Thousands March in St. Thomas, Demanding Response on Manufacturing Job Loss
September 28, 2008, 10:00 AM EST
Nearly 2,000 people took to the streets of St. Thomas on Sunday, September 28, including CAW President Ken Lewenza, in a rally about manufacturing job loss.
The march snaked through the streets of St. Thomas and ended with speeches by Lewenza, CAW Local 1520 President Dennis McGee (Ford St. Thomas Assembly Plant), St. Thomas and London Labour Council Presidents Dave Kerr and Patti Dalton, as well as CAW Local 222 President Chris Buckley (Oshawa, Ontario), Canadian Labour Congress Secretary-Treasurer Hassan Yussuf, and St. Thomas City Councillor Tom Johnson.
Amid a sea of red-shirts bearing the Made in Canada Matters logo, Lewenza delivered a fiery speech warning demonstrators that a Conservative majority in Parliament would have dire consequences not only for manufacturing workers but for progressive movements in Canada and encouraged them to vote strategically to stop Stephen Harper's election.
"In the spirit of cooperation and solidarity we must work together to ensure that Stephen Harper receives a clear message on October 14 that Canadians do not accept his right-wing political agenda," Lewenza said.
The St. Thomas rally is part of a larger CAW Made in Canada Matters campaign, which began a year and a half ago to bring public attention to the massive loss of family-supporting manufacturing jobs across the country and the resulting hollowing out of once vibrant communities.
CAW Local Presidents Dennis McGee, Tim Carrie (Local 27), Fred Sinclair (Local 2168) and Dave Elliot (Local 1001) spoke of the hardship that job loss has brought to the communities of St. Thomas and London.
"We've witnessed over 1,500 layoffs at the Ford St. Thomas Assembly and Sterling Truck plants as well as countless others in recent years, which have simply paralyzed our members and their families," McGee said.
Speakers also noted the negative impact job losses at Therm-o-disc, Presstran, Formet as well as the closure of the Contran factory have had on workers and social service agencies like the United Way. Since 2002, the London, St. Thomas and surrounding regions have lost 10,000 manufacturing jobs.
The CAW campaign has also included 'Made in Canada' municipal resolutions where city councils have pledged to purchase goods with the highest amount of Canadian content possible -including a minimum of 50 per cent Canadian content for public transit vehicles.
For more information about the campaign, visit: http://www.caw.ca/en/3197.htm Photos of the St. Thomas rally are available at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cawmedia/sets/72157607575208905/