March 28, 2013
Volume 43, Number 12
CAW Wind Turbine Begins Operation in Port Elgin, Ontario
A CAW owned and operated wind turbine started operating on March 26 at 12:30 p.m. generating clean wind energy to the electrical grid in Port Elgin, Ontario.
"This is an important day as the start-up of this wind turbine marks an environmental milestone for our union - this is the first union-owned and operated wind turbine in Canada," said CAW President Ken Lewenza. The start of the turbine comes after nine years of planning, preparation, construction and testing.
"This green energy wind turbine will generate enough power to offset 350 tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year and demonstrates the CAW's commitment to promoting and developing alternate sources of renewable energy," Lewenza said.
The CAW has erected the wind turbine on the grounds of its Family Education Centre in Port Elgin, Ontario. It will generate the equivalent of 50-60 per cent of the FEC's current energy needs.
The CAW's commitment to environmental sustainability is enshrined in the CAW's Statement of Principles and reflects the union's concern about serious global challenges such as climate change, preserving the natural environment and advocating for clean, renewable power generation to meet future energy needs.
CAW is setting a great example with this new wind turbine, said CEP President Dave Coles. "While governments drag their feet on strategies for the use of renewable resources, unions are leading the way."
Coles noted that CEP has been calling for a national energy strategy for years - one that includes a stable and sustainable energy supply for Canadians.
The CAW has demonstrated real leadership with the development of their first windmill, said Kristopher Stevens, executive director of the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association.
"Projects like this are a beacon for other local groups across Ontario seeking to create good jobs, resilient communities and healthy environments by tapping into sustainable energy solutions," Stevens said.
To find out more about the CAW wind turbine please, visit: www.caw.ca/cleanwindenergy.
Full National Manufacturing Strategy Needed
Billions of dollars in new federal supports for Canadian industry is a partial, but important, step forward in assisting the country's embattled manufacturing sector, said CAW President Ken Lewenza, in response to Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's budget released on March 21.
In his budget, Minister Flaherty outlined the federal government's allocation of over $3 billion to fund strategic developments in Canada's aerospace and forestry sectors, as well as keeping up with incentives to encourage re-investment in machinery (through capital cost write-downs) and advanced manufacturing.
"The future of Canadian prosperity is tied to a vibrant manufacturing sector," Lewenza said. "These funding announcements are crucial, but they also have to be tied to a full-fledged national manufacturing strategy to be effective.
Lewenza said a comprehensive, national manufacturing strategy would consider the re-investment of public funds back into Canadian industry, through a targeted public procurement strategy that would include everything from transportation vehicles and equipment to new technologies. A sector strategy would also include increasing manufacturing content in Canadian resource development projects, as well as steps to address Canada's growing trade imbalance in manufactured goods, by tackling the over-valued dollar and lopsided trade agreements.
"Over half a million manufacturing jobs have been wiped out over the past six years, and that coincides with our skyrocketing trade deficit that topped $100 billion in 2012," Lewenza said. "The federal government has to unite with other stakeholders, including the provinces, business and labour to address these deep-seated, structural challenges or this critical sector simply can't survive."
Lewenza criticized the government for its refusal to undo the damaging reforms levied on Canada's unemployment insurance program, as well as Old Age Security.
Innovative CAW Apprenticeship Board Game Takes Off
CAW skilled trades members show off the new board game Skills Work! Skills Play! at the official launch event in Waterloo, Ontario on March 22. The game is designed to attract youth into the trades.
(Back L-R: Susan Thompson, Local 222; Christine Barlow, Local 222, Margaret Manwaring, Local 707; Jennifer Jewell, Local 444; Sandy Bell, Local 1520; Bernice Renaud, Local 444; Front L-R: Terry Weymouth, CAW National Coordinator; Gail Smyth, Executive Director, Skills Canada-Ontario; Cathy Reaume, Local 200).
An innovative board game originally developed by the CAW to encourage young people to consider a career in the skilled trades will become a prominent fixture in schools across Ontario.
The board game Skills Work! Skills Play! developed by Skills Canada-Ontario and unveiled on March 22, was inspired by a module developed for the CAW's week-long Women in Skilled Trades and Technology Awareness program. The game is intended to draw young people (particularly young women) into the trades in an effort to help fill current and future gaps in an aging Canadian labour market.
CAW National Coordinator Terry Weymouth said that part of the union's skilled trades awareness program helps participants identify what is involved in obtaining a skilled trades designation. The board game module is a logical extension of that objective.
"We wanted to develop something based on that program which we could adapt for students and show them that the trades could be a first-choice career option," Weymouth said in an interview with the Windsor Star.
The goal of the game is for players to move game pieces through a cartoon drain pipe, answering questions in order to move forward. Players can build up their tool box by answering questions correctly, with the goal of earning a Red Seal certification award. Questions help educate players on the types of trade classifications and workplace safety standards, among other topics.
Skills Canada-Ontario Executive Director Gail Smyth said she was intrigued by the union's idea and thought it useful for the provincial agency to partner with like-minded women in the CAW.
"The mandate at Skills Canada-Ontario is to promote the skilled trades as viable, first-choice options for Ontario youth. What better way to engage youth than through a board game?"
Skills Canada-Ontario plans to use the game within a broad-based student outreach initiative that will be brought to over 2000 schools across the province.
CAW Director of Skilled Trades Pat Blackwood said it's vitally important for young Canadians to view the trades as an attractive career option, as a means to fuel greater economic prosperity.
"Trades work in Canada is highly skilled and knowledge-intensive yet far too often considered a secondary option for young students searching for a career path," Blackwood said. "I firmly believe our economic prosperity will be built through the trades, and hope this wonderful game helps break down some of the barriers to involvement."
CLC Political Action Conference
CAW Local 222 delegates who participated in the Canadian Labour Congress' political action conference in Toronto on March 22 to 24 were joined by CAW President Ken Lewenza.
More than 2,000 delegates attended the conference, including 300 affiliated to CAW/CEP local unions. Union security surfaced as a key issue with discussion and workshops focussed on the importance of unions, collective bargaining, and the right to bargain freely.
This was the largest conference ever organized by the CLC.