CAW's VIA Rail Campaign Ends In Success
October 11, 2007
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October 11, 2007
The Canadian Auto Workers union has won its two year fight to save VIA Rail, the country's only national passenger rail service. Since 2001 there has been a steady decline in federal funding for the passenger rail system which carries over four million passengers a year. At Union Station in Toronto October 11, Federal Transportation Minister Lawrence Cannon announced major new funding for VIA Rail.
Hon. Lawrence Cannon
Federal Minister of Transportation
"I am announcing that we are investing $691.9 million over five years in VIA; $175.9 million for transitional operational costs and $526 million for capitol investment to position VIA for the future."
CAW National President Buzz Hargrove said the union's "Let's Fund VIA" campaign played a key role in getting the government to act.
CAW National President
"We argued the importance of VIA rail for the unity of the country. For working class people who don't have a lot of money, the only ways they get to travel this country and see its vastness and beauty is by rail. And VIA Rail provides an essential service."
Bob Chernecki, assistant to CAW National President Buzz Hargrove said the union's billboard and post card campaign helped mobilize public opinion.
Assistant to CAW National President
"We ended up getting over 50,000 cards from across the country here. The meeting with Minister Cannon and the president of our union I believe was a watershed here. He really did understand through our messaging and the cards he was getting that this was important to Canadians and his government had to react."
With a growing number of passengers and aging equipment, the money came just in time according to Danny Andru, CAW regional rep. for the National Council 4000.
CAW Region Rep. National Council 4000
"We're excited about it. This is what we wanted. We wanted the money for new trains and new structures. And basically we were living on duct tape and now we have that money and we will be able to do something with it. Something positive, maybe more routes down the line."
The CAW campaign also impacted the union's bargaining position with VIA, according to Bryon DeBaets, president of CAW Local 100
Pres. CAW Local 100
"Our efforts to try and help to get funding for VIA Rail while we were at the bargaining table was very crucial to us getting a good contract at VIA Rail."
The new funding ensures job stability for the 2,500 CAW members working at VIA Rail as well as spin off work for other CAW members.
CAW "Fighting Back Makes a Difference."