CAW Launches Manufacturing Matters Phase Two
St. Catharines, Ontario
April 19, 2008
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The fight to save manufacturing jobs in Canada has entered a new phase as the CAW rallies its leadership across the country. Phase two of the Manufacturing Matters campaign will focus on the need for local municipalities to pass Buy Canadian and Buy Local policies.
Speaking to the leadership in St. Catharines, Ontario, Carol Phillips, assistant to CAW president Buzz Hargrove outlined the two-prong attack of the campaign.
Assistant to CAW President
"We want to start to build a system whereby we can acknowledge every single major lay-off in all of our communities, unionized or non-unionized. We need to start drawing attention so that they don't go quietly and so that the government can't just put out statistics that roll them all in together and make them anonymous.
And we also need to win a Made in Canada - local purchasing policy."
With the Niagara region's manufacturing sector devastated by plant closings and lay-offs, CAW Local 523 president, Rick Alakas, who is also a municipal councillor said the loss of manufacturing jobs means higher taxes for those least able to pay.
Pres. CAW Local 523
"It is a terrible thing to go to a council meeting and sit down and talk about budgets when you have half of your community unemployed or working in low income, low wage jobs. We've got retirees in the community of Welland who are paying taxes who can't afford to pay anymore as a result of the manufacturing job loss and the manufacturing base disappearing. The shift is to their tax bill where in the past it would have been picked up by the industries that were in town."
The youth in the area are seeing the doors to the future closing on them. Dane Grey, a Brock University teaching assistant says his parents, working at General Motors, enabled him to get an education.
TA Brock University
"I fear that I am one of the last people who is ever going to be able to go to university debt free because my parent could afford to pay for me to go because they have good jobs with a union. And we are losing that in Niagara."
Barbara Abrams, CAW Local 199 retiree is worried for the future generations.
CAW Retirees Local 199
"I have been retired now for fourteen years. I'm telling you, I am scared to death for my grandchildren and my son. My son works at Thompson Products and he is laid off back and forth all the time. But I don't know what is going to be left for my grand children. I just want you to know that the Manufacturing Crisis Committee can count on the retirees for their support in any thing that they do."
Across Canada the CAW is holding leadership meetings and work shops that will prepare the leadership with the tools to rally not only their membership but also affiliated unions and community groups. Building coalitions to pressure local municipalities to a Made In Canada-local purchasing policy can result in hundreds of millions of dollars in local and Canadian purchases by municipalities, purchases which will mean jobs for Canadians.
CAW "Fighting Back Makes a Difference."