| Ken Lewenza|
CAW National President
"I want to thank you all again, beginning with our constitutional convention that took place last year. Where we asked our delegates to endorse the concept of a new union, a new union project that would drive some enthusiasm, drive some momentum, drive some hope and raise some expectations in the future that a new combined union could be a stronger more vibrant and more relevant union. Where we are weak in the economy, whether it is energy, communications, paper-workers. Where we are weak, they are strong. Where we are strong; in auto, retail, healthcare, mining, natural resources and other sectors of the economy, they are not so strong. But when we put these two unions together on Labour-day weekend, we will represent every major sector of the Canadian economy and we will have union density in communities where we never had union density in the past. We will build local unions from the community up. Not from the top it doesn't work from the top. The top can show leadership but what we can do under this new organization is build confidence in the local unions,build confidence in the communities, build activism, educate workers to make sure that the work we do is relevant.
VIA rail workers feel vulnerable, they feel insecure and you may or may not know that VIA rail is a crown corporation but what is happening today is that the federal government is starving them. So what does the company do? They eliminate services. So when you eliminate the runs, when you reduce the services it puts a lot of strain on our members and puts a lot of strain on the buying public that needs to go from A to B on an appropriate VIA Rail system, and today when we have environmental challenges, economic challenges if anything they should be investing in rail, they should be investing in transit, they shouldn't be starving it. If you care about environmental sustainability you would encourage people to use our VIA Rail system.
Boy have I learned over the last thirty five years that you cannot ignore politics. Because today brothers and sisters the challenges we have as a result of free- trade, NAFTA, the growing trade agreements with CETA, Korea, south-asia and the pacific all of this will have a detrimental effect on canadians and have a detrimental effect on our members. These trade deals will continue to put more nails in the coffin of the auto industry and good paying jobs in our country.
Jim Stanford and I met with Stephen Harper a couple of weeks ago and we talked about the auto industry and its importance. We talked about the universal healthcare program in our country where the federal government is starving transfer payments to provinces where provinces are making decisions to cut healthcare services that are important to the country. We talked about trade and I had the opportunity to talk about the government's direction on the Rand Formula. Because brothers and sisters today the conservatives are meeting behind closed doors preparing a private members bill to eliminate the Rand Formula, to eliminate union security, to eliminate the fairness in the Rand Formula. Justice Rand ruled that union security was important and what he said was; "Every member of a unionized workplace benefits as a result of collective bargaining therefore every member should pay their dues."
So brothers and sisters we raised those particular issues and he pointed said "Ken, I am going to have more trade agreements then any prime minister has ever had in the history of this country. I don't support the CAW's position of protectionism". I had to tell him more times than once. It is not protectionism it is about having a fair trade policy. It is about reciprocal trade. It means dollar for dollar value. And it frustrates the hell out of me brothers and sisters but we have to keep raising it.
What I want you all to do right now is stand up and give yourself a hand for accepting the responsibility, for taking on the responsibility and fighting for the justice that is necessary. Thank you all."