CAW Launches Manufacturing Crisis Campaign

April 1, 2007

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CAW Launches Manufacturing Crisis Campaign

London April 1, 2007
Kitchener March 30, 2007
St. Catharines March 28, 2007

Across Canada, in community after community, the Canadian Auto Workers union is mobilizing its leadership to spearhead a campaign for a national debate on the manufacturing crisis in the country.

The union's national staff including David Robertson, Director of Training outlined the shocking figures on the job loss in manufacturing; a quarter of a million jobs gone in less than five years.
David Robertson
CAW Training Director

"One of the greatest problems we have right now is the unbalanced trade that we have in manufacturing. We've gone from a surplus of 12 billion dollars in manufacturing a decade ago to a deficit of 29 billion today."

Carol Phillips, assistant to CAW national president Buzz Hargrove told the leadership at meetings in St Catharines, Kitchener and London that the job losses are not just in the auto sector nor in just a few communities.

Carol Phillips
Assistant to CAW National President

"It is really important to continue to stress this point, that this is a national crisis. That no matter what the mainstream media chooses to report, no matter what the governments choose to report we know better as workers exactly what is happening in our communities."
Statistics show Canada is in economic good times. The job losses, the plant closings and the demolition of factories aren't like the economic downturn Canada experienced in 1991.

Carol Phillips
Assistant to CAW National President

"That was a recession. That was cyclical back then what we are now looking at is permanent job loss, is a fundamental shift in the economy of this country and we need to get that on the agenda. We need to have it recognized before it is too late."

The local leadership recognized the crisis and has embraced the challenge from the national union leadership.

Rick Alakas
Local 523

"When you take a drive through our town what you see is the after effects of job loss. You see empty hulking old buildings that once were the lifeblood of our community that's gone. There are brown fields that are contaminated that will cost millions and millions of dollars to clean it up."

Jim Woods
National Executive Board

"What about the social debt we are going to leave our kids if we allow the manufacturing sector to disappear?"

Ed Swarthout
Local 1451

"We need to educate people not in the manufacturing sector so that they understand and become our allies."

Steve Sachs
Local 1451

"The companies that we work for can be part of this and help us out here. We need to build coalitions in this campaign."

Malcolm Allen
Local 199

"We need to continue until this ends, until we get a fair trade policy that talks about us not corporations."

Tim Carrie
Pres. Local 27

"We need to go to the members and let the members have their say on this because it engages them and it is going to make it stronger and more successful as we move forward."

Hardest hit by the recent wave of job losses are women according to director of the CAW Women's department Julie White.

Julie White
CAW Women's Director

"Quite frankly the percentage is higher for women than it is for men and I think it is really important for us to keep that message there and reach out as we start to develop these forums, to reach out to women in our local and our workplaces to make sure they are a part of that."

In each community the story was the same, plant closings, lost jobs, declining local economy, an eroding tax base and increasing social costs. Directly and indirectly everyone is affected. Phillips stressed the need to reach out to the entire community.

Carol Phillips
Assistant to CAW National President

"I really, really encourage you to reach out to the community beyond where perhaps our normal allies have been, to the unorganized and bring them too into this forum."
The CAW has a responsibility to be in the vanguard of this fight to save the manufacturing sector in Canada according to Phillips.

Carol Phillips
Assistant to CAW National President

"It is not just our union that is doing this, but it needs to be our union that is leading this, and it needs to be our union that is joining with other unions so that we can raise our voices on this issue."
More than 2.1 million people in Canada work in manufacturing, down 250,000 over the last four and a half years.

Carol Phillips
Assistant to CAW National President

"The crisis is national, the crisis is not regional and the answer is to get national attention and to have a national debate on the form that this economy should take in the best interests of working people and their families."
The manufacturing Crisis Campaign is now underway as the leadership begins the process of organizing, strategizing and mobilizing their communities.

CAW "Fighting Back Makes a Difference."

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