May 10, 2013
Volume 43, No. 18
Search and Rescue Funding Ignores Coast-Line Monitors
Federal improvements to Canada's search and rescue capabilities announced recently by National Defence Minister Peter MacKay completely ignore the country's vital marine communications and traffic control services, said CAW Local 2182 President Chad Stroud.
On May 2, the minister announced new money and a slate of new policies to improve Canada's search and rescue system, including millions of dollars for satellites and a review of the system that is to be done every four years, but failed to change course with cuts to the Canadian Coast Guard.
"It's encouraging to see the federal government add new monies for search and rescue, but why push forward on plans to drastically reduce Marine Communications and Traffic Services centres across the country?" said Stroud, who represents 350 MCTS officers.
"These officers are the first-line of defence in the search and rescue process -the eyes and ears of Canada's coastal waters - but they're getting shuffled aside by the federal government."
In 2012, the Canadian Coast Guard announced the closure of 10 MCTS centres, including those located in St. John's and St. Anthony, Newfoundland, Saint John, New Brunswick., Rivière au Renard and Montréal, Quebec, Tofino, Vancouver and Comox, B.C., Thunder Bay, Ontario, as well as Inuvik, N.W.T.
Closures were announced as part of the Harper government's federal department budgetary cutbacks. The union has called on the federal government to reverse the Coast Guard cuts.
CAW and Otesha Project Launch Cliff Pilkey Changemaker Bursary
The CAW in partnership with the Otesha Project, has officially launched a new $25,000 bursary program in honour of late CAW union leader Cliff Pilkey at the union's national young workers conference on May 4.
The bursary will provide financial assistance to young Canadians participating in the Otesha Project's innovative cycling and performing tours. Otesha tours travel to different communities in Canada to put on theatre presentations and facilitate interactive workshops on a range of social justice topics, including community sustainability and equality. The tours inspire greater engagement in civic life among the volunteer tour members, and audience members alike.
"The Otesha Project's ambitions are closely aligned with what Cliff Pilkey fought for in his decades as a union activist, civic leader and parliamentarian," said CAW President Ken Lewenza. "We're proud to continue Cliff's life-long work for social equality and solidarity through this bursary, and celebrate his legacy at the same time."
Clifford George (Cliff) Pilkey is a renowned figure in Canada's labour movement. As past president of CAW Local 222 in Oshawa, Ontario, founder of the Workers Health & Safety Centre and past president of the Ontario Federation of Labour, Cliff tirelessly championed the rights of workers, including women's rights, social equity and human rights both inside the union movement and society more broadly.
"Cliff's long list of accomplishments exemplifies the term 'Changemaker'," said Kayla Siefried, The Otesha Project's Programs Coordinator. "Otesha's bicycle tour program cultivates the development of young 'Changemakers.' It's exciting that Cliff Pilkey's story will be shared through this bursary, and that Otesha's programs will be more accessible to youth who may otherwise have difficulties fundraising to participate in one of Otesha's cycling tours."
The Otesha Project is a national youth-led charitable organization that has connected with over 163,000 Canadians through creative and energizing performances, workshops, and keynote presentations, and trained over 500 sustainability advocates through its cycling tour program.
Releasing the bursary at the union's young workers conference is a fitting tribute to Cliff, who began his union career as a young worker on the assembly line at General Motors. The biennial conference brought together CAW members (under the age of 35) and young local union leaders from across the country to discuss issues and challenges impacting young
workers, at the union's Family Education Centre in Port Elgin, Ontario.
More information on how to apply for the Cliff Pilkey Changemaker Bursary as well as upcoming Otesha Project tours is available at: www.otesha.ca.
Day of Mourning April 28
Dave Champagne, President CAW Local 584 with Arlene Green, mother of CAW Local 584 member Shara Flanigan, who was killed in a workplace accident on January 14, 2009 and Ken Lewenza, CAW National President at the Day of Mourning ceremonies in Brampton, Ontario.
Day of Mourning ceremonies were held in communities across the country.
Ontario Budget Should be Approved, say CAW and CEP
The 2013-14 Ontario budget represents an important shift in emphasis by the provincial government, and will make a positive difference in the lives of many Ontarians, according to the leaders of two major unions in the province - CAW and CEP.
CAW National President Ken Lewenza praised the budget's new policy initiatives in youth employment, infrastructure spending, and welfare reforms.
"These investments in our social and economic fabric are both badly needed, and appreciated," Lewenza said. "Creating new jobs and protecting the well-being of our families should be government's top priorities, and this budget starts to acknowledge that."
Dave Coles, National President of the Communications Energy and Paperworkers Union (CEP), said "Ontarians have suffered badly from both private-sector recession and public-sector austerity. It's high time government started to reinvest in important social programs."
The two union leaders also endorsed the budget's measures aimed at strengthening the province's manufacturing industry, including the extension of accelerated depreciation measures to stimulate capital spending in Ontario factories.
The leaders acknowledged the work of the Ontario NDP, led by Andrea Horwath, in influencing the content of the budget and leveraging the new social investments. "This is proof that minority government can work to the advantage of working people," said Coles. The two leaders encouraged legislators at Queen's Park to approve the budget and implement the new policies.
The budget confirmed that the deficit for 2012-13 was one-third below official projections (at just $9.8 billion). Future deficits will almost certainly come in far below official targets, and the union leaders suggested the deficit could be eliminated as early as 2015-16. "There is no justification for continuing austerity," Lewenza said. "This is the time to start turning our attention to Ontario's pressing social challenges."
The union leaders were disappointed by the government's failure to announce an increase in Ontario's minimum wage, which has been frozen for three years. "Ontario's lowest-paid workers need and deserve a raise," said Coles, "and they need it now."
Coles warned of the possibility of a harshly right-wing Conservative government, if the budget was defeated and a premature election is called. "Tim Hudak's vision for Ontario is divisive and destructive, and he is even challenging the right of unions to exist. We must not give Tim Hudak the chance he is looking for."
Second Annual Bunny Drive for Children's Hospitals in AlbertaCAW Local 4050, representing workers in Alberta, recently completed its second annual "Bunny Drive", an initiative to collect and donate toy bunnies to area children's hospitals. The 2013 drive was held between February and March. Local 4050 Recording Secretary Dawn Munro led the drive, increasing the toys collected from 200 in 2012 to 375 in 2013. The local received heartfelt letters of thanks from the Stollery Children's Hospital as well as the Alberta Children's Hospital in Calgary.