March 8, 2013
Volume 43, No. 9
CAW President Meets Harper on Future of Auto Industry
CAW National President Ken Lewenza met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Parliament Hill March 5 to discuss issues facing Canada's auto industry.
Lewenza reaffirmed his support for Ottawa's recent extension of the Automotive Innovation Fund, and urged the Prime Minister to take additional measures to strengthen future investment, production, and exports in the sector.
Lewenza also presented Harper with the CAW's proposals for a stronger industrial strategy for the auto industry: a 50-page policy brief published last year, entitled Re-Thinking Canada's Auto Industry.
"Our conversation was cordial and constructive," Lewenza said. "The Prime Minister clearly understands the importance of the auto sector to Canada's future prosperity."
Lewenza noted that the federal government has undertaken important policy initiatives in several key manufacturing sectors recently (including aerospace, shipbuilding, and defence procurement). "In all of these sectors, like auto, we need government to play a strategic role to ensure Canada retains a strong share of high-value manufacturing."
Re-Thinking Canada's Auto Industry can be downloaded at www.rethinktheeconomy.ca.
Strong Agreement at Hitachi Truck in Guelph, Ontario
CAW Local 1917 members have overwhelmingly ratified a new three-year collective agreement with Hitachi Construction Truck in Guelph, Ontario that provides strong wage and benefit gains as well as several pension improvements.
Workers voted 86 per cent in favour of the new agreement at a ratification meeting March 3.
"Despite the incredibly tough economic environment our bargaining committee was successful in achieving major improvements," said Jerry Dias, assistant to the CAW President. "We made gains in most areas and have built a strong foundation for future agreements," Dias said.
"This was the toughest round of bargaining our committee and membership has faced at Hitachi, but the solidarity of the membership and the hard work of this committee resulted in a strong agreement," said Robin Dudley, President of CAW Local 1917.
CAW National Representative Jim Robinson said "this is one of the strongest agreements we've had at Hitachi with multiple gains for our members, who showed tremendous solidarity."
Wages will increase two per cent in each year of the agreement. Benefit improvements include dental, vision, hearing aids, and life insurance gains among others.
In addition there is a $1 increase to the basic benefit of the defined benefit pension plan in the third year, which applies to all who retire during the agreement.
Other improvements include a full-time chairperson, new member orientation and four additional paid holidays over the life of the agreement. It also includes agreement on the option for 42 workers to take advantage of an early retirement window, which will provide an unreduced pension as well as continuation of group benefits to age 65.
The CAW represents more than 225 workers at the Guelph plant, which produces large mining and construction trucks. The company is in the final phases of completing a $30 million expansion at the Guelph plant.
Tragedy of Precarious Work, Letter from Ken Lewenza
The following letter was submitted by CAW President Ken Lewenza to the editor of the Globe and Mail newspaper in response to a February 28 opinion piece entitled, "Unions must share the blame for precarious employment."
Konrad Yakabuski's argument that unions should shoulder the blame for declining work standards, and rising employment insecurity, is patently incorrect. It's ironic that Yakabuski chooses to defend his argument by citing the experience of North American autoworkers: specifically, the decision of U.S. autoworkers to implement two-tier wages in car plants. This move effectively (and permanently) cut starting wages in half. Two-tiering has driven traditionally middle-class earners closer to the ranks of the "precariat," not the other way around.
In fact, two-tier wages have become commonplace among many union contracts in Canada despite our ongoing opposition. In the supermarket industry, hundreds of thousands of middle-income jobs have been transformed over the past 20 years into part-time, precarious jobs that pay minimum wage. Grocery workers are now forced to play catch-up. If we're going to point the finger it has to be at the false premise that two-tiered wages does any long-term good. The answer, in this case, is no.
Employers are emboldened to push for these sorts of concessions, despite the fact that they are taking home a greater piece of the wealth pie. And why shouldn't they be emboldened? Employment laws, for one, are out of step with the current reality and increasingly difficult to enforce. Workers are coming to expect this dismal future. That's the tragedy.
The CAW presented its pioneering Women's Advocate program during the United Nations 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW57) taking place in New York City from March 4-15.
Innovative CAW Program on Domestic Violence Presented at United Nations
CAW Women's Director Julie White spoke as part of a panel about the impact of domestic violence in the workplace, an event organized by the International Labour Organization (ILO), in tandem with the UN session.
"Violence remains a significant barrier to women's equality and we know it has devastating consequences in the lives of women, children, families and Canadian society as a whole," said CAW Women's Director Julie White.
"Workplaces though present a unique opportunity for women to get information on how to access domestic violence services in privacy, without the immediate fear of retaliation from their abusive partner. Where public policy makers and governments have ignored this enduring travesty, we see it as our role as a union to help end violence against women and children. The women's advocate is one solution as part of a larger web of support."
The Women's Advocate program is an employer-paid initiative, which was first negotiated in 1993 at the major auto companies. It has since grown to 260 trained women's advocates across the country.
The Women's Advocate Program is a referral program with specially trained workplace representatives who assist women with concerns of workplace harassment, intimate partner violence or abuse. Advocates are not counsellors but rather assist women with workplace supports and community resources needed to leave a violent relationship.
"We believe there's a role for the women's advocate in every workplace in the country - women of all ages, incomes, education-levels, orientations and ethnic backgrounds suffer from violence and abuse," said White. "It is not a problem limited to any one group. We're working every day to expand the program - we know the need is there."
The Women's Advocate program, although geared towards women, is also accessible for men, and has become a frequent resource for those struggling with mental health issues or who may have concerns about the domestic violence in the lives of loved ones.
You can follow the progress of the Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW57), as experienced by CAW delegates, by following their blog here: http://cawwomenuncsw57.blogspot.ca
Local President Awarded Diamond Jubilee Medal
CAW Local 444 President and National Executive Board member Dino Chiodo was presented the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal for his "exceptional contributions to province and country" on February 22 in Windsor, Ontario. Chiodo is pictured alongside his wife Deborah and daughter Brooklyn
Photo by Gord Gray, CAW Local 444
Deadline Approaching for CAW 2013 Family Education Program
The deadline for applying to the CAW Family Education Program in Port Elgin, Ontario is fast approaching! Applications must be postmarked no later than Friday, March 22, 2013.
The program is an exciting way to spend time with your family while learning more about current issues from a worker's point of view. All CAW members in good standing are eligible to apply to attend along with their immediate family. The National Union covers accommodation and meals as well as airline travel (where required). You contribute your time and enthusiasm. You do not need to have PEL in your contract to attend the Family Education Program.
The CAW Family Education Program will feature one 2-week French language session, and two 1-week English sessions in 2013:
Saturday, August 10th through Friday, August 16th
Saturday, August 17th through Friday, August 23rd
For more information, or to download an application, check out: http://www.caw.ca/en/3370.htm .
If you have questions please contact Michelle at 1-800-268-5763 (ext: 8484) or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CAW Pride Conference
The CAW Pride Conference will be held at the CAW Family Education Centre in Port Elgin, Ontario from April 26-to-28, 2013.
The deadline for registration is Tuesday, April 2. For more information contact CAW National Representative Ken Stuart by email at email@example.com or call 204-489-0355 or 1-800-665-7492.
SOS Healthcare Rally in Windsor
Save Our Services (SOS) health care rallies were held in numerous communities across Ontario on March 4 in reaction to the Ontario government's austerity budget. The Ontario Health Coalition has warned of the negative impact of the Ontario government curtailing health spending by more than $3 billion, "most of which will be shouldered by hospitals and OHIP," an OHC release states.
An SOS rally was held in Windsor where concerned citizens held up 48 umbrellas representing the loss of 48 promised hospitals beds in the community. Pictured, left to right, CAW Local 2458 President Bruce Dickie, CAW Health Care Director Katha Fortier, CAW Local 2458 Financial Secretary Tullio DiPonti and CAW Local 444 President Dino Chiodo along with concerned citizens.
Photo by Gord Gray, CAW Local 444
Toronto Star delivers blow to quality journalism - Cuts make "no economic sense", says CEP
The Toronto Star made a devastating decision March 4 to contract out its page design and layout to Pagemasters, as well as other cuts across the newsroom - including its library - and in advertising.
To download and print this statement please click here