Month: November 2017

Support Local 222 Resolution Calling for Support for the ONDP

This is an open call for delegates to our Unifor Ontario Council to take a firm stand for workers’ rights and for our union principles. Over the course of this Council meeting our political direction will be debated, and our strategy for the coming provincial election will be laid out. You will hear passionate pleas about how we must stop Patrick Brown and his disgusting anti-worker party from dragging our great movement backwards, and this is absolutely true.

NDP members and activists are leading the campaign for Pharmacare. Oshawa public forum November 29.

We also must not lose sight of the fact that the provincial Liberals are just as ruthlessly anti-union as the Conservatives, and that we have only made gains under their majority government through massive grassroots and labour organizing. In Ontario, we have two anti-union parties; one is blue and the other is red. From the selloff of our cherished public assets like Hydro One, to the violation of our Constitution in legislating our sisters and brothers in OPSEU back to work a mere week ago, it’s abundantly clear that the Ontario Liberals are no friend of Labour, and will never be aligned with the principles and goals of Unifor.

It is for these reasons and many more that we flatly reject the failed strategy of “Anyone But Conservative” strategic voting, and urge you to do the same. We have many dedicated union activists from our ranks who are running for the NDP- union activists who have never betrayed our principles, and have fought tooth and nail for our rights for decades. Some of them have succeeded in winning seats, but others have been stripped of their chance to fight for us in the halls of power by the short-sighted practice of strategic voting.

Endorsing anti-worker Liberals is an absolute affront to everything we stand for as a union, and we must put an end to this in the 2018 provincial election by putting our full support behind the only mainstream party who has ever given a damn about our rights, and that’s the NDP.  We must resist the politics of fear currently being used to lead us astray, and stand up for what we believe in – a workers’ agenda that represents us and not the Bay Street bankers of the Liberal Party. Strategic voting is a failed strategy that puts cronies and crooks in power; let’s learn from our mistakes and stick to fighting for what Unifor believes in.

Lisa Gretzky, NDP MPP for Windsor West, speaks to media outside the Medical Laboratories during Unifor Strike.

A bit more – it is important to consider that at our Political Action Conference this year, organizer Pam Frache  from the Workers Action Centre, Ontario discussed the “Fight for 15 & Fairness” campaign, and how it has brought monumental change to Ontario communities. The Conference also touched on the important work our members did in British Columbia to elect John Horgan. Brother Gavin McGarrigle & Sister Patty Barrera talked about building capacity and leadership, and the combined power of strong inside and outside strategies. This is exactly what is required to defeat the Conservatives in Ontario.

We can make more progress by backing the party that is closest to our principles, that backs our issues. We should support a campaign to put more workers into Ontario’s Legislative assembly. Strategic voting confuses our members and voters, and misleads them about the true class interests of the Liberals.

We can’t trust Kathleen Wynne and Ontario’s Liberals after their record over the last four years.

Local 222 members for working class politics.

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Support Progressive Resolutions at Unifor Ontario Council

The CAW/Unifor leadership’s definition of “democracy” seems to be “listen, applaud, vote yes”. Most conventions and council meetings have seen very little debate over issues, or discussion about the best way forward. It is rare for local unions to submit resolutions, especially critical ones. The last auto contracts were the most unpopular ever – featuring drastically lower wages for newly-hired tier 2 workers, with a punishing 10+ year wait for equal pay, and inferior benefits and pensions. Yet there has been little open challenge of this direction at Unifor gatherings.

That is why it is very encouraging to see some challenging resolutions coming from a Unifor local union to the December 1-3 Unifor Ontario Regional Council meeting.

Unifor Local 222, representing GM of Canada workers in Oshawa, and 28 other bargaining units (including CEVA, Logistics in Motion, Durham Region Transit, Lear Seating, Armada Tools) has submitted 4 resolutions, all passed at the membership meeting November 2. A couple of these resolutions are a direct challenge to the Unifor leadership.

No support for anti-worker Liberals

One resolution calls on Unifor to support the NDP in the 2018 provincial elections. The resolution cites several instances of the Ontario Liberal government’s anti-worker actions, including moving to privatize Ontario Hydro, failing to deliver on funding for health care and hospitals, and a so-called “modernization” plan for the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation that puts thousands of pensions at risk (including the pensions of Unifor members) and is designed to gut union contracts in the gaming sector. The resolution was submitted before the Liberal government’s disgusting back-to-work legislation that attacked college teachers in the province.

Striking college teachers were fighting precarious work and demanding full-time jobs, which would improve the quality of education.

Many Unifor members have grown increasingly disgusted by the cozy relationship between Jerry Dias and the Liberal governments of Justin Trudeau and Kathleen Wynne. The pro-Liberal policies are usually disguised by an appeal to vote “ABC” (Anybody But Conservative). That pitch is getting more and more opposition, and the Local 222 resolution will be an opportunity for some REAL debate at the Ontario Council meeting about the need to support working-class politics and not the Bay Street Liberals.

Health Care Trust Corruption

The second important resolution calls on Jerry Dias to remove retired staffers as trustees of the Health Care Trust that provides health care benefits for retired GM and Fiat Chrysler workers. When the Trust was set up, half of the trustees were union staffers, and because they were employed by the union, they did not collect payments from the Trust funds. Over the years, all 5 union-appointed trustees retired but stayed on as trustees, and all began collecting very lucrative payments – over $27,000 a year as a retainer, and almost $800 per meeting (even if they ‘attended’ the meeting by phone for an hour). They have been collecting these payments even though they get very generous pensions from Unifor. These payments are being taken out of the funds that are supposed to be for retiree health care benefits, and are depleting the funds of our retirees, some of whom get less in pensions than these trustees are getting in fees.

Sym Gill retired as CAW Director of Pensions and Benefits in 2011. He has been collecting $30,000+ a year from the Health Care Trust ever since, on top of his union pension.

GM retirees have even seen their health care benefits cut by 20% and their co-pays increased by more than the inflation rate because there is not enough money in the fund. Local 222 wrote to Dias in December 2016, almost one year ago, asking him to take action on this. He ignored that request, and several others that were sent. A resolution was sent to the August Unifor Convention, and the leadership arranged for it to be buried. Retiree delegates were told at their conference in September that the issue had been addressed – but it turned out that was not true. How much more pressure will it take before Dias is forced to pull the snouts of some of his cronies out of the trough?

Please urge the delegates from your local union to support these resolutions at the Ontario Council meeting.