February 1, 2013
Volume 43, No. 4
Tentative Agreement at Coast Mountain Bus Company in B.C.Metro Vancouver's two major transit union locals, CAW Locals 111 and 2200, have reached a tentative three-year collective agreement with the Coast Mountain Bus Company, a subsidiary of TransLink.
Over 4,700 transit operators, mechanics, maintenance and SeaBus workers represented by the two CAW locals will be asked to ratify the contract in votes scheduled for February 5. The tentative agreement is being unanimously recommended by the union's bargaining committee.
"This round of bargaining has been tough going given the tight funding dilemma for public transit, audits and political uncertainty," said Joe Elworthy, president of CAW Local 2200, which represents mechanics, maintenance and SeaBus workers.
Don MacLeod, president of CAW Local 111, which represents transit operators, said the agreement came after extended bargaining into the early morning of January 30.
"We are pleased to have reached a no-concessions contract in line with public sector wage guidelines," said MacLeod.
"We are also glad to get to a tentative contract without taking any job action or any service disruption to Metro Vancouver transit riders," MacLeod said. "If this agreement is ratified by the membership we can start working on solving problems with the transit system, including reducing pass-ups, overcrowding and the lack of late night bus service."
CAW Members Rally Outside Ontario Liberal Convention
CAW members take part in January 26 rally.
Photo by Gord Gray/CAW Local 444
Hundreds of CAW members took part in the massive protest by labour and community groups outside the Ontario Liberal leadership convention January 26 calling for democracy, negotiating rights, good jobs and public services.
The Rally for Rights and Democracy brought together high school and elementary teachers, CAW, CEP, Steelworkers, CUPE, OPSEU and members from a broad range of other unions. In addition community groups representing students, seniors, Aboriginal peoples, environmentalists and many others attended to demand economic and democratic rights, an Ontario Federation of Labour release states.
CAW members from across Ontario took part in the protest rally at Allan Gardens in downtown Toronto which included a march and demonstration outside Maple Leaf Gardens, where Ontario Liberals were holding their leadership convention. Liberal convention delegates elected Kathleen Wynne as the new Liberal Party leader and Ontario Premier.
CAW members from Windsor, Kitchener, Ottawa, Oshawa, the Greater Toronto Area, Grey-Bruce County and other parts of Ontario attended the rally, which attracted 30,000 participants.
CAW President Ken Lewenza said the imposition of teacher contracts under Bill 115 was "undemocratic." He stressed the provincial government had no right to impose contracts onto teachers through legislation and instead should have negotiated agreements.
Nortel Pensioners Pay Price of Bondholder Greed, CAW says
The CAW is expressing outrage at the collapse of mediation efforts over the distribution of Nortel's remaining assets. CAW National President Ken Lewenza said the needs of former Nortel workers, pensioners and the long term disabled have been disregarded on account of bondholder greed - yet again.
"Despite the efforts of The Honourable Warren K. Winkler, Chief Justice of Ontario, and his team of expert advisors, the mediation that should have determined the distribution of over $9 billion in Nortel's remaining assets ended in failure to the detriment of all those who were hoping this four year case would finally be settled," said Lewenza.
Justice Winkler called an end to the mediation after more than a week of intensive negotiations when he concluded that "further efforts at mediation are no longer worthwhile."
"As with two previous mediations, failure resulted because Nortel bondholders who bought their bonds for 20 cents on the dollar wanted not only the full value of the bonds, amounting to some $4.5 billion, but years of interest on top of that," Lewenza said. Canadian pensioners, thousands of whom were CAW members, have suffered over 50 per cent cuts in their pensions, while former employees have lost jobs, health benefits, and disability incomes, since Nortel entered creditor protection in 2009."
"Sadly, our federal government, who could reform the existing laws and regulations, is allowing this to happen"said Jerry Dias, Assistant to the CAW President.
The CAW now sees the potential for extended litigation before bondholders agree to a fair settlement or Canadian courts take jurisdiction over the entire Nortel case and force a resolution.
In the company's heyday in the mid-1980s, the CAW represented approximately 5,000 Nortel workers in five locations.
Local 333 Members Ratify New Agreement at BC Transit
CAW Local 333 members who work for BC Transit in the Greater Victoria area have overwhelmingly ratified a new agreement.
Workers voted 93 per cent in support of the agreement at a series of meetings January 22.
The contract is retroactive to March 2012 and continues until March 31, 2014. It covers 650 transit operators, mechanics and skilled trades workers. It includes wage increases of two per cent retroactive to April, 2012 and another two per cent on April 1, 2013.
CAW Local 333 President Ben Williams said multiple gains were made throughout the contract including improved union representation paid by the employer.
Williams said a key issue in bargaining was BC Transit's plan to introduce a high capacity shuttle bus called the Vicinity Bus, which was to be made in China. BC Transit has agreed to withdraw the plan during the life of this agreement.
Williams said BC Transit wanted to pay Vicinity Bus operators at a lower rate than current operators, despite the fact the new bus would have been capable of carrying 39 passengers.
"We will continue fighting to keep them out and we will be back at the bargaining table in 14 months," Williams said. He added that there are several better made buses currently manufactured in North America.
"The members of Local 333 stood up to protect full-time decent jobs for transit workers and they proved that fighting back makes a difference," said CAW National Representative Gavin McGarrigle.
CAW Student Bursaries Deadline: April 30
Each year the CAW National Union and CAW Council offer 25 student bursaries, each worth $2,000.
The bursaries are awarded to the sons/daughters of CAW members in good standing who are entering their first year of full-time post-secondary education (university, community college, technological institute, teachers' college, nursing school, etc) in a Canadian institution.
Submissions must include:
. a letter of recommendation from a teacher, principal or community activist;
. an official application form (see below) signed by a local union officer;
. transcript/record of marks (most current record, ie mid-term report is acceptable).
Application forms can be found on the CAW website at www.caw.ca/education. Click on CAW Bursaries.
Completed applications, along with the accompanying documents are to be submitted to Lisa Kelly, Director of Education, CAW/TCA - Canada, 205 Placer Court, Toronto, ON, M2H 3H9.
Applications must be post marked no later than April 30, 2013.
Celebrating Alexa McDonough
Former federal NDP leader Alexa McDonough was honoured January 16 in Halifax, Nova Scotia at a ceremony to announce that "The Institute of Women, Gender and Social Justice" at Mount Saint Vincent University was being named after her.
This was made possible largely through donations from the labour movement including $25,000 each from the CAW national union and CAW/Marine Workers Federation Local 1, along with a number of other unions.
In the photo are Dr. Ramona Lumpkin, President and Vice-Chancellor, Mount Saint Vincent University; Marilyn More, Nova Scotia Minister of Labour and Advanced Education, former Federal NDP leader Alexa McDonough and CAW Atlantic Canada Area Director Les Holloway.