As the President of Local 444, I am proud to lead the most progressive organization on behalf of our members and to be able to fight on their behalf regarding issues of Social Justice, issues that go beyond the borders of our workplaces and have very specific effects on the strength of our labour movement and our solidarity. Our union was primarily formed because we could not depend on employers to provide us dignity, a measure of security or a rising standard of living. In years past, we have made impressive gains, but our objectives remain far from fulfilled, today workers are under constant attack. Social justice for the working class is challenged daily and we need to stand together in solidarity, for what we collectively believe in, illustrating that unions today are just as relevant as they have ever been, if not more so.
When a Conservative Majority Government can enact back to work legislation and have it passed within a few days, taking the negotiated rights away from the working class, it is wrong. Harper wields authority and power more recklessly than any predecessor in the last three decades. His arrogance and compassion for the filthy rich is pathetic. Just imagine allowing China to buy Nexen - one of Canada’s largest energy companies. Nexen controls strategic oil assets all over the world, including a large portion of Alberta’s oil sands. Now its new owner, China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC) is in charge. Why is Canada just giving China what they want? Not even putting foreign investment rules to this deal makes it even more difficult to understand. Harper once again has no strategy, other than to destroy our middle class, making us more vulnerable, while pushing to build massive pipelines to facilitate moving Bitumen, a cheap, unrefined product that we currently sell to countries like China. Instead of building refineries here in our great country, we have handed our competition the keys and materials to build their own refineries, helping them create the high tech jobs that go with it. This is an industry that Canada should expand; however, this undemocratic conservative majority has established us as a nation who gives away our natural resources at the cost of us ever becoming the energy superpower that was once promised by Ottawa. Instead of securing good jobs for the families here in Canada, Harper chooses to do business with China, a partner that has a terrible reputation in regard to issues such as human rights, a closed economy, the environment and unfair labour practices. What this proves is that “our leaders” – conservatives, don’t think much of these important issues either. Our collective bargaining strength is based not only on our internal organization and mobilization, but on our ability to influence, lead and participate in the general surroundings, to help shape laws, policies, the economy and social attitudes.
As the working class, our lives extend beyond collective bargaining and the workplace. We must concern ourselves with issues like selling off our natural resources, taxation, education, health care, the environment as well as the economic and social well being of each member of our community who needs to work to provide their families with the support and dignity required to be able to live life with respect. It means more than simply rooting ourselves in our respective workplaces; it is affirming the collective importance of participating in and continuing to influence the general direction of society.
As an independent local within the CAW, we have challenges that we are working through, which is why we fight so hard on the social front, to enhance and in some cases maintain, important sectors of our economy. This is why we question and challenge current members of government. Free Trade agreements like the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Act (FIPPA) will devastate the Auto Industry. By now, we must recognize that the North American Free Trade Agreement did not provide us with more jobs, more secure lifestyles, better education or a better health care system that we were promised. Unfairly, it is the exact opposite we see as a result, higher unemployment rates continue to decimate our communities, with new jobs being precarious at best. Free Trade Agreements like CETA and FIPPA will only allow corporations to move capital more freely, helping to keep an uncertainty for all working people. We must recognize the importance of all of us collectively speaking out on this issue.
We need to actively participate in supporting all working class people, both active and retired, and increase our efforts to enhance Canada Pension Plan, as proposed by the Canada Labour Congress, “Retirement Security for all” campaign. More details are available at www.canadianlabour.ca.
Bill C-290 is a bill that amends the criminal code to allow single game sports betting. Amending the Criminal Code to benefit workers, corporations, and the community shouldn’t be a difficult task. This is an important piece of legislation that will have economic benefits in communities across Canada. As we see the public debate unfold, it becomes quite evident how beneficial this bill is to Canadians. New revenues will be generated that can be used for creating social programs. Good Paying jobs will be created; there will be increased stimulus to economic activities and there will be a reduction in revenue generated by organized crime from illegal gaming sector. The potential benefits of Bill C-290, in my view, are clear and pronounced. As the President of CAW Local 444 I can speak to the importance of this issue and I am proud to represent 2700 workers in the gaming sector. Our workers provide an excellent service to the customers at Caesars Windsor. The skills our employees bring to the workplace are second to none and the impact these good jobs have in our community is significant. A positive vote on C-290 would not only generate new jobs at Caesars, but it would also expand to offsite services such as restaurants, hotels and retail services, not to mention the spin off jobs created by additional spending by both workers and businesses. Single games sports betting will enhance Casino revenues, significantly impacting local economic development components of employment, income, capital investment and an increase in real property values, which are areas that we could all appreciate help with improving. Please contact your local MP and express the importance of this piece of legislation and the need to protect and create good paying jobs across the country, in an industry that is critically important to the general well being of Windsor and Essex County.
Although we have had some challenging times in 2012 we have come through another year together. I would suggest we need to continue to fight for both the progressive rights of the working class and within each of our workplaces as we move into 2013. I look forward to working with each of you to maintain and improve our position and goals. I hope all of you have a wonderful, fun filled holiday season.
PresidentCAW Local 444
To All CAW Local 444 Active and Retired Chrysler Members:
RE: ONTARIO TEMPORARY SOLVENCY FUNDING RELIEF
FOR DEFERRED BENEFIT PENSION PLANS