsement.
Mexican Senate to Vote on Anti-Worker Law
As Contact went to press the Mexican Senate was considering a slate of labour law reforms that would effectively legalize the mass abuse of workers' rights and promote more precarious forms of work throughout the country. The Senate was expected to vote on the new law on October 26.
The new legislation, prepared by outgoing Mexican President Felipe Calderón, will enable Mexican employers to increase the use of sub-contracting, temporary and short-term contracts, all forms of precarious work that aim to undercut union organizing efforts and collective bargaining through independent trade unions.
The following is an excerpt of an October 23 letter from CAW President Ken Lewenza to five Mexican senators voting on the legislation:
".You must be aware that the extremely regressive proposal before you now, would severely undercut job security by removing existing protections for workers that limit sub-contracting as well as temporary and short-term contracts. These mechanisms are used by employers to ratchet down their expenses by avoiding their responsibilities to pay decent wages, taxes and benefits. This creates social instability, operating to the detriment of working people who can no longer provide for themselves and their families and eliminating the foundation for a stable society.
Far from encouraging job creation and the stimulation of the internal market, this initiative will cause the instability of existing jobs and the generation of even more precarious work than already exists in the informal sector.
We hope that these matters will be considered when analyzing this initiative. Whether or not the fast-track process is legal, it is clearly undemocratic and presents a truly unfortunate image of Mexico: as disinterested in the views of legislators or citizens and displaying a blatant disregard for well-established international labour standards."
CAW members sent letters to the Mexican Senate, opposing these reforms, in response to an action alert circulated through CAW Connected. For more information, visit the IndustriALL website: www.industriall-union.org
Read the full letter here: http://www.caw.ca/en/11636.htm
Waste Reduction Week at Windsor -
BIGGER than ever!
Waste Reduction Week Tree Planting at the Windsor Assembly Plant.
The Joint Workplace Environment Committee at the Windsor Assembly Plant sponsored Waste Reduction Week from October 14-20. The week started with a 5th tree planting bringing the total to 307 around the Windsor facility. Thanks to Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) for donating the trees; the City of Windsor for donating the mulch; CAW Local 444 for providing the food and nearly 60 volunteers for coming to help plant red cedar trees.