February 22, 2013

Volume 43, No. 7

New Agreement Overwhelmingly Ratified at General Electric Facilities in Ontario

CAW members who work at General Electric facilities in Peterborough, Toronto, Arnprior and Burlington/Stoney Creek, Ontario have overwhelmingly approved a new three-year collective agreement that includes wage, benefit and pension improvements.

The 750 workers are members of CAW Locals 524, 252 and 2228. Approximately 600 of the total work at the large motors facility in Peterborough, while the remainder work at G.E. Hitachi Nuclear facilities in Toronto, Peterborough and Arnprior and at service facilities in Burlington and Stoney Creek, Ontario.

Overall, workers approved the agreement by 97 per cent in voting Sunday, February 16.

"We won significant investment to turn Peterborough's 100 year-old facilities into facilities that will now reflect the technology of 2013," said Jerry Dias, assistant to the CAW president. "Winning this commitment was the most significant feature of a strong new agreement with G.E.," Dias said.

Wage increases, including cost of living allowance, are two per cent in the first year, 2.5 per cent in the second and three per cent in the final year. In addition, there were significant pension gains.

A major pension gain is the extension of supplemental pension payments to ensure bridge pensions continue until retiring workers qualify for the delayed Old Age Security pension announced by the Harper Conservatives.

In addition gains were made in a new vision care plan along with improvements in dental and other programs.

CAW Pushes for Decision on Pension Plan at Navistar, Expected Early March

The Financial Services Commission of Ontario will soon issue a much anticipated decision on the wind-up of the Navistar pension plan, more than three and a half years since the company shuttered its heavy truck Chatham facility. 

The CAW and Navistar representatives met with the Deputy Superintendent of Pensions of FSCO earlier this week on a number of outstanding issues which have so far prevented Navistar workers from seeing their pension settlements. The decision is expected by March 6.

"For more than three and a half years, the CAW has been pushing for a resolution for our members at Navistar," said CAW President Ken Lewenza. "First Navistar suddenly closed its plant in the middle of negotiations, and since then it has fought its own workers every step of the way.  The company has left more than 800 people and their families in the lurch and we desperately need a solution." 

The decision on the wind-up of the pension plan is long overdue, said Lewenza. 

At issue is the date of the wind up of the pension plan, the early retirement program in the pension agreement, pension entitlements of those who retired before the wind-up date of July 28, 2011 and credited service upon layoff.

Navistar idled its Chatham plant in June 2009, but only announced the official closure in July 2011.

CAW Local 127 represented Navistar production and skilled trades workers and CAW Local 35 represented Navistar office workers.

To read the most recent update on the situation at Navistar, please visit: http://www.caw.ca/navistar  

New Agreement at Syncreon in Oshawa, Ontario

CAW Local 222 members who work at the Syncreon Supplier Park inside the General Motors Autoplex in Oshawa, Ontario have ratified  a new four-year agreement that includes wage and health care benefit improvements, among other gains.

Local 222 represents approximately 200 workers at the auto parts sequencing facility. Workers voted 91 per cent in favour of the agreement on February 16, after rejecting an earlier tentative agreement.

Workers receive a $1 per hour increase immediately upon ratification. They also receive a $1 per hour raise each year of the four year agreement, or a $1500 lump sum payment once they reach $17 per hour. In the last year, all members go to $18 an hour on the anniversary date of the contact.

The new agreement also includes a signing bonus, family healthcare coverage, dental plan, vision care, improved safety shoe allowance, improved language on working conditions and premium pay on hours worked on non-statutory holidays.

"The membership consists of workers who came from workplaces that had downsized or closed during the auto crisis," said CAW National Representative Keith Osborne.  "These workplaces had established contracts with decent wages, pensions and benefits and the members were frustrated. They are not to blame for the crisis in manufacturing, specifically in auto, and used the first ratification as a way to express this frustration," Osborne said.

The bargaining committee and the members must be commended for their patience and support during a tough round of talks, he said.

Union Solidarity at the University of Manitoba

Six unions operating on the University of Manitoba campus united recently with one voice to speak out against the actions of university administration.

CAW Local 3007, The University of Manitoba Faculty Association (UMFA), Canadian Union of Public Employees 1482 (CUPE), CUPE 3909, The University Manitoba Students' Union (UMSU) and the Association of Employees Supporting Education Services (AESES) held an information picket February 13. More than 500 protesters gathered to voice their concerns.

"This demonstration was about much more than protecting workers' rights, important as that is; it was about preserving the integrity of campus life and ensuring that quality education is available to future generations," said Frank Wright, CAW Local 3007 chairperson. CAW Local 3007 represents 450 members at the university including trades, power engineers, grounds keepers, food service workers and caretakers.

"Changes being made at the University of Manitoba are part and parcel of the broader attack on the public sector that is unfolding across North America," said Wright. "The effect of these measures is now becoming clear:  unionized workers feel their rights slipping away as employers find ways to circumvent collective agreements and build two-tier institutions that pit unionized workers against non-unionized workers; public-sector students against private-sector students; tenure-track faculty against sessional instructors."

CAW Local 3007 helped lead the way in forming this student /labour coalition at the University and all six unions work very well together, Wright said.

The University President responded to the recent demonstration by inviting us to attend a "town hall" meeting to continue the "dialogue" and we will take him up on this offer and hold him accountable, Wright said.

Our caretaking staff has been reduced and too few workers are now expected to do all the work, he said. Employees are berated and bullied and when employees complain, administration replies with a variety of excuses: private sector supervisors do not fall under the scope of university administration and, therefore, are not required to follow university protocols of personnel management; it claims that employees' issues do not qualify as grievances or that grievances were filed past the required time limits, when in fact extensions had been granted, he added.

Morale is at an all-time low; stress, anxiety and sickness are mounting and sick leave has increased over 350% for the caretakers, Wright said.

Local 3007 have been grieving, filing Human Rights complaints, filing University policy complaints and holding special meetings, area by area, to deal with the issues, he said.

University of Manitoba information picket on February 13.

Tentative Agreement at Toronto Terminals Railway

After opening talks in November and a week of intense negotiations ending February 15, the CAW has reached a tentative agreement with Toronto Terminals Railway (TTR).

The CAW bargaining committee has recommended members vote in favour of the agreement at ratification meetings on February 15. 

The CAW represents 125 members at TTR, who perform maintenance-of-way, track protection and maintenance duties in and around Union Station in Toronto. They are members of CAW Council 4000.

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