TORONTO, Aug. 28 /CNW/ - Strong leaders galvanize peoples across lines of
income, race, class and gender. Former United Auto Workers (UAW) President
Walter Reuther was such an individual and one of the most progressive thinkers
of the twentieth century. At the time when the world was recovering from the
Second World War, Reuther's ingenuity and vision convinced hundreds of
thousands of people across both Canada and the United States that a high
quality of life, living wages and social equality were achievable goals worth
As we celebrate Reuther's 100th birth date this Labour Day, Canadians are
challenged with one of the most devastating manufacturing jobs crisis in
decades. With this crisis, working people and their families risk losing many
of the gains made since the time of Reuther.
In less than five years, we have seen 300,000 manufacturing jobs vanish
from our economy. In 2007, so far there have been a loss of more than 70,000
and the year is not even over.
Unlike the economic downturns of the past, this comes at a supposed
"boom" time for Canada. Our dollar is soaring, our unemployment rate is
dropping and corporate profits are swelling.
Why then are we witnessing unprecedented plant closures and layoffs?
Workers are losing good jobs and left with few alternatives. Families are
being torn apart in the search for work. Funding for local services is drying
up because good paying jobs are disappearing. Aging workers are discouraged
from retiring because pensions are underfunded and for younger workers, there
appear to be fewer and fewer real job opportunities.
Yet, the federal Conservative government refuses to admit a problem even
exists. They accept no responsibility for this national crisis, resulting
directly from poor planning and glaring gaps in political judgment.
Here's the most recent example: the federal government opted to send a
$14 million Canadian defense contract to a German manufacturer. In doing this,
the government overlooked three world-class bus manufacturers in Canada. This
Government purchases, made possible by Canadian tax payers, are one of
the simplest ways to support Canadian workers and industry - it's in our own
The challenges that we face are immense. But if we learn anything from
the lessons of Walter Reuther it is that together, nothing is impossible.
The CAW led a major campaign that brought national attention to
manufacturing job losses in Canada. Across the country, local union leadership
and members joined in solidarity with the Canadian Labour Congress, other
unions, local labour councils, politicians and community groups to challenge
the federal government's inaction on job loss. The forums that were held in
communities across Canada, and the major rallies that took place in Windsor,
Oshawa, Kitchener and Ottawa, built a momentum unseen since the free trade
debates of the late 1980s. From the director of the local United Way to the
Chamber of Commerce member, citizens recognize the importance of protecting
manufacturing jobs. We must continue pushing forward to see much needed
As provincial elections are held across Canada it is critical that
working people participate. In Ontario, we must fight to ensure that all
workers reap the benefits of targeted investments. The CAW will continue to
support the principles of strategic voting to ensure that an attack on working
people and the poor, similar to what happened under Mike Harris' conservative
government, is not repeated.
Federally, we have already seen the dangers citizens would face should
Stephen Harper's Conservative government win a majority in the next election.
This government has steadily pushed forward its agenda of free trade, economic
and political alignment with the US and tax cuts while slashing programs for
women, children, culture, and destroying other important areas of community
The government has also continued to show a glaring lack of support for
Canada's auto industry through its inaction on trade and wrongheaded feebate
program, which have encouraged the purchase of offshore vehicles and are
destroying Canada's important auto jobs.
Even Harper's recent cabinet shuffle has done little to change the path
that this government has set for Canada - one that fails to address the
concerns of working people and provides no solid plan for the future.
Collectively, we can set Canada on a new course.
We must demand that our government take immediate action in addressing
the global trade imbalance that is hurting Canadian industry, and in turn
Canadian workers. We must ensure that all public tax dollars support our
domestic economy by developing a "Buy Canadian" procurement policy. And we
must insist that our government defend Canadian industry by regulating foreign
investment and controlling the dollar.
Canadians know that there is a lot at stake. Our jobs, our communities
and our future depend on the decisions we make today.
As we continue to build on the success of our manufacturing campaign, and
keep the pressure on our politicians to hear our demands, the words of Walter
Reuther will ring loud and clear: "Let's go to work and let's make this fight
and let's win together."
For further information:
For further information: call CAW Communications: Shannon Devine, (416)
302-1699 or Angelo DiCaro, (416) 606-6311