Auto and Postal Workers Union Leaders Make Joint Call for Canadian-made Postal Vehicles

May 8, 2009, 2:19 PM EST

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CAW President Ken Lewenza and CUPW President Denis Lemelin, along with CAW Local 444 President Rick Laporte and CUPW Windsor Local President John Vigneaux, made a joint call to Canada Post Corporation to ensure the expected 4500-5500 new light vehicles purchased in the coming years as part of the crown corporation's motorized fleet renewal and expansion program are made in Canada, by union workers.

Both union leaders said all publicly-funded government agencies and crown corporations should have a clearly defined Buy Canadian policy for the purchases they make, in an effort to maximize the economic benefit to Canadians citizens. The pair said it's time the federal government stepped up to preserve and create jobs that are supported through strong social programs instead of destroying jobs through ever-freer international trade agreements.

Lewenza and Lemelin issued the joint statement at a press conference held earlier today at the CAW Local 200/444 union hall in Windsor, Ontario, a community devastated by tens of thousands of manufacturing job losses in recent years, in large part due to the struggling domestic auto assembly and auto parts sectors.

The joint statement between the two unions comes two months before the Chrysler Minivan Plant in Windsor is scheduled to eliminate its third shift of production, a move that will result in thousands of job cuts for workers at the plant directly and in supplier facilities throughout the region.

A full text of the joint statement is available below.

CAW/CUPW Joint Statement:
Canada Post Must Buy-Canadian
(May 8, 2009)

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) and the Canadian Auto Workers union (CAW) believe Canada Post - a well recognized, crown corporation - has a responsibility to purchase Canadian-made products when spending public funds. 

The plan to purchase between 4500 and 5500 new light vehicles in the coming years, as part of the plan to further motorize letter carrier operations, provides the perfect opportunity for Canada Post to show leadership during a time of economic crisis by ensuring these vehicles are made in Canada. 
Hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs have been eliminated in past years, including tens of thousands in Canada's auto industry. These jobs provided well-paid, stable employment for Canadians and helped build economically vibrant communities throughout the country.

The loss of good-paying manufacturing jobs has had a ripple effect on other sectors of the economy as well, particularly in the public sector. Fewer jobs means fewer tax dollars, and that puts increased pressure on the quality of services workers provide.

Any opportunity to ensure tax dollars are circulated back into the Canadian economy must be taken. This is a critical step in the promotion of meaningful and sustained economic development.

The Chrysler Town & Country minivan is one of the vehicles Canada Post Corporation is testing to fill the order of light vehicles. This high quality and award-winning vehicle is proudly assembled by CAW members in Windsor, Ontario. The Chrysler minivan assembly plant is experiencing a slowdown on production levels due to the softening of the auto market, putting hundreds of jobs at risk.

Most countries mandate government agencies and publicly-run corporations to purchase goods and services from domestic suppliers. Domestic purchasing decisions are smart economic policies used internationally, and fully acceptable under the terms and conditions of major trade agreements, including the NAFTA and WTO.

By committing to purchase a Canadian-made vehicle, Canada Post Corporation will ensure that the public dollars used to purchase the vehicles will be circulated back into the Canadian economy. Committing to buy Canadian-made vehicles also recognizes the importance of spending public funds in a way that maximizes the economic benefit to all Canadians.

Government, as well as government agencies and crown corporations, must act responsibly and do all that is necessary and in their power to protect working families and communities in these difficult times.

We are encouraging Canada Post Corporation to not squander this historic opportunity to protect the jobs of Canadian workers and the livelihoods of their families by re-investing in our communities.

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