December 21, 2012
Volume 42, No. 45
Negotiate First Nations Treaty Rights, Labour Leaders Urge
Two of the country's largest private sector unions are calling on the federal government to meet with Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence immediately, leading into a formal treaty meeting with First Nations.
As Contact went to press the CAW and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union expressed concern for Chief Spence's safety as she entered her second week of a hunger strike, demanding a meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Governor General David Johnston. The unions urged the federal government to use a collective bargaining approach with the First Nations people over treaty rights.
"For our entire existence as a country, the federal government has abused the rights of the First Nations people," said CAW National President Ken Lewenza. "This is no more apparent than in Chief Spence's community of Attawapiskat where a year later, the town is still without adequate housing and infrastructure as the winter sets back in."
Lewenza said that he and many others have been deeply moved by the courage and tenacity shown by Chief Spence, who on December 17 was in the seventh day of a hunger strike. The union leaders added their voices to legions of supporters through the emerging #Idlenomore movement.
During the hunger strike, Chief Spence is living in a teepee on Victoria Island in the Ottawa River, near the Supreme Court of Canada and the House of Commons.
"Chief Theresa Spence's fight for her people is similar to that of the labour movement and so many other groups - the fight for dignity, respect, and equality," said CEP National President Dave Coles.
Support for Women's Shelters
The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women is a day commemorated in Canada each December 6th, the anniversary of the 1989 École Polytechnique Massacre where 14 women were singled out because of their gender and murdered.
December 6 is marked by vigils, discussions and forums to demand government action to end gender-based violence, in all of its many forms.
At CAW Council meetings in December, in recognition of the CAW's ongoing work to demand an end to gender based violence, delegates adopted a recommendation to donate $100,000 to 50 Women's Shelters leading up to International Women's Day.
The CAW Social Justice Fund and CAW Council join forces to support that recommendation each year.
If there is a shelter in your community in need of funding, please send the information to Annie Labaj, 205 Placer Court, Toronto, ON M2H 3H9 or by email at email@example.com no later than February 1st, 2013.
Campaign for Democratic and Economic Rights
The Ontario Federation of Labour and community allies have launched a campaign to defend democratic and economic rights in the province, which will culminate in a mass rally at the Ontario Liberal Leadership Convention in Toronto on January 26, 2013.
This fall, the McGuinty Liberal government, with the backing of Tim Hudak's Progressive Conservatives, passed Bill 115 - an unprecedented law stripping educational workers of their most basic democratic rights. By cheating teachers and educational support staff of the right to strike and the right to bargain collectively with their employer, the Liberals and Conservatives have established a precedent that threatens the rights of every worker in Ontario, an OFL release states.
Now the Ontario Legislature has been prorogued while public services and workers' rights continue to hang in limbo.
A series of community meetings are scheduled:
. Sat. Jan 12, 2012: Niagara @ CAW Hall 124 Bunting Road, St. Catharines. Meeting: 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm. Info, contact the Niagara Labour Council: Daniel Peat, Nrlc.firstname.lastname@example.org, (905) 892-6524 or Bruce Allen, email@example.com, 905-933-2811.
. Wed. Jan. 23, 2013: Ottawa @ Ottawa City Hall (Champlain Room), 111 Laurier Ave. West. Meeting: 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm. Everyone welcome. Info: Jennifer, 613-233-7820 or firstname.lastname@example.org
. Thur. Jan. 31, 2013: Mississauga: @ Mississauga Valley Recreation Centre. 1275 Mississauga Valley Blvd Mississauga. Meeting: 7:00 - 9:00 pm. Info: Motilall Sarjoo (SARJ), 416-709-6352 or email@example.com
Dates and locations still to be announced: Kingston, Kitchener-Waterloo, London, Peterborough, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury. To find out about a city near you, please contact your local labour council.
Get involved in the campaign! Visit: www.ofl.ca/index.php/campaigns/DemocraticRights
To view or print the OFL rally poster please visit: http://www.caw.ca/assets/images/J26-CallOut-8_5x11.pdf
Plentiful Harvest Food Rescue Program
A recently established food rescue program in Windsor-Essex, Ontario called Plentiful Harvest is helping to reduce hunger in the community by saving and packaging food that otherwise would have gone to waste.
Retired CAW Local 444 Financial Secretary Gary Parent outlined to CAW Council delegates December 8 how the program was launched, its goals, and the positive impact it is having in Windsor and Essex counties.
The program has three key components:
. a 26 foot refrigerated truck and smaller trucks that pick up donations from farmers, food producers, suppliers, restaurants, conference centres, hotels, banquet halls, caterers and grocery stores. The smaller trucks are also used as mobile food banks;
. a food rescue program and 3000 square foot storage hub;
. a community kitchen, where fresh and prepared food is repackaged including fruits and vegetables and meats collected for community distribution. Food is also preserved at this kitchen through canning, vacuum sealing and dehydration.
"Remember - one day any one of us could be in need of this food," said Parent who was joined on stage by numerous CAW volunteers as well as program staff and Windsor Unemployed Help Centre chief Executive Officer June Muir.
Community partners in the program, which is run through the local Unemployed Help Centre, include CAW Local 200, CAW National union, CAW Local 444, the United Way and Nature Fresh Farms, an independent green-house produce grower. Local 200, 444, the National Union and CAW's Social Justice Fund contributed a combined $150,000 to Plentiful Harvest.
"The idea of this program is really to bring food to the table," said CAW Local 444 President Dino Chiodo. "I'm excited to say we have a lot of partners who have stepped up," Chiodo added.
To find out more about the Windsor area food rescue program please visit www.plentifulharvest.ca
Congrats: CAW Council delegate Kelly Lynn
Congratulations to the winner of the CAW Breckles Insurance Brokers Group Insurance draw held at CAW Council in Toronto on December 8, 2012.
Kelly Lynn of CAW Local 414 won the draw for an Apple iPad. Kelly is pictured with Kevin Kiely of Breckles Insurance.
To find out more about the CAW Group auto and home insurance plan please visit http://www.cawinsurance.com/ or call 1-877-229-4677.
All the best over the holidays and in the New Year.
The next issue of Contact will be sent January 11, 2013.