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East Court Ford

November 1, 2011 to March 30, 2012

March 30, 2012
Volume 42, No. 12

Ontario Budget Fails to Live up to Election Promises, CAW says

CAW President Ken Lewenza is voicing concern about the plan by the government to privatize the Ontario Northland Rail (ONR) service, as indicated in the March 28 Ontario budget, in addition to other significant cuts to social programs.

"Selling off ONR will have a huge impact not only on the workers there, but on the economic development of the north," said Lewenza. "In the October election, the provincial government pledged to enhance ONR operations -selling it off will in no way accomplish this goal." The CAW represents approximately 450 workers at ONR.

Lewenza applauded the government's decision not to further lower the corporate tax rate, as earlier proposed but expressed major concerns over the announcement to freeze social assistance rates; a move that will only deepen poverty across the province and create greater economic uncertainty for Ontario's most vulnerable.

"Ontario's poor already face the harshest conditions, brought on by years of Conservative government attacks," Lewenza said. "Making poor Ontarians pay for the bad decisions made by rich investors and corporations is absurd and fundamentally unfair."

Lewenza also voiced his frustration with the plan by government to freeze public service wages and reduce pensions. "Mandating a wage freeze is an infringement upon free and fair collective bargaining.

"Governments should be looking to find ways to enhance retirement security for all workers," said Lewenza. "If retirement becomes impossible for a growing segment of the population, there will be even fewer job opportunities for young workers.

Navistar Demonstration at Truck Show: April 21 in Toronto

The CAW is planning a mass demonstration in support of Navistar truck employees from Chatham, Ontario who are seeking a fair and equitable closure agreement with the company.

Since the official notification that the Chatham truck plant was closing in July 2011 the union has been unable to convince the corporation to treat these CAW Local 35 and 127 members with respect and dignity, said CAW President Ken Lewenza.

"At one point in their history, this facility had over 2000 people," Lewenza said. "It is unconscionable that after many years, Navistar refuses to bargain a decent closure agreement. To date the issues revolve around pensions, severance pay and other matters," Lewenza states in a March 26 letter to southern Ontario CAW locals.

The demonstration will be held Saturday, April 21 at 12 noon at Truck World - Canada's National Truck Show, the International Centre, 6900 Airport Road in Toronto. The show is being sponsored by Navistar.

Federal NDP Leadership Convention

Current NDP MP and former assistant to the CAW national president Peggy Nash delivers her speech as part of the showcase of NDP candidates on March 23. Despite an energetic and enthusiastic campaign by Peggy, Thomas Mulcair won the NDP leadership race on the fourth ballot. Congratulations Peggy on an excellent and truly inspiring campaign!
(Photo by Joel Duff, OFL Communications Director.)

Free Trade with Japan Will Worsen Trade Deficit, CAW says

CAW President Ken Lewenza is raising serious objections to the new free trade discussions with Japan, charging that a free trade deal with Japan is unnecessary and would hurt the Canadian economy.

"Canada already has a $5 billion bilateral automotive trade deficit with Japan in 2011 alone," said Lewenza. "This occurred even though Japan doesn't have a tariff on auto imports. There will be no benefit to our auto industry or other important sectors of the economy like manufacturing and processed goods. Instead there will be a huge cost to key sectors when we eliminate the small tariff on goods coming into Canada."

Most of Japan's imports from Canada consist of raw or barely-processed resource products, while it sells back to Canada a portfolio of sophisticated value-added products, said Lewenza. "Canada also experiences a chronic deficit in its bilateral trade with Japan and a free trade agreement with Japan would only exacerbate both these problems."

"The federal government seems determined to sign as many trade deals as possible, regardless of the impact on the Canadian economy and Canadian jobs," said Lewenza. He listed new agreements with Colombia and Honduras and trade deal discussions with Thailand, Europe, India and Korea, as well as the Trans-Pacific Partnership as further proof.
"The Harper government is attempting to reinforce the stranglehold globalization has on our economy. This government has repeatedly failed to put Canadian jobs at the top of its priorities and must now do that in its discussions with Japan," said Lewenza.

Pay Equity Course: April 22 to 26

A new four-day Pay Equity training program will help participants and especially bargaining committee members better understand the obligations of the CAW under the Ontario Pay Equity Act.

The course will be held at the CAW's Family Education Centre in Port Elgin, Ontario from Sunday, April 22 to Thursday, April 26.

For more information please contact Jo-Anne Stephenson at 1-800-265-3735 ext. 3268 or email joannes@caw.ca


Federal budget 2012: Highlights

March 30, 2012

Savings: The Tories say they have found $5.2 billion in savings across all federal programs, representing 6.9 per cent of a total review base of $75.3 billion.

Spending: The government projects program expenses of $245.3 billion for 2012-13, an amount that rises to $276.1 billion when $30.8 billion of public debt charges are taken into account.

Public Sector: About 12,000 jobs are expected to be lost throughout the federal civil service, mainly from attrition and departmental cuts.

Pensions: The government confirmed that it indeed plans to raise the eligibility for Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement from age 65 to 67 starting in 2023.

Environment: New guidelines set firm time limits on environmental reviews of major projects, including oil pipelines.

Cross-border shopping: Canadians traveling to the United States will be see their tax-free allowances doubled to $200 and $400 after 24-hour and 48-hour absences, respectively.

Money: Say goodbye to the penny. The government says the Royal Canadian Mint will stop distributing the ubiquitous little coin as of Autumn 2012.

CBC: The nation's public broadcaster will see its funding reduced by $115 million over three years.

A new national park for the GTA: The Rouge Valley will become Canada's first near-urban national park.


Ford unveils

The mid-size sport utility vehicle will have a 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged, 350-horsepower V6 engine for better fuel economy. (Ford)

By Jaclyn Trop The Detroit News
March 29, 2012

Ford Motor Co. unveiled Wednesday a performance version of its Explorer, the 2013 Ford Explorer Sport.

The mid-size sport utility vehicle will have a 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged, 350-horsepower V6 engine for better fuel economy.

The engine can achieve 16 miles per gallon in city driving and 22 on the highway.

Ford, which has 15 percent market share in the U.S. utility vehicle segment, said consumers are demanding a fuel-efficient high-performance utility vehicle.

"It's really something that people were asking about," said Eric Peterson, Ford's marketing manager for utility vehicles.

The vehicle's fuel economy and design elements, such as its two-tone leather interior, will help the Sport compete against other segment leaders such as Chrysler's Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango.

The utility vehicle segment comprises 31 percent of U.S. auto sales. The mid-size category has grown 42 percent in the last two years.

The Ford Explorer Sport will be produced in Chicago and will be available in dealerships later this year.

It will be shown at the New York Auto Show next week.

The Explorer is the fastest-growing sport utility vehicle in the U.S., with sales rising 123 percent in 2011 to 135,000 units, the company said at the vehicle's unveiling in Dearborn.


Ontario budget: Get out that wallet — increased fees to hit drivers, seniors and homebuyers

Toronto Star
March 28, 2012

Ontario drivers, high-income seniors, homebuyers and businesses that create hazardous waste are just some of the groups being targeted with increased fees as the cash-strapped Liberal government attempts to rid the province of a $16-billion deficit by 2017-18.

The government is staying firm on its promise to raise licence plate renewal fees in southern Ontario to $82 this year, an increase of $8. That fee will rise to $98 by 2014 and is just part of a series of fee increases on drivers' licence renewals and heavy truck licences that the government says will bring in an extra $340 million annually by 2015.

The government says such fees will go towards investments in public transit, road safety, and highway maintenance and infrastructure.

Seniors with annual incomes of more than $100,000 will pay a larger share of their prescription drug costs starting in August 2014 as part of the government's efforts to improve the fairness of the Ontario Drug Benefit program. Under the new plan, high-income seniors will pay a deductible of $100 plus three per cent of income over $100,000. Senior couples with a combined income of over $160,000 will pay a deductible of $200 and three per cent of their combined income over $160,000.

"This change will affect only about five per cent of Ontario's seniors — those with the highest incomes," said Finance Minister Dwight Duncan in his budget speech. "And it will bring Ontario in line with other provinces that have an income test for drug benefits, so that the highest-income seniors pay a greater share of their drug costs."

Duncan told reporters earlier in the day that he believes the government should not be paying the full drug cost for people who are "really wealthy."

Starting in 2015, homebuyers can expect to pay between one and two per cent more in fees related to land registrations and writ services. In Toronto, typical closing costs on the purchase of a home are around $4,600. Land registration and writ fees currently represent about six per cent of these closing costs.

Also on the government's radar are companies that use large quantities of water in manufacturing by expanding the province's user-pay model. Currently, bottled water manufacturers, ready-mix concrete and fertilizer makers pay $3.71 for every million litres of water they use. The plan is to expand into other industries, such as petroleum, mining, food production and recreation. The Liberals say the new user-pay model will generate $3.5 million in 2013-14 and $6 million in 2014-15.

Businesses whose operations impact the environment will also have to pay more government approvals, a revision that will generate an additional $3.8 million in 2013-14.

Finally, tonnage fees for hazardous and liquid industrial waste will be raised to create more incentives to reduce or recycle, an initiative that is forecast to bring in $2.5 million in 2014-15.


Ford diesel to reduce
customer fleet costs

The new Ford Transit diesel will be an alternative to the Transit’s 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 engine. (Ford)

By Jaclyn Trop The Detroit News
March 28, 2012

A new diesel engine for Ford Motor Co.'s Transit van will help fleet customers cut costs by boosting fuel economy at least 25 percent compared with Ford's E-Series vans, the company said Tuesday.

The diesel will be an alternative to the Transit's 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 engine and will meet demand from fleet customers to combat rising fuel prices and trim budgets, according to Kevin Koswick, Ford North America fleet director.

Production on the U.S.-built Ford Transit cargo and passenger vans will start next year in Kansas City.

Ford has staked its lead in the fleet vehicle business with a "secret sauce" that includes providing consumers with choice and value while balancing its portfolio and maintaining margins, Koswick said Tuesday at a luncheon hosted by the Automotive Press Association.

Ford has maintained market share in the $57 billion fleet industry with an innovative vehicle mix of trucks, vans, cars and hybrids, Koswick said. "The key thing for success is that the vehicle has to have a purpose," he said.

Fleet sales account for about 20 percent of total new vehicle sales. Ford took the largest cut with 31.7 percent of the market in 2011, according to automotive consultant R.L. Polk & Co.

The automaker, which recently discontinued its Crown Victoria model for two new police vehicles, credits its strong fleet sales with providing power of choice "where we give our customers options and we work with them on that," Koswick said.

Ford cornered more than half (52.9 percent) of the market for state and local government fleets and 42.7 percent for federal fleet sales, Koswick said.

The F-series ranked No. 1 in overall government fleet sales, with the now-discontinued Crown Victoria filling the runner-up slot. The E-Series, Ford Focus and Ford Fusion also made the top 10 for the government category.

Commercial fleet sales will strengthen as housing construction picks up and customers replace their aging fleets, Koswick said.

Ford has forecast few changes for its rental business, which makes up slightly more than 40 percent of its fleet sales. Ford took 12.9 percent of the market last year, with the Ford Escape and E-series rounding out the top 10 rental nameplates. The Ford Focus and Ford Fusion took the No. 11 and No. 12 spots, respectively.


Analyst warns against extending retirement age to 67

March 27, 2012
The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — Analysts say expected changes to Canada's Old Age Security program will mean higher costs for the provinces, territories and municipalities.

Phased in changes to the taxpayer-funded retirement program are expected to be outlined in this weeks' federal budget.

The changes are widely expected to include raising the eligibility age for OAS benefits by two years, to 67.

Carleton University professor Allan Maslove says such a move will force other levels of government to top up social program supplements for low-income earners.

He calls it downloading by stealth.

Federal officials acknowledge the changes will impact the provinces and territories, as well as businesses.

But a spokeswoman for Human Resources Minister Diane Finley says Ottawa will seek input from all levels of government and other stakeholders to deal with the fallout once the changes are announced.


Small SUV ready for
prime time, Ford says

TV's 'Escape Routes' rides into new territory to launch vehicle

March 26, 2012
By Jaclyn Trop The Detroit News

Ford Motor Co. will break ground in advertising next week when it becomes the first automaker to launch a vehicle through prime time television.

"Escape Routes," an hourlong NBC reality series produced by Ford and featuring the 2013 Ford Escape, will debut March 31. If successful, the approach could invite a new marketing model that integrates social media with TV to enlist audience participation and build buzz for a product.

The six-week show will follow six teams traveling cross-country in the small SUVs, which go on sale in June. En route, teams will compete in challenges similar to swinging on a trapeze or walking on an airplane wing for a grand prize of $100,000 and two new Ford Escapes. Viewers can vote for their favorite teams and compete online for trips, electronics and a new Escape.

"I don't know if the show will cross a new barrier between advertising and entertainment," said Tom Talbert, group director of media services at the Campbell-Ewald advertising agency in Warren."But it may harness online, mobile and social networking tools in a powerful new way."

The show's premise goes beyond traditional product placement, a marketing strategy that integrates an advertiser's product and logo into a TV show or movie — such as a tricked-out Camaro in "Transformers" or Reese's Pieces in "ET" — because "Escape Routes" makes the vehicle a central character.

Product placement has become increasingly popular in recent years because it combats viewers' inclination to fast-forward through commercials.

Producing a reality show is more expensive than creating a traditional print or broadcast advertising campaign — some analysts said it could cost as much as 75 percent more. But Ford said the expense is justified because the program will reach a broad audience.

Neither it nor NBC would say how much the Dearborn-based company spent on the series. "Escape Routes" will feature commercials for other products, but Ford will be the exclusive auto advertiser.

Ford hopes that by putting the Escape in front of consumers before it arrives in showrooms, it will stand out from other small SUVs such as the Jeep Liberty, Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V.

Ford is no stranger to the power of prime time television: "Escape Routes" complements Ford's television sponsorships of two reality show hits, Fox's "American Idol" and CBS' "The Amazing Race," said Ford spokeswoman Angie Kozleski.

"Escape Routes" builds on Ford's successful prelaunch social media campaigns for the new Fiesta and Focus models over the past few years, Kozleski said.

Ford's 2009 "Fiesta Movement" campaign showed 100 bloggers who shared their Fiesta driving experiences through social media and competed in monthly missions that educated audiences about the car.

Last year's "Focus Rally: America" campaign for the 2012 Ford Focus featured six teams competing in a cross-country road rally similar to the one planned for "Escape Routes." That competition aired on Web video-streaming service Hulu and attracted network attention and interest in a follow-up vehicle launch competition.

"We got started generating so much content that actually we decided — the team decided — why don't we go to a mainstream TV network and see if they want to use this?" Jim Farley, Ford's group vice president forglobal marketing, sales and services, told The Detroit News.

"We thought it would be just for the website, and now NBC just picked it up as a freakin' prime time show, and I mean now we're a car company producing this TV show."

NBC executives initially wondered whether the show would appear as more infomercial than entertainment, but the producers attached to the project gave the program clout, said Crystal Worthem, Ford's manager of brand content and alliances. Producers are Elise Doganieri, an eight-time Emmy Award-winner who co-created and co-produced "The Amazing Race," and Profiles Television Productions team member David Leener.

The program has potential for success, but it's too soon to predict its impact on Ford's sales or the advertising industry, said University of Detroit Mercy marketing professor Mike Bernacchi.

"Will the world's eyeballs be on this?" Bernacchi said. "Probably not."
"But if this creates buzz, if it creates the kind of outcome they would like — if (the Escape) all of a sudden become a hot mobile, then yes, it will be a success."

Unlike other reality shows, "Escape Routes" will have a short lead time, with each episode airing only about a week after filming. A live segment will announce the weekly winner, Kozleski said.

'Anything is possible'

The road trip starts in Los Angeles and visits New York, Atlanta, Miami, San Francisco and Las Vegas. Viewers can follow the journey at escaperoutes.com.

The show's success could engender a new genre of product-focused reality shows, said Birmingham-based brand consultant Mark Lantz.

"Drop somebody in the middle of a strange environment with only their Android smartphone to help them survive," Lantz said."Have teams of people compete at building houses with their Craftsman tools. Pretty much anything is possible."

'Escape Routes'

The hourlong reality show starring the 2013 Ford Escape debuts March 31 and runs through May 5:

Air times:

8 p.m. Saturdays on NBC
11 p.m. Saturdays on mun2 Spanish-language network


NDP leadership: Thomas Mulcair
is new leader of federal
New Democrats

New NDP leader Thomas Mulcair, left, and his wife Catherine Pinhas applaud after Mulcair won the contest to become party leader in Toronto on Saturday.

Toronto Star
Bruce Campion-Smith and Joanna Smith
March 25, 2012

Thomas Mulcair, who campaigned on a promise to bring the federal New Democrats to the centre of Canadian politics in a strategy to win government, is now at the helm of Canada's official opposition.

Mulcair, 57, took the leadership Saturday night in fourth ballot run-off, watching his initial lead grow round-by-round to best his chief rival Brian Topp, a backroom party strategist who fell short in his bid to vault into the political spotlight despite strong support from the party establishment.

It was an historic moment, the first time the federal NDP has chosen the leader of the Official Opposition, thanks to their record showing in the general election last year.

After the announcement of the voting results, Mulcair made his way through a crush of supporters, who had endured a marathon day of voting, and took the stage where he joined the six other leadership candidates he had beaten for the post.

He thanked the team that had helped to win and then laid out the challenge ahead — building supporters to unseat the Conservatives in the 2015 election.

"Our party must go outside its traditional base to unite all progressive forces under the NDP banner," Mulcair said to applause from the convention floor, which by the time he spoke was emptier than it had been earlier in the day. "We are looking to unite progressives, but we will not do it by sacrificing the unity of our country."

He accused the Stephen Harper's government of appealing to fear, stoking division and "leaving the tab for our expenses to our grandchildren."

"If the policies of the current government are not challenged if not changed, the next generation will be the first in our history to inherit a lower standard of living than that of its parents," Mulcair said.

For New Democrats, the dream of basking in the crowing of a leader to replace the late Jack Layton at what was by far the biggest and most closely watched leadership convention in party history was badly overshadowed by computer woes.

Members faced long line-ups for voting stations at the convention in Toronto and many more took to social media to complain about being unable to vote online, with party brass — after pleading for patience — eventually charging that they had been victims of a deliberate cyber attack.

The time between each round of ballots, originally scheduled to last about two hours, stretched on for four hours and more, pushing the announcement of the winner into the late evening, long after audiences at home had already switched to watching the hockey game.

Brad Lavigne, the principal secretary to the leader of the official opposition, blamed the delays on deliberate attempts to tie up electronic voting.

"Somebody outside of the party was attempting to mess with our one-member, one vote but that the sanctity of our system was preserved because of the fail safes," Lavigne told a swarm of reporters on the convention floor. "The only thing they were able to achieve was a little delay."

Party officials said later that they had isolated the attack to several IP addresses, but they did not reveal where they were located.

The attack comes as Elections Canada is already probing complaints of electronic dirty tricks from the 2011 federal election, when so-called robocalls were used to try and steer voters in Guelph and other ridings to bogus polling stations.

The technical headaches added to the drama of the lengthy day of voting to pick a new leader.

A day after the party paid emotional tribute to Layton, who died of cancer last August after leading the NDP to a record 103 seats in the spring election, NDP members elected the man to replace him.

They were not swayed by the eleventh-hour appeal of former federal leader and party legend Ed Broadbent, who issued a bitter-sounding warning that Mulcair had trouble getting along with others and would tack the party to the centre of the political spectrum at the expense of its social democratic roots.

Indeed, in the end the bellicose deputy leader was the one smiling as members from all corners — including pre-2011 MPs who Broadbent suggested had steered clear of Mulcair due to fears over his leadership style — made their way to him.

Mulcair had run a campaign based on the idea that achieving Official Opposition – while celebrated as a historic achievement for the party – was just a mathematical fact and that it would take a change in state of mind and method to turn those numbers into a real shot at government.

Mulcair ran on his record, which includes three productive years as a progressive former environment minister from Quebec who quit cabinet rather than accepting a demotion for refusing to sign off on allowing developers into a provincial park, but also a proven ability to hold his own in debates.

The policies he proposed were progressive but pragmatic enough to appeal to the general electorate, such as a cap-and-trade system to combat climate change without any talk about stopping the development of the oil sands.

When Mulcair was declared winner, Topp stood up and applauded. In a brief statement to reporters, Topp said Mulcair will be an excellent leader and was legitimately elected.

"He has my entire support," said Topp, who joined Mulcair on stage.

Soon after he left, Erin Sikora, a Topp supporter, walked towards the centre of the room to listen to Mulcair's speech.

"Obviously I wanted (Topp) to win but now we have a new leader and it's time to rally behind him," she said.

The process of smoothing over leadership divisions gets underway Sunday when MPs will gather for their first caucus meeting with Mulcair as leader.

Mulcair came out of the gates strong with 30.3 per cent of the vote on the first ballot and tightened his hold with each subsequent ballot.

The field was whittled to four after the first ballot results — last-place finisher Niki Ashton was knocked out, Paul Dewar, in fifth place, dropped out as did Nova Scotia pharmacist Martin Singh, who immediately backed Mulcair.

On the second round, a disappointed Toronto MP Peggy Nash was knocked out, leaving Topp, Mulcair and B.C. MP Nathan Cullen.

The surprise strong showing by the Cullen – who survived three rounds of voting—was seen as much of an endorsement by the grassroots of his proposals to form alliances with Liberals and Greens to defeat the Conservatives as it was of his charismatic personality.

While some thought the controversial idea would kill Cullen's popularity, he instead mounted a surprisingly strong campaign that saw him raise a lot of money and finish third.

"That we were not dead on arrival with this says something about the state of progressive politics," said veteran party strategist Jamey Heath, who was Cullen's campaign co-chair.

"What's happened here is that New Democrats are certainly open to having a respectful conversation about cooperation. People, whether they like it or not, believe it's a conversation the party should have," he said.

"Nathan deserves enormous credit for being brave enough to do it," he said.


CAW Contact
March 23, 2012
Volume 42, No. 11


Ontario Gaming Reforms, CAW Responds

The national president of Canada's largest gaming workers union is urging the Province of Ontario and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation to engage in meaningful dialogue and consultation with their workers, unions and the public-at-large before instituting any further reforms to the gaming sector.

CAW President Ken Lewenza said the slate of recommendations released on March 12 as part of a provincially-mandated strategic business review conducted by the OLG will radically reshape Ontario's gaming sector, possibly for the worse, impacting thousands of workers and families.

"This is a total overhaul of a vitally important sector in Ontario's economy that will impact thousands of front-line workers who drive this business each and every day," Lewenza said. "I find it disheartening that no one thought to consider them a key stakeholder in this process."

Lewenza noted the report listed over 50 stakeholder groups directly consulted during the review process, none of whom represented the interests of OLG workers in casinos, racetracks, teletheatres and other gaming sites.

The OLG report estimates that over the next five years it will add 2,300 net new industry jobs, a prediction Lewenza said Ontarians should be wary of, since it does not consider the underlying quality of the jobs on offer.

"What we don't need now is for OLG to slash and burn good-paying gaming sector jobs only to replace them with double or triple the number of low-paying part-time and temporary jobs. That's not a net gain for Ontario," Lewenza said.

Within days of the report's release the OLG abruptly announced the closure of three slot operations in Windsor, Fort Erie and Sarnia, throwing 500 people out of work. Lewenza warned that additional recommendations to eliminate slot subsidies to racetracks and to encourage the use of privatization schemes may help pad the OLG's bottom line, but will wreak havoc on the good jobs this sector was meant to create.

The CAW represents over 7,000 gaming workers across Canada at Caesars Windsor Casino, Brantford Casino, Slots at Sudbury Downs, Great Blue Heron Casino, Edgewater Casino and the Woodbine Racetrack, as well as other locations.

Now is the Time to Change Status Quo, Labour Experts say

At a conference organized to kick-off the new union discussions between the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, labour experts stressed that corporate power and anti-worker governments are driving the need for union renewal.

Pradeep Kumar, Queen's University Professor Emeritus, Lana Payne, Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour President, and John Cartwright, Toronto and York Region Labour Council President, were among the top labour movement thinkers who spoke to more than 100 leaders and activists about the need for union renewal.

Professor Kumar noted that "the main reason for urgency on union renewal is declining union power and influence due to a fundamentally different political, economic and social environment hostile to unions, combined with a sense of complacency and possibly 'battle fatigue' after more than two decades of defensive struggles."

"Union renewal and labor movement revitalization will remain fragmented and ineffective without a coordinated approach and a common vision and agenda," he said. "This is an opportune time to reflect on the current state and future prospects. There is clear opportunity for unions in the present moment."
John Cartwright and Lana Payne echoed those sentiments. "Most importantly you are saying the status quo is no longer OK and we're going to do something about it," added Payne.

Cartwright stressed the need "to go back to the grass roots to find the strength to prevail against powerful corporations and their political servants. We do that best by looking to our roots - the patient, tough, sustained work that was done by those who first built our unions. Those future conversations at kitchen tables - about the kind of future we want for our families, our neighbours and our world - will be the key to our success in the 21st century."

The two unions have set up a website to keep members updated and engaged in discussions about the possibility of creating a new union.
http://www.newunionproject.ca/ features the conference presentations, statistics on CEP and CAW -- which together would represent some 300,000 members in almost every sector of the Canadian economy -- a timetable, and other information and resources.

The kick-off conference was held on Feb. 25-27 at the Sheraton Hotel in Toronto. The two unions continued discussions in Ottawa from March 15-17.

To read the joint letter from CAW President Ken Lewenza and CEP President Dave Coles visit Here:

CCPA Releases Alternative Federal Budget 2012

The CCPA's Alternative Federal Budget (AFB) called "2012: A Budget for the Rest of Us" was released March 15. This year's AFB, prepared by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, presents a public investment plan that promotes a better quality of life for all Canadians, not just an elite few. The AFB is designed to:

. tackle poverty and income inequality by investing in public programs like education, affordable housing, public pensions, universal pharmacare, and national child care;

. get Canadians working again by creating jobs and lowering the unemployment rate;

. close tax loopholes for the wealthy, and put an end to the federal government's failed corporate tax cut experiment;

. get serious about environmental leadership with a forward-looking green strategy;

. repair our cities and build sustainable communities with a long-term physical infrastructure program.

To view the complete Alternative Federal Budget visit Here:

New Study Confirms Benefit of Support to Auto Industry

A new study released March 21, by the Institute for Research on Public Policy has established that government support for important capital projects in auto assembly pays dividends for the larger economy and even for the government. This comes in the form of higher auto employment, exports and tax revenues.

Other conclusions drawn by the study's authors have raised concerns. CAW Economist Jim Stanford has written a response, including refuting the claim in the report that cutting auto wages by $10 eliminates the need for active auto investment supports.

To read CAW Economist Jim Stanford's detailed response, visit Here:

No Cuts to Injured Workers' Benefits: Open Letter to McGuinty

The Ontario Network of Injured Workers Groups is raising concerns over WSIB staff lay-offs and reductions in workers' compensation at the same time that WSIB President David Marshall could receive a bonus of up to $400,000 after five years, if certain financial goals and objectives are met.

The ONIWG outline the concerns in an open letter to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty released March 15 at Queen's Park.

"He's getting paid to cut our benefits," said ONIWG President Peter Page. "We have always been concerned that WSIB funding would be tackled by cuts to injured workers."

In the open letter the ONIWG outline that the terms of Marshall's appointment create a huge conflict of interest between the government's commitment that "full funding will not be achieved on the backs of injured workers." It also highlights Marshall's significant financial incentives to reduce WSIB spending on injured workers.

"It's wrong to give executive bonuses at a time when injured workers are struggling because their benefits are being cut further," said Scott McIlmoyle, chair of the CAW WCB council committee. "The McGuinty government needs to correct this situation
so that injured workers don't suffer more because of executive incentives to reduce benefits," he said.

To read the full letter go to: www.injuredworkersonline.org.

FFAW/CAW Members Locked Out

Newfoundland and Labrador fish processor Ocean Choice International locked out 45 fishermen, who are FFAW members, from the trawler Newfoundland Lynx back on February 5. Police talk to FFAW members alongside the Lynx in Mugrave, N.S. The dispute continues although talks resumed March 21.


Future auto bailouts must include wage cuts: Canada study

Reuters – 23 Mar, 2012

TORONTO (Reuters) - Future government bailouts of ailing industries such as the C$14.4 billion ($14.50 billion) rescue of auto giants GM Canada and Chrysler Canada in 2009 should be pegged to commitments from skilled workers to take wage cuts, a study published on Wednesday says.

The study by the Institute for Research on Public Policy, a Montreal-based think tank, does not reject bailouts and said the cost to Canadian taxpayers of not stepping in to help the auto industry in 2009 would have been greater than the amount governments spent: as much as C$20 billion in economic losses.

"While the one-time bailout of GM Canada and Chrysler Canada in 2009 was successful, ongoing subsidies to the auto sector must be reassessed, especially in times of fiscal restraint," says the study, authored by Leslie Shiell, a University of Ottawa assistant professor, and Robin Somerville, a director of the Centre for Spatial Economics.

"The authors thus recommend that governments require competitive wages as a condition for a subsidy for the auto sector as well as for all other industries."

That idea was strongly opposed by Canadian Auto Workers economist Jim Stanford, who argues in a commentary included in the report that cutting wages would take away incentives for productivity and be self-defeating.

GM and Chrysler Canada received government bailouts in 2009 after being battered by the global financial crisis. As the bailout was being negotiated, Chrysler Corp said in a letter to employees that its operations could not survive in Canada without significant concessions from workers.

In their analysis, Bailouts and Subsidies: The Economics of Assisting the Automotive Sector in Canada, Shiell and Somerville say workers' pay premiums could have funded about C$6 billion of the bailouts at GM and Chrysler in 2009, significantly reducing the governments' net exposure.

"We argue that many Canadian automotive workers (assembly workers, especially) enjoy a significant premium in pay above the competitive level for similar skills and experience."

The authors concede from the outset report that the federal and Ontario government bailout of GM Canada and Chrysler Canada was a smart, one-time move.

They say some 100,000 jobs would have been lost if the companies had shut Canadian operations in early 2009, about 75 percent of those in Ontario, Canada's most populous province.

The report says that global economic uncertainty will continue to put pressure on governments to intervene in the economy to protect jobs and living standards.

($1=$0.99 Canadian)


Retiree Don McElhinney
Passes Away!

Don McElhinney Passes Away!

June 20th, 1932 - March 14th, 2012

It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing
of Retiree Don McElhinney.

Our Condolences go out to his wife Jean and family.

Don retired from Ford on October 1, 1994 with 22.5 Years of service.

After a hard fought battle, Donald passed away surrounded by family at Credit Valley Hospital. Mac was a truly blessed man who enjoyed a busy and wonderful life. Beloved husband of Jean; father of Shirley (Paul) and Debbie (Ray); grandfather of 8 and great-grandfather of 6. Donald will be greatly missed by many friends and his family.

A Celebration of Life Service will take place at the Dods & McNair Funeral Home & Chapel, 21 First St., Orangeville on Saturday, March 24, 2012 at 3:00 p.m. with visitation 1 hour prior to service time.

The family wishes to thank all the staff and doctors of the Credit Valley Palliative Care Unit for all their kindness and support.

If desired, donations in Donald's memory may be made to Pancreatic Cancer Canada or Credit Valley Hospital - Palliative Care Unit

A tree has been planted in memory of Donald in the Dods & McNair Memorial Forest at the Island Lake Conservation Area, Orangeville. A dedication service will be held on Sunday, September 9th, 2012 at 2:30 p.m


Dods and McNair Funeral Home
21 First Street

Map & Directions

Saturday March 24, 2012

Visitation 2:00 - 3:00 PM
Service: 3:00 PM



Bill Dinsmore

Our Deepest Condolences go out to his family
on behalf of all the CAW Local 584 Retirees

DINSMORE, William Dean - Peacefully on Saturday, March 10, 2012 at Credit Valley Hospital at the age of 90. Beloved husband of the late Coralie. Loving father of Florence (David), Sharon, Bonnie, Debbie (Bill) and the late Ruthie (Mel) and Bev (Noel). He will be sadly missed by his grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great- great-grandchild. Dear brother of Doris, Audrey, Barb and the late Ron, Ken and Jerry. Mr. Dinsmore is resting at the funeral home of Skinner & Middlebrook Ltd., 128 Lakeshore Rd. E. (1 block west of Hurontario St.), Mississauga, on Tuesday from 6-8 p.m. and Wednesday from 2-3 p.m. Funeral service in the chapel on Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 3 p.m. Cremation. Memorial donations to the Peel Shrine Club would be appreciated.

For more information click here


Ford lays foundation
for $1B India factory

AP Business Writer
March 22, 2012

MUMBAI, India (AP) -- Ford Motor Co. laid the cornerstone for a new $1 billion dollar factory in India on Thursday, pressing ahead with expansion plans despite an uncertain outlook for Asia's No. 3 economy where growth in car sales has recently waned.

Ford's plant will have the capacity to manufacture 240,000 cars and 270,000 engines a year when it's complete in 2014. The factory will produce cars for domestic consumers and for export.

"We are committed to significantly increasing our manufacturing output and aggressively expanding our business in India," Michael Boneham, Ford India's managing director, said in a statement.

Ford's expansion of its India business comes amid slowing car sales in India.
So far during the fiscal year ending in March, car sales have crept up 0.3 percent, against the previous year's 29.5 percent surge.

Car sales in India have suffered as the economy has slowed. High interest rates, driven by the central bank's aggressive attempts to control inflation, have also hurt demand.

The government expects India's economy to grow 6.9 percent this fiscal year, against 8.4 percent last year. The ruling Congress Party has been unable to corral restive coalition partners and state leaders to push through changes in foreign investment, tax, labor and land laws that could unlock growth and reassure investors.

Recent tax hikes and persistent inflation have diminished hopes that the central bank will quickly lower interest rates to kickstart the economy.

Ford's passenger vehicle sales for the April to February period fell 5 percent from a year earlier to 83,639 vehicles, according to the latest data from the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers, an industry group.

The slowdown comes after a period of strong growth, driven by the popularity of Ford's affordable compact Figo car. Ford, which says it has invested $2 billion in India, still lags General Motors in India sales.

Ford plans to launch eight new vehicles in India by the middle of the decade.

Analysts predict India's growth will bounce back as the economy grows and interest rates fall. IHS expects sales of passenger cars and light trucks in India to more than double in the next eight years, reaching 6.2 million vehicles by 2019.

Ford's 460-acre site is in Sanand, in the Indian state of Gujarat, which has a reputation for being business friendly.

Tata Motors moved its Tata Nano factory to Sanand, after local protests forced it to shutter its factory in the state of West Bengal.


Ford's March auto sales 'strong'

By David Shepardson Detroit News Washington Bureau
March 21, 2012

Ford Motor Co.'s sales and marketing chief Jim Farley said that the automaker's March auto sales are strong — and in line with sales in the first two months of the year.

"Strong. Another, good healthy month," Farley said in an interview on the sidelines of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers annual conference here. "It seems like it's a similar trajectory" to the first two months.

Ford said its U.S. sales were up 14 percent in February; in the first two months of the year Ford is up 11.2 percent.

Ford had predicted industry wide auto sales at 13.5 million to 14.5 million for 2012 — but Farley said they ran at 15 million in the first two months of the year. "I don't think we know enough to know if it's going to be 13.5 or 14.5," Farley said.

Farley said Ford is prepared for $5 a gallon gas if it comes this summer and it won't shift its plans but said it would expect to see consumer behavior shift in truck purchases.

He said improvements in the housing market in some places have helped boost pickup sales. "I think we're in a really good spot," Farley said, noting the automaker's fuel efficient offerings. "I think we're well-positioned if that were to happen."

Farley said the company plans to make a major announcement at the New York International Auto Show on its Lincoln lineup next month, but he declined to elaborate.

Farley said ads that tweaked the F-150 from General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC for its Ram pickup didn't hurt sales. Ford threatened to sue to block a humorous GM ad in the Super Bowl that suggested an F-150 truck owner wouldn't survive an apocalyptic scenario. Chrysler may show its new Ram pickup at the New York show.

The ads "helped a lot," Farley said. "With both Chevy and Ram, it really drove to our site. He called the ads "the best thing that ever happened to us."

F-150 sales have been strong this year — and the F-series was up 26 percent last month. "We've had two really breakout months for the F-series since they did that. I love it," Farley said.


Canadian autoworkers
win wage battle with UAW,
but the future is cloudy

By Grace Macaluso, The Windsor Star
March 19, 2012

Almost 30 years of profit sharing at the Detroit Three have failed to propel UAW hourly wages above those of their Canadian counterparts.

CAW base wages are about $6.71 an hour higher than the rate earned by UAW members, said Kristin Dziczek, director of labour and industry group at the Centre for Automotive Research (CAR) in Ann Arbor, Mich. The figure includes a blend of rates for skilled trades and production workers.

Other labour costs, such as overtime, layoff benefits, paid time and holidays are almost double on this side of the border, she added.

Add to that the two-tiered wage system that pays new UAW hires about half of the regular hourly rate and the CAW faces enormous pressure to lower its costs when the union heads into Detroit Three bargaining this fall.

"I don't know if Ken Lewenza (CAW president) is willing to take less jobs and more cash," said Dziczek. "It's that kind of a tradeoff and the real question is how are they going to address their cost disadvantage."

In the 2011 round of Detroit Three-UAW talks the union secured pledges for investment and job creation from Ford, GM and Chrysler. In fact, Chrysler, alone, has exceeded its the number of promised entry-level jobs from 2,100 to 3,000 said Dziczek.

The CAW's diehard preference "is for workers to be paid a known wage for the work that they do, instead of having their income unknown and dependent on things like overall corporate profits which they have no control over," said Jim Stanford, CAW economist.

Unlike wage increases, bonuses do not get built into a worker's base compensation.

"That's why, in later years, wage increases add up to more than bonuses of any kind, whether it's lump sum or profit sharing," said Stanford.

"Profit sharing is the worst of both worlds. You get a bonus rather than a wage and you don't even know what the bonus is going to be until the end of the year, which makes it very hard for a family to plan."

Companies favour profit-sharing because it shifts some of the risk to employees, he added. "They prefer a situation where a company's profits aren't high, their costs automatically go down and it is in essence shifting some of the risk of the business from the owners to the workers."

Canadian pay rates remain higher even with recent payouts as high as $11,000 at GM, said Dziczek. The $7,000 instalment distributed to GM workers earlier this year amounted to $3.75 an hour per worker, she said. "It's not going to make up the $6.71 and it doesn't accumulate which is the CAW's big point, that it doesn't roll in."

Figures compiled by CAR show that there were several years when zero profits at Ford, GM and Chrysler, meant zero payouts.

At GM, for example, there were 13 years when workers did not receive profit-sharing cheques.

An hourly worker at a Canadian plant earns about $34 compared to $29 across the river.

An "overvalued" Canadian dollar is making life miserable for the manufacturing sector, said Stanford.

There are still advantages in this country, he added. "Our health care costs are about one sixth of the UAW's. Productivity in the Canadian industry is higher."

In fact, Canada is holding on to its auto manufacturing footprint. Canada now accounts for 17.3 per cent of North American vehicle production, up slightly from pre-recession levels of about 16.8 per cent, according to a recent study by DesRosiers and Associates.

But that footprint could shrink as more vehicle production shifts to lower-cost Mexico and parts of the U.S, warned Tony Faria, business professor at the University of Windsor.

"The CAW approach is a disaster for the future of the Canadian auto industry," said Faria. "(Chrysler Group CEO) Sergio Marchionne has been most outspoken on this, but there's no question the Detroit Three want the same deal they got in the U.S. last year."

In terms of vehicle assembly, Ontario has been outproduced by Mexico over the last four years and will fall farther behind, he noted.

"Ontario is not getting any new plants, and last year, Michigan production started catching up to Ontario."

Over the past four years, only $98 million was invested in Canada to increase assembly capacity," said Fari. "This represents only 0.001 per cent of all capacity growing investments made globally over the past four years. In other words, one-tenth of a per cent. Not good."

Last year, Mexico drew more than $3.3 billion in auto investment announcements, while the U.S. attracted about $1 billion, said Faria. Canada drew zero dollars.

The CAW's biggest challenge is to "hang on to what we have," said Stanford, who cites a Canadian dollar that is either at par or higher than the greenback as the most serious threat to the industry.

"If you look at the level of prices and costs in our country versus America and elsewhere, our currency should be around 81 cents.

That's the fair value based on the relative costs; that's what international groups like the OECD, IMF say. We're at parity or slightly higher and that means everything in Canada is artificially 25 per cent too expensive.

"That's a terrible challenge."

The CAW does not have to abandon wage hikes altogether, said Dziczek. "I don't think they have to bend on any particular issue but what they will have to address is with the loonie at par, their costs are higher and the companies are going to come to them and say 'how can you address the cost issue.'

"There's lots of ways to do that. Certainly the companies are going to pull out the UAW contract, but they've got a different philosophy, a different kind of membership at the CAW and a different approach. So how can they achieve costs reductions in different ways? It doesn't have to be patterned after the UAW."


Ford gets ready to blow its stack

300-foot landmark to fall Saturday morning

Ford gets ready to blow its stack. Oakville's Ford plant will be demolishing this stack, which was decommissioned five years ago, Saturday morning. Eric Riehl / Oakville Beaver

Oakville Beaver
March 18, 2012

Any residents who hear a couple of loud crashes early Saturday morning need not be concerned. It’s probably just a portion of the Ford Plant crumbling to the ground.

Ford of Canada internal communications manager Kerri Stoakley announced, Wednesday, that Ford will be demolishing several unused buildings and one paint stack, which were previously part of the old Oakville Assembly Plant paint shop.

The demolition of the stack is scheduled to take place Saturday at 6 a.m.

All of these structures were decommissioned five years ago following the construction of a paint facility within Ford’s Oakville Assembly Complex.

Stoakley said the demolition of the unused buildings is an energy efficient and cost-effective choice.

“On that day, there will be absolutely no access to the area within a 1,000-foot radius of the stack until 9 a.m. This radius does not extend into the surrounding neighbourhoods. The Canadian Road will be closed from approximately 5 a.m.-9 a.m.,” said Stoakley.

“Ford of Canada has followed Ministry of Environment guidelines to ensure appropriate measures are taken during the demolition. Approximately 80 per cent of the materials from the demolition site can be recovered and reused such as concrete and steel.”

Surrounding homes are expected to feel little to no vibrations during the demolition.

With regard to sound, Stoakley said when the stack is dropped the noise will be very brief with two bangs at about 120dB.

“That’s about as loud as some vehicle anti-theft alarms,” she said.

Stoakley also pointed out that concrete from the unused paint shop buildings, which have already been partially demolished, would be piled in such a way as to form a barrier to help minimize dust when the paint stack is demolished.

Ford said it would also work with Halton Regional Police Service, the Ministry of Transportation and the Ontario Provincial Police to briefly close stretches of the QEW, Hwy. 403 and South Service Road, which run close to the plant so drivers will not be distracted when the demolition takes place.

These closures will be in place from 6-6:10 a.m.

The demolition is weather permitting and, in the event of high winds, it may be cancelled and rescheduled for Sunday at the same time of day.

Once the stack is down, the area will serve as a parking lot for the plant’s finished vehicles.


Factory numbers are down,
but auto sales pull ahead

OTTAWA— Globe and Mail
Jeremy Torobin
March 17, 2012

It's tempting to look at Friday's manufacturing report from Statistics Canada as reinforcing worries that the country's industrial heartland is dying a slow death.

The reality, though, is a bit more complicated. The total value of shipments was 0.9 per cent lower in January than in December, marking the biggest drop since last April – but only the second decline in seven months.

In volume terms, sales fell 1.1 per cent, not good news for sure, but more troubling if you ignore the likelihood that this will be reversed in the next month or two as industrial production and consumer demand in the United States continue to bounce back.

In fact, Canada is already reaping the benefits of the strengthening U.S. rebound; auto sales rose for a seventh straight month in January, gaining 2.6 per cent to about $4.6-billion, which is the highest level in more than four years, and sales of vehicle parts increased by 6.2 per cent, the fifth consecutive gain. The main driver for the overall drop in factory shipments seems to be a 34-per-cent plunge in production by aerospace companies, whose activity tends to be pretty volatile. (The industry is based mostly in Quebec, explaining why the province saw a 3.9-per cent decline in sales, the biggest across the country.) And factories added 1.1 per cent to their inventories, suggesting they're relatively confident about the months ahead.

Of course, if oil prices rise much further, Canadian manufacturers – particularly auto makers – could face the double-whammy of a sudden drop in U.S. demand and an ever-stronger currency. The Bank of Canada is well aware of this, which is why Governor Mark Carney is unlikely to rush an interest-rate hike, despite signs the global economy is stabilizing, because that would send the loonie even higher.

Before this morning's report, investors were pricing in a more than 50-per-cent chance that Mr. Carney would raise rates by the end of 2012, according to Bloomberg data, a big change from just a couple of weeks ago when few believed the central bank would move before mid-2013. The January manufacturing data probably aren't the start of a negative trend, but the report might be just enough for investors to re-think that shift in expectations.


CAW Contact
March 16, 2012
Volume 42, No. 10


CAW Donates $100,000 to Women's Shelters

CAW Local 3000 President and National Executive Board member Jean Van Vliet (right)presented a donation to Lori Wasyliw of Monarch Place, in New Westminster, B.C. in honour of International Women's Day, from the CAW's Social Justice Fund. Monarch Place offers shelter and support services to women who are fleeing abuse.

The CAW has donated $100,000 to 50 women's shelters across Canada in conjunction with International Women's Day on March 8, 2012.

International Women's Day (IWD) is a day to celebrate and mobilize, a day to energize and strengthen the feminist movement for the future. It's a day to reflect on the advances women have made over the past century: the right to vote, to get an education, to earn a living, the right to lead and the right to choose, said Julie White, Director of Women's Programs.

On IWD, CAW women will join with other women at forums, marches and rallies in communities across the country.

"As IWD celebrations go ahead on this day, it's critical to remember that the gains women have made are not secure - and that the assaults on gender equality in Canada have been broad and sweeping under the Harper Conservative government, past and present," White said.

Funding cuts to women's programs and services, attacks on pay equity, childcare and gun control all illustrate this government's disregard for a more equal society for women.

"In the months and years ahead leading up to the next federal election we must work to renew and strengthen our fight for economic, social and political equality and refuse to be silent," said White.

"We know that every action matters - that one person, one group, one community can make a big difference. Women becoming involved in the political process are the key to change. Raising our voices and taking action ensures that issues women care about - from childcare, to pensions, to gun control, to good paying jobs - are on the agenda in the next federal election."

In addition to making an annual donation, the CAW is urging the federal and provincial governments to provide core funding to agencies that provide services to women and their children who are fleeing violent relationships.

New Agreement Reached for Marine Communications and Traffic Service Officers

CAW Local 2182, which represents 360 officers at Marine Communications and Traffic Service centres, has reached a tentative agreement with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Federal Treasury Board.

The tentative agreement, which was reached March 7 in Ottawa, covers officers at 22 locations across Canada.

"The bargaining committee felt it was important to bargain a collective agreement with this difficult employer prior to the Harper government releasing the federal budget on March 29," said CAW Local 2182 President Martin Grégoire. "The budget is sure to have further austerity measures that will negatively effect the work force right across the federal civil service," he said.

The three-year agreement provides wage increases in each year as well as various improvements to the leave provisions.

"This is another example of how collective bargaining is intended to work," said CAW President Ken Lewenza. "This agreement was reached without any government interference which is becoming more and more difficult to accomplish during these tough economic times."

CAW Local 2182 members will vote on the tentative agreement over the next three weeks at meetings across Canada.

CAW Criticizes U.S. Subsidy to Caterpillar Sales in Canada

CAW President Ken Lewenza has reacted angrily to news that a U.S. government agency is subsidizing sales of U.S.-made locomotives to a Canadian mining operation - locomotives made by the same company that recently closed its only Canadian manufacturing facility.

"This is just another indication that the so-called rules of free trade are not working for Canada," said Lewenza.

The Export-Import Bank of the United States (known as Ex-Im), owned by the U.S. federal government, recently announced approval of $83.1 million in loan guarantees to support the purchase of six locomotives made by Electro-Motive Diesel Inc., along with other U.S.-made railway equipment. The machinery is being purchased by the Iron Ore Company of Canada (a subsidiary of global mining giant Rio Tinto) for a mining operation in Labrador.

Electro-Motive is owned by Caterpillar, the U.S.-based machinery giant that recently shuttered its London, Ontario, locomotive plant.

"These locomotives will be used to extract Canadian resources, and they should be made in Canada," Lewenza said. "It's an incredible slap in the face, given how offensively Caterpillar treated Canadians."

Ex-Im subsidized a total of $550 million in U.S. locomotive exports in 2011, as part of an overall $33 billion package of preferential loans and loan guarantees offered last year to foreign purchasers of U.S.-made products.

Lewenza recently wrote to federal Trade Minister Ed Fast, with several proposals for how Canadian trade policy should be reformed in light of the Caterpillar debacle.

Lewenza asked Minister Fast to impose emergency duties on Caterpillar imports in wake of the London closure, to offset the impact of major U.S. subsidies on Caterpillar's operations and location decisions. In addition to the Ex-Im support, Caterpillar's U.S. locomotive operations have also benefited from large municipal and state subsidies paid to the company's new factory in right-to-work Indiana, as well as Buy America regulations that establish minimum U.S.-content in major projects. Lewenza's complete letter to Minister Fast is available at http://www.caw.ca/assets/images/fast-caterpillar-trade_policy.pdf.

"Canada is surely the only country in the world that would allow a multinational corporation to purchase an important industrial asset, blackmail our workers, shut down the plant entirely - and then sell the same products back to us, helped by government subsidies, to extract our own natural resources."

"This is a symbol of the incredible failure of our entire trade and industrial policy framework," Lewenza said.

CAW Supports B.C. Teachers

CAW members came out en masse to support B.C. teachers at a rally the B.C. legislature in Victoria and at events planned at schools across the province. The B.C. Liberal government has tabled back to work legislation which would effectively allow it to freeze teachers wages and remove limits on class sizes, in a forced settlement. To find out how to support B.C. teachers, please visit: http://www.standupforbc.com/

Decline in Job Seekers Must Prompt Immediate Action

CAW President Ken Lewenza is calling on the federal government to take meaningful steps toward crafting a national good jobs strategy, as more Canadians continue to give up on the country's labour market.

Lewenza's comments came on the heels of Statistics Canada releasing its monthly jobs report on March 9 that revealed the national labour market participation rate dropped to its lowest level in a decade.

There were fewer Canadians employed or looking for work in February 2012 (66.5 per cent of the working age population) than there has been since March, 2002. This means more and more Canadians have given up looking for work.

Lewenza said this should send shockwaves through the halls of all federal and provincial governments.

"We're in the midst of a full-blown jobs crisis in this country," Lewenza said. "The alarm has been ringing for years yet the Harper government just keeps hitting the snooze button."

Lewenza said that it is dangerous for government and policy-makers to look too closely at the national unemployment rate as a measure of economic health, as it fails to account for the quality of jobs on offer and it totally ignores those workers who have given up the search.

Lewenza noted that structural changes in the labour market, including the loss of over half a million good-paying manufacturing and processing jobs, the rise of more precarious forms of employment (like temporary and contract jobs) as well as the flat-lining of real wages has ruptured workplace standards and the quality of work.

Lewenza said the federal government has an obligation to show leadership to spur job creation in Canada. He said the upcoming federal budget is a critical moment that will show Canadians whether they fully understand the gravity of the jobs situation, or not.

"I want Jim Flaherty to announce in the budget that the government is organizing an urgent multi-stakeholder, national good jobs summit," Lewenza said. "That summit should then translate into a national good jobs strategy.

Owner-Operator, Fleet Separation Policies Must be Saved, says FFAW/CAW

The FFAW/CAW is demanding the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans maintain status quo with its Owner/Operator and Fleet Separation policies after a review paper on modernization was released by the department.

Fleet separation prevents a company from both catching and processing seafood, while the owner-operator policy requires the fishing license holder to catch the fish.

The discussion paper makes no mention of policies known as owner-operator and fleet separation, Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield has refused to say whether the policies will remain.

FFAW/CAW members are worried a change to these policies will allow big, possibly foreign companies to enter and dominate the inshore fishery decimating the current license holders who have carved out a living for their families from the sea for decades in Newfoundland and Labrador.

FFAW/CAW President Earle McCurdy said the future of the under 89-foot fleet in Newfoundland and Labrador, is at high risk.

"There's a concerted effort to open the door to outright ownership of licenses by fish processors, or by anybody else for that matter. They (DFO) want to actually uncouple the license from the fishing activity. The right to fish should be associated with the people who catch the fish," said McCurdy.

The removal of the owner-operator and fleet separation policies in BC resulted in an unmitigated disaster for the people who catch fish there. The result in New Zealand was also devastating with over 60 per cent of its fishing fleet today from foreign countries. A ministerial inquiry into what transpired in the fishery is ongoing in that country.

McCurdy said when large companies buy licenses and quota they peddle it around to the highest bidder, oftentimes at a price which is far beyond what they're worth.
The review affects fisheries in all Atlantic provinces. Nova Scotia's government has called on the federal government to explain whether it will maintain policies protecting inshore fisheries as it seeks to modernize Canada's commercial fisheries. The Newfoundland and Labrador Fisheries Minister Darin King says he first wants input from all the players before taking a position.

Last week a coalition of 33 fisheries groups from Atlantic Canada and Quebec, including the FFAW/CAW, released a 25-page response to DFO's modernization document. A full copy of the response is available at: http://www.curra.ca/documents/future_of_fisheries_doc07_EN.pdf

Free Trade with Europe Could Inflict Economic Pain on NS

A panel of trade experts gathered in downtown Halifax on March 6 to discuss the possible impacts a Canada-EU free trade deal will have on the Nova Scotia economy.

CAW Economist Jim Stanford said the proposed Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) could cost Nova Scotia up to 3,000 net direct jobs as a result, even more once spin-off and multiplier effects are considered.

"Nova Scotia's trading relationship with the EU is even more precariously unbalanced than is the rest of Canada's," Stanford told the crowd of over 100 labour, government and business representatives. "Nova Scotia accounts for barely 1 per cent of Canada's already inadequate exports to Europe, yet Nova Scotia imports 7.5 times as much from Europe as it exports there."

"There is no conceivable scenario in which Nova Scotia could benefit from this agreement."

Scott Sinclair, a senior research fellow with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, stressed that a top priority for EU negotiators in these talks is for unconditional access to provincial and municipal markets for goods and services.

Sinclair said that the CETA could prohibit "offsets," which are defined as any condition that encourages local development and can include 'buy local' provisions, similar to those utilized in the recent record federal shipbuilding contract awarded to the Halifax shipyard under the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy.

"Why shouldn't the sensible approach taken in the shipbuilding contracts be applied to other major contracts such as mass transit, food purchases by hospitals and nursing homes, or renewable energy?" Sinclair said.

Greater Halifax Partnership Vice President and Chief Economist Fred Morley argued the deal could have some benefits to Nova Scotia's fishing and agricultural industries but also acknowledged the need for a greater level of engagement in these trade talks from all sectors of the economy, something that has so far been lacking.

The government of Nova Scotia (along with other Canadian provinces and territories) has not disclosed any of its offers with respect to public services or procurement contracts under the CETA. This closed-door approach to trade negotiations is fuelling mistrust and frustration among those concerned that this deal will favour corporations over the rights of citizens, said CAW Atlantic Region Director Les Holloway.

Holloway has called on Premier Darryl Dexter to engage Nova Scotians in a more open and honest discussion about the potential impacts of CETA and says he hopes the government heeds the message delivered by the panelists.

The event was organized by the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour, in conjunction with the CAW.

So far, over 50 municipalities across the country have raised concerns over the deal. Dozens, including the City of Toronto, have called on provincial governments to exempt them from the deal.

Deadline Approaching for CAW 2012 Family Education Program

The deadline for applying to the CAW Family Education Program in Port Elgin, Ontario is fast approaching! Applications must be postmarked no later than Friday, March 23, 2012.

The program is an exciting way to spend time with your family while learning more about current issues from a worker's point of view. All CAW members in good standing are eligible to apply to attend along with their immediate family. The National Union covers accommodation and meals as well as airline travel (where required). You contribute your time and enthusiasm.

The CAW Family Education Program will feature three one-week English sessions in 2012:

Sunday, July 1 through Sunday, July 8;
Sunday, July 8 through Sunday, July 15;
Sunday, July 29 through Sunday, August 5.

For more information, or to download an application, check out:

If you have questions please contact Michelle at 1-800-268-5763 (ext: 8484) or by email at educate@caw.ca.

Design the PowerShift 2012 Logo!

This fall, the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition and a wide range of partners from across Canada is organizing PowerShift 2012. This gathering will bring together thousands of youth from across Canada to take a stand against environmental destruction and social injustice, and they need your help to make it happen.

PowerShift needs a great looking logo, and to make that happen organizers are launching the PowerShift 2012 logo design contest and asking you to make PowerShift 2012 look hot!

Designers, artists and anyone interested in making this happen are invited to submit logo designs to info@ourclimate.ca. If your design is selected it will be used on posters, t-shirts, online, and in all public communications materials seen by thousands of people. Your name will also be credited in the documents distributed to all participants. Runner up designs will be used for posters and other promotional materials.

The logo should use the words "PowerShift" and "2012# and capture the spirit of building a just, sustainable future.

Submissions should be high resolution (1000 pixels wide minimum) and submitted in an image format before April 1, 2012.

The CAW and CEP are exploring the idea of forming a brand new Canadian union - to revitalize the trade union movement and provide an even stronger voice for working people and social justice issues.

Together the two unions have launched a joint website to provide current and relevant information to members on the new union discussions, now taking place.


Ford sued over allegations
it hid fuel tank defect

Jonathan Stempel
March 16, 2012

Ford Motor Co. has been sued for allegedly selling trucks over a 10-year period that had defective fuel tank linings, and for hiding the problem from consumers even as it warned dealers.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday in a New Jersey federal court said fuel tank linings on 10 E- and F-series truck models made between 1999 and 2008 would "separate and flake off."

It said this would clog fuel systems with debris and rust, causing a sudden loss of engine power, and potentially causing vehicles to buck or kick or suddenly stall.

Ford in 2007 issued a "secret" technical service bulletin to dealers advising of the problem, but neither recalled the affected trucks nor offered to repair them for free, the complaint said.

"Hundreds, if not thousands" of drivers have experienced the defect, it added.

A Ford spokeswoman did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Lawyers for the plaintiffs had no immediate comment.

The lawsuit was filed by Chester, New Jersey-based Coba Landscaping and Construction Inc and its principal Galo Coba.

It alleges fraud, breach of warranty, and unjust enrichment, among other charges, and seeks compensatory, punitive and triple damages.

The F-series pickup is the best-selling U.S. car or truck. Ford is based in Dearborn, Michigan. The E-Series is a truck-based full-size van.

The case is Coba et al v. Ford Motor Co, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey.



UAW deal with Ford looked hopeless, and then ...


By Bryce G. Hoffman
March 15, 2012

In May 2007, with financing for his turnaround plan secured and the Ford family united behind him, CEO Alan Mulally turned his attention to the United Auto Workers. While formal contract negotiations between Ford and the UAW were not due to begin until later that summer, he decided to jumpstart those talks.

On May 11, 2007, Mulally held a secret meeting with UAW President Ron Gettelfinger and UAW Vice President Bob King at the Dearborn Inn, a stately redbrick hotel hidden behind a screen of trees across the street from Ford Motor Company's proving grounds. They convened in a large suite with Chief Financial Officer Don Leclair, Vice President of Human Resources and Labor Affairs Joe Laymon, U.S. labor relations chief Marty Mulloy, and Joe Hinrichs, who had recently been promoted to vice president of manufacturing for North America. It was a casual gathering. There was no conference table. The men sat in armchairs clustered around a blank flip chart. Mulally stood next to the easel, a black marker in his hand. It was a beautiful spring day, and a gentle breeze blew through the open windows. A large American flag flapped audibly outside the window as Mulally began outlining his plan to make the United States a manufacturing leader once again.

At the top of the first blank sheet, Mulally wrote "Our World." Beneath it he drew a simple chart plotting the decline of Detroit's Big Three and the rise of their Japanese competitors.

"All three companies have been going out of business for decades. When they finally do, they'll take the UAW down with them," Mulally told the union leaders. "We've got to deal with this reality."

Of course, this was not news to either Gettelfinger or King. The UAW had its own financial advisers. They had reached the same conclusion. The only question was what to do about it. Mulally said he had some ideas.

He drew three intersecting circles. In one he wrote "Customers," in another "Dealers," and in the last one "Ford." Then he wrote "UAW" underneath the automaker's name. These were the company's stakeholders, Mulally explained. They all stood to benefit from Ford's success, and they all would lose if Ford failed.

Mulally drew three more circles, labeling these "Products," "Production," and "People." Under that he once again wrote "UAW." These, he said, were the levers Ford could pull to effect its transformation into a viable company — the inputs into his equation.

Beneath these two diagrams, Mulally charted Ford's finances, projected out over the next five years.

"Look at how much money we're losing," he said, tapping the chart with his pen. "We've got to get to break-even by '09."

But Mulally's chart showed the company losing $4 billion in 2009, the current internal forecast. If Ford could not figure out how to transform that loss into a profit, it might as well turn the lights out.

"We're going to run out of time," he said.

Gettelfinger and King complained that Ford was investing too much in its money-losing foreign brands. Why not start there? Mulally smiled, and wrote the initials of each brand on the bottom of the sheet, starting with "F" for Ford, followed by "L" for Lincoln, "M" for Mercury, "J" for Jaguar, "LR" for Land Rover, "V" for Volvo, "AM" for Aston Martin, and another "M" for Mazda. Then he crossed all of them out, except for the "F" and the "L." The union men were stunned.

"This is our plan. We're going to do this to invest in Ford," Mulally said with a grin. The only question was where to make that investment. The answer was up to the UAW. Right now Ford was losing money on almost every vehicle it made in America. It could keep doing that and go out of business, or it could use the money freed up by selling off the foreign brands to build new factories in Mexico, where it could build cars at a profit.

"What would you do?" Mulally asked. Neither Gettelfinger nor King answered.

Mulally said there was a third option: With the right contract, Ford could profitably build its cars right here, in the good old U.S. of A.

"If we can get back to being competitive, we can grow and we can provide more opportunities for salaried employees and UAW employees," he said. "That's my theme: Profitable growth for all."

Mulally took a step toward Gettelfinger and looked him in the eye.

"We want to prove that we can do this in America," he said solemnly. "Ron, will you hold hands with me? We'll do this together, and we'll go out there and say we did this together. We're going to be able to make products in America and make them profitably and successfully. Or, we'll just go out there and tell everybody it was too hard. We just couldn't do it. It's up to you."

Gettelfinger did not hesitate.

"We agree," he said.

"Great!" Mulally exclaimed. "If we can come to a competitive agreement going forward, here's what we're willing to do."

He flipped the page over and started on a clean sheet. This time Mulally outlined Ford's entire North American cycle plan — every product, every plant — for the life of the next contract. Mulally's biggest carrot was the Ford Focus. The North American version was being built at Ford's Wayne Stamping and Assembly Plant in Michigan. But he had already decided to replace it with the far better European version. The current plan called for the new Focus to be built in Mexico, because that was the only way Ford could make a profit on the inexpensive compact. Now, he told Gettelfinger, he was willing to keep building the Focus in Michigan — if the UAW would give the company the concessions it needed to build it profitably.

"I'm not trying to run away from you," Mulally promised the UAW president. "If we can do that, I'll make it here in the United States. That's my commitment."

* * *

What followed was a series of regular, covert meetings between Ford and the UAW. Sometimes it was just Alan Mulally and Ron Gettelfinger in the room, but Bob King was often there, too, as were Joe Laymon, Joe Hinrichs, and Marty Mulloy. Sometimes it would just be the latter two sitting down with the UAW leaders. Sometimes Don Leclair would be the man sitting across the table from Gettelfinger. These informal bargaining sessions were held every week or two. Gettelfinger, who despised the media, was worried some enterprising reporter might notice him coming or going from the Glass House, so they usually met in an empty, nondescript office building Bill Ford owned behind the Detroit Lions' practice facility in nearby Allen Park. It was a scene right out of a bad spy novel. The men would arrive in separate cars early in the morning, wait to make sure the coast was clear, and then hurry into an unlocked side door, taking care not to spill the steaming cup of coffee each brought with him. Once inside, they would gather around a conference table in an otherwise empty room and begin hashing out the details of a new national contract.

* * *

Ford's formal negotiations with the UAW began in July 2007. But the two sides could not reach an agreement on a key provision: how to fund a voluntary employees' beneficiary association, or VEBA, that would assume responsibility for hourly retiree health care. Leclair wanted to fund a substantial portion of the union-run trust with company stock. Gettelfinger wanted more cash. In frustration, the union decided to treat with General Motors first, then Chrysler. After inking deals with those automakers, the UAW returned to the bargaining table in Dearborn. Gettelfinger was willing to give Ford slightly more favorable terms than its cross-town rivals, but Leclair refused to budge. By Saturday, November 3, the two sides had signed off on everything else. They had been meeting around the clock since Halloween.

* * *

As the sun set on Saturday, the two sides were no closer to a deal than they had been that morning. The other Ford negotiators could see that Gettelfinger was losing patience and started to worry that the whole agreement might unravel. Ford's labor team told Leclair that the company had to be more flexible. Leclair refused to budge. Mulally was brought in to mediate.

As Ford's senior leadership debated the issue on the twelfth floor, Hinrichs got word that the UAW bargaining team was getting ready to leave. He ran downstairs to try to keep Gettelfinger and King at the table. Hinrichs launched into a long, rambling presentation outlining all of the product commitments Ford was prepared to make in its U.S. factories if it got the deal it needed on the VEBA. It was all stuff they had heard before. The union men listened, but they were growing impatient. Just when he thought he was losing them Hinrichs got a call from upstairs. He whispered into his phone for a few moments, and then asked Gettelfinger to follow him up to Laymon's office. Mulally was waiting there when they walked in. Leclair was nowhere to be seen. Mulally explained that something had come up at the Jaguar-Land Rover headquarters in England that required the CFO's immediate attention.

Unfortunately, someone else would have to take over the VEBA negotiations. Mulally apologized. Gettelfinger grinned. He agreed to wait while Ford controller Peter Daniel drove into the office from his home.

By the time Daniel arrived at World Headquarters, it was about 10 p.m. When the two sides reconvened at the bargaining table, it was closer to midnight. Daniel laid out the following terms: Ford would pay $17.3 billion into the VEBA trust. That was roughly the same percentage of its total liability that GM and Chrysler were putting into theirs. But Ford could cover only 40 percent of that with cash. The rest would have to be paid in the form of convertible notes. That was substantially less cash than the other two automakers were putting up, but it was as high as Ford could go. However, the company would agree to invest the difference in its U.S. factories. It took almost three hours to go over the details. Just before 3 a.m., Gettelfinger pushed back his chair and stood up. Hinrichs thought he was going to walk out again. Instead he looked around the room and then spoke in a voice that betrayed little of the exhaustion everyone else was suffering.

"We need this VEBA structured the way it's proposed, because we need the investments in our plants to keep our people in those plants," he said solemnly. "I take responsibility for what we're agreeing to. We need to get this deal done."

The Ford negotiators looked at each other with wide eyes. It was over. At 3:20 Sunday morning, Ron Gettelfinger and Alan Mulally shook hands in Joe Laymon's office. Joe Hinrichs, who had not even taken a nap since Thursday, found he could not stand up. He had to call for a driver to take him home.

American Icon


Feds investigate 360,000
Ford Taurus vehicles

By David Shepardson Detroit News Washington Bureau
March 12, 2012

Washington- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Sunday said it's opening a preliminary investigation into 360,000 2005-2006 Ford Taurus sedans over complaints of stuck throttles because of cruise control cable detachment.

NHTSA said it is has received 14 complaints from Taurus owners that said the engine revved as high as 4,000 RPMs after shifting into park or neutral.

Some complaints said owners had trouble stopping the vehicles - and one owner said the vehicle had traveled partially through a red light before it stopped. Some drivers had to shift into neutral or shut off the car to stop the vehicle.

Ford didn't immediately respond to a request seeking comment. NHTSA didn't identify any crashes or injuries related to the issue in its statement.

In a complaint filed Feb. 15, an owner from Hickory, N.C., said "while coasting uphill and approaching my left turn the (2006 Taurus) began to accelerate.

I made the left turn while applying a good amount of force to the brake pedal for fear that I would hit mail boxes and homes."

The owner of a 2005 Taurus told NHTSA in November that when stopped at a light the car started to rev "and could not hold on brakes enough to stop moving. Went through red light, around two cars as speed reached about 70 miles per hour. Both feet on brakes. Could smell them burning," the owner wrote. "Please someone make Ford wake up about this problem before someone is killed. I wouldn't feel right trading it in, for fear of someone else getting killed."

In both complaints, the owners said the problem was a disconnected cruise control cable.

Another owner of a 2005 Taurus videotaped the ride home - as the engine revved to 4,000 RPM.


Ford hopes to strike gold
with big Platinum trucks

Mike White, in town for tonight’s Professional Bull Riders competition, rides around the new 2013 Ford F-450 Platinum on Friday at Ford Field where Ford introduced the 2013 F-Series Super Duty truck models. (Daniel Mears / The Detroit News)

Company aims at lucrative luxury segment

By Doug Guthrie and Jaclyn Trop The Detroit News
March 11, 2012

Detroit— Ford Motor Co. unveiled its most luxurious pickup in a dirt-covered arena constructed inside Ford Field that will play host to the Professional Bull Riders "Last Cowboy Standing" competition.

Four 2013 F-Series Super Duty Platinum models rolled into the arena while country music blasted and cowboys prepared a brief exhibition of bull riding.

One of the trucks towed a livestock trailer loaded with bulls.

"This is one of Ford's most important vehicles," Ken Czubay, vice president of Ford truck sales and marketing, announced after stepping on stage in blue jeans, black shirt and cowboy boots.

Ford, which has been the title sponsor of the PBR tour for 10 years and claims to be the builder of America's most popular work trucks, is building on the success of its Platinum F-150 series by adding F-250-, F-350 and F-450 versions to the line. The move expands Ford's reach into the luxury truck segment, a lucrative market that can boost profit margins on the company's already most profitable vehicle.

The 2013 F-Series Super Duty features a chrome-detailed exterior and seats upholstered in high quality leather as soft and supple as a glove. The 8-inch dash-mounted, voice-controlled, touch-screen system — SYNC with MyFord Touch for coordinated operation of cellphones, music, navigation and interior environmental control — is so sensitive it can be run by occupants wearing work gloves. The audio and environmental control buttons also are oversize for gloves.

"We're meeting customer demand for an even more luxurious pickup truck than they can buy today," said Ford spokesman Mike Levine.

The automaker hasn't revealed a price, but Levine said it will cost more than the current top-of-the-line model — a diesel-only F-450 King Ranch at $68,000.

The new truck comes with optional 6.7-liter diesel or a 6.2-liter V-8 gasoline engine. It has temperature-controlled seating, a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel and a satin chrome and mesh grille.

Ford first released a Platinum truck model in 2009 with its F-150 light-duty series.

The market for luxury trucks has not yet been exhausted, said Aaron Bragman, a senior analyst at IHS Automotive.

"Nobody really knows where the upper end is for luxury pickup trucks," Bragman said. "People will spend astonishing amounts for completely lavishly outfitted trucks."

"It's the ultimate status symbol" even though gas prices are on the rise, Bragman said. "The idea is, if you can buy the car, you can afford the gas."

Double-digit profit margins on pickups make the segment especially inviting to automakers in the U.S., where there is a market for larger vehicles.

Ford's new F-Series will compete with General Motors Co.'s Sierra Denali and the Ram Laramie Longhorn model from Chrysler Group LLC.

The profit margins on trucks are much healthier than on compact cars or sedans.

"It doesn't really cost (an automaker) more to change the content of their trucks, but they can charge much more," Bragman said.

Jim Hayworth, CEO of the Professional Bull Riders tour, said research shows about half of the crowd that turns out for his events in 30 U.S. cities owns and drives Ford trucks. He owns a 2011 F-350, and was checking out the new luxury Platinum models.

"It's not my dad's pickup truck, that's for sure," Hayworth said.

"A lot of people use these in their daily lives. There are a lot of long stretches of road out there between jobs. Might as well be comfortable."


Retiring US Ford workers
to get payout option

Beginning in July, salaried employees can take lump sum

By Melissa Burden The Detroit News
March 10, 2012

Beginning in July, retiring Ford Motor Co. U.S. salaried workers will be eligible to receive a lump sum payout of their pensions instead of the traditional annuity option, the automaker said Friday.

About 25,000 U.S. salaried workers were told in October memos that they would have the option beginning in July, and a Ford representative told analysts about the option during a webcast Friday, said Ford spokesman Todd Nissen.

"We did say that we plan to begin offering lump sum payouts as an option to future retirees," he said.

Ford announced in late January that it is working to reduce its pension risk.

Its worldwide pensions at the end of 2011 were underfunded by $15.4 billion — up from $11.5 billion a year ago.

In the U.S., Ford's pension obligations are underfunded by $9.4 billion, up from $6.7 billion. Ford, which contributed $1.5 billion to its global pension plans in 2010, plans to make $3.5 billion in contributions to those plans this year, including $2 billion to its U.S. pension funds.

The Dearborn-based company isn't releasing any savings estimates on the move or its expectations, but the payouts would reduce the automaker's pension liability.

"If you have less people drawing in the future … it reduces the risk to the overall plan," Nissen said.

Ford would not provide age or any other demographic breakdowns of its salaried work force, Nissen said.

David Kudla, CEO and chief investment strategist of Mainstay Capital Management LLC in Grand Blanc, said there are several advantages for employees to take a lump sum distribution.

"The advantage of the lump sum, you can invest any way you want and take the distributions at any time you want," he said, adding that can aid in tax liability.

The current low interest rates also would benefit workers, because they would receive a higher lump sum payment, Kudla said.

"It's a favorable time to be doing it," he said.


NDP leadership: Peggy Nash,
a pit bull who is always
there for her neighbourhood

Peggy Nash

Joanna Smith - Toronto Star
March 10, 2012

Peggy Nash lights up when she talks about her favourite place in the city — the heart of the neighbourhood where she lives and works.

"High Park," Nash, 60, says without hesitation when asked where she goes to find rejuvenation.

Her slow, deliberate way of speaking picks up pace as she talks about how much she loves the zoo, running in the park, how her children, now three grown men, played sports on its grassy lawns, how the trees surrounding Grenadier Pond change with the seasons, the deer, foxes and coyotes she has spotted there.

"To me, High Park is a magical place," she says.

She is deeply concerned some of that magic will disappear, as the year-round, free-admission zoo is threatened with closing due to municipal budget cuts.

"The mean-spiritedness of eliminating one of the pleasures we have in this city," Nash says when she talks about the possibility of saying goodbye forever to the wallabies, peacocks and other animals in the paddocks. "We need our bread, but we also need our roses."

Peggy is always there.

The statement echoes like a refrain through every conversation about the role the New Democratic leadership candidate plays in the Parkdale—High Park riding she represented from 2006 to 2008 and reclaimed in the federal election last year.

"Every event you go to, she is there. She's smiling, she's shaking hands, she's answering questions," says Toronto Councillor Sarah Doucette (Ward 13), who is leading the effort to save the High Park zoo. "Even when she lost the election . . . she was still there. She was still out in the community. She was still coming to the garage sales, the craft shows, the church services, the festivals. She was still there, but she lives there."

This reality becomes apparent when Nash stops mid-sentence and looks up with a start and a smile.

"Oh, God, there's my old next-door neighbour," she says as she cranes her neck for a better view of the cash register at Coffee and All That Jazz, a café in Roncesvalles Village just a short walk away from the home she shares with her partner, Carl Kaufman. "Do you mind if I just quickly run and just say a quick hi to him?"

Nash was born and raised in Toronto.

Early childhood was in the area of Dufferin St. and Rogers Rd., where memories, albeit still vivid, are the stuff of little girls: a backyard swing set, the smell of good food wafting from the kitchen of the Basso family next door, riding in the first car of the subway with her grandfather to St. Lawrence Market or the flagship Eaton's department store on Saturday mornings.

Then came the move out to suburban Rexdale in northern Etobicoke, where Nash recalls a strong sense of community, playing with other kids on the banks of the Humber River and watching her father help the neighbours put up fences for all the homes.

"We were a pretty close-knit little street," she says.

A grassroots Quebec New Democrat who is planning to vote for another candidate recently described Nash, a former NDP president, in casual conversation as a rassembleuse, the feminine form of a word that Jack Layton used to describe himself, meaning someone who is a unifying force, someone who rallies people together.

That could be why she is often categorized as a potential compromise candidate, someone appealing to those who are looking for some happy medium between the high-profile but abrasive Thomas Mulcair and Brian Topp, who like Nash is a favourite of the party establishment but does not have a seat.

The campaign managers for Topp and Nash recently said there would be no open alliance between the two candidates to stop front-runner Mulcair.

Nash always felt connected to the city.

She loved going downtown to visit the museums and felt excited by the immigration she believed was changing her hometown in a positive way, but sometime after graduating from the University of Toronto with an honours degree in French language and literature in 1973, she felt restless and wanted to see the world.

Taking leaves of absence from her job as a passenger agent for Air Canada at Pearson International Airport, Nash travelled to Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela. She is fluent in Spanish.

It made her thankful that she lived in a peaceful and politically stable country, but also somewhat wistful that Canadians were not more politically aware and engaged, something she still wishes were the case today.

"We all know, vigilance is key," she says of the importance of political awareness even when a country is not experiencing the kind of crises she witnessed during her travels. "Every generation has to fight for things all over again."

She explains that she is talking about the rights of women being threatened by the Conservative government doing things like refusing to include funding for abortion in the G8 initiative on maternal child health, but also about growing economic inequality through job losses and attacking collective agreements.

"There has been pressure building for several years, but it's increasingly gaining velocity. It's accelerating and I think we should all be concerned about it," says Nash.

Nash fought hard for those rights as an organizer with the Canadian Airlines Employees Association and then as a senior negotiator for the Canadian Auto Workers union.

She was the first woman union negotiator to lead talks with the automotive industry in 2005. Another woman, Stacey Allerton Firth, vice-president for human resources at Ford, was in charge of the other side. They avoided a strike.

"Put two women in charge and they'll get it done," then CAW president Buzz Hargrove once told the Star he overheard Nash saying to Allerton Firth as the chuckling pair passed him in the hallway when he was taking a break from a difficult bargaining session.

Nash became instrumental in pushing for same-sex benefits, anti-harassment and anti-racism policies and employer-funded child care during her time at the CAW and advocated for better equality for minorities and diversity within the union too.

"That by far is her legacy in the union," CAW president Ken Lewenza, who recently rejoined the NDP to support Nash, along with his union. "She was like a pit bull on those issues."

Nash is a founding member of Equal Voice, the non-partisan organization advocating the election of more women, but she was not sure at first whether to run for office herself when Layton encouraged her to do it, soon after he became the federal NDP leader in 2003.

"It's a question of where can you do the most." Nash says. The NDP had fewer seats in Parliament then than the Liberals, the Canadian Alliance and the Bloc Québécois. "I had a senior position in my union, where I felt I could make a concrete difference, so I had to ask myself: why do this and run for a fourth party?"

She says it was her frustration with the Liberals, who had come to power in 1993 promising to increase the number of child care spaces and then cut social spending to balance the federal budget, that helped her make her choice.

"I just thought: you know what? It matters who's elected. It matters who is actually there in Parliament making decisions," she says.

It was not to be the first time around, when Nash lost the 2004 election in Parkdale—High Park to Liberal incumbent Sam Bulte, but she got a taste for politics and never let go.

"I knew that I would run again," says Nash. "I thoroughly enjoyed it."

Victory came two years later and Nash set about using that beachhead to turn the riding orange at all three levels of government.

"Her reputation was golden. It helped me get elected, there's no doubt," says Cheri DiNovo, the United Church minister turned Ontario NDP MPP for Parkdale—High Park, who Nash had lured into politics for a 2007 byelection.

Terry Burrell, chairman of the board of directors of the Revue Film Society, recalls Nash playing an important role in the effort to save the Revue Cinema on Roncesvalles Ave. during her first stint as MP.

"She gave the issue a real profile, appearing at key events, and donated generously to the cause," said Burrell, who has worked on her campaigns.

Being there was not enough for Nash to win re-election in 2008 against Gerard Kennedy, who had been the well-regarded Liberal MPP for Parkdale—High Park but ran for the Commons seat that year after having left the Ontario government to run unsuccessfully for federal leader.

DiNovo recalls sitting in the living room of Nash's home on that election night as they both watched the poll-by-poll returns — something DiNovo avoids doing when her own name is on the ballot because it feels like "being eaten to death by guppies."

"Most people would have felt pretty devastated by that, and she didn't," says DiNovo of Nash, who returned to her old job at the CAW. "Within months of the loss she was out again and back again."

Kennedy remembers Nash still being around in the riding when he was the MP and he credits her "city councillor kind of presence" with her success against him in the next election campaign, in 2011, but noted there is a difference between being present and solving problems when it comes to politics.

David Miller, both a neighbour and a friend to Nash in addition to being the former mayor of Toronto, believes that being from the city is one of her greatest strengths. He sees it in her plan for green cities that includes federal investment in public transit and environmentally friendly infrastructure projects.

"The heart of our neighbourhood is High Park, physically and symbolically," says Miller, who is not endorsing anyone in the leadership race. "You'll often run into Peggy running in the park and I think that's symbolic of her attachment to the neighbourhood: that she is there at its heart."


CAW Contact
March 9, 2012
Volume 42, No. 9


CAW Members at 407 ETR Ratify New Collective Agreement

CAW Local 414 members working at the 407 ETR call centre ratified a new three-year collective agreement on March 5, ending a nine-day strike.

Members approved the new contract by 84 per cent. The agreement includes hourly wage increases for each job classification and in each year of the agreement. The new contract also includes improvements to workplace scheduling processes as well as dental and other benefit gains.

Deb Tveit, Assistant to the CAW National President, said that in addition to these contract gains the employer also came to terms with the underlying frustration and animosity of those in the bargaining unit, the root cause of the strike.

"We said right from the onset that this dispute was, at its core, about fairness and respect," Tveit said. "No one here ever wanted to resort to strike action, but it was a necessary step to get the company's full attention. We think this agreement sets the stage for a more constructive and respectful work environment moving forward."

CAW Local 414 President Christine Connor acknowledged the hard work of the bargaining committee for reaching this settlement.

"This agreement is a testament to the commitment of our bargaining team and of our members," Connor said. "This strike has demonstrated that our members are prepared to stand up and speak out against unfairness in the workplace."

CAW Local 414 represents 130 members who handle customer inquiries, billing, registrations and other job duties for the express toll highway that runs from Pickering to Burlington, Ontario.

CAW Charges Forward at Navistar in Chatham

More than 600 members of CAW Local 35 and 127 at Navistar Truck in Chatham, Ontario came out to hear an update from the union on the negotiations with Navistar and next steps. The meeting took place on March 4.

Negotiations have been ongoing since the company formally announced the Chatham truck plant's closure in July 2011. CAW President Ken Lewenza and the bargaining committees have rejected the latest offer tabled by Navistar on February 28. The proposal fell short in a number of areas, including the legal requirements around pensions as they relate to closures. Navistar has not returned to the bargaining table.

"Navistar has no intention of reopening the plant, so they have a responsibility to bargain a good closure agreement," Lewenza said at the meeting. "This employer is trying to restrict the benefits the people earned as they worked at Navistar (International Truck) and we're not going to let that happen."

At the meeting, members expressed frustration at the company's refusal to recognize the workers' longstanding efforts.

Lewenza vowed that the union would use every resource at its disposal to ensure that members at Navistar receive due justice and compensation for the closure.

The company shuttered the heavy truck plant in June 2009. For more information visit: http://www.caw.ca/navistar

International Day for the Elimination of Racism: March 21st

As March 21 approaches CAW members are reminded of their responsibility to speak out and take a stand against racism in all its forms.

"Racism contradicts and undermines our union struggle for equality, inclusiveness and social justice," said CAW Human Rights Director Vinay Sharma. "Intolerance, hatred and discrimination lead to the denial of basic human rights and fundamental freedoms, endangers peace as well as economic and social security."

"Racism is destructive to our members and to our solidarity, which are the pillars of our strength," Sharma states in a letter to all CAW local unions. "It is in our interest as a union to work towards removing barriers and to help build a just and equitable society."

Systemic racism is taking increasingly diversified forms including racial profiling, non-recognition of acquired skills, discriminatory hiring practices, exploitation of migrant workers, to name a few. People of colour are three times more likely to be poor than other Canadians because of inequalities in access to education, barriers to employment and low wages, he said. Likewise, aboriginal people face persistent health and income inequalities.

"Eliminating racism must continue to be a priority not only for the CAW but for the working class as a whole. No doubt there is still a lot of work to be done as racism still exists in our workplaces, Canadian society and right across the world. That's why we need to pay special attention to this issue every day leading up to March 21 and every day after," Sharma said.

The United Nations declared March 21 the International Day for the Elimination of Racism in 1966.

For more information please visit:

Fishers Warn Government Reforms Could Undercut Workers

Atlantic Canadian fishers are raising flags over a federal government proposal to deregulate the fishery, including the institution of major reforms to the licensing system that would extend access to large corporations.

FFAW/CAW President Earle McCurdy said that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans fishery modernization proposal (released in a discussion paper entitled "The Future of Canada's Commercial Fisheries") makes no mention of owner-operator and fleet separation policies that have been used to prevent large companies from buying up and controlling inshore fish quota.

The absence of these policies could open the door for large corporations to hold licenses to catch lobster, crab and shrimp stocks that McCurdy said will undercut the self-employed, independent fishers.

"The Ottawa bureaucracy of DFO has very little understanding of the industry and the coastal communities that they are managing," said McCurdy. "We urge the Minister to listen to the owner-operators in the coastal communities, not the bureaucrats in Ottawa."

In a joint response to the DFO discussion paper released on February 29, 33 owner-operator fleets from Quebec to Newfoundland (including the FFAW/CAW) chided the government initiative, labeling it a "top-down, centrally controlled and manipulative policy process without any notice" in a media release on March 5.

The organizations say they are fearful the DFO plans to introduce a licensing leasing policy to the Atlantic fishery that's similar to British Columbia.

"The leasing policy in B.C. allows non-fishermen to control licenses and quota and lease them to working fishermen for up to 75 per cent of the value of their landings."

A full copy of the response is available here.

Ontario School Bus Drivers Support Possible Strike

School bus drivers employed by multinational operator First Student have overwhelmingly supported a strike mandate after more than six months of fruitless negotiations.

CAW Local 4268 represents approximately 750 school bus drivers who provide services for school boards and customers in various locations across southern Ontario. Some or all of the customers may see service interruptions if the parties fail to come to a tentative agreement later this month. The strike mandate expires on March 30, so notice may be given prior to that date, at any time.

"The employer, school boards and other customers constantly come up with new procedures, policies and job requirements that add even greater time and responsibilities beyond the route times for drivers," CAW Local 4268 President Debbie Montgomery said. "The issue is not with the new procedures or regulations, but the fact that the time they require is often not compensated."

"Drivers are expected to fulfill various tasks before, between and even after their routes. This practice has become so widespread that driving a school bus is now partially volunteer work - instead of regular paid employment."

Negotiations have been ongoing since October 2011 and the union has been in a legal strike position since December.

School bus drivers operate large commercial vehicles with a load of up to 70 children and assist students with special needs to attend programs or schools, all on a tight schedule. Many times, school bus drivers have multiple routes or destinations built into their schedule.

"We are trying to enshrine a higher level of respect and dignity for these drivers. It's very troubling that the industry requires so much of these drivers, yet the pay scale is often close to minimum wage," said CAW National Representative Len Poirier.

Poirier said there is another round of meetings between the two sides set up for early March. Should the negotiations continue to fail to produce a settlement, the union will set a strike deadline before the end of March. In addition to these negotiations another 120 members of CAW Local 4266 in Cornwall and Kingston are in a similar position as they have rejected one tentative agreement and continue with negotiations.

First Student is operated by First Group, the largest provider of school bus services in the home to school market.

CETA Exemption Request a Responsible Move by Toronto

CAW National President Ken Lewenza called the City of Toronto's decision to request a clear, permanent exemption from a proposed Canada-European free trade accord a responsible move in the face of major uncertainty. To date, it is unclear what is being negotiated in the deal and how it will impact municipalities.

"We are in the midst of signing the most far-reaching international trade deal in Canadian history that aims to bind our cities and towns, yet local councils have been left in the dark, with no voice at the negotiating table," Lewenza said. "The City of Toronto is exercising an intelligent amount of caution on a trade deal that could impact its ability to manage public spending in the best interest of Torontonians."

City Council supported the call for an exemption from the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) March 5. The final resolution was an amended version of an earlier executive committee motion calling for, among other things, an accelerated dialogue with the province on the potential impacts of CETA on Toronto. The amendment to include a clear, permanent exemption was introduced by Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam and received overwhelming support.

Leaked negotiating texts and various news reports indicate that CETA threatens to undercut the power of municipalities to create local jobs, establish "buy local" procurement policies, enact environmental protections and provide services and programs in a manner it sees fit.

Proponents of the CETA (including the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters) argue the deal will open up public purchasing markets for corporations in both Canada and Europe and will be a boon to the economy, an argument Lewenza said carries little weight.

"It's wrong to say this deal will open up markets to cross-border competition when there's next to nothing stopping competition from European firms right now," Lewenza said. "Unlike many of our trading partners, Canada has been reluctant to impose rules on public purchasing, often to our own detriment."

Lewenza said that the City of Toronto's 25 per cent Canadian-content policy for new light rail transit vehicles ensured that a portion of the record-breaking public purchase would help boost the local and national economy.

Toronto is the latest in a growing list of cities and towns across Canada to raise concerns over the CETA. A number of municipalities, including Oshawa, Hamilton and Ingersoll have also called for a clear, permanent exemption.

The Toronto resolution comes on the eve of a Federation of Canadian Municipalities Board of Directors meeting in Kitchener, Ontario (that runs from March 7-10). The FCM Board is expected to speak with Canada's lead CETA negotiator Steve Verheul at the meeting.

CAW President Ken Lewenza Visits the University of Manitoba

CAW President Ken Lewenza toured the University of Manitoba recently to visit with CAW Local 3007 members. Tractor operator David Wikdahl has more than 33 years of service at the university, while Local 3007 recording secretary Samantha Tomchuk, a labourer/groundskeeper has more than 20 years. Frank Wright, left, is the grievance chair and a painter with more than 13 years and Brian Kelly, Local 3007 president, is a truck driver with 18 years. Along with Ken is Bob Orr, assistant to the CAW president. The CAW represents approximately 500 members at the University of Manitoba including skilled trades, groundskeepers, food service workers, power engineers and caretakers.

Unanswered Questions in Nova Scotia Health Care Bargaining

Provincial government and employer plans to merge some hospital administration in Nova Scotia have left many workers with unanswered questions and concerns regarding the future, the CAW says.

CAW Locals 4600, 4603 and 4606 represent approximately 2,000 workers in Nova Scotia hospitals and the locals are currently in bargaining for new collective agreements. The CAW represents Nova Scotia health care workers who include pharmacists, occupational therapists, licensed practical nurses, carpenters, cooks and laundry workers.

The Nova Scotia government, district health authorities and the IWK Health Centre in Halifax recently announced the merger of several administrative services after consultants Ernst and Young were hired to analyze whether savings could be found.

After considering the final report, the province and district health authorities agreed to merge some administrative and laundry services. But the Nova Scotia Health Minister has since indicated the province won't act on all recommendations, including the contracting out of services such as laundry to private companies.

"We are not surprised that private consultants Ernst and Young recommended privatizing some services in our health care system,"said Jim Mott, business agent for CAW Local 4606. The employer track record clearly supports this direction.

Jimmy Callahan, president of CAW Local 4603, said "the fact that the government did not accept Ernst and Young's recommendation to privatize laundry services is positive. But this is only phase one of the review exercise. The uncertainty of the future cuts and merger of services is very unsettling for our members," Callahan said.

"Exactly who will be providing these merged services?" asked Wayne MacPherson, CAW Local 4600 President. "The minister talked about an 'alternative service delivery' model. The report by Ernst and Young mentions other services such as Diagnostic Imaging. What are the government's plans for other services? None of this has been revealed," MacPherson said.

International Women's Day-March 8, 2012

International Women's Day is a time to celebrate the progress women have made, and a time to take action to break down the obstacles to women's equality.

Women in Canada now make up half of the workforce. But equal numbers do not necessarily mean equality at the workplace. Women work hard, but take home less pay, and are more likely to work in part-time and precarious jobs with fewer benefits and little or no workplace pensions. And women still take on the lion's share of caregiving and household responsibilities.

Women are under tremendous pressure to balance work and family life, whether it is caring for children, looking after ageing, disabled or sick relatives, or contributing to their community.

Yet the Harper government has failed to take concrete steps to relieve the pressure on working women and their families.

  • One of Stephen Harper's first acts in power was to cancel agreements with the provinces and territories for early learning and child care and cut $1 billion in funding. He replaced it with a monthly payment directly to parents-at an amount that barely covers a couple of nights of babysitting. The search for quality, affordable child care is a huge burden on many families, and child care is the second biggest household expense Canada lacks a national housing strategy and a plan to address growing poverty and inequality. About 1 in 3 children living in poverty has at least one parent who is working full-time. More than half of single mothers with children under six live in poverty. They face considerable challenges to find adequate, affordable child care and secure housing while balancing work, education or training and community service.
  • The Harper government has failed to take necessary steps to improve women's retirement security. Instead of improving the Canada Pension Plan, the government has chosen to promote another RRSP-style scheme called Pooled Registered Pension Plans, which will benefit banks, mutual fund and insurance companies more than they will help Canadians save for retirement. Now they are musing about changing access to Old Age Security, a move that will only drive more senior women further into poverty.
  • The Conservative government has also put women's safety at risk by abolishing the gun registry and destroying its database. Not only has the registry helped save lives by reducing the rate of women murdered with firearms by 69 per cent but many workers have relied on the registry to help keep our workplaces and our communities safe. And their failure to take real action to address the national tragedy of missing and murdered First Nations, Inuit and Métis women and girls has now triggered an inquiry by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.

On this International Women's Day, Canadian Auto Workers union in conjunction with the Canadian Labour Congress call on the Federal government to do more to help women achieve economic, social and political equality in this country by investing in child care, establishing a national housing strategy, improving the Canada Pension Plan, taking meaningful action to end violence against women and address the national tragedy of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls.

On this International Women's Day, Canada's labour movement will continue to break down the barriers to women's equality in the workplace and in society. We will fight for fair contracts for our members and for better labour standards for all workers. We will push for provisions that help women balance work and family life, like flexible work schedules, job-sharing, and family emergency leave. We will stand against austerity measures and cuts to public services, an important source of good jobs for women. We will take on corporate greed and advocate a clear vision for a Canada that works for everyone.

Give Us Bread, but Give Us Roses
As the refrain goes, "Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes; Hearts starve as well as bodies; give us bread, but give us roses!"


Ford Provides Up to $100,000
to Help Tornado Victims

  • Ford Motor Company Fund is directly contributing $75,000 to the American Red Cross and its local chapters in tornado-impacted areas and the Dare to Care Food Bank in Louisville
  • Matching donations by Ford employees, including plant gate donation collections at Kentucky Truck, Louisville Assembly and Sharonville Transmission Plants, are expected to total up to $100,000
  • Ford contributions in the greater Louisville area are expected to total more than $1.5 million during 2011-12

DEARBORN, Mich., March 9, 2012 – In the wake of recent tornadoes, Ford Motor Company Fund is donating $75,000 to the American Red Cross and its chapters, as well as the Dare to Care Food Bank in Louisville to assist with disaster relief primarily in southern Indiana, and northern and eastern Kentucky. With matching employee donations, total contributions are expected to reach $100,000.

Some of the funds also will support relief efforts in other areas impacted by the tornadoes, including southern Ohio where Sharonville Plant employees are volunteering their time to assist with rebuilding efforts.

“Our hearts go out to our neighbours in the wake of these destructive tornadoes,” said Jim Vella, president, Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services. “We are ready to help those impacted by this tragedy.”

The American Red Cross and Ford have been active partners for more than 30 years. Ford’s support of the Dare to Care Food Bank includes the recent donation of a refrigerated F-550 truck through its Partnership for Hunger Relief with Newman’s Own and Feeding America.

Ford Motor Company, through its two Louisville manufacturing operations and through the Operation Goodwill partnership between Ford Motor Company Fund and area Ford and Lincoln dealerships is expected to contribute more than $1.5 million to organizations in the greater Louisville area during 2011 and 2012. The goal is to address local needs, especially in the areas of education, driving safety and community life.


UAW pacts put heat on Lewenza

Detroit Three pushing for U.S. model

By Beatrice Fantoni, The Windsor Star
March 8, 2012

WINDSOR, Ont. -- The Canadian Auto Workers union is under pressure from the Detroit Three to accept performance pay and bonuses rather than across-the-board salary increases, CAW president Ken Lewenza said on Wednesday.

"We know it's not business as usual," Lewenza told The Star, adding that a strong Canadian dollar has made it difficult for the auto industry here to remain competitive.

Lewenza said Chrysler, Ford and General Motors are pushing the recent deal with autoworkers in the U.S. as the model to follow in Canada when contract negotiations with the CAW start in September.

In its last two contracts, the United Auto Workers union accepted a deal that links pay to company performance.

The CAW is still opposed to profit-sharing schemes, Lewenza said, but it cannot ignore that times have changed.

"We have managed to resist what we call gimmick pay. But the UAW did something that we cannot ignore, considering where we are today," Lewenza said.

"I want us to stick to the traditional way of compensating workers, with no gimmicks attached," he said.

Tony Faria, an auto industry expert at the University of Windsor, said the Detroit Three — and especially Chrysler — have indicated that they will bargain aggressively with the CAW for a shift to performance pay and bonuses in lieu of an hourly wage increase because they want to keep their fixed costs steady.

Thanks to a good year in 2011, UAW workers in the U.S. are getting cheques for as much as $7,000, Faria said, which shows that when times are good, profit-sharing can be effective.

"But if we hit a year like the end of 2008 where the auto market just tanks, of course it's not good for the workers," he said.

At the same time, the argument in favour of an hourly wage increase works in times companies are doing well in the market.

But GM and Chrysler went bankrupt in part because they had agreed to contracts with wage increases that were not sustainable when the market turned, Faria said.

"The companies are right to try and not repeat the mistakes they've made in the past," Faria said.

"That's the big problem. Taking on contracts that may be affordable this year but aren't necessarily affordable years and years into the future," he said.

Rick Laporte, CAW Local 444 president and head of the bargaining unit for Chrysler, said workers at Chrysler are asking about profit-sharing now that they see big cheques cut for autoworkers in the U.S.

"I don't think it's the right direction, but it's enticing," he said.

While he expects Chrysler to do well this year, the union still has to be "creative" in its bargaining position and find different ways to bring profits to autoworkers, Laporte said.

An hourly wage increase is not an impossible demand, Lewenza said.

"Pay them the wages based on the employer's ability to pay," Lewenza said.

"General Motors, Ford and Chrysler are going to make an incredible amount of profit in the next couple of years," he said. "The question is, how do you share in the success?"

After the sacrifices the union made three years ago, the CAW wants to see some progress, he said, adding that the union is meeting regularly to discuss how to keep Canada competitive and how the industry should position itself in the future.

While Canadian autoworkers can't price themselves above other markets, Canada does offer advantages in productivity and health care, he said.

CAW contracts with the Detroit Three expire in September.


US Ford plant gets
ready to add workers

Wayne facility offers temporary layoffs to train new employees

By Jaclyn Trop The Detroit News
March 8, 2012

Ford Motor Co. is offering temporary layoffs at its Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne to allow newer workers to train as it moves to round-the-clock hours for the first time in more than 10 years.

The move will allow new workers to train on the line for several weeks before the plant adds a third shift in May. About 200 workers are expected to accept temporary layoffs during March and April as the plant prepares to add nearly 1,200 employees.

"We are offering employees with high seniority a temporary layoff in order to bring on new employees for training purposes," said Ford spokesman Todd Nissen.

The workers on temporary layoff will be paid about 95 percent of their usual salary through company and state benefits, Nissen said. The temporary layoffs will last no longer than three weeks, according to Nissen.

Nissen said that the measure will boost production, and not cut capacity. "It's not volume-related as a plant," Nissen said.

Most of the new jobs will be filled by Ford workers from other southeastern Michigan locations, said Ford Motor Co. spokeswoman Marcey Evans.

The Wayne plant makes the 2012 Ford Focus and Ford Focus Electric, which have posted strong sales this year and are gaining market share in the small-car category. It is preparing for the preproduction models of the two new hybrid models of its C-Max passenger car.

Built in 1957 as the Michigan Truck Plant, the facility closed for two years before reopening as a small car and electric vehicle assembly plant in January 2011. The plant has not had three shifts since 2001, Evans said.


Ford chief Alan Mulally awarded $58.3M in company stock

Alan Mulally

By Jaclyn Trop and David Shepardson
The Detroit News
March 7, 2012

Ford Motor Co. President and CEO Alan Mulally received $58.3 million in company stock this week as part of a 2009 long-term incentive pay package, the automaker disclosed Tuesday.

Mulally received 4.82 million shares of stock, but Ford withheld 1.97 million shares to pay the taxes on the stock award.

After taxes, Mulally received 2.86 million shares of stock worth $34.5 million after taxes.

Ford was awarded the shares as "stock units" in 2009, but they didn't "vest" or become Mulally's until Monday.

Ford spokesman Jay Cooney said the company's compensation plan ties executives' pay to performance.

"Our compensation philosophy is to align the interests of our leadership with those of our shareholders," Cooney said. "To do this, we put the vast majority of their compensation at risk through performance-based grants. Ford's stock was $1.96 a share at the time of the 2009 awards and is $12 a share today. That is more than a 500 percent increase, and this benefits all stakeholders in the Ford turnaround."

Mulally also received a new stock award from Ford's board of directors of 376,016 shares of stock that will vest in 2014. Those shares are currently valued at $4.55 million.

Mulally also was awarded options to buy 1.275 million shares of Ford stock at $12.46, which he could exercise over three years with 33 percent per year.

Ford's CEO options have no immediate value — since Ford's stock closed at $12.09 on Tuesday.

Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr. was awarded 175,473 shares worth $2.1 million that will vest in 2014. He also received 595,238 stock options that allow him to buy shares of stock at $12.46. The conditions on Mulally's options also apply to Ford's.

Today's higher stock price explains why Mulally received 12 times more shares of stock in 2009 than this year.

The compensation of top Ford executives was an issue last fall during talks with the United Auto Workers union.


Romney criticizes Obama's
handling of Delphi retirees

By David Shepardson Detroit News Washington Bureau
March 6, 2012

Washington- Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney on Monday criticized the Obama administration's treatment of 20,000 salaried retirees at Delphi Corp. who lost pensions and insurance benefits.

He also called for a re-examination of General Motors Co.'s 2009 bankruptcy restructuring as part of the U.S. government's $49.5 billion bailout. "I think it's important for us to go back and look at what happened and take apart this bankruptcy process. See to what extent the finger of politics was placed on the scales of justice and see if we can't be more fair to the people involved in this process," Romney said at a campaign stop in Ohio.

Troy-based Delphi Corp., while in bankruptcy in 2009, terminated the pension plans of 70,000 people and left a $7.2 billion shortfall. The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. — the government's pension insurer — must pay $6 billion of the losses.

The supplier's pension termination is the second-largest loss to PBGC in its history, behind only United Airlines' pension shortfall of $7.4 billion in 2005.

In a move that has brought harsh criticism from Congress, GM "topped up" the pensions of most union Delphi hourly workers and retirees — primarily those from the United Auto Workers union — even though it wasn't legally obligated to do so.

GM did not do the same for Delphi's 20,000 salaried retirees and pension participants. The automaker also didn't agree to "top up" the pensions of smaller unions.

Romney was asked Monday by a Delphi retiree about what could be done.

"There's a normal process and various participants at the table get their fair share. But instead of that happening, the president made sure that the UAW got more than their fair share. I don't have a problem with union workers and their rights to have their rights respected," Romney said. "What I object to is when a president exercises crony capitalism, which means when a president says by virtue of my power, I'm going to take care of my friends.

There's no question that support for his campaign came from organized labor, and so he took care of organized labor."

Romney has come under criticism for his opposition to the auto bailout.

Then-UAW President Ron Gettelfinger in January 2010 called the treatment of salaried retirees at Delphi "a grave injustice." Michigan's two U.S. senators, House Speaker John Boehner and many others in Congress have urged GM to reconsider its decision not to cover Delphi's salaried pensions. GM has declined to do so.

Romney suggested that Delphi salaried retirees were treated differently.

"You weren't part of that union. You were part of management and you got left with nothing. Is it nothing or was it close to nothing?"

Romney said. "I don't know the specifics of what happened to you or employees at Delphi, but I will endeavor along with your senator to learn exactly what's happened and to make sure that the American people understand that, in this nation, we are a nation of laws. We follow the law.

We don't distort the law to take care of people who may have been our political supporters."

Of salaried and hourly workers, about half have seen their pensions cut by PBGC as required under the law.

The Treasury declined to comment on Romney's remarks.

The Treasury official overseeing the auto bailout, Tim Massad, said in December that the government acknowledged the Delphi bankruptcy had been "extremely difficult and challenging for all of its employees."

The Treasury has insisted it did not make the decision to "top up" hourly Delphi retiree pensions, but that it understood why GM decided to do so.

GM expects that agreement will cost $1 billion.

GM told a government audit released in December it made the decisions "because of its dependence" on the UAW.

PBGC recovered about $650 million from Delphi, meaning its net losses from taking over the pension plans is about $5.3 billion.

A GM spokesman declined to comment. A Treasury spokesman didn't immediately return a message seeking comment.

Delphi salaried retirees have a suit pending in U.S. District Court in Detroit. In September, U.S. District Judge Arthur Tarnow dismissed claims against the Treasury but allowed the suit against PBGC to continue.

In November, two years after the company exited bankruptcy as a new firm, Delphi Automotive went public.

Delphi was a former unit of General Motors until it was spun off in 1999.

During bankruptcy, the supplier eliminated most of its U.S. plants and hourly workers, along with billions of dollars in pension obligations and other debts.

It also canceled salaried retiree health care and life insurance.

When it filed for bankruptcy, Delphi had 50,000 U.S. employees and more than 30 plants. It closed more than 70 sites worldwide, most of them in the United States. Today, Delphi has 5,000 U.S. workers and five U.S. plants. None of its 1,000 U.S. hourly employees are represented by the United Auto Workers.

More than 90 percent of Delphi's roughly 100,000 hourly workers are in low-wage countries, and 30 percent of its factory workers are temporary workers.


Book highlights include Ford's narrow escape from bankruptcy

According to “American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company,” Ford gathered an internal team during the financial collapse toward the end of 2008 to study its supplier base. (Bill Pugliano/Getty Images & Random House)

Leadership gave reins to outsider to save industry icon

By Jaclyn Trop The Detroit News
March 4, 2012

Ford Motor Co. skirted closer to bankruptcy than the public realized, Detroit News automotive reporter Bryce G. Hoffman says in a book to be released this month.

Cost-cutting measures at the Dearborn automaker included requiring executive approval to buy a box of paper clips. Plants went unwatered and windows unwashed in a further cost-cutting bid.

With Ford Motor Co.'s cooperation, "American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company" tells the behind-the-scenes account of the automaker's turnaround.

Highlights include:

The board's pressure on Bill Ford Jr. to step aside as CEO in 2006

One director told Hoffman that Ford was reluctant to make decisions and didn't fully participate in meetings.

"He is not giving it the 24/7 effort that he promised us," the director is quoted in the book. "He's not involved in the operational and product meetings. And he's been unable to resolve the internal conflicts. You have to have the CEO calling the shots. Bill isn't."

Ford agreed that he needed help running the company and poached Alan Mulally from his post as CEO at Boeing Co.

The push by some board members to sell the company or file for bankruptcy

The situation became so dire that the board of directors pushed Bill Ford to explore mergers with other automakers and consider selling portions of the company to the private equity firms beginning to show interest.

The Ford family considered taking the company private again, but the only financially viable option was for Bill Ford to hire new blood for the chief executive office.

Ford's secret negotiations with the UAW to produce game-changing contracts in 2007 and 2009

Mulally soon turned a sharp eye to Ford's operations and expenses, leading secret meetings with UAW then-President Ron Gettelfinger to secure contracts that would help Ford stay in business.

Fearing media attention, Ford executives and UAW officials gathered in a nondescript office building behind the Detroit Lions' practice facility in Allen Park, entering through an unlocked side door.

Mulally agreed to keep production of the Ford Focus at the Wayne Stamping and Assembly Plant if Gettelfinger conceded other points as part of the 2007 labor contract, a move that helped Ford avoid the fates of its domestic competitors.

The automaker's slide toward bankruptcy, just months away from running out of cash at the end of 2008

During the third quarter, Ford was losing more than $83 million a day. The company needed to cut costs and boost sales or go broke within months.

"'American Icon' does a good job of portraying the Ford transformation," said Ford spokeswoman Karen Hampton.

"We are proud of what the Ford team has accomplished, and we are even more focused on continuing to make progress in the future," Hampton said in an emailed statement.

"As with any retelling of history, memories and accuracy differ from person to person — and this account is no different," Hampton wrote. "We will let the book speak for itself — while we remain focused on creating the next chapter in Ford's history."


High loonie has taken its
toll on auto sector, banks say

Globe & Mail
Greg Keenan
March 3, 2012

Canada has turned from an automotive powerhouse with an industry trade surplus of $20-billion to a country coping with a $12-billion deficit – a staggering turnaround that reflects the steady rise in the Canadian dollar and a decade of turmoil in the sector.

The $32-billion shift in the auto trade balance highlights how the surge in the value of the currency has pulverized the manufacturing sector since the dollar hit its record low of 62 cents (U.S) 10 years ago this quarter, three of Canada's big banks say in reports released this week. The Canadian dollar continued its recent rally Thursday, reaching about $1.0143.

"While there are many factors at play, the robust loonie has its wing-prints all over that momentous shift," Bank of Montreal deputy chief economist Douglas Porter said in a report.

The trade figures underline the dramatic transformation the auto industry over the past decade as a commodity and oil boom sent the dollar surging, which in turn hammered the competitive position of auto makers and parts suppliers in Canada. The bank reports add to the debate about the impact the oil-fuelled rise of the dollar is having nationally as Alberta revels in record revenues and Ontario bleeds manufacturing jobs.

As the dollar has appreciated, almost 500,000 manufacturing jobs have vanished, Mr. Porter noted. More than half of those job losses came before the 2008-2009 recession, he said, "and virtually none of the recession losses have been recouped."

A substantial chunk of the lost jobs are in the auto industry, a pillar of the Ontario economy because all vehicle assembly plants are located there, along with the vast majority of auto parts-making.

At peak levels in the early 2000s – as the dollar was hitting its record low – 198,000 Canadians were employed in assembly, auto parts, tool mould and die making and truck body and trailer manufacturing. By the end of November last year, that number had plunged to 131,000, a decline of one-third.

"This is the real live picture when we go from big surpluses to big deficits," said industry analyst Dennis DesRosiers, president of DesRosiers Automotive Consultants Inc. "These are some of the best jobs in the economy. It is perhaps one of the absolute best examples of what the [high] dollar can do to an industry."

As the last decade began, Canada was riding high with production of close to 3 million vehicles annually, most of which were exported to the United States. That helped create a surplus. Production fell to 1.5 million vehicles during the recession, and although output has rebounded it's still almost 1 million vehicles below the peak.

"Canada once punched above its weight in this industry and we're now punching below our weight," said Canadian Auto Workers economist Jim Stanford.

Another little-noticed but significant change between 2001 and 2011 was the gradual disappearance of dozens of parts plants as U.S.-based giants such as Collins & Aikman Corp., Dura Automotive Systems Ltd., Dana Corp. and others scaled back operations or abandoned Canada entirely.

In addition to battering the manufacturing sector, the 10-year rise in the currency is helping redraw the economic map of the country, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce economists Avery Shenfeld and Warren Lovely said in their look at the dollar.

"As the producers of higher-priced commodities, Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador and Saskatchewan have enjoyed a huge advantage over Central Canada and the Maritimes," they wrote.

Ontario meanwhile, has trailed the rest of Canada in economic growth for nine straight years, a period that coincides with the dollar's rise.


CAW Contact
March 2, 2012
Volume 42, No. 8


Prevent Another Caterpillar Modernize Labour Laws

CAW President Ken Lewenza discusses the need for labour law reform in Ontario at the media conference announcing a closure agreement for more than 465 CAW Local 27 members at U.S. multinational Caterpillar's Electro-Motive plant in London. Along with Lewenza are CAW Local 27 President Tim Carrie, CAW National Secretary-Treasurer Peter Kennedy, Electro-Motive plant chairperson Bob Scott and Assistant to the CAW President Bob Orr.

CAW President Ken Lewenza is calling on the province of Ontario to modernize its labour laws to better adapt to the current economic reality in light of the Caterpillar lock out and closure.

Lewenza, in a letter sent February 29 to Ontario Labour Minister Linda Jeffrey, calls for new rules that would give the Ontario Labour Relations Board the power to expedite interest arbitration in the case of a lengthy breakdown; apply provisions of previous collective agreements in the case of a lockout then closure; lengthen the notice period for mass termination and increasing severance, among other changes to the Ontario Labour Relations Act.

Lewenza said that multinational corporations are able to exploit weak legislation to easily buy up other companies, take what they want and close up shop at little cost and with few barriers - all to the detriment of Ontario workers and the communities where they live.

Lewenza said that Caterpillar, who owns Electro-Motive Diesel in London, used the province's labour laws to its advantage. "Caterpillar did not misjudge or misinterpret Ontario's labour laws; rather, they understood them all too well, and exploited the laws' weakness as a key part of their overall strategy," Lewenza said.

Lewenza is also calling for Minister Jeffrey to immediately establish an Industrial Inquiry Commission to investigate the experience at Caterpillar, a rarely used measure provided for under section 37 of the Ontario Labour Relations Act. The commission would then make recommendations to the minister on how to proceed in the future in other cases.

"London Electro-Motive workers, their families and the thousands of workers whose livelihoods were dependent upon supplying the facility will pay the price for this failure of policy for a long time to come," Lewenza writes.

To read the full text of the letter, with a full breakdown of the unions demands, please visit: http://www.caw.ca/en/10986.htm

CAW Members Approve Agreement at Nav Canada

Following a lengthy tour of ratification meetings that included visits to many of the 63 airports where CAW Local 2245 members work, Flight Service Specialists have ratified a new agreement with Nav Canada.

CAW Local 2245 represents 750 Flight Service Specialists across Canada, providing essential advisory services to the aviation community. Flight Service Specialists advise pilots on aviation safety issues at airports.

The two-year agreement provides wage increases in each year of the deal.

"The high level of attendance and participation at the meetings was truly appreciated by the bargaining committee," said CAW Local 2245 President Derek Yakielashek. "The members' support for their union during these difficult times is encouraging and a strong foundation to build on."

He stressed the agreement was reached between the two parties without any interference from the federal government.

This marks the third time that a CAW represented group of workers has ratified an agreement with Nav Canada during the last year. CAW Local 5454 represents controllers and CAW Local 1016 represents data specialists at Nav Canada. The baggage handling contract at Toronto's Pearson International Airport (GTAA) has been successfully renewed for two years after a concerted fight by the union to preserve approximately 100 jobs.

In January, a new company was awarded the baggage handling contract, which would have hired back CAW Local 2002 members at approximately half their current wages. The GTAA extended the current contract for Jarvis Webb, keeping CAW members on the job.

"By utilizing a provision in the contract that gives the GTAA the right to extend the Webb contract, the airport authority has provided significant stability for our members at Webb," said CAW Local 2002 President Jamie Ross.

"We're ecstatic that these workers will continue to be compensated fairly for the work they do," said Ross. The new agreement will stretch to April 30, 2014.

Halifax Picket Line Solidarity

CAW Atlantic Area Director Les Holloway, centre, was recently helping out on the Barrington Street picket line with striking Halifax bus drivers in a show of solidarity. More than 600 drivers, who are members of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 508 have been on strike since February 2. The main issue in the dispute is scheduling.

CAW Champions Human Rights of Temporary Foreign Workers

The CAW is continuing its nearly four year-long human rights case against Jose Pratas, the former owner of Presteve Foods.

In 2008, Pratas was alleged to have subjected a number of workers to sexual assault and harassment while they were employed at Presteve Foods in Wheatly, Ontario (near Windsor). The workers were also being paid significantly less than their Canadian counterparts for performing the same work.

Many of the workers had been housed at a bunk house, attached to the facility and their work permits were tied to their jobs at the plant. Many feared deportation or worsening abuse if they complained or brought in the authorities.

The union intervened on their behalf after Local 444 became aware of their predicament.

The situation at Presteve points to fatal flaws in the temporary foreign worker program, said CAW Local 444 President Rick Laporte. "These women were vulnerable exactly because of the circumstances of the program," said Laporte.

"Their work permits were tied to their source of employment and if they left this abusive employer, they would be threatened with deportation. The Canadian government is repeatedly turning a blind eye to companies who exploit migrant workers and place them in unsafe workplaces, with few, if any, protections. We know from recent examples that this can have tragic consequences," said Laporte.

Justicia for Migrant Workers will be intervening in the case. For more information on Justicia for Migrant Workers, please visit: http://www.justicia4migrantworkers.org/index.htm

Donation to Burns Lake Explosion Victims

CAW Local 3000 President and National Executive Board member Jean Van Vliet and CAW BC & Alberta Area Director Susan Spratt presented a cheque for $25,000 on behalf of the CAW to the USW for the victims of the Burns Lake explosion and fire. The cheque was given to Steve Hunt, USW District Director and Bob Matters, USW Wood Council Chair.

A massive fire broke out at the Babine Forest Products mill in Burns Lake, B.C. on January 20 - killing two workers and injuring 19 others. The mill is located about 220 kilometres west of Prince George and employs approximately 250 people. The workers are represented by USW Local 1-424. For more information, please visit:

New Pay Equity Course

The new four-day Pay Equity training program will provide hands on knowledge to help participants gain a better understanding of our union's obligation under the Ontario Pay Equity Act. Participants will be asked to develop a mock pay equity plan that will provide them with skills, knowledge and confidence required to achieve and maintain pay equity. The plan will then be evaluated to ensure it meets all the requirements needed to fulfill the union's ethical and legal obligations under pay equity legislation.

Quick facts:

  • Ontario has one of the highest gender pay gaps in the world -a shocking 29%. For every $1.00 earned by men, women earn just 71 cents.
  • The most vulnerable women-Aboriginal women, women of colour, racialized or immigrant women, women with disabilities and women without a union in their workplace-face an even greater wage gap.
  • Racial minority women earn 36% less than men and Aboriginal women earn 54% less.

The course runs April 22 - 26 at the CAW Family Education Centre in Port Elgin, Ontario.

For more information, please contact Jo-Anne Stephenson at 1-800-265-3735 ext. 3268 or email joannes@caw.ca

New Agreement Ratified at Marine Atlantic

CAW Local 4285 and 4286 members who work on Marine Atlantic vessels have ratified a new three-year collective agreement with wage gains in each year.

The workers voted 70 per cent in favour of the agreement on February 28. It includes a 2.5 per cent increase in each year of the deal, contract language changes, and some benefit increases.

"It's a very good deal for these economic times," said CAW Local 4285 President Mavis Grist.

It's the first time these workers have ratified a collective agreement since 2004. The previous two contracts were settled by binding arbitration.

"The bargaining committee is very proud and pleased to have negotiated an agreement without third party involvement," said Grist.

"I'm very impressed that we reached a bargained agreement instead of going to arbitration," said Local 4286 President Bill Walsh. "The membership was solidly behind the bargaining committee, which helped ensure a strong agreement was ratified," he said.

CAW Locals 4285 and 4286 represent approximately 560 vessel workers at Marine.

Marine Atlantic provides a constitutionally mandated passenger and commercial marine transportation system between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.

Betrayed: The Story of Clergy United

The new documentary film Betrayed tells the story of Clergy United, a group of United Church ministers and families who are organizing to become part of the CAW.

Betrayed examines the issue of bullying against consecrated men and women working in faith communities in North America, with a particular emphasis on the United Church of Canada.

The documentary was produced by US Films. It features interviews and discussion by pastors of multiple denominations, their families, theologians, lawyers, a historian and CAW leadership, among others.

A private pre-screening of Betrayed will be held at CAW Local 112 hall in Toronto, 30 Tangiers Road, on Monday, March 5 starting at 5 pm. An open floor discussion will follow the one hour and 42 minute documentary. A light meal will be provided.

If you're in Toronto and wish to attend please RSVP Shan White, 416-635-5988 or email admin@caw112.on.ca or Karen, 519-425-4546 or email kpatonevans@gmail.com

CAW Skilled Trades Bargaining and New Technology Conference

Over 200 delegates, staff and guests from across Canada gathered for the 9th Bargaining and New Technology conference in Toronto from February 22 to 24.

In his opening address to the conference, CAW President Ken Lewenza emphasized the important role that the skilled trades have played in building the union.

"The ability of tradespersons to speak with a distinct and unified voice in contract talks and during conferences, like this, where bargaining and political campaign priorities are set, has created a stronger, more informed union, that sets us apart from others," Lewenza said.

Lewenza also noted the challenges faced by workers at the Electro-Motive facility in London, the need for governments to reform existing investment and labour laws, as well as upcoming contract negotiations between the union and Detroit Three automakers.

Conference delegates also debated and endorsed a series of resolutions including: the need to push for apprenticeship ratios in both private and public sectors (of 1 apprentice for every 4 journeypersons), the need to prevent the downgrading of skills and trades standards by employers and governments, and to ensure strong work ownership language for tradespersons, among others.

CAW Skilled Trades Director Colin Heslop said he is constantly encouraged by the resolve of CAW tradespersons to work tirelessly for the benefit of all tradespersons, young and old, organized or unorganized.

"In my view, there's no group better positioned to champion the rights of skilled trades workers and to protect the integrity of the skilled trades than our union," Heslop said.

Heslop has held the position of Skilled Trades Director for 7 years and will be retiring in March. He said it's been an honour working with the CAW-TCA Skilled Trades Council and in representing the hardworking men and women in skilled trades, and encouraged delegates to keep up their important work, especially in social commitment projects like Hurricane Katrina relief work in New Orleans 9th Ward and with the Assembly of First Nations.

"It's critical that we keep up our efforts to create, preserve and provide access to recognizable apprenticeships and bona fide skilled trades jobs for all Canadians. Our voice is widely respected in skilled trades circles and it must continue to be heard."

The conference included a number staff presentations and special guest speakers, including Rob Johnston, Executive Director for the International Metalworkers Federation; Sid Ryan, President of the Ontario Federation of Labour; Kevin Evans, CEO for the Industry Training Authority in British Columbia and The Canadian Council Directors of Apprenticeship; Sarah Watts-Rynard, Executive Director for the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum and Ron Johnson, Chair of the Ontario College of Trades.

CAW Staff Representative Pat Blackwood will replace Heslop as Skilled Trades Director.

CAW Supports B.C. Coalition Against Child Labour

CAW local union youth committees in B.C.'s Lower Mainland are collaborating with First Call: B.C. Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition and other community organizations to raise awareness of the need to improve provincial child labour laws that are among the worst in the developed world. The Coalition is running a Child Labour Standards Improvement Project which aims to shine a light on the issue for British Columbians.

CAW Local 3000 President and National Executive Board member Jean Van Vliet said this advocacy work is critical because young workers are the most vulnerable to exploitation and serious injury on the job.

"It's scary to know that our province allows children as young as 12 to take on paid employment with employers in almost every industry without strong regulatory oversight."

Adrienne Montani, provincial coordinator for First Call, said the Coalition first started raising alarm bells in 2003 when the B.C. government lowered the work start age to 12 years and weakened existing child labour protections.

A report entitled "What's Happening to Our Children?" released in 2009 documented a ten-fold increase in accepted WorkSafeBC injury claims among children 14 and under over a four-year period after the legislation was changed.

CAW Local 3000 member Jeni Mathers chairs a minimum age working group under the B.C. Employment Standards for the Next Decade Coalition that includes CAW youth committee members from Locals 111, 2200 and 114 as well as representatives from First Call. Mathers said it is troubling that Canada remains one of the few nations to so far refuse to ratify an international child labour agreement set by the International Labour Organization.

"Elementary school-aged children deserve the opportunity to develop their capacities through the normal course of childhood development which does not include worrying about punch-clocks and pay-cheques."

First Call is collecting information on young B.C. workers between the ages of 12 and 18 through an on-line survey that asks questions about health and safety in the workplace, wages and working conditions, and the impacts of work on their education.

Young workers, as well as parents of young workers and teachers, can participate in the survey by going to www.nochildlabour.org

In December 2010, CAW Council delegates unanimously passed a resolution calling on the federal government to ratify ILO Convention 138 (minimum age of work) and for provinces to improve minimum age laws.

For more information on First Call, contact: info@firstcallbc.org

CAW Welcomes New Members

  • Sunwing Pilots Assocation (SUNPAC), Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and Quebec, 180 members
  • Cantaux Leasing Ltd, Belleville, ON, 9 members


Companies see
'pension crisis'
on horizon

Janet Mcfarland
Globe and Mail
March 2, 2012

Companies with pension plans want governments to give them short-term or permanent extensions to help cope with growing shortfalls in the plans.

A new survey of 115 organizations that offer employee pension plans found growing concerns that Canada is facing a long-lasting "pension crisis" and a growing desire by plan sponsors to find ways to reduce risk in their investment portfolios, even if it means accepting lower returns.

The survey by pension consulting firm Towers Watson found 65 per cent of plan sponsors believe they are facing a long-term pension crisis that is likely to worsen in the next 12 months, up from 56 per cent a year ago, and far higher than 34 per cent in 2008 before financial markets headed into a steep downturn.

Given a list of possible pension reform options that could be introduced by the federal and provincial governments, pension plan sponsors strongly preferred being permanently granted longer time periods to make up funding shortfalls in their pension plans, followed closely by the option of further temporary time extensions for shortfalls.

Pension plans have been grappling with soaring deficits since financial markets turned lower in 2008. The bleeding has continued as interest rates have dropped steadily since then, increasing the funding obligation facing plans. A January study found pension plans saw their shortfalls grow by 15 per cent in 2011 alone because of falling yields on long-term bonds.

Towers Watson's ninth annual survey of pension plan sponsors found a growing interest in strategies to "de-risk" investments held by traditional defined benefit (DB) pension plans, typically by investing in long-term bonds that match a company's pension liabilities for payouts to retirees.

In contrast to prior years when plan sponsors were more focused on seeking higher returns from their investments, 56 per cent of respondents this year said they would be willing to accept lower returns to reduce risk.

"Until a few years ago, plan sponsors were caught in the mindset that de-risking meant giving up more return than they felt was worthwhile," said David Service, director of Towers Watson Investment Services.

"Many plan sponsors did not take advantage of the de-risking opportunity that existed in 2006 and 2007 when their DB plans were close to fully funded. After another volatile year of market performance and declining fund status, sponsors now seem more inclined to focus on de-risking their DB plan -- even if at the price of lower returns."

The survey, however, suggested there may be a slowing of the trend toward converting traditional DB pension plans into defined contribution (DC) plans, which do not pay out a guaranteed income in retirement and instead provide income based on whatever returns are earned by the investments.

Just 8 per cent of survey respondents said they are considering or planning to convert their DB plans into DC plans in the future, down from 11 per cent last year.

However, Towers Watson retirement innovation leader Ian Markham said many of the plan changes in the private sector have now already occurred, with only 36 per cent of private-sector companies still offering DB pension plans to their new hires.

Including all private-sector and public-sector survey respondents, 57 per cent of pension plans remain open to current and new employees, 31 per cent are closed to new hires, 7 per cent are frozen for everyone and five per cent have another status.

Also Thursday, a new report by two university of Toronto researchers has concluded larger pension plans earn better returns than smaller plans on average. Alexander Dyck and Lukasz Pomorski looked at 800 global pension plans and concluded bigger plans have better returns on average, but the gains are increased if plans have stronger corporate governance practices.

The better performance at larger plans is attributed to cost savings when pension plans use in-house investment experts, and to superior returns by investing in alternatives beyond stocks and bonds, such as real estate or infrastructure assets.

Larger plans outperform smaller plans by about 0.5 per cent per year, which the researchers said could equal about 13 per cent greater savings for plan participants by the time they reach retirement age.


Chrysler reports U.S. sales
up 40% in February

March 1, 2012

Chrysler Group LLC reported Thursday a 40 percent increase in U.S. sales for last month — the automaker's best February in four years and its 23rd consecutive month of sales growth.

The Jeep, Dodge and Ram Truck brands all posted strong year-over-year gains, and Fiat reported its strongest month yet with sales up 69 percent over January's tally. Chrysler brand sales soared 114 percent, with both the Chrysler 300 and 200 sedans posting triple-digit sales gains.

The company said it was helped by the better gas mileage of many of its vehicles.

"Our product portfolio now contains some of the most fuel-efficient vehicles in our company's history, driving our sales up 40 percent in February," Chrysler's U.S. sales chief Reid Bigland said. "A few years ago, higher fuel prices were a major threat to our total vehicle sales, whereas today those higher prices have become far less of an issue.

"We now have 13 vehicles with an EPA-rated highway fuel economy of 25 miles per gallon or higher, and six of those vehicles get 31 mpg or higher."

Other automakers are expected to release their February results later Thursday.

Analysts predict a strong showing overall, with Edmunds.com estimating Ford Motor Co. sales will rise 18.3 percent. Santa Monica, Calif.-based Edmunds.com also predicts General Motors Co.'s sales will be down about 5 percent for the month.

Edmunds.com expects nearly 1.1 million new cars will have been sold in February, which would be up 10.3 percent from the same month a year ago.

"There's a rising tide of excellent buying conditions right now that is really driving auto sales momentum," said Edmunds.com senior analyst Jessica Caldwell in a statement. "Between surprisingly strong sales over Presidents Day weekend, optimistic economic news and unseasonably mild weather conditions across the country, things seem to be breaking the right way for both car buyers and dealers."

TrueCar.com expects new vehicle sales in the United States will also hit nearly 1.1 million units, up 9.6 percent from February 2011.

TrueCar.com predicts Ford to rise 14.1 percent and GM to fall 6.1 percent.


Obama: GOP would have left
auto industry 'out to dry'

UAW President Bob King, left, and President Barack Obama address a UAW event Tuesday. (Saul Loeb / Getty Images)

By David Shepardson Detroit News Washington Bureau
February 29, 2012

Washington — President Barack Obama delivered a fiery speech to more than 1,600 current and retired autoworkers Tuesday, and issued his strongest challenge to a Republican rival on the $85 billion auto bailout.

"There were no private investors or companies out there willing to take a chance on the auto industry. Nobody was lining up to give you guys loans," Obama said during a rousing 25-minute speech, directly rebutting the idea that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has suggested. "Anyone in the financial sector can tell you that."

Romney has argued that GM and Chrysler could have been saved if they had immediately been required to go through bankruptcy — a point that Obama and others have rejected.

"If we had turned our backs on you, if America had thrown in the towel, GM and Chrysler wouldn't exist today. The suppliers and distributors that get their business from those companies would have died off, too. Then, even Ford could have gone down, as well," Obama told attendees of the United Auto Workers Community Action Program.

Without action, Obama said, "production: shut down. Factories: shuttered. Once-proud companies chopped up and sold off for scraps. And all of you — the men and women who built these companies with your own hands — would've been hung out to dry."

Romney's campaign blasted Obama, but didn't directly address the criticism.

"President Obama has failed Michigan. On his watch, thousands of Michiganders have lost their jobs, homes and businesses. No other candidate cares for Michigan or the automotive industry like Mitt Romney does, and he is heartbroken to see what has happened to his native state," said Amanda Henneberg, a Romney campaign spokeswoman.

Obama offered no insights on when the government might sell its remaining 26.5 percent stake in GM, or its majority stake in Detroit auto and mortgage lender Ally Financial Inc.

In late 2008, President George W. Bush in the final days of his term agreed to spend $25 billion to save GM, Chrysler and their finance arms. Obama added about $60 billion to the auto bailout, put GM and Chrysler through bankruptcy, and forced a tie-up between Fiat SpA and the Auburn Hills automaker.

The Republican National Committee issued a statement noting that the Treasury Department has estimated it will lose $23.7 billion on the auto sector bailout.

Romney has called the bailouts a sweetheart deal for the UAW because a UAW health care trust fund received a majority stake in Chrysler and a 17.5 percent stake in GM as part of the bankruptcy reorganizations. He said he would have taken Chrysler and GM through bankruptcy earlier and made guarantees on warrantees to help raise financing to help the automakers through bankruptcy.

Obama said Republicans wanted to see unions like the UAW shrink.

"This notion that we should have let the auto industry die, that we should pursue anti-worker policies in hopes unions like yours will unravel — it's part of that same old you're-on-your-own philosophy that says we should just leave everyone to fend for themselves," Obama said.

Obama took aim at Romney's criticism of the UAW and quoted Romney's November 2008 commentary in the New York Times headlined "Let Detroit go bankrupt."

"It's been funny to watch some of these politicians completely rewrite history now that you're back on your feet," Obama said.

"These are the folks who said if we went forward with our plan to rescue Detroit, 'You can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye.' Now they're saying they were right all along. Or worse, they're saying that the problem is that you, the workers, made out like bandits in all of this; that saving the American auto industry was just about paying back unions."

UAW President Bob King hailed Obama "for saving our jobs and saving our industry."

In a Detroit News interview, King called Romney's suggestion "baloney" that private investors would have funded bankruptcy reorganizations of GM and Chrysler.

"There was no private money available, and Romney knows it, and that's what's frustrating," King said.

Obama told the UAW about his effort to crack down on unfair trade.

"Today, I'm creating a Trade Enforcement Unit that will bring the full resources of the federal government to bear to investigate and counter unfair trade practices around the world, including by countries like China.

"American workers are the best workers on Earth, and when the playing field is level, I promise you — America will always win," he said.


February Focus sales
double over last year

Gas prices are swaying customers toward cars such as the Focus. (Ford)

By Jaclyn Trop The Detroit News
Feb 28, 2012

February sales for the new Ford Focus doubled over last year in the strongest February performance for the model since 2001, Ford Motor Co. said Monday.

Sales are expected to break 20,000 vehicles by the end of the month compared with 10,879 units sold in February 2011.

"We're in the right place at the right time," said Ford sales analyst Erich Merkle, pointing to rising gas prices that sway customers toward smaller cars such as the Focus.

The model gets up to 40 miles per gallon and starts at $18,300. Customers can choose between a six-speed automatic transmission or a five-speed manual transmission.

But the sales gains aren't as jaw-dropping as they appear, said Christopher Hopson, manager of North American sales forecasts at research firm IHS Automotive.

The new Ford Focus model has been on the market less than a year and the model sold more than 20,000 units last May and June, "so it's not an unheard of number," Hopson said.

February sales of the Focus were especially strong in California, where they're expected to more than double, Merkle said.

Los Angeles is tied with Detroit as the best market for Focus sales, he said.


Bill Ford Jr. says plan now
for future traffic jams

By Tom Krisher Associated Press
Feb 27, 2012

His family made its fortune selling cars to the masses, but now Bill Ford Jr. is fretting about selling too many.

The great-grandson of Ford Motor Co. founder Henry Ford has been thinking ahead to a time when there will be too much traffic in the world's major cities. Already there is congestion that only will get worse as the world population grows by another 2 billion people to 9 billion in 40 years.

Now he's sounding the alarm in public. On Monday he'll tell a mobile electronic device conference in Barcelona, Spain, that the industry should join with automakers and governments to develop technology that would solve the looming congestion problem. He doesn't know the ultimate solution, but he sees a day when cars communicate with each other and with roads, traffic lights and public transportation to move people and traffic safely.

Ford, executive chairman of the Dearborn automaker, is concerned that congestion could get so bad that people won't get goods and services such as health care.

"What I'm really worried about is the role of the car in the long-term," he said in a recent interview with the Associated Press. "If we do nothing, it will limit the number of vehicles we can sell. If we can solve this problem of urban mobility, I think there's a great business opportunity for us."

Ford, 54, who in the past has tried to deal with the environmental impact of cars and trucks, is now focused on urban congestion. He's free to think about the future since he no longer has to worry about Ford's day-to-day operations. The company is making billions under CEO Alan Mulally.

Ford is not so concerned about auto pollution anymore, because he says the technology is within sight to deal with it. Ford and other automakers are rolling out electric cars and are working on zero-emissions hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

"I believe that in my lifetime, we're going to largely solve the environmental impact of vehicles," he said.

Still, serious traffic problems already exist in cities of fast-growing countries such as India and China. Ford says the problem will grow as population and incomes rise and more people buy cars.

Right now, there are 1.2 billion cars and trucks on the world's roads, and another 144 million will be added in just four years, according consulting firm LMC Automotive in Troy, Mich. In China alone, annual auto sales will rise by more than 10 million — to almost 30 million — between now and 2016. In India, LMC says sales will nearly double in four years to more than 6 million.

The solution, Ford says, is communications. That's why he's speaking to the Mobile World Congress, a conference for the cellphone and mobile device industry. The telecommunications industry likely will carry the data that will be used to solve the congestion problem.

He says technology is moving so fast that solutions already are starting to happen. In five or so years, more cars will have radar-based cruise control that automatically stops them from running into each other. More will have blind spot monitoring systems that stop cars from changing lanes if something's in the way. By 2025, he sees cars using those features to communicate with each other, perhaps even taking over the driving in a traffic jam to find the best way out.

Beyond that, he sees "platooning" of cars that drive themselves, staying close together to get the maximum use out of highways. Cars also would park themselves close together to squeeze more use out of parking decks. Traffic lights would control the speed of cars to keep them moving through intersections. Governments would coordinate car travel with public transportation, and there would be more tiny cars that carry one or two people, Ford says.

With better coordination, the same number of people could travel in fewer buses, cars and trains, he says.

""Even if the technology is there, there's still going to have to be tremendous thought by urban planners," he says.

Before his great-grandfather introduced the Ford Model T to the masses in 1908, Ford says few people traveled more than 25 miles from their homes. The car, he said, gave them the freedom to go anywhere. He says he's trying to plan for congestion in order to preserve the freedom.

"That freedom has been threatened unless we redefine what personal mobility can be in a congested urbanized world," Ford says.


Chicago Police Department to buy 500 police cars from Ford plant

A new Ford Police sedan sits inside the Ford Assembly Plant as the Mayor, of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, announces that the City of Chicago will be buying 500 new Ford Interceptor Police sedans and SUVs built at the Ford plant,12600 S.Torrence Avenue, Friday, February 24, 2012. | Brian Jackson~Sun-Times

Chicago Times
Feb 26, 2012

The Chicago Police Department will purchase 500 Ford Interceptor sedans and SUV's over the next five years built at a South Side plant that recently added a third shift and 1,200 jobs, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Friday.

"We not only have the cars built here in Chicago, designed here in Chicago. We're gonna put our money where our mouth is. We're gonna order the cars here from this plant," Emanuel told a news conference at the Ford assembly plant at 12600 S. Torrence.

The mayor noted that production of the Interceptor — designed to replace the old Crown Victoria as a police staple — was "consolidated from Canada" at the Torrence Avenue plant. That accounted for 230 of the 1,200 new jobs.

"It will now be on our streets protecting our residents, protecting our Police Department. This is a win for the taxpayers, a win for the workers, a win for the community on the South Side of Chicago that produces it," he said.

The five-year, $15 million contract is the product of a reverse auction helped along by the "two percent bonus" the Emanuel administration is now awarding to Chicago businesses.

The results are a boon to Ford and the $200 million it has pledged to invest in the Torrence Avenue plant. But, the mayor insisted that it's not part of any quid-pro-quo for the 1,200 jobs Ford added last fall after striking a deal with the United Auto Workers (UAW) union.

"They've got a big company worldwide. They didn't add a third-shift because I'm gonna order on the first day 100 police cars. We're doing it because it is dollars and cents. And I'm proud that the additional benefit is, it's made here," the mayor said.

It will be up to Police Supt. Garry McCarthy to determine the precise mix of sedans and SUV's.

But, the mayor made it clear that all of the SUV's would be equipped with four-wheel drive.

"Last year, some of us during the blizzard, had the unique experience of pushing out a [Chevrolet] Tahoe because it was ordered with only two-wheel drive. Some of us remember that experience well — and I [had] the shoulder [ache] to show for it," Emanuel said.

Is the mayor saying it was foolish for the city to purchase the SUV's favored by former-Police Supt. Jody Weis without four-wheel drive?

"That's your word. I would just say that if you're in Chicago — while we have had a mild winter — buying an SUV that is two-wheel has a certain intellectual construct. ... And I'm glad we're buying one that has all-wheel because it's made for all seasons," he said.

Kathleen Strand, a spokeswoman for the Office and Budget and Management and the mayor's economic council, later conceded that an "all-wheel drive pursuit grade vehicle did not exist until the Interceptor. ... It's brand new technology."


Auto sales in midst of revival

Industry headed to best month in 4 years, experts say

By Bryce G. Hoffman The Detroit News
Feb 25, 2012

February is shaping up to be one of the strongest sales months in years for automakers.

Automotive research firm Edmunds.com predicts almost 1.1 million cars and trucks this month will be sold in the United States. That would translate into a seasonally adjusted annualized selling rate of 14.4 million units — almost 20 percent higher than January's rate and nearly 6 percent higher than a year ago.

That would be the strongest selling rate in nearly four years.

"There's a rising tide of excellent buying conditions right now that is really driving auto sales momentum," Edmunds analyst Jessica Caldwell said in a report released Friday. "Between surprisingly strong sales over Presidents Day weekend, optimistic economic news and unseasonably mild weather conditions across the country, things seem to be breaking the right way for both car buyers and dealers."

She expects GM to top the charts with nearly 197,000 sales. But that would represent a decline of 8.8 percent year-over-year for the nation's biggest automaker. Chrysler Group LLC and Ford Motor Co. are expected to be the real winners, with sales up an estimated 27.2 percent and 13.6 percent, respectively.

TrueCar.com is projecting even stronger gains in February.

"The signs for 2012 point to a great period of recovery for automakers as the industry looks at continued growth through the year, " said Jesse Toprak, vice president of industry trends and insights.

"We are upgrading our 2012 forecast to 14 million units based on improving consumer demand, better credit availability, and dozens of compelling new products due to arrive at the dealerships this year," he said in a report Friday. "The correlation between the stock market and new vehicle sales proved to be extremely strong once again with both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and new vehicle SAAR reaching their highest levels since May 2008 in February."

Like his counterpart at Edmunds, Toprak said Chrysler and Ford will post big sales gains, while GM slips.

J.D. Power and Associates says the strong results should continue as American consumers trade in their aging cars and trucks for new ones.

"Retail light-vehicle sales in February are strong, which makes us modestly optimistic about the growth of sales going forward," said John Humphrey, senior vice president of global automotive operations, in a report earlier this week. "More so, we're increasingly confident that the fundamentals are in place to continue to support an upbeat sector outlook for the coming year."

The average car on the road in America today is now 11 years old — the oldest average ever. That means there is a lot of pent-up demand that needs to be satisfied. And credit markets are beginning to thaw.

"We're seeing a rebound in leasing and a slight improvement in credit availability, which is bringing customers that were shut out of the market two or three years ago back into dealerships," Humphrey said. "Both of these elements bode well for consumers in terms of making vehicles more affordable, which will drive more traffic into showrooms."


CAW Contact
February 24, 2012
Volume 42, No. 7

Electro-Motive Closure Agreement Approved

CAW Local 27 members from Electro-Motive Diesel in London, Ontario have voted 95 per cent in favour of a closure agreement that provides enhanced severance packages.

The agreement includes three weeks of severance pay for every year of service, a $1,500 lump sum payment and maintenance of disability benefits and extended benefit coverage for all workers and their families.

More than 450 workers attended a February 23 meeting in London to review details of the agreement negotiated by the CAW, which came after the company announced February 3 it would close Canada's only train engine manufacturing plant.

The workers were locked out by the company on January 1 after refusing massive concession demands by Caterpillar, the parent company, including 50 per cent pay cuts.

CAW President Ken Lewenza thanked the OFL, CLC and other unions for showing their support throughout an incredibly difficult and bitter dispute.

He stressed that the free movement of global capital from country to country must be stopped because it's undercutting workers' wages.

"We have to continue the fight," Lewenza said. "Because too many workers are losing their jobs, both union and non-union, because of dead-beat employers - in everything from manufacturing plants to call centres," Lewenza said.

CAW Local 27 President Tim Carrie commended the workers for their solidarity and support, which he said the bargaining committee brought to the negotiating table each day.

"The company didn't just see the committee, they saw you, your families and the community," Carrie said.

New Agreement at High Liner Foods

Top L-R: Dwight Eisenhouer, unit chairperson Kevin Banfield, Alan Surrette and Tony Ernst. Bottom L-R: Donna Conrad, CAW Local 1944 President Marilyn Crook and CAW national representative Carla Bryden.

CAW Local 1944 has ratified a new agreement with High Liner Foods in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. The new three year agreement includes wage increases of 2.8, 2.5 and 2.5 per cent and an increase in the defined benefit pension plan. The agreement also features an increase in bereavement, health care benefits as well as increases to the protective clothing allowance. Workers will now also be able to bank overtime up to 24 hours per year.

CAW President Re-joins NDP to Support Peggy Nash

CAW National President Ken Lewenza has officially taken out membership in the NDP to support the candidacy of MP Peggy Nash.

The union has thrown its support behind Nash and will be encouraging all registered CAW members to pick Nash as their number one choice when they cast their ballot next month. Many CAW members and staff across the country have rejoined the party to support Nash.

"The opportunity to make Peggy Nash the leader of the official opposition and our next prime minister is one we can't pass up," said Lewenza.

"She's a fighter with a long career in community building," said Lewenza. "I know she can bring progressive Canadians together to defeat Stephen Harper in 2015."

"Of any of the candidates, Peggy has the strongest commitment to building a more equitable economy, protecting our environment, and sustaining our social programs," said Lewenza. And she has a proven record of doing so. I support Peggy wholeheartedly."

CAW Members Strike for Fair Deal at 407 ETR

Call centre workers at 407 ETR, the Ontario private highway operator that runs from Pickering to Burlington, have set up pickets outside the company headquarters in Woodbridge after voting down a contract proposal that did not fully address concerns around wage improvements and stronger job classification language.

CAW Local 414 members, who handle customer inquiries, billing, registrations and other job duties, hit the picket line February 21.

Deb Tveit, Assistant to CAW President Ken Lewenza, said this dispute is a matter of fairness and respect for front-line workers.

"This employer has created a situation where two sets of workers are performing essentially the same tasks at different rates of pay," Tveit said. "The animosity this has created has reached a boiling point for our members."

CAW Local 414 President Christine Connor said there is a great deal of frustration among the members right now that the company has to recognize.

407 International Inc, (the parent organization of 407 ETR), recently announced year-end 2011 profits of $128 million.

CAW Local 414 represents 130 members at the 407 ETR.

Drummond Sets Wrong Direction for Economic Recovery, CAW says

Following the release of the long awaited Drummond Report on February 15 the CAW is reiterating that deep cuts and more private sector involvement is the wrong way to reform Ontario's Public Services.

The report was prepared at the request of the Ontario government by a commission led by former bank economist Don Drummond. It prescribes seven years of unprecedented reductions in public spending growth in tandem with a sweeping reform agenda advocating greater private sector involvement.

By Drummond's own admission, the scale and depth of the impact on health services will exceed the cutback agenda of the Harris-Eves era in reforming health, which largely focused on the hospital sector alone.

The Commission was mandated to ignore revenue measures such as fair taxes for corporations, including a financial (Tobin) transaction tax on banks.
"Fair and progressive revenue options including an increase in the tax rate on incomes above $500,000 could potentially raise $10 billion in needed revenues," said CAW President Ken Lewenza in response to the report.

The recession, spurred by the financial market collapse, caused the provincial deficit, after years of surplus. Renewing economic growth and especially job creation is key to eliminating the provincial deficit, as is the need to reconsider further shrinking revenues through corporate tax cuts.

"Hastily eliminating the provincial deficit through drastic cuts to public spending and job elimination will only deepen and extend the recession," said CAW Health Care Director Katha Fortier.

The CAW represents over 26,000 public sector workers in Ontario including those in health, post-secondary education, municipal utilities and the urban transit sector.

Lewenza also stressed that the CAW is calling for the provincial and federal governments to use the same determination as in the case of the Drummond Commission to set up a new commission to deal specifically with the creation of a good jobs strategy.

The CAW's written submission to the Drummond Commission is available at http://www.caw.ca/assets/pdf/527-Drummond_Commission_doc.pdf

CAW Economist Jim Stanford offers ten macroeconomic factoids to keep in mind to counter the claim that Ontario just can't afford its already-stretched network of public services at http://www.policyalternatives.ca/newsroom/updates/drummond-commission-report-countering-cutbacks-ontario

CAW Stands with Students on Day of Action

CAW Local 3000 members, along with NDP leadership candidate Peggy Nash, took part in the Canadian Federation of Students "All Out" Day of Action event at the Vancouver Community College on February 1. Local 3000 representatives spoke with culinary students about the challenges of working in the hospitality industry and the benefits of unionization.The CFS is demanding greater access to education through lower tuition fees, more public funding and less student debt. CAW members participated in local events in cities across the country in support of the student protest.
Photo by: Paul Finch from BCGEU.


Electro-Motive workers
ratify closeout deal

Tavia Grant & Greg Keenan
February 24, 2012
Globe & Mail

Workers at Caterpillar Inc.'s London, Ont., locomotive operation have approved a deal on severance pay and pensions, bringing an end to an acrimonious plant closing that left almost 700 employees out of work.

Caterpillar's Electro-Motive Canada unit locked out workers on Jan. 1 after they rejected the company's proposal to slash wages by as much as 50 per cent, citing the need to become globally competitive. On Feb. 3, Caterpillar closed the plant for good, and appears to be planning to shift work to its Progress Rail unit in Indiana.

Workers voted 95 per cent in favour of the severance package, which provides three weeks of pay for each year served. Labour laws stipulate workers with less than five years of experience aren't required to receive severance, while those with more than five years on the job get one week's pay for each year served to a maximum of 26 weeks.

Though the severance package is above the required minimum "nobody is walking out of here celebrating," CAW national president Ken Lewenza said Thursday at a news conference at the Marconi Club in London's east end. "People are now walking out of here with a soft transition to job loss."

Peoria, Ill.-based Caterpillar bought the 62-year-old locomotive plant 18 months ago. The closing garnered media attention from as far away as the U.K., U.S., Australia and Sweden.

Wes Gatschene, 28, said he will use the severance to pay down debt, which has ballooned since the lockout. The welder and millwright has two children, and a mortgage on a house. Like other plant employees, he said he might head to booming Western Canada to look for work, leaving his family in London.

"I'm relieved," said John Vandergulik, a quality auditor with almost 23 years at the plant, who is hoping to find work at local John Deere facilities. "Now a lot of the uncertainty is gone."

Details on pensions are still being ironed out, partly because the plant was formerly owned by General Motors and 190 workers had pensions with GM.

After 29 and a half years at the factory, Ross Seeley said he was planning to retire in six months. "It's disappointing," he said of the potential impact on his pension. He's not yet sure of how it will be affected, but estimates it could be reduced by a third or more, given his long tenure at GM. The shutdown feels like a "bad divorce," he said.

Outside the plant, several workers started dismantling the picket line – taking down flags, loading lumber from a makeshift shelter onto a pickup, and folding tarps. They talked of Ontario's future – of maybe going North to the mines – before going home.

In addition to the three weeks pay per year, each employee will get a lump-sum ratification bonus of $1,500 and a drug plan to Aug. 31. The CAW will receive a lump sum payment of $350,000 for settling grievances, job-retraining and job-search assistance.

Company officials were not available for an interview on Thursday. In a statement, the company said it is now focusing on a safe and orderly wind-down of the facility.

"While it is regrettable not being able to reach an agreement with the union that would have sustained the London plant, EMC is pleased that the parties were able to successfully negotiate a generous severance agreement for represented employees," it said. "We wish them all the best for the future."

A total 190 plant employees, some just six months from retirement, spent years as employees of General Motors Corp., which owned the plant before selling it to a hedge fund in 2005. Caterpillar bought the operation from the hedge fund in 2010.

Those workers will receive a combined pension from the General Motors of Canada Ltd. unionized pension fund and the pension fund of Electro-Motive Canada.

But the CAW is negotiating with GM Canada about whether those employees will be allowed to participate in so-called grow-in provisions, which would allow them to begin drawing a GM pension earlier than age 65.

"We are currently in discussions with GM about GM's obligation to this group of 190 people with respect to both pension and other benefit entitlements, " CAW benefits specialist Jeff Wareham said.

Mr. Lewenza said discussions with GM continued Thursday. "We think we have some very sound arguments on behalf of our members," he said.

"General Motors sold this facility with the commitment that workers would have long-term job security and obviously that did not happen."


Website: UAW behind protests

Bob King _ UAW President

Says union to train 100K for '99%' campaign

By Bryce G. Hoffman The Detroit News
February 23, 2012

A conservative-leaning news website says it has obtained documents from the United Auto Workers' Internet server that show the union is behind a new, nationwide campaign to train 100,000 Americans for "sustained non-violent direct action" on behalf of "the 99 percent."

The Daily Caller says the documents show the UAW is helping to organize a coalition of 43 organizations calling itself "The 99% Spring."

The documents, which it says were downloaded from an "unprotected area of the UAW's Web server," include press releases, social media plans and a list of talking points.

But a source told The Detroit News that they were "posted by accident" to the union's website. That person said the UAW is part of the coalition, but not its "mastermind."

The UAW would not comment on the document leak.

Executive Editor David Martosko acknowledged that his group learned about the documents from a hacker.

"We downloaded the material and connected it back to their website," he said. "It shouldn't surprise anybody that a labor union is behind the latest iteration of the Occupy campaign."

On its own website, The 99% Spring identifies itself as an outgrowth of the Occupy Wall Street movement that took over city squares and newspaper headlines last fall.

"This spring we rise! We will reshape our country with our own hands and feet, bodies and hearts," the group says on its own website.

"We will take non-violent action in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi to forge a new destiny one block, one neighborhood, one city, one state at a time."

UAW President Bob King has made no secret of his support for the Occupy movement or its latest, more confrontational evolution.

"In April, we're going to be part of a broad coalition that's going to be training our membership and anybody who cares about justice in this society in nonviolent direct action," King told union members in Flint earlier this month at a rally marking the 75th anniversary of the Flint Sit-Down Strike that led to the recognition of the UAW.

King said their first target would be the General Electric Co. shareholders meeting in Detroit on April 25.

"It is morally wrong — it is absolutely wrong — that they make billions and billions and billions of dollars and pay not a single penny in taxes," King said of GE. "Enough is enough. We're the 99 percent who want 100 percent fairness for everyone."

But Martosko said the $168,073 in salary and benefits he says UAW documents show King earns annually puts him in the other camp.
"He is the 1 percent," Martosko said. "I'm not saying he doesn't deserve it, but he shouldn't act like he's a pauper."

The Daily Caller was started by conservative commentator Tucker Carlson and Neil Patel, an aide to former vice president Dick Cheney.


GM still facing huge
pension shortfall

Globe & Mail
Feb 22, 2012

General Motors of Canada Ltd. still faces a massive shortfall in its unionized pension plan despite a $3.2-billion contribution taxpayers made to the fund when the auto maker's parent company went into bankruptcy protection in 2009.

The shortfall stood at $2.2-billion as of Sept. 1, 2010 (the latest data available), which is a vast improvement on the $5.1-billion deficiency in the plan before the special payment was made. But it is still a significant amount for a plan that covers more than 30,000 retirees.

Addressing that legacy is a daunting challenge facing GM Canada and other storied names in corporate Canada. Investment returns on pension funds have been weak, interest rates have fallen to extremely low levels, and retirees are living longer than people from earlier generations.

That combination is raising questions about the sustainability of pension plans at scores of Canadian companies, particularly in the manufacturing sector, where many older companies are, like GM, supporting thousands of retired workers with a smaller number of current employees. When a company goes out of business with an underfunded pension plan, it can put pressure on the public to pay the tab – either directly or through government-backed insurance plans such as Ontario's Pension Benefits Guarantee Fund.

The GM Canada plan stands out in part because it was the looming crisis of the $5.1-billion shortfall that company executives pointed to in 2008 when they sought a bailout from the federal and Ontario governments.

The Canadian taxpayers' share of the bailout eventually amounted to $10.6-billion as part of the $60-billion rescue of the auto maker's parent company, General Motors Corp.

Although the data are from September, 2010, and GM Canada is in the midst of a five-year program that requires contributions of $200-million annually, it is believed the shortfall was not reduced significantly in 2011, if at all, because returns for pension funds in Canada were generally poor.

"Most defined-benefit pension plans in Canada are underfunded currently because the investment markets have done so poorly over the recent past," actuary Paul Duxbury said in a November examination of the GM Canada plan that was commissioned by a group of Canadian Auto Workers retirees.

"However, this plan is in far worse shape than most."

The $2.2-billion shortfall in 2010 was as measured on a solvency basis, which calculates the assets and liabilities in a plan and their value if it were to be wound up on the date of the calculation.

If the GM plan had been wound up on that date, benefits for retirees, surviving spouses and currently active workers would have been reduced by more than a third, Mr. Duxbury noted.

GM Canada president Kevin Williams said he does not foresee any problems meeting the commitments the company has made.

Demographic trends are working against GM Canada, as they are for other companies with large numbers of retirees and dwindling numbers of active workers, such as Air Canada, Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. and the former Stelco Inc., now part of United States Steel Corp., which locked out Hamilton, Ont., workers for nine months in a dispute that focused on pensions.

Employers with defined-benefit plans "have to be putting pressure on [Ontario] to try and deal with this situation because with the collapse in the long-term bond rates, all of these plans are massively under water," said one pension expert, who requested anonymity.

About 30,000 unionized retirees drew pensions from GM Canada in 2010 – while the number of active workers stood at 6,168. That compared with 23,735 retirees and 15,223 working employees in 2006.

The situation at GM Canada is significantly worse than at Chrysler Canada Inc. and Ford Motor Co. of Canada Ltd. There were 2.6 retirees for every active worker at Ford in 2011, while Chrysler's ratio was less than two to one.

The GM ratio is likely to deteriorate even further if it goes ahead with the scheduled closing of one of its two car-assembly plants in Oshawa, Ont., in 2013.

That closing will eliminate as many as 2,000 more GM Canada unionized jobs, said Chris Buckley, head of the CAW's GM bargaining committee and local 222 in Oshawa.

Mr. Buckley said he is not sure how prominent the pension issue will be in negotiations that begin this summer on a new labour agreement.

"I believe the company's going to be extremely aggressive when we get to bargaining this summer," he said.


Ford board members' compensation rises 25%

By Craig Trudell Bloomberg
Feb 22, 2012

Ford Motor Co. boosted annual compensation for board members by 25 percent and will pay 29 percent more to Edsel Ford II, its founder's great-grandson, for his work as a director and consultant.

Ford, the second-largest U.S. automaker, will pay its board members an annual retainer of $250,000, up from $200,000, the Dearborn based automaker said Tuesday in a regulatory filing.

Edsel Ford, a director, also will receive $650,000 a year in cash as a consultant, up from $500,000.

Ford reported $20.2 billion in net income for 2011, the most since 1998. The results were boosted by a noncash gain of $12.4 billion from eliminating a valuation allowance against deferred tax benefits.

The company's shares lost 36 percent last year after gaining 68 percent in 2010 and more than quadrupling in 2009. The shares have climbed 16 percent this year.

"We review all the compensation levels on a regular basis, and in the case of the board, determined this was needed to ensure we continue to attract and retain the talent we have," Todd Nissen, a Ford spokesman, said in a phone interview.

Ford cut compensation to directors in half to $100,000 in 2006, when the company hired Alan Mulally as its chief executive officer and borrowed $23 billion to restructure its operations, Nissen said.

The board elected to forgo cash payments entirely in 2009, Nissen said. The compensation was re-established to $200,000 in 2010.

Sixty percent of director compensation is deferred into Ford common stock units, the filing said.

Edsel Ford, 63, has had a consulting contract with Ford Motor since 1999. The increase in Edsel Ford's consulting compensation is the first he's received since the arrangement began, Nissen said.

The company realized "substantial benefits" from Edsel Ford's activities on its behalf, according to the filing. His services include dealer relations and representing the company through education projects, heritage events and motor sports, Nissen said.


Ford's new global truck to
offer car-like experience

The Ford Tourneo Custom concept

By Serena Maria Daniels
The Detroit News/Motortrend
Feb 22, 2012

Ford Motor Co. has released details about a new commercial van that the automaker says gives passengers a more luxurious car-like experience. The automaker plans to debut it at the Geneva Motor Show next month.

The Tourneo Custom Concept, a light-duty, front-wheel-drive, passenger van, will be available in Europe and Asia. It's one of five global platforms the automaker is rolling out as part of its push to grow its lucrative line of commercial vehicles.

"We're making a significant investment in the transit family to continue our leadership in vans globally," said Mike Levine, a Ford spokesman.

The one-ton Tourneo, to be built for personal use, will have car-like features, seating for eight, luxury interior design and a SYNC voice-activated, in-car connectivity system. Commercial vehicles will follow, Ford says.

"We set out to create a design with clean, futuristic lines and with a real sense of occasion," said Paul Campbell, chief designer, Ford of Europe, in a written statement released Tuesday. "With its sportier stance, bold rising shoulder line and flush glazing, the Tourneo Custom Concept brings something fresh and exciting to this class of people mover."

Ford already offers a nine-seat passenger van called the Tourneo in Europe, as well as a smaller five-seat model called the Tourneo Connect, both of which are designed for use as shuttles. The Tourneo Custom concept, however, rides on an all-new global platform that also will underpin Ford's cargo vans. Those models, which continue to bear the Transit name, will be launched later in 2012.

Visually, the sleek Tourneo concept adopts the "Kinetic Design" language that graces other Ford products; notably, the front fascia and grille look remarkably like those of the new Focus, Fusion, and Escape. The show car also wears LED running lights and smart 18-inch alloy wheels. Expect the production Transit (in markets outside the U.S.) to look very similar to this concept vehicle.

The concept van employs Ford's turbocharged 2.2-liter inline-four diesel engine and a six-speed manual transmission; output will range from 99 hp to 153 hp, depending on trim. Front-wheel drive and engine stop-start technology are standard. Highlights include features include a backup camera, Sync voice recognition, and a lane-departure warning system.

The Tourneo will not, however, be available in North America. Instead, Ford plans to replace its existing E-Line Series with a more fuel-efficient line known as the Ford Transit commercial van that will be built at its Kansas City plant starting next year. Details about the Transit will be announced later this year.

The North American Transit will be bigger than the European and Asian van, with a two-ton capacity, and will be rear-wheel drive.

Ford is investing more than $1 billion in its Kansas City plant to prepare for the Transit and add a stamping plant.

The reveal is part of a shift by Ford to focus its efforts away from its sturdy, but dated lines of commercial vehicles, including the E-Line, originally known as the Econoline when it launched in 1961. In August the automaker discontinued its Crown Victoria and Lincoln Town Car nameplates, each commonly used by police departments and airport limousine service providers.

The challenge in introducing new fleets to the market will be the initial sticker shock on the part of commercial buyers used to buying large numbers economically, said Jim Hall of Analytics 2953 LLP.

"It's a question of they're not going to make the same kind of money unless they can charge a lot more for it," Hall said.


Finley to make the case for
Old Age Security overhaul

Bill Curry
Toronto Star
Feb 21, 2012

The Conservative government plans to broaden its case for changing Old Age Security by emphasizing the higher price younger Canadians will pay to support government programs unless Ottawa moves now to bring down costs.

In her first extensive speech on the topic of demographics since the furor over pensions erupted last month, Human Resources Minister Diane Finley is expected to confirm on Tuesday that the details of proposed changes to OAS – which could include delaying qualification for benefits until the age of 67 – will be revealed in the forthcoming 2012 budget.

But after coming under fire for weeks over her claims that the OAS program is unsustainable, the minister is expected to make the case that the government's larger concern is the growing cost of government programs as a whole over the coming decades when the relative number of taxpayers available to cover these costs will shrink by half.

In the quiet of a Parliamentary break week, Ms. Finley will deliver a speech Tuesday on demographics to the Canadian Club at Toronto's Fairmont Royal York Hotel. Parts of the speech are expected to be aimed at young Canadians, with a theme focused on generational fairness and the consequences young Canadians will face if Ottawa chooses not to make hard decisions now.

Pension expert Keith Ambachtsheer, of the Rotman International Centre for Pension Management, said a move away from sound bites on OAS and toward a broader message of fair costs for future generations would be welcome. He said that while OAS may not be facing a crisis on its own, Ottawa does face large demographic changes that cannot be ignored.

In isolation, the rising cost of OAS is sustainable, he said, echoing the view of other experts, including economists and the Parliamentary Budget Officer. But Ottawa and other governments also face health-care costs that will rise even faster.

"It's the totality, the cumulative effect," he said, adding that the cost of MP and public-sector pensions must also be part of the reforms.

"I think there's a serious equity argument that I can legitimately make [which] is that we can't just willy nilly put the burden on a relatively smaller cohort that's going to be 'the work force' 20 years from now and say: 'Well, you know, that was the deal back then, so too bad. We don't care that there's less of you than there is of us,' " he said. "You just can't do that."

The challenge in all this is the lack of clear, widely agreed-upon facts. The federal actuarial reports on the OAS program provide a few. The ratio of the number of people aged 20 to 64 to those aged 65 and over will fall from about 4.4:1 in 2010 to 2.2:1 in 2050. The number of people receiving basic federal pensions will almost double over the next 20 years, from 4.7 million in 2010 to 9.3 million by 2030.

But the actuary reports the government points to do not weigh on the policy question of whether these changes are affordable.

Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page had been warning the government to address the demographic challenges, but his latest reports claim that existing programs are now sustainable over the long-term because of Ottawa's decision to tie long-term increases in provincial health transfers to economic growth.

The Conservatives ramped up their attacks on Mr. Page in response, but have not provided their own long-term estimates.

In a letter to MPs last week, Mr. Page defended the PBO's work and urged the government to fulfill a promise from the 2007 budget to publish a "comprehensive fiscal sustainability and intergenerational report."

NDP MP and pension critic Wayne Marston said the government needs to release its own estimates if it is going to challenge the PBO's work.

Mr. Marston's doing his own travelling during the break week to hear from Canadians on OAS changes. He said the government's warnings about future government revenue seem to assume the economy will remain sluggish for years.

"We're in a downturn now, but we won't be there forever. There'll be some growth," he said. "That's why we're telling people there is no crisis."


Desperate Muncie, Indiana
waits in hope of jobs
from Caterpillar's closed
London, Ont. locomotive plant

At the Red Dog Saloon, owner Lou Coulter, left, with waitress Sandy Collins, say business is "terrible."

Jennifer White
Toronto Star
Feb 20, 2012

The bus was idling across from Old Mariner's Church under a brace of eight — count 'em, eight — star-spangled banners that ruffled in a wind that was cold and sharp. The flags mark the approach to the General Motors building, that great silver cylinder on the Detroit River.

Horne adjusted his black leather gloves, poking the webbing between the fingers down nice and firm, and then staring at his hands for a couple of seconds, as if he couldn't quite believe the gloves fit so perfectly. The badge on his border crossing uniform was stitched with that one name, Horne, which neatly accessorized his tight, short statements.

"It's cold," he said, which pretty much dispensed with that topic.

Horne wanted to poke through my suitcase, which gave us time to talk about jobs, and the end of jobs at the Caterpillar-owned locomotive plant in London, Ont., and the possible transfer of jobs to Muncie, Ind., a 17-hour jaunt from Toronto if you count the stops, waits and connections. If Horne had any thoughts about spending 17 hours getting to Muncie by bus via Detroit, Dayton and Indianapolis he didn't share them.

The jobs thing, though. That got to him. "I really feel for those guys, those guys and gals," he said, adding that last bit quickly. "It's a shame."

It was still dark, the bus having left the Bay Street terminal at 1 in the morning, about which the less said the better. The notation in my notebook at the border crossing: 6 a.m. The bus idling. Horne talking.

Horne: "I'm surprised they're not just moving those jobs somewhere else." He meant the offshore gambit — say, Mexico or Why Not Brazil. Then he turned philosophical, as if someone had ripped a page out of Steinbeck and asked him to read aloud. "I've always believed that the wealth of a nation is measured by what it manufactures."

That's what Horne said.

And this was before U.S. President Barack Obama went on his "insourcing" tour, last Wednesday's walk-and-smile at Master Lock Co. in Milwaukee, championing the repatriation of 100 or so manufacturing jobs from China.

The new America: manufacturing. Really?

Anyway, it just didn't seem right, flying to Indiana, unannounced, demanding answers. Hence the bus idea, the thought of sidling up to a town, quietly and politely. Watching the sun come up, watching the transport trucks floating along the interstate with their yellow cabs and red cabs moving so fast through the Midwest, roadways of economic tragedy and domestic heartbreak. Abandoned homes and the metal carapaces of what once were thriving businesses. Contrast that with ribbons of CSX railway cars hauling coal to the east. America may be on its knees, but the rail business is booming.

As you would expect, a bus trip like this one — fare to Indianapolis $109.99, plus 15 bucks to Muncie — is a package deal. You get a bus ticket and a 60-something lady with a halo of tight auburn curls — "Did you pay for a seat for that bag? I gotta set my leg out" — and a mile-a-minute proselytizer, "Do four quarters make a dollar?"


"No they don't. Four quarters add up to a dollar." Followed by something about Jesus.

John Jeremiah Sullivan's Pulphead provided the quieter comfort of companionship. Sullivan, a Hoosier himself who grew up in a small river town, had travelled to Indiana in search of Guns N' Roses front man Axl Rose for a magazine feature. "The man from nowhere," Sullivan dubbed him. Not nowhere in the come-from-nothing sense, but nowhere, literally. "Given the relevant maps and a pointer, I know I could convince even the most exacting minds that when the vast and blood-soaked jigsaw puzzle that is this country's regional scheme coalesced into more or less its present configuration after the Civil War, somebody dropped a piece, which left a void, and they called the void 'central Indiana.' I'm not trying to say there's no there there. I'm trying to say there's no there."

"There" for Sullivan was Lafayette, a scoot up I-65 from the state capital. Muncie, an hour and a bit up I-69, is famous, though not in ways commonly understood by Canadians. Eighty-some years ago, two American researchers set out in search of a city of small size that would be "as representative as possible of American life." A city undergoing a rapid rate of growth spurred by an industrial culture with modern high-speed machine production. A city in "that common denominator of America," the Middle West.

And so, Muncie was chosen as the Petri dish for this first-ever field study into Middle America. The researchers, Robert Lynd and Helen Merrell Lynd, bestowed upon the city a fitting pseudonym. Middletown, they called it. How perfect. Their study, the first volume of which was published in 1929, was championed by H.L. Mencken as "one of the richest and most valuable documents ever concocted by sociologists." "Concocted" is one of those double-edged words, but we'll let that one lie.

Middletown has its peculiarities, a Democratic hole in a Republican state. And its commonalities: a city where mighty manufacturers once ruled, laying down well-paying middle-class jobs for the citizenry. Radical change has meant shuttered factories, collapsed wages. Thousands of homes have been abandoned — underwater mortgages, or, as the mayor of Muncie likes to say, upside-down mortgages.

The whole town is upside down.

The Red Dog Saloon , Muncie. 10:30 a.m.

Don Hobbs is fixed on a bar stool, communing with bartender Sandy Collins, who makes $5 an hour serving beer but will just as gladly slide over a cup of coffee or a coke or a pickled hot dog. The bottle of pumpkin pie liqueur, disturbingly flesh-coloured and gelatinous seeming, has almost run dry.

You could drive a locomotive through the Dog, and that's not just because of the hour.

"Muncie is just about as desolate a city as there is right now," says Hobbs. Later, he ups the ante. "Muncie is just about the rear end of the horse."

Hobbs "put in" at Warner Gear as a machine repairman in 1974, making $9 or $10 an hour. The Warner brothers — Tom and Henry — had been part of the first wave of industrialization in Muncie, setting up shop in 1901 with eight employees, developing the first manual transmission, the first differential gear, and later the first power transfer cases. Muncie and auto parts: hand in glove.

In the '20s, Warner Gear merged with Borg & Beck and, for a time, BorgWarner employed as many as 6,000 people in Muncie.

As Muncie is a proxy for Middle America, Hobbs is a proxy for the Middle American worker of his time. There was the 1960 drive to California in a '49 Chevy DeLuxe. "They had a show on TV called Route 66. I wanted to see that. I wanted to see the world." The tour of duty in Vietnam. "I don't know the reason I was there to this day." The re-entry to the workforce as an Omar man, driving across the pancake-flat countryside, hot and crisp, going door to door selling Omar breads, doughnuts, pecan rolls.

A unionized job at BorgWarner meant good pay, extensive health coverage, a defined benefit pension plan — true — and the expected middle-class accomplishments of a house, a new model car. Boom times.

Why here?

Michael Hicks, an economist who heads the Center for Business and Economic Research at Ball State University, traces the growth in population to Revolutionary War vets who eagerly accepted the state's 40-acre postwar giveaways, creating what Hicks calls "100 years worth of small yeoman farms."

When mechanization arrived, industry was served by an "inexhaustible supply of young men who knew how to work, knew how to measure. . . every 40-acre plot was spitting out an 18- or 19-year-old man in need of a job."

A significant gas discovery in Delaware County in 1886 lit a flame through the Hoosier towns of Kokomo and Anderson. Muncie became known as Gas City or The City of Eternal Gas, before it became famous as Middletown. Hicks's shorthand for how the region benefitted from the confluence of labour and power goes like this: "There's no Muncie in Idaho." In the phrasing of the Lynds: "Nothing short of the sky seemed an adequate limit to the citizens of Middletown."

Don Hobbs's salary as a skilled tradesman rose to $20 an hour, and rose again as he was tapped to travel to Europe several times to test potential plant equipment. "We had 20 or more product lines," he explains. "Four speeds, five speeds, six speeds, automatic, truck transmissions, marine drive — what goes on a boat." The plant was 1.5 million square feet, which Hobbs would navigate in a motorized cart, tooting from repair job to repair job.

Muncie was something back then. "Downtown on Friday and Saturday nights the city was packed. The cab company on Mulberry Street took up a whole corner," says Sandy Collins, a lean 70-something who goes wide-eyed at the recollection. "You should have seen the marionettes in the Ball Stores windows at Christmas time."

The department store, at Charles and Walnut Streets, was a local landmark. This is, still, Ball country, the Ball brothers having been lured to Muncie by that gas discovery, making the town the ideal location for their glass manufacturing operation.

That sounds modest. What was a Buffalo-based maker of wood-jacketed tin cans became an enormously successful maker of glass canning jars, the Ball jar.

The story doesn't end happily. Ball Corp. today is a multi-billion-dollar metal packaging company — based in Broomfield, Colo. By the time of Hobbs's retirement in 2004, BorgWarner had focused its growth in other locales. The Muncie operation had shed thousands of workers, production lines had shrunk from 20 to one. A bitter strike in 1989 did irreparable damage to the relations between the company and UAW Local 287, a bad taste that Hobbs says remains to this day.

"If you thought about it at all, you could see it wasn't going to last," says Hobbs.

In 2009, BorgWarner shut the plant.

The shuttering marked the end of an era, a chapter closing on Middletown, or at least that's what was said at the time. For sheer visual effect, my money's on the death of the Chevrolet plant. Four years ago, when the 190-foot Chevy smokestack was razed to the ground, it took just eight seconds for those big block letters shouting Chevrolet to crumble to dust. At its peak, Chevy Muncie employed 3,400 and its collapse said a lot about how far Muncie had fallen. When current Mayor Dennis Tyler, who was then fireman Dennis Tyler, headed to the scene, hoping to observe the demolition, he arrived too late, and the destruction brought tears to his eyes.

Don Hobbs reflects on sunset moments with his own watery blues. The U.S. lost close to 6 million manufacturing jobs in the decade leading up to his retirement. "There is no middle class left in Muncie," he sighs. "People are well off, or they're poor."

The echoes of the '20s, to the days of the Lynds, are unavoidable. "We once again have two towns, just like the Lynds found," says Jim Connolly, professor of history and the director for the Center of Middletown Studies at Ball State University. He recalls the foundational stories of that early research, of workers who had no control over their lives, the good times that followed and the painful recent history. "That long wave of deindustrialization," as Connolly deems it.

UAW Local 287 dissolved when the plant closed. These days Hobbs and a group of fellow retirees are locked in a legal battle with BorgWarner over vested lifetime health benefits. The retirees gather on the first Monday of every month, seeking the latest update on a case that has dragged on through the courts for four years.

BorgWarner has since bulked up operations in lower-wage jurisdictions, places like Seneca, S.C. Last week the company reported annual net income of $550 million on sales of $7.1 billion.

At the Red Dog, owner "Papa" Lou Coulter confirms that his own business is as it seems. "Terrible. Absolutely terrible."

Coulter bought the Red Dog 38 years ago, naming the saloon's sandwiches after some of the local employers. The Delco (a GM plant); the New Venture (transmissions; transfer casings). A Borg Warner — roast beef, ham, sliced egg, lettuce and tomato — is $4.25. In the good times 20 to 30 workers would line up to cash their paycheques at the Red Dog — "All the way down here," says Sandy Collins, tracing a finger down the length of the bar. Papa Lou used to have to throw that many customers out the door at 3 a.m. That's the way Papa Lou tells it. Here's the way a cabbie tells it: "It was one of those places where they used to sweep the teeth up at closing time," a point with which Sandy Collins would not agree, as she says the boys in the bar were commonly extremely well-behaved.

On Wednesday night last week there was no 3 a.m. close. Coulter turned out the lights at 10. Pragmatically, he suggests against future employers, should they arrive, asking to have their names grafted on to the menu. "You need to look at the rest of those sandwiches because they're all out of business. Do you really want that to happen to you?"

Just around the corner from the Red Dog lies what the locals still call the Westinghouse plant, abandoned in 1998 and briefly considered a site contender for a new prison, which was positioned instead between City Hall and the courthouse. It is the Westinghouse plant that has been transformed by Caterpillar into its locomotive manufacturing arm, under the banner Progress Rail.

On a bleak February morning, a truck driver with a long load of bogie frames has missed the turnoff to the Progress Rail plant and is, terrifyingly, attempting to back up on Cowan Road. The parking lot is emptying of workers coming off shift. Hopeful hires sign into the visitors' log and head into the smoke-free campus. Workers have been told not to talk to the press.

Don Hobbs climbs into his black Chevy Silverado and offers the Muncie tour, driving east on Cornbread Road, the Midwest plain stretching to the horizon, tucked under a thin crust of snow. We head toward Shed Town, or Box Town, a congregation of aged and sad two-room homes, tiny pastel-coloured shelters pocking the flat white landscape. "This is probably the poorest part of Muncie in here," he says.

The drive triggers stories, as drives tend to do. "We lost a millwright inside of a quench tank. He got trapped in there and when the fire department pulled him out he died right there."

A couple of workers were killed on the train tracks, the tracks that cut north up to the middle of town, east of Cowan Road, with a spur line running off to the west, directly to the Progress Rail facility. Running east-west through the centre of town is another set of tracks that neatly bisects the city, a historic divider, Hobbs says, between the upper classes north of tracks and the poorer folk settled down to the south.

Still, jobs were plentiful. "You could leave a job one day and go and get another job the next," Hobbs says.

Hobbs frequently returns to the fate of the workers in London. He wants to emphasize how badly he feels. "Who in the hell would be able to take a 50 per cent cut in wages? The owner knew the workers would turn that down and they'd close the plant."

It's so disheartening. Little wonder that a bar stool at Show Me's suddenly looks vastly appealing, even in the sight line of Hooters-styled waitresses, whose microscopic clothing is branded with the words: "When you have an appetite for fun."

Tony Cassity has just come from the gym. He works in Kokomo. Owns a house. Is wondering whether he should fly to Ukraine to reunite with a lady who's sweet on him.

"There are so many people destitute here, wanting a job. It's not their fault."

He does the math on a $12-an-hour job. A family of four on $30,000 is eligible for food stamps. That's the math.

"Someway, somehow, there's going to be some accountability," Cassity says. "It's funny how history repeats itself. Life in the '20s. The '30s."

Indiana State Representative Dennis Tyler was there on that chilly-sunny day in October, 2010, when Progress Rail CEO Billy Ainsworth stood before the people of Muncie and announced the conversion of a defunct 740,000-square-foot plant on Cowan Road into a locomotive maker.

Governor Mitch Daniels was there, too, complaining about the cold. The news meant a lot of jobs for Muncie, Daniels said in a brief speech. "Good jobs."

"It was a big day," Tyler recalls. Six hundred and fifty jobs were promised. Job postings sought assemblers for $11 to $12 an hour. Welders at $12 to $14 an hour.

It is late afternoon and the light is fading. Dennis Tyler, now mayor of Muncie, is deep into his personal history, having grown up on the southeast side of town, south of the tracks. Dad was an assembly man for Warner Gear. "He came home every day with that oil all over him."

Generations of Muncie families would work for one employer, and the Tylers were no exception. It was BorgWarner policy to preferentially hire employee offspring. But Dennis Tyler didn't like the idea of being cooped up inside, so on March 15, 1965, he showed up for his first day of work as a firefighter. "I loved it.. . . We were the heroes. We were the good guys. That meant a lot."

Tyler was fast with that fire truck, jogging his memory to recall the numerous fire calls over there at the Ball Corporation, with those vats that would sometimes overheat, and spill, and the tunnels that ran beneath the operation.

Ball Corp. had its headquarters in town for many years, and the five Ball brothers had the handsomest mansions, facing the White River.

Tyler doesn't talk about the mansions. He counts cinemas on his fingers. The Strand. The Rivoli. "We had at least five movie theatres in downtown Muncie," he says. "And the Hotel Roberts had a big bowling alley underneath it. I used to set pins there when I was a kid."

It was like Don Hobbs says. You could leave a job one day and find another the next.

Today the mayor faces grim statistics. The official unemployment rate hovers at about 10 per cent, but Tyler believes the true rate is closer to 18 per cent. "People who have fallen off the rolls, or who have stopped looking."

The most recent census found that more than 4,000 city homes are abandoned, accounting for perhaps 10 per cent of the housing stock. Plot those abandoned homes on a map of the city, and you will see a clustering in the centre of town, cascading south of the railroad tracks. "The bad part about that is that every one of those homes had a family living in it. And life was good and then for whatever reason life turned down. You know as well as I do, the last thing to go is the family home."

It's the middle that has emptied out. The mayor is back to enumerating again. "Chevrolet Muncie. Delco Battery. Westinghouse. Ball Brothers. Indiana Steel and Wire. Indiana Bridge. . . "

He spools back to BorgWarner, and his father walking a 10-week strike in 1953, rigging dairy cows and driving cab between strike duties, whatever it took to make ends meet. So it's easy to see where the mayor's coming from when he says his heart aches — those are his words — for the locomotive workers in London who have lost their jobs. "At the same time," he adds with the sure-footedness of a political pro, "I have an obligation to do whatever I can to bring jobs to Muncie."

That would seem like a trim end-note to an interview, but as the cleaning staff of one starts to turn out the lights in the foyer, Tyler relaunches. "We're at the mercy of corporations. We want those jobs, we need those jobs. We need to get them back to this country. But we've got to make it right for everybody. My dad, when he left this earth, he left my generation in a much better position to succeed. I don't see that today."

Tyler's father died in the '80s and, clearly, the mayor's sympathies are on the union side. "He always told me there would be a time when men and women would have to get out in the streets again and have their heads caved in. When he died he was still talking about that."

And then he says it again: "I think you've gotta take it to the streets."

Two weeks ago, Mayor Tyler checked in on the BorgWarner retirees, incredulous that they have to fight now for retention of their health benefits. The talk at the morning meeting turned to the closure of the locomotive plant in London and the potential pickup of jobs at the Progress Rail facility, causing Don Hobbs to pipe up: "I said we're stealing their jobs. You can put it any way you want to, but that's just wrong. Plain wrong."

The mayor offers a lift and we head out of the dead empty and inarguably unattractive City Hall. He is ginger-haired and lean and affable and if the test of political appeal rests with the beer challenge — would you want to have a beer with the mayor? — Dennis Tyler wins. He slides behind the wheel of his gold Pontiac Bonneville and executes a smooth cruise along the White River, a pretty vista, actually, and an invitation to reminiscence: mother born in Oakville; vacations there; playing darts with Uncle Jack at the Oakville Legion — "a real hot spot."

Ball State University is a handsome presence in town, the city's largest employer, the mayor points out. There's a regional hospital, Ball Memorial. No wonder the shorthand for capturing the class of upper income professionals in Muncie is simply reduced to "eds and meds."

Sixty years ago there was a tool-and-die shop in every nook and cranny of Muncie, Tyler says. His paper route ran up Willard beyond Walnut. "Back when I was a kid, the bus line I used to take said 'White City' on the front of the bus. Can you imagine that today?"

"Now I don't want to paint it as a golden age," says Michael Hicks, enjoying a four-hour pour of coffee at the IHOP. (That's the International House of Pancakes.) "We had our share of racial problems."

Problems, it might be said, that the Lynds largely overlooked.

By the '50s and '60s Muncie was a high-end manufacturing town and that, says Hicks, meant assembly workers landing in the 50th to 65th percentile of household income. In other words, solidly middle class, where the university professor would live next door to the blue-collar man.

It was a job at Warner Gear that was the plum job in the '60s, says BSU's Jim Connolly. "More of a plum job than being an associate professor at BSU." Connolly is associate professor of history.

In Hicks's view, the clock can't be turned back, despite Obama's buy-America electioneering. What is often unwritten is that this is a record-breaking period for manufacturing in Indiana, measured by productivity growth. "When people say when was the heyday of manufacturing, I say it's next year."

Manufacturing employment, however, fell 40 per cent in the state in the years 1969 to 2009.

The challenge is not to resurrect manufacturing, "but how to take men and women who may have been good in manufacturing and make them compete in other jobs."

Or how to remake Middletown.

The "eds and meds" crowd can meander along Walnut Street, where the city has worked hard at restoring some glorious old buildings. Steve Fennimore can be found mid-afternoon at the restaurant Vera Mae's, which he co-owns with his partner, Kent Shuff. The bistro is cosy and inviting, with colour-saturated walls and little café lamps. The overhead light fixtures from the torn-down courthouse no doubt cast a lovely evening glow. "We gave up on industry a long time ago," Fennimore says. "If it weren't for the university and the hospital we wouldn't be here."

There's the Ball name again. Bill Morgan, the city's historic preservation officer, takes me on a drive past the grand Ball mansions, beautifully preserved, still sitting proudly on the north bank of the White River. The snow is falling fat and wet and it is nighttime and pretty. It must have been magnificent, 100 years ago.

Everyone here is apologetic. Everyone. Don Hobbs especially. The last time I saw him he said, so simply, "Just tell them we're sorry."


Hundreds of thousands march against labour reforms in Spain

People protest against the labour reform of the Spanish government in central Madrid February 19, 2012.

MADRID, Spain— The Associated Press
Sunday, Feb. 19, 2012

Hundreds of thousands of protesters were marching throughout Spain on Sunday in the first large-scale show of anger over new labour reforms that make it easier for companies to fire workers and pull out of collective bargaining agreements.

The country's main trade unions organized marches in 57 cities, beginning midmorning in Cordoba in the south and expected to end with evening marches in Toledo and Valencia, with a very large demonstration planned in Madrid from midday.

Union organizers said around a million people had marched by mid-afternoon, but official figures were not released.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's government passed the package of reforms nine days ago in an effort to shake up a labour market seen as one of Europe most rigid and to encourage hiring in a country battling the highest unemployment rate in the eurozone, at nearly 23 per cent. Mr. Rajoy was overheard saying that the reform will "cost me a general strike."

"If we want Spain to grow and create employment, we had to do what we've done," Mr. Rajoy said at his Popular Party's annual congress in southwestern Seville on Sunday.

The government's sweeping changes allow Spanish companies facing dwindling revenues to pull out of collective bargaining agreements and have greater flexibility to adjust employees' schedules, workplace tasks and wages, as well as making it easier and less costly to fire workers.

"If the government doesn't rectify this, we will continue with an ever-growing mobilization," said General Workers Union spokesman Candido Mendez.


Ford free to offer proposal for
blast-proof trucks, army says

By Roxana Tiron Bloomberg News
Feb 18, 2012

Ford Motor Co. can submit an unsolicited proposal for $54 billion in work replacing U.S. military Humvees with blast-proof, all-terrain vehicles, the U.S. Army Secretary said.

Ford led a push by commercial truck makers to challenge defense contractors for the second development phase of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program, which the Army shares with the Marine Corps. The automaker said on Feb. 6 that it won't compete because it can't meet the program's deadlines.

Dearborn-based Ford had initially proposed bearing about $400 million in costs to build production-ready prototypes without the government funding normally awarded during development, according to a presentation circulated in Congress in November. The company said its vehicle would provide better protection to troops at a lower price and weight than competitors.

"We can't pull plugs" on a program because of one possible competitor's claims, Army Secretary John McHugh said Friday at a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee. McHugh answered a question by Republican Representative Duncan Hunter of California who asked why the Army wouldn't accept the Ford team's offer and extend the program's timeline.

McHugh said that, while doing so would be a "very tenuous decision," the Army would consider an unsolicited proposal outside the current competition.

The Army opened on Jan. 26 the second round of competition to develop light, blast-resistant trucks that would replace part of the Humvee fleet.

General Dynamics Corp., Lockheed Martin Corp. and BAE Systems Plc won first-stage contracts in 2008 for technology development.


CAW Contact
February 17, 2012
Vol. 42, No. 6


Close Loopholes in Investment Canada Act, CAW Demands

CAW National President Ken Lewenza is calling on the federal government to release detailed financial data associated with Caterpillar's 2010 acquisition of Electro-Motive Canada.

That acquisition went ahead without being formally reviewed under the Investment Canada process, purportedly because the Canadian company was too small under the regulatory threshold (which was $299 million for that year). But no public, independently verifiable data was provided to support that claim, and it is not clear that federal officials ever checked the accuracy of the claims submitted by Caterpillar (through its subsidiary Progress Rail).

Lewenza noted that Caterpillar's own financial statement reported $1.3 billion (U.S.) in assets associated with its takeover of the entire Electro-Motive business. Electro-Motive's Canadian subsidiary represented its largest and most strategic asset, and almost half of its total employees.

"Unless this data is divulged and independently authenticated, we're simply taking Caterpillar's word for it that this acquisition was not subject to Investment Canada review," Lewenza said. "That's no way to deal with powerful, self-interested corporations like Caterpillar. Corporations cannot be left to police themselves."

In a letter to federal Industry Minister Christian Paradis (who oversees the Investment Canada process), Lewenza has asked for the public release and independent verification of the data associated with the purchase. If that data turns out to be inaccurate, Lewenza noted, the government can impose penalties on Caterpillar up to and including annulling the acquisition.

The letter pointed out that the Minister and the federal government retain considerable policy flexibility to intervene in foreign investments that pose a danger to Canada, as demonstrated by its ad-hoc interventions in previous controversial acquisitions (such as MDA and Potash Corp.).

Lewenza's letter also called on the government to strengthen regulations over foreign investment, by:

  • Improving transparency of the ultra-secretive Investment Canada process.
  • Allowing broader stakeholder input to reviews.
  • Closing loopholes that exempt most takeovers from scrutiny (including takeovers that are "too small" or reflect "indirect purchases" of companies).
  • Strengthening and more clearly defining the "net benefit" test.
  • Insuring that government can enforce commitments attached to approved takeovers.

The government must address the immediate circumstances of the Caterpillar case, while also taking on the longer-run task of strengthening the regulations, so that the terrible situation at Electro-Motive does not continue to repeat itself in other locations.

Lewenza's full letter to Minister Paradis can be read here: http://www.caw.ca/en/10948.htm

Labour Leaders Challenge Raitt on Caterpillar Closure

Labour leaders in the Halton Region west of Toronto welcomed the chance to meet with Federal Labour Minister Lisa Raitt on February 3 and urged the Minister to take action to support workers at Electro-Motive in London in the wake of the announced plant closure.

"The Minister made it clear to us that while she sympathizes with the workers who've lost their jobs in London, her hands as federal labour minister are tied, which is not the answer we wanted to hear," said Oakville and District Labour Council President Dave Millar. "We need Minister Raitt to send a strong message that this kind of corporate cut-and-run behaviour can't be accepted. We will keep pressing her on this. We need all levels of government speaking out on this."

The meeting included representatives of the CAW as well as the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation, the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers and the Canadian Labour Congress.

CAW Local 707 President Gary Beck said that the issues of retirement security (including the protection of Old Age Security) and job creation were front and centre.

"We told the Minister that creating good, quality jobs must be a top priority in the upcoming budget," Beck said. "We feel that the government's current program of tax cuts and service cuts won't help build the economy we need."

Air Canada In-Flight Schedulers Ratify New Deal

CAW Local 2002 members who work as Air Canada in-flight crew schedulers have overwhelmingly voted in favour of a new collective agreement.

The 76 crew schedulers, who are based in Montreal, voted 97 per cent in favour of the new agreement at a meeting on February 15.

The major issue in bargaining was the company's sudden announcement that they wanted to move these jobs to Toronto.

The new agreement ensures about 40 per cent of the jobs remain in Montreal with guaranteed alternate employment with Air Canada in Montreal, with recall rights.

In addition the date for relocation has been moved from March 2014 to March 2016 and voluntary separation packages have been negotiated for those who don't want to relocate.

Wages were increased two per cent in each of the first three years and three per cent in the fourth year, retroactive to May 23, 2011. The deal also includes changes to the pension plan, similar to Air Canada customer service and sales agents. The deal expires May 22, 2015.

CAW President Ken Lewenza said the new agreement is good news for these workers especially after such a tough round of bargaining.

"Our negotiating committee worked very hard to achieve this new agreement and have received overwhelming support from the membership," Lewenza said. "It's critical to note this agreement was reached between the two sides without any interference from the federal government."

"The bargaining committee did an outstanding job of bargaining the new agreement under very difficult circumstances," said Ross. "The committee took on the issue of the move head on and with a 97% ratification the members have clearly endorsed the new agreement and their efforts. This is proof that free collective bargaining can work and is the best way for the parties to reach an agreement," she said.

CAW Blockade at Guelph, Ontario Snowplow Plant

Members of CAW Local 1917 in Guelph, Ontario are blocking access to a SnowBear Limited plant, which makes snowplows and trailers, seeking severance payment guarantees from the company which has shut down production.

The plant has been gradually wound down since the fall when it had up to 200 workers. More recently it employed roughly 45, but now all workers have received layoff notices.

CAW Local 1917 President Robin Dudley said with the layoffs and indications the plant is being closed down the union wants guarantees that severance payments will be made to the workforce.

Dudley said the union is seeking an assurance the company isn't moving equipment out of the plant, selling it, and declaring bankruptcy in an attempt to avoid severance.

"CAW members at SnowBear and across the local have demonstrated real solidarity during a difficult period," Dudley said. "Hopefully a resolution will be found soon, but until there is a resolution we will stay strong and keep fighting back."

Attention CAW Members: CAW Group Insurance Program

The CAW Group Insurance Program is a voluntary auto and home insurance benefit plan available to all CAW active and retired members and their families.

Members are able to access home insurance and automobile insurance (except in those provinces where public auto insurance is available). Discounted rates are available and exclusive to CAW members and their families.

CAW Group Insurance Program staff are licensed insurance professionals and members of CAW Local 1524 in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario.


Ford cited for backing
female-owned suppliers

By Serena Maria Daniels The Detroit News
Feb 17, 2012

A national women's entrepreneur advocacy organization has recognized a Detroit automaker for its efforts to support women-owned suppliers, a first for any automaker.

Ford Motor Co. was listed among 29 corporations by Washington, D.C.-based Women's Business Enterprise Council in its 13th annual America's Top Corporations for Women's Business Enterprises awards. The organization honors corporations for leveling "the playing field for women's business enterprises to compete for corporate business."

"Ford is exemplary in enabling women's businesses to compete by using a disciplined approach — from the CEO level on down — in measuring its progress in leveling the playing field for women's businesses," said Pamela Prince-Eason, president and CEO of council, in a written statement issued Wednesday.

Prince-Eason said Ford reviews such progress quarterly at the CEO level.

Ford spent $1.06 billion on women-owned suppliers in the U.S. last year, a 22 percent increase from $866 million in 2010, the Dearborn automaker says. Since 2009, Ford has more than doubled its partnering with women-owned businesses. Ford uses 150 women-owned suppliers out of roughly 10,000 suppliers globally.

"Building a financially healthy, diverse supply base is a central part of the Ford purchasing strategy," said Tony Brown, group vice president of Ford Global Purchasing.

"We are proud to receive this recognition, and we hope it brings renewed attention to this important segment of our supply base."

Increasing spending on suppliers owned by women and minorities has been a point of focus among Detroit automakers, particularly since the industry has rebounded.

General Motors Co. last year spent about $750 million with women-owned suppliers, which made up about 2 percent of its supplier base. GM's 2012 spending target is 4 percent.

This week, Chrysler Group LLC announced that Dan Knott, senior vice president of purchasing and supplier quality, will serve as chair of the Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council.

One such company is Auburn Hills-based Dura Automotive Systems, owned by Lynn Tilton's Patriarch Partners investment company.

Among other components, Dura provides the heated, power rear sliding window for the F-150 pickup. The company has 33 facilities globally.

Since Dura, which last year did $350 million with Ford, was recognized as a women-owned business in 2010, the company has gotten exposure it otherwise would not have been afforded, said CEO Jeff Stafeil.

"The fact that we've had that certification has afforded us more capabilities to expand our business relationship with Ford," Stafeil said.


Ontario can't pay for drugs
for all seniors, report says

The Canadian Press
February 16, 2012

TORONTO — Ontario can no longer afford to pay for all prescription drugs for everyone aged 65 and older, economist Don Drummond told the government Wednesday in a special report on reducing costs to rein in a $16-billion deficit.

"Ontario needs to start having an open, honest discussion about public coverage of health care costs, which includes the possibility of broader public coverage of pharmaceutical costs and how it should be financed," Drummond concludes in his 500-page report.

"A minimal step would be to make the portion of pharmaceutical costs paid for by seniors rise more sharply as income increases."

Ontario spent $44.77 billion on health care last year, or 40.3 per cent of all government program spending.

Recommendations to reform the health-care system make up the bulk of Drummond's report, which says the increase in health spending should be reduced to 2.5 per cent a year from roughly 6.5 per cent annually in the past eight years.

Drummond is recommending much more importance be placed on community-based care to keep people out of expensive hospital settings whenever possible.

"Do not apply the same degree of fiscal restraint to all parts of health care. Some areas, including community care and mental health, will need to grow more rapidly than the average," he said.

"On the other hand, with a shift away from a hospital focus, hospital budgets could grow less rapidly than the average."

The government should also stop negotiating what services and procedures are covered by the Ontario Health Insurance Plan with doctors through the Ontario Medical Association. It should instead give the Health Quality Ontario expanded powers to determine what is and is not publicly covered, said Drummond.

"As in other jurisdictions, doctors should be consulted on such questions, but no more," concludes the report.

Ontario doctors should not be looking for a pay hike from the cash-strapped government, said Drummond.

"Since Ontario's doctors are now the best paid in the country, it is reasonable to set a goal of allowing no increase in total compensation," he wrote.

Drummond suggests Ontario's 14 Local Health Integration Networks be given much more power to oversee health care in each region, incorporating primary care into their mandate, something Premier Dalton McGuinty has already indicated the Liberal government wants to do. He even recommended the LHINs be merged with Community Care Access Centres to better co-ordinate care, and said the local health agencies could use funding "restrictions" to force hospitals to make necessary changes.

The Progressive Conservatives, on the other hand, call the LHINs a needless layer of bureaucracy that take money out of front line health care and want them shut down completely.

The government also needs to train more nurses, said Drummond, and let nurse practioners perform more work currently done by doctors, including annual physical exams.

The former TD Bank economist also recommended the province consider fully uploading public health from municipalities, and said Ontario should follow Nova Scotia's lead and have emergency medical technicians provide home care when they are not on emergency calls.

The aging population will continue to put additional pressures on health care, noted Drummond, who said one per cent of the population account for 34 per cent of the province's health care costs.


GM to phase out salaried pensions, shift workers to 401(k) plan

Salaried employees awarded more vacation

Mike Colias
Automotive News
February 16, 2012

DETROIT -- General Motors said today it will phase out its pension plan for salaried workers as a way to reduce the risk to its balance sheet.

About 70 percent of GM's 26,000 salaried U.S. workers are enrolled in a defined-benefit, or traditional, pension plan. Those workers will be shifted to a 401(k) plan starting on Oct. 1, said Cindy Brinkley, GM's vice president of global human resources.

Eligible salaried employees will still receive the benefits accrued under the pension plan, Brinkley said.

GM also plans to offer lump-sum payouts to salaried workers who retired after Dec. 1, 2011, another move designed to reduce future pension risk. A spokeswoman said that covers about 500 recent retirees.

A decade ago, GM switched to a 401(k) plan for new hires. About 7,000 salaried workers who were hired since Jan. 1, 2001, are still working at GM and are enrolled in the 401(k) plan.

Brinkley said the move "will give employees more control of their retirement income while certainly putting GM in a better position for long-term financial health."

GM's global pension obligations totalled about $128 billion at the end of 2010, according to its annual filing with securities regulators. Its U.S. pension plan was under funded by $12.4 billion; plans outside the United States were under funded by $9.9 billion.

GM is expected to provide an update on the funding status of its pension plans Thursday, when it reports fourth quarter and full-year financial results.

Brinkley said GM has the largest pension obligation in the United States. She said that about two-thirds of "large, established" U.S. corporations such as GM have migrated to defined-contribution plans from traditional pensions.

Balance sheet worries

GM's massive pension obligation remains a key worry for investors. Reducing future pension risks is a key component of GM's strategy to build a "fortress balance sheet" that carries little debt and maintains healthy cash reserves.

GM ended the third quarter of 2011 with $32 billion in cash and $4 billion in debt.

Under a pension plan, a company pays into a pool of money and invests it on behalf of employees. Workers are guaranteed set payments in retirement regardless of how the pension investments perform.

Under a "defined-contribution" plan such as a 401(k), an employee sets aside a certain percentage of pre-tax pay. In some cases, the employee matches a portion or all of the employer's contribution.

Future payments are not guaranteed but are determined by the performance of the employee's investments.

Brinkley also said that GM won't pay across-the-board raises this year, but will award raises to top performers. In addition, GM will disclose performance bonuses on Thursday.

She declined to comment on a report on The Wall Street Journal's Web site today that says GM's salaried workers are in line for smaller bonuses for 2011 than they received a year earlier because the company didn't hit all of its financial targets.

Brinkley also said GM will give salaried employees five extra days of vacation this year, phasing out a previous system that allowed workers to buy extra vacation time.

"Employees have been saying for quite some time that they're looking for additional ways to balance work and life," she said. "We think this will help them get there."



Caterpillar fiasco highlights failure of economic and social policy
CAW president Ken Lewenza, shown at the closed Electro-Motive plant in London, Ont., earlier this month, says Canadians must equip themselves as a society to deal with the new power alignments of the global economy.

Ken Lewenza
Toronto Star
Feb 15, 2012

I have likened recent events at Electro-Motive Canada in London, Ont., to an "economic home invasion." The factory operated profitably and productively for decades. Then suddenly its workers and the whole community were confronted by an uninvited visitor — who barged in, demanded money, and then left, leaving a shuttered plant and immeasurable social despair in its wake.

When someone experiences a real home invasion, they call the police. In this case, however, the relevant authorities failed to protect the citizens of London. Indeed, the federal government's Investment Canada process invited the invaders in, without so much as a cursory review of the possible effects of Caterpillar's 2010 takeover of Electro-Motive.

Caterpillar had no sooner digested its new subsidiary, than it began shifting production to Indiana (where new right-to-work laws effectively ban unions) and Mexico (where more straightforward, violent techniques are used to keep workers in line). But moving jobs out of Canada won't stop Caterpillar from raking in billions in revenue here — including lucrative sales to Canadian mines, oilsands and government-financed infrastructure projects. Rich tax incentives (like corporate tax cuts, special writeoffs for locomotive purchasers, R&D subsidies, and government financing for exports) all sweetened the pie.

Yet nothing was demanded from Caterpillar in return for this largesse; that's like offering a home invader a home-cooked dinner, while they're rampaging through. Meanwhile, outdated labour laws gave the company free reign to lock out workers, bargain in bad faith, and ultimately close down entirely, with impunity.

The Electro-Motive debacle reflects an all-round failure of economic and social policy. Perhaps that's why the issue touched such a chord with average Canadians. Indeed, I cannot recall another labour-management dispute in recent memory that garnered so much public support for the workers' cause. This is partly because of the offensive nature of the company's demands: imagine the arrogance of a global company that declares its highest profits in history one week, then demands 50 per cent cutbacks from Canadian workers the next.

But I believe the public spoke out because the Electro-Motive case symbolizes so painfully the negative social and economic trends that are destroying the Canada we love. If those 465 hard-working Canadians can lose everything just because an extremely profitable corporation demands it, then no middle-class Canadian is safe. The dream of inclusive mass prosperity, supposedly a core principle of our society, is very much on the ropes.

A union can fight for a better deal for its members, and for all working people. But a union cannot succeed on its own. Just as homeowners need the police to protect them against aggressive strangers, Canadians need governments to actively assert their authority and protect our interests.

Both the federal and provincial governments must intervene to assist the Electro-Motive workers in this desperate moment, using all the tools at their disposal. We've asked the federal government to reveal the specific terms of Caterpillar's original notification to Investment Canada, and subject that data to independent audit. Ottawa should also utilize strategic trade policy (as other countries do), including the potential application of countervail tariff, in an effort to change Caterpillar's decision. Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty should demand taxpayers' money back from Caterpillar. Provincial labour officials can intervene, too, to make sure the workers receive a modicum of fairness in their final dealings with this shameless corporation.

But ultimately we need permanent policy changes that respond to the unprecedented flexibility, power, and arrogance of companies like Caterpillar. Foreign investments must be carefully scrutinized to ensure they genuinely benefit Canada. Companies cannot harm Canadians, and still expect unfettered access to our markets. Tax incentives must have genuine strings attached, so we get fair value for our fiscal support to companies. Labour laws must be strengthened and modernized to support fair treatment for unionized and non-union workers alike.

We must equip ourselves as a society to deal with the new power alignments of the global economy, so average people can build decent lives. Otherwise, the tragedy that has befallen 465 hard-working, productive Canadians and their families in London, will be repeated many times over in decent communities across our land.


Chinese truck imitates Ford F-150

The JAC 4R3 has borrowed many of the F-150’s hood, grille and cab details. (Carnewschina.com)

By Serena Maria Daniels The Detroit News
Feb 14, 2012

It looks like a Ford F-150, right down to the iconic blue oval.

But inside the emblem is not the classic Ford script. Instead it's the three-letter-brand of a Chinese automaker that has borrowed many of the F-150's details — the hood contours, rectangular grille and extended cab — to emulate the most popular vehicle in America. The JAC 4R3 is set to launch in April during the 2012 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition.

Ford is investigating what to do about this apparent knockoff."We're aware of it and we're investigating. We're just trying to get an idea of what's going on with the vehicle and haven't decided what our next steps might be," said Mike Levine, a Ford Motor Co. spokesman. "We don't know if it would be legal action; we're just investigating our next steps."

The look-alike truck, built by Shanghai-based Jianghuai Automobile Co. — JAC — is the latest potential skirmish that Ford is facing with its flagship pickup. Last year, Ferrari was forced to change the name of F-150 sports car when it settled a lawsuit filed by the Dearborn automaker.

Levine became aware of the so-called Chinese F-150 in late January when he read a story published by the auto blog CarNewsChina.com. The site posted photographs of a truck with a striking resemblance to the F-150, though appearing a bit smaller in size.

The JAC company website also shows photos of one of its pickups whose headlight housings and grille are shaped more like a Chevrolet Colorado's.

Legally, Ford may have a difficult time winning any damages against the state-owned carmaker, experts say.

"Suing in China is a rather daunting procedure," said Jim Hall of 2953 Analytics LLP. "It's difficult to say what's going to happen when talking about copyright problems."

Ford would likely have to file a lawsuit against the Chinese government, which may or may not hear the case, Hall said.

Whether government-owned or private, Chinese automakers employ thousands of workers and serve as economic anchors within their communities, said Ken Duck, U.S. partner for Boss & Young, a Shanghai-based law practice. Duck specializes in cross-border transactional work.

"Social stability within the local government or the loss of social stability is a huge concern in terms of employment and housing issues," said Duck, whose office is based in Troy. "It's really a macro issue. Anything potentially destabilizing to the community would be a factor in (a judge's) thinking."

Adopting designs common

Adopting popular auto designs is not uncommon among Chinese automakers, though cloning of American autos is, experts say. JAC and other Chinese automakers more commonly borrow the looks of Japanese Toyotas and Hondas.

"They come from a culture where imitation is perfectly acceptable. Product development there is not seen as a creative process, it's seen as a repetitive one," Hall said.

Tycho de Feyter, owner and senior editor of the Beijing-based CarNewsChina.com, said in an email response to questions from The Detroit News that cloning is very common at Chinese automakers, especially the smaller ones.

JAC's version of the F-150 may have the design of a Ford but the difference comes when one lifts the hood, Hall said.
"What they're doing is splitting the DNA of the truck," Hall said. "But I suspect that mechanically, it's very far removed from the Ford F-series."

Indeed, the 2.8-liter 4-cylinder diesel engine of the JAC is decidedly smaller than the F-150's 3.5 liter V-6.

Ford introduced the F-150 to the U.S. market in 1975. The truck has remained a best-seller here. Outside of North America, parts of South America and in the Persian Gulf region, consumers tend to either be priced out of full-size trucks that range in price from just under $22,000 to more than $47,000; roads in many of the countries have trouble handling full-size trucks. Ford F-150s aren't sold in China.

JAC has dealers in most parts of the world: the Middle East, Russia, South America, Mexico, Africa and Eastern Europe. The Chinese automaker does not sell in the United States.

Tolerance for fakes waning

Chinese automakers are now hiring Western designers. And companies like Chery International and Geely International Corp. are building their own unique designs, de Feyter said.

This comes as the public's tolerance toward fakes in China seems to be shrinking.

"The Chinese press' attitude to clones is … changing fast," de Feyter said. "In the early days, like five years ago, (the) Chinese press sort of liked it when another clone came to the market, 'China fights Japan, ha ha!,' in that fashion. Nowadays however, the press has become very critical of companies that clone foreign cars."

But for Ford workers like Nick Kottalis, president and chairman of the United Auto Workers local at the Dearborn Truck Plant, the fake F-150 — even if it is not sold on American soil — is disturbing.

"It's very upsetting that they would take our blue oval and try to emulate it," said Kottalis."To have someone copy our product, in my opinion, it's a slap in the face."


Nissan, Ford issue new recalls

By David Shepardson
Feb 13, 2012

Washington— Ford Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. are issuing new recalls for vehicles that may not comply with federal safety standards.

Ford is recalling 569 2012 Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator SUVs because some second row seats may have been improperly welded.

Ford said its seat supplier shipped second row right-hand seats with seat back frames that may have inadequate weld penetration between the head restraint guide sleeve tube and the seat back frame. The seats may not comply with federal requirements.

Ford said there have been no warranty complaints. Ford dealers will replace the seat back frame if necessary and will notify owners starting Feb. 20.

Separately, Nissan Motor Co. said it is recalling 36,608 2012 Versa cars because some models can be shifted out of park without the driver pressing down on the brake. Vehicles are required to have "brake shift interlocks" to keep people from lurching when they start a vehicle.

Nissan will notify owners starting Feb. 20 and will replace the shifter knob.


King calls on UAW to stage nationwide protests

By Bryce G. Hoffman The Detroit News
February 12, 2012

Flint —United Auto Workers President Bob King used the anniversary of the Flint sit-down strike on Friday to call for "direct action" — including nonviolent civil disobedience — to take back America from the "right-wing Republicans" and "one-percenters" he says have hijacked this democracy.

And their first target will be General Electric Co.

Seventy-five years after workers took over General Motors' factories and forced the company to sign its first national contract with the union, King said the same sort of militancy is needed to stop what he called a rollback of workers' rights and civil rights.

"It will take direct action. It will take us being willing to face arrest. It will take us being willing to be part of marches and demonstrations," King told a crowd of some 500 cheering union members gathered at the UAW Local 651 to mark the anniversary of the end of the 1937 strike. He said corporations such as GE are making billions and paying little or no taxes while middle-class Americans are losing their homes.

"It's immoral!" King shouted. "We should be so outraged at the injustice in America!"

But he said workers should not stop there.

King said the UAW is joining with other unions, including the Service Employees International Union, members of Occupy Wall Street and others to create a new "movement for social justice" that will employ the tactics of the civil rights movement to fight against what he called "corporate greed" and attacks on labor.

"In April, we're going to be part of a broad coalition that's going to be training our membership and anybody who cares about justice in this society in nonviolent direct action," King said. Their first mission, he said, will be to demonstrate at the GE shareholders meeting in Detroit on April 25.

"It is morally wrong — it is absolutely wrong — that they make billions and billions and billions of dollars and pay not a single penny in taxes," King said, his veins bulging as his voice grew hoarse from shouting. "Enough is enough. We're the 99 percent who want 100 percent fairness for everyone."

GE speaks out

Asked to respond, GE spokesman Andrew Williams said, "We paid a billion dollars in federal, state and local taxes in 2010.

"The fact is that GE is investing in America and creating jobs at home. During 2011, GE announced the creation of over 8,000 new U.S. jobs."

King also said the UAW must do everything in its power to re-elect President Barack Obama and oust Republicans.

"They are attacking democracy in America and they are attacking us in the labor movement," he warned. "But electing President Obama, electing (U.S. Sen.) Debbie Stabenow, electing all these other Democrats is nowhere near enough."

Beyond the workplace

While the crowd cheered King's call to arms, conservatives expressed concern about his tone.

"The UAW is doubling-down on hard left-wing politics," said Paul Kersey, director of labor policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a conservative think tank. "They're becoming more and more ideological. They're concentrating less and less on bread-and-butter economic issues.

"It's about politics. It's not about the workplace anymore. The average autoworker is not an advocate of class warfare on this level. This is why Michigan needs right-to-work."

However, even as King urged more labor militancy in the United States, he called on German workers to learn from the UAW and work with General Motors Co. to save its struggling Adam Opel AG subsidiary.

While he would not comment on reports that he will soon be named to Opel's managing board, King told reporters after his speech that labor and management "can accomplish more by working together," as the UAW and GM did during the recent recession.


OAS not in crisis, no need
to soak the seniors plan

Feb 11 2012
By David Olive
Toronto Star

Say what you will of Stephen Harper's success in scaring Canadian seniors with his recent musings about cutting seniors' benefits. It does not warrant the public debate that the most charitable of the PM's critics on this issue have tepidly welcomed.

The affordability of a higher-quality health care system does merit debate. Also affordable housing, the cornerstone of poverty reduction. Also education reform that better matches students with a workplace that, as a business think tank complained last week, is suffering a "desperate shortage" of skilled workers despite 1.42 million Canadians out of work.

The PM is wrong about the sustainability of Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement, paid to the poorest Canadians. And Canadians have let him know it.

In the short space of a week, an overtly partisan actor – a Liberal Party distracted by a leadership campaign – was able to collect 12,000 signatures in an online petition opposing cuts to seniors' benefits.

On his return from swanning with the swells in Davos, the improbable venue where Harper first floated his soak-the-seniors idea, the PM was given an earful from his own caucus. They have been inundated with complaints from constituents fearful and angry about the prospect of either themselves or someone they love being deprived of some portion of their average modest $500 a month in OAS payments. (That's $6,000 a year, considerably below the poverty line. Hence the Guaranteed Income Supplement paid to the poorest seniors.)

Neither Harper or his more excitable ministers have explained why OAS and GIS suddenly are a "crisis."

Nor have they offered a scintilla of convincing evidence for their case. Which is not surprising, perhaps, given the weight of contrary evidence in the many reports on this topic. But you'd think the PM would at least have read those reports before needlessly frightening a large part of the population.

Nor have the Tories advanced any solutions to their "crisis." Indeed, the PM and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty have wilted under public pressure and back-pedaled on the issue.

Here are some relevant facts.

• Diane Finley, the federal human resources minister, is correct in noting that, due largely to a baby boom entering retirement years, the number of Canadians 65 and over will roughly double by 2030 to 9.3 million people. And in tandem, OAS and GIS spending by government will triple by that time, to $108 billion.

Experts agree on those figures but dispute their impact. While the OAS and GIS expenditures are growing, so too will the economy and government revenues, to say nothing of inflation.

That prompts Kevin Page, the independent Parliamentary Budget Officer, to make the common-sense observation that "By 2030, the size of the economy is going to be more than double, and budgetary revenues will double. You cannot argue the government has a fiscal sustainability problem."

The cost of elderly benefits is forecast to rise to almost 21 per cent of government spending by 2030. But thereafter that burden is expected to decline back to current levels, due to economic growth and demographics. The burden "is going to go up, and then it's going to go down, so where's the crisis?" Page asks.

• Finley's "scarems" include the fiscal crisis in Europe, whose more generous public pensions could migrate to Canada, she says.

Fat chance of that. In Canada, seniors' benefits account for nearly 15 per cent of government program spending. ("Program spending" excludes huge costs like servicing the national debt, which means the actual percentage is even smaller.)

For the average of rich-nation members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), that figure is 17 per cent. For Italy, the figure is 30 per cent.

Yes, that comparative generosity does contribute to Europe's current debt crisis. But what European actually suffers is aftershocks from the collapse of the U.S. housing bubble, in the form of stagnating growth that has made debt payments suddenly onerous. Besides, Italy has just raised its age eligibility from age 60 to 67, matching similar efforts elsewhere in Europe.

• Yet another, perhaps defining, difference between Canada and other countries besides the U.S. is immigration. The population of the Japanese monoculture, which like much of Europe is hostile to newcomers, already is in decline. So is Russia's. Continental Europe will soon follow. That does put a big burden on a dwindling number of people still in the workforce.

By contrast, Canada will continue its open-door immigration policy, with all the entrepreneurial and technological wealth that comes with it. And the U.S. population is forecast to increase about 40 per cent by mid-century, an incredible feat for a "mature" economy. So yes, we North Americans are aging. But the ranks of our young will soon be growing at a rapid pace.

• There are about half a dozen recent reports on our seniors' benefits. They all find that OAS and GIS "burdens" are affordable basically forever.

Kevin Page made a big splash Feb. 8 exposing the nonsense of Harper's crisis-mongering. But Page was only echoing a 2007 report commissioned by Ottawa as part of a larger study overseen by Jack Mintz, a fiscal hardliner.

A 2010 Parliamentary committee recommended no change in OAS and GIS eligibility years. Same with a 2010 report by York University political science professor Thomas Klassen. A 2009 paper by Richard Shillington also commissioned by Ottawa agreed and reminded us that women are especially reliant on seniors' benefits given their greater longevity.

In 2010 Parliamentary testimony, OECD demographics expert Edward Whitehouse highlighted a fundamental difference between Canada and "Europe and among the East Asian countries, Japan and Korea, whose populations are aging most rapidly."

Kevin Page is among those experts and media commentators who've said a debate on elderly benefits might be useful. Page, like Mintz a fiscal hardliner, would like Ottawa to have more cash for other priorities.

Debates we need, as noted above. But not about seniors benefits, which Page, for one, believes Ottawa can easily afford to increase.

One thing we have long known is that getting and holding a job becomes more difficult with age. Which should give anyone pause about raising eligibility ages for seniors' benefits.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. last month did away with its "greeters," a hallmark of the firm for decades. It was also one of the rare bastions for North American seniors for whom government assistance programs are comparatively skinflint.

Bottom line: We can't consider ourselves a caring society if we consign those who built the country to anything remotely approaching penury.


CAW Contact
February 10, 2012
Volume 42, No. 5


CAW Outraged at Closure of Electro-Motive in London

CAW President Ken Lewenza expressed his anger and frustration at what is he calling the "callous move" by Caterpillar to suddenly close its London Electro-Motive Diesel plant, announced on February 3.

"Caterpillar had no intention of keeping this plant open," said Lewenza. "From day one, we believed that Caterpillar was trying to provoke a crisis, by forcing deep cuts that were not possible," said Lewenza.

Caterpillar locked out approximately 465 workers on January 1, after tabling a final offer that would cut wages and benefits in half. Caterpillar recently announced $4.9 billion in annual profits, the highest in its 86 year history.

Lewenza also pointed the finger squarely at government inaction in allowing the closure. "The Stephen Harper government is entirely in the pocket of the corporate elite and has shown absolute disregard for Canadian workers and their families," said Lewenza. "I am disgusted at this government and its indifference towards the suffering of workers and the unemployed. The Harper government was elected by Canadians, but only seems able to represent multi-national corporations."

"Even though we predicted that the plant could close, it's devastating when it actually happens," said CAW Local 27 President Tim Carrie. "This is truly rotten behaviour. Now we're going to do everything we can for these members."

CAW Electro-Motive chairperson Bob Scott said that members only learned the morning of the announcement that the plant would close. "Imagine the shock that our members felt at hearing about losing their jobs, on the radio," said Scott. "It's unbelievable that Caterpillar would string our members along and lock them out in the cold for six weeks, when it had no intention of reopening the plant," said Scott.

The union has begun negotiating a severance agreement with Electro-Motive and will be launching a multi-pronged strategy, targeting both the company and the provincial and federal governments, in order to ensure that this situation does not continue to repeat itself.

In a letter to CAW local unions, federations of labour and labour councils, CAW President Ken Lewenza thanked members and affiliates for their support and asked for their continued participation.

Over the next two weeks, the CAW will be calling for:

  • an overhaul to the Investment Canada Act, including closing a number of loopholes that allow corporations to buy up other companies, with no job commitments and increasing transparency;
  • imposing tariffs on Caterpillar products coming into Canada;
  • the federal government to force Caterpillar to pay back its tax breaks and other fiscal supports;
  • reforms to provincial labour laws to introduce a mechanism to intervene in lengthy labour disputes and prevent companies from evading severance obligations by locking out its workers, as well as improving existing severance entitlements;
  • an Industrial Inquiry Commission (possible under the Labour Relations Act).

For updates, please visit: http://www.caw.ca/en/10835

Campaign Opposing Harper Coast Guard Cuts

CAW Local 2182 Pacific Region Director Allan Hughes (left) and local president Martin Grégoire urge the federal government and Coast Guard to rethink proposed service hour cuts at a press conference in Ottawa on February 8.

CAW President Ken Lewenza welcomed the release February 8 of a public petition to the House of Commons opposing the decision of the federal government and Canadian Coast Guard to cut service hours at 11 of 22 Marine Communications and Traffic Services centres, and close another by the end of 2012.

"This government has to wake up to the fact that it's simply not worth putting Canadian lives at risk to save a few bucks," Lewenza said.

"These marine communications officers are the eyes and ears of our coastal waters and play an integral part in rescue support efforts during times of crisis. Cutting these hours only creates conditions for failure."

The public petition was officially released in Ottawa at a joint press conference that included CAW Local 2182 President Martin Grégoire and CAW Local 2182 Pacific Region Director Allan Hughes alongside NDP Opposition Critic for Fisheries and Oceans Fin Donnelly and Deputy Critic for Fisheries and Oceans Phillip Toone.

Lewenza said he hopes other federal politicians lend their support to the union's effort to reverse these cuts.

"The federal government's relentless push for cost
savings under its national austerity program is proving reckless, especially when it directly interferes with the ability of workers to ensure the public is safe," Lewenza said. "We cannot support these efforts and must speak out against them."

MCTS cuts came into full effect on February 1 and have impacted stations located in Vancouver, Victoria, Tofino, Comox and Prince Rupert, British Columbia; Sarnia, Ontario; Quebec City and Les Escoumins, Quebec; Saint John, New Brunswick; Halifax, Nova Scotia; and St. John's, Newfoundland.

The CAW represents 350 marine communications and traffic services officers across Canada.

The petition can be found at: http://www.2182.ca/

Wind Turbine Construction Complete

The CAW wind turbine is located on the north-eastern part of the main parking lot at the union's Family Education Centre. The turbine is expected to offset 350 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually.

Construction of the CAW's wind turbine is complete after the blades and final components were installed on February 3. The turbine, which stands 100 metres tall, is located on the grounds of the union's Family Education Centre in Port Elgin, Ontario.

"This is an historic day for our union," said CAW President Ken Lewenza. "This windmill is a symbol of our union's commitment to the preservation of our environment and of the role working people can play in building a sustainable future."

The union's wind turbine project, originally spearheaded by environmentally-active CAW members, received the support of union leadership in 2003. The wind turbine is in full compliance with all current safety regulations, as laid out by the province of Ontario. It is the first union-owned wind turbine in the province's history.

It is anticipated that the turbine will be fully operational and generating power by the beginning of April, once it has been wired to the provincial power grid.

Making good on an earlier promise, the union has proposed the establishment of a community advisory committee that will enable the union to share information with the community and deal with public concerns about the turbine's operation. For more information please visit:

CAW 2012 Family Education Program

If you're considering a family vacation this summer think about applying for the CAW's Family Education Program in Port Elgin, Ontario. The program is open to CAW members in good standing as well as their immediate family.

The CAW Family Education Program will feature three one-week English sessions in 2012.

The dates for these sessions are:
-Sunday, July 1 through Sunday, July 8;
-Sunday, July 8 through Sunday, July 15;
-Sunday, July 29 through Sunday, August 5.

Remember: you can apply for the Family Education Program if you are a CAW member in good standing - you do not require Paid Education Leave in your contract.

If you have questions please contact Michelle at 1-800-268-5763 ext, 8484 or by email at educate@caw.ca

Applications to the program must be postmarked no later than Friday, March 23, 2012.
To download the Family Education Program application please visit: www.caw.ca/familyeducation.


New Ford B-MAX’s Easy Access Door System is ‘Car

 Designer’s Dream’ Come to Life

Ford B-Max

  • B-MAX’s ingenious hinged front doors and sliding rear doors integrate the central body pillars, providing unrivalled access for passengers and luggage
  • Game-changing solution is culmination of intensive collaboration between designers and engineers to transform a tentative first sketch into a fundamental feature of the production-ready B-MAX
  • Easy Door Access System makes loading bulky items, or helping children in and out of the car in tight spaces, a breeze, as well as delivering excellent crash protection

COLOGNE, Germany, Feb. 10, 2012 – Ford has unveiled a unique door system that brings unrivalled ease-of-access to the all-new B-MAX.

Ford’s Easy Access Door System integrates the central body pillars into the doors of its multi-activity vehicle to create 1.5-metre wide unobstructed openings on either side of the car and reduce everyday motoring stress.

Most rear door openings provide around half that space. The Opel Meriva’s rear-hinged rear door offers maximum access less than 0.7 metres wide.

“Door systems like this have been a designer’s dream for many years,” said Stefan Lamm, exterior design director, Ford of Europe. “We have taken the concept from an idea on a designer’s sketch pad, to a stylish and versatile product on the showroom floor.”

“We set ourselves the challenge of re-imagining the small car,” he added. “People are struggling with the spatial challenges of city driving and we wanted to find a new solution.”

In developing the concept, a team spent several days observing drivers in their daily routine -- going shopping or picking up their children from school -- to understand exactly what customers really wanted in a compact car.

Engineers then took on the challenge of producing a safe and practical vehicle which would meet those needs. They moved the high-strength body-structure from the central body pillars and integrated it directly into the doors to ensure excellent crash protection, particularly in the event of a side impact.

Special ultra-high-strength steels, which provide up to five times the strength of conventional mild steel, were used in key parts of the body and doors to create an extremely strong and stiff structure without adding extra weight.

The process involved intense testing and analysis at every stage. More than 1,000 detailed computer simulations were conducted over three years to optimize side impact crash performance; each simulation taking 24 hours to complete and using the equivalent computer-power of eight high-end PCs. These simulations were then tested in the real world through a further 50 physical side impact crashes.

“We engineered the body to keep all the benefits of the new door concept, while making the structure strong, stiff and light,” said Darren Palmer, Product Development Quality Director, Ford of Europe. “Creating a strong, stable body is great for handling. The B-MAX is just as stiff as the latest Fiesta, and will be just as fun to drive too.”

The B-MAX interior is packed with features which take maximum advantage of the Easy Access Door System. The rear seats and the front passenger seat can be folded flat to create a large, convenient load platform, to accommodate everything from bicycles to flat-pack furniture.

“The door concept means you can load really large items, more than 2.3 meters long, through the side doors,” said Ernst Reim, Chief Interior Designer, Ford of Europe. “This makes a trip to the furniture store, or even a day at the beach with your surfboard, more realistic.”

The All-New Ford B-MAX will debut at Geneva next month and go on sale in Europe later in the year.

* Ford B-MAX comparisons against selected competition:




Ford B-MAX

Front and rear doors


Opel Meriva

Rear doors


Citroen C3 Picasso

Rear doors


Renault Grand Modus

Rear doors


Source: Ford Motor Company


Mulally shakes up Ford exec
ranks, has 'no plans' to retire

By Serena Maria Daniels and David Shepardson
The Detroit News

Feb 10, 2012

Two Ford Motor Co. executives considered instrumental in the automaker's turnaround are stepping down, CEO Alan Mulally announced Thursday.

But he said their contributions have paved the way for a solid future.

Replacing Lewis Booth, executive vice president and chief financial officer, and Derrick Kuzak, Ford's head of global product development, will be Bob Shanks and Raj Nair respectively.

"With their experience, we're not going to miss a beat moving forward," Mulally said in a conference call Thursday.

The change, effective April 1, was decided on by Ford's board of directors on Wednesday. The board also voted to bring in former Republican presidential candidate and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman to serve on the board of directors.

The high-profile departures have renewed speculation about Mulally's own exit. But the 66-year-old executive who is credited with saving Ford said Thursday that he has no intention of going anywhere, anytime soon.

"I have no plans to retire," Mulally said.

Dave Cole, chairman emeritus for the Ann Arbor-based Center for Automotive Research, said Booth's and Kuzak's retirements do not come as a surprise. He said they made significant contributions at Ford and said it was their time to retire.

"You hate to see a couple of great people leave, but if you have the depth as far as leadership in the company it's no big deal," Cole said.

Since Mulally took the helm at Ford, his leadership approach has been that of the coach of a sports team in which players' talents are highlighted at different points in the game, Cole added.

"The game goes on and I think that one of the marks of a successful team is you find replacements," he said.

Cole does not see Mulally retiring anytime soon. "He may be in his mid-60s but he talks like a 40-year-old and has the energy of a 20-year-old, but still has the knowledge of a 60-plus," he said.

Booth, a 34-year veteran of Ford, was tapped in 2008 as the CFO following the collapse of Lehman Brothers. He was instrumental in keeping the automaker's lights on during the economic crisis that nearly toppled its cross-town rivals. Since then, Booth has worked to aggressively reduce Ford's debt and strengthen its balance sheet.

"Lewis' contributions were many," Mulally said, adding that he worked closely with Booth during those difficult days.

Before being tapped to become CFO, Booth headed Ford of Europe and Ford's former family of European premium automotive group. He oversaw the sale of Ford's European luxury brands — Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo.

A native of Liverpool, England, Booth rose through the ranks in financial and operational positions, including product development, manufacturing and vehicle operations in North America. Before taking over Ford of Europe in 2003, he was president of Japan's Mazda Motor Corp., which was then controlled by Ford.

Stepping up

Kuzak, who has also been at Ford for 34 years, is the man credited with leading the automaker's product overhaul. One of Mulally's first appointments, Kuzak led a top-to-bottom redesign of Ford's product lineup while welding Ford's worldwide design and engineering departments into a single, global organization.

"Derrick absolutely led that renaissance in product development. It was never about Derrick; it was always about that Ford vision," Mulally said Thursday. "I recall calling him on a Sunday, interviewing him, seeking to understand product development. He shared everything with me. He knew product development worldwide."

Before Mulally arrived, Kuzak was head of product development for North America. Prior to that, he held the same position at Ford of Europe.

While Mulally praised both men's contributions to the company, he said their retirements were no cause for concern.

"I don't think we're going to miss a step with this neat team," he said.

Shanks, currently Ford's vice president and controller, joined the company as an accounts receivable analyst in 1977. He, too, played a major role in keeping Ford solvent during the recent recession.

Shanks has held a number of leadership positions since, including controller of Ford's Americas group; and head of operations support, finance and strategy for Ford of Europe and Premier Automotive Group.

Raj Nair, currently Ford's head of engineering, came to Ford in 1987 as a body and assembly launch manager. He's worked in Europe, Asia-Pacific-Africa and the Americas.

"Raj is just a wonderful example of leadership development," Mulally said. "He really understands the skills of working together."

Brian Johnson, an auto analyst at Barclays Capital, said in a research note the management changes "make sense in light of the critical importance of product development and financial processes. In short, Ford is putting into place the next generation of finance and product leadership, while Alan Mulally is still there to smooth the eventual transition."

Huntsman has China ties

Huntsman served as the U.S. ambassador to China from 2009 to 2011, and Ford — the last major automaker to enter the Chinese market — has been struggling in the fast-growing region. He also adds a strong Republican presence on a board that already includes former House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt, D-Mo., who also mounted an unsuccessful bid for president.

"When you have somebody like Huntsman with his China experience, it's a wonderful attribute to bring to this very competitive game," Cole said.

Huntsman has criticized federal bailouts, such as those given to General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC.

"This country is never again going to bail out corporations," said at an appearance in Michigan at a presidential debate in November, calling bailouts "absolutely inappropriate."

Huntsman noted that taxpayers could lose $15 billion on the auto bailout.

"We're going to end up footing the bill," he said.

Asked whether he would sell the government's stake in General Motors Co. and other assets, Huntsman said: "I would clean up the balance sheet."

Huntsman is already deeply connected to automobiles. His family's chemical company, Huntsman Corp., is a supplier of advanced, high-performance materials for the design, prototyping and production of automotive parts. The company sells adhesives, composites, coatings and electronics resins to automakers.

An avid Harley-Davidson rider, Huntsman was seen being ferried around in a Chevy Suburban during the primary season in New Hampshire, and at times even drove himself in the full-size SUV. As governor, he spent $12,000 out of his pocket to convert a state-owned Chevy Suburban to run on compressed natural gas.

Of speculation over Mulally's retirement, Cole does not see it happening anytime soon.

"He may be in his mid-60s but he talks like a 40 year-old and has the energy of a 20-year-old, but still has the knowledge of a 60-plus," he said.


Ford to unveil new Mustang
Shelby GT500 convertible


Ford plans to unveil its 2013 Shelby Mustang GT500, a sure hit for muscle-car fans, at the show. (Ford)

Serena Daniels
Detroit News
Feb 8, 2012

Ford Motor Co.'s latest high-end Mustang is now available in rag top.

The 2013 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 convertible was scheduled to be unveiled today at the Chicago Auto Show. Powered by a 650-horsepower, 5.8-liter supercharged V-8 engine, the latest Shelby also features adjustable Bilstein electronic dampers and a Brembo brake system for improved performance. Ford says the new suspension allows the Shelby to switch from being a high performance sports car to a smooth ride for day-to-day use.

"The Shelby GT500 convertible is every bit the performer that the coupe is," said Kerry Baldori, chief engineer for Ford's SVT Global Performance Vehicles group. "All of the significant changes we made in the program were instrumental in delivering a convertible that could really shine on the track but can still be driven on a daily basis."

The 2013 Shelby comes with an optional performance package and is faster around a track than its outgoing model. The new car shaved nearly 31/2 seconds off its lap time at Sebring International Raceway compared to the 2011 and 2012 models, Ford says.

The Shelby is the closest thing Ford has to a supercar — that distinct class of very fast and very expensive sports cars — and it has long been a favorite of motorsports enthusiasts.



Caterpillar likes to play
hardball -- so let's play hardball

David Olive
Toronto Star
Feb 7, 2012

Recession-ravaged London, Ont., needn't lose its status as one of the world's leading locomotive manufacturing centres.

Yes, that is the plan revealed Friday by U.S.-based Caterpillar Inc., owner of London's 90-year-old Electro-Motive Diesel Inc. (EMD). Caterpillar has abruptly shut down the firm just 18 months after buying it. Cat is poised to ship EMD's specialized equipment and technology — intellectual property developed in London over several generations — to low-wage jurisdictions outside Canada.

Naturally, Caterpillar presents this outrage as a fait accompli.

Already there are calls for a government inquiry to determine how such industrial rape can be prevented in future. A good idea. But we also should and can quash Cat's plans for EMD.

When it paid a bargain $820 million for EMD in 2010, Caterpillar appeared to be getting a mere factory. What it actually got its hands on is one of the global industry's few major locomotive manufacturers. (EMD's sole major North American rival is General Electric Co.) EMD is richly endowed with made-in-Canada technology and boasts the largest customer base in the world.

At every turn in this humbling saga for Canada, Caterpillar has acted in bad faith.

It stretches credulity to imagine that Caterpillar acquired EMD less than two years ago with no thought of ending locomotive manufacturing in Canada.

After all, the Peoria, Ill.-based Caterpillar, the world's largest maker of construction and mining equipment, has for years been shifting jobs to lower-cost jurisdictions. That's precisely its intention with EMD.

But if Caterpillar had even hinted at using that playbook with EMD, its planned purchase would have been rejected for lacking "net benefit" to Canada. Ottawa blocked the planned foreign takeover of Potash Corp. and a proposed U.S. acquisition of the aerospace division of MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates Ltd., maker of the iconic Canadarm.

Creating what it hoped would be a plausible excuse to kill one of London's few remaining large private-sector employers, Cat soon after taking possession of EMD presented its London workers with a proposed new contract. EMD workers were asked to accept a 50 per cent cut in pay, to an average $16.50 an hour, and their benefits would be eviscerated.

To put this in perspective, when governments bailed out General Motors Corp. and Chrysler Corp, they also demanded workers accept pay cuts of roughly 50 per cent. Employees of the Detroit Three automakers are now paid about $42 an hour, or what Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. Ltd. pay their North American and Japanese workers.

By contrast, the relocated EMD jobs will pay $15 to $19 an hour for high-skill work akin to auto-making.

When EMD employees predictably balked at being stripped of a decent living wage, Cat made clear that its offer was take-it-or-leave-it. On New Year's Day it locked out workers. Five weeks later, it fired them. Which meant that previous months of "bargaining" with the employees' union, the Canadian Auto Workers, had been a farce.

In shutting down EMD, Cat didn't tender the customary warning to the union or to local government, Queen's Park or Ottawa — from which a Cat-owned EMD only last year received a $5 million federal subsidy hand-delivered by Stephen Harper during a factory visit.

We could let EMD join the long list of trophies we've auctioned off to foreign interests, including Alcan Inc., Inco Ltd., Nortel Networks Corp.'s multibillion-dollar trove of patents, and Stelco Inc., whose new owner, U.S. Steel Corp., promptly reneged on its vow to maintain Stelco's Hamilton workforce.

Or we could take a tad more control of our economic destiny.

We could nationalize EMD, for which there is abundant precedent across the continent. America's third-largest bank, biggest insurer and dominant home-mortgage guarantors are now wards of the state.

Short of nationalization, Ottawa could impose prohibitive tariffs on all Cat products. That might eventually bring Athabasca tarsands production, heavily reliant on Caterpillar equipment, to a halt. Which would be a useful topic of discussion between Barack Obama and Caterpillar CEO Doug Oberhelman, since Athabasca is America's largest source of imported oil.

Yes, the tariffs could be contested as an alleged violation of World Trade Organization rules. But then, it's Cat alone that has consistently acted in bad faith.

On January 27, 2009, Caterpillar laid off 20,000 employees, which is some kind of record. The ostensible reason was to gird for the global recession. But in the short time since, Cat's revenues have doubled, profits have quadrupled and its stock price has soared by 270 per cent. The recession has provided cover for countless firms squeezing more revenue from fewer and lower-paid workers.

Caterpillar likes to play hardball. So let's play hardball.

We pay a stiff price as the world's biggest branch-plant economy, having to ask how our economic ambitions will play in Peoria. And Stuttgart.

And London. The one in England.


How Canada let Caterpillar
strip a plant clean

U.S. heavy equipment maker Caterpillar Inc. announced Friday it was closing its Electro-Motive Canada plant in London, Ont., a month after it locked out about 450 workers.

Feb 5, 2012
Toronto Star
Martin Regg Cohn

Ask yourself this: Why did Caterpillar buy a plant only to destroy it?

The labour dispute at a London locomotive factory was nasty, brutish and short — a depressingly Hobbesian scenario in which brute strength prevailed over civilized rules of conduct.

There were no strikebreakers wielding clubs at Electro-Motive Canada, because there was no strike to break — the union was locked out on New Year's Day. There were no replacement workers to bust the union, because the union was merely invited to slit its own wrists — by halving most wages from $34 to $16.50 an hour.

The U.S.-based owner, multinational giant Caterpillar Inc., didn't so much humiliate 460 skilled workers as ignore them. It started and ended this negotiation with a carefully choreographed plan to pack up, shut down and leave town.

Clever multinationals — and this is one cunning Caterpillar — don't spend hundreds of millions of dollars to buy a factory only to shutter it. So what was the plan?

Never mind Caterpillar's cold-hearted tactics. Its clear-eyed strategy exposes our own blindness.

The big bad Americans saw past our myopia — beyond the cash value of the plant's physical property to size up and seize the company's intellectual property: the innovation, trade secrets, manufacturing processes and R&D residing in London.

It won't just relocate the heavy equipment on the factory floor, but harvest the technological know-how subsidized with government incentives and writeoffs. This wasn't bullying, it was highway robbery — with our politicians watching from the sidelines.

Caterpillar kicked those workers in the teeth, but we should be kicking ourselves for letting it acquire the legal right to do it as it pleased when purchasing the old locomotive plant. There has been much hand-wringing that foreign investment safeguards weren't triggered, failing to ensure a net benefit to Canada with explicit job guarantees after the takeover.

But lost jobs aren't our only loss. Be it Nortel or RIM, we need to value the technology and patents in play when foreigners start kicking the tires. The buyers are just as likely to be scavengers as investors. And if their primary goal is to spirit away our intellectual property, they will treat the ancillary human resources as an expendable asset to be stripped away, bargained down or locked out.

The $4.5 billion auction of Nortel patents last year made a mockery of the more modest valuations that the bankrupt company had put on its own treasure trove of intellectual property, nurtured by our tax dollars. Canadians always sell themselves short.

So the first lesson of the London massacre: Ottawa must be vigilant about vetting foreign investment and retaining jobs, but also mindful of valuing — and anchoring — our homegrown intellectual property. Why underwrite our companies if we willingly sell off our embedded brainpower to foreign bidders who leave Canada cash-rich, patent poor and jobless?

If RIM is one day placed in the shop window, are we ready for a fire sale of its technology? What if Bombardier — which also builds locomotives — ever goes on the auction block, patents aplenty?

Another lesson: When it comes to the economy, empathy isn't enough. Premier Dalton McGuinty adopted a reflexively tepid tone from the start, expressing the vain hope that both sides would come to their senses. Belatedly last week, he ratcheted up the rhetoric by exhorting the plant's owners to play fair.

But he never picked up the phone to the employer. Nor did he reach out to Prime Minister Stephen Harper to forge a non-partisan common front. When a company treats its workers like dirt, a premier should leave no stone unturned.

McGuinty and Harper must conduct a post-mortem. More Caterpillars are coming, and they will metamorphose into a plague on our intellectual property if we don't start using our heads. I've argued before that globalization can bring benefits, but only if we're smart enough to play defence as well as offence.

It's too late to save the jobs in London. Caterpillar has closed a plant and cashiered its workers, but it has opened our eyes: it's not just the jobs on the factory floor that are lost, but the technology that buttresses them.

A locomotive factory is gone. Now the tech train is leaving the station — with a free pass from our politicians.


Vol 42 No 4
Feb 4, 2012


Caterpillar Record Profits Means Demands for Cuts Groundless

January 26 Information picket line at Tormont in Toronto, ON Local 112 members show their support for the locked out Electro-Motive Local 27 members.

CAW President Ken Lewenza is demanding that Caterpillar take its concessionary demands off of the negotiating table in light of the recent announcement of the company's record-setting profits of $4.9 billion - a stunning 83 per cent increase over last year.

On January 1, Caterpillar locked out nearly 500 CAW Local 27 members at its locomotive facility in London, Ontario (Electro-Motive Diesel), demanding wages and benefits be cut by more than half.

"Today's announcement is outrageous and it is infuriating," said Lewenza, shortly after Caterpillar announced it profits on January 26. "This corporation is turning out record profits and making money hand over fist, and at the same time cutting our members off at the knees."

"What we're experiencing in London is a total injustice. It's shameful. And it's completely hypocritical," Lewenza said.

At dealerships and service centres in a dozen cities across the country, Caterpillar customers were being greeted January 26 by information picketers, who asked customers to tell the company they want fairness for these locked-out workers.

The information pickets were held in: St. John's, Newfoundland; Darthmouth, Nova Scotia, Montreal, Quebec; Chicoutimi, Quebec; Concord, Ontario; London, Ontario; Windsor, Ontario; St. Catharines, Ontario; Sudbury, Ontario; Winnipeg, Manitoba; Edmonton, Alberta and Vancouver, British Columbia.

Caterpillar profits far surpassed expectations. And sales of Electro-Motive Diesel products increased by $861 million in the past year. The company forecasts the year ahead to yield even higher revenue, with growth pegged between 13 and 20 per cent.

CAW Local 27/Electro-Motive Diesel Plant Chairperson Bob Scott said the company has absolutely no justification for keeping on its hard-line stance to reduce wages.

"We've been locked out for nearly a month and would like nothing better than to get back to work, and continue providing for our families," Scott said.


Workers picket outside a CAT service centre in Pointe Claire, just west of Montreal, as part of the national information picket.

To see more pictures from the National Information Pickets on January 26, please visit our flickr page HERE


Premier McGuinty Urges Caterpillar to Show Flexibility

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty urged Caterpillar to return to the bargaining table and "demonstrate some flexibility" during a January 31 speech to the London Chamber of Commerce.

McGuinty said the lock out of CAW Local 27 members who work at Electro-Motive a subsidiary of U.S. based Caterpillar, doesn't fit with the pattern of labour relations in Ontario.

The Premier was quoted in a Toronto Star story as indicating the dispute doesn't represent the generally "fair and balanced and responsible and respectful" nature of labour relations in the province.

We have the case of an employer here which is clearly not meeting Ontario's legitimate and recent expectations," McGuinty said. He was quoted as calling on the company to "come to the table and demonstrate some flexibility." Locked out CAW Local 27 members demonstrated outside the London speech.

CAW President Ken Lewenza thanked the Premier for his support. But Lewenza also strongly urged McGuinty to take legislative action to end the lock out.

CAW Local 114 Members Ratify New Contract at Viking Air

Viking Air bargaining committee members, from left to right, are Andre Tune, Jeannie Blaney (Local Rep), Gavin McGarrigle (National Rep), Dave Ingram, Don Haug (Chief Steward).

CAW Local 114 members who work at Viking Air in British Columbia have voted 95 per cent in favour of a new contract with the aircraft maker.

The CAW represents 270 workers at Viking Air, which builds the latest model of Twin Otter airplanes.

The new agreement includes a $1000 payment for 2010 to 2011, a 2 percent wage increase retroactive to November 2011, a wage increase of 2.5 per cent in November 2012 and another 3 per cent in November 2013. In addition, the union achieved 100 per cent employer paid benefits, vision and LTD improvements and a new drug card. A further gain is a 50 per cent increase in the protective footwear allowance.

On job security issues, the union negotiated a 50 per cent increase in the maximum severance payable in the event of redundancies, making it far more expensive to reduce the work performed by CAW members.

CAW National Representative Gavin McGarrigle said CAW members who work at Viking Air held firm in support of the bargaining committee and negotiated a strong aerospace agreement in difficult times.

"Our members at Viking Air refused to accept concessions and zero wage increases and instead decided that fighting back would make a difference," McGarrigle said.
"The skilled workers at Viking Air stood shoulder to shoulder and insisted that a fair agreement was needed when a company has dozens of orders for planes in its order books. Viking should be making plenty of Twin Otters moving forward," he said.

The CAW represents aircraft mechanics, machinists, sheet metal mechanics, painters, welders, storepersons and labourers at Viking Air, which is an aircraft manufacturing and repair firm based on Vancouver Island near Sidney, British Columbia. Viking is re-starting production of the famed de Havilland DHC-6 Twin Otter aircraft.


Veterans Transportation First Agreement

CAW Local 504 members who work at Veterans Transportation in Hamilton, Ontario have voted 82 per cent in favour of a first agreement.

These workers transport disabled citizens to and from appointments and are part of the Darts Transportation group. The CAW represents 28 workers at Veterans Transportation.

The agreement includes language on grievance procedures, human rights, health and safety and monetary gains. On top of their base trip rate the amount paid per trip increased 35 cents in the first year, 20 cents in the second year and 20 cents in year three. Also, there is a guarantee of 20 trips per day and 10 trips per day if a snow day is declared.

Other improvements include the August Civic holiday, bereavement coverage and PEL funding. They are also guaranteed use of the company vehicle to and from work.

CAW Local 504 President Randy Smith said "this is an important step forward to achieve this first collective agreement for this small group of workers.

This is a good foundation for collective bargaining with this group down the road."


Occupy Movement Continues to Highlight Inequality

The tents may be down from St. James Park, but the Occupy movement in Toronto is continuing its work to highlight issues of inequality, corporate greed, and the need to build a new economy.

Occupy TO is sponsoring a series of public forums called "Occupy Talks."

The most recent event on Wednesday, January 18 featured CAW Economist Jim Stanford, author Linda McQuaig (who addressed the recent CAW Council meeting on her new book, The Trouble With Billionaires), former CAW Research Director Sam Gindin, and Nathan Okonta from York University. It was attended by almost 200 people, showing clearly that the spirit of Occupy is still vibrant.

The meeting also discussed the solidarity rally January 21 with the Electro-Motive workers in London, and other specific ideas to build stronger links between Occupiers and the labour movement.

Solidarity Message to Locked-out Rio Tinto Workers

Leaders and members of CAW Local 2301 at Rio Tinto in Kitimat, B.C. made a long haul solidarity visit this week to the picket at Rio Tinto in Alma, Quebec. Included in the photo here is: Marc Maltais, President of USW 9490 , Martin McIlwrath, Trustee CAW 2301, two USW bargaining committee members, Ed Abreu President CAW Local 2301, Sean O'Driscoll Business Agent CAW 2301, Pierre Deschenes President Local 666 Mine and Mill Council, Alex Frechete, USW member at Rio Tinto.

CAW President Ken Lewenza has sent a message of solidarity and support to the nearly 800 locked out United Steelworker union members at Rio Tinto in Alma, Quebec. The company locked out the workers within the first few moments of the New Year.

"I was shocked and angered to see the arrogance of Rio Tinto, who not so long ago, merged with Alcan, lock out nearly 800 of its workers on New Year's Day," writes Lewenza.

Our nearly 200,000 members of the CAW share in your frustration and anger at your employer attempting to turn good jobs into precarious, temporary contract jobs.

The Quebec government has even been complicit in allowing Rio Tinto to try to railroad Quebec workers. That the Quebec Superior Court would rule USW members must limit their picket line numbers is outrageous - worse still that the Quebec government, led by Premier Jean Charest, has not intervened in this injustice."

Lewenza likened the fight at Rio Tinto to the one at Electro-Motive in London, Ontario - both essentially caused by government inaction and corporate greed.
Workers at the aluminum smelter rejected the company's final offer, which included contracting out new jobs as existing staff retires.

Rio Tinto merged with Quebec-based Alcan in 2007. The CAW represents Rio Tinto workers in Kitimat, B.C. and Saguenay, QC.

Read the full letter here: http://www.caw.ca/assets/images/riotinto.pdf.

Air Canada Crew Schedulers Vote to Strike if Necessary

Inflight and flight operations crew schedulers have voted overwhelmingly to go on strike if necessary.

Inflight crew schedulers voted 96 per cent in favour of going on strike if necessary, while flight operations crew schedulers have voted 97 per cent in favour. No deadline has been set. Negotiations have been ongoing since the summertime and the current collective agreement expired on May 22.

Raising the ire of members is the plan by Air Canada to move the scheduling operations from Montreal to a new centre in Toronto. The CAW, representing the crew schedulers, has offered up a number of solutions that would be more cost-efficient than relocating staff and building a new centre - both of which will come at a significant expense to Air Canada. The move would cause what the union is calling the unnecessary uprooting of 120 families.
"Our members gave us a strong and informed mandate going forward. This sends a clear message to Air Canada to address our concerns and bargain a fair contract for our members," said Gaetano Amodeo, CAW chairperson at Air Canada flight operations.

Air Canada crew schedulers have not taken a strike vote for more than 21 years.

"Clearly it is time for the company to get serious and reach a fair collective agreement. Our members are extremely frustrated at what they see as an unnecessary and destructive move by the company to relocate approximately 120 people," said Frank Spinelli, CAW bargaining committee member at Air Canada's inflight crew scheduling.

CAW Local 2002 represents 76 members in inflight and 46 flight operations crew schedulers.

CAW members working in customer service at Air Canada went on strike in June, lasting until the two sides were able to reach a collective agreement three days later.

CAW Urges Ontario to Support Maintenance of Gun Registry Data

The CAW is calling on Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty to take a public stand and call on the Harper government to protect all existing data from the national long gun registry, in the wake of the government's effort to kill the registry and delete its records.

In a letter sent to the Premier on January 31, CAW Women's Program Director Julie White called on the provincial government to actively consider the establishment of a long gun registry and to take a "principled and public stand" against the Harper government's proposed legislation (Bill C-19) to dismantle the registry and demand the existing
records be maintained.

"The CAW accepts that citizens have the right to own firearms in Canada. However we cannot accept the logic that the conditions are such that firearm ownership goes unchecked," White said. "A long gun registry is one piece of a national gun control program that fosters a culture of safety and accountability for Ontario communities."

White said that there are over 2 million non-restricted firearms currently registered in Ontario that would disappear in the eyes of police officers and other law enforcement officials if the national registry is dismantled.

The province of Quebec has publicly stated that it will consider the establishment of a provincial long gun registry. Alberta Premier Alison Redford also stated recently that she doesn't oppose the transference of existing national data to provincial registries.

Bill C-19 has passed both first and second readings in the House of Commons and is currently being voted on by a parliamentary committee. So far, the federal Conservatives have rejected all proposed amendments to the Bill brought forward by members of the opposition.

A full text of the letter can be downloaded by visiting:

Oshawa Calls for Exemption from European Trade Deal

Oshawa City Council joined a growing list of municipalities across Canada raising concerns around a proposed Canada-European Union free trade deal that would strip local governments of the right to manage public purchases and lock in the privatization of public water and wastewater services, among other impacts.

On January 30, Oshawa City Council voted in favour of a resolution, brought forward by local union leadership, calling on the government of Ontario to issue a clear and permanent exemption for Oshawa from the proposed Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

CETA negotiations have been ongoing since 2009, and have directly involved federal, provincial and territorial governments. If signed, CETA would mark the first time in history that Canadian provinces and territories would be bound by the terms and conditions of a bilateral trade deal.

CAW Local 222 President Chris Buckley said this would have a direct effect on the day-to-day work of municipalities.

"This trade deal will likely change the way our cities and our towns do business by opening up local services, investment and procurement to global competition, yet they have no official voice at the negotiating table," Buckley said.

Buckley and Durham Region Labour Council President Jim Freeman spoke to city councillors about the potential dangers this trade deal could have on municipalities and criticized trade negotiations as lacking transparency.

"Our governments have been tight-lipped about what's at stake for cities in this trade deal, and we see that as unfair and unproductive," Freeman said, noting the deal could be finalized as early as March of this year.

In addition to the request for an exemption, the resolution calls on the government to disclose its offers on procurement, services and investment and asks for a clear explanation on how the CETA will impact municipal governance.

Oshawa is the latest in a growing list of
municipalities in Canada to speak out against the CETA, including the cities of North Vancouver, Hamilton, Cape Breton and others.

A full map of municipalities that have participated in the CETA campaign can be viewed on the Council of Canadians website:

For more information on the CETA campaign, and to download copies of the municipal resolution, visit: http://www.caw.ca/en/8883.htm.

Sunwing Pilots Association Merges with CAW

The association representing pilots at Sunwing Airlines Inc. has merged with the CAW.

An agreement was recently finalized merging approximately 150 members of SUNPAC, the Sunwing Pilots Association, with the CAW.

"We are pleased that this group of pilots has decided to merge with the CAW and I want to welcome them into our union," said CAW President Ken Lewenza.

SUNPAC President Captain Dave Matkovich said "the merger with CAW Canada will assist the Sunwing Airlines Pilot group in a number of areas. The CAW's considerable experience in the aerospace and airline sector was a key factor in our decision to join with CAW Canada and we look forward to utilizing the services now available to us. "

The CAW represents approximately 12,000 airline workers across Canada, including ticket agents, ground handling, pilots, mechanics, airline catering, cargo and crew schedulers.

Don't Forget - February is African Heritage Month, a time to commemorate African Heritage and those individuals who fought to enrich it - changing the world for the better.
For more information visit:


Caterpillar to shut Ontario
plant amid labour dispute

Electro-Motive workers picket a Caterpillar equipment dealership in London, Ont., on January 26, 2012.

Greg Keenan
Globe & Mail
February 3, 2012

Caterpillar Inc. is closing a locomotive plant in London, Ont., where locked out employees have been off the job since Jan. 1.

Caterpillar did not say when it will close the Electro-Motive Canada plan operated by its Progress Rail Service, which employs more than 400 people.

The employees, members of the Canadian Auto Workers union, were locked out after the union refused company demands to cut wages by as much as 50 per cent.

The work will be shifted from London to Progress Rail's other assembly plants in North and South America, the company said in a four-paragraph news release Friday.

"All facilities within EMC, EMD and Progress Rail Services must achieve competitive costs, quality and operating flexibility to compete and win in the global marketplace, and expectations at the London plant were no different," the company added in the statement.

The gulf between the company's position on how to reduce costs and increase flexibility and the union's position was too wide so market actions dictated that the plant be closed, the statement added.

The closing announcement brought a condemnation from Canadian Auto Workers union president Ken Lewenza.

"Caterpillar had no intention of keeping this plant open," Mr. Lewenza said in a statement. "From day one, we believed that Caterpillar was trying to provoke a crisis, by forcing deep cuts that were not possible. Our members would have happily continued working under the previous conditions, but that wasn't enough for this incredibly profitable company."

The closing came eight days after Caterpillar reported record revenue of $60.1-billion (U.S.), a profit surge of 83 per cent to $4.9-billion, results that it said it hasn't seen since the days of U.S. President Harry Truman, who presided over the first years of a postwar economic boom when he occupied the Oval Office from 1945 to 1952.


South Korea to get more Fords

Automaker to take advantage of new trade agreement

The 2012 Ford Focus is one of several models to be exported. (Ford)

By David Shepardson Detroit News
Feb 3, 2012

Washington — Ford Motor Co. plans to boost its exports of new vehicles to South Korea by 50 percent in 2012 in the wake of a free trade deal.

The Dearborn automaker expects to sell about 6,000 vehicles in South Korea in 2012, up from 4,184 vehicles sold last year, said Marci Williamson, a Ford spokeswoman.

"We are launching a number of new vehicles in Korea this year," Williamson said. "We are very excited to grow our presence in the market."

Ford's new product launches in South Korea include the Fusion Hybrid, its first gas-electric vehicle offering there. Ford is also offering EcoBoost versions of its Explorer, Taurus, Escape, Fusion, its new Escape, 2013 Fusion and the Focus Diesel, its first diesel offering in Korea.

The company's sales blitz comes after automakers pressured the Obama administration to win concessions from South Korea to help open its market to more U.S. exports. A trade deal was ratified by Congress in October, and the Korean parliament approved it in November.

Korea has had one of the world's most closed auto markets, U.S. automakers have long complained.

In 2010, U.S. automakers exported 7,450 vehicles to Korea — accounting for 0.62 percent of all vehicles sold in that country.

All imports accounted for 7 percent of total Korean sales. By comparison, Korean automakers exported 560,000 vehicles to the United States.

David Cole, chairman emeritus of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, said U.S. automakers have dramatically boosted productivity in the United States, makingexports from the U.S.more competitive with other countries

"When you look at the low volumes that Ford is planning to sell in Korea it doesn't make any sense to build there. We are competing in making things in the United States with countries around the world," Cole said.

He said the export volume initially is largely symbolic, but will be a test of whether U.S. companies can penetrate the market without many of the barriers they've faced.

In December, Toyota Motor Corp. said it plans to export its U.S.-built Camry sedan to South Korea. The Japanese automaker plans to ship about 6,000 Camry vehicles annually and started last month.

In November, Toyota started exporting its Sienna minivan to South Korea as well. It's the first time Toyota will export the U.S.-built Camry outside North America. Toyota faces cost pressures in Japan in assembling vehicles there because of the strength of the Japanese yen.

Under the Korea trade pact, manufacturers that sell 25,000 or fewer U.S.-made autos and trucks in Korea can meet U.S. standards rather than meeting South Korean standards when they import U.S.-made vehicles into Korea.


Conservative reforms to old age pensions would hurt low-income seniors most, says Bob Rae

Liberal interim leader Bob Rae says expected changes to the Old Age Security program will have a very dramatic effect on low-income seniors, particularly single women.

Toronto Star
Les Whittington
Feb 2, 2012

OTTAWA—Opposition MPs say low-income seniors would be the real victims of expected changes to a key element of Canada’s Old Age Security program.

“It will have a very dramatic effect on low-income seniors, particularly low-income single women,” Liberal interim leader Bob Rae said Wednesday.

As the Liberals stepped up their efforts to head off the Conservatives’ proposed changes to future pensions, the party said the vast majority of Canadians receiving OAS have average incomes well below $40,000.

Rae also said making seniors wait two more years — to age 67 — to receive OAS would mean the poorest retirees would also have to wait to obtain the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS), an additional support payment for seniors with less than $16,368 in income. That’s because receiving GIS is tied to approval for OAS payments, the Liberals noted. They also released a background document showing more women retirees rely on GIS than men.

Rae added that postponing eligibility for OAS would mean more costs to provinces, which would need to support low-income seniors. “It’s not just a download onto poor people, it’s also a download onto the provinces,” he told reporters.

Since Prime Minister Stephen Harper mused last week about long-term reforms to OAS to save Ottawa money, speculation has focused on the possibility the government would change the eligibility rules. But the Conservatives have not provided any details of Harper’s plan except to say current retirees or those near retirement age need not worry.

“A senior will not lose a single penny, nor one near retirement,” Harper said in the Commons. But he repeated his desire to make changes to OAS that will reduce federal costs over the long term.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty confirmed his budget, expected in March, will contain no immediate changes to retirement benefits. But the government is reviewing all pension issues, he told CBC-TV. “So we could take some steps in the budget to say, ‘All right, here are some of the things that could be done in the future in order to make sure that these programs are sustainable in the long term,’ “ Flaherty said in an interview from Israel, where he is on government business.


Chrysler sales up 44
percent for January

By Scott Burgess
The Detroit News
February 1, 2012

Chrysler Group LLC.'s January sales jumped 44 percent compared to January 2011, executives said Wednesday morning.

The sale increase is the 22nd consecutive monthly increase for the carmaker, and this January all four brands at the Auburn Hill-based carmaker showed big increases.

"We started the new year with a bang by growing sales 44 percent," said Reid Bigland, Dodge president and head of U.S. sales, in a news release. "In January we continued building on the sales momentum that we generated during 2011 with our 16 all-new or significantly refreshed products."

Chrysler brand sales jumped 81 percent, Jeep brand sales rose 37 percent, Dodge sales climbed 29 percent and Ram sales jumped 42 percent. Additionally, car sales for Chrysler Group climbed 137 percent, which executives attributed to the strong sales of the Chrysler 200 and Chrysler 300 sedans.

All carmakers are expected to release their January sales figures later today


Canada says Old Age
Security plan unsustainable

January 31, 2012

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's Old Age Security pension program is unsustainable and needs to be changed, the Conservative government said on Monday, drawing opposition accusations that it was breaking a campaign promise not to cut seniors' benefits.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a speech last Thursday that the country needs to limit the growth of spending on the retirement income system as life expectancy increases. He promised not to hurt current recipients.

Expanding on Harper's comments, Human Resources Minister Diane Finley said in Parliament on Monday that the Old Age Security program, a pillar of the pension system funded out of general government revenues, needs changing.

"The Old Age Security system is not sustainable now. We are going to make it that for generations in the future," she said.

Old Age Security payments go to all Canadian seniors, whether they were employees or not, to provide the basic necessities of life. The tax system claws some of the money back from higher-income seniors.

Finley said a separate government pension plan, the Canada Pension Plan, which is funded by employers and workers, is actuarially sound.

In tackling programs for seniors, the Conservatives are venturing onto sensitive political ground as seniors tend to vote in great numbers. But the government insisted it is acting responsibly.

Liberal leader Bob Rae said Harper had pledged during the 2011 election campaign not to touch transfers to seniors.

"Is the prime minister committed to sustaining seniors? Or is he committed to breaking his election promises and breaking faith with the people of Canada?" Rae demanded.

Harper responded that he would not be cutting transfers to individuals.

"At the same time, everybody understands that there are demographic realities that do threaten the viability of these programs over the longer term. We will ensure that these programs are funded and viable for the future generations that will need them," he said.

The government has not said how it would address the Old Age Security system, but speculation in the last several days has centered on the possibility that it will gradually raise the age of eligibility to 67 from 65.

In 1983, the United States decided to raise the age for collecting full Social Security benefits to 67 from 65 by 2022.

The Canadian government forecasts the number of people aged 65 or over will double to 9.3 million by 2030, and the ratio of taxpayers to seniors will decline substantially.


Despite strong '11, Ford cautious

Material costs add to worry; workers
to get rest of bonus in March

By David Shepardson Detroit News Washington Bureau
January 29, 2012

Ford Motor Co. had its most profitable year in more than a decade, and its 2011 performance translated into about $6,200 in profit-sharing checks for the automaker's 41,600 hourly workers,

But investor worries about headwinds abroad in 2012 — including uncertainty in Europe and higher commodity prices — sent the company's stock tumbling Friday.

Dearborn-based Ford, first among the three domestic automakers to announce its fourth quarter and 2011 full-year earnings, reported $20.2 billion in net income for 2011. It was Ford's best year since 1998 and second-best year ever, as its results were boosted by a one-time accounting gain.

This marked Ford's third consecutive annual profit, after losing $31 billion between 2005 and 2008.

But the company's fourth-quarter results didn't meet expectations. There are concerns about Ford's hedging strategy and higher commodity costs, and Ford is cautious about 2012 — especially in Europe and South America.

Under a formula agreed to by the United Auto Workers as part of a new labor agreement, Ford's earnings generated $6,200 in annual profit sharing for each of its 41,600 hourly employees.

Those workers received payments for the first half of the year of $3,750 per person in December. For the second half of 2011, the formula generated approximately $2,450 per employee, which is to be distributed in March. Profit-sharing payments for individual employee depend on how many hours each worked.

The payments will provide a big economic boost to workers and communities.

Ford said this month that it is awarding bonuses and merit raises for the first time since 2010 to its 20,000 North America salaried employees. It hasn't paid a bonus and merit pay increase in the same year since 2008.

Salaried workers will get 2.7 percent average salary increase based on performance.

Ford's stock fell sharply on Friday's financial results, but recovered some of the losses in afternoon trading. The automaker closed down 4.2 percent to $12.21, $0.53 in very heavy trading.

The automaker reported fourth quarter earnings of $0.20, excluding the accounting change. That's below the Wall Street consensus of about $0.25 a share.

"If you get over the small disappointment over the fourth quarter, this has been a good year," Ford Chief Financial Officer Lewis Booth said in an interview, noting the economic uncertainty in Europe and Asian natural disasters.

Ford's 2011 results were boosted by a one-time, noncash gain of $12.4 billion in prior year tax losses that had been set aside starting in 2006.
Excluding the one-time tax gain, it was still Ford's best annual operating profit since it earned $11.5 billion in 1999, the company said.
Ford's pre-tax operating profit was $1.1 billion in the fourth quarter. Excluding the special item, the company earned $8.8 billion in operating income in 2011.

Ford has now reported 10 consecutive profitable quarters. For the year, Ford earned $6.2 billion in operating profits in North America, up from $5.4 billion in 2010.

But the company's results for 2012 didn't impress some analysts. JPMorgan analyst Himanshu Patel called the fourth quarter results "weak."
Morgan Stanley auto analyst Adam Jonas said in a note that Ford missed its forecasts for fourth-quarter results — especially on margins. But he said Ford's "2012 outlook for 'about equal' total company pretax profit with higher auto profit and auto margins is encouraging. 2012 may be shaping up to be a very good year for Ford."

Standard & Poor's Ratings said Ford's results were "consistent with our assumptions incorporated in the fall 2011 upgrade."

Significantly, the automaker cut its debt from $19 billion to $13.1 billion by the end of 2011. Ford's results also were boosted $400 million via the sale of its Ford Russia operations to a joint venture.

Ford said it expects its market share this year to be "about equal" to 2011 in the United States and Europe. Last year, it forecast market share gains in both the U.S. and Europe. Ford's market share was up 0.1 percent to 16.5 percent in 2011 in the U.S., but its retail share was flat at 14 percent.

The company reported a $190 million loss in Europe in the fourth quarter, up substantially from its $51 million loss in the same period in 2010. The company lost $27 million in Europe for all of 2011, compared with a $182 million profit the previous year.

Ford said it has challenges to address in Europe and South America. Uncertainties about the debts of major European countries have raised fears about a major economic slowdown in Europe.

And it still faces questions — as does its rival General Motors Co., which will announce its 2011 earnings Feb. 16 — about its large pension liabilities.

Ford's pension plans worldwide are underfunded by $15.4 billion, an increase from $11.5 billion the previous year. In the U.S., its pension obligations are underfunded by $9.4 billion, up from $6.7 billion. Ford contributed $1.5 billion to its global pension plans in 2010 and plans to make $3.5 billion in contributions to those plans this year, including $2 billion to its U.S. pension funds.

JPMorgan said Ford may be considering UAW pension buyouts — a move that industry analysts have said GM may announce this year.
"Like GM, Ford is more actively discussing 'de-risking' steps for its pension, which include limiting liability growth, discretionary contributions … and 'other actions under development,' which may hint at UAW pension buyouts," said JPMorgan's Patel.

Booth said the automaker is considering unspecified "strategic actions" to address its pension underfunding and plans to fully fund them within "the next few years." He declined to answer whether Ford is considering pension buyouts.

Ford Motor Credit Co. earned $2.4 billion in profits in 2011, down from $3.1 billion in 2010, because fewer leases are being terminated.

Chrysler Group LLC is to report its 2011 earnings Feb. 1, and is expected to report a full-year profit. GM has earned about $8 billion in the first nine months of the year.


Prime Minister Harper unveils grand plan to reshape Canada

Joe Friesen Bill Curry
Globe & Mail
January 28, 2012

After five years of minority governments, Stephen Harper finally has the freedom to act.

He's no longer looking at the limited horizon of the next budget or the next election. He's planning on transforming Canada for a generation or more. This is Stephen Harper's blueprint for reform.

Although short on details, Mr. Harper's speech to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday made clear the sweep of his ambition. He will change how Canadians finance their retirement. He will overhaul the immigration system. He will make oil and gas exports to Asia a "national priority" and aggressively pursue free trade in India and Europe.

Several times in his speech, Mr. Harper portrayed his agenda as a fix for a generation – a fix he claimed is necessary to confront the challenges of an aging population. Canada's demographics, he warned, pose "a threat to the social programs and services that Canadians cherish." Preserving those social programs will likely mean cuts elsewhere.

"Western nations, in particular, face a choice of whether to create the conditions for growth and prosperity, or to risk long-term economic decline. In every decision, or failure to decide, we are choosing our future right now," Mr. Harper said.

"We've already taken steps to limit the growth of our health-care spending. … We must do the same for our retirement-income system."

He said he plans to make Canada's old-age supplement program sustainable. What that means is unclear. He did not spell out whether seniors will have to wait longer to receive the benefit or whether clawbacks would be increased for higher income earners.

Unlike the Canada Pension Plan – which is supported by a separate and well-financed pool of savings – there is no pot of cash to support the OAS program, which is paid out of government revenues. A recent actuarial report pointed out that the cost of OAS will climb 32 per cent between 2010 and 2015, and OAS payouts to retirees will rise to $108-billion in 2030 from $36.5-billion in 2010.

While future changes to OAS were not explained, Mr. Harper said current retirees will not be affected. The major policy reforms are in addition to looming spending cuts, which Treasury Board President Tony Clement said on Thursday could be as much as $8-billion, twice the $4-billion target announced last year.

Mr. Harper further outlined the blueprint for his government by ticking off a list of policy priorities. He said Canada's investments in science and technology had produced poor results and were a "significant problem for our country." He said he intends to pursue free trade with the European Union and India and find new energy markets beyond the United States. Regulatory delays for mines and energy projects are also being targeted.

Mr. Harper said he intends to tackle immigration reform, a thorny issue in a country where one in five is an immigrant. Canada's humanitarian obligations and its family reunification objectives will be "respected," he said, but the needs of the labour force and the economy will now be central.

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has been working on significant reforms to the immigration system for several months. Mr. Kenney has said he wants to speed immigrant integration in the labour market by changing the emphasis of selection criteria. He intends to reward applicants who speak English or French, have job offers, Canadian work experience or postgraduate degrees, all of whom tend to fare better economically. The increased emphasis on economic immigrants could lead to reductions in the family class.

As the Canadian population ages, immigration is increasingly the major source of population growth. At the moment, more than 60 per cent of population growth comes from immigration, but that will approach 100 per cent by 2030. If Canada wants to maintain its population structure, or at least the proportion of the population that's over 65, it would have to start admitting about three to four times its annual intake of roughly 250,000 immigrants, experts say.

As for OAS, previous Liberal and Conservative governments have tried – and failed spectacularly – to make the program financially sustainable. Both Brian Mulroney, and Paul Martin when he was finance minister, were forced to back down in the face of public pressure.

C.D. Howe Institute president Bill Robson said he believes the public will support changes if they see MPs and the public service scaling back their benefits as well.

"As seniors get more numerous, it's clearly more difficult for politicians to take them on," he said. "But I'm encouraged to think Canadians can get together on things like this."

Susan Eng, vice-president of the non-profit retired persons advocacy group CARP, predicts a strong negative reaction to OAS changes, which were never discussed during the election campaign.

Ms. Eng said her group's surveys show strong opposition to changing the OAS.


CAW Contact
Vol. 42, No. 3
Jan 27, 2012

Massive Rally in Support of Electro-Motive Workers

London Day of Action- January 21, 2012 (Top: CAW President Ken Lewenza; Left Representatives of Occupy London; Right: Bob Scott, CAW Local 27/EMD plant chairperson).

More than 15,000 demonstrators rallied in London's Victoria Park Saturday, January 21 in a show of solidarity with 465 CAW Local 27 members who have been locked-out by U.S. multi-national corporation Caterpillar.

Labour and community leaders (including students and representatives of Occupy London) as well as interim federal NDP leader Nycole Turmel and London Mayor Joe Fontana addressed the massive crowd.

CAW President Ken Lewenza said the struggle at Caterpillar today is a struggle that has been going on across Canada's manufacturing sector for more than five years as half a million Canadian workers have lost their jobs through no fault of their own.

He blasted the greed of corporate executives who have taken advantage of increasingly weaker government rules and regulations under the Harper government and around the globe.
Lewenza told the crowd that Caterpillar has made
billions in profits, its top executives have made tens of millions in bonuses, and yet the company wants to cut workers wages in half at its London diesel engine manufacturing plant, Electro-Motive Diesel.

He said the Electro-Motive lock-out should be a rallying point for all workers to pull together to demand equality and good jobs.

OFL President Sid Ryan said the rally demonstrates that Canadians are tired of corporate greed and are seeking a new economic model that distributes wealth fairly.

"We've come here today to send a signal to Harper," Ryan said. He stressed that foreign purchases of Canadian plants must provide a "net benefit" under the Investment Canada Act.

The real net benefit, Ryan said, are jobs for Canadians that provide a decent standard of living and which allow workers to retire with dignity.

The Harper government has yet to comment on the lock-out directly, other than to say that the situation involves a private corporation and falls outside of federal jurisdiction (although the Investment Canada Act is federal legislation). In 2008, the Prime Minister visited the plant to tout a $5 million package of tax breaks.

Sister Sue Wilson, director of Systemic Justice, said the situation at Caterpillar is more than a labour issue; rather it's an issue of justice.

Wilson said recent studies show the gap between the rich and the poor continues to grow and the result is that communities are weakened and the social contract is unraveling.

"Too many people are being excluded from the benefits of the economy," Wilson said.

As Contact went to press, CAW members were staging a cross country picket at Caterpillar dealerships, raising the profile of the current dispute with the company's customers on January 26.

The information pickets were set up shortly after the company issued it's year-end financial report earlier
in the day. It was announced that Caterpillar profits jumped a stunning 83 per cent over the previous year to $4.9 billion. These profits are the highest ever recorded by the company.

CAW and CEP to Begin Talks on New Union

The executive boards of the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers unions have unanimously approved a process to explore the possibility of creating a new Canadian union as soon as mid-2013.

Leaders of the two unions have held preliminary discussions for several weeks, reviewing the current labour relations climate and the challenges facing organized labour, and considering whether the formation of a new Canadian union would help the movement to address those challenges. Now those discussions have been formally endorsed by the elected National Executive Boards of both unions. At separate meetings within the last week, the two boards unanimously approved a "Process Protocol" document. This document sets out the terms of reference and a timeline for union representatives to explore issues related to the formation of a new union.

"Events like the lockout at Caterpillar have made it increasingly obvious that Canadian workers need a stronger, more active, and more innovative labour movement to defend them," says Ken Lewenza, CAW National President. "Our movement cannot afford a 'business-as-usual' approach in light of the attacks we face from both business and government. We need to combine our resources and use them more effectively if we are to protect Canadian jobs and push for greater equality in this incredibly hostile economic environment."

"Our goal is to create a new, Canadian union," says CEP National President Dave Coles. "We are examining every aspect of our work as trade unions, from organizing to bargaining to political activism. We are working to create a stronger union movement and a better future for workers."

Under the Process Protocol, a representative committee will work over coming months to investigate specific issues related to a new union (including dues and finances, representative structures, and regional issues). It will issue a report on whether a new union is feasible and desirable in time for the upcoming conventions of both unions (August 2012 for the CAW, and October 2012 for the CEP).

To see the Process Protocol document please visit:


CAW President Calls on Feds to Stop Cuts to Coast Guard Centres

CAW President Ken Lewenza called on the federal government and the Coast Guard to stop a shortsighted plan to cut servicing hours for Marine Communications and Traffic Services personnel who provide critical distress and safety services on Canadian coastal waters.

The Canadian Coast Guard's proposal is to cut servicing hours at 11 of its 22 active stations located in Vancouver, Victoria, Tofino, Comox and Prince Rupert, British Columbia; Sarnia, Ontario; Quebec City and Les Escoumins, Quebec; Saint John, New Brunswick; Halifax, Nova Scotia; and St. John's, Newfoundland.

Lewenza called this a reckless cost-cutting measure that puts lives at risk.

"This situation offers a glimpse into how blindly the Harper government is approaching austerity measures," Lewenza said. "Harper's own security and energy policies are putting greater pressures on the Coast Guard to monitor our waters, yet the government is trying to reduce services in this exact area. It doesn't make sense."

Marine Communications and Traffic Services officers are often the first point of contact for distressed mariners, fishers, recreational boaters, kayakers, and others in coastal waters. MCTS centres handle over 7,000 marine search and rescue cases each year.

The full roll-out of the Coast Guard's cost-cutting plan is set to begin on February 1, although a partial program was rolled out at the beginning of the year.

CAW Local 2182 President Martin Grégoire, who represents over 350 MCTS officers, said he was disappointed in the public remarks made recently by Keith Ashfield, Federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans (published in the Comox Valley Echo), who considered this an effort to put "the proper resources in place when and where they need to be available."

"To suggest that the Coast Guard can reduce hours depending on whether a crisis is likely to occur is simply absurd," Grégoire said. "The whole point is to ensure that we're fully prepared to deal with any situation, no matter how big or small, at all times."

Staff Appointment

CAW President Ken Lewenza has appointed Aaron Neaves, President of CAW Local 127, to staff as a service representative working out of the CAW's Windsor office, effective Sunday, January 22, 2012.



Ford Motor Co. earns
$20.2 billion in 2011

Ford Motor Co. is the first of Detroit’s three automakers to report its fourth-quarter and full year 2011 earnings. (Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

By David Shepardson
Detroit News Washington Bureau
January 27, 2012

Ford Motor Co. reported $20.2 billion in net income for 2011 Friday — its best year since 1998.

The company's results were boosted by a one-time non-cash gain of $12.4 billion in prior year tax losses.

Ford's pre-tax operating profit was $1.1 billion in the fourth quarter. Excluding the special item, Ford earned $8.8 billion in operating income in 2011.

"We delivered strong results for the full year as we continued to serve our customers around the world with best-in-class vehicles and make progress toward our mid-decade goals," Ford President and COE Alan Mulally said. "Despite the continued uncertainty in the external environment, the strength of our North American and Ford Credit operations allows us to continue to invest for future growth and develop outstanding products with segment-leading quality, fuel efficiency, safety, smart design and value."

Ford said profits will generate about $6,200 in profit sharing for each of its eligible 41,600 hourly workers. Individual profit checks for hourly workers are higher or lower, based on how many hours they were paid to work in 2011.

Ford also said it cut its debt from $19 billion to $13.1 billion by the end of 2011.

The Dearborn-based automaker said in 2012 it expects its market share to be "about equal" in the United States and Europe to 2011.
Chrysler Group SpA is to report Feb. 1, followed by Detroit-based General Motors Co. on Feb. 16.

All three automakers reported improved sales in 2011.


Cuts to OHIP services could include some planned C-section births

Toronto Star
Jan 26, 2012

Taxpayers will soon find they have to pay for more health services now covered by OHIP as Ontario sheds its $16 billion deficit — with possible limits on planned caesarean sections, Health Minister Deb Matthews says.

There must be evidence that medical tests and procedures improve health outcomes for patients or they will be gone, as was the case with widespread vitamin D testing, Matthews told reporters Wednesday.

"If there isn't evidence to support a procedure or test, we don't want to pay for it," she said on the way into a cabinet meeting. "Sometimes that will mean delisting."

The vitamin D tests are now covered for patients only in rare circumstances and the province has saved $66 million.

Matthews cited "pretty interesting research" that more caesarean sections are performed in certain urban areas of Ontario than others.

"What that tells me is that we've got work to do to make sure that everyone is practicing the highest-quality medicine," she said, before being asked if Ontario would no longer cover planned C-sections.

"We leave that to the experts. I get advice from people who are much, much more knowledgeable about this than I am.

"We'll be taking a hard look at a number of issues."

Later Wednesday evening, the government scrambled to clear up the ambiguity left by Matthews.

"There are no plans to de-list OHIP coverage of C-sections," said spokeswoman Zita Astravas. "If the procedure is deemed medically necessary by a medical professional, OHIP will cover it."

But it remains unclear what will happen with the C-sections Matthews was suggesting may not be necessary.

There are no statistics on planned caesarean operations — sometimes derided as "too posh to push" procedures — as opposed to emergency C-sections, when a baby is unable to be safely delivered naturally.

But former TD Bank chief economist Don Drummond, who is leading a high-profile commission on the restructuring of government services, told the Star last weekend that C-section births are "off the charts."

According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, Ontario has higher primary C-section rates than Canada as a whole. Most recent statistics from the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences indicate more than 28 per cent of hospital births in the province are C-sections.

Women who give birth by C-section spend more time in hospital, often a few days, adding to costs in the health-care system. Some women opt to give birth at home with midwives, which further saves the system money and reduces the risk of mothers and babies contracting hospital-based infections.

"Giving birth is the main reason Ontario women are hospitalized, yet there is no medical reason to be hospitalized for a healthy labour or delivery," said Katrina Kilroy, president of the Ontario Association of Midwives, which has been lobbying the government to fund birthing centres.

The group said cutting the number of C-sections in Ontario by 15 per cent would save $50 million a year.

Opposition parties said the government seems poised for its biggest delisting of services from OHIP since Premier Dalton McGuinty's first budget in 2004.

That's when the Liberals, facing an unexpected $5.6 billion deficit from the previous government, scrapped chiropractic care, optometrist visits and most physiotherapy from the list of taxpayer-covered services. The delisting led to a political furor because it came as the cash-strapped government introduced the Ontario Health Premium of up to $900 per person — sending a mixed message of citizens paying more for health care but getting less.

New Democrat MPP and finance critic Michael Prue said his party is worried about potential cuts from Matthews, who will make a major speech Monday on the future of health care as the government tries to get on a more sustainable financial footing.

"We all need to be concerned if they do make the cuts again that they made eight years ago — that's going to be really be terrible for the health-care system," Prue (Beaches-East York) told reporters.

While it's "pretty obvious" Ontario needs to find efficiencies in health care, which now eats up almost half the provincial budget, Progressive Conservative MPP Peter Shurman said the government has to be careful.

"Efficiencies is not code for cuts . . . it's how do we provide the best bang for the buck," said Shurman, his party's finance critic.

The Ontario Medical Association said it has been working with the government to find $240 million in savings, and is looking for more. Doctors are in contract talks with the government this year.

The Liberal government was elected in 2003 with Dalton McGuinty saying he had no plan to raise taxes. In his first budget, he implemented a health premium of up to $900 per person.


CAW, CEP talk possible
merger by mid-2013

Ken Lewenza, CAW National President, speaks at a rally dubbed a 'London Day of Action Against Corportate Greed,' in London, Ont., on January 21, 2012. (Dave Chidley / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Andrea Janus, CTVNews.ca
Jan. 25, 2012

Two of the country's largest labour unions announced Tuesday they are engaging in talks that could potentially end in a merger as early as the middle of next year.

The Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers unions said in a statement the talks are in response to "the challenges facing organized labour," citing the lockout at the Caterpillar-owned Electro-Motive plant in London, Ont. as one example of a strained labour relations climate.

The two unions, which together have more than 320,000 members, said they have been engaging in preliminary discussions "for several weeks," and the executive boards have unanimously voted to formally explore a merger.

CAW National President Ken Lewenza said the boards of both unions believe workers "need a stronger, more active, and more innovative labour movement to defend them.

"Our movement cannot afford a 'business-as-usual' approach in light of the attacks we face from both business and government," Lewenza said in a statement.

"We need to combine our resources, and use them more effectively, if we are to protect Canadian jobs and push for greater equality in this incredibly hostile economic environment."

The talks are also a response to moves by the federal government to curb strikes by Air Canada workers represented by the CAW.

Last summer, Labour Minister Lisa Raitt threatened to enact back-to-work legislation for thousands of Air Canada employees, which led to a negotiated settlement between the CAW and the airline.

The unions have approved what they're calling a "Process Protocol" document that sets out the terms of reference for future talks and a timeline for union representatives to consider issues related to a potential merger.

According to the protocol, those issues include dues and finances, executive structures and regional concerns. The two unions are also open to allowing representatives of other unions to join the talks "as appropriate."

The committee will issue a report on whether a merger is "feasible and desirable" ahead of each union's convention. The CAW meets in August, while the CEP meets in October.

"Our goal is to create a new, Canadian union," Dave Coles, president of the CEP, said in a statement.

"We are examining every aspect of our work as trade unions, from organizing to bargaining to political activism. We are working to create a stronger union movement and a better future for workers."

News Regarding
Potential CEP Merger

(Click On Links Below)

Merger Letter to Local Members from President Lewenza

CAW and CEP to begin talks on new union

Process Protocol & Timetable

Discussion Document

(posted January 27, 2012)



Auto bankruptcies
weighed early in U.S.

U.S. studied them months before GM, Chrysler filed

By David Shepardson
Detroit News Washington Bureau
Jan 24, 2012

Washington —The Bush administration considered requiring bankruptcy filings by General Motors Corp and Chrysler LLC months before they actually did so, a new document shows.

The New Yorker magazine on Monday posted a 57-page economic memo written by Lawrence Summers to President-elect Barack Obama in December 2008 that disclosed new details of the Bush administration's thinking about how to save the two struggling automakers.

The Dec. 15, 2008, memo outlined options the Bush administration was considering, including two that would have resulted in a faster bankruptcy filing for GM and Chrysler as early as January 2009.

Chrysler eventually filed for bankruptcy in April 2009, while GM filed for bankruptcy in June 2009.

One approach was to provide funds in the form of debtor-in-possession (DIP) financing as part of court restructurings, rather than as a bailout with no immediate strings attached using the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program.

"Under this approach, the administration would announce a willingness to extend TARP funds as a DIP loan once a company has filed for bankruptcy.

Given GM and Chrysler's current cash positions, it is overwhelmingly likely that one or both would be forced to file before or immediately after the New Year," Summers wrote.

The Bush administration "currently estimates that the companies would require $100 billion of DIP financing. We believe that number may be inflated," Summers wrote.

On Dec. 19, 2008, President George W. Bush agreed to lend GM and Chrysler $17.4 billion, without requiring the companies to file for bankruptcy.

He advanced $25 billion to the companies and their auto finance arms before leaving office a month later.

Summers served as co-chairman of Obama's auto task force and was director of the National Economic Council.

Summers warned against an immediate GM or Chrysler bankruptcy in early January 2009.

"If forced to file immediately, GM and Chrysler would fall into the first category, resulting in potentially severe disruption to the entire industry. With a couple of weeks planning, they could achieve an orderly filing," Summers wrote.

The Obama administration loaned GM $6 billion in April and May 2009, before it forced GM into bankruptcy. In bankruptcy, the Obama administration gave GM $30 billion in debtor in possession financing.

The Obama administration has completely exited Chrysler and has recovered $11.2 billion of its $12.5 billion bailout, while it still holds a 26.5 percent stake in GM as part of its $49.5 billion bailout.

At current stock prices, the Treasury would lose more than $12 billion on its bailout.

The Treasury Department estimates it will lose $23.6 billion on its $85 billion auto industry bailout.


Electro-Motive rally
sends message to PM

A crowd of CAW workers at the Electro-Motive rally in London on Jan. 21, 2012.

By Grace MacAluso
The Windsor Star
January 23, 2012

LONDON, Ont. -- Three weeks into a lockout at Electro-Motive Canada, Frank Kearney will tell you there are good days and bad days.

Saturday was a good day, as thousands of protesters filled Victoria Park in the city's downtown core for a boisterous rally in support of Kearney and more than 400 of his fellow workers, who are fighting company efforts to slash wages and benefits by 50 per cent.

"I think the turnout's great, the support - 11 buses have come from Windsor alone. It's a great feeling," said Kearney, a welder at the plant, which assembles locomotives.

The spirited gathering, which drew demonstrators from across Ontario and parts of the U.S., turned into an unrelenting condemnation of the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S.-based Caterpillar Corp., which owns the London plant.

In a fiery speech, CAW national president Ken Lewenza said the dispute is the latest assault on well-paid, blue-collar workers.

"This struggle started three weeks ago. But in the last five years, 450,000 manufacturing workers in Canada were asked to go home and say to their young children they lost their jobs through no fault of their own.

"Workers are losing their jobs because of the public policy of Stephen Harper that protects the interests of corporations," said Lewenza, who reminded the crowd that Caterpillar has received $5 million in federal government tax breaks.

Speaker after speaker credited the Electro-Motive dispute with lighting a fire under organized labour and blasted the federal government for turning a blind eye on "the attack on the middle class."

Caterpillar, which reported a 44 per cent surge in its thirdquarter earnings in 2011 and forecast a 2012 sales increase of between 10 per cent and 20 per cent, has become the "poster child for corporate greed in Canada," said Sid Ryan, president of the Ontario Federation of Labour. "We are sending a message to Harper that we are sick and tired of the corporate greed that exists in Canada.

"Caterpillar is getting a wakeup call they never dreamt of."

London Mayor Joe Fontana, who presides over a city saddled with a 9.8 per cent jobless rate, noted his council unanimously passed a resolution calling on the federal government to enact legislation "supporting Canadian workers."

"Get your ass down here Mr. Harper," he bellowed to a sea of cheering protesters. Fontana praised the locked-out workers, saying they "were not a number on a payroll slip. You are what makes companies successful. For 62 years, you have built the best locomotives in the world."

While union officials pegged the number of protesters at 15,000, a spokesman for London police estimated the crowd at between 4,000 and 5,000.

Electro-Motive locked out the workers New Year's Day after protracted contract talks hit a snag over company demands which would reduce the average hourly wage from $34 to $16.50.

The company has said the cost of wages and benefits for the CAW employees is more than twice that of the UAW-represented employees at Electro-Motive's facility in LaGrange, Ill. "The CAW contract also has antiquated work rules that make the London operation inefficient, which in turn hurts EMC's ability to win new business and satisfy its customers' demands," the company said in a statement on its website.

MP Joe Comartin (NDP - Windsor-Tecumseh) reiterated demands that Ottawa impose stricter requirements on companies receiving taxpayer dollars.

"The federal government has to look at the situations in which they give money to a corporation, as they did here, not attaching any strings to it in terms of employment," he said in an interview.

Earlier in the day in Windsor, about 600 CAW workers and retirees boarded 11 buses headed to London. Gerry Graham, president of CAW Local 444's retirees chapter, said he had no trouble finding recruits.

"We got them pumped pretty good," said Graham. "My concern is, as a retiree, how do I justify my pension, my benefits, my health care when people are making less than me. It's not fair. That's what I think got the retirees motivated. We have to go out there, we have to fill this bus up. And we did."

The locked-out workers, members of CAW Local 27, are the ground troops in a battle that could have broader ramifications for all workers, said Gary Parent, former president of the Windsor and District Labour Council.

"This is a fight that has to be fought now and get public opinion more integrated into thinking that this is morally wrong," Parent said. "You can't have a company coming in, especially a U.S.-based company, getting money from the Canadian government with no promises and stipulations and slash wages and benefits by more than 50 per cent."

While Comartin said the rally would embolden organized labour, Kearney said he hopes the demonstration will prod the company back to the bargaining table.

"I hope this demonstration just gets us back to talking. Just to say, 'Bang, that's it, see you later,' that's not even bargaining."

CAW president Ken Lewenza brings his message of fighting corporate greed to thousands of protesters during a rally in London to support 400 locked-out Electro-Motive Canada workers Saturday.


Hundreds to attend rally against Electro-Motive lockout in London

Electro-Motive employees have been locked out since New Year's Day. (David Chidley/Canadian Press)

January 21, 2012
CBC News

Hundreds of CAW members and supporters of locked-out Electro-Motive employees will head to London, Ont., today (Saturday).

Dino Chiodo, president of the Windsor and District Labour Council, said nearly 600 people will pack 11 buses and attend a Day of Action protest at Victoria Park.

Dino Chiodo, president of Windsor and District Labour Council, said no Canadian could survive Caterpillar's demands. (CAW)Caterpillar Inc. locked out its 400 unionized workers at the Electro-Motive Diesel plant three weeks ago.

The company wants employees to accept a 50-per-cent cut in pay, benefits and pension.

The workers, represented by the CAW, rejected the offer during contract negotiations.

"No Canadian would accept 50 per cent or 55 per cent less wages, less benefits or less pension," said Chiodo, also a member of the CAW's Local 444 executive. "This is something that should not be tolerated.

"This is a battleground, not only for the unionized workers but the non-unionized workers as well. There is not one Canadian that would be able to survive ... 50 per cent cuts in wages, benefits and pensions."

'It is a fight for all Canadians. I hope everyone understands that.'

—Nelson Sarty, Electro-Motive employeeNelson Sarty is a Windsor-born employee at Electro-Motive. After he lost his job at Ford in Windsor he went to school and became a certified welder. After 18 months on the job at Electro-Motive, he was laid off. His family then moved to Texas, where his wife is in school to become a nurse.

Sarty returned home, alone, when Electro-Motive called him back for a wage of approximately $34/hr. He was locked out on New Year's Day, eight months after returning.

Morale still high
He said he and his fellow employees remain strong — for now.

"We're doing good. We still have a ton of community support. The guys are sticking together on the line," he said. "Some guys are prepared to go a long time. Some guys just financially can't go a long time."

Sarty said he would stick it out as long as he can.

"It is a fight for all Canadians. I hope everyone understands that," he said.

Chiodo said as many as 70 buses of supporters from across Ontario are expected to roll into London for the 11 a.m. rally.

Chiodo said that while $34/hr sounds like a lot of money to some, people need to realize that employees at Electro-Motive pay more in taxes and spend more money in the community, creating more jobs.


Ford salaried workers
to get raises, bonuses

January 20, 2012

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) -- Ford Motor Co. is showing confidence in its turnaround and the U.S. economy by giving pay raises and bonuses to 20,000 white-collar workers mainly in the U.S. and Canada.

Workers got letters from President of the Americas Mark Fields last week saying they'll get 2.7 percent base pay increases on April 1.

They'll also get bonuses this year based on their individual performances, spokeswoman Marcey Evans said.

Ford made $6.6 billion in the first three quarters of last year. It will report fourth-quarter earnings later this month. The company's U.S. sales rose 11 percent last year. It has made a huge turnaround since 2006, when it lost $12.6 billion and had to borrow more than $20 billion to stay in business.

Salaried workers didn't get pay raises last year, but many were granted performance bonuses. They got only merit pay in 2010 and no raises or bonuses were given in 2009, Evans said.

The raises are necessary to keep Ford's pay competitive with other Fortune 100 companies, Evans said. Each year, Ford studies pay at competitors and other companies, she said.

Ford also raised its matching contribution to the salaried employees' 401(k) retirement plan. The company now pays 60 cents for every dollar an employee contributes, up to 5 percent of their salary. This year the contribution will rise to 80 cents, Evans said.

She would not say how much the raises, bonuses and additional contributions will cost the company.

The raises rankled some United Auto Workers members because they did not get annual pay raises in a new four-year contract negotiated with the company last year. During the contract talks, the company told union negotiators that it didn't want to give raises to avoid recurring annual expenses.

But the workers got signing bonuses and lump-sum profit sharing payments that are worth at least $16,700 over the four-year contract. Workers at General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC agreed to similar contracts with payments smaller than those given to Ford workers.

"I'm disappointed to hear that," Mark Caruso, president of a UAW local at a factory in Saline, Mich., said of the white-collar raises. Caruso said morale already is bad among workers at his plant west of Detroit. A Ford holding company is trying to sell the factory to an auto parts supplier.

A UAW spokeswoman in Detroit said Thursday that she would check with her superiors to see if the union will comment on the white-collar raises.

The pay raise announcement was reported early Thursday by the Detroit Free Press.

Ford compensation records obtained by The Associated Press last year show that UAW-represented hourly workers have seen larger increases in pay and benefits over the last decade than many white-collar workers.

The UAW, according to the records, was able to protect longtime factory workers from changes to health care, overtime and other benefit cuts that salaried workers were forced to take. The average hourly worker at Ford received wages, benefits and overtime totaling $109,020 in 2010, up 17 percent from 1999. But the average salaried factory supervisor made $99,760 in wages and benefits, up just 2 percent in the same period, the records showed.



CAW Contact
January 20, 2012
Volume 42, No. 2


Strengthen Public Services and Expand the Ontario Economy, CAW Urges Commission

The CAW is stressing that more private sector involvement is the wrong way to reform public services in Ontario.

In a 19-page submission to the Commission on the Reform of Ontario's Public Services, the CAW challenges many misconceptions about the best way to reshape public services in the province.

It reaffirms key principles of public service delivery and urges that long-run efforts to reduce the provincial deficit be paired with an expansionary macroeconomic strategy to put Ontarians back to work and paying taxes.

The CAW represents 145,000 workers in Ontario including 26,000 public sector workers including those in health, post-secondary education, municipal utilities and the urban transit sector.

In its submission, the CAW outlines suggestions for controlling costs associated with delivery of public services, but not by handing more responsibility and control to private sector corporations.

Instead, it challenges the waste and irrationality associated with many existing forms of private sector participation in the delivery of public sector services.

Various sections of the paper identify waste and irrational practices associated with private sector procurement, private clinic operation, public-private partnerships in infrastructure construction and public capital subsidies for long-term care homes.

"In all of these areas, funding constraints are made worse, not better, by private sector involvement at various stages of the delivery process," the CAW submission states.

Other parts of the CAW submission consider broader economic benefits associated with public service delivery in Ontario, including research and innovation. It concludes with a discussion of ways in which costs could be reduced and service quality improved.

The CAW analysis emphasizes issues related to health care, because that is where the majority of the CAW's broader public sector members work in Ontario, although many of the concepts can be applied to other public services in Ontario.

To read the complete CAW submission please go to: http://www.caw.ca/en/10834.htm.

GTA Aboriginal and Workers of Colour Caucus

The Greater Toronto Area Aboriginal and Workers of Colour Caucus met to celebrate the holiday season by having a potluck dinner. The caucus meets monthly to share ideas, inspire and to educate. This caucus is presently preparing for March 21st, International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

CAW Serves 72-Hour Strike Notice at Viking Air

As Contact went to press the CAW had served strike notice with a deadline of noon on January 19, at Viking Air in British Columbia.

"The skilled workers at Viking Air have been patiently waiting for well over a year for a new contract that addresses wages, benefits and job security issues," said CAW National Representative Gavin McGarrigle. "The union reached a new contract with Cascade Aerospace in Abbotsford last year without any disruption and that pattern should work for Viking Air as well," he added.

The workers at Viking Air voted 94 per cent in favour of strike action on October 28, 2011.

"We're going to work hard in bargaining this week to reach a fair deal as a strike at Viking Air will completely disrupt production and further delay deliveries of many new Twin Otter aircraft that are already behind schedule," said McGarrigle prior to the deadline.

Viking Air is an aircraft manufacturing and repair firm based on Vancouver Island near Sidney, British Columbia.

CAW Local 114 (http://www.cawlocal114.com/) currently represents a bargaining unit of 270 workers at Viking Air including aircraft mechanics, machinists, sheet metal mechanics, painters, welders, storespersons and labourers.

CAW Reaches Tentative Agreement with Nav Canada

CAW Local 2245, which represents flight service specialists at Canadian airports, reached a tentative collective agreement with Nav Canada on January 18.

CAW Local 2245 represents 750 Flight Service Specialists at 63 airports across Canada, providing essential advisory services to the aviation community. These Flight Service Specialists advise pilots on aviation safety issues at airports.

It marks the third time that the CAW and Nav Canada have reached a collective agreement without government intervention during the last year.

"This agreement helps recognize the hard work and dedication our members provide to the aviation industry," said Derek Yakielashek, CAW Local 2245 President.

Details of the new agreement will be voted on by the membership in upcoming weeks.

Court Victory for Toronto Limousine Drivers

An Ontario Superior Court Judge has dismissed two claims by employer Aaroport Limousine against CAW Local 252 members paving the way for first contract arbitration to finally get underway.

Dismissal of the two actions by Justice E.P. Belobaba is a major victory for these Local 252 members who are airport limousine drivers in Toronto. The drivers had been locked out by the employer in a bitter dispute for six months in 2010 to 2011.

CAW Local 252 represents 200 Toronto airport limo drivers who are employed by McIntosh, Air Cab and Aaroport, all owned by the same individuals.

More than a year ago Aaroport Limousine brought two claims against these drivers in Superior Court for recovery of monies the drivers didn't pay them during the labour dispute, which amounted to more than $13,000 per member.

The company also sought to terminate the service agreements that form part of the employment relationship with some of the drivers/brokers, which would have the effect of firing those members.

"During the course of negotiations the company maintained that all of its financial proposals were contingent upon agreement by the union that the members would pay all the "back fees" including "goodwill" which the company said it lost during the public dispute," said Sukhvinder Johl, CAW National Representative.

Obviously the company's proposal and the two court actions were an impediment to getting a first agreement, he said.

"Now the CAW can move ahead with the first contract arbitration hearing, which is likely to commence in April," Johl said.

CAW Wind Turbine Construction Nearing Completion

Photo taken of the turbine construction site at the CAW Family Education Centre in Port Elgin, Ontario on January 14.
Photo credit: Avis Peterson

Construction of the first union-owned and operated wind turbine in the province of Ontario is nearing completion.

The CAW wind turbine, a project now eight years in the making, is scheduled to be completed in the coming weeks on the grounds of the union's Family Education Centre in Port Elgin, Ontario. The turbine is expected to begin producing power by the end of March, 2012.

The windmill will stand 100 metres tall and will operate at 500kw, offsetting about 60 per cent of the FEC's overall energy needs.

After a second review of the project's Certificate of Approval the Ontario Ministry of Environment reaffirmed it's approval of the union's wind turbine in December, 2011. The project was deemed to meet all current provincial rules and regulations governing wind turbines. Some concerns have been raised by the community which the union continues to address.

For more information, visit: www.caw.ca/cleanwindenergy


Chrysler, GM wait
on raises, bonuses

Ford boost for 20K salaried workers fails to stir rivals

Friday January 20, 2012
By Bryce G. Hoffman The Detroit News

General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC say any raises or bonuses their salaried employees receive will be determined by their financial performance, not by Ford Motor Co.

Last week, the Dearborn automaker sent letters to about 20,000 white-collar workers in the United States and Canada informing them they will receive 2.7 percent raises on April 1, as well as bonuses based on performance.

General Motors said Thursday that it will make a decision about raises and bonuses once its financial results are tallied.

"There will be no division until our business results are finalized," said GM spokesman Jay Cooney.

The same goes for Chrysler.

"Chrysler Group intends to announce its fourth-quarter and year-end financial results on Feb. 1," the company said in an email Thursday. "The year-end results will determine whether employees are eligible for annual awards."

Ford spokeswoman Marcey Evans said the raises are needed to keep pay competitive with other Fortune 100 companies. Ford salaried workers last got pay raises in 2010; only performance bonuses were given in 2011.

Compensation expert John Challenger of Chicago-based Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. said it might have been necessary for GM and Chrysler to follow Ford's lead once, but not anymore.

"There's still an awful lot of really good people unemployed," he pointed out.

"It's not as though workers are in the driver's seat. When unemployment is low, there's a lot more pressure on companies to compete for people."

These days, Challenger says, compensation is more closely tied to corporate performance.

That could bode well for GM workers, though. Though Ford was the only one of the Detroit Three to avoid bankruptcy during the recent economic crisis, GM made more money in the first three quarters of last year.

Ford made $6.6 billion, and GM made $7.6 billion.

Chrysler has yet to report a full-year profit since emerging from bankruptcy in 2009.


Ford Fusion wins top Detroit
News' Readers Choice awards

Ford showed off the 2013 Fusion last week at the press preview of the North American International Auto Show

By Serena Maria Daniels The Detroit News
January 18, 2012

Detroit— The Big Three are the big winners for The Detroit News eighth annual Readers Choice Awards, with the Ford Fusion taking two top honors, according to readers visiting the North American International Auto Show.

The Fusion won best in show and best value, as selected by a panel of judges.

The awards:

Best value: Ford Fusion

Most awesome off-road: Ford F150 Raptor

Most luxurious: Bentley Mulsanne

Most earth-friendly: Chevrolet Volt

Sexiest: Lexus LFA

Most innovative vehicle: Tesla S

Best curves: Chevrolet Camaro

Best family hauler award: Chrysler Town & Country

Concept vehicle: Chevrolet MiRay

Best of show: Ford Fusion

Detroit News publisher Jonathan Wolman yesterday announced winners before an audience of about 1,000 people gathered at Cobo Hall for the Big Four summit between Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and county executives Robert Ficano, L. Brooks Patterson and Mark Hackel. The event was hosted by the Detroit Economic Club.

"The North American International Auto Show is on a record-setting attendance pace," Wolman said. "So let's take a glass half-full view and agree that anytime there are more visitors to downtown Detroit than there are parking spaces, that's a very good thing."

The 100 judges were chosen from mail-in entries..

They toured the auto show last week and selected their favorite vehicles in 10 categories.


Bracing for trouble
on the picket line

Anna Wittich, left, with sign, and Magdalena Schoenmakers, seated, join locked-out Electro-Motive workers on the picket line Friday in London, Ont. The Caterpillar plant's unionized workers were locked out of the factory Jan. 1, 2012.

Jeff Gray & Kevin Carmichael
Globe & Mail - Jan 2012

The boss of the world's largest maker of construction and mining equipment took to the stage at a Washington event last spring and described a business philosophy that could have been ripped from the pages of a bulldozer's operating manual.

Caterpillar Inc.'s chief executive officer, Douglas Oberhelman, told an audience of mostly smaller business owners and managers, hosted by the U.S. Export-Import Bank, that he believed that to survive, he must approach his competitors like one of his machines would attack a mound of rubble.

"You really have to aim the guns out no matter where you are, whether it is government, private business or whatever institution it is – your school for that matter – and really look at your competitor and beat them because if not, they are going to beat you," Mr. Oberhelman said.

His philosophy is certainly rewarding Caterpillar shareholders. The Peoria, Ill., firm recorded record sales and profits in the third quarter – payoff from Mr. Oberhelman's push into fast-growing emerging markets. In December, Caterpillar predicted sales could grow by as much as 20 per cent this year from about $58-billion (U.S.) in 2011.

But Mr. Oberhelman isn't letting up. He is investing aggressively, hiring thousands of workers and opening or expanding plants in North Carolina, Illinois and California, as well as overseas in India, Indonesia and Russia.

One thing he is not expanding, however, is paycheques for unionized labour. Just ask the more than 450 Canadian Auto Workers union members at Caterpillar subsidiary Electro-Motive Canada in London, Ont. They refused to accept what the union says were demands to slash wages in half, along with reduced pensions and benefits.

So on Sunday, the company locked its workers out. The high-profile confrontation has galvanized Canada's long-declining labour movement, but is also seen by some as a dark sign of conflict to come at workplaces across the country.

The fight is emblematic of what is expected to be a tough year for union members in both Canada and the United States. It is expected to be the first of many such battles, as companies unnerved by the economic uncertainty in Europe, the stumbling recovery in the United States and the rise of new global competitors in China and elsewhere take a long look at what North American workers are costing them.

Canada's high dollar has also made workers here more expensive than their U.S. counterparts, never mind those in emerging markets. Persistent unemployment in both countries, plus public-sector layoffs, have also strengthened the hand of employers as contract talks get under way.

Add all that to the long decline of the labour movement in Canada and the U.S., which has seen private-sector membership slide dramatically, and you have the recipe for a disappointing year for workers hoping for some light at the end of the economic tunnel.

Bryon Mott, 28, who tests the mechanical and electrical systems on finished locomotives at the Electro-Motive plant, brought his wife and two-year-old daughter to the picket lines this week. He said the company's final offer would see his hourly wages slashed from $35 (Canadian) an hour down to $16.50.

"We've put off having more children because of this unrest," Mr. Mott said. "… This is an attack, from a profitable company, on the livelihood of working-class people."

'They are going to come tough at us'

In many ways, the tone for this year's picket-line battles is being set at the top. In the public sector, deficit-laden governments are obviously looking to civil servants for savings and major layoffs. The Conservative government in Ottawa, which showed no qualms about ordering workers at Air Canada and Canada Post back to work last year, is now in talks with unions representing 68,000 federal workers.

Tensions in Toronto between populist conservative Mayor Rob Ford and the city's combative unions have labour leaders raising the spectre of a management lockout that could paralyze the city and leave managers driving Zambonis at the city's hockey rinks. In B.C., Nova Scotia, and Ontario hundreds of thousands of health-care workers are either at the table or headed into tough bargaining.

Meanwhile, the Detroit Three auto makers are set to sit down with the CAW this year, in their first, tense talks since they were battered by the 2008 financial crisis and in the cases of General Motors and Chrysler, bailed out by taxpayers.

"I expect that they are going to come tough at us," said Ken Lewenza, national president of the CAW, who added that he feels the mutual respect between auto makers and his union, and the sacrifices workers already made in the depths of the crisis, will be positive factors in the talks.

He called the wage cuts and other proposals from Caterpillar "unprecedented" in Canadian labour history, and demanded that the federal government re-examine the sale of the plant to the U.S. company last year.

Caterpillar's move is a "terrible signal" for other unionized workers across the country, he added, but the clash is stirring unions to fight back: "The proposals at Electro-Motive have truly galvanized the labour movement."

Attempts to reach Electro-Motive for comment were unsuccessful. On its website, the company accuses the CAW of creating an "environment of uncertainty" and making "false allegations" about possible shutdown of the plant that it says are meant "to encourage violence at the London plant."

The company also says the costs of wages and benefits at the plant are "more than twice" those at its unionized factory in La Grange, Ill. Plus, it says, "antiquated work rules" have rendered the London operation inefficient. (Mr. Lewenza says the union has improved productivity at the plant.) The Caterpillar lockout, and a similar move by Rio Tinto Alcan to lock out 800 unionized workers at a smelter in Alma, Que., are clear signs that some companies, shaken by economic uncertainty and increased global competition, are expected to get more aggressive at the bargaining table.

"I think it's going to be a bad year," said Charlotte Yates, Dean of Social Sciences and a labour studies professor at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont. "Employers are emboldened. They are demanding more, they are more aggressive, they're nasty. So the pressure is way more intense than I think we've seen it in a number of years."

She added that unions, particularly in Ontario, suffer from "internal disorganization" and that the most powerful ones – the CAW and the United Steelworkers – are smarting from steep membership declines caused by the recession.

Craig Rix, a lawyer with management-side labour law firm Hicks Morley Hamilton Stewart Storie LLP in Toronto, said employers are going to be using hard bargaining, including potential lockouts, to make gains.

Wage increases were somewhat tamed during the recession. But now, he said, in addition to cutting pension and benefits costs, employers are also looking to increase flexibility and productivity by changing work rules, such as how shifts are set up.

"I fully expect employers will be looking closely at all of the tools they've got available to them to bargain hard," said Mr. Rix, a former aide to federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty when he was Ontario's labour minister.

Those talks will be extra difficult with unions that were asked to make sacrifices in the depths of the financial crisis, he added.

"I think many unions believe they made their big concessions in their last round of bargaining, as a hedge against better times," Mr. Rix said "And when they come the table this time round, the story isn't going to play out that way. Organized labour has a lot of unrealistic expectations that are going to have to be managed."

Why companies have the edge

Clearly, companies such as Caterpillar have the advantage in the coming showdown with labour. The biggest reason: there is little risk their employees will quit to take a job elsewhere. That's because anyone with a job today has good reason to hold on to it.

The North American labour market remains incredibly weak even though the U.S. recession ended more than two years ago

Canadian employers added virtually no net new jobs over the final five months of 2011. The unemployment rate was 7.5 per cent in December, up from 7.3 per cent in August – and dramatically higher than the 5.9-per-cent rate recorded at the start of 2008. Over all, Canada's economy added almost 200,000 jobs in 2011, but almost all of the hiring occurred in the first half of the year, Statistics Canada reported Friday.

There is more momentum behind hiring in the U.S., but the country is climbing out of a much deeper hole. American employers created 200,000 non-farm jobs in December, and the unemployment rate dropped to 8.5 per cent, the lowest in almost three years. For all of 2011, the U.S. economy added 1.64 million workers, the best year since 1996. Yet last year's gain barely put a dent in the almost 9 million jobs that were lost during the recession.

Speaking in Iselin, N.J., New York Federal Reserve president William Dudley called unemployment "unacceptably high," suggesting the Fed remains concerned about the economy and could try further stimulus. It is "appropriate to continue to evaluate whether we could provide additional accommodation in a manner that produces more benefits than costs," Mr. Dudley said.

Despite record profits and growing sales, Mr. Oberhelman and his peers are bracing for rough weather. The European debt crisis remains a dark cloud over the global economy, and the political paralysis that gripped Washington last year appears likely to continue as Democrats and Republicans jockey for position for November elections. China's authorities are tapping the brakes on that country's red-hot economy to keep a lid on inflation.

There's growth, but not a lot of it, so maintaining those sales will be a challenge, which is the biggest reason corporations are so reluctant to spend their money in payroll and new facilities, according to Steven Ricchiuto, chief economist at Mizuho Securities in New York. U.S. corporations held $1.24-trillion (U.S.) in cash at the end of 2010, according to Moody's Investors Service.

Executives also are bracing for more competition. The big North American, European and Japanese multinational corporations that traditionally dominate global trade are facing new challengers from countries such as China and Brazil. Mr. Oberhelman is on record saying he expects a Chinese entrant in the heavyweight class of big-machinery makers within a few years, which would put pressure on profits at Caterpillar and its current rivals, AB Volvo of Sweden and Komatsu Ltd. of Japan.

All of these factors have companies looking closely at their collective agreements for savings, over and above the gains some may have made when bargaining in the midst of the financial crisis three years ago.

It's not all doom and gloom. In some cases, manufacturing jobs are actually returning to the United States, although with some caveats. A decade ago, a company such as Caterpillar might not even bother to negotiate with its workers: It would simply pack up and go to China. But the "offshoring" trend is reversing, giving way to the relatively recent phenomenon in the U.S. of "re-shoring."

The decline in the value of the dollar is making goods priced in greenbacks cheaper in international markets. At the same time, the gap in production costs between the U.S. and Asia is narrowing. Chinese wages are rising at a pace of about 15 per cent a year, while U.S. wages are growing at an annual rate of about 2 per cent, which is less than inflation. Increased competitiveness at home is coaxing executives to open plants in the U.S. to meet domestic demand, leaving their Asian factories to meet growth in China.

"China has caused countries to get productive fast, or die," said Hal Sirkin, a Chicago-based senior partner at The Boston Consulting Group who is tracking the rebound in U.S. manufacturing. "It's just the beginning. This is a fundamental rebalancing of the economy."

At the same time, the high Canadian dollar has made what used to be a cost advantage for some Canadian workers versus their U.S. counterparts into a liability, with wages in Canadian manufacturing now outstripping those in the U.S.

Vancouver labour relations consultant David Shepherdson, author of a recent Conference Board of Canada report warning of labour strife to come, says the currency is behind much of the labour conflict.

"With the loonie at parity, much of that advantage is gone. So it puts a lot of pressure on Canadian manufacturers," Mr. Shepherdson said.

Bracing for the storm

The story of possible picket-line conflict in the coming year is not a uniform one across Canada. The resource boom in the West is continuing to push wages in Alberta and elsewhere upward, while employers wrestle not with angry workers but with acute shortages of skilled ones.

And no one is predicting a year that will see the number of hours lost to strikes or lockouts approach the bad old days of the 1970s and 1980s, when confrontational labour relations paralyzed workplaces in an era of stagflation, the puzzling mix of stagnant economic growth and runaway inflation. For the past decade, there has been only a fraction of the labour disruptions of a generation ago, and the numbers have been mostly flat from year to year.

But it could be the worst year in a while, especially in Ontario. Mr. Shepherdson said the auto talks will be a flash point, as the Detroit Three will seek to get Canadian auto workers to accept pay increases based on profits, a concept accepted by the U.S. United Auto Workers, but long resisted by the CAW. Indeed, it was behind its split from the UAW in 1984.

Other observers are more optimistic that both sides will blink, given the stakes, which remain high as the economy sputters, and find a Canadian-style compromise.

Auto industry consultant Dennis DesRosiers says he is cautiously optimistic confrontations can be avoided.

"If you look at the state of the industry, the demonstration effect of the last three years of bankruptcies and restructurings, you would think that a labour leader that cannot find middle ground would be an absolute idiot," Mr. DesRosiers said, adding that management must also remember what workers have already given up .

"The workers gave up a lot to save GM and Chrysler, and to some degree Ford," he said. "And so you'd think that now that times are improving slightly that there would be some reward for them as well."

Back on the picket line at Electro-Motive in London, however, compromise looks like a distant dream. Mr. Mott, who has worked at the company for three years after spending time at various U.S plants, said the wage cuts at his workplace and elsewhere put Canada's middle class, and the society it has created, at risk.

"These people are the ones that provide taxpayer money to governments," he said. "If we don't have these middle-class people, these programs that we all enjoy like health care and all that other stuff, libraries, we can't have them. If these corporations keep undercutting us, and moving the jobs out of the country, there's going to be nothing left."



Selected organizations, number of employees

Public Sector

Health Employers Association of B.C., 93,850

Government of Ontario, 86,640

Toronto District School Board, 35,840

Saskatchewan Association of Health Organizations, 31,920

Canada Revenue Agency, 31,620

Government of British Columbia, 29,000

Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, 25,250

Regional Health Authorities of Manitoba, 14,250

HBA Services, 13,000

Ontario Power Generation, 11,650

University of Alberta, 11,100

Peel, Ont., District School Board, 11,060

College Compensation and Appointments Council, 10,500

Government of Saskatchewan, 10,000

Government of New Brunswick, 8,000

Government of Nova Scotia, 7,700

York, Ont., Region District School Board, 7,140

Ville de Montréal, 6,860

Calgary School District No. 19, 6,520

Toronto Catholic District School Board, 6,060

Total 457,960

Private sector

Canadian Media Production Association, 28,000

General Motors of Canada, 12,080

Chrysler Canada, 8,000

Ford Motor Co. of Canada, 7,600

Real Canadian Superstore, 6,800

Brewers Retail Inc., 6,510

Food Basics franchises, 6,500

Professional Association of Canadian Theatres, 5,500

Bell Canada, 5,250

Calgary Co-operative Association Ltd., 3,200

Bombardier Aerospace, de Havilland Division, 2,600

NDT Management Association, 2,240

Hospitality Industrial Relations, 2,200

Canadian Pacific Railway, 2,050

Total 98,530

Source: HRSDC.


Trade talks for Japan opposed

Big 3 say U.S. exports could be at risk in multicountry deal

By David Shepardson - Det News
January 14, 2012

Detroit's Big Three automakers said Friday they oppose allowing Japan to enter free trade talks with the United States and nine other countries, but are open to allowing Mexico and Canada to take part.

The American Automotive Policy Council said in comments filed with the U.S. Trade Representative's Office in Washington, D.C., that it opposes Japan entering talks aimed at creating a free-trade zone with Pacific Ocean nations called the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

"A one-sided free trade agreement with Japan will drag down the United States' leading sector of exports and will deeply undermine the business case for additional auto investments in the United States while undermining the competitive gains that are allowing new jobs to be created," according to the group.

The group said Japan shouldn't be allowed to join free talks for at least two years.

"We further recommend that in advance of any consideration of allowing Japan to join the TPP, Japan needs to first demonstrate a multi-year commitment to opening its auto market to imports," the group said.

Japanese automakers note the auto imports in Japan have been rising and question whether U.S. automakers are offering the right types of vehicles to meet Japanese consumer preferences.

A free trade deal could drop tariffs on Japanese vehicles entering the United States and make it more economically viable to build vehicles in Japan and export them to the U.S. The Japanese currently pay a 2.5 percent tariff on cars and a 25 percent tariff on trucks exported from Japan to the U.S.

Japanese automakers have complained about the high value of the Japanese yen — which tends to increase the cost of their exports to the United States — and have been talking about moving production outside of the country unless the yen weakens. U.S. automakers argue such a move could amount to currency manipulation and an unfair trade practice.

Detroit's Big Three automakers said they are "open to including free trade nations like Mexico and Canada into the TPP if their joining does not significantly delay the negotiations."

The talks currently include Australia, Chile, Peru, Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia, New Zealand and Vietnam.

An agreement could help the United States by "harmonizing key rules, providing important strategic benefits by streamlining key issues on a regional basis, and raising the standard for free trade agreements in the region," the auto industry group said.

Japan is the third-largest automotive market in the world. It ranks 30th out of 30 of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development member countries in access for imported autos.

In 2010, total auto imports into Japan from the world — United States, Europe and elsewhere — were 4.5 percent, or 225,000 vehicles, in an auto market that sees nearly 5 million in annual sales.

Japanese automakers controlled more than 95 percent, or 4.7 million vehicles, of the domestic auto market.

The United States imported 5.8 million vehicles in 2010, representing more than 45 percent of the total U.S. automotive market.

"Given the systemic trade imbalance and lack of willingness to reform, a U.S. free trade agreement with Japan would only lock-in the already one-way trade relationship that Japan's closed auto market has created," the group said.


CAW Contact
Volume 42, No. 1
Jan 13, 2012

Electro-Motive Workers Day of Action on Saturday, January 21

Labour organizations from across Canada are pledging support for the nearly 500 CAW members in London, Ontario who have been locked out by Electro-Motive - a subsidiary of U.S. multinational Caterpillar.

The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) and unions such as the United Steelworkers have spoken out about the need to fight back against the massive 50 per cent wage cut and major pension and benefit concessions.

OFL leadership went to London, Ontario on January 3 and 9 to support CAW Local 27 members who are on the picket line outside the Electro-Motive Diesel locomotive plant.


The OFL has announced plans to join the CAW in mobilizing for a massive London Day of Action in support of the Electro-Motive workers on Saturday, January 21.

"These workers do not have to stand alone to stare down Caterpillar's ruthless anti-worker bulldozers," said OFL Secretary-Treasurer Nancy Hutchison. "We plan to mobilize thousands of workers to descend on this London plant to show the overwhelming support that Canadians have for decent paying domestic jobs."

CLC President Ken Georgetti wrote Prime Minister Stephen Harper on January 3 calling on the federal government to disclose the conditions of the June 2010 sale of Electro-Motive to Caterpillar.

Georgetti demanded the Investment Canada Act be changed to allow for an open and transparent process when reviewing proposed foreign takeovers.


He highlighted that foreign multinationals have routinely broken promises made to Canadians and their governments under the Investment Canada Act, citing the recent examples of Vale, which purchased Inco, Xstrata which bought Falconbridge and US Steel which purchased Stelco.

US Steel shut down its Southern Ontario operations in 2009 prompting the government to take it to court for violating terms of the government's approval of the purchase of Stelco. US Steel then locked out Stelco workers in Hamilton in 2010 with workers only returning to work after 11 months in October 2011.

"The CLC calls on your government to strengthen the Investment Canada Act through lowering the threshold for public review, ensuring public hearings are held in affected communities, and requiring publication of the reasons for decisions and conditions to be met by foreign owners," said Georgetti.

NDP MP and leadership candidate Peggy Nash brought her support to the locked out workers in a visit to the picket line January 7. Nash is calling on the federal government to strengthen the investment Canada Act-which she stresses must be changed to ensure it maintains and creates good jobs for Canadians.

The CAW has repeatedly called on the federal government to disclose the terms and commitments made during the 2010 purchase of Electro-Motive by Caterpillar, under the Investment Canada Act.

"This is a case where our members have been locked out by corporate greed," said CAW National President Ken Lewenza. "This is a serious attack on working people, their families and the greater community of London and the surrounding area. Caterpillar may be one of the richest corporations to ask for the deepest of cuts."

For more information please visit: http://www.caw.ca/en/10835.htm

Protesting Newfoundland Fish Plant Closures

More than 200 FFAW/CAW members, family and other supporters crowded in front of the Ocean Choice International offices in Paradise, Newfoundland and Labrador to protest the closure of the Marystown and Port Union fish plants.

In early December of 2011 OCI announced the closure of the two plants, which resulted in the loss of hundreds of jobs in both communities.

"Each and every time they say 'free trade,' every time they say 'deregulate,' every time they say 'give us a temporary exemption,' every time they say 'give us more,' it's never enough," CAW President Ken Lewenza was quoted in a St. John's Telegram story. Lewenza was in attendance for the January 10 rally.

Lewenza blasted the provincial government urging more leadership including passing stronger legislation to protect workers. He said the protest was about the need to manage natural resources in the interests of the people of the province, not for corporations.

FFAW/CAW President Earle McCurdy called on the provincial government to protect Newfoundland and Labrador fisheries and keep fisheries work in the province.

"We're at a fundamental turning point in terms of the history and the economy of coastal communities in this province. This is about nothing less than whether or not there will be a fish processing sector in our future in this province," he was quoted in The Telegram.

The province announced recently that it will not grant OCI a permanent exemption to minimum fish processing requirements at Newfoundland facilities for redfish or yellowtail. But the protestors were cautioned by speakers that the province may still give away the resource by piecemeal through temporary exemptions.

Canada's Employment Numbers Paint Sad Picture for 2012

Despite a gain of nearly 18,000 new jobs in December, job growth in Canada was found exclusively among those working part-time and the self-employed, a frustrating end to 2011 that offers little optimism for the year ahead, CAW President Ken Lewenza says.

"The first sign of life we've seen in our jobs market in months wasn't really a good news story after all," Lewenza said, responding to the release of Statistics Canada's Labour Force Survey jobs report.

Job growth in December was the first positive news Canadian workers received since the economy shed over 70,000 jobs between October and November. All of the December gains were found in part-time (+43,100) and self-employed (+31,100) while full-time jobs fell (-25,500).

This negative job market trend does not bode well for the 1.4 million still looking for work and the countless others who could lose their job in the coming year, especially as the Harper government and others continue to plow ahead with wrong-headed austerity plans, Lewenza said.

"It's time for governments to stop shirking responsibility over jobs in our economy and stop blaming all of our problems on the global economy," Lewenza said.

Union-Art Cartoon

Staff Appointment

CAW President Ken Lewenza has appointed Tullio DiPonti, former financial secretary of CAW Local 2458 to national staff as a service representative working out of the CAW Windsor, Ontario office, effective January 8.

Government Benefits 2012

Please click here to download the Government Benefits 2012 tables

To download this poster or for more information on the Electro-Motive lock-out, please click here:


Ford recalls 525,000 vehicles
for fire, power loss problems

By David Shepardson The Detroit News
Jan 13, 2012

Ford Motor Co. is recalling more than 270,000 Ford Escapes from the 2001-02 model years for a fire risk, and advising owners not to park in their garages until the problem is fixed.

The recall involves 274,368 Escapes due to a problem with an electrical connector in the anti-lock brakes module. The Dearborn-based automaker said Wednesday that parts to correct the problem may not be available for months.

Also Wednesday, Ford recalled 251,065 2004-05 Ford Freestars and Mercury Montereys for possible power loss due to a torque converter malfunction.

The fire-risk recall follows an investigation lasting more than two years by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration into fires in some recalled Ford Escapes.

The government says at least 86 fires were reported in Escapes that had been previously recalled and serviced.

Ford said it was calling back the popular SUVs because brake fluid might leak onto an ABS module electrical connector, which in turn could corrode and spark a fire.

The problem dates back to April 2007, when Ford called back 2001-04 Escapes to address potentially missing or misplaced seals in the wiring harness connector to the ABS module electronic control unit. Ford said electrical grease may not have been applied to some of the repaired vehicles, as it had recommended, and the SUVs may not have been properly inspected.

Ford spokesman Daniel Pierce said replacement parts are expected to be available in the second quarter of 2012. "While the reservoir cap that will be used for this repair is already available, other parts necessary to complete the repair are not available yet. We are working closely with our suppliers to accelerate all part availability," he said.

Ford is unaware of any accidents or injuries stemming from the issue, and said it has received a few reports of fire damage to property, beyond vehicles themselves.

Ford has had large recalls for fire issues in recent years.

In August, Ford recalled 1.2 million of its popular trucks in 21 states and Canada because their fuel tanks could fall to the pavement and spark a fire.

The recall covers the 1997-2003 Ford F-150 and includes 1.1 million vehicles in cold-weather states where years of corrosion could break the straps that support the gas tank, allowing it to drag to the pavement and possibly leak, which could lead to fire.

Government safety officials have received 500 complaints, including reports of three fires and one injury, a burn.

In 2010, Ford recalled 4.5 million vehicles for faulty cruise control deactivation switches that were linked to fire risks. The automaker recalled about 14 million vehicles in eight separate recalls over a 10-year period to address the issue. The vehicles had a faulty cruise control disconnect switch that can overheat and burn — potentially causing a vehicle fire long after the engine has been turned off. At least 550 fires were linked to the problem.

In Wednesday's separate torque converter recall, Ford Freestars and Mercury Montereys lose forward and reverse power. The vehicles coast and can be safely maneuvered and parked, Ford said. The NHTSA had investigated torque converter issue since September 2009. Ford insisted it shouldn't have to recall the vehicles, but said it is nonetheless recalling the models "to avoid a protracted dispute with the agency."

Ford is aware of two minor accident allegations — with minor injuries alleged in one, no injury in the other — over eight years. About 450,000 of the 525,000 cars, minivans and SUVs recalled Wednesday are in the U.S.


Analyst: GM may buy
out retiree pensions

By David Shepardson Detroit News Washington Bureau
January 12, 2012

General Motors Co. might seek to buy out the pensions of some retirees in an effort to pare its unfunded liabilities, an industry analyst said Wednesday.

Barclays auto analyst Brian Johnson, in a research note to investors, said GM had "opened the door to reducing pension liabilities through a lump-sum buyout program."

It's unclear whether that might involve hourly workers, salaried employees or both — but it would be voluntary.

Johnson said GM could target "a significant portion of the retired population" that might be willing to accept lump-sum payments in exchange for giving up lifetime pension payments.

"Even a 40 percent take rate would reduce liabilities by about $40 billion," Johnson said.

That would help the Detroit automaker reduce its large, underfunded worldwide pension plans that have concerned Wall Street and investors.

GM has global pension liabilities of $128 billion that were underfunded by $22 billion, including $12 billion in the U.S., at the end of 2010. GM Chief Financial Officer Dan Ammann told investors at a conference Tuesday that the company is considering its options.

On Wednesday, the Detroit-based automaker referred questions to Ammann's presentation, which emphasized the company has made no decisions.

"We've made very good progress but still, given the size of the liability here, we have more work to do," Ammann told investors. "We're exploring other actions."

Possible 'voluntary option'

GM has nearly $40 billion in cash on its books, and is considering what to do with it.

Some investors are worried that GM's pension plans eventually could eat up much of that.

Asked if the company is considering making a buyout offer to its estimated 500,000 union pension participants, Ammann gave no details. "There is a very strict set of guidelines as to what is and isn't possible," he said. "And as we have news to report on those, we will update you."

In a side letter to GM's four-year labor deal with the United Auto Workers union, approved in September, the company and the union opened the door to pension buyouts.

The company and the union "may mutually agree during the term of this agreement to amend the plan to add retirement options for some or all existing retirees," GM Vice President of Labor Relations Cathy Clegg wrote to Joe Ashton, the UAW official in charge of GM negotiations. The letter said it would "benefit existing retirees by providing an additional voluntary option."

GM has about 700,000 hourly and salaried pension plan participants in the United States. The UAW says a typical GM retiree receives about$18,000 a year in pension benefits. Younger retirees ineligible for Social Security get a higher pension until government payments begin.

GM's pension deficit may appear larger than in the past because of more conservative assumptions about how much its pension plan investments will grow.

One analyst told Bloomberg News in September that GM's pension shortfall could total $35 billion when the company releases its pension update, as part of fourth quarter earnings.

The Government Accountability Office said in a report in 2010 that GM's pension plans in 2007 were by far the largest in the United States: 60 percent bigger than the runner-up. GM closed and froze its salaried pension plans in 2007.

If GM hadterminated its hourly and salaried pension plans as part of its restructuring, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., the government's pension insurer, would have assume $4 billion in costs.

GM's legacy costs

GM's stock price has flagged since it went public in November 2010 and is down about 35 percent over its $33 IPO price. GM closed up 5.3 percent, or $1.23, to $24.47 on Wednesday.

When GM polled financial analysts, Ammann said, the single biggest issue of interest was its pension liabilities.

GM's so-called legacy costs weighed heavily and helped push the company into bankruptcy in 2009. In 2008, GM said it had spent $103 billion on pension and health care costs over 15 years.

In bankruptcy, it swapped some of its union retiree health care costs for company stock.

GM is still 26 percent owned by the federal government as part of its $49.5 billion bailout.

The largest of Detroit's three automakers held the line on hourly pension costs in the new contract — and won agreement with the union to close its hourly pension plan to new entrants..

Any buyout offer, Ammann said, would be governed by federal pension laws.

"I don't want to get into specific ideas or plans or actions or hypotheticals, other than to say there's a very strict set of guidelines as to what is and isn't possible and what the decision frameworks are. It's very clearly laid out," he told analysts Tuesday.

GM CEO Dan Akerson said in June that he wanted to get pensions under control. "I want to get the U.S. pension fund to fully funded and we're making real progress there," he said.


Marchionne pushes profit sharing, dismisses automatic wage hikes

Contentious issue with CAW

By Grace Macaluso,
The Windsor Star
January 11, 2012

DETROIT, MI -- Hourly wage hikes are a thing of the past and the Canadian Auto Workers union should follow the pattern set by its U.S. counterpart and accept profit sharing, Chrysler Group CEO Sergio Marchionne said Monday.

"I think automatic increases that are not connected in any way, shape or form to productivity and positioning, and improvements in positioning are outdated measures," Marchionne said in an interview on the sidelines of the North American International Auto Show.

"I would like to have our people make a lot of money when I make a lot of money at the corporate level," Marchionne said. "Let's distribute the cash. Let's also get rid of the entitlement notion that's associated with these structures."

In November, Marchionne drew the ire of the CAW after linking jobs and continued investment in Canada with concessions.

Labour costs in Canada must fall and match those in the United States if the CAW hopes to preserve Canadian jobs and investment, he said.
Marchionne is not alone in pushing for profit sharing.

General Motors Canada president and managing director Kevin Williams has said publicly in the past that profit sharing would be one way for the company to remain competitive.

The high loonie, labour and other costs have made Canada the most expensive country where it produces vehicles, he said during an interview Monday at the Detroit auto show. "It becomes a concern and we've just got to keep working with our unions and the government to make sure we can put our best foot forward."

Profit sharing versus negotiated wage increases is a contentious issue with the CAW, Williams acknowledged.

"The reality is in the United States the UAW understood that the hourly employees should participate in the upside of the company and when the company doesn't perform then, just like me and everybody else, there should be an impact as well on the other side of that, and that's the way we look at it. Obviously, those are the kinds of things that will get discussed in September when we're formally sitting at the table, even though we hopefully have some of that resolved before we even get to that."

While Marchionne softened his tone, saying he had "zero intention of threatening anybody," maintaining a higher cost structure on this side of the border would be unfair to American autoworkers.

"We cannot exclude Canada from the rest of the manufacturing world of Chrysler," he said. "It would be unfair to the people across the river. I have a plant at Jefferson that employs 5,000 people. What do we tell them?"

"I don't buy one bit of what he's saying," said Rick Laporte, president of CAW Local 444, about Marchionne's comments. "I personally think that we're much more competitive than he's giving us credit for."

He said profit sharing would not be in the best interest of the workers he represents.

"We're interested in annual increases because profit sharing doesn't do anything," Laporte said. "A lot of other benefits are based on our actual base rates, so if our base rates don't go up, our other benefits don't go up as well and we'll fall behind, there's no question."

He said Marchionne citing lack of competitiveness as a reason for manufacturing job loss is "absolutely not true."

"If you take a look at Mexico, I mean you could say the same thing about both us and the U.S. - that we're not competitive with Mexico. So when are we going to be competitive and who are we going to be competitive with next?"

CAW president Ken Lewenza said he did not want to predetermine contract talks. But he said he expected Marchionne to respect the "historical principals of contract bargaining undertaken by both the union and the company."

Chrysler employees about 9,000 hourly workers at assembly plants in Windsor and Brampton.

Marchionne said higher labour costs could continue the decline in the industry's Canadian manufacturing footprint.

"These businesses are totally interconnected," he said. "And what we've watched over the last 20 years, and I can tell you when I was living in Canada in the '60s, that we have lost a lot of the installed manufacturing base in cars. That's not something I want to continue. I just don't want to keep on shrinking the Canadian position. The only way to do that is to make sure we have a competitive set of assets in Canada."

Contract talks between the CAW and the Detroit Three automakers are expected to get underway this summer. But union officials have said that Marchionne's comments are incendiary and set the stage for a difficult set of negotiations - the first since the Auburn Hills, Mich., company emerged from bankruptcy protection.

The automaker has also enjoyed several consecutive months of higher retail sales and market share gains in Canada and the United States.
In the 2009 contract talks, autoworkers gave up about $19 an hour in benefits. Marchionne said his comments last November were blown out of proportion.

"I have said nothing since the last time I was in Toronto and people took my comments and built the phenomenal, 12-volume story around this. The only thing I said, which is something Ken Lewenza will not disagree with, I don't think, is that the Canadian system needs to be as competitive at the American side."

When asked whether wage rates have to fall, Marchionne said, "I don't know. I sincerely hope we don't have to get to that stage, but we need to stay competitive."

Industry analysts have pegged the disparity between U.S. and Canadian wage rates at about $5 an hour, although the CAW has insisted the gap amounts to no more than $1 an hour.


Ford packs lots of technology
into redesigned Fusion

By Neil Winton AutosInsider
January 10, 2012

Ford unveiled its new Fusion sedan at the Detroit Auto Show and said it will offer gasoline, hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains.

The sleek new Fusion has a new front end, which might be mistaken for a super luxury Aston Martin.

Ford has loaded the Fusion with new technology, including Lane Keeping System, adaptive cruise control and active park assist.

The mid-size new Fusion will also be sold in Europe as the Mondeo.

The New Fusion offers hybrid and plug-in hybrid alternatives, a pair of EcoBoost four-cylinder engines, a normally aspirated four-cylinder engine, an automatic start-stop system to shut off the engine at stationary idle, front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive applications, and a choice between automatic and manually shifted six-speed transmissions.

The 1.6-liter EcoBoost is expected to deliver 26 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway.

The Fusion Hybrid also features a new 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder gasoline engine which delivers fuel economy of 47 mpg in city driving and 44 mpg on the highway. The Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid should deliver the equivalent of 100 mpg.

The next-generation Fusion 1.6-liter is the first automatic-transmission Ford product offered with an automatic start-stop system. It shuts off engine power when the car is stopped and restarts as the driver releases the brake pedal.

Other high technology options include Lane Keeping, which alerts the driver if the computer senses the car is drifting out of its lane. There is also Adaptive Cruise Control, which slows the car down when it is getting too close to the car in front, Active Park Assist and Blind Spot Information.

The Fusion will be produced at Ford's Hermosillo, Mexico, factory, soon adding production at the AutoAlliance International Plant in Flat Rock. The car will appear in Ford showrooms in North America and South America later this year. The Mondeo will be introduced next year in Asia and Europe.

Ford Motor Co. Executive Chairman Bill Ford, in a speech unveiling the Fusion at the Detroit Auto Show, said the company had made environmental responsibility a key policy for Ford. In the last year, Ford's CO2 emissions have been cut by 10 percent. He said 12,000 new jobs would be created in the U.S. this year because of the Fusion.

The Fusion will compete in the highly competitive midsize sector against the Honda Accord, Chevrolet Malibu, Hyundai Sonata, Nissan Altima and Toyota Camry.

Last year Ford sold 248,000 Fusions, its best sales year ever.


Pension troubles in store for
retired workers as plans
across Canada face deficits

Ellen Sargent's pension indexing might be eliminated because of municipal funding shortfalls.

Toronto Star
Kenyon Wallace
January 9, 2012

When Ellen Sargent took a job as a purchaser with the City of Saint John in New Brunswick 26 years ago, she didn’t expect that living below the poverty line when she retired would become a possibility.

Like most municipal employees across Canada, Sargent was promised an indexed pension by the city as part of the terms of her contract — a pension that both she and the city would contribute to over the course of her employment.

But now the 55-year-old widowed retiree is facing the prospect of having to subsist on her $25,000 annual pension without it increasing to meet the rising cost of living.

That’s because the City of Saint John is struggling with a $165 million funding shortfall in its pension plan, and is attempting to make a number of contentious changes, including suspending pension indexing, to close the gap.

“Let’s say you took a job with a starting salary of $50,000 and 20 years later, you were still making that. How would you survive when the cost of everything keeps going up?” Sargent said from her Saint John home. “I might be able to survive on my pension until my 60s, but if I don’t get that little bit of indexing every year, 20 years from now, I’m definitely going to be under the poverty line.”

Sargent contributed 9 per cent of her income every year — which the city was supposed to match — during the course of her career, and said she finds it disheartening that benefits that were promised to employees could now be cancelled.

“When you enter an agreement when you take employment, you don’t expect that agreement to be taken away.”

The pension woes facing Saint John’s retired workers aren’t unique. Both private and government-sponsored pension plans across the country are facing deficits as a result of falling stock market returns, historically low interest rates and changing demographics.

The stock market crash of 2008 drastically reduced the value of the assets in many plans, creating huge deficits that reached into the billions for some — a predicament that will take many years from which to recover. Many pension plans saw losses of up to 20 per cent of the value of their assets between 2008 and 2009.

Shortfalls occur when a company or organization with a defined benefit pension plan does not have enough money to cover the plan’s obligations to retirees. Pension administrators are legally obligated to make up these deficits over time. To assist pension plans after the 2008 crash, most provincial governments extended the five-year period for making up deficits to 10 years.

Ontario’s municipal employee pension plan, OMERS, which serves more than 400,000 members, retirees and survivors, found itself with a funding deficit of $4.5 billion in 2010, up from a shortfall of $1.5 billion the year before. The fund estimates that it won’t return to a surplus position until 2025 — even with temporary contribution increases and benefit reductions.

The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, the largest single-profession pension plan in Canada with assets of more than $107 billion, experienced a funding shortfall of $17.2 billion in 2010. This was attributed to a number of factors, including retirees collecting pensions for more years than they worked, low interest rates and payouts exceeding contributions by nearly $2 billion annually.

To help address the deficits, many plans have increased contribution rates for employees, reduced or eliminated guaranteed indexation of retirement benefits, and even considered raising the retirement age.

In Saint John, city workers have agreed, in principle, to a two-year wage freeze, an increase in the contribution rate, and a temporary suspension of indexing. But because pensions in New Brunswick are governed by provincial law, no reforms can be made without a change to legislation. The city has asked MLAs to convene a special January sitting to address the issue, instead of waiting for the regular spring session to begin in March, but so far no plans have been made to change the schedule.

“We can’t look at the worst case scenario,” said Saint John Mayor Ivan Court. “We’d be losing a lot of jobs and the scenarios are terrible if you consider the cuts in services that would have to take place if the province doesn’t allow us to make these changes.”

Ending cost of living increases for current employees and suspending indexing for retirees would save about $75 million. But if the provincial government doesn’t agree to Saint John’s proposals, the city says it would have to cut services and raise properties taxes by more than $200 per year — and even these measures might not cover the pension shortfall.

Quebec is experiencing similar problems. Over the past year, Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay has been publicly ruminating on reforming the city’s 28 pension plans by negotiating with unions, and recently Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume called for a provincewide debate on public sector pensions.

The cost of Montreal’s pension funds have risen to $600 million this year, up from $130 million in 2005, while the average city employee will retire with an annual pension of $35,000 at age 55.

“This is a city with major infrastructure problems and instead of investing money into the services taxpayers would like, it’s been forced to divert money into pensions,” said Bill Tufts, a Hamilton benefits consultant and co-author, with Lee Fairbanks, of Pension Ponzi: How Public Sector Unions are Bankrupting Canada’s Health Care, Education and Your Retirement.

“The impact on the public sector pensions and the commitment that taxpayers have to funding them means they can only be funded by raising taxes, taking on debt or cutting services.”

To alleviate pension pressures on municipal budgets, Tufts argues that retirement ages should be raised to 65, the same age that Canada Pension Plan payments kick in, to give workers more time to contribute. He also says defined benefit plans, in which the pensions are set in advance according to a formula and guaranteed, should be converted to defined contribution plans in which only the amount of money workers and companies put into the plan is set.

Finally, employees and their employers should contribute equally, he says. In Montreal, for example, the city covers about 70 per cent of annual contributions, while employees make up the remaining 30 per cent.

“It’s important that pensions are fair for those entitled to them but the also must be fair to the taxpayers who are funding them,” he said.

For their part, unions argue that civil service pensions are, among other things, compensation for the fact that most public service jobs pay less than the private sector. Sargent earned $52,000 in her last year of service, and paid 9 per cent of that into her pension plan.

The irony of the situation is that most Canadians don’t have pensions — only about 6 million workers in this country are members of employer pension plans, according to Statistics Canada. And those with defined contribution plans can expect to work to age 67 to make ends meet during retirement, according to pension consultants Tower Watson.

“We’re in a world of public sector debt,” said Ian Markham, a senior actuary with Towers Watson. “When you add all the debt up, we’ve got a fairly high debt to GDP ratio in Canada. How will that get mitigated? I’m afraid one source might be pensions. I think taxpayers have certainly got the right to question how public sector workers are getting remunerated.”

Pensions by the numbers

1.08: Market value, in trillions of dollars, of Canadian employer-sponsored pension funds in 2011.

6: Number of Canadians, in millions, who are members of employer pension plans.

2,790: The median contribution, in dollars, made by Canadians to their RRSPs in 2010.

58: Typical retirement age of a career teacher in Ontario.

46,000: Annual starting pension, in dollars, of a typical career teacher in Ontario.

Sources: Statistics Canada, OTPP


Ronald Richard Brown
Ron Brown
Retired July 1, 2000
30 Years Service

Passed on: January 4th, 2012

Passed peacefully away on January 4, 2012 at the Dr. Walter Templeman Hospital, Ronald Richard Brown, age 69 years, of Bell Island, NL. Leaving to mourn with loving memories his dear wife of 43 years Marjorie (Butler) and children: Christine (Scott), Ron (Wanda) and a very special granddaughter Dana Cummings. Predeceased by his parents Gladys and Peter Brown, brother John Edward. Leaving to mourn brothers: Jim, Kelligrews, Brendan (Jane), Ontario, Mike (Phyllis), Ontario, Tom (Janet), Bell Island, Peter, Bell Island and Shawn (Catherine), Halifax; sisters: Annie Brown, Foxtrap, Rita Kennedy, Holyrood, Joan Hickey, Mt. Pearl, Theresa Lahey, Chamberlains, Doreen (Angelo), Ontario; a large number of nieces, nephews, as well as many other relatives and friends. Resting at Pendergast's Funeral Home, Bell Island on Thursday 2-4 p.m. for Family and 7-9 p.m., Friday 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. Funeral to take place on Saturday, January 7, at 2:00 p.m. at St. Michael's Church, Bell Island


Ford to open Silicon Valley lab

By Dee-Ann Durbin Associated Press
Jan 7, 2011

Ford Motor Co. is the latest automaker to open a research lab in Silicon Valley, where it hopes to scout out new technology and keep ahead of trends.

The company said Friday that it plans to open the lab near Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., in the first few months of this year. It will employ around 15 people, including some recruited locally and others who will rotate in from Ford's headquarters in Dearborn.

Ford's Chief Technical Officer Paul Mascarenas said the company decided about a year ago that it needed a bigger presence in Silicon Valley.

"This is a very natural extension into one of the most innovative communities in the world," he said.

He said the lab will work on ways to better integrate phones and other personal devices into cars, as well as safety systems that alert drivers when they're approaching another car.

The lab will also solicit and test applications from independent programmers. One app Ford is currently studying can find an open parking space and reserve it. Another would improve weather reporting by transmitting signals when a car's rain-sensing wipers are triggered.

Mascarenas said the lab will also study larger issues, including population growth in developing countries like China and India, and how best to handle traffic in those countries.

The lab will work with Ford headquarters as well as its design studio in Southern California and its office at Microsoft Corp. in Washington. Microsoft and Ford jointly developed Ford's Sync voice-activated entertainment system and My Ford Touch touch-screen dashboard.

But Mascarenas said it's important that the lab be in Silicon Valley — not Dearborn — so employees feel free to experiment.

Ford joins several other automakers that have similar offices in Silicon Valley, including General Motors Co., BMW AG and the Renault-Nissan alliance.

K. Venkatesh Prasad, a senior technical leader at Ford who will commute between Dearborn and the new office, said Ford considered opening a Silicon Valley office in the past but the technology wasn't ready. Now, he said, the Sync platform makes it easier and faster to reprogram the car and update it with new applications. Ford introduced Sync four years ago




Ford is top-selling automaker in Canada for two consecutive years

F-Series top-selling vehicle in Canada

OAKVILLE, Ont., January 5, 2011 –Ford Motor Company of Canada, Limited finished the year as best-selling manufacturer in the industry for the second consecutive year. The F-Series remains the top-selling pickup truck in Canada as it hits 46 continuous years. It is also the top-selling vehicle in Canada for a second year in-a-row. The popularity of F-150 was powered by the new V6 EcoBoost engine, selling more than 24,000 units (34%) since the product launched last year.

"Full-sized trucks are experiencing record-breaking sales in Canada," said Scott Cauvel, vice president of sales, Ford of Canada. "Consumers don’t have to sacrifice space and fuel economy in their trucks."

In 2011, car sales were up 14 per cent, driven by the Ford Fiesta and the launch of the sleek new 2012 Ford Focus. Total vehicle sales rose 3 per cent, as a result of strong SUV and CUV sales. The Ford Explorer sales increased 119 per cent, and Ford Escape was up 3 per cent. Building on this momentum, the all-new 2013 Escape hits showrooms in the spring. With a new design, smarter technologies and fuel efficient engine options, the 2013 Escape is the smarter utility vehicle.

Ford sales were number one in December, as truck sales increased 4 per cent, driven by strong F-Series sales. F-150 sales rose 36 per cent, Taurus sales increased 11 per cent and Explorer sales jumped 101 per cent.

"We are optimistic that the Canadian auto industry will continue to grow in 2012," said Cauvel. "Ford is well-positioned to take advantage of this growth, offering a full line-up of fuel-efficient vehicles, including our first Ford Focus Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV)."

Fuel economy has become a key purchase consideration for consumers and Ford is committed to delivering fuel-efficient vehicles without sacrificing performance and capability; resulting in the upcoming launch of C-MAX Hybrid and Energi, Focus Electric and Escape. Ford continues to invest in EcoBoost engines and other fuel-efficient vehicles giving consumers the power of choice.



Ford unveils compact SUV in India ahead of global introduction

President and CEO, Ford Motor Company Alan Mullaly previews the new Ford EcoSport car in New Delhi on January 4. (MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images)

By Siddharth Philip - Bloomberg News
January 4, 2012

Ford Motor Co., the second-largest U.S. automaker, unveiled a compact sport-utility vehicle in India ahead of introducing the model in about 100 markets across the world.

The automaker plans to target production of more than 2 million units of so-called B-segment small cars, including the EcoSport SUV, by the middle of this decade, Ford said in a statement as Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally introduced the vehicle in New Delhi Wednesday. Ford will manufacture the EcoSport at its plant in Chennai, in southern India, the company said.

The South Asian nation may become one of Ford's three biggest markets by 2020, Joe Hinrichs, president for Asia-Pacific, said in New Delhi Wednesday. Mulally, who has revived Ford by focusing on quality and fuel economy in new models such as the Fiesta subcompact and redesigned Explorer SUV, expects the EcoSport to win it more customers.

"The Indian market is a tremendous market for us," Mulally said at press conference. "This vehicle offers the flexibility, reliability and quality of a compact car with the gait and roominess of an SUV."

Ford's India unit will have a capacity to make 440,000 vehicles annually by 2014, Hinrichs said. The local unit will spend $142 million on making EcoSport available in India, he said, without providing the price of the SUV or saying when sales will start.

Ford will be showcasing the EcoSport at the New Delhi auto show this week. This is the second of eight new models the Dearborn automaker plans to introduce in India by 2015 in a bid to boost its presence in Asia's second-fastest growing major economy.

The EcoSport will feature a 1-liter, three-cylinder, direct-injected EcoBoost engine, according to a statement.

Ford, which got 58 percent of its third-quarter revenue from North America, is adding more models and expanding its sales network in India to boost growth. The automaker has 220 outlets in the country, up from about 170 in June, Michael Boneham, the president of Ford's India unit said Wednesday.

The company introduced its first small car in India in 2010. The 1.2-liter Figo helped almost triple deliveries to 95,395 in the year ended March 31. That ranked Ford behind Maruti Suzuki India Ltd., Hyundai Motor Co. and Tata Motors Ltd. in passenger car sales, according to data from the manufacturers group.

In 2011, Ford's local sales rose 15 percent to 96,270 units, the company said Jan. 2 in an emailed statement.
In July, Ford announced it would spend $757 million on a second car factory in India to cut shipment time to the northern part of the country and access ports on the nation's west coast.

The factory, which will be ready by 2014, will have an initial capacity to make 240,000 cars and 270,000 engines annually in the western state of Gujarat. Ford has a plant near Chennai in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, where it makes the Figo hatchback, the Fiesta sedan and Endeavour SUV models.

Sales of cars in India have slowed as higher borrowing costs deterred buyers in a country where industry researcher IHS Automotive estimates almost 80 percent of car purchases are funded with bank loans.

The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers may cut its annual domestic passenger-car sales target as higher borrowing costs and fuel prices sap demand, Sugato Sen, a senior director for the group, said on Dec. 8. The group had earlier forecast sales growth of 2 percent to 4 percent, compared with 30 percent expansion in the year ended March 31.


U.S. auto industry to post
another good sales year

By Tom Krisher  - Associated Press
January 4, 2012

Detroit— After hitting a 30-year low in 2009, U.S. auto sales are poised for a second straight year of growth — the result of easier credit, low interest rates and pent-up demand for cars and trucks created by the Great Recession.

The sales forecast bodes well for the industry's continued recovery and for the broader American economy.

In 2009, Detroit automakers were in peril. Car sales plunged as unemployment soared, and loans became harder to get. Chrysler and General Motors filed for bankruptcy protection. Ford avoided bankruptcy only by borrowing billions.

Now credit is more available, interest rates are low and Americans need to replace old cars and trucks they kept during and after the downturn. Millions of drivers in their teens and 20s are expected to buy vehicles, too. That could mean more jobs, more factory shifts and overall growth.

Vince Powell, a retiree from Winfield, Pa., recently traded in his wife's 7-year-old Chrysler 300 luxury sedan for a 2011 model. The old car had 145,000 miles on it, but it was the deal he got that most attracted him: a low interest rate (2.7 percent per year), a six-year loan term and a big discount off the $31,900 sticker price.

"I'm getting a $300 per month payment," he said just before closing the sale at Beaver Motors in Beaver Springs, Pa., near Harrisburg. "I've never had a new car for 300 bucks a month."

In their effort to survive, all three automakers downsized and positioned themselves to turn profits — even if sales remained depressed. Now that sales are rising, the outlook has brightened considerably.

Automakers report U.S. sales for 2011 on Wednesday. When final figures are calculated, sales of new cars and trucks are expected to reach 12.7 million, up from 11.5 million in 2010 and 10.4 million in 2009, the worst year since 1982.
In 2012, they could climb as high as 13.8 million, close to what experts consider a healthy market — around 14 million.

December sales could reach an annual rate of 13.4 million, which would make it the second-strongest month of the year. Only November was better. Auto website Edmunds.com forecasts a 37 percent rise in sales at Chrysler Group LLC in December, thanks to new and revamped products such as the Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV and the Chrysler 200 midsize sedan.

Carmakers have announced plans to crank up factories and add thousands of jobs. Last January, Ford said it would hire 7,000 workers over the next two years. During the summer, GM said it would add 2,500 at the Detroit factory that makes the Chevrolet Volt electric car. Volkswagen hired 2,000 for a new plant in Tennessee, and Honda added 1,000 in Indiana. The industry will add 167,000 jobs by 2015, a 28 percent increase over current levels, predicts The Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich.

During the summer, the auto industry was adding jobs at a faster pace than airplane manufacturers, shipbuilders, health care providers and the federal government. It kept adding jobs even when the national unemployment rate rose above 9 percent, Standard & Poor's downgraded U.S. debt for the first time and the stock market tumbled.

Government estimates show Americans spent roughly $40 billion more on new cars and trucks in 2011 than in 2009. Based on annualized figures from the first quarter of 2011, new-car spending totaled $206 billion, or 1.3 percent of the gross domestic product, Commerce Department data shows. That compares with $166 billion in 2009, about 1.2 percent of the country's economy.

And the momentum in auto sales is likely to continue because people need to replace aging cars, said Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting for LMC Automotive, an automotive consulting company in Troy, Mich. The average American car is now 11 years old.

U.S. auto sales peaked at 17 million in 2005, when Detroit's automakers were much bigger and overproduced cars that they were forced to discount heavily. Sales could eventually reach that level again around 2018, said Schuster, because of 70 million so-called millennials born between 1981 and 2000 who need to set up households and buy cars.

Other trends emerged in 2011. Many people bought smaller vehicles as gas prices hit a record average of $3.53 per gallon. Fuel-efficient compact cars, which have been vastly improved by automakers, are likely to unseat the midsize sedan as America's favorite passenger car for the first time in 20 years.

At the other extreme, pickups rebounded as businesses started to replace older trucks. Sales for the year were expected to rise 11 percent, and Ford's F-Series will remain the country's top-selling model, a title it has held for more than three decades.

For much of the year, U.S.-based automakers took advantage of Japanese car shortages to increase sales, especially in the compact car segment normally dominated by the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. Japanese companies ran short of popular models after an earthquake and tsunami disrupted production in Japan in March.

Ford, GM and Chrysler saw their combined share of the U.S. market rise by 200,000 cars and trucks between the end of 2010 and November, 2011. The Detroit Three's market share rose from 45.1 percent last year to 47 percent through November of last year. At the same time, Honda's share fell 1.6 percentage points to 9 percent, while Toyota's dropped 2.5 percentage points to 12.7 percent.

Schuster expects Japanese carmakers to take back some of the sales they lost.

Geoff Pohanka, who runs a chain of car dealers in the Washington area, said his December has been strong, thanks especially to the restocking of cars at his Honda and Toyota showrooms. He predicts Japanese car companies will offer incentives to regain lost sales.


Big 3 find different
paths to big changes

Akerson, from left, Marchionne and Mulally (File photos)

Corporate cultures diverge, but CEOs all embrace quick action

January 3, 2012
By Bryce G. Hoffman The Detroit News

Two years after American automakers experienced the most wrenching restructuring in their collective history, there is still plenty of churn roiling Detroit's heavyweights.

General Motors Co. CEO Dan Akerson is exporting his aggressive management style across the Atlantic, shaking up the leadership of GM's German subsidiary, Adam Opel AG, and signaling a once-and-for-all fix is coming for GM in Europe.

Chrysler Group LLC CEO Sergio Marchionne ousted Fiat's North American brand chief and is driving a quickening product renaissance that is surprising both analysts and competitors.

And speculation is swirling in Dearborn about who will succeed Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally — even if the likelihood of that happening anytime soon is remote, at least according to ranking Ford executives.

All of this speaks to the transformations still very much under way inside each automaker, and to the very different corporate cultures that have developed at the three corporations in the wake of their near-death experiences.

"All three companies are trying to move more decisively at the top," said David Cole, chairman emeritus of the Center for Automotive Research. "All three are very different from old Detroit."

Maybe that is because all three companies are being led by outsiders.

GM's Akerson is a former investment banker who was tapped by the federal government to help the bankrupt automaker find its way back to sustained profitability. He took over GM 15 months ago and immediately began shaking up things in the Renaissance Center. Akerson sacked or reassigned one veteran GM executive after another — often doing the same to their successors when they, too, failed to achieve his goals.

"This place lacked a lot of vision," Akerson recently told the New York Times. "They were all over the map. Where was the vision? Where do you want to take this company?"

Cole says General Motors needed Akerson's tough-love approach. Despite going bankrupt and appealing to the American taxpayers for a bailout, GM remained bureaucratic and unwilling to accept its many shortcomings.

"There was almost a historic level of arrogance," Cole said. "GM needed pruning."

While some industry observers worried Akerson was going too far with his serial sackings and reassignments, Cole said the new CEO began taking a more circumspect approach as he began to appreciate the talent that still toiled inside the corporation.

"Akerson has learned to tread more carefully with manufacturing and product development," he said.

"He came into this thinking that GM was an organization that was just in rotten shape, and he's found out that it's in better shape than he thought it was."

Marchionne sends message

Marchionne's revolution was far less bloody. After the initial shakeup that followed Chrysler's forced marriage to Italy's Fiat SpA in 2009, he left the company's leadership ranks largely intact. But the calm in Auburn Hills was shattered last month by the very public axing of Fiat's North American brand chief, Laura Soave.

Her dismissal was all about accountability, according to a source close to Marchionne. He recognized that the sales targets for the Fiat 500 were overly ambitious, but once an executive agreed to certain goals, Marchionne expected him — or her — to achieve them.

Marchionne believes there were too many excuses in the old Chrysler. The message of Soave's firing is that none will be tolerated in the new one.

"The ceremonial execution really sends a strong message to the other executives about accountability," Cole said. "People have to be realistic and not excessively optimistic. There was too much of that in the old Detroit."

Cole says a strong hand was needed to make Chrysler a viable company once again.

"He's a dictator, but that's exactly what we had to have in order to merge Fiat and Chrysler," he said. "If you let that occur in a slow, democratic way, that would have taken far too long."
Mulally builds team

Ford has seen less drama at the top of the house than Chrysler — at least since Mulally was hired to lead a turnaround of the struggling automaker.

When Mulally arrived in Dearborn in September 2006, many observers expected a wholesale bloodletting. But the former Boeing executive brought in none of his own people. Instead, he concentrated on forging a team from Ford's notoriously fractious executive ranks — a team that could win.

"Alan is the classic coach," Cole said. "He had talented people at Ford, but they were killing one another. He realized the most important thing was building a cohesive team that could lead the company into the future."

Mulally did that by implementing a process that encouraged collaboration while holding each executive accountable for their own areas of the business. In his now-famous Thursday morning meetings, Ford's executives briefed one another on the company's progress and worked together to find solutions to problems as they arose.

As a result, Ford is now the most stable of Detroit's automakers, according to analyst Himanshu Patel of JPMorgan.

"There's no doubt they're running the business extremely well now," he said during a recent presentation on the state of the industry.
Despite all the speculation about who will replace him when he ultimately does step down, Mulally focused more on strengthening Ford's entire bench rather than grooming a successor.

Cole believes Mulally's approach is the one all three companies must embrace in the long run.

"The coach model is the enduring one," he said.

Dan Akerson
General Motors Co.
Hired: 2010
Previous job: Managing director of Carlyle Group
Age: 63
Recent examples of management style:
Replaced head of underperforming Opel advisory board with U.S. executive
Surprised company with offer to buy back Volts from concerned customers

Sergio Marchionne
Chrysler Group LLC; Fiat SpA
Hired: 2004 (Fiat); became head of Chrysler in 2009
Age: 59
Previous job: CEO of Fiat
Recent examples of management style:
Sacked head of Fiat in North America after she failed to meet sales targets
Wrested more favorable contract terms from UAW than rivals

Alan Mulally
Ford Motor Co.
Hired: 2006
Age: 66
Previous job: President of Boeing's commercial airplanes group
Recent examples of management style:
Declined to address succession speculation
Praised "the team" for restoring dividend payments


Ford brand's U.S. sales top 2
million for first time since 2007

A 2012 Ford Focus and a 2012 Ford Fiesta at the Maroone Ford of Miami dealership in Miami. Smaller cars are on pace for a sales increase of more than 20 percent this year, Ford said today. (Wilfredo Lee / Associated Press)

Sat December 31, 2011
By Mark Clothier Bloomberg News

Ford Motor Co. said its namesake brand exceeded 2 million U.S. sales for the first year since 2007, led by gains for models such as the Fiesta small car and revamped Explorer sport-utility vehicle.

Smaller cars such as the Fiesta and Focus are on pace for a sales increase of more than 20 percent this year while light trucks that include the Explorer, Escape SUV and F-150 pickup may rise at least 30 percent, the Dearborn-based company said Friday in a statement.

Ford, the second-largest U.S. automaker, is benefiting from an auto market that rose 10 percent through November from a year earlier. The company's sales also got a boost from vehicles such as the Fiesta, which debuted in the U.S. in June 2010 and has more than tripled this year through last month, and the Explorer, which has more than doubled.

"The industry sales rate has exceeded 13 million in each of the last three months," Ken Czubay, Ford's vice president for U.S. sales and marketing, said in the statement. "This suggests the current momentum is not an aberration."

Ford-brand sales gained 18 percent to 1.86 million through November, compared with 1.76 million for all of 2010. Ford's total U.S. sales through November increased 11 percent.

The automaker reported net income of $6.6 billion in this year's first nine months. Ford gained consumer consideration as it managed to avoid the bankruptcies that befell its U.S. rivals in 2009. The company borrowed $23.4 billion in late 2006 before credit markets froze, giving it the cash to weather the recession and invest in new models.

Ford rose 0.5 percent to $10.73 at 10:39 a.m. in New York. The shares had fallen 36 percent this year before Friday.



UAW organizing drive targets
VW, Daimler in U.S.

December 30, 2011

DETROIT/HAMBURG (Reuters) -- The UAW is staking its future on the kind of struggle it hasn't waged since the 1930s: a massive drive to organize hostile factories.

This time, the target is foreign car makers, whose workers have rebuffed the union repeatedly. Specifically, Reuters has learned, the union is going after U.S. plants owned by German manufacturers Volkswagen AG and Daimler AG, seen as easier nuts to crack than the Japanese and South Koreans.

The stakes are high. By failing to organize factories run by foreign automakers, the union has been a spectator to the only growth in the U.S. auto industry in the last 30 years. That failure to win new members has compounded a crunch on the UAW's finances, forcing it to sell assets and dip into its strike fund to pay for its activities.

In dozens of interviews with union officials, organizers and car company executives, a picture has emerged of UAW President Bob King's strategy. By appealing to German unions for help and by calling on the companies to do the right thing, King hopes to get VW and Daimler to surrender without a fight and let the union make its case directly to workers.

Central to this effort is the belief that if car companies refrain from actively opposing a UAW organizing push, workers at German-American factories will gladly join the union.

But that belief may be off-base. Workers know that almost every job lost at U.S. car factories in the last 30 years has occurred at a unionized company, while almost every job gained has come at a non-union company. And most of the factories the UAW is targeting are in the South, which is historically hostile to unions.

"People have a different opinion in the South about unions," said Robert Plisko, a retired autoworker who helped UAW organizing efforts at German and Japanese plants in the 1970s and 1980s. "It's a lot harder now than it has ever been, and I don't see it getting any easier."

German auto executives declined to talk in detail about the UAW's push. Privately, they remain wary of the union and its confrontational past. "They view the UAW as a disaster," said a Wall Street banker who has worked extensively with the industry.

King dismisses sceptics of his plan, but on one point he agrees with his fiercest critics: If the UAW fails to crack the transplants, as it calls foreign car factories in the United States, the union has no future. "I have said that repeatedly, and I believe it," he said in one of several interviews.
This do-or-die imperative helps explain why his offensive sometimes feels passive.

In early December, the UAW's executive board convened at its riverfront headquarters in Detroit in a room outfitted with Swedish mid-century furniture. King, 65, had set a goal of winning one of the organizing battles by year end, and auto executives expected him to ratchet up the pressure by naming a target. But by the end of the meeting King concluded that naming a target would be seen as a hostile act and could undo the progress made behind the scenes with VW and Daimler.

"It really is ultimately up to the companies," King told Reuters after the meeting.

Whatever the outcome, King's march through the South will be a milestone in U.S. labor history. Famous for winning hard-fought campaigns at General Motors, Chrysler and, eventually, Ford between 1937 and 1941, the UAW was once one of the mightiest unions -- and political forces -- in the country.
But its membership has fallen 75 percent in the past three decades, and in 2006 it started dipping into its strike fund. If it fails to boost its ranks, the richest union in the United States will hit a cash crunch.

Winning over 'heathens'

A decade ago, King led a campaign to organize a union at a Nissan plant in Smyrna, Tenn.

As part of the campaign, Nissan employee Chet Konkle recalls visiting hundreds of workers in their homes. He sat in their kitchens, shook their hands and asked for signatures on union cards.

"Sometimes I felt like I was a Baptist preacher trying to win over the heathens," he said of his efforts as a labor evangelist in a southern state.

In October 2001, Nissan workers rejected the union by a two-to-one vote, with hundreds defecting from the UAW cause. For Konkle, that was an epiphany. "The UAW in its current form is on its deathbed," he said.

Now 47, Konkle leads a team that cuts waste at the plant and which is credited with saving over $10 million for Nissan.

Tennessee is once again a union battleground. At the geographical midpoint of a band of foreign auto factories stretching from Texas (Toyota) to Ohio (Honda), the state has worked hard for its piece of the U.S. auto industry.

In 1979, Gov. Lamar Alexander flew to Tokyo to meet with Nissan executives, showing them a picture of the United States with the Eastern seaboard lit up. When they asked where Tennessee was, Alexander recalled pointing to a relatively dark spot "right in the middle of the lights." Tennessee looked like an industrial blank slate within a short ride of a big market. Nissan also liked the state's law preventing mandatory union membership, he said.

A quarter century later, when VW was looking for a place to build a new plant, Alexander again made the case for Tennessee, this time as a member of the U.S. Senate. As part of the charm offensive, the state's junior senator, Republican Bob Corker, invited VW executives to his home, where Alexander serenaded them on the piano.

The offensive worked. In July 2008, VW announced that it would invest $1 billion to build a plant near Chattanooga, the city where Corker had been mayor until 2005.

That plant is now at the top of the UAW's list. King traveled to Chattanooga himself in late November to meet with workers sympathetic to the union.

"The German companies have a better history of recognizing workers' rights around the world," King said.

But in a state with 9 percent unemployment, the task is daunting. For 2,500 jobs paying $30,000 a year, VW turned away 83,000 hopefuls at Chattanooga, which started up this year. Statistically, an applicant to Harvard University had a better chance of admission.

On the site of an old munitions depot, the plant is gleaming new, and a natural creek flows through the property. There is no obvious sign of the stresses that can drive workers to organize.

Rodney Barrett, a 42-year-old production worker, said there was no need for a union. "Things would have to change drastically for me to change my mind," he said in an interview arranged by VW.

The German connection

Even some UAW officials concede that, if it comes to a vote at an automaker that is hostile to the UAW, the union will lose. Instead, the goal is to convince the automakers to open their doors and let the union make its case at town hall meetings.

That approach helped the UAW organize parts supplier Dana Holding Corp. in 2007, including a plant in Kentucky that had voted the union down four years earlier.

Key to winning that kind of cooperation is the backing of the German union IG Metall, union leaders say.

In recent months, King has traveled to Germany to meet with IG Metall. In August, a pair of German union officials visited a Mercedes SUV factory in Vance, Ala., another plant the UAW is focusing on. In November, representatives of both unions met again at a summit of union leaders in India.

IG Metall, which wants to keep the United States from becoming a cheap-labor alternative to Germany, is also helping the United Steelworkers try to organize a ThyssenKrupp steel plant that opened in Alabama last year.

"We will support the UAW, but we will not do the UAW's work," said Peter Donath, an IG Metall official.

Three workers are pictured in the Volkswagen Rabbit plant in Westmoreland, Pa.

Back in 1978, IG Metall helped the UAW organize the first big foreign factory in the United States, VW's Westmoreland Assembly Plant in Pennsylvania. 

In that instance, a former senior VW executive recalled, IG Metall told VW to look favourably on the UAW's efforts. The message was, "Help them organize, or else," said the former executive, who asked not to be identified.

King is eager to show IG Metall and the foreign automakers that a new UAW has emerged from the wreckage of Detroit and that the union can be a better partner with management. He points to new contracts with U.S. automakers as an example of the UAW's flexibility.

But the GM contract alone runs to over 1,800 pages. IG Metall has proposed that the UAW agree to work rules for up to 15 years with the German automakers, which would be a radical break from laborious plant-by-plant negotiations every four years.

In public, VW executives maintain their neutrality on whether the UAW should represent its workers. But they note that workers already take part in corporate decisions, under policies first enforced by British military officers in Germany after World War II.

"Volkswagen has proven good at this," VW CEO Martin Winterkorn told Reuters in September.

VW managers also have more recent history in mind.

The company closed its Westmoreland plant in Pennsylvania in 1988, in part because of flagging demand for the VW Rabbit and its successor, the Golf. Unauthorized walkouts in the first two years and chants of "No money, no bunny" left a bitter taste.

If he had the chance again, the former VW executive said, he would have argued to build that plant somewhere in the South.

Daimler, too, maintains an impartial stance. "Our legal requirement is to remain neutral in these questions. That's what we are," Chairman Dieter Zetsche told Reuters.

But Daimler has its own history with the UAW. In 2006, Zetsche pleaded with the union for concessions at Chrysler, before giving up and selling the company the next year. The UAW already represents workers at Daimler's Freightliner truck plants in several states, including North Carolina. Its Mercedes installation in Alabama is Daimler's only other plant in the United States.

'It will not be easy'

Other companies are more overtly hostile. Hyundai, Honda and Nissan have not taken King up on his offer for talks, people close to the effort say.
Hyundai Vice Chairman Yoon Yeo-cheol was blunt when asked about the chances for the UAW at its plant in Montgomery, Alabama. "It will not be easy," he told reporters in Seoul. "Hyundai employees there don't like it."

The UAW knows it has a fight with Hyundai ahead.

Late last month, the union sent pickets to more than 80 U.S. Hyundai dealers in a show of support for the automaker's South Korean union over a complaint by a woman who said she was harassed by her supervisor at a factory there.

In a conflict, foreign automakers can turn to an army of outside consultants to hammer home the message that the union needs members more than members need a union.

"When we spin this to employees, we say, 'What do you think they want? They want your dues money and they need it," said Walter Orechwa, CEO of Projections Inc., a consulting firm that has worked with BMW and Toyota.

On one crucial front, the effort to keep wages at union plants above those at non-union plants, the UAW has already lost a lot of ground.

Newly hired workers earn $14.50 an hour at VW in Chattanooga. That is just below the $14.78 that a new hire would make at a unionized GM plant in Spring Hill, Tenn. Adjusted for monthly dues at Spring Hill, the VW worker is behind by only about $15 per month.

King concedes the UAW's past mistakes contributed to Detroit's near-demise.

Since 2001, the Detroit Three have slashed over 200,000 jobs, eliminating more than 60 percent of their hourly work force. In the same period, Japanese, South Korean and German automakers have opened eight assembly plants in the United States, creating almost 20,000 factory jobs.
Even the UAW's friends recognize the union's past as a problem.

"Obviously, the union lives with the legacy of all that's happened," said Ron Bloom, a member of the Obama administration task force that oversaw the bailout of GM and Chrysler in 2009, saving thousands of union jobs. The UAW backed President Obama in the 2008 election, but the White House has said nothing on the UAW's organizing drive.

Myth of the South

Top union officials say it is a myth that the South cannot be organized. But the UAW has been overly confident before. Just before the vote at Smyrna, King's predecessor, Ron Gettelfinger, privately predicted a UAW victory.

Then workers were shown a message from Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn.

"We'll be making decisions on where future growth will occur in the U.S. and in Mexico based on the efficiency of operations," Ghosn said in a video, shown to workers in groups. "Bringing a union into Smyrna could result in making Smyrna not competitive."

The message swayed "the middle 40 percent" of workers, said Konkle, the former UAW supporter, and the fight was lost by a vote of 3,103 to 1,486.
Now, Konkle's job is to find ways to save money for Nissan. Two years ago, he and others noticed Nissan had been using the same device to take a car off the line for inspection since 1992. In the intervening years, the cars had become heavier and harder to handle, and the device took up to five workers to operate.

So Konkle and his team devised a lift that could be operated by a single worker, at a cost of about $1,800. Konkle's supervisor handed over his credit card to make the needed purchases -- an on-the-spot fix that would have been unimaginable in a unionized factory.

Thanks to such innovations, it took 18.6 hours to build a car at Smyrna in 2008, compared with 20.6 hours at GM's plant at Spring Hill, according to The Harbour Report, an annual report card on U.S. auto plant productivity that was published for several years.

As well as saving money, giving workers a say in how work gets done makes for a happier labor force.

"You've eliminated, for the most part, the reasons people organize," said John Hancock, a management-side labor attorney at Butzel Long in Detroit.
At Smyrna, Nissan is expanding. It is opening a battery plant and adding production of the all-electric Leaf.

Many of the new jobs are lower-wage temporary positions working for contractor Yates Services. Those workers wear brown uniforms to distinguish them from Nissan's regular hires in blue or grey. In some parts of the Smyrna complex, temporary workers now account for up to 60 percent of the jobs.

At a pair of hiring fairs this month, about 5,000 people applied for temporary jobs at the plant. About one in five applicants would get jobs that pay about $26,000 per year.

One of the new temporary workers is Konkle's 19-year-old daughter, who makes $12.50 per hour. Although he has no patience for the UAW, Konkle worries the lower wages are "generating renters, people who will never be able to buy their house."

Others had more immediate worries.

Ben Nurse, 42, stood in line on a cold Saturday morning to apply for a contract position. A father of two, he said he was three months behind on his mortgage payments and had been out of work for a year since he left the U.S. Army.

"A year without a job, you'll take anything," he said. "I don't have a problem not working with a union. A job is a job."


Feds investigating 80,000 older
Ford, GM vehicles for rust issues

Det News
December 28, 2011

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Tuesday it has opened investigations into rust issues on older vans and minivans built by General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co.

The NHTSA said in documents posted on its website that it had opened preliminary investigations into 17,165 2003 Chevrolet Express vans over fuel leaks and into 63,000 2004 Ford Freestar and Mercury Monterey minivans over severe corrosion in rear wheel wells.

The GM probe is focused on Express vans with a left-hand door behind the door. The fuel filter pipe might corrode and leak fuel, the NHTSA said. The agency said it has received five complaints from "salt-belt" states — areas that use road salt during winter months — over rust issues on Express vans.

The NHTSA said in the Express vans under investigation, the fuel filler pipe is farther back than on vans not equipped with a left-side passenger door. As a result, the filler pipe routes through the rear wheel well, which exposes the filler pipe to road debris and water spray by the rear tire.

In the Ford investigation, the NHTSA said it has received seven complaints on 2004 Ford Freestar and Mercury Monterey minivans, which were in use in salt-belt states. The complaints say the rear wheel wells were severely corroded — and some said the anchor mount completely detached from the vehicle.

The stowable third-row seat is secured to the vehicle by two latches on each side of the seat cushion and also by two hinges on the rear face of the seat cushion.

The NHTSA didn't identify any crashes or injuries in connection with either investigation.

The NHTSA has investigated rust issues on a number of older vehicles in recent years and automakers have called back older vehicles to deal with rust in 21 salt-belt states, including Michigan and the District of Columbia.

GM and Ford both said they are cooperating.

"Ford will fully cooperate with the government as they review the matter at the start of and throughout this investigation," Ford spokesman Daniel Pierce said.

GM spokesman Alan Adler said GM is cooperating with the NHTSA.


Women-focused auto shop a
reaction to disdainful mechanics

By Bonnie Eslinger
December 26, 2011

Palo Alto, Calif. —Mae de la Calzada vividly remembers the question she fielded as guest speaker at a national convention for auto repair industry professionals.

Someone in the audience had asked the owner of LadyParts Automotive Services in Redwood City, Calif., what was so different about the repair shop that she "designed with a woman in mind."

Until then, the focus of the conference had been on how to rake in as much sales revenue as possible.
"I'll tell you one thing I do not do — one thing I don't think works," she told the predominately male audience. "When you date a woman, do you walk up to them and say, 'You better go with me, because I'm the best thing you've ever had?'

"That's what I see — a style to which women do not respond. With a woman, you have to ease your way into it, talk to them, and get them to come to it."
De la Calzada chuckled at the reaction. "That silenced the whole room," she said.

Though she has some doubters — one competitor reportedly told a LadyParts customer that her shop is more style than substance — the rave reviews found online about the business show that de la Calzada has tapped a ripe market.

Today, most cars are purchased by women, according to Road and Travel magazine, and 68 percent of them take their vehicles to repair shops.
Yet despite having so much purchasing power, 89 percent of women who responded to a nationwide survey said repair shops still treat them like second-class citizens, according to the Car Care Council, an industry organization.

In fact, it was just that kind of treatment that set de la Calzada, 33, on her career path. While a student closing in on a business degree at the University of San Francisco five years ago, she had taken her Dodge Stratus to the dealer for a vehicle recall repair.

But $1,000 later, smoke billowed from the engine as she drove away from the shop. She returned with a man who is now her fiance and asked the service manager to show her the repairs made.

"He said, 'I don't have time to show you,'" de la Calzada said. "Then he looks at my boyfriend like, 'It's not like she will understand.'"
A month later, while negotiating repairs for her mother's car, she encountered the same dismissive attitude.

An entrepreneurship class at USF allowed her to explore her idea about opening an auto shop that caters to women.
"This was something I wanted and I wanted my mom to have," she said.

Three years ago, LadyParts opened its doors. These days, about half of her customers are women, de la Calzada said. She has three mechanics — two men and one woman.

LadyParts' approach appeals to both genders, de la Calzada said.

Her employees are trained to take time when talking to customers about their cars and repairs. De la Calzada discourages the team from being "too technical" or dominating the discussion.

"I really emphasize the listening," she said.

Redwood City resident Lorri Lee Lown, 46, said she felt respected when she brought her 2011 Honda Element to LadyParts for some routine maintenance.

"I've never had a positive experience at any kind of automotive service provider (before)," she said. "I feel like I should just walk in with my checkbook and let them take whatever they want."

LadyParts also offers free car care clinics, mostly attended by women, that provide an overview of the workings and maintenance needs of a vehicle.
Then there's the waiting room, painted in warm colors with art on the walls, a cushy couch and a children's play area. The reading selection includes Oprah Winfrey's "O" magazine as well as Men's Health.

"If you're stressed out when you walk in, you feel like it's a space to take care of you," de la Calzada said


VOL 41, No 46
DECEMBER 23, 2011

CAW Donates to 46 Food Banks Across Canada

The Mustard Seed Food Bank receives a cheque from CAW Local 4276, 333 and 114 leadership in Victoria, British Columbia on behalf of the CAW national union. Mustard Seed Food Bank Director Brent Palmer, left, holds the cheque being presented by Ben Williams, CAW Local 333 BC Transit President and in the middle is Jeannie Blaney, CAW Local 114 representative. The rest of the group is from the Mustard Seed Food Bank.

The CAW is contributing $135,000 to food banks from British Columbia to Newfoundland and Labrador, as part of an annual donation to ease hunger.

"The increasing use of food banks demonstrates the growing inequality in our society," said CAW President Ken Lewenza.

"In a nation that generates so much wealth for a privileged elite, there are so many more people and families who are not sharing in that prosperity. We must all ensure that no one is left behind and remember it's completely unacceptable that people go hungry in such a wealthy country during the holiday season or at any other time," Lewenza said.

A recent study shows that as of October 2011, 850,000 Canadians were relying on food banks, which is the second highest month on record. The reliance on food banks has steadily grown in recent years - especially since the first food bank in Canada opened its doors in 1981 in Edmonton, Alberta.

Here are some startling facts from a Food Banks Canada HungerCount survey in March 2011:

- 93,085 people or 11 per cent of the total received help from a food bank for the first time during the survey period;
- food bank use in 2011 was 20 per cent higher than 2001;
- 38 per cent of those receiving food were children and youth under the age of 18.

Lewenza said a major reason for high levels of poverty is the loss of good paying, full time jobs. "We must all recognize that when you lose good paying jobs and bring in part-time precarious work, low paying jobs you're increasing the level of poverty," Lewenza said.

According to the Canadian Payroll Association, 57 per cent of Canadians state "they would be in financial difficulty if their pay cheque was delayed by a week."

In addition to the $135,000 donation, which comes from the CAW Social Justice Fund and CAW Council, many CAW local unions perform community work and provide additional financial help to local food banks.

Spencer ARL Parts Plant Opens in Niagara Falls

A new auto parts manufacturing facility has officially opened in Niagara Falls, Ontario.

Niagara Falls City Councillors attended a brief opening ceremony on December 14 for Spencer ARL, which is part of the supply chain for the new GM transmission assembly line at the St. Catharines, General Motors Engine Plant.

The new manufacturing facility currently has 25 employees and is expected to grow to more than 100 people as production increases.

As members of management, city councillors and employees looked on Wayne Gates, president of CAW Local 199, who represents the employees at Spencer ARL, said he was very proud of his members.

"These employees are a highly qualified and skilled workforce," Gates said, adding that most of the new employees worked at either Edscha or Affinia, two former CAW units. "When these workers lost their jobs and stopped paying union dues we never turned our back on them."

"We supported them through a very difficult period. We offered assistance to get them retrained, with resume writing and other job search skills through the CAW Action Centre, ultimately helping them to find a good paying job," said Gates, who is also a Niagara Falls City Councillor.

"I've been doing this for over 30 years and this is the proudest I have ever been of our union, getting these brothers and sisters back to work," Gates said.

Guatemala Hope

By Rachelle Cohoe, CAW Local 444

My husband (Scott Walker) and myself were fortunate to spend time in El Triunfo in Guatemala doing mission work in November. "Guatemala Hope" is a mission from Woodslee, Ontario, which started helping people in the village 10 years ago.

Our week-and-a-half medical mission entailed cooking, working in the clinic, visiting churches and working with children. When on our mission, all the volunteers lived in the village, sleeping in tents and working long rewarding hours.

When Guatemala Hope first started doing mission work in the village, the living environment was very different compared to today. Most homes were made from sticks and tarps with dirt floors and most children didn't have clothes to wear. Today we have raised money to help build cinder block homes, cement floors and provide clean drinking water.

We have offered cooking classes, eye care clinics where glasses were offered to people who needed them, medical clinics where some people were provided with wheel chairs, operations were paid for, had wounds cleaned and gave much needed medicine to very sick people.

Some families still cook over open fire in their homes which is causing asthma in many children. Through education, and additional resources we hope to solve this issue. Mission work is a long process; however it's so amazing to see the wonderful changes which have been made over the years.

The work that we do in the village is exhausting, but at the same time empowering. It's so amazing to hear the sound of laughter from the children in such hardship. Hungry bellies, dirty feet, hot weather (39C), however we see smiling faces, and hear giggling voices of innocent children who know no differently, this is what encourages us to go back and continue to help our friends.

If you are interested in doing mission work or sponsoring a child to provide education, please visit our website at http://www.guatemalahope.ca

Tell us about your Charitable Work

If someone from your local is involved in charity work and you would like to share it with Contact readers please send your story and pictures to cawcomm@caw.ca
Please be brief and we will try to include your story.

CAW Bursaries: April 30 Deadline

The CAW National Union and CAW Council offer a total of 25 bursaries to students entering their first year of post secondary education.

These bursaries are $2,000 each and are awarded to sons/daughters of CAW members in good standing who are entering their first year of full-time post secondary education in a Canadian institution.

One bursary is available for CAW members with at least one year of seniority who is attending their first year of full-time post secondary education.

Submissions should include:

- an official application form, signed by a local union officer;
- a letter of recommendation from a teacher, principal or community activist;
- transcript/record of marks.

Grades are only one of several factors that are considered. A committee appointed by the CAW Council Executive Board and/or the CAW National Executive Board makes the selections.

Submit completed applications to:

CAW National Office
Education Department
205 Placer Court, North York, ON., M2H 3H9
Attention: Lisa Kelly, Director of Education

The deadline is April 30, 2012. Application forms can be found on the CAW website at www.caw.ca/education Please click on CAW Bursaries.

New Chevrolet Impala to be Built in Oshawa

CAW Local 222 President Chris Buckley, CAW National President Ken Lewenza, GM Oshawa Plant Manager Dan Hermer, GM Canada President Kevin Williams, federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and Ontario Minister of Economic Development and Innovation Brad Duguid were at the official announcement that GM will build the new version of the Chevy Impala in Oshawa, Ontario. The $68 million investment secures 350 jobs, but Buckley appealed to government and GM management to also save the consolidated production line at GM. The new Impala will be built on the flex line starting in 2013.

(Photo by Joe Sarnovsky, CAW Local 222)




Old Age Security for baby boomers heads toward $100-billion a year

Bill Curry
Globe and Mail

Dec 22, 2011

Ottawa has moved on to its next looming demographic challenge after health care: covering the cost of an Old Age Security program that is on track to cost Ottawa more than $100-billion a year.

As the federal government tries to erase the deficit over the next four years, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty will need to accommodate multibillion-dollar hikes in the cost of OAS as Canada's baby boomers retire.

Internal documents obtained by The Globe and Mail show Mr. Flaherty was briefed earlier this year on the extent of the increase to the federal retirement benefit. The documents show the cost of providing OAS to Canadians 65 and over is on track to climb from $36.5-billion in 2010 to $48-billion in 2015 – an increase of 32 per cent – before rising further still.

The briefings by Mr. Flaherty's deputy minister point to data in an actuarial report that was quietly tabled in July and received little public attention. One note outlines how the cost to Ottawa of providing a basic OAS pension will grow dramatically due to the population aging.

"By 2030, the number of beneficiaries of the basic OAS pension is expected to double with expenditures projected to reach $108-billion," states the June, 2011, briefing note, marketed "secret" and obtained under access to information legislation. The number of Canadians receiving OAS – a program that pays a monthly pension of up to $527 to virtually all seniors in Canada – is expected to climb from 4.7 million in 2010 to 9.3 million by 2030, before falling back.

Senior officials in Ottawa have been seized with the matter of long-term demographics for months. The government's surprise announcement this week to lay out health and social transfer spending through to the year 2024 shows Ottawa is prepared to act quickly.

A spokeswoman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Sara McIntyre, responded cryptically when asked whether the government is planning policy changes to the OAS to limit its cost.

"All seniors will continue receiving their benefits. Our country faces demographic challenges," she wrote in an e-mail. "We will ensure our retirement security system remains strong and sustainable for generations to come."

Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page says that by announcing this week that it will no longer increase health transfers by 6 per cent a year after 2016-17, Ottawa should have the cash it needs to pay for OAS.

"This will transfer the fiscal burden to the provinces," said Mr. Page, who is working to update his long-term projections for Ottawa's finances in light of the transfer announcement. He said the government is not providing enough analysis as to why it is making these long-term spending decisions.

"It's acting as if it has a structural deficit, even though it tells everybody it does not," he said.

The Globe obtained a draft report earlier this year that was circulated at a meeting of federal deputy ministers convened by Wayne Wouters, the Clerk of the Privy Council. That report – called Canada's Changing Demographics: The Impacts of Population Aging – said the "federal government is well-positioned to address some existing issues," such as "considering options to reduce disincentives to work for older workers."

A report Wednesday in the National Post, citing anonymous Conservative sources, said there is some debate about increasing the age of eligibility for OAS from 65 to 67 in the 2012 budget.

The Prime Minister's Office neither confirmed nor denied the report. "This is speculation," Ms. McIntyre said.

Unlike the Canada Pension Plan – in which contributions are kept and managed in a standalone account – there is no pool of money set aside to pay for OAS benefits. The expenses are simply paid from general revenues.

Susan Eng, vice-president of the seniors advocacy group CARP, said her organization's polling shows that limiting OAS benefits would be hugely controversial.

"I think it would be political suicide," she said.


Ford sells 100K trucks with EcoBoost in 2011

December 22, 2011

Ford Motor Co. 's gamble that consumers would embrace a fuel-efficient V-6 in their F-150 full-size pickup hit a milestone Wednesday with confirmation that 100,000 trucks with the smaller EcoBoost engine have been sold this year.

The last time Ford sold that many pickups with a V-6 was in 1985, according to Doug Scott, group marketing manager for F-Series trucks.

In recent months, about 40 percent of F-150 buyers have been paying an $895 premium for a turbocharged, direct-injection 3.5-liter V-6 that was designed to deliver the power of a V-8 but fuel efficiency of a V-6


India debut for Ford SUV

Ford India’s website seems to indicate that Ford will introduce its third- generation EcoSport, a subcompact or B-sized sport-utility vehicle. (Ford)

By Alisa Priddle The Detroit News
December 20, 2011

Ford Motor Co.'s push to expand its presence in India continues with plans to premiere a new global vehicle at the New Delhi auto show next month.

This next-generation vehicle will be the second of eight products Ford plans to sell in India by mid-decade as part of an accelerated move to tap into one of the world's largest and fastest growing markets.

The small utility vehicle also will be key to growing market share in Asian markets, where Ford has targeted selling 8 million vehicles by mid-decade, up from about 5 million now.

Ford is not officially disclosing details of the vehicle, but teaser shots and leaked pictures on Ford India's website indicate it is the third-generation EcoSport, a subcompact or B-sized sport-utility vehicle.

Its styling is reminiscent of the new Ford Escape. The EcoSport could also be one of the first vehicles with Ford's smallest EcoBoost engine, a turbocharged 1-liter four-cylinder. The current EcoSport, built in Brazil, is a big-seller in South America.

But its replacement was designed to be sold all over the world except North America.

"This is the first time Ford is using India to launch an important global vehicle," said spokesman Mark Schirmer.

And the exposure will be large: The 11th Auto Expo in New Delhi is expected to attract about 1.4 million visitors — roughly double the traffic at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

In New Delhi, Ford will show 12 vehicles in a new interactive display area, complete with a local magician who will perform safety stories. The show runs from Jan. 7-11.

The India show will run concurrent with the Detroit auto show that opens to the media Jan.9.

In India, Ford wants to build on the success of the Figo, its first big hit in the country; more than 130,000 have been sold since it was introduced in March 2010.

In September, Ford sales in India were running 40 percent higher than a year ago, largely on the success of the Figo, which is exported to 26 countries from the Channai, India, plant.

In addition to the EcoSport and Figo, the Ford stand in New Delhi will show the new Fiesta, the older Fiesta, known as the "Ford Classic," as well as the Ford Endeavour, which is a small SUV.

In September, Ford broke ground on a $1 billion vehicle assembly and engine plant in India.


Ford Focus is car finalist for
2012 Car and Truck of the Year

“We’re thrilled we’re a finalist with such tough competition on the car side,” said Ford spokesman Matt Leaver about the 2012 Ford Focus. (Ford)

December 19, 2011

Detroit's automakers are making a comeback and clawing back market share — but they are a distinct minority in the list of finalists for the 2012 North American Car and Truck of the Year.

The Ford Focus is the only domestic in the final three for car of the year. The other two, announced Thursday in Detroit, are the Hyundai Elantra and Volkswagen Passat. Last year's winner was the Chevrolet Volt, which beat the Nissan Leaf and Hyundai Sonata. It was the first electric car to win.Truck finalists are the Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, BMW X3 and Honda CR-V — a far cry from last year when Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC had a lock on all three spots. The Ford Explorer beat the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango.
In 2010, Ford took both truck and car honors with the Transit Connect and Fusion Hybrid. General Motors Co. had two finalists.

But in this 19th year of the award, domestics are outnumbered.
"We're thrilled we're a finalist with such tough competition on the car side," said Ford spokesman Matt Leaver, adding that the Elantra "has given us good competition all year."

Hyundai spokesman Miles Johnson returned the compliment and said he was not surprised the Alabama-built Elantra pushed through to the finals. "We really value the award and if we win, we will use it in our marketing strategy," Johnson said, which was the case when the Genesis won in 2009.

The Passat selection coincided with Thursday's announcement that Volkswagen of America has surpassed 300,000 sales this year, said spokeswoman Leigh Anne Sessions. The last time VW reached this milestone was in 2003.

There were 17 cars on the list of new or significantly modified vehicles that were eligible. There were only seven trucks.

"This year was especially challenging because the car category is dominated by small cars, and the truck category did not have a single 'real' truck," said juror and Edmunds.com Senior Analyst Michelle Krebs.

Honda's selection came on the day the 2012 CR-V went on sale, starting at $22,295. Some models saw a modest price hike while other trim levels dropped in price.

"The CR-V is one of our core products," said spokesman Chuck Schifsky. Winning the truck award "acts as a trigger point for customers." And after a year of production interruptions due to natural disasters, the visibility and endorsement is timely.

To date, domestic automakers have won North American Car of the Year 10 times; a European car has won four times; Japanese marque three times and South Korea's Hyundai won once before.

North American Truck of the Year has gone to a Big Three truck 12 times, with four to a Japanese brand and two for a European automaker.

The six finalists were whittled down from a long list of new or significantly modified vehicles.

The jury of 50 independent journalists from the United States and Canada will hold a new vote, and the winners will be announced Jan. 9 during the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.


Former car czar: Stakeholders, including UAW, should have
given up more in deal

December 18, 2011
Detroit News

Detroit —Former car czar Steve Rattner said Thursday the Obama administration's Auto Task Force should have forced all the stakeholders, including the United Auto Workers, to sacrifice more as a condition of the federal government's bailout of General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC.

He also said GM needs to do more to convince Wall Street that it is back on the path to sustained profitability.

But Rattner said Washington's effort to rescue the American automobile industry saved "millions" of jobs and can only be regarded as positive.

"I'm very proud of the work we've done on this hard project," he told members of the Detroit Economic Club during a luncheon here Thursday. "It's unambiguous that this was a success."

Yet Rattner acknowledged that American automakers still have substantially higher labor costs than their foreign competitors — a gap he wishes the task force had done more to close.

"We asked all the stakeholders to make very significant sacrifices," he said. "We should have asked the UAW to do a bit more. We did not ask any UAW member to take a cut in their pay."

Rattner said the two companies' bondholders should have been given less, since they would likely have lost everything in an uncontrolled bankruptcy.

The president's task force gave approximately $82 billion of taxpayer money to GM, Chrysler and other U.S. automotive companies in an effort to prevent a cascading collapse of the entire domestic automobile industry after the economic crisis of 2008 sent two of Detroit's three automakers careening toward bankruptcy.

Rattner reminded the audience that the credit markets were frozen in 2009, and said it would have been impossible for either GM or Chrysler to get the financing they needed to keep the lights on without the government's help. The alternative was going out of business.
But Rattner did say Washington gave GM too much.

"We put more cash into GM than we probably needed to — and we knew this," he said, adding that he wanted to err on the side of caution. "It's part of why GM is so well-capitalized today."

If the government sold its remaining GM stock today, taxpayers would lose about $16.5 billion.

"My friends on Wall Street don't think they have been as clear and consistent in their messaging to the Wall Street community as the Wall Street investors would like them to be," Rattner said following the formal program. "Wall Street hates surprises, and there have been a couple of surprises. (GM) went a little bit heavier on the incentives in the first quarter than people thought; they took down their guidance for the fourth quarter."

Rattner stepped down after he became the subject of a probe by the Securities and Exchange Commission into his dealings with the New York state pension fund. That ultimately led to a costly settlement with the SEC, but Rattner said he did nothing wrong.


CAW Contact
December 16, 2011
Volume 41, No. 45


CAW President Raises Concerns Over Canada- U.S. Border Deal

CAW President Ken Lewenza is raising concerns about the new Canada-U.S. border deal announced December 7 in Washington, D.C.

Lewenza indicated the CAW supports concrete measures to speed traffic flow and decrease congestion at the border. However, he noted that most of the initiatives and pilot projects announced in the deal focus on new measures to tighten security and harmonize business regulations, and that these measures offer no direct benefit for the efficiency of border traffic.

"The crucial bottlenecks in border traffic stem from a lack of infrastructure and a lack of resources," Lewenza said. "We need more bridges, more inspection lanes, and more border guards. But this agreement is focused on the tighter integration of security information and policing, and the elimination of business regulations that have no relationship to the border whatsoever."

Lewenza expressed concern about the new Regulatory Cooperation Council, which will harmonize Canadian business regulations with existing U.S. laws. While this will save money and inconvenience for some corporations selling into the Canadian market, the process may heighten risks for Canadian consumers.

"This is not about a supposed 'trade-off' between border efficiency and Canadian sovereignty. This is about rewriting Canadian regulations to make them more convenient to corporations."

A deep and automatic integration of information and security practices could also pose significant risks to Canadians, said Lewenza. He stressed that any information sharing procedures must contain "strong checks and balances" to ensure they are fully consistent with Canadian privacy standards and Charter rights.

Legislative changes now permit U.S. authorities to conduct widespread routine surveillance on their own citizens, to arrest and hold suspected "terrorists" without traditional legal protections, to seize assets, and other measures unacceptable in Canada. "Canadians must absolutely be protected against such abuses, as a number one priority of our government."

December 6 Memorial in Windsor

On December 6, 2011 the CAW Local 444 Women's Committee remembered the 14 women who were murdered at L'École Polytechnique, also known as the Montreal Massacre in 1989. Participants held a special ceremony at the Memorial Stone for Mary Lou (last name withheld) outside of the Windsor Assembly Plant. Mary Lou was a former CAW Local 444 member who was working at Plant Six at the time when she was murdered by her spouse in January 1998. A wreath and white carnations were placed at the stone and a white ribbon was tied to a tree.

Kyoto Pull-Out Sets Canada on Wrong Economic Track, CAW says

The Harper government's decision to pull Canada out of the Kyoto Protocol is not only a devastating blow to the country's efforts to combat climate change, but it will further hamper the creation of good, value-added jobs in green energy and energy conservation industries, said CAW President Ken Lewenza.

"Stephen Harper is suggesting that Canadians accept a business-as-usual approach to the global climate crisis and is creating a false conflict between economic growth and environmental action that's wrong-headed and unjustified," Lewenza said.

Lewenza said that in the wake of the hollowing out of Canada's industrial sector (particularly in manufacturing), the Kyoto Protocol (and green energy strategies more generally) provides a mechanism for government to maximize the economic opportunities associated with cleaning up industrial pollution, encouraging innovative carbon-reducing technologies, and stimulating new value-added sectors of our economy.
Adapting to a carbon-constrained world actually represents huge job creating potential for Canadians, Lewenza said.

"Many economists, and Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney, have been emphasizing that Canada's
economy desperately needs more business capital spending to escape this stubborn recession," Lewenza pointed out. "What could be better than using supportive regulations and policies to fulfill our Kyoto commitments, even if belatedly, and stimulate major capital spending in energy conservation, green energy, and green transportation?"

"Instead, this government has elected to obstruct global progress on climate change, and put all our economic eggs in the basket of petroleum extraction and export," Lewenza said.

The CAW, supported the ratification and implementation of Kyoto in 2002. The CAW has since championed efforts to help combat climate change, particularly in the area of sustainable transportation, (visit: http://www.caw.ca/en/10639.htm to read: We Make It Move: A Vision for Sustainable Transportation).

Lewenza also urged the federal government to impose tighter regulations on tar sands developments, which have been the dominant source of Canadian emissions growth in recent years. The union's proposals include prohibition of foreign takeovers of petroleum resources, caps on future emissions growth from the industry, and Canadian content targets for machinery and equipment purchases and bitumen refining.

Transgender Rights Bill: Take Action

A bill has been reintroduced in the House of Commons to ensure greater protections for transgender people by NDP LGBT critic Randall Garrison.

The Private Members' Bill C-279, An Act to Amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and Criminal Code (gender identity and gender expression) will bring explicit protections for transgender people under the Canadian Human Rights Act and federal hate crimes legislation, to ensure protection from discrimination based on gender identity or expression.

An earlier private members' Bill C-389, which passed during the last Parliament after it was brought in by NDP MP Bill Siksay, had been awaiting Senate approval, when the federal election was called.

The CAW has been at the forefront in working towards dignity, respect and equality for all. Many CAW collective agreements have explicit protections for transgender people but there is more to be done to ensure protections for transgender members in society and those in unorganized workplaces.
Transgender people face higher levels of discrimination and violence, increased rates of underemployment, and often are denied housing and access to medical services.

The CAW is encouraging members to contact MPs who voted to support the previous Bill C-389, thank them for supporting progressive protections for transgender people and ask them to support the re-introduced bill. It will also be important to contact those re-elected MPs that did not support the previous bill and also newly elected MPs urging them to support Bill C-279, which was reintroduced on September 21.

Please follow the link for a list of MPs that were re-elected and supported Bill C-389.

CAW Local 584 Movember Campaign

CAW Local 584 has participated in the Movember campaign the last two years. With this year's campaign hitting closer to home due to chairperson Kim Clout's health struggle, Local 584 had 27 participants raise $1035 for prostate cancer research. Next year the local hopes to increase its donation and is considering a challenge to other locals.

Skilled Trades Bargaining And New Tech Conference: Reminder

The CAW's Skilled Trades Collective Bargaining and New Technology Conference is scheduled for February 22 to 24, 2012 at the Sheraton Centre Hotel in Toronto, Ontario.

The deadline for registration is January 9, 2012. For more information about the conference please contact the CAW Skilled Trades Department at: trades@caw.ca

CAW Meets with Opposition Trade Critic on CETA

CAW President Ken Lewenza joined Windsor-area local union leadership in a meeting with Opposition Trade Critic Brian Masse (Windsor West) held on December 9 to discuss shared concerns around the proposed EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). The proposed CETA could restrict the rights of provincial and local governments to craft effective purchasing policies. The CETA would also likely widen Canada's current trade deficit with Europe, further hamper manufacturing sector growth, increase health care costs and grant private investors the right to sue governments over policy decisions, among other issues. Masse expressed his frustration with the Harper government's closed-door negotiating process and criticized their brash efforts to sign more, wrong-headed, free trade deals. CETA talks are expected to wrap up in 2012.


CAW working on biggest
union merger ever

Tony Van Alphen
Toronto Star
Fri Dec 16 2011

Two of the country's most prominent unions are quietly holding merger talks in what could become the biggest consolidation in Canadian labour history.

In a response to harder times for organized labour in a tough economy, leaders of the Canadian Auto Workers union and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union revealed Thursday that discussions have started and will probably accelerate during the next few months.

"There's a lot of work left to do," said CAW president Ken Lewenza. "We're moving along but we're still at a preliminary stage and far off from a deal."

Labour watchers say a new union between the CAW, which represents about 200,000 workers, and CEP, which has about 125,000 members, would mark the biggest single merger in the history of the labour movement here. The CAW and CEP are already among the 10 biggest unions in Canada.

"This would certainly be the largest among mergers in the private sector," said Robert Hickey, an assistant professor of industrial relations at Queen's University.

Some unions in the public sector have merged their regional units into broader umbrella federations such as the National Union of Provincial Government Employees.

The merger talks come as top labour leaders are becoming increasingly worried about the waning influence of unions while corporations and governments wield more power that is undermining workers.

Furthermore, unions are trying to find more efficient ways to represent workers as membership levels remain flat or fall, and finances become tighter. It has prompted some smaller unions to look for bigger partners.

"We're trying to figure out how the labour movement is going to look in five years and how do we strengthen the commitment to our members," Lewenza said.

He revealed other unions have also discussed mergers with him but acknowledged that a tie-up with CEP is getting the most focus now. Other major unions are also talking to counterparts about possible mergers, he noted.

CEP began distributing a discussion paper internally to staff this week that outlines issues which both sides need to resolve before a merger could proceed.

Union president Dave Coles said the biggest issue facing CEP and CAW in any merger would be blending their "cultures." CEP is a more decentralized union with strong local autonomy while the CAW is more centralized, he noted.

"We just have to find a new model for both of us and it can be done," Coles said. "After all, we have a common enemy. That's one of the drivers in this whole process."

He said the Harper government is implementing far right conservative policies that are seriously weakening social benefit programs and favouring corporations over workers.

"They're leading us in a direction that I believe Canadians don't want to go and we're trying to use our economic clout through things like mergers to influence policy,' he added.

Noles said the two sides should be able to easily determine whether a merger can proceed within a year. It would need approval by delegates from each union at separate conventions.

"I think it would be a good fit," he said. "We're both Canadian unions with representation in many sectors."

CEP formed in a merger of the Canadian Paperworkers Union, Communications and Electrical Workers of Canada and the Energy and Chemical Workers Union in 1992.

Since then CEP has expanded by organizing and adding smaller union. It peaked at about 150,000 workers about five years ago but the last recession and turmoil in the forestry and manufacturing sectors have battered membership levels .

The CAW broke away from the United Auto Workers in 1985 and has added another 142,000 workers through 39 mergers. It topped 265,000 members during the last decade but the decline in manufacturing particularly the auto sector in southern Ontario has also slashed its numbers.

Meanwhile, Ken Neumann, national director for the United Steelworkers, said smaller unions are moving to bigger unions to help defend themselves against the global movement of capital, which has little regard for workers.

"The mergers that we've been involved in have made us a better union," said Neumann who represents about 210,000 members. "I think you are going to see more mergers as time goes on."


5-passenger Focus
Electric to get 100 mpg

A limited number of Focus Electrics will first be available in California and the New York/New Jersey areas in the new year. Availability will expand in 2012 to 15 more markets as production ramps up. (Ford)

By Alisa Priddle
Dec 15, 2011

The Detroit News

A limited number of Focus Electrics will first be available in California and the New York/New Jersey areas in the new year. Availability will expand in 2012 to 15 more markets as production ramps up. Ford Motor Co. said Wednesday that the 2012 Ford Focus Electric will be the first five-passenger electric vehicle to get the equivalent of 100 miles per gallon.

The figures were released prior to an event at the Michigan Assembly Plant to mark the start of production of the electric compact car that will lead the field of electric vehicles, including the Chevrolet Volt extended-range hybrid.

Ford also developed a car that will charge in half the time of the Nissan Leaf, the only other real competitor on the market to date. The charge time is about three hours with 240-volt outlets.

"The Focus Electric is a shining example of the leading fuel economy Ford is offering for each new vehicle," said Derrick Kuzak, group vice president, Global Product Development.

"Whether people want a hybrid, plug-in hybrid or full battery-electric vehicle, we have a family of vehicles for them to consider, providing a range of options to best meet their needs and support their driving habits and lifestyles."

The automaker also is preparing to introduce the C-Max Hybrid to the market in the second half of 2012. This plug-in hybrid will also be made at Michigan Assembly in Wayne. The flexible assembly plant can build conventional gasoline, hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles on the same assembly line.

Ford said the C-Max will achieve better fuel economy than the Toyota Prius v plug-in. A plug-in allows a vehicle to run on pure electricity until the lithium ion batteries are depleted and then extend its range with a gasoline engine.

Ford will also have the C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid with a range of about 500 miles with batteries and a gasoline engine.

Ford's fleet of electrified vehicles started with the 2011 Ford Transit Connect Electric a year ago, and the company has more than 500 patents as it continued to develop more of this technology in-house. The hybrid transmission was developed by Ford and will be built at the Van Dyke Transmission Plant in Sterling Heights, which will also build battery packs.

A limited number of Focus Electrics will first be available in California and the New York/New Jersey areas in the new year. Availability will expand in 2012 to 15 more markets as production ramps up.

Markets include: Atlanta; Austin and Houston, Texas; Boston; Chicago; Denver; Detroit; Los Angeles; San Francisco; San Diego; New York; Orlando, Fla.; Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz.; Portland, Ore.; Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; Richmond, Va.; Seattle; and Washington.


Ford puts its Focus up-market

2012 Ford Focus

Jeremy Cato
Globe and Mail
Dec. 14, 2011

If you are serious about comparison shopping for your next compact car, let me share a number: the 2012 Ford Focus Titanium four-door hatchback has an $7,996 pricing advantage over a 2012 Audi A3 2.0T, the front-drive version ($37,795 including freight), loaded up with about the same level of equipment.

In this scenario, the Focus comes in at $29,799 with $3,200 of optional equipment over the base sticker of $26,599 (freight included). We can all agree that eight Gs is a big chunk of change and obviously good news for Ford, which wants you to see this all-new Focus as the ultimate high-tech compact car for sale today.

But not so fast.

A comparably equipped 2012 Mazda3 GS-Sky ($23,765 with freight), with its new SkyActiv power train, has a $6,034 price advantage when both are uniformly equipped. Meanwhile, Canada's best-selling car, the Honda Civic Si sedan, has a pretty healthy $2,414 pricing advantage when loaded up to match that baseline Focus Titanium (the Civic comes in at $27,385 with freight).

Sorry for throwing around so many numbers. But they matter; the pricing story should not be ignored. Ford's version of the Focus story is simple enough: this stylish, fun-to-drive hatchback – also sold in sedan form – has gone up-market.

The Focus, in Ford's world, is no longer a rental car or some cheapo runabout moving off dealer lots thanks to a discounted price. No, this Focus in Ford's world is a higher-end luxury compact priced to challenge the A3s of the world, yet be competitive with the Mazda3, Civic and its ilk. Ford feels its car is strong enough to best rivals from Mazda and Honda, and also sophisticated enough to go head-to-head with an entry-level car from an established premium brand such as Audi.

Ford has a case to make, too. The Titanium Focus comes with a good, but not great, six-speed auto-shift automatic transmission, mated to a fuel-thrifty, 160-horsepower, four-cylinder engine. That's a solid powertrain.

As equipped here, the Focus also has a navigation system, parking aid, power sunroof, rain-sensing wipers, fog lights, cruise control, a great sound system, power everything, keyless remote, push-button start, MyFord Touch with Sync and on and on. Technology, technology and more technology.

Ford is trying to position itself as a technology leader, if not the technology leader among auto makers. All the do-dads are intended to make the driver's experience safer and more enjoyable. That's why you use voice controls here to operate the stereo, heat and air conditioning and phone. Hands-free stuff. And that is also why Ford will argue that the remade Focus is quick and responsive on all types of roads, yet is easy to park at the mall.

MyFord Touch is the key to it all. Ford's latest telematics system is as good as it gets in voice-activation systems, though it's not perfect – as Consumer Reports has said. My advice: if you buy a Ford with MyFord Touch, don't leave the dealership on delivery until you have been fully taught how to use this technology. Leave uninitiated and you'll end up irritated.

There is no chance you'll be irritated by the car's performance. That engine is strong and responsive and key in the fun-to-drive quotient. Just as important, the fuel economy numbers (7.3 litres/100 city, 5.2 highway) put the Focus near the top of the class of compact fuel-sippers. Ford still has some work to do on the six-speed automatic transmission, though. Mazda's SkyActiv automatic delivers smoother shifts, and they are better-timed, too.

The Focus is more fun to toss around, though, compared to the Mazda, though not by a huge margin. Ford's electric power steering is properly weighted and the suspension is tight and solid enough for pretty flat and controlled handling through tight corners. This independent suspension is light years ahead of the tired, old setup in the last Focus.

When you're driving with urgency, you will not be buried with noise seeping into the cabin. The seats are also properly bolstered, at least for an affordable car. Only Volkswagen's Golf GTI has better buckets.

Ford has among the most intelligent and attractive dashboard designs, too. Good thing, given the many high-tech features. There is plenty of room inside, too.

And yes, the Focus Titanium is eye-candy on the road, too – edgy, daring and modern. This is the best-looking compact car on sale in Canada. Ford's designers thought this through, right down to the gas-filler door tucked in next to the taillight. This maintains the car's overall lines.

The hatch in back, meanwhile, raises the convenience quotient. If you need to load your mountain bike or a playpen, having a rear hatch is exactly what you need. The second-row seats fold down, as well.

Ford has work left to do, however. While strong, the engine could feel more refined when pushed hard, for instance. But overall, this Focus is the class leader.

The question for you: is this a much more affordable rival to the A3 or a pricier competitor to the Mazda3 and others?

Tech specs

2012 Ford Focus Titanium

Type: Compact four-door hatchback

Base price: $25,099 ($1,500 freight)

Engine: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder

Horsepower/torque: 160 hp/146 lb-ft

Transmission: Six-speed automatic

Drive: front-wheel drive.

Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 7.3 city/5.2 highway; regular gas .

Alternatives: Volkswagen Golf, Chevrolet Cruze, Honda Civic, Mazda3, Hyundai Elantra, Kia Forte, Toyota Corolla, Subaru Impreza, Mitsubishi Lancer, Nissan Sentra

Globe rating for the 2012 Ford FocusOur ratings guide (Out of 10)

9 Ride
The engine is strong and responsive and fuel economy is near the top of the class. Ford still has some work to do on the six-speed automatic transmission, but this car is fun to toss around.

8.5 Looks
The Focus Titanium is eye-candy: edgy, daring, and modern. This is the best looking compact car on sale in Canada.

8.5 Interior
The seats are properly bolstered and Ford has among the most intelligent and attractive dashboard designs here, too. Good thing, given the many high-tech features. There is plenty of room inside.

9 Safety
Loads of safety features.

8 Green
For a car with such strong performance, the fuel economy is very good.

9 Overall
(out of 10 / Not an average)


Ford to test MyFordTouch
system upgrade

Alisa Priddle/ The Detroit News
December 13, 2011

Ford Motor Co. will tap about 1,000 employees to test a software upgrade to MyFordTouch before it rolls out the latest version of the infotainment system on 2013 model vehicles.

Starting this week, employees will receive a USB flash drive with the new software to conduct a month-long beta test of the system that addresses concerns consumers have expressed with the current system.

Ford said the upgrade will make the system simpler, faster and more reliable.

The improved version will debut on the 2013 Ford Escape, Taurus and Flex.

A flash drive will be sent to Ford Explorer, Edge and Focus customers who have MyFordTouch so they can install the upgrade themselves. Or they can go to the dealership.

But first it will be beta tested by managers in southeast Michigan who were chosen at random.

"Employees are a great source for quick feedback, and the best part is that they are eager to help," said John Schneider, chief engineer, Infotainment, Ford Electronics and Electrical Systems Engineering.

Ford sees a competitive edge with continued evolution of its Sync infotainment system that connects consumers with their cars via smartphones, uses cloud computing and provides voice commands to keep eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.

MyLincolnTouch will be a standard feature for the luxury lineup, and the automaker has said it will make MyFordTouch available on 80 percent of Ford brand vehicles by 2014.

The automaker wants to make sure the changes are bug-free before the software goes into production.

"Employees who have been MyFord Touch users since it was first launched will test the new upgrade on employee lease vehicles so they can provide us real-world feedback, helping us polish the final product before it goes to our customers," Schneider said.

The touch screen has a new look with simpler graphics and controls, phone connectivity and voice commands have been made better, and the system is more compatible with tablet computers and audiobooks.

"Ford has been listening and learning from our customers about their ownership experiences in order to continuously improve it," Schneider said. "The new upgrade exemplifies the importance of customer feedback and showcases the flexibility and speed we now have by leveraging software to evolve Ford technology."


It's the end of the road
for the Ford Ranger

The Twin Cities Assembly Plant in Minnesota will close after the last Ford Ranger rolls off the line this month. There are about 800,000 Rangers still on the road, and their drivers wave to one another. (Richard Marshall / Pioneer Press)

Alisa Priddle/ The Detroit News
Dec 12, 2011

The last Ford Ranger for the U.S. market is expected to roll off the line by Dec. 19, marking the end of an era, with more than 6.6 million sold over 29 years.

There are an estimated 800,000 Rangers still on the road. Drivers of the compact pickup acknowledge their solidarity by waving to one another.

With the end of production and closing of the 86-year-old Twin Cities Assembly Plant in Minnesota, Ford Motor Co. will be out of the compact pickup business in North America.

Meanwhile, crosstown rival General Motors Co. prepares to launch the next generation of the compact Colorado in 2013. And Chrysler Group LLC is working on a compact unibody pickup to replace the discontinued Dodge Dakota.

At a time when automakers are introducing ever-smaller cars to meet fuel-efficiency regulations, Ford is killing its smallest truck and directing consumers to the full-size F-150 with a more efficient V-6 engine.

Ford will abandon a segment it led for 18 years until 2005, when it fell behind the Toyota Tacoma.

Ford's rationale is that there is little price bump — less than $5,000 — to the larger F-150, and dwindling sales of the Ranger did not warrant making and selling the next-generation model in the U.S.

"We've got a tremendous heritage and history with Ranger," said Doug Scott, Ford's truck marketing manager.

"The product has been very good and was true to the Built Ford Tough brand," Scott said.

"But the environment changed with full-size trucks becoming so much more fuel-efficient."

The shift is evident in the plummeting sales figures.

Ranger sales peaked in 1999 at 348,358 and have declined since. They fell below 100,000 in 2006 and never recovered.

Part of the downfall is because the Ranger became dated; the truck received cosmetic upgrades but few substantive revisions since 1983.

"Time stood still," said analyst Dave Sullivan of AutoPacific Inc. in Ann Arbor.

"It had become obsolete as Ford put money into the larger F-150."

The Ranger did not follow the trend to crew cabs, more efficient engines, advanced technology and creature comforts. The big-brother F-Series got the attention and resources.

"When you look at how we have had to prioritize our resources, both human and financial over the last five-plus years, we definitely believe that F-150 and Super Duty were more important priorities, and that's where we focused our resources," Scott said.

"Compared to a V-6 Ranger, a number of our F-150 powertrains are more fuel-efficient, and we have a good value story to tell."

Customers 'not happy'
But for those who want the machismo of a pickup to haul mulch but still fit in a one-car garage or small parking spot, Ford will have nothing in the showroom.

"A lot of our customers are not happy, obviously, that it is going away, and I imagine we will get more of that over the next month after Ranger goes out of production," Scott said.

"Some owners don't understand why we would move away from the segment," Scott said. But he believes customers seeking an affordable and fuel-efficient vehicle have more small cars and utility vehicles from which to choose.

Sharon Hill of Windsor bought a dark red Ranger Splash with flare sides in the late 1990s and hung on to it until 2007.

"I loved my Ranger," she said. She would have bought another Ranger — she loved sitting higher on the road than in a car — but she needed a real back seat for passengers.

"The F-150 is just too big," Hills said. So she opted for a small car from a competitor instead.

"It's sad," Hill said of the Ranger's demise in North America. "It was good looking, reliable, and I could get a truck in a car price range."

Orkin gets last Ranger
The last Ranger off the line is earmarked for Orkin Pest Control, which has a fleet of about 5,000 Rangers. The company buys as many as 2,000 new trucks annually.

"When Ford officially told us they would not be producing the Ranger anymore in the U.S., we asked if we could have the last one," said Paul Youngpeter, fleet director for Rollins Inc. of Atlanta, Orkin's parent company.

The Ranger has been the mainstay of the Orkin fleet for more than 15 years because of its reliability, affordability and access to the bed, which Orkin outfits with a top or a toolbox. Some get pumps and spray rigs, as well.

Orkin has about 500 F-150s, but its size "presents a bit of a challenge," Youngpeter said.

He has purchased enough stock to get through 2012 but is already shopping the competition, including the Colorado, Tacoma and Frontier, for the longer term.

The F-150 will be considered, but "it is not the best option. We prefer something smaller," he said.

He must decide by mid-2012.

Shrinking segment
Orders like Youngpeter's have contributed to the final sales rally for the Ranger.

More than 64,000 were sold through November, up 26 percent from a year ago. November sales were almost double October's, and 2011 is on track to be the best sales year since 2007.

But the compact pickup segment is a shadow of its former self: Sales of about 260,000 through November represent about 4 percent of the total truck market.

"The segment has shrunk dramatically," Scott said. "In 2000, the compact pickup segment was about 1 million units, and this year that segment will be lucky to be 250,000 or 300,000 units. When the segment was doing over 1 million units, we were doing over 300,000 Rangers. That gives you an idea of the volume changes."

Ford sold almost 517,000 F-Series (about 70 percent of them F-150s) in the first 11 months. More than half the F-150s leaving the lot have a V-6 engine.

"The V-6 in the F-150 is so good, it makes a hard case for the Ranger," Sullivan said.

But in other parts of the world, where the F-150 is simply too big, Ford has introduced the next-generation Ranger.

The new Ranger is built in Thailand and South Africa. A third plant in South America will start production in a few months.

Tariffs make it too expensive to import the foreign-made Rangers to the U.S.

"It leaves a sweet spot wide open for GM for buyers who want a domestic smaller pickup," Sullivan said.

The AutoPacific 2011 Brand Study showed 19 percent of Ranger owners would buy another compact pickup, so they would have to defect to the competition.

Competitors think small
GM has unveiled the next-generation global Chevrolet Colorado compact pickup, which will continue to be built and sold here.

The company is banking on gas prices making a small truck attractive.

"GM thinks there's a market there and so do Toyota and Nissan, while Ford is putting all its eggs in the F-150," Sullivan said.


Ford recalling 130,000 Fusion, Milans for faulty wheel studs

David Shepardson/ Detroit News Washington Bureau
Dec 10, 2011

Washington— Ford Motor Co. said Friday it is recalling 130,000 Fusion and Mercury Milan sedans over concerns that the wheel studs could crack and cause the wheels to fall off.

The recall covers 128,616 2010-2011 Ford Fusion and Mercury Milans with 17-inch steel wheels. At least six incidents in which wheels came loose have been reported.

Ford is also recalling 2,940 steel wheels that were sold to dealers and used as replacement parts.

The recall follows a defect investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration after a series of complaints..

Ford said the steel wheel mounting pads may have been faulty and the wheel mounting face on rear brake discs may not have been attached properly.

Ford said it is aware of one incident involving a front wheel and five incidents involving rear wheels. Ford has paid at least 128 warranty claims for wheel stud repairs and NHTSA has received 29 complaints. Ford spokeswoman Susan Krusel said there are no injuries linked to the problem.

NHTSA's investigation that opened in January covered 317,000 Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan vehicles. It upgraded the investigation to an engineering analysis in July.

Ford met with NHTSA on Oct. 21 and Nov. 9 to discuss Ford's ongoing testing and analysis related to the investigation.

Ford said it first identified a concern about the wheels in August 2010 at its Hermosillo plant in Mexico. Several of the complaints were from low-mileage vehicles.

Ford owners will have the lug nuts replaced on all four wheels. Wheel-mounting surfaces on the rear disc brakes will be inspected and replaced if required. Ford will tell dealers to notify owners who received the recalled replacement parts to return the vehicles for lug nut replacement.

The recalled vehicles were built from April 1 through April 30, 2009, and Dec. 1, 2009, through Nov. 13, 2010.

Ford will notify owners starting Jan. 24; the company notified dealers this week


CAW Contact
December 9, 2011
Volume 41, No. 44


Don't Pay Down Deficit During Recession, Lewenza Urges

CAW National President Ken Lewenza blasts the Harper Conservatives at CAW Council for trying to pay down the national deficit during an economic slow down.

In a wide ranging address to CAW Council, CAW National President Ken Lewenza urged the approximately 800 delegates, staff and guests to turn their attention to the nation's growing economic disparity and renew efforts toward bringing about real social and economic equality.

The union's work cannot be circumvented by companies trying to take advantage of working people or governments trying to pay down deficits on the backs of the poor, said Lewenza, opening up the meeting on December 2 in Toronto.

Not the Time to Pay Down the Deficit

He decried the federal Conservative government for trying to pay down the national deficit at a time of economic slow down. He said that current government deficits are the automatic result of the recession. "Now we can't balance the budget in a faltering economy without devastating families and communities."

Lewenza warned that the $4 billion the government plans to cut out of federal public spending will cost tens of thousands of jobs. "And you can't cut tens of thousands of jobs, and expect services to be the same - there is a direct correlation between jobs and services - you can't cut your way to a balanced budget."

"Our federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is now lecturing Canadians about their spending - but if we were to follow his advice, the economy would be in even worse shape." Lewenza said that the government needs to spend money on EI benefits for those who qualify and extend the system to include more workers who have lost their jobs.

"Too many workers are falling through the cracks - with layoffs, unemployment and few job prospects."

Lewenza called for a more concerted focus on economic and social issues by labour unions and the New Democratic Party, particularly in Ontario. He urged an end to singing off the same song book as the Conservative party and championing tax cuts.

Lewenza also voiced concerns about the agenda of the Stephen Harper government, who's first task as government was enacting back-to-work legislation for CUPW members, and later threatening to enact back to work legislation for CAW members at Air Canada and then workers represented by CUPE.

Lewenza said that the global Occupy movement collectively taught us a lesson. "We cannot ignore the social inequality that's happening in our nation. We have to fight for young people - for students, for young workers and those who are vulnerable to precarious work and unemployment."

Part of these efforts will be increasing union density across the country, bringing it up from the current 30 per cent, said Lewenza.

Collective Bargaining

Lewenza congratulated long term care workers at Extendicare, Revera and the group of 20 homes in Ontario who have recently obtained settlements. He also spoke about how the gaming industry has deviated from its original vision as a way to diversify the Ontario economy. Instead now, employers such as the Woodbine Entertainment Group are replacing workers with automated tellers in many locations.

Lewenza congratulated retail workers in the union for recent agreements at PharmaPlus and Metro stores in a number of locations across Ontario, representing approximately 5,000 members.

He also applauded workers at Nav Canada, represented by CAW Local 5454 and 1016 across the country for their recent collective agreements. Lewenza also warned that the union could be facing a serious fight at Caterpillar (formerly Electromotive) in London, where the extended collective agreement expires on December 31. The company has already constructed a barbed wire fence around the facility.

On a happier note, Lewenza congratulated the Halifax shipyard workers who recently were awarded a $25 billion contract from the federal government to build 21 naval vessels. The contract will guarantee approximately 30 years of work at the shipyard.

Lewenza said that the contract is an inspiring example of how public monies can be used to invest in Canadian jobs.

NDP's Peggy Nash Urges Delegates to Rebalance Politics

Peggy Nash encouraged CAW members to get involved in her campaign to become the next Federal NDP leader.

Federal NDP leadership candidate Peggy Nash reminded delegates of the importance of being actively involved in electoral politics as they seek to build a more equitable, just and inclusive society.

She blasted the Harper Conservatives for passing laws and establishing policy on behalf of the wealthy and the powerful.

"We've got to rebalance our Parliament and our society," Nash said, speaking at CAW Council on December 2.

While the Harper Conservatives continue to press ahead with their anti-worker agenda of cuts, instability and attacks on working people, there is much to remain hopeful about.

If elected NDP leader, Nash pledged to build a more positive, equal, and inclusive country.

"In 2015 I want us to work together to be the government of Canada and to take Canada in a different direction," Nash said.

The challenge is to join together the fair minded nature of the majority of Canadians with concrete government action that will be brought forward by the NDP under Nash's leadership, she said.

Nash cited the power of political decision making and the example of the importance of the massive government shipbuilding contract won by the Halifax Irving shipyard, which will mean thousands of jobs for local shipbuilders for years.

"We can do this - we can create good quality jobs," said Nash, a top negotiator and a long-time assistant to the CAW National President before being elected NDP MP for Parkdale-High Park in Toronto.

To find out more about Peggy, get involved in her campaign or join the NDP, please visit: http://www.peggynash.ca/

Federal Government Must Act in Wake of Attawapiskat Crisis

Delegates to CAW Council called on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to take immediate action to work with First Nations communities to solve problems such as inadequate housing, poor educational opportunities, a lack of health care and poverty.

In signed letters to Harper more than 400 delegates expressed dismay over the deplorable conditions in the First Nations community of Attawapiskat in northern Ontario and stressed that all Canadians are rightfully shocked:

"Whole families living in tents without access to heat or plumbing; children attending decrepit schools if they are able to attend school at all; even the absence of proper sewage treatment - no citizen of this country should ever have to live in such wretched conditions."

"The crisis in Attawapiskat has shone national and even international attention on the gross disparity between some First Nations communities and other parts of the country."

Leadership from the federal government could dramatically improve the circumstances of First Nations people, particularly First Nations youth, who are much less likely to graduate from high school, because of barriers to basic education, health, housing and nutrition.

"Real solutions can be found to these problems. It is incumbent upon your government to act now, not only to prevent further crises and devastation, but to give hope to a generation of First Nations youth whose experience has given them little reason for optimism."

Tax Fairness a Centre-Piece of Fight Against Income Inequality

Author Linda McQuaig calls for a reformed tax system that makes the rich pay a more fair share of taxes.

A more robust income tax system that makes the rich pay a fairer share of taxes is an important tool to help fight against income and social inequality, author and political-economic commentator Linda McQuaig told CAW Council delegates on December 2.

Contrary to what is said by right-wing politicians and neo-liberal economists, there is nothing 'natural' about the laws of the marketplace that create wide income disparity, McQuaig said.

"The laws of the marketplace are man-made and are crafted by those with power - the rich," McQuaig said. "But it doesn't have to be this way. The rich only represent the one per cent. We represent the 99."

McQuaig, who co-authored the book "The Trouble With Billionaires," credited the efforts of the Occupy movement for raising awareness about income inequality to a national level.

"Income inequality, for the past decades, has been all but invisible - almost taboo - until the Occupy movement began."

McQuaig stressed that no correlation exists between lower taxes and rising economic prosperity, which can be exemplified by Canada's economic performance during the post-war era (a period that saw tremendous economic growth) - a time when taxes paid by the richest citizens topped 80 per cent.

Today, income tax cuts have resulted in gross inequalities, including between CEOs and average workers. CEOs, on average, make 250 times the salary of the average worker in Canada.

Among a series of tax reform measures, McQuaig proposed the creation of two new tax brackets, for those who earn $500,000 (at 60 per cent) and those who earn $2.5 million (at 70 percent). This move alone would generate an additional $8 billion into government coffers.

Olivia Chow Urges Progress on White Ribbon Campaign



Trinity-Spadina MP Olivia Chow spoke about her late husband Jack Layton who felt it was a necessity as a man to challenge other men to get involved in anti-violence and equality initiatives.

NDP MP Olivia Chow urged delegates to continue their efforts to end male violence against women by not only raising it on the shop floor and in their communities, but also by taking the fight into electoral politics.

"The quest must continue - we must continue it in the political sphere," Chow said during a ceremony honouring her late husband Jack Layton's key role in establishing and building the global White Ribbon Campaign.

Layton helped launch the campaign as a way to raise awareness and to change male attitudes after a male gunman fatally shot 14 young women at L'Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal 23 years ago on December 6.

Chow recalled how Jack started the campaign in his son Mike's bedroom in their Toronto home and how it was eventually built into a world-wide awareness effort that now reaches into more than 60 countries world wide.

After the massacre there was widespread shock and anger and then mourning and concern, but Chow said Jack was determined to create a movement that resulted in action and concrete results.

A key concept was to use white ribbons as a visible symbol, which led to dialogue and awareness among other males and ultimately to taking responsibility. She said there was such a feeling of despair after the shootings and the White Ribbon Campaign helped provide a way to move ahead.

The White Ribbon Campaign tackled the issue from two key angles: by empowering women, and also by asking men to recognize their responsibilities in ending male violence against women.

She blasted the Harper government in Ottawa for rolling back so many social and human rights programs of which the Tories' relentless efforts to end the long-gun registry is of particular concern.

Chow stressed the need for a national child care program, affordable housing programs, quality public education, the entrenchment of pay equity and many other progressive programs.

She thanked the CAW for its long-standing commitment to the White Ribbon Campaign and for taking concrete steps and practical approaches to ending male violence against women over many years.

CAW President Ken Lewenza gave an emotional thanks to Chow and to Mike Layton, Jack's son and a Toronto City councilor, who also spoke to delegates.

"This is such a fantastic and fitting tribute to Jack's legacy," Mike Layton said, who also urged continuing efforts to end male violence against women and children.

Unions and Occupy Movement Must Foster Community Links

Occupy Toronto activist Lana Goldberg said the Occupy movement wants to build links with labour and with community groups to further the struggle for a fair and equitable society.

"We want to work together and to broaden our base," Goldberg told delegates. She stressed that although many Occupy camps are now dissembled the Occupy movement is still going strong and is alive and well.

She said Occupy was built on principles of direct democracy, inclusiveness, and equality that allowed many people to become involved in creating a more equitable society for the first time.

CAW Council delegates unanimously endorsed a recommendation to continue working with Occupy groups in their respective communities and to defend the interests of the 99 per cent.

CAW Council President Tim Carrie said the Occupy movement's battles against inequality and injustice are also the union's battles.

"The Occupy movement is not a protest. It's a process. It's not going to die, and we're going to be a part of it," Carrie told delegates.

CAW Local 4003 (Via Rail Toronto) Chairperson Andrew Stephen encouraged delegates to build on the support that Occupy has so far received and to continue the conversation that's started.

"We need to build the collective strength of the 99 per cent."

Council Delegates Commit to Push Pay Equity in Bargaining

Delegates to CAW Council unanimously endorsed a recommendation calling on staff representatives, local union leaders and bargaining committee members to make pay equity a key requirement in collective agreements across the country.

The recommendation was made by CAW President Ken Lewenza in his opening address to Council on December 2.

CAW Local 240 President Theresa Farao spoke in favour of the recommendation and shared a personal story of how winning pay equity in her workplace, CAA, has helped equalize the standards between men and women.

"Success could take years, but it's worth the fight," Farao said. Local 240 has also had successful pay equity campaigns at The Windsor Star, Beach Grove retirement home and is currently working on campaigns at Greenshield and The Bay.

"There's systemic discrimination built into our workplaces and our wages, where men are paid more than women for jobs of equal value," Farao told delegates.

Farao said that trade unionists have a responsibility to look at every single workplace to ensure all employers recognize pay equity as a priority.

We Make It Move

A new CAW policy document called We Make It Move: A Vision for Sustainable ransportation was unanimously endorsed by CAW Council.

Delegate after delegate from transportation sector workplaces across the union went to the microphones to discuss the importance of the new vision outlined in the document, which was first presented and endorsed at the CAW Transportation Conference in September.

Key issues such as climate change, the future of oil and the impact of globalization are rapidly changing how we move and the machinery that moves us, the document states.

"We need a made-in-Canada transportation system that is the most efficient, accessible, green and safe in the world," said CAW President Ken Lewenza. "To achieve this goal we must face the issues head on, put forth a vision for the future, propose real solutions, and work to build momentum across the union and within broader movements to win the change we need."

To read the new CAW transportation document go to: http://www.caw.ca/en/10639.htm.

CAW Urges Municipal Councils to Steer Clear of CETA

CAW delegates unanimously endorsed a recommendation urging city and town councils across Canada to demand a "clear, permanent exemption" from a proposed E.U.-Canada free trade accord.

If ratified, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) will be the first international trade deal to bind Canadian sub-national governments (including provinces and municipalities) to trade rules, particularly with respect to government procurement, public services and investment.

The CETA threatens to restrict the ability of local governments and government agencies to use buy-local policies to maximize the economic value of public purchases. It also threatens to reduce the ability of governments to use public spending as a tool for environmental protection, support for local farmers and small businesses.

CAW Local 444 First Vice-President Dino Chiodo called CETA a "destructive trade deal" and one that leaves local governments vulnerable to cut-throat global competition.

"Private European firms are gunning for our public services, like health care, education and postal services," Chiodo said. "With such little attention paid to such an important trade deal our job is to make sure the public understands what's at stake here."

With trade talks expected to wrap up as early as 2012, CAW Atlantic Region Director Les Holloway urged Council delegates to "wake up on this issue" before it's too late.

"Free trade deals are designed to shift power from governments, and citizens, to private corporations," Holloway said. "We've already seen it with NAFTA, and we're seeing it again with CETA."

In a study released in 2010, CAW Economist Jim Stanford pegged Canadian job losses in the manufacturing sector at up to 150,000, as a result of the CETA.

A sample resolution was circulated to Council delegates that calls on municipalities to demand a clear, permanent exemption from the CETA and demands the provincial or territorial government fully disclose its initial procurement, services and investment offers to the E.U.

To see the resolution please visit: http://www.caw.ca/assets/images/Canada-EU-Municipal-Resolution.pdf

Visit http://www.caw.ca/en/8883.htm for more information.

Support for Women's Shelters and Food Banks

CAW President Ken Lewenza outlined the terrible toll poverty takes on communities across the country with one in 10 Canadians living in poverty, according to the latest Campaign 2000 report.

Campaign 2000 recently stated that part of the reason for high poverty levels is the dramatic decline in good paying jobs which are being replaced increasingly by poor quality, insecure and low paid work.

"You should recognize that when you lose good paying jobs and bring in part-time, precarious low paid jobs, you're increasing the level of poverty," Lewenza said. Lewenza thanked delegates and CAW local unions for supporting social justice causes throughout their communities including women's shelters and food banks.

Delegates unanimously endorsed the annual $100,000 donation shared by the CAW Council and the Social Justice Fund that provides support for women's shelters across Canada.

In addition, they also endorsed the $135,000 donation, shared by CAW Council and the SJF, to provide badly needed support for 46 food banks across Canada.

A recent study of food banks in Canada shows that as of October 2011, 850,000 Canadians now rely on food banks, which is the second highest month on record.

CAW Throws Support Behind Injured Workers Campaign

CAW Council delegates unanimously endorsed a resolution calling on the union to re-commit itself to
the fight for injured workers rights and to champion a call for long-overdue reforms to the workers' compensation system in Ontario.

CAW Locals 112 and 707 introduced separate (although similar) resolutions to the CAW Council on December 3. The resolutions called on the union to build support around four key demands for reforming workers' compensation, including:

  • A guarantee of injured worker job security, by employers, and accommodation measures that ensure a level of dignity or full compensation;
  • Full respect given to the advice of workers' medical practitioners, by the Workers' Safety and Insurance Board, with respect to worker recuperation and rehabilitation;
  • A guarantee of lifetime pension benefits for lifetime injuries;
  • A full "cost of living" adjustment for all workers' compensation benefits.

The resolutions rebuke the report, and recommendations, issued by business consulting firm KPMG on restructuring Ontario's workers' compensation system. The report, commissioned by the WSIB, undermines the "fundamental principles of workers' compensation", as stated in the resolutions.

CAW Local 112 Financial Secretary and Chair of the CAW Council Workers' Compensation Committee Scott McIlmoyle said that these recommendations signal an all-out-attack on Ontario's injured workers.

"At a time when Ontario's injured workers need greater support, KPMG is proposing reforms that would effectively end the workers' compensation system as we know it," McIlmoyle said.

Council delegates resolved to meet with senior representatives at all regional WSIB offices in Ontario to raise the union's concerns, meet with MPPs across the province and do workplace education on the importance of a stronger workers' compensation system that prioritizes the needs of injured workers.

CAW Commemorates Layton with Dedication at YWCA Centre

The CAW has raised $100,000 to name a room in honour of former federal NDP leader and White Ribbon Campaign founder Jack Layton at a newly-opened YWCA Elm Centre housing complex and centre for women.

Located downtown Toronto, the Elm Centre will provide 300 single family apartments and will house the YWCA Toronto's administrative offices. The environmentally-friendly community hub will provide housing to 50-women led first nations families, 150 low income units and 100 units for women living with mental health issues.

The tenant lounge will be dedicated to Jack Layton for his commitment to ending violence against women, challenging other men to speak out against violence and abuse and promoting women's social and economic equality on all fronts.

YWCA Toronto CEO Heather McGregor voiced her appreciation on behalf of the organization for CAW's donation in an address to CAW Council.

"The CAW has a long history of fighting sexism and working to improve women's safety and equality. We are proud to receive this wonderful gift in Jack's name. His work and vision continues to inspire people across Canada to work for equality and social justice," said McGregor.

"The Elm Centre will continue to build on Jack's legacy and the principals of promoting gender equality which are at the cornerstone of the White Ribbon Campaign," said CAW Women's Department Director Julie White.

"Jack felt men have both a role and responsibility in working to end violence against women and challenged men to step up and speak out to end violence against women by promoting gender equality. The Elm Centre is an excellent example of a community initiative that will create the economic conditions for women to live a life free of violence."

Half of the money raised came from the CAW Social Justice Fund, and the remaining funds were donated by CAW local unions and sector councils. Locals and sector councils will be formally recognized in CONTACT at a later date.

For more information on the YWCA Elm Centre, please visit: http://www.ywcatoronto.org/page.asp?pid=76

Bud Jimmerfield Award Goes to Longtime CAW Local 636 Activist

Bud Jimmerfield Award recipient Garry Gray tells delegates that he feels good about the work done in his facility and others across the country and it believes it likely has saved lives. Retired CAW President Bob White looks on.

CAW health and safety activist Garry Gray has seen the conditions of work change dramatically in his more than 40 years on the job.

Gray is the 2011 Bud Jimmerfield Award recipient and a member of CAW Local 636 at SAF/Holland Canada in Woodstock, Ontario.

Gray started at SAF/Holland Canada in 1966 as a machinist and by 1967 was elected to the bargaining committee. When Gray started at the facility, he told delegates that the welding shop was so full of dark smoke that it wasn't even possible to see 10 feet ahead. "Now you can see from one end of the plant to the other. I swore that one day, there wouldn't be anymore smog."

Gray has been involved in 13 sets of contract negotiations over the past 40 years and elected to the joint health and safety committee, where he served as the co-chair for 24 years.

In presenting Gray with the award on December 3, Health, Safety and Environment Director Sari Sairanen told delegates that Garry has strived to ensure everyone goes home whole at the end of their work day.

"All his working life Garry has taken great pride and pleasure in teaching H&S and representing workers at all levels of WSIB/CPP and EI appeals throughout Ontario," said Sairanen. She said that according to his co-workers, Gray has only ever lost one appeal.

Over his years as a health and safety activist, Garry has trained thousands of union and non-union workers not only in Ontario but also in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. He recounted fond memories of training health and safety activists in the fishery of Newfoundland, shortly before FFAW members joined the CAW.

Bud Jimmerfield, President of CAW Local 89, passed away nearly 13 years ago from cancer of the esophagus caused by exposure to metalworking fluids.

At the CAW Council in December 1997, Bud challenged Council delegates to go back to their workplaces and locals to prevent occupational and environmental cancers from occurring. The award is presented each year in his honour.

CAW Donates to Goderich Relief Efforts

(L-R) CAW President Ken Lewenza, Local 2458 Vice President Darlene Prouse, Local 2458 member Cheryl McClure, CAW Local 302 President Nancy McMurphy, Goderich Mayor Delbert (Deb) Shewfelt and CAW Secretary-Treasurer Peter Kennedy.

The CAW has donated $35,000 to the Town of Goderich, Ontario in support of relief and rebuilding efforts in the wake of a devastating tornado that ripped through the town on August 21.

CAW President Ken Lewenza made the cheque presentation to Goderich Mayor Deb Shewfelt at CAW Council on December 3, calling it a "down payment" from the union. The Town has so far raised $3 million in aid money, and is aiming for a total of $10 million.

"We will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the community of Goderich until they reach their goal," Lewenza said.

In a speech to council delegates, CAW Local 2458 member and unit chairperson at Seaforth Manor long term care facility Cheryl McClure, recounted the details of a horrific tornado-related accident that resulted in her husband, Jim Johnston, suffering serious injuries and requiring emergency medical care. Jim was struck by a fish and chips shack that was blown over because of high winds.

"We are thankful for the tremendous support of emergency responders and hospital workers in Goderich and London," McClure said.

Mayor Shewfelt, a former trade union member, said McClure's story is one of thousands being told by citizens, including many other CAW members living in Goderich. Shewfelt spoke to delegates about the challenges the Town now faces and remained hopeful that the community will surface stronger, as a result.

"In the aftermath of the storm I told a lot of the people, 'you are not victims - you are survivors," Shewfelt said.

The CAW will set up a webpage, on www.caw.ca/en, for the public to make donations to support the Goderich relief efforts in the coming days.

Canada Should Lead on Climate Talks or "Get Out of the Way"

In a joint statement, progressive non-governmental organizations and trade unions are urging the Harper government to lead on a new ambitious, equitable and binding international climate agreement or "at least get out of the way."

The joint statement, signed by the CAW and other groups, including the Council of Canadians, Canadian Union of Public Employees and Greenpeace, was released on November 28, which marked the first day of the 17th annual international climate negotiations taking place under the UN Framework Conference on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The conference involves over 190 nations and runs until December 9.

"There is no question that the planet is facing a serious climate change crisis that requires leadership from all national governments including our own," reads the statement.

The statement highlights examples of Canada's dismal track record on climate change action under the Harper government, including:

  • being the only country to weaken its national emissions reduction target after signing the Copenhagen Accord in 2009;
  • being the only country to have ratified and then renounced its commitments under the Kyoto Protocol;
  • lobbying against important climate policies in the European Union that penalize tar sands oil exports.

CAW President Ken Lewenza said the Harper government's total failure to address climate change (both at home and globally), and fully to recognize its potentially damaging consequences, is indicative of a government that is fundamentally callous, uncaring and short-sighted.

To read the full statement visit: http://www.caw.ca/assets/images/Durban_statement.pdf

Canada Must Change Approach to Job Creation, CAW says

The absence of a national good jobs strategy for Canada is cause for concern and should prompt the federal government to change its approach to job creation as the economy continues to stagnate, CAW National President Ken Lewenza says.

With crises mounting in Europe, the U.S. economy sputtering and the corporate sector electing to stockpile profits instead of investing in the real economy, Lewenza stressed the need for strong federal job creation policies and a national good jobs summit.

Lewenza's comments are in response to the second consecutive dismal monthly labour market report issued by Statistics Canada which show the country shed another 19,000 net jobs in the month of November, extending the number of overall job losses to 73,000 in the past two months.

"The global economy is on pins and needles and workers in Canada are feeling the pressure," Lewenza said. "Why isn't the Harper government taking meaningful and pro-active steps to pre-empt a possible economic fall-out?"

The national Labour Force Survey reported further losses in the manufacturing sector (more than half a million jobs in the past years), leaving one of Canada's most strategic and high value sectors a shell of itself, Lewenza said.

Today, fewer than 1 in 10 workers are employed in the manufacturing sector, the lowest ever recorded. The survey also reported a further tanking of job prospects for young workers, with a drop of 18,000.

Lewenza urged the federal government to re-consider cost-cutting (and job-slashing) usterity and short-term debt-fighting measures.

He also called for the Harper government to hold the line on important public sector jobs, direct new public investment towards local infrastructure projects (with a special emphasis on local-content requirements to boost Canada's failing manufacturing sector) and immediately hold a national good jobs summit.

We Did It!

CAW Connected has reached and surpassed the goal of reaching 5,000 members by its second birthday - December 4, 2011. Way to go!

Today, CAW Connected has 6,053 members right across the country and more members are signing up every day.

Launched December 4, 2009, CAW Connected is a way to find out about national and regional campaigns, events and other ways to get active and get involved in the union and progressive causes.

We're now working towards reaching 10,000 by this time next year, so make sure to sign up so you don't miss a thing!

CAW Connected cards are available through the CAW Communications Department or members can also sign up online at: http://connected.caw.ca/

White Ribbon Campaign Returns to Its Roots

CAW members and volunteers spent much of the day on December 5 gaining support for the White Ribbon Campaign at Toronto's Union Station, the city's busiest rail terminal. The campaign was launched in the same location 20 years ago and has since spread to 65 countries. The initiative was organized by Denise Hampden, CAW Local 4003.
For more information please visit

Staff Appointment

CAW National President Ken Lewenza has appointed Serge Dupont, President, CAW Local 510 as staff representative, replacing Andre Gendron, working out of our Montreal office, effective Sunday, February 5, 2012.


Ford steers fleet to Transit

The Transit will be 25 percent more fuel-efficient than a comparable E-Series vehicle in part because it will be more than 300 pounds lighter. (Ford)

With demise of Crown Victoria, Econoline,
Town Car, business vehicles get new ride

Alisa Priddle/ The Detroit News
December 9, 2011

Ford Motor Co. wants to grow its lucrative commercial truck business as it shifts customers to a new line of vehicles.

The stalwart Ford Crown Victoria and Lincoln Town Car were discontinued in August, and the E-Series van will drive off into the sunset in 2013. That leaves an array of fleet buyers from taxi and limo drivers to police officers and drivers of service vehicles seeking replacements.

Ford is hoping E-Series customers will seamlessly shift to a future version of the Ford Transit commercial van that will be built at the automaker's Kansas City plant and go on sale in 2013. It is counting on taxi drivers to embrace the Transit Connect; that police will be satisfied with the Taurus- and Explorer-based Interceptors that go into production in January; and that Town Car customers will migrate to the Lincoln MKT Town Car for their limo and livery needs when that vehicle goes into production next spring.

"They don't have much choice," said analyst Dave Sullivan of AutoPacific Inc. in Ann Arbor. Ford had to draw from its modern lineup to satisfy commercial customers.

Ford has sold about 232,000 commercial vehicles through September, said Len Deluca, director of commercial vehicles.

Ford is investing more than $1 billion in the Kansas City plant to prepare for the Transit, add a stamping plant and add a second shift of F-Series production.

The Transit will be 25 percent more fuel-efficient than a comparable E-Series in part because it will be more than 300 pounds lighter, said Derrick Kuzak, Ford's head of global product development.

The move is in keeping with a sustainability plan Ford announced in 2006 that called for weight reduction of 250 to 750 pounds in all vehicles by 2020.

The current Transit is built in Europe and sold everywhere but North America. About a dozen Transits are in the U.S. for a year of testing by fleet customers. The feedback will help ensure the next-generation Transit is a strong replacement for the E-Series, said Eric Guenther, general marketing manager for the Ford fleet.

Even though the new Transit switches from body-on-frame to unibody construction, Ford is determined that durability will not be sacrificed, Kuzak said. For commercial customers, reliability and cost of ownership are paramount.

Sullivan said Nissan's research before launching the NV commercial van found customers wanted body-on-frame on rough American roads.

Like the E-Series it replaces, the Transit for North America will be rear-wheel drive.

Big numbers are at stake. Ford has sold about 6 million Transits globally to date. Another 8 million E-Series — or Econolines as they used to be called — have been sold since 1961, and 97 percent were to the commercial market, said Rod Stevens, commercial truck chief engineer.

Commercial vehicle sales fell to their lowest point in recent history at 383,000 in 2009. Ford forecasts they will be 540,000 this year, 588,000 in 2012 and 720,000 in 2015.

Ford wants to retain its 70 percent stranglehold on the police car business, which is about 37,000 vehicles a year. And it wants to retain annual sales of 3,000 to 5,000 Town Cars for livery service.

Ford is also investing $128 million to make its largest commercial vehicles at the Ohio Assembly Plant in Avon Lake.

The E-Series will be discontinued, but Ford will continue to make E-Series "cutaways" that are converted to motorhomes, U-Hauls and other service vehicles. The plant also will take over medium truck and motorhome chassis work that was being done in Mexico.

And the F-650 gets a segment first: a 6.8-liter V-10 gasoline engine instead of paying an $8,300 premium for a diesel engine. It will go into production in March, and Ford is taking orders now from municipalities that want more affordable dump trucks, tow trucks and other service vehicles.

Gerry Koss, fleet marketing manager, said Ford also has prepped engines that can run on compressed natural gas or liquid propane and be used across all commercial vehicles.


GM to pay UAW workers about
$12 million in quality bonuses

Craig Trudell/ Bloomberg News
December 8, 2011

General Motors Co., 10 weeks after ratifying a new labor contract with the United Auto Workers, said union hourly employees achieved vehicle-quality targets and will be eligible for about $12 million in bonuses.

The $250 bonus per eligible worker will be paid out in employees' Dec. 16 paychecks, Kim Carpenter, a spokeswoman for the Detroit-based company, said today in a phone interview. The "vast majority" of the automaker's 48,500 UAW-represented workers are eligible, she said, without giving more specifics.

Chief Executive Officer Dan Akerson has said GM's new four-year labor contract keeps the automaker competitive by only marginally boosting the company's $5 billion annual labor tab. Senior workers won't receive a base wage increase and the union accepted that some pay would be based on GM's profitability.

Annual quality bonuses are dependent on GM's target for incidents per 1,000 vehicles that have been in service for two months, Carpenter said.

"We were 98 percent of our target, and so the payout is $250 per eligible UAW employee," she said.

GM gave wage increases for entry-level workers, $5,000 signing bonuses and other benefits that the company estimates will total $675 million in costs through 2013. The automaker estimates it will get $460 million in savings to partially offset those payouts, according to a Sept. 28 presentation to analysts.

Labor costs will rise 1 percent a year, which is the smallest increase in a GM contract in four decades, the automaker said in September.


Ford denies authorizing
search for Mulally successor

The company continues to groom a list of internal candidates for succession when the time comes, which could be in two years. Mulally has consistently ducked questions on the timing of his retirement. He is 66 years old. (J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)

Alisa Priddle/ The Detroit News
December 7, 2011

Ford Motor Co. is denying a Wall Street Journal report suggesting a search has been authorized to find a replacement for CEO Alan Mulally, who is expected to step down in the next couple of years.

"The story is false," said Ford spokeswoman Karen Hampton, confirming the board has not sanctioned any external searches for candidates, nor has any outside agency been hired to seek candidates.

Mulally, as a guest on the "Fox and Friends" morning show Tuesday, said, "There's always going to be speculation about succession plans but it's absolutely not true."

The company continues to groom a list of internal candidates for succession when the time comes, which could be in the next two years. Mulally has consistently ducked questions on the timing of his retirement. He is 66 years old.

"As Bill Ford has consistently said, we will always consider both internal and external candidates for any succession plan, but we do not have a search under way for an external CEO successor," Hampton said.

Internal candidates include frontrunner Mark Fields, president of The Americas; Lewis Booth, chief financial officer; Joe Hinrichs who oversees Asian operations; Jim Farley, head of global marketing, sales and service; and Stephen Odell, who heads Ford of Europe.

"Any report of discussions with external candidates is false," Hampton said.

As for suggestions that Ford could hire a chief operating officer at some point in the future to work closely with Mulally and eventually succeed him, Hampton said she cannot rule out board actions in the future, but said the automaker has no current plans to create a COO position.


Big 3 face challenges as
European crisis unfolds

Recent U.S. restructurings may help
carmakers gain at rivals' expense

Bryce G. Hoffman/ The Detroit News
December 1, 2011

The economic crisis that threatens to tear apart the eurozone is becoming the biggest challenge to Detroit's automakers. But it may also be a golden opportunity.

As Europe slips back into a recession, weak demand for cars is undermining sales. It also is breeding fierce competition among automakers, with many slashing prices and offering big incentives to hold on to their slice of the shrinking market.

All of this is eating up profits and creating serious drag on the bottom line of all three Detroit manufacturers.

In many ways, Europe is where the United States was three years ago: in the middle of its worst economic crisis in generations. Here, the Detroit Three used that crisis to close factories, cut tens of thousands of jobs and negotiate game-changing contracts with the United Auto Workers that helped narrow their competitiveness gap with the foreign-owned plants operating in the United States.

Now the American automakers hope the crisis in the eurozone will allow them to do the same thing in a region that has resisted restructuring for years. Other carmakers are also putting together restructuring plans, but Detroit may have an advantage: General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC all have played this game before.

"Europe is about to go through a very difficult economic time driven by the same financial fears that were plaguing the U.S. market," said Warren Browne, vice president of business development at the consulting firm AutomotiveCompass LLC. "There is an opportunity to do the restructuring that is required in Europe."

But Browne, formerly a high-ranking executive in Europe for General Motors, says right-sizing their operations in a region with a dizzying array of unions, national governments and a historical aversion to downsizing will prove far more challenging.

"If General Motors had its druthers, it would maximize its output in Poland, in Eastern Europe and in Spain. But it can't make that decision unilaterally," he said. "The social contracts in a lot of these countries are part of the culture. That will keep governments from being the enabler that the U.S. government was."

New-car registrations in Europe were down 1.8 percent in October, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association.

'Things have deteriorated'
In November, GM reported a 12 percent drop in third-quarter earnings. The company blamed much of that decline on its struggling European operations, which lost $292 million — more than any other region.

"Clearly, things have deteriorated," said GM Chief Financial Officer Dan Ammann when the numbers were released. "We need to adjust to the new reality."

He said GM was "not going to rule anything out," including plant closings and layoffs.

Addressing the Detroit Economic Club a few days later, GM CEO Dan Akerson said the overcapacity in Europe — which he put at about 20 percent and others put as high as 35 percent — is forcing his company and others to make bad choices.

"You're trying to bend the demand curve to meet the supply curve," Akerson said. "You overproduce, you cut price to take or hold share, you start dumping your excess into fleets, it ruins your residuals. … It's exactly what happened here."

And with consumer confidence withering in the face of a mounting sovereign debt crisis, he said it will only get worse unless automakers are able to adjust production to match the diminished demand for their vehicles.

GM signaled last week that it is preparing for a major restructuring in Europe when it replaced the head of its Adam Opel AG subsidiary in Germany and named one of its heavy hitters, Vice Chairman Steve Girsky, chairman of Opel's governing supervisory board. Girsky played a major role in the restructuring of GM's U.S. operations.

The man heading Ford of Europe is no stranger to restructuring, either. Steve Odell's tough-love approach with Volvo, Ford's former Swedish subsidiary, helped turn the money-losing brand into a salable property. As the head of Volvo, Odell cut thousands of jobs in a country that had long resisted layoffs.

On Friday, he addressed the European Parliament in Brussels, urging European Union leaders to take concrete steps to keep the European car business competitive and do whatever is necessary to maintain the integrity of the eurozone, even if these require painful policy decisions.

"We need to enhance the global competitiveness of Europe's volume auto industry," Odell said, calling for a more rational approach to regulation and trade policy. "At a time of rising unemployment and increasing social discontent on our continent, we cannot afford to be complacent about the competitiveness of our manufacturing industry."

Ford's own European operations lost $306 million in the third quarter.

Marchionne 'not hopeful'
Chrysler is not a major player in Europe, but its parent company — Fiat SpA — is, and it is suffering mightily as a result of its dependency on Italian car sales.

"We've lost 17 or 18 years of market growth," Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne told reporters in Toledo last month. "I think we're going to see a very bad 2011, and I'm not hopeful about 2012 at all."

Last week, Fiat began winding down production at its Termini Imerese plant in Sicily, which it plans to turn over to DR Motor Co. SpA, an Italian auto assembly company that has partnered with China's Chery Automobile Co. Ltd. On Tuesday, Fiat began talks with the unions representing workers at its other Italian factories; the discussions are aimed at extending a new, more competitive, contract.

The Fiat-Chrysler group does not break out financial results by region. However, when Fiat took over the bankrupt Chrysler in 2009, analysts on both sides of the Atlantic worried the Auburn Hills automaker would drag down Fiat with it; now Chrysler is supporting Fiat.

The weak European market is weighing heavily on share prices. It is one of the main reasons why shares in Ford and GM are trading well below recent highs, Browne said.

"They have to seize the moment. But it's going to take savvy, complex negotiations," he said. "Ultimately, Wall Street will punish those people that can't fix it."


Talks continue in lawsuit between Ford, ex-exec hired by rival

David Shepardson/ Detroit News Washington Bureau

November 29, 2011

Ford Motor Co. and a former top executive postponed a hearing on a lawsuit Monday over the executive's planned move to a rival auto distributor as talks between the sides continue.

Last Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Victoria A. Roberts sided with Ford and sent a suit against former Ford general sales manager Marty Collins back to Wayne Circuit Court.

Both sides canceled a hearing set for Monday in front of Wayne Circuit Judge Michael Sapala. It has been reset for Tuesday and is expected to take place.

David Hardesty, a lawyer for Collins, declined to comment on the prospects of settling the suit, but acknowledged both sides have been talking.

"There's been discussions since before the suit was filed," he said Monday.

A Ford spokeswoman, Karen Hampton, confirmed that talks were ongoing. "We're still in conversations," she said.

. "Ford filed suit Nov. 10 against Collins, who was general sales manager for Ford and Lincoln at the company's world headquarters in Dearborn. The lawsuit says he can't take the new job because of a non-compete agreement he signed.

Collins told Ford on Oct. 13 that he plans to go to work for Gulf States Toyota, a Houston-based distributor of Toyota vehicles in five states, as president.

Collins was hired in March by Ford, and went to work for the carmaker May 2. He managed the entire dealer distribution network for Ford and Lincoln, and provided "ongoing feedback to senior Ford management regarding sales performance, sales trends and progress toward program and budget goals," the lawsuit says.

It was Collins' second stint with the automaker. He returned to Ford after more than four years at auto retailer Group 1. He had started at Ford in 1985 and served as executive director for Ford and Lincoln Mercury marketing, with responsibility for all marketing functions within the Ford and Lincoln Mercury brands. Collins had also worked internationally, where he was northern regional manager for Ford of Britain for two years.

He also approved major market representation packages, including dealer replacements, according to the suit.

Collins agreed to a confidential information/non-compete agreement when he went to work for Ford for the second time, according to the lawsuit. The agreement stipulated that he not work for a competitor for two years. For his new job at Ford, Collins was paid an annual salary of $400,000 by Ford with a signing bonus of $900,000. He also received an initial restricted stock grant of shares valued at $1.5 million that was to vest over three years. He had a guaranteed bonus of $123,000 for the first year of work, and a guaranteed $127,000 stock award for the first year.

Collins told Ford he had not acquired any confidential information during his tenure at the company, something Ford described as "incredible" and "patently false."

Ford executives told Collins if he stayed at Ford he would be assigned to a new but fully comparable position at his current pay.

Gulf States Toyota told Ford on Oct. 19 that it still planned to hire Collins and would "take as long as it takes" to do so.

On Oct. 24, Collins met with his new supervisor, Jim Farley, who is Ford's group vice president for global marketing, sales and service. Collins told Farley he would give the new position of director of global market representation "150 percent" effort, according to the lawsuit. He began working in the new job and then resigned Nov. 1.

On Nov. 2, Ford told Gulf States Toyota that it planned to enforce its non-compete agreement. A lawyer for Gulf States Toyota, William John Bux, responded Nov. 3 by telling Ford it would not violate the non-compete agreement.

Gulf States Toyota is a wholly owned subsidiary of Friedkin Group Inc. On Nov. 7, Bux told Ford that Collins was being hired as a vice president at Friedkin Group.

Ford questions the move, and notes that the chairman and CEO of Friedkin Group, T. Dan Friedkin, also is chairman and CEO of Gulf States Toyota. "Ford believes that Collins' purported employment as vice president of Friedkin is a sham and is in fact the equivalent executive-level employment with GST," the lawsuit says.

Gulf States Toyota works with more than 150 Toyota dealers in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Oklahoma.


U.S. opens formal probe into Chevrolet Volt for battery fires

David Shepardson/ Detroit News Washington Bureau
November 28, 2011

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Friday it is opening a formal safety investigation into General Motors Co.'s extended-range electric Chevrolet Volt after additional tests sparked a second fire and raised more questions about the safety of the vehicle's lithium-ion battery packs.

NHTSA said it was opening a preliminary investigation into about 5,000 Volts.

Concerns were initially raised about fire after a May 12 crash test of the Volt by NHTSA. The agency performed a side pole impact test, followed by a post-impact rollover test on a Volt at a testing facility. Three weeks later, the unattended parked Volt caught fire.

During that test, the vehicle's battery was damaged and the coolant line was ruptured. NHTSA has concluded that damage to the vehicle's lithium-ion battery during the crash test led to the fire.

Last week, NHTSA performed three more crash tests simulating the damage to a battery pack observed from the first incident.

On Thanksgiving Day, seven days after one of the Volts was tested, the car caught fire. That prompted NHTSA to open the formal investigation on Friday.

On another car, smoke and sparks were reported after the crash test, but the vehicle "self-extinguished." In the car that caught fire on Thanksgiving the temperature of the battery briefly rose after the initial crash test.

"The agency is concerned that damage to the Volt's batteries as part of three tests that are explicitly designed to replicate real-world crash scenarios have resulted in fire," NHTSA said in a statement.

No fires among consumer-owned Volts have been reported, and no complaints of fires have been made. The government has not asked GM to halt sales of the Volt as it investigate.

"While it is too soon to tell whether the investigation will lead to a recall of any vehicles or parts, if NHTSA identifies an unreasonable risk to safety, the agency will take immediate action to notify consumers and ensure that GM communicates with current vehicle owners," the agency said.

GM spokesman Greg Martin said the automaker supports testing with NHTSA on Volt batteries. He emphasized the Volt is safe to drive.

"The move to take this formal, procedural step is not unexpected, as GM has worked closely and cooperatively with NHTSA over the last six months on a part of a broader program designed to induce battery failure after extreme situations," Martin said. "The Volt .. does not present undue risk as part of normal operation or immediately after a severe crash."

At the time of the May incident, GM had no protocol for dealing with a battery that may have been damaged in a crash. Since July, GM has implemented post-crash procedures that include depowering of the battery after a severe crash, Martin said.


F-150's smaller engine prevails

2012 Ford F-150 (Ford Motor Co.)

Ford's V-6 engine a top choice over V-8 for full-size pickups

Alisa Priddle/ The Detroit News
November 26, 2011

Buyers of the F-150 continue to opt for a smaller engine in their full-size pickup, and they are happy with that decision according to data commissioned by Ford Motor Co.

A year ago, Ford never dreamed that 40 percent of F-150 buyers would opt for a V-6 engine. But when November sales figures are released Tuesday, they are expected to show a seventh consecutive month in which four in 10 consumers paid an $895 premium for the smaller engine.

And the figures could stay high. About six weeks ago Ford increased production of F-150s with the EcoBoost V-6. The engine has direct-injection and turbocharging to deliver the V-8 power that customers demand in a full-size pickup. The fuel-efficient powerplant is capable of 22 mpg on the highway and 16 mpg in the city.

"We're on pace to sell over 100,000 F-150s equipped with EcoBoost in less than a year," said Doug Scott, group marketing manager for F-Series trucks. The first pickups with the turbocharged V-6 were sold in late February. The take-rate hit 40 percent by May and has remained that high ever since.

Scott is surprised at how quickly pickup customers have embraced EcoBoost. He expects sales numbers to grow with increased supply. Sales have been impeded because only 32 percent of the F-150s in stock have EcoBoost.

To remedy the shortage, Ford altered the production mix: Since October, about 45 percent of the F-150s being built are equipped with the efficient V-6.

"We really don't know what the high end is or what the ongoing free demand will be," for the smaller engines, Scott said. He noted that Ford started November with a 52-day supply of F-150s, but only a 40-day supply of EcoBoost-equipped models.

When sales of EcoBoost versions of the pickup are combined with the conventional 3.7-liter V-6, about 56 percent of F-150s sold have a V-6 instead of a V-8. The last time V-6s dominated was in 1985. The latest data from the 2011 U.S. Global Quality Research System shows the quality of trucks with a V-6 equals rates with a V-8. The quarterly survey conducted for Ford by RDA Group of Bloomfield Hills found that EcoBoost customers are as satisfied as buyers of trucks with the more traditional 5.0-liter V-8.

The data was gathered from 1,600 F-150 owners who purchased their trucks from September 2010 to May 2011.

The survey supports results of the latest J.D. Power & Associates Initial Quality survey, in which the F-150 scored among the best in the field and was the highest-ranked full-size pickup.

When it comes to pickups, "a key piece is durability and reliability," Scott said, "so the quality numbers are a good sign that EcoBoost is delivering."

Customers surveyed were pleased with the EcoBoost engine and power-assisted steering that adapts to the road conditions and vehicle speed for better handling and fuel efficiency.

The satisfaction levels are translating into savings. Internal data shows warranty claims down from 2010. Notably, there are 25 percent fewer complaints about vibration and 33 percent fewer steering issues.

Maintaining quality is not an easy feat for a truck offered with three cab types, four engines and three box lengths. "More complexity means more potential problems," Scott said. Ford has invested heavily in the assembly process at the Dearborn Truck and Kansas City plants.

"The better the quality is, the lower those warranty expenses are going to be and the more profitable the vehicle line, so that's a major focus," Scott said.


Vol 41, No. 42
Nov 25, 2011


CAW Wind Turbine a Step Towards Environmental Sustainability

The CAW is set to begin construction of a new wind turbine on its property at the union's Family Education Centre in Port Elgin, Ontario. Construction was given a green light after final approvals were provided by local and provincial government agencies.

"This project is an exciting educational opportunity to understand renewable energy resources that will help reduce our carbon footprint, while meeting our energy needs," said CAW National President Ken Lewenza. "It's an also an important chance to support local procurement policies that will ensure good jobs in an emerging green economy."

CAW representatives met on November 15 with Deputy Mayor Luke Charbonneau and John Kyles, President of the Port Elgin & Saugeen Township Beachers' Organization to discuss the previous Ontario Municipal Board ruling which stated that, the "single use, 800 kilowatt 100 metre turbine wouldn't have a significant impact on the surrounding residents or area." Under the CAW's Ontario Feed-In-Tarrif program contract the turbine will operate at 500kw capacity.

At a November meeting of the national executive board of the union, the CAW reaffirmed the importance of the wind turbine project.

"This project began eight years ago as an initiative by our environmental activists within the union," said Lewenza. "It represents our commitment to environmental sustainability and a desire to move to clean energy sources."

The CAW recognizes that some in the community have expressed concern with the project, concerns that the union is working to allay through information sharing and opening up a community dialogue on the wind turbine's operation. The union has set up a webpage that includes downloadable materials and other helpful resources, and can be found at: http://www.caw.ca/en/10744.htm.

Any questions on the wind turbine can be sent directly to cleanwindenergy@caw.ca

CAW Local 195 Celebrates Their 75th Anniversary

CAW Local 195 was chartered in 1936, making it the oldest CAW local in Canada. The local represents 4000 members in multiple units.
Photo by: Gord Gray Local 444



New Agreement for CAW Local 1016 Members at Nav Canada

CAW Local 1016 members who work at Nav Canada providing training and operational support for air traffic control have ratified a new two-year agreement.

The agreement includes wage increases of three per cent in each year. In addition the new agreement also provides new job security language and benefit improvements.

"To conclude a collective agreement without any government intervention in the federal sector is an incredible accomplishment," said CAW National Representative Joel Fournier. "The bargaining committee put a lot effort into concluding this agreement and it has paid off for the membership," he said.

The new contract runs from July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2013 and covers about 280 CAW members who work at seven major airports across Canada, as well as Nav Canada's national headquarters in Ottawa.

CAW Returns to OFL Convention

The biennial Ontario Federation of Labour Convention attracted the highest number of delegates in its history for the November 21-25 event.

More than 1,400 union members took part in the week-long convention held in downtown Toronto. On November 22, OFL President Sid Ryan was acclaimed to head up the organization and will now be joined by Nancy Hutchison (United Steelworkers) as Secretary-Treasurer and Irwin Nanda (Canadian Union of Postal Workers) as Executive Vice President, who were acclaimed and elected respectively.

Nancy Hutchinson, Syd Ryan and Irwin Nanda appear together after the election results were announced, November 22.
Photo: OFL Communications

"We are exhilarated and determined to wrest the fundamental changes needed for the 99%. It's a new beginning," said Ryan, following the announcement of the election results.

The three ran together under the banner of Team Unity, pledging to provide progressive leadership and work to bring the labour movement together to fight off right wing governmental agendas and growing inequality.

Hutchinson is renowned as a health and safety activist and a trailblazer. She was the first woman ever to be employed at the Campbell Red Lake Gold Mill in 1977. Nanda has spent 12 years as a full-time officer of CUPW.

This year's event also marks the first time the CAW has been seated at the OFL convention for more than 10 years.

The convention also heard from Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwarth, former Ontario NDP leader and UN envoy on HIV/AIDS Stephen Lewis, AFL-CIO's Terry Melvin, Canadian Labour Congress President Ken Georgetti, Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation Chief Donny Morris, Toronto and York Region Labour Council President John Cartwright. NDP MP Olivia Chow took part in a tribute to her late husband Jack Layton.

The convention adjourned early twice to support the Occupy Toronto efforts.

For more information, please visit: http://www.ofl.ca/

Financial Appeal for Locked Out Cummins Workers

CAW President Ken Lewenza has issued a financial appeal on behalf of 30 Cummins workers who are members of CAW Local 1044 in Ste. Foy, Quebec and who have been locked out for more than a month.

Lewenza is asking CAW local unions to provide as much financial and picket line support as possible for these workers, who are fighting back against concessions, including the elimination of the cost of living allowance and a wage freeze.

Cheques should be made payable to CAW/TCA Local 1044 and sent to:

Reynald Lachance,
Financial Secretary,
CAW/TCA Local 1044,
5000 boul. Des Gradins #110
Quebec City, QC, G2J 1N3

Skilled Trades Council

CAW Skilled Trades Executive (L to R): Ray Hamel, Dan Lawson, Phillip Fryer, Michel Gagnon, Dave Cassidy, Garry Vandenbossche, Joe Elworthy.

The CAW Skilled Trades Council Executive was brought back into office by acclamation during a meeting of the Skilled Trades Council in Vancouver, November 11-13. The meeting attracted approximately 180 skilled trades workplace representatives.

The executive is as follows:
President, Dave Cassidy, Local 444; Vice President, Phillip Fryer, Local 112; Financial Secretary , Joe Elworthy, Local 2200; Recording Secretary, Ray Hamel, Local 88; Trustees, Chris Taylor, Local 200; Garry Vandenbossche, Local 101; Dan Lawson, Local 222; Quebec Member/ Board Member at Large, Michel Gagnon, Local 510; Sergeant-at-arms, Ashok Venkatarangam, Local 100.

The CAW represents approximately 24,000 skilled trades workers across the country. The next meeting of the Skilled Trades Council will take place during the Skilled Trades Collective Bargaining Conference February 22-24, 2012 in Toronto.

For more information, please visit: http://www.caw.ca/en/services-departments-skilled-trades.htm

CAW Welcomes New Members

  • Oshawa Sequenced Parts Delivery, Whitby, ON, 85 members.
  • UTIL Canada Ltd., Concord ON, 214 members

Chinese car buyers
see brands differently

Andrew Jacobs and Adam Century/ New York Times News Service
Nov 24, 2011

Beijing —Cars in the United States tend to come fully equipped with stereotypes. Ford Crown Victoria: law enforcement professional. Toyota Prius: upscale yuppie environmentalist. Hummer: gas-guzzling egotist.

In China, where the market for imported passenger cars dates back only about three decades, an entirely alternate set of stereotypes is taking root — and the stakes have never been higher for foreign carmakers.

Take, for example, Mercedes-Benz, a brand that in much of the world suggests moneyed respectability. In China, many people think Mercedes-Benz is the domain of the retiree.

The Buick, long associated in the United States with drivers who have a soft spot for the early-bird special, is by contrast one of the hottest luxury cars in China.

But no vehicle in China has developed as ironclad a reputation as the Audi A6, the semiofficial choice of Chinese bureaucrats.

From the country's southern reaches to its northern capital, the A6's slick frame and invariably tinted windows exude an aura of state privilege, authority and, to many ordinary citizens, a whiff of corruption.

"Audi is still the de facto car for government officials," said Wang Zhi, a Beijing taxi driver for 18 years. "It's always best to yield to an Audi — you never know who you're messing with, but chances are it's someone self-important."

With annual growth hovering above 30 percent in recent years, the Chinese automobile market is rapidly surpassing the United States' as the world's most lucrative and strategically important. Last year alone, the Chinese bought an estimated 13.8 million passenger vehicles, handily topping the 11.6 million units sold in the United States.

Even if Chinese brand associations can seem remote and perhaps amusing to those outside the country, Zhang Yu, managing director of Automotive Foresight, a Shanghai industry consultancy, says they will prove decisive to industry sales in coming decades.

"China is already the largest automobile market in the world. No car company can afford to overlook its Chinese brand," he said.

The lower rungs of the Chinese market are still dominated by domestic brands like Chery, whose name and numerous models suggest more than a passing resemblance to Chevy. The affluent, however, are flocking to an increasingly diverse array of foreign luxury offerings.

"Because the market is so young, brand perceptions and a car's face" — an idiom meaning prestige or repute — "are both critical," said Zhang, pointing out that 80 percent of car purchases are made by first-time buyers.

Audi's party technocrat associations are a result partly of its longstanding place on the government's coveted purchasing list. Audi gained access to the Chinese market in 1988 when its owner, Volkswagen, struck a joint venture with Yiqi, a Chinese carmaker.

General Motors has found the Chinese market to be a life-saving opportunity for the reinvention of the Buick brand. Since 2005, America's oldest surviving automobile make has successfully positioned itself in China as a top-tier luxury carmaker.

In 2010, Buick sold more than 550,000 cars in China, more than triple its sales in the United States.

"We joke that our market revived Buick from the dead — it's only partly a joke," said Liu Wen, a reporter for China Auto News.


Chrysler Group CEO warns on
auto assembly costs in Canada

Greg Keenan
Globe and Mail
Nov 23, 2011

The costs of building vehicles in Canada must fall and match the costs of assembly in the United States, Chrysler Group LLC chief executive officer Sergio Marchionne says.

"You cannot have all things, you cannot have a strong currency, you cannot have an uncompetitive wage rate and then expect Chrysler or all the other car makers in this country to keep on making cars in this country and be disadvantaged," Mr. Marchionne said Tuesday after a speech to the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants in Toronto.

The recent agreement Chrysler reached with the United Auto Workers union has reduced the labour component of those costs to about $57 (U.S.) an hour less than hourly costs in Canada, Mr. Marchionne pointed out, although he would not provide the hourly wage costs at the company's two Canadian assembly plants and one parts operation.

But in negotiations next year on a new contract with the CAW, Chrysler will tell the Canadian union how many cars its U.S. plants make an hour, the number of hours needed to assemble a car and U.S. productivity.

"We'll tell them this is what it costs me to make a car [in Canada] and this is what it costs me to make it in the U.S. We need to find a way to make those numbers coincide."

He said he doesn't care how the company gets to those lower numbers in Canada.

Chrysler's minivan assembly plant in Windsor, Ont., and large car factory in Brampton, Ont., turn out about 30 per cent of the vehicles the company makes.

* The posturing has started early


UAW to organize foreign automakers European,
Asian plants on agenda

Alisa Priddle and Christina Rogers/ The Detroit News
Nov 22, 2011

The United Auto Workers has shifted its focus to organizing foreign automakers and is training members for action at the regional level, now that contracts have been secured with Detroit's Big Three.

UAW President Bob King has been clear that his agenda includes organizing Asian and European automakers with plants in the United States. He used an event Monday celebrating the reopening of General Motors Co.'s Spring Hill, Tenn., plant, to tout the merits of collective bargaining in adding jobs.

UAW Vice President Joe Ashton, also in Spring Hill, said the union is moving forward with previously announced plans to organize workers at transplant factories.

The UAW has yet to pick a target. Rather, the union has begun training organizers at the regional level for "informational picketing" at foreign dealerships.

"We know it's going to be a big process to organize the transplants," Ashton said.

The dealership action won't involve actual picketing. Organizers will hand out leaflets extolling the benefits of union membership.

Ashton declined to elaborate on the effort.

King had hoped to launch a campaign to organize a transplant by the end of this year. But the efforts took a back seat this fall as the UAW negotiated new contracts with GM, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC.

After reaching the final deal with Chrysler, King told reporters he doubted he would meet his year-end deadline.

While the union has earmarked a portion of its $60 million strike fund for organizing, satisfactory discussions with workers at various plants in Southern states have made it unnecessary to target any one company yet, King has said.

In March, at its national bargaining convention, the UAW said it was enlisting a global army of activists to demonstrate against non-unionized U.S. plants perceived as violating workers' rights.

Union officials said the army will be unleashed when the union's board targets a company. The union has not said when lobbying or picketing might begin.

When that happens, union leadership said demonstration tactics will include protests at dealerships, corporate headquarters, major events and auto shows.

The union created the Global Organizing Institute to recruit and train activists.

The next step is under way: regional training.


Ford unveils expansion of powertrain operations in China

Ford Explorer 2012

Alisa Priddle/ The Detroit News
November 21, 2011

Ford Motor Co. on Monday announced expansion of its powertrain operations in China as part of aggressive growth plans in the region.

The automaker is introducing 20 new engines and transmissions for the Chinese market by 2015 to support plans to introduce 15 new vehicles for this fast-growing market by mid-decade.

Ford is spending $1.6 billion to build four factories in China to triple its offerings in this crucial region where it holds less than 3 percent market share.

Chief executive Alan Mulally has said he wants to grow annual sales globally by 50 percent to 8 million vehicles by 2015, a goal that needs a greater presence in Asia to achieve.

The powertrain expansion centers on EcoBoost engines with direct injection and turbocharging as well as Ford's six-speed transmissions to boost the overall fuel economy of the fleet there by more than 20 percent. Carbon dioxide emissions also will be reduced by 20 percent, which is vital in areas already fighting the efforts of smog.

"Ford is committed to be a fuel economy leader in every segment that we compete by utilizing advanced powertrain technologies. These technologies represent a core part of our near-term sustainability goals in China," said Kumar Galhotra, vice president, Product Development for Ford Asia Pacific and Africa.

Plans are to offer EcoBoost engines in every Ford brand passenger car in China by 2015.

The all-new 1-liter EcoBoost engine will be built in China, as well, to power small and midsize vehicles to be sold in the region.

It is the smallest engine in the EcoBoost family.

Ford has said it plans to produce 1.5 million EcoBoost engines annually, around the world, by 2013 and these smaller but more powerful powerplants will be offered in almost 80 percent of the automaker's vehicle lineup.

A 2-liter EcoBoost engine is offered in the Mondeo-Zhisheng currently on sale in China.

There will also be a new direct-injection engine available that is not turbocharged.

The Changan Ford Mazda Automobile Co. Ltd. joint venture recently celebrated the groundbreaking for new engine and transmission plants in China to provide more domestic supply with capacity of up to 400,000 units annually each.

New six-speed transmissions, including the dual-clutch automatic that has been criticized in the U.S. as not smooth enough, will replace the current four-speed automatic and five-speed manual transmissions.

Ford unveils expansion of powertrain operations in China
Alisa Priddle/ The Detroit News
Ford Motor Co. on Monday announced expansion of its powertrain operations in China as part of aggressive growth plans in the region.

The automaker is introducing 20 new engines and transmissions for the Chinese market by 2015 to support plans to introduce 15 new vehicles for this fast-growing market by mid-decade.

Ford is spending $1.6 billion to build four factories in China to triple its offerings in this crucial region where it holds less than 3 percent market share.

Chief executive Alan Mulally has said he wants to grow annual sales globally by 50 percent to 8 million vehicles by 2015, a goal that needs a greater presence in Asia to achieve.

The powertrain expansion centers on EcoBoost engines with direct injection and turbocharging as well as Ford's six-speed transmissions to boost the overall fuel economy of the fleet there by more than 20 percent. Carbon dioxide emissions also will be reduced by 20 percent, which is vital in areas already fighting the efforts of smog.

"Ford is committed to be a fuel economy leader in every segment that we compete by utilizing advanced powertrain technologies. These technologies represent a core part of our near-term sustainability goals in China," said Kumar Galhotra, vice president, Product Development for Ford Asia Pacific and Africa.

Plans are to offer EcoBoost engines in every Ford brand passenger car in China by 2015.

The all-new 1-liter EcoBoost engine will be built in China, as well, to power small and midsize vehicles to be sold in the region.

It is the smallest engine in the EcoBoost family.

Ford has said it plans to produce 1.5 million EcoBoost engines annually, around the world, by 2013 and these smaller but more powerful powerplants will be offered in almost 80 percent of the automaker's vehicle lineup.

A 2-liter EcoBoost engine is offered in the Mondeo-Zhisheng currently on sale in China.

There will also be a new direct-injection engine available that is not turbocharged.

The Changan Ford Mazda Automobile Co. Ltd. joint venture recently celebrated the groundbreaking for new engine and transmission plants in China to provide more domestic supply with capacity of up to 400,000 units annually each.

New six-speed transmissions, including the dual-clutch automatic that has been criticized in the U.S. as not smooth enough, will replace the current four-speed automatic and five-speed manual transmissions.



Volume 41, No. 41   
November 18, 2011


CAW Ratifies New Agreement at Northstar, Strike Over

CAW Local 112 members at Northstar Aerospace have ratified a new three-year collective agreement by a margin of 75 percent, marking the end of a 30-day strike at the company's Milton, Ontario facility.

CAW Local 112 President Roland Kiehne said the new deal is a victory for the 135 members employed at the manufacturing facility. The union successfully maintained the workers' cost-of-living allowance (COLA) and bargained new job security language, two main sticking points during the month-long dispute.

"Right from the onset of contract talks our members resolved to protect their COLA and win new job security, in the face of aggressive company concession demands," Kiehne said. "Today, we can proudly say that our members wishes have been signed, sealed and delivered."

In addition to retaining quarterly cost-of-living adjustments the union bargained groundbreaking language that commits Northstar to maintain a "stable workforce" at the Milton facility, that otherwise might be impacted by the subcontracting or transferring out of work.

CAW Aerospace Director Dawn Cartwright said that commitment ensures a stable flow of product into the facility for the duration of Northstar's lucrative contract with Boeing to produce parts for the Apache Block-3 helicopter.

"This job security provision is unlike any we've negotiated before at Northstar," Cartwright said. "It offers a sense of stability and certainty for these members in an otherwise unstable economy."

The recent strike was the longest in the facility's 18-year history, but the end result justified the means, according to CAW Northstar Plant Chairperson Graham Davies.

"Despite the huge financial and emotional toll this strike took on our members and their families, we can proudly say we never wavered on our fundamental demands," Davies said.

"Our members have seen, first hand, that fighting back does make a difference. The feeling of solidarity and pride in our union that was built during this challenging time is electric, and has instilled in us so much hope and optimism for a brighter future."

Northstar Aerospace produces helicopter gears and transmissions as well as other fabricated parts. The new contract expires on Sept 30, 2014.

Overwhelming Support for New Agreement at Brinks in BC

The Brinks Bargaining Committee in B.C., from L to R: Keith Broad, Rick Toombs, Keith Mogensen, Gord McGrath (President, CAW Local 114), Diamen Golob, Gavin McGarrigle (National Representative), Peter Wendel, John Williamson, Maurice Mills and Gary Mihic

CAW Local 114 members who work for Brinks Canada in British Columbia have overwhelmingly ratified a new three-year collective agreement with strong wage and benefit improvements.

The BC Brinks workers ratified the contract by 95 per cent. CAW Local 114 represents approximately 300 Brinks workers in BC and this is their first agreement with the CAW.

The wage increases range from 4.5% to over 9% in Year 1, 3.33% to over 6% in Year 2 and 3.23% to over 5.5% in Year 3.

A new long term disability plan was negotiated as well as improved vision care, and paramedical services. The union also negotiated much stronger language in many areas of the collective agreement.

"This agreement is an important step forward that was approved by an overwhelming show of support by the Brinks BC membership," said CAW National Representative Gavin McGarrigle. "This foundation provides a strong base for the membership and leadership at Brinks to build on in the future."

Oakville District Labour Council Activist Awards dinner

Oakville District Labour Council celebrated the work of local labour activists at an annual awards ceremony, held November 10.

Award recipients from L to R: Pat Leaver, CAW Local 707; Jenny Ahn, CAW Director of Membership Mobilization & Political Action; Dave Millar, Labour Council President/ CAW Local 707 Recording Secretary; and award recipient Angus MacDonald, CAW Local 1256 President.
(Photo by Federico Carvajal)

Canada Should Prioritize Full Employment over Low Inflation, CAW says

The CAW is calling on the federal government to drop its rigid program of inflation targeting and instead mandate the Bank of Canada to adopt a more flexible system that emphasizes full employment, above all other goals.

CAW Economist Jim Stanford delivered the union's message in a presentation to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance on November 15 in Ottawa. Stanford was among a group of private sector economists and academics to address the committee.

Stanford indicated that, in practice, the inflation-targeting system employed by the Bank of Canada since the mid-1990s (steering inflation towards a two per cent target) has imposed several unexpected costs on Canada's economy. These unexpected costs include inhibiting price adjustments, increasing the real burden of debts, reducing real tax revenues for governments and growing income inequality.

"Many global economists are now concluding that a two percent inflation target is too low, and has inadvertently contributed to the current crisis of the world economy," Stanford said. "Our national monetary policy is such that maintaining two percent inflation is an end-goal in itself, and overlooks the primary importance of promoting full employment."

Stanford said the federal government and Bank of Canada should have considered the economic issues and evidence more carefully before rushing to extend the existing two per cent target for another five years (a move made on November 8).

"What's most concerning about this move is that it was made before the House of Commons Finance Committee even held one hearing on the matter," Stanford said.

"Instead of targeting inflation in its own right, and then assuming the real economy will take care of itself, we would do better to actively enlist the power of monetary policy in our effort to maximize real output, which is in fact the true economic goal," Stanford said.

The full text of Stanford's presentation is available online: http://www.caw.ca/en/10730.htm

Settlement Resists Concession Demands at Continental AG

CAW Local 35 members who work at Continental AG, an automotive research and development company, in Chatham, Ontario have voted 83 per cent in favour of a new three-year collective agreement.

The agreement includes annual pay increases that total more than nine per cent over the three years, improved retirement incentives, and a signing bonus.

A key issue in bargaining was the right of new hires to enter into the defined benefit pension plan and the bargaining committee stood firm on this issue.

"We fought hard to preserve the rights of new hires and to prevent the creation of two tiers of workers in this workplace. Thanks to the solidarity of the membership and a strong bargaining committee we achieved those important goals," said Richard Laverty, CAW national representative.

"This small group of workers stood together and pushed back numerous concession demands from this profitable and huge multi-national corporation. The bargaining committee rejected the company's demands despite enormous pressure from the corporation," said Laverty.

The CAW represents approximately 35 workers at Continental AG.

CAW Welcomes New Members

  • Spencer ARL, Niagara Falls, ON - 111 members
  • First Student Canada, Martintown, ON 4 members


Peggy Nash says Canada not 'normal' under Harper

Federal NDP leadership candidate Peggy Nash speaks with the media on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Monday, Oct. 17, 2011. (Adrian Wyld / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The Canadian Press
November 18, 2011

OTTAWA — NDP leadership hopeful Peggy Nash says Canada is no longer a "normal" country under Prime Minister Stephen Harper's direction.

The Toronto MP describes Harper's Canada as a country of growing inequality, record personal debt, hopelessness among youth and a federal government that continually tells people to expect less.

"I don't think that's normal," Nash told The Canadian Press in a wide-ranging interview Thursday.

"I think that's wrong."

Nash said Canadians have a right to expect economic, social and environmental progress, where people co-operate with each other and the government doesn't pit one group against another.

"I think we can have that kind of normal country and I'm determined that I'm going to lead that."

Nash, one of nine contenders seeking to succeed Jack Layton, who died of cancer in August, declined to peg herself as being on the left, centre or right of her party. But the onetime senior negotiator for the Canadian Auto Workers appeared pleased with a Toronto Star columnist's description of her as a "practical radical."

The NDP's finance critic until jumping into the leadership race late last month, Nash offered detailed criticism of the Harper government's economic policies, including its opposition to a tax on financial transactions as a way to deter speculators, what she called "a shadow banking system."

"To me, it makes good sense to take a look at that ... Something that helps reduce speculation, stabilize the global economy is a positive thing."

Nash said speculators are making the sovereign debt crisis in Europe worse because they're essentially "betting that these governments are going to default" on their debts, thereby adding to the destabilization. And she argued that a small tax on "the very risky, dangerous, speculative activities" wouldn't be as onerous as Harper's Conservatives have made out.

The Tories have also maintained that a financial transaction tax would penalize Canadian banks, even though they were not part of the problem that led to the global economic meltdown in 2008. But Nash said the idea is to rein in global speculation, the repercussions of which are felt in Canada, whether or not our banks are to blame.

"We are not immune from the impact of the global economy," she pointed out. "If this reduced the likelihood of damaging speculation in Europe and helped produce greater stability, we would all benefit."

While the notion of a financial transaction tax has picked up some steam recently, with France and Germany pitching the idea for Europe, Nash noted that the key players in the global economy, notably the United States and United Kingdom, remain opposed. Nash said the tax needs to be globally applied to work.

Nash also said she thinks it's worth debating whether the Bank of Canada's monetary policy should continue to be aimed at keeping inflation at two per cent or less. She said the bank's mandate to keep inflation under strict control was adopted as a result of soaring interest rates in the early 1980s but, with economic conditions dramatically different now, she suggested it may be more appropriate to focus on employment levels or inequality.

"Like any policy, I think it's something we have to continually review, monitor and see if it continues to meet our needs."

Nash steered clear of two ideas floated by Brian Topp, the perceived frontrunner in the leadership contest. He has proposed hiking income taxes on the rich and has said he'd be willing to consider hiking the federal sales tax once the economy is on sounder footing.

Nash ruled out hiking the harmonized sales tax. As for taxing the rich more, Nash said only that she favours a "fair and progressive tax system," declining to comment specifically on "one-off" ideas.


New Lincoln MKS, MKT show glimpses of fleet redesign to come

Better handling, efficiency and new features provide luxury customers reasons to consider Lincoln’s flagship 2013 MKS sedan. (Lincoln)

Revised MKS, MKT show glimpses of redesigned near-luxury fleet to come

Alisa Priddle/ The Detroit News
November 17, 2011

Los Angeles —It is not the new face of Lincoln yet, but the revised MKS sedan and MKT crossover to be unveiled today at the Los Angeles Auto Show are key placeholders for a brand on the verge of transformation.

They might lack the "wow" factor that the all-new Lincoln MKZ hopes to provide when it breaks cover in January at the North American International Auto Show. But that doesn't diminish their significance to the struggling Lincoln brand.

"It's a critical first step in the journey, and fairly significant," said Max Wolff, Lincoln's design director.

The vehicles, especially the flagship MKS, are more elegant and refined with a new front end, more trunk space and a new instrument panel to accommodate the MyLincolnTouch infotainment system, Wolff said.

The driving dynamics have been improved with continuously controlled dampening to adjust the suspension to the road surface, and the ride is quieter.

"This is how you evolve products," said Scott Tobin, director of product development.

The goal is to position the brand to offer the responsiveness of a BMW and comfort of a Lexus while also offering leadership in technology, said Derrick Kuzak, Ford Motor Co. head of global product development.

Lincoln will be reborn in two phases, said C.J. O'Donnell, Lincoln group marketing manager.

"The first step is freshening and maintaining the current range," he said, followed by the larger transformation still to come.

"It's the latest from Lincoln, but not the last," said O'Donnell. "There's more to come."

The recent freshening of the MKX crossover has paid off in increased sales. The expectation is the MKS and MKT will do the same, with incremental increases, said Kevin Cour, Lincoln's sales and service operations manager.

The brand is expected to do particularly well in California, where year-to-date sales are up 54 percent, said Kate Pearce, consumer marketing manager.

Designer Wolff has been with Lincoln less than a year, so the MKS and MKT represent the vision of his predecessors. But they hold cues that will be continued in his work going forward.

The MKZ in January will bear his stamp. It will take about three years — when the next-generation MKS comes out — before the whole lineup reflects the new look of the near-luxury brand.

In the interim, the new MKS will start at $43,685, including an $875 destination charge. That's a $1,300 increase over the 3-year-old outgoing model.

The MKS, assembled at the Chicago Assembly Plant, will go on sale in the spring.

Jim Farley, Ford's head of global sales and marketing, said the company needs to "get people to wake up and even notice the brand."

Lincoln is still considered an older brand for a more traditional buyer. Going forward, the Lincoln team wants to attract a younger and wealthier consumer while still playing in the near-luxury segment.

About 1.2 million luxury vehicles are sold in the U.S. annually; Lincoln has about 6 percent market share, O'Donnell said.

About 60 percent of luxury sales are in the $30,000 to $50,000 range, said O'Donnell, "which is where we need to be to establish a base for ourselves."

According to Farley, "We're seeing almost the collapse of the true luxury market in the U.S. The luxury market is now defined by a lower price range," he said, not the $65,000 to $80,000 range.

Lincoln must continue to appeal to current customers. But success depends on conquests as well, Cour said.

"We're a challenger brand," Cour said, on a mission to become a world-class luxury brand.

The redesigned 2013 MKT full-size crossover benefits from a suite of improvements.


Ford unveils reimagined
Escape at LA auto show

The 2013 Ford Escape answers demands for better styling and fuel economy, Ford says. (Ford)

Alisa Priddle/ The Detroit News
November 16, 2011

Los Angeles — The 2013 Ford Escape, making its global debut today at the Los Angeles Auto Show, is a critical investment by the automaker in a crucial market segment.

The automaker has high expectations for the redesigned crossover: Ford completely reworked and updated the small utility vehicle, giving it a more modern and European design.

It may look different, but the Escape has strong name recognition. Consumers appreciate its four-wheel-drive, towing capability and safety, said Mark Fields, Ford president of The Americas. The current model is the top-selling sport wagon/crossover in the United States.

Small utilities and midsize cars are the starting point for 60 percent of new-car shoppers, making the Escape a key vehicle in a high-volume and fast-growing segment of the market. Ford is especially well-positioned because its midsize Fusion sedan also is being replaced.

Aaron Bragman, analyst with IHS Automotive in Northville, said the new Escape should do well if it's priced competitively.

"It looks expensive, but it looks worth it," Bragman said of the new Escape with a panoramic power roof and hands-free power liftgate that opens when the owner makes a kicking motion under the rear bumper.

Product analyst Dave Sullivan of AutoPacific Inc. in Ann Arbor said, "I think they are positioning the Escape as a more refined but affordable alternative to the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. Now the Escape is as good, or better, than the Edge with essentially the same equipment for a potentially lower price point."

The 2013 Escape will go on sale in North America in the first half of 2012. The Kuga, as it is called in Europe and Asia-Pacific, will follow later.

The crossover was designed in Europe and engineered in the U.S., Fields said. While it looks smaller than the outgoing Escape, it actually is slightly longer and wider.

Customers wanted better styling and fuel economy for the Escape, which the new version provides, Fields said. The new Escape has a 3,500-pound towing capacity, but gets an additional 5 miles per gallon, which is a 20 percent improvement.

The new crossover replaces a 10-year-old utility vehicle that had become a cash cow, with development costs long paid off.

Assembly has been moved from Kansas City to the retooled Louisville plant. Ford invested $639 million in the Louisville plant and plans to add a third shift to handle production of the Escape and another new product, likely a Lincoln crossover.

The new Escape was cost-effective to develop because it is the 10th vehicle from the C1 platform, the family of compact vehicles that includes the Ford Focus and C-Max.

In 2000, the original Escape entered a segment that accounted for 5 percent of the total U.S. market, Fields said.

Today, Ford is the leader in the total utility vehicle market with 14 percent share, Fields said, and the automaker has spent a lot of time worrying about how its utilities relate to one another amid fears the new Explorer would cannibalize sales of the Edge or Flex.

Sales of the current Escape were up 31 percent through October and now exceed 200,000 for the first time.

"It's a record year for Escape," said Ken Czubay, vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service.

Escape manager Jason Sprawka said many of today's top-selling crossovers — the CR-V, RAV4 and Chevrolet Equinox — have a softer, modern design as opposed to a rugged boxy truck-like appearance.

"It's definitely moving up in the world," Sullivan said.


Streamlined global marketing paying off, Ford says

Alisa Priddle/ The Detroit News
November 15, 2011

Ford Motor Co. is seeing a payoff from global marketing and advertising campaigns, Jim Farley, global vice president of sales, marketing and sales, said Monday.

A single message around the world — that Ford products have good fuel economy — is raising the favorable opinion consumers have of the brand as a whole. That is translating into higher average transaction prices for vehicles across the lineup, Farley told investors at the Barclays Capital 2011 Global Automotive Conference.

And it is saving money.

Global fixed marketing costs are one of Ford's biggest-ticket items. In 2010 it was a $3.9 billion line item. Ford spent the same amount on capital spending, and $5 billion on engineering, research and development.

Ford is working to be a cost-efficient advertiser, Farley said.

The 2012 Ford Focus has a single global marketing campaign and about 14 television spots; in the past, there would be multiple campaigns around the world with more than 30 commercials. The result is a savings of about $20 million, Farley said.

Ford just started working globally on marketing in the last year, starting with the Focus. But the same practice is being applied to the new Ford Ranger pickup and will be used on other upcoming models.

Ford has also embraced digital and social media to bring down marketing costs while still delivering a global message about new products.

Farley spent much of his career at Toyota Motor Co., where he saw firsthand the benefits of pricing power around the world.

At Ford, "the most expensive thing was putting the blue oval on the front (of the vehicle)," he said, adding "the U.S. was not the only place around the world where it was a discount brand."

"Now we have restored brand value around the world," Farley said, adding Ford has increased its favorability numbers to 60 percent, on par with Toyota.

Farley credits Ford's fuel economy message with changing consumers' perceptions.

"Those who own fuel economy in the U.S., own pricing," Farley said, adding it contributes to a favorable opinion of the brand which can increase average transaction prices by thousands of dollars per vehicle.

As a result, Ford's EcoBoost engines and promotion of the fuel-saving technologies are key to Ford's ongoing success.


Ford to unveil Evos in Vegas

The Ford Evos concept debuted globally at the Frankfurt auto show. (Ford)

Concept car offers glimpse of future technology

Alisa Priddle/ The Detroit News
November 12, 2011

Ford Motor Co. has chosen the 2012 International Consumers Electronics Show in Las Vegas to offer North Americans their first look at the Ford Evos concept, a plug-in hybrid with gullwing doors.

The CES crowd, instead of visitors to the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, will see the concept Jan. 10-13. The car made its global debut this fall at the Frankfurt auto show.

Ford CEO Alan Mulally will be a speaker at CES for the fourth consecutive year.

The Evos was designed to telegraph the future of Ford global design, with a sleeker profile, smaller headlamps and a new design for the iconic blue oval. The design will influence Ford cars and crossovers for the next five years. Some design cues are expected to be on display in Detroit when Ford unveils the new Ford Fusion.

But the Evos also provides a glimpse of future technology for Ford, including the use of cloud computing to better connect the driver and data in the car with the rest of their world via smartphones and other devices.

"The car gets to know you and can act as a personal assistant to handle some of the usual routines of a daily commute," said Paul Mascarenas, Ford chief technical officer. "The Evos concept changes the paradigm of how you interact with your car. Our vision is that the car should seamlessly adapt to the driver, taking the driving experience to a whole new level of personalization and convenience."

Today's cars also have technologies to monitor the health of occupants, everything from heart rate monitoring to reminders to check insulin levels to allergy alert messages when driving through a high-pollen area.

"Our wellness research and technologies are focused on relieving driver stress and enhancing a driver's situational awareness," Mascarenas said. "Drivers around the world are spending more time behind the wheel, and the car should not be another stress point in their lives."

The Evos also relies on the cloud to make adjustments to the plug-in hybrid, which runs on lithium-ion batteries. The car can switch between running on battery or engine power to conserve energy according to how the car is being driven.


CAW Contact
Vol 41 No. 40
Nov 11, 2011


Job Market Instability Signals Sputtering Economy, CAW says

A stunning decline in employment in October (72,000 full time job losses) negates the significant job gains recorded in September and should send a clear signal to governments that without better job market supports, Canada's economy will continue to underperform, said CAW President Ken Lewenza, responding to the recent Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey of national unemployment figures.

"Focusing a national strategy that both aims to create jobs, including through public investments, and improve the quality of existing jobs is something that all governments in Canada can do, right now, to put our economy on a more secure footing," Lewenza said.

"Canadian politicians must stop using the economic problems of other nations to justify inaction here at home," Lewenza said. He reissued a call for the Harper government to organize a national good jobs summit, involving representatives of labour, business and government.

"Certainly, Canada is not sheltered from international economic storms, but that doesn't mean we should sit back and do nothing to avoid another economic crisis in the meantime. Stronger job market performance is a good place to start," Lewenza said, noting that Canada's labour market is in a much more precarious position now than it was prior to the 2008 recession.

Lewenza expressed particular concern around the loss of manufacturing jobs - the sector lost 48,000 jobs in October alone, adding to the 24,000 jobs lost in September.

The goods-producing industries are the foundation of the Canadian economy, said Lewenza. "When we see such huge job losses in these areas, it's a clear sign of a faltering economy and worse yet to come," said Lewenza.

"It's time to re-envision the economy and what kinds of employment we want to be creating for the future."

GM Health Care Trust Finalized

The CAW welcomes the finalization of a new and independent trust fund that will cover the costs of supplementary health care benefits for retirees from General Motors Canada.

The fund, called the Auto Sector Retiree Health Care Trust (asrTrust), was negotiated as part of the government-supported restructuring of General Motors in the spring of 2009.

Following two years of legal implementation and consultation with GM retirees, the trust has now been approved by the Ontario Court of Justice and will take effect. This system has already been in place providing supplementary health care benefits for retired workers at Chrysler Canada since the beginning of this year. The terms of the GM program took longer to implement due to more complex legal and economic issues, and the much larger number of retirees at the company.

Supplementary health benefits (including prescription drug coverage, dental and vision care, etc.) will now be provided to the estimated 32,000 Canadian retirees of GM by the independent trust fund, instead of by the company. GM Canada will pay a total of over $2.5 billion into the fund over the next seven years, beginning with an initial contribution of $1 billion (adjusted for interest, the costs of benefits in 2010 and 2011, and some administrative costs).

The funds contributed by GM, plus investment income earned on those assets, will be used to fund retiree health benefits (including benefits for existing workers at GM, after they retire). The independent trust therefore has assets from which to pay future benefits, so that security of benefits is no longer dependent exclusively on the financial health of General Motors Canada.

"This represents the final step in the restructuring of GM Canada, and now we can move forward with focusing on ensuring GM's future success and presence in Canada," said CAW President Ken Lewenza.

"While the HCT system is not perfect, it provides our retirees with a level of security for future benefits that is far preferable to the previous system," Lewenza added. "Without the HCT, if a company goes bankrupt, retiree health benefits are lost completely.
Now we have money in the bank to ensure at least partial payment of benefits, no matter what."

Lewenza also complimented the work of the independent retirees' steering committee, and their independent legal and financial advisors, for their work over the last two years to strengthen the funding base for the GM HCT. The independent retirees' committee was able to negotiate additional funding commitments by GM, equal to $260 million, above and beyond the funding initially committed by the company in 2009.

The HCT will be managed by an independent board of trustees that includes a number of well known and highly respected experts in the fields of health care policy and investments.

CAW Inks New Deal with Lakeside Steel

CAW Local 523 members working at the Lakeside Steel facility in Welland, Ontario voted 78 per cent in favour of a new three-year collective agreement on November 1.

The new agreement includes hourly wage increases of 1.95 per cent and 2.25 per cent in years two and three, respectively. Workers will receive a cost of living adjustment in year one, estimated at 98 cents/hour.

The agreement also contains dental and vision care benefit improvements, new job training opportunities and increases to monthly long-term disability (LTD) payments, among other gains.

"When you look at the collective agreement, there's lots to be happy about," CAW Local 523 President Rick Alakas told the Niagara Falls Review. "There isn't a portion of the collective agreement monetarily where we didn't get something."

CAW National Staff Representative Doug Orr called the deal a major breakthrough for Lakeside Steel workers, following years of economic uncertainty including bankruptcy protection in 2005 (under former owner Stelco) and ownership changes. New investment in recent years has breathed new life into the facility, securing jobs.

"Our bargaining committee resolved to negotiate a good collective agreement for the members, and they did a tremendous job," Orr said.

New LUMA Committee Elected

Delegates to the recent CAW Local Union Media Association (LUMA) Conference have selected a new committee to provide help and guidance regarding the associations' activities over the next two years.

Here are the members of the new LUMA advisory committee:

Kim Kent, CAW Local 4451
Joe Sarnovsky, CAW Local 222
Bill Turner, CAW Local 1285
Jim Sadlemyer, CAW Local 114
Nick D'Alicandro, CAW Local 112
Peter Scott, CAW Local 199
Mandy Ryan, FFAW/CAW editor
Congratulations to these LUMA advisory committee members. Members of the committee will serve a two-year term until another round of elections is held at the next LUMA conference.

LUMA is an association representing CAW local union communicators, web administrators, writers, photographers, and editors who cover the people, news, issues and events that impact CAW local unions across Canada.

Party For Our Times Magazine

Our Times Magazine will celebrate 30 years of stories about workers' rights and social justice on December 3 in Toronto.

The Our Times 30th anniversary party will be held at 25 Cecil Street in Toronto starting at 7 p.m. on Thursday, December 1.

The keynote speaker is NDP MP Rathika Sitsabaiesan who will discuss workers' rights and social justice. The evening will also include The People vs Harper Verdict, members of the Common Thread Community Chorus, light buffet, dancing, as well as a silent auction.

Tickets are $50 (students, low-waged and unwaged $20 or pay what you can). For more information or to order tickets, send an email to Liz at staff@ourtimes.ca or call 416-703-7661. Toll free is 1-800-648-6131.

Join in the fun.

Staff Appointment

CAW President Ken Lewenza has appointed CAW Local 303 President and National Executive Board member Greg Burton to staff as a service representative working out of the national office, effective Sunday, November 13.


Ford unveils new seat design

It must fit bottoms around the world

Ford is building a lighter seat for its new Ford and Lincoln vehicles. (Ford)

Alisa Priddle/ The Detroit News
November 11, 2011

The 2013 Ford Escape, to be unveiled next week at the Los Angeles Auto Show, is determined not to take a back seat to any vehicle when it comes to seat design.

When the new Escape goes on sale next spring, it will be the first vehicle equipped with Ford Motor Co.'s new front seat designed and engineered in-house for use around the world.

It is 3 pounds lighter, thinner, more cost-effective and designed to be more comfortable for drivers as they spend more time behind the wheel, said Mike Kolich, an engineer with the global seating comfort team that has 14 members worldwide.

Known as "F Gen II" (for second-generation seats for family vehicles), it is one of two front-seat structures to be used in all Ford and Lincoln vehicles in the future. The company will add more features to seats for Lincoln.

The other seat family, code-named MS, debuted in the new global Ford Focus.

All Ford seats must now meet a global comfort standard.

The Escape seat will also support a global array of backsides, fitted in the crossover that will be sold as the Kuga in Europe and Asia Pacific.

Ford also is working on a single structure for rear seats with the flexibility to flip and fold as needed. That design will soon replace all existing back seats, Kolich said.

Until 2005, Ford relied on suppliers to engineer its seats; there were about 10 designs across the lineup. Ford decided to take over the work internally, creating savings with common seats and parts.

Ford is one of the few automakers to do its own seats, but other companies are trending in that direction. Ford has seven exclusive patents on its work.

"It's been hugely beneficial," Kolich said. "Now we're among the leaders in seat comfort."

Ford is using virtual technology to evaluate designs to better ensure quality, craftsmanship and comfort before the prototype stage, said Elizabeth Baron, virtual reality and advanced visualization technical specialist.

In its labs, Ford suits up engineers to work in a virtual interior.

Baron also uses "augmented reality" technology that lays a virtual seat over the current one to evaluate the differences between the two with an X-ray-like transparency that shows how the seat touches the body.

Third-party data from Global Quality Research System shows Ford and General Motors Co. are leaders, Kolich said. Consumer satisfaction scores for Ford seats have risen steadily from 78 percent in 2005 to 83 percent in 2010.

The average driver spends 101 minutes a day on the road, according to a University of California study.


Ford to upgrade MyFord
Touch after taking heat

November 10, 2011

DEARBORN, Michigan (AP) -- Ford Motor Co., stung by falling quality ratings because of its glitch-prone MyFord Touch system, is planning a major upgrade that it hopes will fix the problems - and repair its own reputation.

Early next year, Ford is sending flash drives with a software upgrade to approximately 250,000 U.S. customers with MyFord Touch and MyLincoln Touch, the equivalent system in Ford's luxury Lincoln brand. Owners can do the upgrade themselves in about 45 minutes, or dealers will do it for free. Ford is still deciding how it will offer the upgrade to 200,000 buyers outside of the U.S.

Ford knows of no other car company that has given owners the option of upgrading their own software on this scale. The unprecedented step underscores the urgency of the problem for Ford, which last month fell from 10th place to 20th place in Consumer Reports' annual reliability rankings largely because of MyFord Touch. Ford also plummeted in a J.D. Power quality survey earlier this year.

MyFord Touch, which debuted last year on the Ford Edge, replaces traditional dashboard knobs and buttons with a touch screen. Drivers control climate, navigation, entertainment, phone calls and other functions using touch or voice commands. It's a $750 option on lower trim levels, but comes standard on higher-end ones. Ford quickly rolled out the system on the Ford Explorer, Ford Focus and other models.

Dealer phone lines and Internet chat rooms were soon buzzing with complaints. The system shut down without warning and took too long to reboot. It didn't understand voice commands and didn't always respond to owners' touch. Some owners found the information-packed screens overwhelming.

Ford had dealers perform four software updates and paid dealers to hold owner clinics. But it soon realized it had to do more. The latest upgrade makes significant changes. Screens are now simpler and cleaner, with larger text and shading to outline buttons. Voice recognition is improved. Ford says the new system responds to touch commands more quickly and is less likely to shut down.

New models due out next year, including the redesigned Ford Escape and Ford Taurus, will automatically get the upgraded system.

Ford won't say how much it's spending on the upgrade.

Ford is unapologetic about the system, saying MyFord Touch is an advanced technology that's drawing new customers to the brand. Sales of the new Ford Explorer have more than doubled so far this year, for example. But the company also learned quickly that buyers aren't as forgiving with glitches in their cars as they are with their phones or computers.

"People's expectation of what's in the car is totally different than what they brought home from Best Buy," Gary Jablonski, Ford's manager of Sync platform development, told The Associated Press in a recent interview. Sync, a four-year-old voice command system that Ford designed with Microsoft Corp., serves as the platform for the more advanced MyFord Touch.

Forrest Brown, a Ford dealer in Dyersville, Iowa, got a barrage of complaints last winter when customers were unable to defrost their windshields or turn up the heat because their screens were going blank. But the problems have become less frequent as Ford updates the software. Brown has also started inviting customers back to the dealership so he can answer questions about the system.

"We've come to the realization that this type of technology is going to be in almost all vehicles in the future, so you might as well get used to it and understand it and make your customers aware of it," Brown said.

Jablonski insists MyFord Touch was thoroughly tested and not brought to the market too soon, as some critics contend. The problem, he said, is that not everything is testable. The system syncs up to more than 70 different kinds of mobile phones, for example, which are constantly getting updates of their own. Customers may blame the car for something that is really the fault of the phone.

But Ford realizes it may have gone further than its customers wanted to go. The company is planning to bring back volume and tuning knobs, for example, because it found people didn't like using a touch screen for those functions.

Jeremy Anwyl, chief executive of auto information site Edmunds.com, once watched a MyFord Touch screen freeze up during a Ford demonstration. Still, he gives Ford credit for taking a chance on new technology, even at the expense of its quality scores. Vehicle quality is getting so good that customers are increasingly basing their buying decisions on high-tech options, he said.

"I'd rather have MyFord Touch and Sync and take the heat from than not have it at all," he said.


Retiree settlement closes
book on GM bailout

Nov 9, 2011
John Spears Toronto Star

The books have finally closed on the government bailout of General Motors Canada with the set-up of a trust fund to cover the health care benefits of retired workers.

GM will pay a total of $2.5 billion into a healthcare trust under the agreement, finalized Tuesday by the Ontario Court of Justice.

It puts the cap on the struggles of both GM of Canada and its U.S. parent, which flirted with bankruptcy in 2008 and 2009 before being rescued by government financing.

"It was the last element," said GM of Canada spokeswoman Faye Roberts. "We're glad to see it put to bed."

The company will pay $1 billion to the trust immediately, and the balance over the next seven years.

The money will be used to cover healthcare benefits for 32,000 GM retirees, which had been thrown into question when the company flirted with bankruptcy in 2009.

GM of Canada secured $6 billion in government aid in 2009 to stay afloat.

Part of the deal was that the company would set up a healthcare trust to fund the benefits of retirees.

Ken Lewenza, president of the CAW, said court approval was needed because the union isn't the official bargaining agent for retirees, who had independent legal representation in the settlement.

"They had a lot of questions, and legitimate stuff," he said. "Their anxieties were high, their questions were significant…The whole idea of a healthcare trust was never in their vocabulary when they retired."

Lewenza said federal government officials told the union that the company couldn't survive with the ongoing liability of retiree healthcare on its books.

"We've got money now regardless of what General Motors' situation is moving forward. That's the positive," he said.

"The negative part is, we've got to hope for good returns to maximize the healthcare benefits that we provide our retirees."

Lewenza said there's been no reduction in benefits, but future benefit levels will be determined by the trust's performance.

The settlement took a long time to work out because "there was no law in Canada to allow this kind of a healthcare trust to work," Lewenza said.

Federal and Ontario laws both had to be changed for the trust to proceed, he said.

GM of Canada benefits from the settlement because it removes $3 billion in liabilities from the company's books. The company said it will record an accounting gain of $0.8 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Lewenza said the company was "incredibly aggressive" in pursuing the settlement.

"Six or seven months ago they said publicly if the healthcare trust does not get done, it's not likely that General Motors will have any real purpose to invest in Canada again," he said.

Asked about Lewenza's statement, Roberts said:

"It was very important in order to improve the competitiveness of our over-all costs here by having the liabilities for the post-retirement health care be moved to the independent trust."


Ford doubles down on
flagging Flex for 2013

A refreshed Ford Flex will be shown at next week’s Los Angeles Auto Show. The 2013 model drops the Ford blue oval in favor of Flex branding. Analysts wonder how long Ford will keep it in the lineup, but Ford has taken pains to distinguish the Flex from the Explorer. (Ford)

Sales down, retention up as new model debuts in L.A.

Alisa Priddle/ The Detroit News
November 8, 2011

Ford Motor Co. is upgrading — not abandoning — the Ford Flex for the 2013 model year.

The Flex was introduced in 2008 and filled the gap left when Ford abandoned the minivan segment. But the seven-passenger family vehicle — part wagon, minivan and crossover — has failed to excite buyers.

Sales of about 23,000 through October are down almost 22 percent, and Ford sold fewer than 35,000 in 2010, down almost 12 percent from the previous year, according to Autodata Corp.

Ford executives repeatedly have said there are no plans to discontinue the Flex, insisting it has its place in the lineup.

A refreshed Flex will be shown next week at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

Flex customers are fiercely loyal, said Mark Fields, president of the Americas. The Flex has the highest retention rate of any car in the Ford lineup, he said.

The Flex has become popular on the West Coast, making an L.A. show introduction appropriate, Fields said. One-in-five retail sales are in trend-setting California. "It's helping to change our image there," Fields said of the car sought by buyers who want cargo room but don't need off-road capability.

The automaker has even taken the unusual branding step of removing the Ford blue oval from the redesigned front end, which now only has the Flex name.

Dave Sullivan, product analyst with AutoPacific Inc. in Ann Arbor, questions how long the Flex will remain in Ford's lineup.

"How much longer is there room for two three-row vehicles," he asked, referring to the popular new Explorer that gets better fuel economy, has more traditional styling, has almost as much passenger and cargo room, and costs less.

But if Ford wants to keep both, Sullivan said Ford was wise to update the styling of the Flex.

"It looks bolder, more urban and hip," he said of the grille and headlamps and updated interior with the latest MyFordTouch.

Fuel economy improves by 1 mile per gallon to 18 mpg city and 25 mpg highway by adding twin independent variable camshaft timing to the 3.5-liter V-6 engine. It delivers 285 horsepower, which is up by about 20 horsepower.

The six-speed SelectShift automatic transmission has paddle shifters for manual control.

The Flex joins the Ford Explorer in offering rear inflatable seatbelts. It offers adaptive cruise control, collision warning systems and blind spot detection.

The Flex is built in Oakville, Ontario, alongside the sister Lincoln MKT, which has also been upgraded and will be shown in California next week.


Ford upgrades 2013
onboard system

Ford upgrades 2013 onboard system

MyFordTouch issues have hurt reliability ratings in past year

Alisa Priddle/ The Detroit News
November 7, 2011

Ford Motor Co. has improved its onboard infotainment system, MyFordTouch, for the 2013 model year. Customers with earlier versions of the system are eligible for the upgrade as well.

Some of the changes address criticism that the system is too complicated or does not respond well.

The Ford brand slid 10 notches this year to No. 20 in Consumer Reports' reliability survey. Many of the complaints centered on MyFordTouch. Consumers had trouble with the touch-screen interface, which would sometimes freeze or fail to respond.

For the 2013 model year, MyFordTouch will be added to the new Escape, Taurus and Flex.

All improvements will also be offered free of charge to current owners of vehicles with MyFordTouch. They will be mailed a flash drive to install the update, or they can go to a dealer.

The only notable vehicles that do not have MyFordTouch include the F-Series, Fiesta, Mustang and Fusion. The new Fusion, to be unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, is expected to have the feature.

MyFordTouch remains one of the top reasons that consumers list for buying a Ford product, said Graydon Reitz, Ford's global director for vehicle electronics.

The latest version is faster, simpler and easier to use, he said. And Ford is offering more instructions on how to use the current system on websites and at the dealership.

The new system has a touch screen that reacts faster and the voice recognition was also improved for faster response, Reitz said. There is better phone compatibility as well.

The navigation system has new map data with sophisticated three-dimensional images. Customers also can plug in their tablets and audio books.

Jennifer Brace, a user interface design engineer, said the goal was for the displays on the touch screen to have fewer buttons, less clutter and larger fonts. Some of the design interface resembles traditional knobs, making use more intuitive for many drivers.

Ed Chrumka of Nuance Communications said the next challenge is improving voice recognition to better translate a command into an action. Nuance, headquartered in Burlington, Mass., specializes in voice technology and is partnered with Ford on MyFordTouch.

"The software technology is still a bit immature," Chrumka said. The solution likely lies in moving the technology from being imbedded in the car where there are memory and engineering constraints, to cloud computing that can tap into servers, supercomputers and data centers, he said.


Ford revs up small-car line

Automaker plans compacts with performance

Alisa Priddle and David Shepardson/ The Detroit News
November 6, 2011

Ford Motor Co. is rolling out small cars for every taste and driving style.

A Ford Fiesta ST concept will make its global debut Nov. 16 at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Also whetting consumers' appetites for performance vehicles will be the new Focus ST for North America.

At the other end of the spectrum, Ford on Wednesday opened a website to accept reservations for the new all-electric 2012 Focus EV that will start at $39,995, including a $795 destination charge.

The price is the same as the 2012 Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric car, but more than the all-electric Nissan Leaf at $35,200. All are eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit.

The first Focus EVs will be delivered by year end, starting in California, New York and New Jersey. But the bulk of deliveries will be in 2012, said spokesman Daniel Pierce.

The electric Focus, which Ford hopes will run 100 miles on a single charge, is substantially more expensive than a conventional model that starts at $17,295.

Sales of the Focus in October dipped from a year ago, but Mark Fields, Ford's president of the Americas, insists he is happy with the car's U.S. sales.

"November and December will be the first time we will have appropriate inventory levels," Fields said, adding that the company has worked through unspecified launch issues.

Michigan Assembly in Wayne is now running at full speed, he said.
And Fields said he is pleased that Focus sales have doubled on the West Coast.

For those wanting a more spirited small car, the L.A. show will be the first look at a five-door Fiesta ST with a 1.6-litre EcoBoost four-cylinder engine delivering about 177 horsepower. It complements a three-door Fiesta ST concept unveiled this fall at the Frankfurt auto show.

Together, they indicate what a Fiesta ST would look like when it joins the Focus ST in Ford's small-car portfolio. ST stands for "sport technology."
The Fiesta ST is inspired by the Fiesta RS World Rally and Fiesta Rallycross cars.

The larger Focus ST that will go on sale in North America next year has a 2-litre EcoBoost engine and is expected to get 250 horsepower.

"It's a chance to take the brand to places where it's never been," said Jim Farley, head of marketing, sales and .

Ford Racing dates back 110 years, but today's definition of performance has broadened to incorporate rally cars, X Games and drifting, which appeal to the millennials. Ford's marketing machine is aligning its vehicles with these popular sports.

"Four years ago, we knew the products were coming, and we started working on the marketing side," Farley said of the new Fiesta and Focus now on the market.

The Focus is Ford's first truly global car, making the Focus ST — to be sold in 40 countries — the first global performance vehicle for the automaker that used to tailor its vehicles to specific markets, said Jamal Hameedi, SVT chief nameplate engineer.

"The Fiesta ST concept shows in the most dramatic way possible that the qualities that define an ST are not limited to one model," said Jost Capito, Ford director of Global Performance Vehicles.


Chrysler-United Auto Workers contract under fire

Rebel union group's petition seeks to halt pact ratified by UAW

Bryce G. Hoffman/ The Detroit News
November 5, 2011

The dissident group Autoworkers Caravan has filed a petition with the United Auto Workers on behalf of Chrysler Group LLC skilled-trades workers, appealing the union's decision to ratify its new contract with the automaker over their objections.

While the majority of UAW members voted in favor of the new contract last week, the majority of skilled-trades workers voted against it. Union rules require contracts to be ratified by both skilled trades and production workers, but UAW leaders meeting in closed session voted to overturn that veto and sign the agreement on Oct. 26.

"We voted down the tentative agreement. But they used a procedural loophole to ratify it," said Alex Wassell, a member of Autoworkers Caravan who works at Chrysler's Warren Stamping Plant. "We think it's a very bad agreement and a very bad precedent, and we're going to do everything we can to overturn it."

The UAW had no comment on the petition. "We haven't received the appeal yet," said spokeswoman Michele Martin, adding that the document — signed by more than 200 Chrysler skilled-trades workers — was still with the union's legal department.

UAW President Bob King said last week that he and other union leaders decided to throw out the skilled-trades' vote because their veto was driven by economic concerns rather than issues particularly pertaining to skilled trades, noting the majority of all UAW members who cast ballots voted in favor of ratification.

But George Windau, the worker at Chrysler's Jeep plant in Toledo who started the petition, said King and the other union leaders had decided how they were going to rule before the meeting began.

"We were not asked why we voted 'no,' he said. "Our voices need to be honored and heard."

He asked that the new contract not be finalized until the union hears their appeal.

While the contract has yet to be signed, the UAW has officially informed Chrysler of its ratification. A source familiar with the situation said workers will not receive signing bonuses until the document is actually signed.

The UAW is still evaluating the appeal, but it likely will result in a hearing before the union's public review board, an independent body made up primarily of experts in labor law, labor relations and ethics.

That is what Wassell is hoping for. "We want to go through a discovery phase and find out exactly how Bob King and the other leaders made that decision," he said. "We think it will show that it was just a rubber-stamp."


CAW Contact
November 4, 2011
Volume 41, No. 39


AC Must Reverse Scheduling Crew Decision, CAW says

The CAW is calling on Air Canada to reverse its decision to relocate crew scheduling personnel, from Montreal to Toronto.

Air Canada recently notified the CAW that it would be demanding the approximately 130 crew scheduling and flight operations members move from Montreal to Toronto -or face unemployment.

Air Canada did not give any reasonable rationale for the sudden change. "Our members lives will be adversely affected by this decision," said CAW President Ken Lewenza. "With the nature of the work that our members perform and the technology that exists today this decision makes no sense."

The CAW is calling on Air Canada to reverse this decision immediately. "We are going to take on this challenge head on," vowed CAW Local 2002 President Jamie Ross.

The union has planned a series of meetings with the membership where the CAW will be developing a strategy to push the airline to reverse its decision.

The CAW crew scheduling groups have been in contract negotiations with Air Canada since August, 2011. Progress in bargaining was slow and recently a federal conciliator was appointed to assist with the process.

CAW Focuses Spotlight on Bad Trade Deal with Europe

CAW members take their protest against the CETA to the provincial legislative building in Victoria, British Columbia on October 17.

Actions by CAW members in Vancouver, British Columbia and Windsor, Ontario on October 17 helped raise the profile of a national campaign to stop a potentially damaging free trade deal between Canada and the European Union.

In B.C., CAW Local 111 members organized a public demonstration outside the provincial legislature in Victoria to protest the proposed Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). Demonstrators delivered 300 signed letters opposing the CETA to Premier Christy Clark in the legislature, through NDP MLA, and CAW Local 111 member,
Mable Elmore.

CAW Local 111 Women's Committee Chairperson Ruth Armstrong said the proposed trade pact has been negotiated under lock-and-key by the federal, provincial and territorial governments, and it's time all parties informed Canadians what's at stake.

"We are very disturbed by what we've heard about this deal, through leaked texts and news reports," said Armstrong, who was a lead organizer for the Victoria rally.

The CETA could impact how governments, including city governments, purchase goods and services (restricting the use of job-creating 'buy-local' procurement policies). The deal also threatens to privatize water services, drive up the cost of private pharmaceuticals, and kill up to 150,000 manufacturing jobs, among a host of other issues.

In Windsor, local CAW representatives delivered deputations to city council in support of a resolution that calls on the federal government to ensure municipal interests are protected during the CETA talks (municipalities are the only level of government not represented at the bargaining table). The resolution also calls on government to provide municipalities regular and detailed status updates on the trade negotiations.

CAW Local 444 First Vice President and Windsor District Labour Council President Dino Chiodo said that while the resolution lacked the "teeth" unions in the community had hoped for to hold the government to account, it has helped kick-start a public dialogue on the CETA in Windsor (A mass demonstration against the CETA was later held on October 29, organized by Occupy Windsor and supported by the CAW).

"We need our city council to take a more critical look at what's being negotiated in this deal - as all municipal councils across the country should - rather than simply assume that any trade deal is a good trade deal," Chiodo said.

These actions coincided with a national "Week of Action" organized by the Trade Justice Network that paralleled the ninth round of official CETA negotiations. The negotiations ran from October 17-21 in Ottawa. Government officials are expecting CETA talks to wrap up by early 2012.

For more information on the national CETA campaign, visit: http://www.tradejusticenetwork.ca/

Peggy Nash Launches NDP Leadership Campaign

Current NDP MP and former Assistant to the CAW National President Peggy Nash announced her NDP leadership bid on October 28, vowing to make jobs and the Canadian economy a focus of her campaign.

"Everyone knows the NDP has its heart in the right place," Nash told the crowd. "I can make it clear to Canadians we can manage the economy."

Nash attacked the economic priorities of Prime Minister Harper vowing that her NDP government would "make sure that our economy works to the benefit of all Canadians, not just the few at the top."

Former party leader Jack Layton appointed Nash Finance Critic in 2011 and Industry Critic in 2006.

CAW President Ken Lewenza said in a letter to local unions, staff and co-ordinators that although the CAW is no longer connected to the NDP in any official capacity, he supports Peggy and her campaign to become NDP leader.

"Peggy is a credible, powerful voice on behalf of working people, social justice, and the environment," said Lewenza. "I am confident that with Peggy Nash as leader of the Official Opposition, Canadians would have a better chance of resisting the damaging, unfair policies of the Harper government. This must be our top priority."

Nash, who is fluent in French and Spanish , called the NDP leadership race a "critical moment" and a "historic opportunity for progressives from Quebec and Canada, right across this country to harness this great swelling of optimism and energy."

For more information on Peggy's campaign, to get involved or donate, please visit: http://www.peggynash.ca/

Congratulations 2011 LUMA Awards


Text and Newsletter - General Excellence

Locals under 1000 members
CAW Local 1859 - The Spark
Text and Newsletter - General Excellence Locals over 1000 members
FFAW - The Forum
Text and Newsletter - Best Story
FFAW - The Forum ("Defying the Odds")
Text and Newsletter - Best Layout and


CAW Local 1285 - 50th Anniversary Book
Text and Newsletter - Best Layout and Design Honourable Mention
CAW Local 2002 - The Rose Vine

In special recognition of 43 years of quality, rank and file labour communications
CAW Local 1520 - News Headline

Website - Best Overall Website
CAW Local 2002 - http://www.caw2002tca.ca/
Website - Best Homepage
CAW Local 199 - http://www.caw199.com/
Website - Best Campaign Page
CAW Local 199 - www.caw199.com/whyjoinaunion

Photography - Best Overall Labour Photo
CAW Local 199
Photography - Best Labour Portrait
CAW Local 112
Photography - Best Activist Photo
CAW Local 222

Most Innovative Use of New Media
CAW Local 88 - Go Mobile!

Best Use of Social Media
CAW Local 444

Most Creative Media Project
CAW Local 199 - 75th Anniversary Calendar

Most Creative Media Project Honourable Mention
CAW Local 2002 - Fair Deal Bracelets

Audio Visual - Best Video
CAW Local 114 - Hair on Fire


Chrysler proposed $22 an hour

Autoworkers say failed attempt to end two-tier wage unfair

Bryce G. Hoffman/ The Detroit News
November 4, 2011

Chrysler Group LLC wanted to pay all U.S. production workers $22 an hour as part of a plan to eliminate the United Auto Workers' current two-tier wage system, according to two sources close to the recently concluded contract negotiations between the company and the union.

That would have provided a big raise for new hires, who were making less than $15 an hour. But it would have been a painful cut for veteran employees who make up most of Chrysler's work force. They currently are paid $29.11 an hour.

Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said last week that getting rid of the two-tier pay system was a key goal that he failed to achieve in this year's labor talks, and he promised to put it back on the table when the new contract expires in 2015. He called the current system unfair because it creates two classes of workers, but did not offer details of his proposal to replace it with a common base wage.

Entry-level workers receive no pension and less generous benefits.

Marchionne also wanted to permanently remove the cap on additional second-tier, lower-wage workers that is due to take effect in 2015, the sources said. Chrysler confirmed it Thursday, but would not comment on Marchionne's wage offer. Even without these concessions, Marchionne succeeded in negotiating a contract that was far less generous than those the UAW negotiated with General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. Chrysler says the new deal will barely raise its labor costs, but labor experts say it already has cost the company a lot on the factory floor.

"It's a very unhappy work force now. They got less, and they basically feel like Chrysler wants to continue to give them less," said Kristin Dziczek of the Center for Automotive Research. "Chrysler workers are already saying, 'Save your raises (for a future strike),' and Mr. Marchionne is already throwing down the gauntlet for 2015."

UAW President Bob King acknowledged there was "a lot of frustration" with the new Chrysler contract, which was only ratified after union leaders took the rare step of invalidating a "no" vote by the company's skilled trades workers.

"They saw their sisters and brothers at GM and Ford getting a lot more money," King told reporters last week. "Is everybody on the floor of the factory happy? Absolutely not. I'm not happy, either."

But he said the contract recognized the financial challenges facing Chrysler.

According to former U.S. car czar Steve Rattner, who helped broker the transfer of Chrysler to Fiat, Marchionne has called on the UAW to accept "a culture of poverty" in place of the "culture of entitlement" that has long prevailed in Detroit.

Marchionne, who assumed control of the bankrupt Chrysler when it was taken over by Italy's Fiat SpA in 2009, is trying to deal with the difficult realities facing the company, said Vice President of Communications Gualberto Ranieri.

"If you are really interested in the permanent success of the company, you have to do things with rigor, with discipline and knowing what you can and cannot afford," he said. "The clear commitment of the leadership of this company is to do everything with rigor and discipline, not to return to the bad habits that led the old Chrysler to Chapter 11."

Ranieri said the new contract recognizes that Chrysler's situation is different from its crosstown competitors. Ford never went bankrupt. GM emerged from Chapter 11 with $50 billion in equity, while Chrysler left federal court with $8 billion in debt. The American taxpayers still own a big chunk of GM, while Chrysler repaid its loans and bought out Uncle Sam early — albeit by taking on additional debt.

"It was not because someone here won the lottery, and it was not generated by the automotive business. The recent history of Chrysler is not comparable to any of the other manufacturers, and you don't need an MBA to understand this," Ranieri said. "What the company proposed, what the UAW negotiating team unanimously approved and what the majority of its members voted for is consistent with the situation at Chrysler. It will ensure that Chrysler has the means to grow and not put in danger its future."

Workers say they appreciate what Marchionne has done to help Chrysler get back on its feet. But some say they are worried about his push to put them on a different pay scale from other American autoworkers.

"Of all the people who've owned us, I always thought Fiat was doing more for Chrysler. They really seemed to care about making our products better," said Cathy Smith, a tier-one worker at Chrysler's Trenton Engine Complex.

"But Sergio's comments about getting rid of the two-tier system was a slap in our face. It was a slap in Bob's face. Because we all know he was not talking about bringing the entry-level workers up to our level."

While Chrysler workers were prevented from striking during recent contract negotiations under the terms of the 2009 bailout, Smith said everyone is talking about how that restriction will no longer apply when the new contract expires in four years.

"It's going to be ugly in '15," she said.


Ford of Canada sales lead
the market year-to-date

November 3, 2011

Second-best October since 1999

October Highlights:

  • Ford Focus sales increased 12%
  • Ford Transit Connect sales rose 4%
  • Ford Escape sales were up 2%
  • Ford Explorer sales jumped 368%
  • Ford Expedition sales rose 1%
  • Ford Ranger sales were up 35%
  • Lincoln MKZ sales increased 7%

OAKVILLE, Ont., November 3, 2011 – With overall sales up 4 per cent year-to-date, Ford Motor Company of Canada, Limited continues to lead the market in Canada. Demand for the fuel-efficient Ford Focus, up 12 per cent compared to last October, led to its best sales in more than four years. Strong demand for the Ford Explorer helped sales jump 368 per cent compared to the same period last year.

“Although sales were down slightly, October still came in as the second-largest in sales in 12 years,” said Scott Cauvel, vice president of sales, Ford of Canada.

Our truck sales have been hampered by a shortage of F-150s with EcoBoost engines. The combination of powerful performance and great fuel efficiency is very popular -- as soon as an F-150 with EcoBoost arrives at the dealership, it’s sold.”  

Ford Motor Company of Canada, Limited
October 2011 Vehicle Sales




Ford sales up 6%; GM flat;
Chrysler spikes 27%

Bryce G. Hoffman and Alisa Priddle/ The Detroit News
November 2, 2011

U.S. car and truck sales were up 7.5 percent in October, making it the industry's best month since February.

But the results still fell short of analysts' estimates, and experts warned that gains would be more modest in the months ahead.

Chrysler Group LLC saw the biggest sales gain, up 27 percent year-over-year on the strength of its new and refreshed vehicles. The Auburn Hills automaker sold 114,512 cars and trucks in October, compared to 90,137 for October 2010. That was enough to push Chrysler's market share to 11.2 percent — a gain of nearly two percentage points.

"It was another great month for Chrysler, much of it again on the strength of Jeep," said analyst Michelle Krebs of Edmunds.com, though she noted that Chrysler's Fiat brand continues to struggle. "(The) Fiat 500 still looks to be underperforming expectations, with sales of under 2,000 units last month."

Ford Motor Co. sales were up 6.2 percent, climbing to 167,502 from 157,650 in October 2010. Ford's market share, however, slipped slightly to 16.4 percent from 16.6 percent a year ago.

"The best way October sales could be characterized is solid," said Ford sales analyst Erich Merkle, adding that the company still expects to finish the year strong.

"Ford reported a strong year-over-year growth in pickup trucks," said analyst Himanshu Patel of JPMorgan. "(But) total car sales were down."

October traditionally is a strong truck month for all manufacturers.

General Motors Co. posted the weakest increase of the Detroit Three. Its sales increased from 183,543 to 186,895, a gain of 1.8 percent. GM lost a full point of market share, dropping to 18.3 percent from 19.3 percent a year ago.

More promising was the fact that more than 80 percent of GM's car sales and about 50 percent of its truck and crossover sales were 2012 models.

On the strength of these new models, the automaker was able to cut its average incentive by more $300.

Chrysler, Ford and Nissan Motors Co. all increased their incentives more than the industry average, according to data from the Power Information Network obtained by The Detroit News.

Still, Don Johnson, GM's vice president of U.S. sales, called October a "lumpy month" that saw some products gain ground, while others ceded it to foreign competitors.

"We did see some of the Japanese manufacturers start to regain their footing," he acknowledged during a conference call Tuesday.

The Chevrolet Cruze, which has been the best-selling compact car in the United States since May, returned its crown to Toyota's Corolla.

The über-popular compact has been in short supply — along with other Toyota, Honda and Nissan models — since the March earthquake and tsunami delivered a one-two punch to the Japanese automobile industry. Now, just as the Japanese manufacturers say their inventories are returning to normal, they have been dealt another blow as devastating floods crippled key suppliers in Thailand.

Toyota Motor Corp.'s sales rebounded sharply from September, but they were still off from a year ago. Toyota sold 134,046 cars and trucks last month, compared to 145,474 in October 2010, a decline of 7.9 percent that left it with 13.1 percent of the market.

Toyota executives said they are confident they will be able to reclaim some of that lost share now that vehicle shortages are becoming a thing of the past. To help do that, the automaker is pulling forward its holiday promotions.

"We've gone through a tough six months," said Bob Carter, general manager of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. "The shortages are really behind us."

At least that is the hope. Toyota said flooding has impacted many of its suppliers in Thailand, and the company is curtailing overtime at U.S. factories to conserve parts.

But the impact of the floods is being felt more acutely at Honda Motor Co., which has seen one of its own assembly plants shut down by the disaster.

Honda's sales slipped by half a percent in October, dipping to 98,333 units from 98,811 a year ago. Honda's market share fell from 10.4 percent to 9.6 percent.

Analyst Jessica Caldwell, also of Edmunds, called the Thai floods "a second blow" to Japanese automakers.

"I don't fully think that they're back," she said. "It's still going to be tough for them."

Caldwell said American automakers could soon be impacted, too. GM said it has seen no impact to date, but is surveying its supply base to assess its exposure.

Ford said it does not anticipate any impact on its U.S. production.

Nissan was the only one of the major Japanese automakers to post a sales gain last month. Its October sales were up 18 percent, climbing from 69,773 units to 82,346 to claim 8.1 percent of the market.

South Korea's Hyundai Motor Co. posted a 22.8 percent sales increase, while Germany's Volkswagen AG topped the chart with a 35.6 percent gain. Hyundai's market share increased from 4.5 percent to 5.1 percent, while VW's climbed to 3.8 percent from 3 percent a year earlier.

Caldwell said she expects overall sales to continue to rise, but at a slower pace than the industry has seen since the end of summer.

"It seems like things are normalizing a bit," she said, adding that pent-up demand is trumping consumers' fear about the economy.


Deal approved in
Ford plant cleanup

Feds to pay carmaker $6.6M for Rouge site costs dating to WWI

Dave Shepardson/ Detroit New Washington Bureau
November 1, 2011

Washington — A federal judge has approved an agreement ending Ford Motor Co.'s dispute with the federal government over the cleanup of the 1,100-acre Rouge Manufacturing complex in Dearborn.

U.S. District Judge Bernard A. Friedman in Detroit approved the consent decree — announced in August — in which the U.S. government will pay Ford $6.6 million toward the cleanup costs dating to World War I, when the government ordered Ford to produce military armaments.

But Friedman didn't approve a separate agreement under which the federal government would pay Ford $4.25 million to help clean a neighboring 48-acre piece of property called the Schaefer Road Area.

Friedman said the Schaefer decision is up to U.S. District Judge Robert Cleland, who is hearing a separate suit between Ford, Severstal Dearborn LLC and MichCon over that property. MichCon, a unit of DTE Energy, has also sued the U.S.

The Dearborn automaker filed suit in May 2004 against the federal government, arguing the government should pay a share of the costs of cleaning up the automaker's Rouge manufacturing complex stemming from military production from World War I.

The settlements represent a small chunk of the overall future estimated cleanup costs at the site. Ford said in a court filing that the minimum cost to clean the site is $99 million.

During World War I and World War II, Ford assembled boats, tanks, engines and war materials at the massive site. Ford first built Eagle boats used by the U.S. Navy in World War I.







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