August 23, 2013
Volume 43, No. 29
Farewell to CONTACT Final Edition
2000 to 2013
Quotes from Contributors
"CONTACT was not only our union news - a chronicle of actions from coast to coast to coast - it was the weekly labour news for so many diverse union and community activists for decades. It brought us together when distance kept us apart."
Jane Armstrong, CAW Communications Director,1994- 2004
"While preparing CONTACT for many years I found it a great way to find out what was going on in our Union in areas where I had no contact (no pun intended). "
Joan Wright, CAW Communications support staff, 2004-2010
"In the brief time I wrote for CONTACT I was constantly struck by the diversity of stories that would come in from across the country not only of the benefits that our locals and staff were fighting to gain and protect but also about the work our members were doing in their communities."
Katie Arnup, CAW Communications, 2013
"As a former shop steward, CONTACT was required reading. It gave me confidence when talking about the
union with members. And it offered insights into how CAW leadership and activists, in other sectors, took on the issues of the day in different ways. CONTACT is one of the simplest, but most potent, union publications I've come across."
Angelo DiCaro, CAW National Representative Communications, 2007-2013
"What I enjoyed the most about CONTACTwere the stories (and there were lots of them) about locals and members doing things for their communities. Rebuilding after disasters, raising money for charities, bringing stuffed bunnies to children's hospitals and the many members honoured by their communities for this important work. CONTACT was a way to show how CAW and its members pay it forward."
Anne Marie Vincent, CAW Communications support staff, 2010-2013
"Our newsletter CONTACT brought together voices and stories from right across the country. It served as a constant reminder of our diversity, but also our strength as a national organization. It was a way of emphasizing our connection to the union and to each other as trade union members. CONTACT was also a mirror for changing attitudes within the union - tackling issues like harassment, racism, LGBT rights, women's equality, income inequality and so many other concerns that shape our lives and that we can overcome together.
Look forward to lots of happy years writing for and reading our upcoming new bilingual, bi-weekly newsletter UNIforum. Stay tuned!"
Shannon Devine, CAW Communications Director, 2007-2013
Brinks Workers Ink Four-Year Deal
Brinks workers across Ontario have ratified a new four-year deal that includes wage and benefit increases, improvements to job posting rules and vacation entitlements, among other gains.
"I want to extend my congratulations to the CAW master bargaining committee at Brinks for negotiating a strong, forward-looking collective agreement," said CAW National President Ken Lewenza. "This is our second time negotiating for Brinks workers in Ontario and there's a clear sense we're gaining momentum and building on past successes."
Workers, in all job classifications, will receive an hourly wage increase of $1.50 over the life of the agreement, in addition to lump sum payments. The CAW also negotiated an extra week of vacation time for workers after 17 years of service, reimbursement to workers for driver's license upgrades, and mandatory employer-provided training when filling job postings, among a host of other improvements.
CAW National Representative Mike Armstrong said he is pleased with the outcome of the negotiations, despite this being a challenging set of talks.
"The employer came to the table with clear intentions to force concessions on our members, which made for some tense conversations," Armstrong said. "In the end, our committee held firm and bargained a deal that was fair."
The settlement was reached on July 26 after three months of negotiations and ratification votes were held in locations throughout Ontario from August 9 to 11. CAW members voted 61 per cent in favour of the new deal.
The new agreement at Brinks is the first major settlement for the CAW in the armoured car sector since the union launched its campaign titled Armed and Safe. The campaign calls on federal lawmakers to develop a comprehensive regulatory framework for the armoured car sector that enhances safety and prevents crime by establishing minimum standards in employee training, vehicle specifications, crew compliments and safety equipment requirements.
For more information visit: www.caw.ca/ArmedAndSafe
Union Angered with News of Impending Metro Layoffs
The CAW, which represents nearly 8,000 Metro supermarket workers across Ontario, says it is angered and frustrated with the recent company announcement that 15 Ontario stores will be either closed, or reorganized under the lower-wage discount banner Food Basics.
"I find it very concerning that this company would think it good practice to send out a blanket public warning to thousands of its employees that their jobs could be lost," said CAW National President Ken Lewenza. "Our members already work in some of the most insecure and unstable jobs in the country, and this sort of callousness just makes things worse."
News of the closings came on the heels of the company's latest quarterly report, released on August 14, with company CEO Eric La Fleche citing increased cost competition as the main factor - an argument, Lewenza said, that simply doesn't hold water.
"Metro has been one of the most consistently profitable retail outfits in the entire country over the past years, and have held those profits despite increased competition, including from Wal-Mart," Lewenza said.
CAW Local 414 President Christine Connor said the union will be watching closely as the company makes its decisions on which stores will close and which will be converted. She said retailers should not be allowed to abuse store banner conversions, especially when workers are laid off only to be rehired by the same company, to do the same job, at less money and with no seniority.
"Unlike manufacturers who threaten to ship jobs overseas for lower wages, retailers keep the stores here but simply switch banners and it amounts to the same thing: a driving down of wages and benefits," Connor said.
"Just because a worker is asked to wear a different coloured shirt and hat, doesn't mean they should have their wages and seniority cut. This is a terrible practice that's helped turn historically good retail jobs into more precarious jobs, and it has to stop."
CAW Local 414, the union's largest local, represents 14,000 service sector workers across the province of Ontario.
CAW Makes Big Strides in Landmark Retail Contract
Dominion supermarket workers in Newfoundland and Labrador have ratified a new three-year province-wide collective agreement that includes major wage and benefit gains for 1,400 CAW Local 597 members.
Over the three-year deal, hourly wages will increase by $1.35 for all store workers (45¢ per year), night shift premiums will jump by an additional 50¢ per hour and part-time workers will be eligible to receive group family benefits for the first time ever (with the employer covering 50 per cent of the cost), among other major gains.
The significant jump in wages was the largest ever made by Dominion store workers in the province, which helps raise the standard of living for some of the lowest-paid workers in the country, said Deb Tveit, Assistant to the CAW President.
"This set of negotiations wasn't about the union playing hardball with the employer. It was about raising the expectations of these workers, and raising their standard of living," Tveit said.
Members voted 76 per cent in favour of the new deal, following a series of meetings held throughout the province between August 1 and 11. The tentative deal was reached on July 31.
The agreement also includes language that ensures both full and senior part-time workers have access to at least two weekends off the job in a four-week period, a move that helps enhance work-life balance. In 2012, CAW members in Toronto-area supermarkets led a successful campaign that protected guaranteed time off the job for retail workers during statutory holidays.
CAW staff representative Wayne Butler said the union came into negotiations with a strong sense of unity among the members and set the bar very high.
"All of us were committed to winning long-overdue improvements to this agreement. There's still a lot of room for improvement, but we're clearing a path forward," Butler said.
CAW Local 597 President Carolyn Wrice credited the bargaining committee, that included representation from each of the 11 stores in the bargaining unit, for their perseverance and dedication to winning a fair deal.
"I'm proud of our union, our committee and our members and I'm proud of what we were able to accomplish in this deal," Wrice said. "I'm tired of watching retail workers winning the race to the bottom. We have to view collective bargaining as a means to raising the standards for all workers in this sector. I'm confident we can continue to make big strides."
The CAW represents more than 20,000 retail workers across Canada.
CAW at Caribbean Carnival
Dozens of CAW members took part in the Caribbean Carnival parade in downtown Toronto on August 3, honoring the thousands of citizens with Caribbean heritage.
Unifor Convention - Guest Speakers Announced!
Unifor's founding convention will mark the formation of Canada's newest union. The convention will also include an impressive list of special guest speakers, including renowned Canadian author and social activist Naomi Klein, notable pollster and political pundit Allan Gregg, actress and comedian Mary Walsh, along with a performance by pop-singer and songwriter Lorraine Segato.
The Unifor convention will also be addressed by Canadian Labour Congress President Ken Georgetti as well as General Secretary of the French Metalworkers Federation (CGT) Phillipe Martinez.
Be sure to watch all of the excitement unfold in real-time online through our livestreaming feed at: http://www.newunionconvention.ca/
To sign-up for convention updates, download the convention agenda and more, visit http://www.newunionconvention.ca/
See the poster below for guest speakers information.
Download this workplace poster at: www.newunionconvention.ca