CAW Activists Join COPE's Fight Against Concessions

Hamilton, Ontario

March 3, 2007

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CAW Activists Join COPE's Fight Against Concessions

CAW members and labour activists gathered in front of the Canadian Brier venue in downtown Hamilton Saturday March 3rd to protest against the First Ontario Credit Union, a major sponsor of the Brier.

Despite the bitter cold, CAW members from as far away as Lindsay and St Catharines, including Carol Phillips, assistant to CAW national president Buzz Hargrove, stood with the members of COPE, the Canadian Office and Professional Employees, who have been on strike against First Ontario for five months.

Carol Phillips
Assist To CAW national president

"This fight by the sisters at COPE against the credit union is one of those classic fights where we have women up against a rich financial institution that is trying to claw back benefits, pensions, sick benefits, time off the job that they have accumulated over decades of collective bargaining. It's one of those strike that cries out for solidarity, and one of those strikes where we will be there until they get a victory."

That call did not go unheeded by CAW members including Mark Cowell of Local 112 in Lindsay, Wayne Gates and Bruce Allen of Local 199 in St. Catharines.

Mark Cowell
Local 112 Toronto

"We're all workers. It doesn't matter what union we are from. When a call for support goes out from working people, that's when we need to get together."

Wayne Gates
Pres CAW Local 199

"The CAW represents workers. We care about workers from coast to coast to coast."

Bruce Allen
CAW Local 199

"First Ontario is one of the few workplaces in the financial services sector that's unionized and if these women are defeated it will be a set back in that sector and it will kill any possibility of further organizing in that sector of the economy."

Leaders from various unions were on hand to lend their support. Hemi Mitic, assistant to CAW national president Hargrove said the CAW members will continue to support the COPE members on the picket line.

Hemi Mitic
Assistant to CAW national president

"They will be with you until we get a settlement sisters and brothers. We made a $10,000 donation recently and we will continue to make additional donations to help you through your struggle."

Liz Fong, vice president of COPE said the 69 women on strike will not give up.

Liz Fong
COPE Vice President

"I can tell you that this local will continue to walk this picket line because the mission statement of this organization talks about workers working together for the consistent first quality service to its members. And that's what we were providing."

Solidarity will win this strike and Carol Phillips urged all CAW members to step up and get involved.

Carol Phillips
Assist To CAW national president

"These sisters need to know that they are not alone. For those who can't make it to the picket line here, letters of support, faxes, messages of solidarity will mean so much to them. This is a huge institution they are up against. You know credit unions were built by workers to be alternatives to banks and clearly this credit union is betraying that heritage."
CAW "Fighting Back Makes a Difference."

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