Local Union Leaders and Activists Celebrate CAW's First 25 Years

August 27, 2010

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Local Union Leaders and Activists Celebrate CAW's First 25 Years

Local Union Leaders and Activists Celebrate CAW's First 25 Years
dated August 27 & 28, 2010

Bowmanville, Ontario
May 18, 2010

Montreal, Quebec
August 27 & 28, 2010


Christine Connor
CAW Local 414 President

       "In November of 1999 over 23,000 members of Retail Wholesale Canada made the historic decision to join the CAW. Since that time we have never looked back. After decades of tension working within the confines of two international unions, retail wholesale workers finally found themselves in a truly progressive all-Canadian union, the CAW. A union that upholds the values of Canadians. A union rooted in the community. A union that didn't just talk about fighting back they actually did it. And did it better than anyone. At the bargaining table, in the work place employers knew that no threat was an empty threat. On picket lines we stood shoulder to shoulder with our sisters and brothers forming new bounds of solidarity, a true sense of community and lasting friendships."


Greg Burton
CAW Local 303 President

       "I remember my first experience with collective bargaining. As an immigrant I came to Canada to seek a better quality of life and here I am sitting down with my union negotiating with company CEOs and their lawyers on our proposal to improve the quality of life for workers and their families. I just could not believe the knowledge and the strength of our union and the confidence that that gives you. I haven't been a member of a different union. All I know is CAW. But what I do know is that it is a union that backs its word up with commitments, that passes policies and also acts on them, that puts structures in place that provide openings for people. As a worker of colour I can tell you how critical that is."


Charie Virga
Caesars Windsor Casino Unit Chair

       "I was working at the casino. It opened in 1994 and the CAW organized it within a year. Maybe it seems odd at first, having the auto workers organize a casino but in a CAW town like Windsor it wasn't odd at all. In fact there was something to be said about the importance of having a union family culture that extends right through the whole community. Because workers in one sector look over at workers in another sector and it makes sense. They realize it makes sense to have a union. It makes sense to talk to the boss with one strong voice instead of going to the boss one at a time begging for favours."


Cheryl Robinson
CAW Local 2002 Vice President Atlantic Region

       "As we celebrate this amazing milestone, our 25th anniversary, women in the CAW now make up 34% of our membership, up from 10% when we left the UAW. And these numbers continue to grow. One of our challenges as a union going forward will be how we respond to the changing face of our union. Looking back we have made important in-roads. In 1991 the union released a convention document "Solidarity and Diversity". This document challenged the union to engage in affirmative action and build leadership opportunities for women and other equity-seeking groups. As part of this initiative the union developed courses specifically designed to develop women leaders. These programs, developed by our union contributed to a strong base of activists fighting for change within our work places and more broadly in society. Over fourteen hundred CAW women have attended these programs."


Kellie Scanlan
CAW Local 414

       "Over the past 25 years the journey of our LGBT comrades has not been an easy one. While our values and principles may be followed by some, they have been ignored and knocked down by far too many. The courage and determination of our community to be "out" at work has been met with scorn, disgust and in some cases violence and harassment behavior. Lack of understanding had impaired our growth as a union and has hindered the growth of our LGBT activists. However change has come, sometimes slow and for many of us not fast enough. We must say that it is a far safer and far more encouraging environment today than it was 25 years ago. Our members come "out" because our union stands beside them and some times in front of them. Our members fear less. Our union condemns those who stand in our way. It is critical that our union stay at the forefront of the battle for equality. This is the only way that LGBT members will take their rightful place in our work places, in our union and the broader society."


Roland Kiehne
CAW Local 112 President

       "Since we formed the CAW, Local 112 members have continued to be in the forefront of many battles. When we formed our union in the mid 80s we were battling employers who wanted to replace wages with lump sum payments in aerospace. From the start, our union was formed by our resistance against employer demands, but perhaps more importantly, we were shaped by our fights to improve the conditions for our members. In a long list of important events in our early years, one stands out for me. Not long after we formed the CAW workers at DeHaviland, McDonnell-Douglas and Woodbridge Foam fought an historic battle over exposures like chemicals, like isocyanides. It was unprecedented. There were teach-ins and mass work refusals and our members kept it up for six weeks. In the end we were successful. Our workplaces were cleaned up. But on a broader scale it led to the enactment of the WHIMIS legislation that strengthened health and safety protection for all workers. Our union made history. When asked, CAW members are prepared to stand up. This is one of the things that makes us CAW. It is part of our culture. I admit it takes effort on our part, mobilizing takes a lot of discussion and debate, a lot of planning and preparation and an on-going commitment to keep our members engaged. Whether the issue is protecting manufacturing , lobbying for aerospace policy, winning "Buy Canadian" policies, supporting good jobs in our communities or stopping the sale of companies like MDA, or fighting racism, poverty and intolerance, our members support their union."


Len Harrison
Retired Workers' Advisory Executive President

       "And I can see without a doubt that this union is exceptional with its retired workers. Besides being one of the best unions in the world and fighting back. And we are fighting back. And when you are on the picket line we're on the picket line with you. When you are on a demonstration, we're there on the demonstration with you. We don't have to take lost time. We can go there. We can be there and we are there and we're always going to be there with you. Because this union, like the union that started before them never forgot its retired workers. Loves it retired workers. You can see it in what they do."

CAW Fighting Back Makes A Difference.

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