November 2, 2012
Volume 42, No. 38
CAW Reaches Tentative Agreement with Lear Whitby
The CAW reached a tentative agreement with Lear Seating in Whitby, Ontario on October 29, ending a two-day strike.
The strike shut down General Motors' Oshawa, Ontario operations on October 29.
Negotiations began in early August, but were suspended on account of the contract talks with the Detroit Three. Talks between the CAW and Lear Whitby resumed in early October.
Details of the agreement will only be released upon ratification, which is slated for November 4.
CAW Local 222 represents 400 workers at Lear Seating in Whitby.
First Agreement with Algoma Great Lakes Shipping
CAW Local 4401 members have ratified their first collective agreement with Algoma Great Lakes Shipping Inc. after voting 85 per cent in favour of the contract. This first agreement closes the loop on the sale of the Upper Lakes Shipping Fleet to Algoma Central Corporation in 2011.
Ratification was conducted by a secret ballot mail-in vote following membership information meetings held on board Algoma's CAW represented vessels. The CAW Local 4401 Executive Committee unanimously recommended acceptance of the new agreement.
The four-year contract provides wage increases of 3 per cent retroactive to April 1, 2011 and 2 per cent retroactive to April 1, 2012 and minimum wage increases of 1.5 per cent in each of the last two years of the contract.
Consumer Price Index based cost of living wage protection for the 2013 and 2014 wage increases will also apply should annual average inflation rates exceed 1.5 per cent. Employer paid comprehensive health benefits and an updated defined contribution pension plan were also maintained.
"This new contract also contains commitments by Algoma to begin renewing our aging fleet," said CAW Local 4401 President Jim MacDougall. "Job security was an important bargaining goal for our members in these negotiations and everyone was pleased that the company agreed to add three new vessels to the CAW represented side of operations."
CAW Local 4401 operates a union hiring hall in St. Catharines, Ontario (905-227-7717) and represents over 400 members sailing on the Great Lakes for Algoma Great Lakes Shipping Inc. and other marine industry employers. Seafarers can contact the union hiring hall regarding employment opportunities and other marine industry work related concerns.
CAW on Strike at Engine Supplier Wescast, Strathroy
CAW members at Wescast Industries in Strathroy, Ontario are on the picket line, out on strike since early October 27.
Negotiations began in July, and then in early October the company ordered a final offer vote, which the members rejected by 60 per cent. The CAW has charged that Wescast did not intend to reach an agreement with the union. Instead from the onset, the company tried to force an offer that failed to secure work or jobs.
In the last set of negotiations, Wescast also ordered a final offer vote, demonstrating what the union calls a serious lack of commitment to labour relations.
"The contract offer from Wescast seriously compromised our members' job security," said CAW National Representative Jim Woods. "In the last few days, we've learned that General Motors intends to move the current work performed at Wescast to a facility in China. There is absolutely no reason that our members should agree to a new contract that undercuts their own jobs."
CAW Local 504 represents workers at Wescast in Strathroy.
Cargojet Pilots Join the CAW
Pilots at Cargojet Airways Ltd have joined the CAW - one of Canada's largest and most influential labour unions with nearly 200,000 members across the country. With the support of over 85 per cent of the pilots, the CAW was recently certified by the Canada Industrial Relations Board.
CAW Director of Transportation Ron Smith commended the 65 new members at Cargojet Airways Ltd. for their resolve to bring positive changes to their workplace by unionizing and having the ability to bargain a legally binding collective agreement.
"The airline pilots at Cargojet are a great addition to the transportation section of CAW,"said Smith. "We now represent the pilots at two of the largest cargo airlines in Canada - Cargojet and Morningstar Air Express, as well as the pilots at Sunwing Airlines."
The CAW represents over 11,600 air transportation workers across Canada.
CAW Opens Negotiations with VIA Rail
CAW opened negotiations with VIA Rail October 26 in Montreal, raising concerns about recent lay-offs and route cuts.
"VIA Rail has suffered a number of very serious funding cuts from the federal government over the last few years, a situation that's getting worse, not better," said CAW President Ken Lewenza. He said that VIA Rail has failed to explain to its workers and to the public that route cuts and layoffs are the direct result of government funding cuts, which will undoubtedly harm the long-term viability of Canadian passenger rail services.
Lewenza called it embarrassing for Canada that the country has fallen decades behind in terms of rail infrastructure and technology. "How is it that countries like China, Brazil, and South Africa can build modern high-speed rail systems, but Canada cannot?" said Lewenza.
He said that the investment and jobs associated with building a high-speed rail system could do for this decade what the St. Lawrence Seaway did for the country in the 1950s - and become a source of economic growth for the nation.
Lewenza noted that worker productivity has increased by 10 per cent in the last two years alone, but members are feeling less secure and much more concerned about the future.
The CAW is VIA Rail's largest union, representing approximately 2,000 workers in customer service, on-board service and maintenance.
Plan to Revitalize Ontario Northland Unveiled
The Association representing unionized employees at Ontario Northland Transportation Commission has developed a plan to revitalize the company and create new jobs and economic opportunities in Ontario's North.
"Not only will we save transportation services and hundreds of existing jobs in the North, but our plan will also create thousands more jobs by providing access to the Ring of Fire," said CAW National Representative Brian Stevens in a news release from The General Chairperson's Association (GCA).
The proposal calls for transferring ownership of the railroad and other assets of the provincially-held ONTC to a new ports authority to be operated under the Canada Marine Act. A first step in the process was the recent creation of The James Bay & Lowlands Ports Trustee Corporation.
The plan was developed after the Ontario government announced in March it planned to divest the ONTC, which was followed by shutdown of ONTC's Northlander passenger train service on September 28.
As part of the plan a new Ring of Fire rail line will be designed and built to ship thousands of tons per day of chromite, nickel and other minerals as well as finished products to markets around the world.
The Ring of Fire is an area of muskeg and silt in the James Bay Lowlands in Northern Ontario, which is undergoing a major mining exploration project. The region is centred on McFaulds Lake approximately 500 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay.
An October 19 GCA release states that ONTC employees have a long tradition of providing rail services in Ontario's North and will provide energy and leverage their position as a significant creditor toward this new deal. "The employees have significant investments in pensions, benefits and their various collective agreements," Stevens said. "We will leverage those investments with the provincial government as the new deal moves forward."
The initiative has support from a wide range of groups in Northern Ontario including First Nations Communities, elected representatives, Northern Ontario communities, mining and other business interests as well as others, the GCA release states.
The GCA represents unionized workers at Ontario Northland, including CAW Local 103, Steelworkers Union, Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and Teamsters Canada Rail Conference Maintenance of Way Employees.
Redirect Oil Subsidies to New Green Economy: Young Activists
Dozens of young CAW members and other union activists from across Canada joined in a national call to end government tax subsidies to the fossil fuel industry at a public demonstration in Ottawa on October 29.
Hundreds of young union members, students, environmental activists and indigenous youth protested on the steps of Parliament Hill, demanding an end to $1.4 billion in tax subsidies provided by the federal government to corporations in the oil and gas sector each year. Demonstrators, many dressed in Halloween costumes, urged the government to instead redirect those funds to investing in renewable energy infrastructure, jobs, education, health care and others, through speeches, chants and street theatre.
The demonstration was the culmination of a weekend conference held at the University of Ottawa called Power Shift. The conference brought together a diverse group of young people to discuss issues related to climate change and social justice, strategize around campaign actions and plan how young Canadians can work together to make change.
CAW Local 444 Youth Committee Co-Chair Melisa Larue said young Canadians have to forge a united voice in order to affect positive political change, and Power Shift provides the opportunity for that to happen.
"Young people are increasingly frustrated with the policies and priorities of the current federal government," said Larue, also a national Power Shift organizer. "The Harper government tells us there's no money to fund public services and other job creating projects, while handing out billions to mega-rich oil companies. Young Canadians are seeing through that hypocrisy and demanding change."
CAW members participated in the conference and demonstration, representing 11 different local unions. CEP, PSAC, CUPE and other unions were represented as well.
CAW Local 2215 member George Sutherland called the conference an "eye-opener," and hopes to keep up the campaign momentum back in his home province of Nova Scotia, alongside other local Power Shift participants.
"There was an incredible energy generated from Power Shift that has to be sustained if we're going to win this campaign and start making a difference," Sutherland said. "This conference has given me a push to get our local youth committee up and running, start building community links, and get to work."
CAW is an official supporter of Power Shift 2012. The union is also a founding member of the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition (founded in 2006).
For more information on Power Shift, visit: www.wearepowershift.ca or contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Jenny Ahn: Race Relations Award Winner
Jenny Ahn, CAW Director of Membership Mobilization and Political Action, is a 2012 Urban Alliance on Race Relations award winner.
Jenny was recently honoured at the UARR's 37th Anniversary and 2012 Awards Dinner for her work promoting anti-racism, inclusion and diversity.
She has promoted greater diversity and inclusion through many activities including being a founding member and past Co-President of the Asian Canadian Labour Alliance, a delegate to the UN World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa and as a member of A Quest for Justice.
Jenny is an executive board member of the Toronto and York Region Labour Council. Before joining the staff of CAW, Jenny was elected to three terms as president of CAW Local 40 in Toronto.
Other UARR 2012 award winners were civil rights and race relations activist Charles Roach; Ryerson University Professor and social justice advocate Grace-Edward Galabuzi; and Toronto Star columnist Carol Goar.
The UARR was formed in 1975 by a group of concerned Toronto citizens with a primary goal of promoting a stable and healthy multi-racial environment in the community. It's a non-profit charitable organization.
For more information, please visit: http://urbanalliance.ca/
CAW Volunteers Help Naturalize Park in Mississauga, Ontario
CAW Local 1285 and Brampton Assembly Plant volunteers at local tree planting event.
More than 230 volunteers, including volunteers from CAW Local 1285 and from businesses around the Pearson Eco-Business Zone, came together October 20 for the Partners in Project Green Fall Planting and BBQ at Red Brush Park in Mississauga, Ontario.
They planted 600 trees and shrubs and held activities for families to enjoy, followed by a BBQ.
The planting provided a great opportunity for local leaders and their teams to not only have fun restoring Etobicoke Creek, but also learn about the importance of environmental stewardship within their watersheds.
The event was generously supported by CAW Local 1285 along with Chrysler Brampton Assembly, UPS, Mark Kay, Credit Valley Conservation and Toronto and Region Conservation
CAW Solidarity with Mozambique
The CAW Social Justice Fund has been a longtime supporter of the Massinga Centre for Continuing Education in Health in rural Mozambique, as part of the union's commitment to de-mining and rebuilding in Mozambique. At the centre, health workers learn the skills needed to help their communities.
Shown here with CAW President Ken Lewenza, Dr. Antonio Tanda, Training for Health Renewal Program (THRP) Mozambique Director visited the CAW offices to provide an overview and update of their work.
For more information, please visit: http://www.caw.ca/en/services-departments-social-justice-fund.htm