CAW President Ken Lewenza Calls for Increase to EI

November 27, 2008, 12:04 PM EST

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CAW President Ken Lewenza called on the federal government to increase EI benefits to unemployed workers during a recent meeting of all local CAW leadership in the major auto, auto parts and heavy truck sectors of the union in the London area. 

Lewenza said government must take immediate action to increase the EI benefit rates and length of terms in order to prevent an even further downward spiral -a real threat with the recession.

The November 26 meeting was convened to provide an overview of the economic crisis and what it means to workers in the auto industry, as well as addressing workers' concerns on pensions. Similar meetings also took place in Windsor and Toronto on November 27 and 28.

Lewenza also said that workers are not to blame for the current crisis that has shaken the auto industry. "This is a knee jerk reaction to blame the union when the industry is struggling," said Lewenza, noting no similar blame was directed at bankers at the time of the Wall Street bailout.

"The union has shown time and time again that it's flexible and willing to take creative approaches when finding solutions," said Lewenza. "We welcome the opportunity to join with other industry players in rebuilding the auto industry."

He noted though that with a crumbling global market and disappearing North American sales, slashing workers' wages and benefits will do nothing to solve the industry's problems.

He also indicated the union will continue meeting with the companies to ensure they become more viable and keep the Canadian operations open well into the future.

The meeting included a speech by Lewenza and presentations by CAW Economist Jim Stanford and Director of Pensions and Benefits Sym Gill and was attended by several local politicians and representatives of non-profit organizations.

Click here to view "Auto Industry Facts & Figures: 29 crucial things you need to know about the current auto crisis"

Click here to view "Auto Facts - Pension Update"

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