CAW Faces Incredible Challenges
Port Elgin, Ontario
March 28, 2008
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The over 800 delegates at the Canadian Auto Workers Council in Port Elgin, Ontario, March 28, 2008, were told by their president Buzz Hargrove that the union is facing incredible challenges in many sectors of the union particularly in the auto and auto parts sector, while making positive progress in other sectors such as aerospace.
"So it's a tough situation. I can't imagine or remember a more difficult challenge that we have faced in the union. But one thing we can't do brothers and sisters and that is, undermine the solidarity of our union for the future in our auto plants. Two-tier wages, two-tier retiree benefits, all of those things do nothing but undermine it. But we can, and we're committed to trying to lower the costs wherever we can in our plants. We want the most cost efficient and effective plants. We want the best productivity. We want the best quality but we don't kid ourselves with even all that that somehow that is going to save our jobs if we don't deal with the trade issue."
While outlining numerous lay offs and plant closings in the auto parts sector where thousands of jobs have been lost, Hargrove stressed that progress is being made even in that troubled sector, particularly at the TRW plant in Windsor.
"We put together a settlement that would knock your socks off. Imagine $11.25 an hour. First year, returning to work a $3.75 an hour wage increase. $3.75 an hour up-front, and dollar a year after that, to bring it to $5.75 over the life of a three year agreement. $11.25 to $17 an hour. An absolutely incredible accomplishment."
Hargrove said there were several successes in other low-wage auto parts plants.
"There are three other parts plants that followed and they had wages running from $12 an hour to $13.50 an hour. The companies were Oakley, HBPO, and Dakkota. They moved their people up to $17 an hour over three years."
Hargrove said among the many other victories this year was the Canada Matters Campaign, which convinced the province and the City of Toronto to endorse a 25% Canadian content in their procurement policies.
"We have to keep challenging and keep pushing. It shows we can make progress if we are working together.
We worked in coalition with the Metro Labour Council, with the Thunder Bay and District Labour Council. Ken Georgetti and the Canadian Labour Congress joined us at our demonstrations and now all of a sudden within a matter of a year and a half we have made major, major steps forward."
CAW "Fighting Back Makes a Difference."