May 25, 2012
Volume 42, No. 20
New Union Discussions by CEP/CAW Reach Milestone
The joint CEP/CAW Proposal Committee has reached an important milestone in creating a new national union, coming to a consensus on a possible structure for the organization featuring a strong regional presence.
The Proposal Committee was established by the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union and the Canadian Auto Workers union to develop a plan for a new national union, which would be the largest private sector union in Canada representing more than 300,000 members.
Following four days of meetings last week in Toronto the Proposal Committee, made up of eight representatives from each union, reached consensus on a plan that establishes a "robust regional presence" and outlines how the new union could be run.
"The Proposal Committee has brought forward a number of important ideas on the set up of the new union that would build union density across the country and establish new models for organizing," said CAW President Ken Lewenza.
CEP President Dave Coles said "one of the goals of the project is to develop new ways to organize those who haven't traditionally had a chance to belong to unions. We need to give them a voice," he said. "The new union initiative is a reaction to the Harper government's bullying of workers," added Coles.
The new union would have a critical mass in every region of the country, unlike both separate unions now. Local unions would take part in regional councils in B.C., the Prairies, the Atlantic and Ontario. Quebec would also have its own council.
The new union would have three elected national officers - President, Secretary-Treasurer and Quebec Director, in addition to three elected regional directors from Atlantic Canada, Ontario and Western Canada.
The Proposal Committee dedicated much time to discussing organizing new members and workplaces and developing new models to allow greater outreach to unorganized workers. This would include creating a new category of membership to allow unemployed workers, those in workplaces that are not yet certified, young workers and precarious or temporary workers, to also join the union.
Further Proposal Committee meetings are slated for late May and June. (A list of Proposal Committee members can be found here: http://www.newunionproject.ca/who/).
The final report and recommendations of the Proposal Committee will be submitted to the CAW Constitutional Convention in August, 2012 and the CEP Constitutional Convention in October, 2012. Only after the two conventions approve the plan for a
new union would steps go ahead to launch the new union.
For more information on the new union project please visit: http://www.newunionproject.ca/
More Cuts To Coast Guard Services Reduces Safety
The Canadian Coast Guard has announced that it will further reduce its safety services to mariners beginning in 2014 and 2015 by closing 10 marine communications and traffic services centres across Canada, the CAW says.
After reducing staff at most of these centres and closing two Marine Rescue Centres in St-John's and Quebec City, the Coast Guard is further reducing the safety network for mariners, said Martin Grégoire, CAW Local 2182 President, who represents the 350 marine communications and traffic services officers working at the 22 marine communications and traffic services centres across the country.
"It makes no sense to further reduce the safety services that are available to mariners," Grégoire said.
As of May 17, 184 marine communications and traffic services officers working at 10 marine communications and traffic services centres were informed that their center was closing, he said.
These centres are St-John's and St-Anthony, NL, St-John, N.B., Rivière au Renard and Montréal, QC, Thunder Bay, ON, Vancouver, Tofino and Comox, B.C. This is in addition to Inuvik, NWT closing at the end of 2012.
The new Coast Guard plan is to provide service from a distance. For example: Vancouver, which is the busiest port in the country, will now have their marine communications and traffic services provided from Victoria, B.C.
This approach may work well for air traffic control, however, with marine traffic, it is different, Grégoire said. Local knowledge is most important, knowing about currents, tides, local users and geography is critical when providing assistance to mariners and regulating marine traffic, said Grégoire.
"Prime Minister Stephen Harper's cost cutting agenda includes a total disregard for marine safety," said Grégoire. "We urge mariners to write to the Coast Guard Commissioner, to stop these closures before something serious happens."
CAW Expresses Disappointment with 'Action Plan' Aimed at Long-term Care Deregulation
CAW is expressing frustration with the Ontario Long-Term Care Task Force on Resident Care and Safety Report released May 16, 2012.
The task force developed an inadequate plan consisting largely of voluntary industry initiatives to address recurring scandals of abuse and neglect in publicly funded and regulated long-term care facilities, the CAW said.
"The report offers no real solutions, and, at best advocates for measures that should have been in place for decades." said CAW President Ken Lewenza.
The CAW had previously advised the Task Force by submission (available at http://www.caw.ca/en/11037.htm) that staff reported woefully inadequate staffing and crushing workloads that are clearly counter-productive in creating a caring environment.
The Task Force itself does acknowledge that "the top factors leading to abuse and neglect as reported in surveys and submissions include staffing issues, such as high staff workload, and resident attributes, such as dementia or mental health and addiction problems," and clearly acknowledges that inadequate staffing combined with residents needing more care can become a potent mixture. But the report also noted that only 32.5 per cent of critical incidents in the sector in 2011 were staff-on-resident; and only 4.5 per cent involved alleged abuse - the majority of incidents are clearly resident-on-resident interactions.
Inadequate staffing levels contribute to a systemic failure to protect residents from each other, Lewenza said. "While the CAW has consistently advocated for zero tolerance for abuse or neglect in these workplaces, we will never eliminate abuse if we only focus on vilifying workers as culprits and ignore the larger picture," said Lewenza. Senior advocates and unions have repeatedly recommended a minimum care staffing standard, rather than more workplace committees to examine the issue. Yet the Task Force recommends two further workplace committees; a Quality Committee of senior managers and an Employee-Management Group committee to consider quality of work/life issues in relation to preventing abuse and neglect.
"More discussion in the workplace will only consume more staff time away from resident care if the adequacy of existing staffing levels is not addressed," Lewenza continued. CAW also cautions Minister of Health and Long-Term Care Deb Matthews to not concede her responsibility for public policy to the long-term care industry associations.
Deb Tveit, Assistant to the CAW President, said "the industry has been dominate in the composition and consultations with this Task Force and advocated for a model of industry self-regulation; or deregulation that would weaken legislative requirements only recently adopted in response to a strong public outcry. "Resident care and safety is far too critical to continue to leave in the hands of the same operators that have been running these facilities for decades," Tveit said.
Take Action on a New Deal for Ontario Northland
A campaign bringing together unions, including the CAW, businesses such as Sun Media newspapers in northeastern Ontario, mayors, the chamber of commerce and other stakeholders calls on the provincial government to provide a "New Deal for Ontario Northland."
The campaign across Northern Ontario has come together since the March 23 announcement by the provincial Liberal government that it plans to sell Ontario Northland.
CAW Local 103 represents about 450 workers at Ontario Northland, a provincial crown corporation providing rail and bus transportation services mainly in northeastern Ontario as well as telecommunications services.
Brian Kelly, president of CAW Local 103, is also spokesperson for the Ontario Northland Chairpersons' Association, which is an umbrella group representing five unions at Ontario Northland. Kelly stressed it is important that anyone concerned about the future of Ontario Northland continue to speak out.
He said there are a whole series of issues affecting the north that the Liberal government of Dalton McGuinty is not responding to. Mayors across the north, for example, have been trying to meet with the Premier since the March 23 announcement, but he has refused to meet.
"The whole North is speaking with one voice and the Premier needs to pay attention not only to the Ontario Northland issue but also to the many other issues affecting the north," said Kelly.
Kelly urged those concerned about the future of Ontario Northland to visit the New Deal for Ontario Northland website at www.nd4on.ca and to send emails to the leaders of Ontario political parties urging them to not only maintain but further enhance the services provided by Ontario Northland.
YWCA Toronto Elm Centre Opens
The YWCA Toronto and greater community celebrated the grand opening of the Elm Centre on May 22. In attendance for the opening were hundreds of community leaders, elected officials from every level of government, media personalities, union members, philanthropists and others who had eagerly awaited the day to come.
The Elm Centre is the largest affordable housing unit to open in Canada in more than 10 years, said YWCA Toronto CEO Heather McGregor at the official opening. The touching opening ceremony featured testimonials from tenants about the importance of their new found home, congratulations by politicians and a song sung by the tenant community choir.
The innovative project was six years in the making and was made possible through municipal, provincial and federal funding, in addition to more than 1,200 individual and organizational donations. It has 300 individual units, for women and women-led households of aboriginal descent, low income women and those with mental health issues or with disabilities.
The buildings also house the YWCA Toronto offices. The three buildings are heated by geo-thermal and feature rooftop gardens with native and sustainable ground cover.
The CAW donated $100,000 in honour of Jack Layton's work on the White Ribbon Campaign to end violence against women. The Jack Layton lounge, sponsored by the CAW, is a warm space on the first level where tenants can meet and children can play.
The donation was made by a number of CAW local unions and the Social Justice Fund.
Shown here is SJF and International Director Annie Labaj, CAW President Ken Lewenza, NDP MP Olivia Chow and Assistant to CAW President Deb Tveit in the Jack Layton Lounge.
The centre is located downtown at 87 Elm Street. For more information on the Elm Centre, please visit: http://www.ywcatoronto.org/page.asp?l1=52&pid=76
CAW President Ken Lewenza has appointed Bruce Snow, President of CAW Local 100, to CAW staff as a service representative working out of the CAW's New Westminster office in British Columbia, effective June 3, 2012.
Working with the Environment Student Art Show and Silent Auction
Student artists with their artwork on display at Devonshire Mall Windsor, Ontario.
CAW Local 200 and 444 in Windsor, Ontario initiated the concept of the "Working with the Environment Art Show and Silent Auction" where high school students create art work using the themes of "working" or labour and "the environment" or a combination of both themes, illustrating how they can interact together, sometimes beneficially and sometimes detrimentally.
Together with the Greater Essex County District School Board, the Windsor Essex County District School Board, Partenariat Avenir Education (the French school board) and Devonshire Mall, they created an art exhibit where high school students have a high profile viewing area to showcase their talents (Devonshire Mall and the Essex County Public Libraries).
In addition they raise funds for an environmental organization (this year it was the Citizens Environment Alliance) as their art is "sponsored" or rented for a period of six months, at the same time, raising the issues of "working" and "the environment" in the local community.
The students created art works in one of four categories: fine art, mixed medium, photography or 3D sculpture.
Now that the Art Show and the Silent Auction is wrapped up, the art works are "on tour" throughout the county, some at local businesses or organizations and establishments which "sponsored the works." Others are making the rounds at the Essex County Public Library system. All of the art works will complete their "tour" on October 22, when they will make their way back to the student artists who
Check out http://www.myvirtualpaper.com/doc/Windsor-Life/windsor_life_special_edition/2012032001/#98 for a great article on this Environmental Art Show.
Also check out www.cawlocal200.org ; www.local444.caw.ca ; or www.devonshiremall.com to find out where and when these art works will be at a location near you.
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