CAW National President Ken Lewenza Recognized with Honorary Doctor of Laws

June 14, 2013, 3:10 PM EST

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CAW National President Ken Lewenza has been awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws this afternoon at the University of Windsor.

Lewenza was recognized with five other high profile Canadians who are leaders in their respective fields.

Lewenza used his acceptance speech an opportunity to address the value of trade unions and his concerns about worsening employment prospects for young people.

Lewenza credited the CAW and other unions for the strong presence of the university in Windsor. "We have fought for decent wages and benefits for our members, the working people of Windsor that have allowed workers to send their children to university, in a way that just wasn't possible decades ago," said Lewenza.

"Today there are those who are agitating to get rid of unions altogether.  By eliminating the economic base of unions, challenging our right to bargain and challenging our right to exist.

Without unions, there is no middle class.  And without a healthy middle class, the future of higher education is threatened."

He said that the issue of youth unemployment worries him greatly.  "It is an enormous waste of the energy, the potential, the talent, and the training of young people like those graduating today," said Lewenza. "We cannot throw these hard-working graduates, and thousands more like them across Canada, onto the mercy of a stagnant labour market."

Lewenza called on policy makers, provincially and federally to finally start taking the problem of youth unemployment seriously.

About Ken Lewenza:

Ken Lewenza was elected as the National President of the CAW in September 2008 and has been a member of CAW Local 444 since he started work at Chrysler Canada in 1972.

Lewenza was elected in 1978 to the position of steward in the chassis division at Chrysler and was subsequently elected to the positions of committee person, chairperson and Vice-President before assuming the role of President of CAW Local 444 in 1994.

Lewenza had been lauded for his efforts to lead the union at a time of global economic crisis and a fundamental shift in the Canadian economy. He is noted as a rank-and-file leader who believes the union's success is based on an engaged and active membership. 

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