June 28, 2013
Volume 43, No. 25
CAW Auto Plants, Products Recognized in Quality Study
CAW members working in Canadian auto plants are turning out top quality products according to the renowned J.D. Power Initial Quality Study.
The 2013 quality study was released on June 20 and awarded the CAW-built Chevrolet Camaro, Chevrolet Impala and Chrysler Town & Country as the top quality vehicles in their respective segment categories, with the Chrysler 300, Chevrolet Equinox and Buick Regal recognized in the top three for their segments. The General Motors Oshawa Consolidated Line also received the Silver Plant Assembly Line Quality Award for North and South America.
"We are proud of our members and the quality of manufacturing happening here in Canada," said CAW President Ken Lewenza. "The results of this study support what we know to be true - that our members make high quality cars. We will continue to work to ensure that our plants and the cars we build are industry leaders in quality and performance."
The J.D. Power study is used by manufacturers to improve quality and by consumers to help them make more informed purchasing decisions.
"Throughout the years, initial quality has been shown to be a leading indicator of long-term durability," as stated in a J.D. Power media release.
Canadian-made vehicles produced by Toyota and Honda were also recognized in the awards.
"J.D. Power has confirmed that Canadian workers and Canadian plants enjoy a consistent advantage in the quality of our output," said Lewenza. "This is something that companies must remember when they complain about costs and the high Canadian dollar. Don't forget that quality is just as important."
CAW Members Join Protest Against University Layoffs
CAW Local 2107 members attend a June 7 rally against job cuts at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia.
CAW members in Nova Scotia participated in a June 7 protest at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish following the announcement of layoffs and the elimination of jobs at the school.
The university recently announced that 17 workers (clerical, technical, library and administrative personnel) would be laid off and that 35 more positions would be eliminated through early retirement and voluntary leaving programs.
Dozens of workers and supporters rallied at the university calling for the resignation of university president Sean Riley. The unions representing staff at the university also wrote a joint letter to the Administration and Board of Governors of the university.
"Your employees are not disposable. As a result of your decisions, local jobs will be lost, families will be uprooted, some will be forced to move away from this community to find other work. These layoffs will have a serious impact on Antigonish, the County, and northeastern Nova Scotia," the letter stated.
These layoffs and job losses are the most recent in a series of cuts to the workforce at the university.
"The elimination of these positions will only add to the burden our members are facing" said Angus MacGillivray, president of CAW local 2107. "The elimination of an additional 20 positions three years ago meant our members were already overburdened."
CAW local 2107 represents 110 cleaners, maintenance and skilled trades workers at the university.
CAW Supports 'Not Myself Today' Campaign
"Each day, 500,000 Canadians do not come to work because of mental health issues," said Sari Sairanen, CAW National Health & Safety and Environment Director. "Mental health is a workplace issue."
The CAW is a proud supporter of Partners for Mental Health, an organization dedicated to raising public awareness on mental health issues through their "Not Myself Today" campaign. The campaign's goal is to inspire change in organizations across the country to create mentally healthy workplaces.
The Not Myself Today campaign ran for four weeks, throughout the month of May, and drew support from 102 organizations (including the CAW and CEP).
The campaign culminated on June 6, dubbed the national Not Myself Day @ Work. The campaign placed an ad in the Globe & Mail and organizations held coffee mental health breaks, lunch-and-learns, speaker events, and many other celebrations. The CAW distributed campaign materials in various workplaces that were well-received by workplace leadership and members.
The CAW will continue to support efforts to create mentally healthy workplaces and raising awareness about mental health issues, Sairanen said.
For more information on the Not Myself Today campaign, and to read stories of Canadians dealing with mental health issues at work, visit: www.notmyselftoday.ca.
Atlantic Ferry Investment Secures Future Service and Jobs
A new federal investment of nearly $13 million in the Woods Islands, P.E.I. - Caribou, Nova Scotia ferry service not only secures the future for an important passenger transit route, it secures jobs for about 150 workers as well, said CAW Local 4508 President Bob Langille.
"This public investment helps ease the fears of both passengers and workers who have been worried that years of underfunding would result in a reduction in service levels," Langille said. "In light of those fears, this is certainly welcome news."
The announcement was made on June 21 at the ferry dock in Caribou, with the M.V. Holiday Island ferry as the backdrop. The new investment includes an engine replacement for the M.V. Holiday Island that extends the life of the 41-year old vessel, as well as the refurbishment of the P.E.I.-side breakwater and extensive dock repairs to both Woods Islands and Caribou terminals.
The Woods Islands-Caribou service is one of three service routes supported by the federal government in Eastern Canada (the others are Iles de la Madeleine, Quebec-Souris, P.E.I. and Saint John, New Brunswick-Digby, Nova Scotia).
Langille said he expects further announcements to be made by the end of summer, including an extension of the service agreement between Transport Canada and Northumberland Ferries.
"There is a huge economic upside to a well-funded and properly serviced ferry system in Atlantic Canada, and it's important we continue to protect and preserve this federal funding support," said Langille.
Peter MacKay, Member of Parliament for Central Nova and Gail Shea, Member of Parliament for Egmont, made the announcement on behalf of the federal government.
The CAW represents 150 members working on the Woods Islands-Caribou route. CAW Local 4508 represents terminal attendants as well as on-board ferry staff. CAW Local 4508-A represents skilled trades workers, including electricians and engineers.
Annual Workers' Memorial Day in Sudbury
On June 20, 1984 four miners lost their lives following a rockburst at Falconbridge Mine in Sudbury. Every year since that tragic workplace accident, Mine Mill Local 598/CAW has organized a memorial service to honour their memories and highlight the need for increased vigilance to encourage strong workplace health and safety rules and practices.
"More people have died at work than in war," said Richard Paquin, President of Local 598, as quoted in The Sudbury Star.
Paquin addressed about 150 people at the memorial service on June 20, recounting the tragic events that led to the deaths of local union members Sulo Korpela, Daniel Lavallee, Richard Chenier and Wayne St. Michael.
In his speech, Paquin also referenced the recent fire at a Bangladeshi garment factory that claimed the lives of more than 1000 workers as well as recent incidents at the Vale Stobie mine in Sudbury and at the Eagle River mine near White River, Ontario where three miners lost their lives.
"If anyone thinks that workplace health and safety issues are a thing of the past, they are sadly mistaken," Paquin said.
Jerry Dias, Assistant to the CAW National President, who also attended the memorial service, credited Local 598 for their ongoing work in promoting and enhancing safety rules at the Sudbury Xstrata Nickel mine. The Xstrata mine has not had a fatality in more than 12 years.
"Every worker deserves to return home safely at the end of their shift," Dias said. "If we put a strong emphasis on worker health and safety, we can avoid accidents and prevent casualties. Local 598 is a shining example of this."
CAW Supports Minden Hills Disaster Relief Effort
Members of the Town of Minden Hills Disaster Relief Committee hold up a cheque for $10,000 donated by the CAW, through the Social Justice Fund. The CAW made the donation in the wake of major flooding that began on April 19, resulting in significant infrastructure and property damage to the small Ontario community. Relief efforts are ongoing.
Navistar Appeals Pension RulingIn April of this year Navistar Corporation announced they would appeal the decision of the Superintendent of Pensions that favoured CAW members who are embroiled in a bitter pension dispute with the company. The first step in the Company's appeal to the Financial Services Tribunal was a pre-hearing conference meeting held on June 20, 2013 in Toronto.
"The purpose of this meeting was to set in place the tribunal process which is going to unfold over the coming months," said Lewis Gottheil, Director of the CAW Legal Department. "This panel will be responsible for hearing the evidence and submissions relating to Navistar's appeal."
The CAW and the Financial Services Commission of Ontario Legal Counsel will defend the contents of the Superintendent of Pensions decision, issued in March of this year. The key outstanding issues in dispute in the appeal before the Tribunal are: the scope of the group of workers who will be covered by the wind up report; whether certain affected workers may gain entitlement to the special early retirement benefit under the plan and when their entitlement will begin; and the amount of credited service that is granted upon a layoff or sick leave. The Superintendent had ruled in favour of the workers on all counts.
"All participants in the pension plan, including retirees and surviving spouses of the plan, must be notified of the specific dates of these hearings," Gottheil said. "Procedures are being put in place through the offices of FSCO to deal with the notification to plan members."
CAW President Ken Lewenza said he firmly believes the union has a solid case.
"It is shameful that this company continues to fight its former workers on this matter," Lewenza said. "Many of these workers have spent their entire lives producing the heavy trucks that Navistar sold to earn profits for its shareholders and executives, and they deserve better than this. We will continue to ensure our members are represented at the highest level."
Ongoing updates on the appeal process will be made available at www.caw.ca/navistar.
Older Immigrant Workers Falling Through Employment Gaps
Older immigrant workers who have been laid off are falling through the cracks of Canada's job market, with many of them ending up in temporary jobs with few benefits, finds a new study released on June 25 at Ryerson University's Centre for Labour Management Relations.
The study entitled An Immigrant All Over Again? Recession, Plant Closures and Older Racialized Immigrant Workers documented the experiences of older racialized workers who lost their jobs after Progressive Moulded Products (PMP), once the largest auto-parts manufacturer in the Greater Toronto Area, filed for bankruptcy protection and closed their operations in June 2008.
"We were interested in finding out how this group of workers has managed since the plant closure five years ago and whether they have found stable work again," says Winnie Ng, CAW-Sam Gindin Chair in Social Justice and Democracy.
"Nearly half of the research participants are now working in temporary jobs with poverty wages and no benefits. Our findings show that they are worse off than when they first came to Canada," says Ng.
"This is an important study that goes beyond the national employment numbers and takes a hard look at the struggles workers face in today's labour market," said CAW President Ken Lewenza. "The PMP workers have shown tremendous courage and resiliency over these past years to retrain and get back on their feet - like so many other displaced, older manufacturing workers in Canada. They're doing their part, but are still worse off."
The report includes a series of recommendations to be considered by governments to better support displaced immigrant workers and stem the tide of precarious work, including a call for a special Temporary Help Agency Unit to monitor employment practices of temp agencies, access to affordable, publicly-funded childcare and stronger protections for workers during employer bankruptcies, among others.
The non-unionized workers at PMP protested the closure and the denial of severance payments, receiving support in their struggle from the CAW. The union also worked with the Ministry of Colleges, Training and Universities to establish the PMP Action Centre, which provided re-training programs to help the workers transition into a different career.
For more information, and to download a copy of the report, visit: www.caw.ca/en/12186.htm.
CAW Group Insurance Travel Contest Winner
Congratulations to CAW Local 1285 member Tuan A. Nguyen who was the winner of the CAW Group Insurance program Travel Contest. Nguyen (middle) was presented a $5,000 Air Canada travel voucher by Bob Kerr (Breckles Insurance, left) and Leon Rideout (CAW Local 1285 President, right) at the Local 1285 union hall in Brampton, Ontario on June 25. For information on future contests, and how to apply, visit www.cawinsurance.com.
Alberta Flood Relief
CAW members across the country are eager to lend their support to ongoing disaster relief efforts taking place in Calgary, and surrounding areas. Flood waters have ravaged communities, and continue to pose a threat to the health and well-being of residents. Albertans need our help.
The CAW national office is having conversations with government officials, as well as local union leadership, to determine how best to coordinate the union's support efforts. Please stay tuned for information as it becomes available at www.caw.ca.
2013 Pride Events
The CAW is committed to representing all of our members and creating safer and fairer workplaces for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) union members. We're proud of the work we do to confront homophobia and transphobia in the workplace. The CAW wishes you a happy Pride season!
Below is a list of communities hosting pride events across the country. Find an event near you and celebrate with solidarity and pride!
Toronto -June 21-30
Gananoque - June 22-24
Sudbury -July 14-21
Peel -July 19-28
Port Stanley -July 19-21
Brockville -July 20
Muskoka -July 21 - 28
London -July 20-28
Simcoe -August 2-10
Windsor-Essex -August 8-11
Ottawa -August 16-25
Peterborough -September 21-27
Halifax - July 27
Fredericton - TBA
Winnipeg - June 2
Montreal - August 12 - 18
Quebec City - August 29 - Sept. 1
Saskatoon - June 8 - 15
Edmonton -June 8
Calgary -September 1
Victoria - July 7
Vancouver - August 4
With the arrival of Canada Day, just a reminder that Contact will be moving to it's summer schedule and will be published every two weeks. The next issue will be sent on July 12, 2013.
Contact Summer Schedule Begins