CAW Wins Severance Pay From Big Three for Ledco Workers
August 8, 2008
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In the harsh bitter cold of January 2008, the 66 workers at the Ledco plant in Kitchener, Ontario, members of CAW local 1524, refused to go quietly after their employer announced the facility would close. For three days they occupied their plant after the owner tried to throw them onto the street with no severance pay. CAW members across the region and local CAW affiliates rallied to the workers side and fought back.
August 8, 2008
Seven months later on August 8, Jerry Dias, assistant to CAW National President Buzz Hargrove, delivered cheques for each worker.
Assistant to CAW President
"What we negotiated made sure that workers with under five years get credited, get the $1,200 per year of service. And for those workers who worked over 26 years you will also receive $1,200 time years of service. So if you were there for 40 years you're getting 40. If you were there for three you're getting three. So the bottom line is, we didn't stick with the guidelines; we stuck and we put in place what people ought to be receiving in severance."
The money came from GM, Chrysler and Ford as part of the CAW's demands during Big 3 bargaining this spring. Peter Kennedy, assistant to CAW Secretary-treasurer Jim O'Neil, said the union has done the federal government's job.
Assistant to CAW Secretary-Treasurer
"It is a kind of bittersweet moment. It's sweet because we were able to do what we were able to do. Again because of your solidarity and the solidarity of the master bargaining committees and the membership at the Big 3. But it is also bitter because we shouldn't have to do this. As Jerry pointed out, this is the responsibility of the federal government."
Ken Lewenza, chair of the Chrysler Council, who along with Mike Vince, Ford Chair and Chris Buckley, GM chair, led the fight for the Big 3 paying the severance of one of its bankrupt suppliers, said the blame for the manufacturing job losses in Canada lies with the federal government.
CAW Local 444 President
"It's not about our wages and benefits folks. It's not about the productivity in that workplace. Its not about the efficiency, the quality that was driven out of that workplace, it's not about the creativity in terms of how you perform your job each and every day. Its about unfair trade policies that are absolutely killing the manufacturing sector in Canada.
...Every time I turn around the federal government says to us we don't have any control over globalization." Well let me tell the people in this room, globalization can be controlled through legislation. Globalization can be controlled through protecting the interests of Canadian workers in the Canadian economy."
The doors at Ledco are closed, another victim of unfair trade. For the workers getting their severance pay, it is a bitter sweet victory.
Ledco worker 19 years
"We wouldn't have got here if it wasn't for our union fighting together for us and I love them for it."
Ledco worker 40 years
"I wasn't really expecting this to happen. Like the union could have ignored us and left us out in the cold. And how they got the money, it is hard to believe that they negotiated with the "Big 3" and came up with this severance package."
CAW "Fighting Back Makes a Difference."