August 9, 2013
Volume 43, No. 28
New Leadership Team Proposed for Unifor
With the Unifor Founding Convention only weeks away, the CAW and CEP have created a Unity Team that is being proposed to lead the new Canadian union.
CAW President Ken Lewenza announced on August 8 that he will not be seeking the nomination for president at a press conference in Toronto. Lewenza will be staying on as CAW National President until the Unifor Founding Convention. In a heartfelt address, Lewenza said that achieving the goals and ambitions of Unifor is a long-term effort and requires a new generation of leadership to carry it through.
He spoke candidly about how, through his membership and involvement in the union, he was able improve his standard of living and that of his family.
"I went from earning a minimum wage to a middle class wage when I got a job at Chrysler," said Lewenza. "For my family, that meant we could consider buying our own house, buying a car, having independence. For too many families then, and now, that's still only a dream. And that's unfair."
Similarly, CEP President Dave Coles will also be retiring with the formation of Unifor, but staying on as CEP National President until then.
"I have full confidence in the 'dream team' of leadership candidates being put forward to lead Unifor, and revitalize the Canadian labour movement," said Coles.
Both leaders endorsed CAW Assistant to the President Jerry Dias as the nominee for President of Unifor. Dias is joined by a team of 24 other trade unionists, all of whom will be nominated to fill each of the 25 positions on the new union's National Executive Board. This includes the three top officers of the union: President, Secretary-Treasurer, and the Quebec Director. This is the only time that the complete National Executive Board will be presented at a Unifor Convention as a slate.
"CAW Secretary-Treasurer Peter Kennedy, who co-chaired the New Union Project and has served as CAW National Secretary-Treasurer since 2009, has our continuing and unwavering support," Lewenza said. Kennedy will be the Unity Team's candidate for the position of Unifor Secretary-Treasurer.
Michel Ouimet, current CEP Executive Vice President for Quebec, is the Unity Team's nominee for Quebec Director of Unifor. CAW Quebec Director Sylvain Martin will continue on as Michel's assistant. CEP Secretary-Treasurer Gaétan Ménard will assume the role of an additional senior position called Transition Officer, who will oversee the transition and integration of two unions into Unifor.
Also nominated as part of the Unity Team is CAW Health Care Director Katha Fortier, in the role of Ontario Director, Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour President Lana Payne as Atlantic Director, and CEP National Representative Scott Doherty as Western Director.
For further details on the Unity Team click here.
CAW Applauds Call by Canadian Premiers for National Inquiry
The CAW is lauding the announcement by Canadian Premiers to support the call for a national inquiry by the Native Women's Association of Canada into the cases of missing and murdered aboriginal women. The Premiers made the announcement just ahead of the Council of the Federation meeting, held on July 25 to 27.
CAW Director of Women's Programs Julie White said that the public endorsement of a national inquiry is a positive step in addressing the estimated thousands of cases of missing aboriginal women across Canada.
"Violence is an issue that crosses all jurisdictional boundaries and governments at all levels have repeatedly failed aboriginal women and their families on this issue," said White. "While stating support for the national inquiry is incredibly important, Premiers must be committed to ensuring that it becomes a reality. The provinces also share in the responsibility to address the violence, systemic indifference and violence of poverty that aboriginal women and their families confront."
White said it is critical that in the days and months ahead Prime Minister Stephen Harper is not only listening, but prepared to act on this urgent matter.
Click here to read the CAW's December 6 statement on missing and murdered aboriginal women.
Local 2027 and Hiram Walker Ratify New Contract
Members of CAW local 2027 working at the Hiram Walker & Sons Ltd facility in Windsor, Ontario have ratified a new three-year collective agreement with the employer.
"After a tough round of bargaining, I am happy we have bargained a fair agreement with the company that provides needed improvements for our members," said Steve Taylor, President of CAW local 2027 in a statement.
The new contract includes lump sum payments totaling $4,450 for production workers and $5,200 for trades over the life of the contract as well as a signing bonus of $1,250 and improvements to vacation scheduling and health benefits, among other gains.
CAW local 2027 represents 110 production workers and 25 skilled trades at the plant.
Members voted 75 per cent in favour of the new agreement.
New Deal for Workers at Sunnyside Home
CAW members working at Sunnyside Home in Waterloo, Ontario have reached a new collective agreement with the Region of Waterloo. The agreement covers 365 workers at the long term care facility.
The three-year agreement includes a four per cent wage increase, as well as significant improvements to scheduling.
CAW Local 1106 President Bill McLachlan said the new scheduling language helps address the chronic understaffing experienced in many health care and long term care units, often referred to as "working short."
"The new scheduling language will allow for a faster turnaround with respect to calling in replacement staff in shortage situations," McLachlan said. "We've also introduced a new mechanism that allows our members to formally report workload and understaffing issues directly with management, and allows our union to track these issues over time."
Changes were also made in the contract to paid holiday language, overtime scheduling, posting job vacancies and scheduling availability for part-time staff.
CAW Local 1106 represents Registered Practical Nurses, Personal Support Workers, environment support workers, housekeepers, maintenance workers, and office and clerical workers at Sunnyside.
The agreement was ratified by the membership on Tuesday, July 9 with 89 per cent approval.
Unifor Founding Convention
This Labour Day weekend, thousands of elected CAW and CEP delegates, along with staff and special guests will descend on Toronto to take part in the founding convention of Unifor, Canada's newest union.
With over 300,000 members in workplaces across the country, Unifor will be a force championing the rights of all working people.
Can't attend in person? You can watch history unfold online! Unifor's founding convention will be livestreamed at www.newunionconvention.ca.
You'll be able to hear from guest speakers like best-selling author and activist Naomi Klein, Canadian actress and comedian Mary Walsh and many others.
Be sure to sign up for regular convention updates and check www.newunionconvention.ca for the conference schedule, videos, news stories, and other resources to get you ready for the launch.
For more information, visit the Unifest facebook page and follow us at @UniforTheUnion and #unifest on Twitter.