November 23, 2012

Volume 42, No. 41

CAW Grieves the Passing of Labour Icon Cliff Pilkey

CAW leadership and membership across the country are grieving the passing of former CAW Local 222 President and OFL President Cliff Pilkey on Saturday, November 17, 2012.
Cliff, who was 90 years-old, spent his life advocating on behalf of workers, human rights, women's rights, workplace health and safety and his community of Oshawa, where he served as alderman and deputy mayor, and later as NDP MPP.
Labour and community leaders lamented the loss of drive, determination and leadership that Cliff's death means for progressive causes and the broader labour movement.
"Cliff Pilkey's visionary and determined leadership inspired a better world and his legacy of accomplishments stands tall with the very best labour leadership Canada has ever had," said Ken Lewenza, CAW National President.
Former CAW National President Buzz Hargrove said Cliff was truly an inspiring leader. "Nobody loved the labour movement any more than Cliff Pilkey. He loved the solidarity and camaraderie. He used his incredible sense of humour to bring people together and he always had his feet on the ground and had an eye to what was achievable," Hargrove said.

Bob White, former CAW National President and former CLC President, said Cliff will be missed.
"Cliff was a leader who cared deeply about his union - the UAW/CAW - and Canada's labour movement. He learned about women's commitment to affirmative action, child care and choice and put those issues at the forefront of the OFL's agenda. He won great respect and support from women in the labour movement. Cliff had a great sense of humour and loved to laugh, which endeared him to all. He was a great personal friend to Marilyne and I. He introduced us to one another at the CLC Convention in 1976. We will always hold him dear in our hearts."
Cliff was actively involved in numerous causes. He was Past-President and Founder of the Workers' Health and Safety Centre, a President of the Oshawa and District Labour Council from 1957 to 1967 and a UAW National Representative from 1967 to 1973. Cliff was also UAW Director of the Citizenship and Legislative Department from 1973 to 1976. He was President of the Canadian UAW Council in 1957.
He served on various boards and committees including the Board of Directors of Green Shield Canada, York University and Durham College, and was a founding board member of the Oshawa Senior Citizens' Centre. Cliff was a World War II veteran and a 62-year member of the Royal Canadian Legion.
Cliff was also a recipient of the Order of Ontario and a Recipient of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal.

CAW Reaches New Agreement at Auto Parts Maker Wescast

CAW Local 504 members have voted 98 per cent in favour of a new collective agreement with auto parts maker Wescast Industries in Strathroy, Ontario, ending a three-week strike.
Workers at the plant had been out on strike since October 27. A tentative agreement was reached November 16 and the ratification vote was held later that day.
The agreement resists concessions and extends a commitment on the life of the plant for at least another year, said Jerry Dias, assistant to the CAW president. "In addition, the company has agreed to a
process that will hopefully transition the plant from iron to stainless steel production," Dias said.
CAW National Representative Jim Woods said there were a number of other important gains, including an increase in the severance entitlement to 2.4 weeks per year of service for any permanent layoff.
CAW Local 504 President Dave Reston said the solidarity of the bargaining committee and support of the membership was crucial in achieving the tentative agreement.
"The activism of CAW area local unions as well as other unions and community members in providing support to the picket line was critical in maintaining the membership's spirits in Strathroy, as they walked in bitter cold conditions many days," Reston said.
CAW Local 504 represents 65 workers at Wescast, which produces exhaust manifolds for General Motors.

Support for Victimized Iran Trade Unionists

Two hundred trade union representatives from around the world pledged in Toronto, Canada, to continue supporting their colleagues in Iran who are suffering intimidation and imprisonment.
The delegates, who speak for road and rail unions worldwide, met at a groundbreaking ITF (International Transport Workers' Federation) conference that set the global agenda for their future work on issues such as privatisation, deregulation, logistics and global supply chains. Hosted by the CAW, it brought together 200 delegates from 76 trade unions in 44 countries.
ITF unions have led the defence of independent transport unions in Iran, including the successful fight to release from jail Mansour Osanloo, the courageous leader of the Tehran Bus Workers' Union (Vahed Syndicate) and his colleague Ebrahim Madadi.
The conference heard evidence of widespread infringements of workers' rights in Iran including non-payment of wages, imprisonment of trade unionists and flagrant abuse of the basic right to choose to belong to a trade union.
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New  Research on Occupational Causes of Breast Cancer  

The CAW is deeply troubled by the latest findings on the occupational causes of breast cancer among Canadian women and is calling for regulatory changes and increased attention by health officials to blue collar women's workplace exposures, in light of the new research. 
The study, released November 19 by Dr. James Brophy and Dr. Margaret Keith, along with Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF) and National Network on Environments and Women's Health (NNEWH), uncovered that women working in the automotive plastics, metal-related manufacturing, food canning operations, agriculture, bars and casinos have a significantly higher risk of developing breast cancer - due to exposure to carcinogens and endocrine disrupting chemicals.
The study was based on interviews and the health records of 2,000 women in Essex and Kent, working in automotive plastics, metal-related manufacturing, food canning operations, agriculture, bars and casinos. For women with at least 10 years of working in these sectors, their risk of developing breast cancer increased by a staggering 42 per cent.
Many of the women interviewed for the research were former or current CAW members "As we know from years of working with asbestos and other carcinogenic substances, workplace hazards are not always immediately obvious, but sadly, that makes them no less deadly," said CAW Health, Safety and Environment Director Sari Sairanen.
"Important studies like this give credence to the glaring trends that we see in our workplaces - it is absolutely urgent that we do not continue to wait until overwhelming evidence piles up before we take action," said Sairanen. 
The CAW is calling for a number of measures that would improve long term health and safety:

  • Increased attention by health officials to blue-collar women's workplace exposures and cancer research;
  • Research initiatives into preventable environmental causes of breast cancer;
  • A public inquiry or commission to examine the risks to women posed by exposures in the plastics industry;
  • Regulatory changes;
  • And action by the federal government to ensure that companies that do use safer and healthier products do not face an unfair competitive disadvantage with overseas companies using harmful substances.

Chinese Trade Unionists Study Canadian Collective Bargaining

The Shanghai Municipal Trade Union Council visited the CAW national office from China on November 12. The group was on a study tour to better understand the structure of CAW; the Canadian collective bargaining process; the union's role, strategies and tactics in the collective bargaining process. 
L-R The group is shown here with CAW Economist Jim Stanford, CAW Legal Counsel Niki Lundquist, International Director Annie Labaj, National President Ken Lewenza and Assistant to the President Deb Tveit.

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