November 16, 2012
Volume 42, Number 40
New Union Founding Convention Labour Day Weekend 2013
The CAW-CEP Proposal Committee has decided that the founding convention for the new union will take place in Toronto on the weekend leading into Labour Day 2013 -starting on Friday, August 30 and concluding on September 1.
The timing will allow new union convention delegates to participate behind their new union banner in Labour Day events in their own communities.
The founding convention will be tasked with approving the constitution of the new union, the new name and logo, and elect its first leaders (including three national officers, three regional directors; and the first members of the inaugural National Executive Board).
"Launching the new union on Labour Day weekend is fitting and symbolic," said CAW Secretary Treasurer and Proposal Committee co-chair Peter Kennedy. "Marching behind our new banner will be an electrifying beginning for an organization that will inject new energy and hope into the labour movement."
"The first three national gatherings of the new union will occur in Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal. This is a vivid demonstration of the inclusive, nationwide character of our new organization," said CEP Secretary Treasurer and committee co-chair Gaétan Ménard. "Our new union will have unprecedented scope and power, in every region of Canada, and virtually every major industry."
The Proposal Committee also suggested locations for the first meetings of the new union's Canadian Council (the body which will gather together delegates from across the union in years when there is no full convention).
The first meetings of the Canadian Council would occur in Vancouver in 2014, and in Montreal in 2015.
The Proposal Committee also began the process of establishing the six working groups which include the following areas Communications; Constitution; Implementation; Organizing; Staff Relations; and Convention Planning.
The crucial issue of the new union's name and logo will be determined on the basis of a thorough process overseen by the Communications working group, including consultation with media and design experts; professional testing; and with members of the two unions.
The Proposal Committee consists of eight senior leaders from each union, and is co-chaired by the Secretary-Treasurers of the two unions: Gaétan Ménard for the CEP, and Peter Kennedy for the CAW.
Full reports on the New Union project, including the complete report of the Proposal Committee ("Towards a New Union") can be found at: http://www.newunionproject.ca/.
Transportation Workers Set Global Agenda in Toronto
CAW Secretary-Treasurer Peter Kennedy welcomed delegates to the ITF Conference. Kennedy is the only Canadian member of the ITF executive board.
The International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) met in Toronto November 12-16 to set the global agenda for transportation worker unions right around the world, in the rail and road transportation sectors.
The road and rail transportation conference tackled issues like privatization, deregulation, logistics and supply chains on a global scale, and how they all impact workers' lives and workers' rights. Conference delegates debated how to support trade union efforts in Iran, Turkey and Swaziland, as well as here in Canada.
The event was co-sponsored by the CAW and the ITF. It attracted more than 200 delegates from 76 unions in 44 countries, as far away as Nepal and Palestine.
"Together we will examine what's happening in a sector under constant pressure to deregulate and privatize - with the negative results witnessed by road and rail users almost everywhere, said Mac Urata, ITF inland transport sections secretary. From those shared experiences we will build new and innovative strategies - practical and political, on public transport and freight transport, right through the supply chain - for change, and, where necessary, for resistance."
"Increasingly workers are being confronted by hostile global corporations that pit workers in one country against those in another," said CAW Secretary-Treasurer and ITF executive board member Peter Kennedy. "It is only through working together in a coordinated way that workers, and the unions that represent them, will have the power to make a difference and change our economic course. This conference is an important opportunity for collaboration across geographical lines."
The International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) is an international trade union federation of transport workers' unions. 708 unions representing over 4.5 million transport workers in 154 countries are members of the ITF. The CAW is a member organization of the ITF.
Victory for Local 252 Members Campaigning to Protect Jobs
A rezoning application which threatened the future of more than 500 jobs at the Nestle plant in west end Toronto has been rejected by a key City of Toronto council committee.
The rezoning application would have allowed for residential condominium buildings next to the Nestle chocolate plant on Sterling Avenue, near Dundas Street West and Lansdowne Avenue. If the rezoning went ahead the CAW was concerned that Nestle would not be motivated to make future investments.
"We mobilized our membership and sent out hundreds of our members into the community," said Local 252 Financial Secretary Barry Lines. He said the workers gave up their own time to knock on doors and hand out leaflets throughout the community.
At a November 8 meeting of the city's Planning and Growth Management Committee councillors voted no to the application. Lines said these councillors voted to protect employment designated lands. "It improves job security for the 500 workers currently employed at Nestle as well as future generations of workers," said Lines.
CAW Local 252 President Paul Shiels thanked the membership and leadership of Local 252, national staff, other unions and the Toronto and York Region Labour Council for pulling together on this important cause.
"It's this kind of support and solidarity that helped us turn the tide in this struggle," Shiels said. "It has also helped to build greater solidarity and confidence among the members of this bargaining unit and right across our local," he said.
CAW Local 252 along with other labour unions and particularly workers from the nearby Christie cookie plant who are members of the Bakery, Confectionary and Tobacco Workers union, as well as the Toronto York Region Labour Council held a press conference a day before the committee meeting. At the press conference these groups outlined the importance of protecting employment lands in the city and keeping good union jobs such as those at Nestle'.
The Nestle plant produces chocolate bars such as Aero, Coffee Crisp, Kit Kat and Smarties among others.
Toronto Retail Workers Closer to Winning Back Stat Holidays
CAW Local 414 members celebrate fightback on statutory holidays.
Toronto retail workers are one step closer to winning back their statutory holidays after councillors passed a motion recommending the city exclude eight of nine existing holidays from new shopping rules.
After a lengthy and passionate debate November 9 that involved over 30 speakers, including young workers and new immigrants working in the retail sector, Toronto's Economic Development Committee voted to support a recommendation by the City's Holiday Shopping Sub-Committee that would allow local retailers to open their doors only on the Victoria Day holiday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
CAW Local 414 President Christine Connor said the decision improves on an initial proposal issued to City Council in May 2010 to eliminate all nine stat holidays for city retail workers. The union is hoping Council opts to wipe the slate clean in a final vote scheduled at the end of the month.
"Eliminating stat holidays should never have been raised in the first place," Connor said. "If retail businesses want to improve competitiveness they shouldn't be doing that on the backs of this city's most vulnerable workers."
Connor said statutory holidays provide the only guaranteed time off the job for retail workers, many of whom face constant fluctuations in shift schedules and other precarious working conditions. "This is time that's best spent with friends and family," Connor said. "Ratcheting down stat holidays effectively ratchets down the standard of living for these workers. We simply can't accept that."
Connor acknowledged the important consultative work done by the three-member Holiday Shopping Sub-Committee, who ran a series of town hall meetings and engaged the public through an online survey on this issue.
Results of the public consultation revealed that a majority of Torontonians do not support a move to increase shopping on designated holidays.
Connor said many retail workers earn minimum wage, or just marginally higher. Retail workplaces are comprised of a disproportionate number of women, new immigrants and young workers.
The CAW is calling on the Economic Development Committee to maintain all nine statutory holidays. The union is also willing to issue a joint call to the Province of Ontario, along with municipal leaders and the business community, requesting a full review and modernization of current statutory holiday exemption rules, with an eye to improving the standard of living for retail workers and a fairer, more competitive business environment.
CAW Local 414 represents over 12,000 workers across the province of Ontario, as well as over 6,000 retail workers in the City of Toronto.
For more information please visit: http://cawlocal414.ca/
Outrage at Navistar Attempt to have Class Action Suit Dismissed
The CAW is expressing anger at the motion by heavy truck manufacturer Navistar to have the individual workers' class action law suit against the company dismissed. The case revolves around the failure of the corporation to pay severance to its workers after closing the Chatham, Ontario facility.
The motion was heard November 14 at the Windsor Superior Court of Justice.
"This is another attempt by Navistar to deny our members the benefits that they earned over decades of work at the company," said CAW President Ken Lewenza. "Every step of the way, Navistar has tried to block handing over what is owed to its former workers - it is deplorable and should not be allowed to continue."
The company argued that the Court does not have the jurisdictional authority to hear the class action suit, whereas the plaintiffs, along with the union, believe that the case falls well within the Court's authority.
CAW members were in attendance for the court proceedings.
The union is also working with the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) to wind up the Navistar pension fund, so that workers will finally see what is owed to them.
The CAW represents more than 1,000 laid off workers at Navistar, in the production and office units.
Navistar shuttered the Chatham heavy truck plant in June 2009 and officially announced its closure in August 2011.
Visit to the Wescast Picket Line
CAW President Ken Lewenza visits the picket line at engine supplier Wescast Industries in Strathroy, Ontario. The workers, who are members of CAW Local 504, have been on strike since October 27. The key issue in the dispute is job security.
Front row: Calvin Higgins, Brian Dixon, Ken Lewenza, Leavern Blake
Back Row: Paul Johnston, Harvey Bishop, Terry Hauspie, Ron Van Hooydonk and Cheryl Eagelden.
And the Winners are.
Congratulations to the winners of the recent CAW Breckles Insurance Brokers Group Insurance contest. The following CAW members won a $500 Visa gift card for signing up to the CAW group insurance program.
Doug & Carmen Pinnell, CAW Local 27
Roswell Achacoso, CAW Local 112
Jennifer Tomlinson, CAW Local 2458
All CAW members are eligible for the group rates offered. Breckles Insurance workers are represented by CAW Local 1524. For more information on the CAW Group Insurance plan, please visit: http://www.cawinsurance.com/
CAW Welcomes New Members
Mercedes Benz Durham, Whitby, ON, 22 members
Doug Coleman Trucking Ltd., Kitchener, ON, 20 members
TRW Canada Ltd., Tilsonburg, ON, 210 members
Vision '74 Inc., Sarnia, ON, 140 members
On the Beat: New CAW-rabble.ca Labour Reporter
Nearly three dozen aspiring labour reporters applied, whittled down to a short list of five and eventually a candidate was chosen for the rabble.ca/ CAW Labour Reporter Co-op position.
Lori Waller, new labour reporter at rabble.ca, will be starting next week on the beat.
The goal of the program is to equip the reporter with the skills and knowledge of the labour movement and workers' issues so that not only will there be six months of solid reporting but also for many years to follow, in other media outlets.
Waller is rabble's new labour beat reporter, a co-op position supported by the CAW. As a freelance writer, Lori has written about environmental and social justice topics for Briarpatch, The Dominion, and Peace and Environment News. She lives in Ottawa, where she works as a communications consultant, gardens, and is involved in community and activist groups including Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement Ottawa.
In previous chapters of her life, Lori studied sociology, worked as a vegetarian cook, volunteered and worked for the Otesha Project, and biked throughout Alberta with the Sierra Youth Coalition to witness how landscapes, communities, and lives are being transformed by the rapid growth of oil sands exploitation.
Follow Lori's work at: http://rabble.ca/issues/labour