Auto Parts Workers Rally Support

October 20, 2010, 2:10 PM EST

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In preparation for the Auto Parts Worker Day of Action more than 200 auto parts local union leadership and activists came together on October 18 to strategize and prepare for a series of lunch hour events to be held in various locations during the October 27 Day of Action.

The London, Ontario meeting was an opportunity to highlight some of the key fights in the sector over the past few years and to solidify the union's position that auto parts workers will not tolerate the downward pressure and race to the bottom.

Assistant to the CAW National President Jerry Dias said that the auto industry has undergone massive restructuring, particularly in the auto parts sector and workers all too often have borne the brunt of it. "We will not be left behind during this restructuring," said Dias. "This day of action will be a clear message to our employers that we've had enough. The industry will see the collective strength of one -when we push, we push hard."

One after one, local presidents and auto parts workers got up to the microphone to speak about the need for action and what they had planned in their location. In auto parts plants across the province, workers will be going outside to participate in noon-hour rallies. Part of the effort also includes outreach to non-union workplaces, including Magna.

The big target for the day is Martinrea, a company whose net profits for the first six months of 2010 amounted to approximately $21 million. Martinrea recently closed operations in Windsor (Fabco CAW Local 195) and Kitchener (Kitchener Frame/ Budd CAW Local 1451) and is making its anti-union stance known at the bargaining table in a current set of negotiations with CAW Local 127.

CAW President Ken Lewenza said that workers are right to be outraged at the gross disparity between the earnings of auto parts companies and the incredible downward pressure these same companies are putting on workers wages and benefits.

"We're constantly troubled with how to get workers what they deserve and get some measure of equality for our members," said Lewenza. 

President of the CAW Independent Parts Supplier Council and Local 27 President Tim Carrie said that the day of action could involve as many as 20,000 workers across Ontario as workers take to the streets in frustration. "Enough is enough. We have compromised benefits and time off the job, but we will not touch core wages and pensions. We will fight if they go after that," Carrie told the London Free Press.

"This is about sending a message and educating our members that we have to be prepared for a fight down the road," he said.

"What is wrong with working for a company and buying a home, paying a mortgage, sending kids to university? This is good for our communities, for everyone," he said.

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