Article Posted: December "444 News"
It is safe to say that we did not achieve everything in 2016 bargaining that we would have liked to accomplish. In fact, the Master Bargaining Committee worked extremely hard and long into the night on many occasions to work out what we were able to achieve. The fact that we were able to negotiate the largest signing/ratification bonus in our history was no small task, as well being able to keep the $2000 per year COLA payment was extremely important to us. Improvements on the new hire grid were amongst the top demands received on the member surveys that were circulated last March. In fact, all of the top priorities were bargained as an improvement, granted not to the extent that we all would have liked.
Investment and job security ranked number one, and fighting for investment has truly shown we are in this as one unit, fighting to save jobs for our collective future and for generations to come. Today it is difficult trying to achieve something for everyone. Our retirees are the cornerstone of our organization and we tried hard to bring home something for each of them, but it was not attainable as we could only provide a lump sum amount for pre-1987 retirees. With that being said, we will never give up fighting for more and we appreciate all your letters of support and understanding of the challenges we face together.
When we enter into bargaining we cannot just look at what is good for our members today but what will provide a long future so that everyone will be able to leave one day and enjoy time with their families. When we started bargaining this year, the strategy we had was to not commit ourselves to such a monetarily expensive contract that FCA would then start looking at an exit strategy. It is a very real threat and it is easy for arm chair quarterbacks or keyboard cowboys/girls to criticize the efforts of a committee that literally did not leave the negotiating table for many hours at a time. The last thing that the committee wanted was to face a situation; a very real situation that could have been created that would have caused FCA to explore options that did not include Windsor, Etobicoke or Brampton. Again, this was and remains a very real threat, it is easy to say 'let's draw a line in the sand right here and right now' but what we all do if that line was crossed out by the Executives in charge at FCA? The reality is, we are all in a chess game of global proportions when it comes to investment decisions and product allocation and we cannot allow ourselves to be used as a pawn in that game. The Canadian Government no longer has any protections against companies and their desires to make more profits at the peril of the workers. They have nothing in place to protect the workers from a corporation picking up and moving from one market to another. That is the idea that lead to the strategy on investment for the Canadian operations and that is what makes us poised for future gains once again.
A note on how bargaining works
I have had a few folks email me with concerns that they did not gain enough in this contract, and as I previously stated, I think every one of our workers at every one of our facilities deserves more. Every single person that works in a Local 444 represented workplace is the best at what they do. With that being said, we also need to recognize some realities regarding bargaining.
In 2012 we negotiated a contract that allowed for future gains. When we entered into 2016 negotiations the contract book we work off is the 2012 contract book. That would be the starting point at bargaining, the last contract that was bargained. Many of the emails I received were about 'getting back' what we lost in 2009 before we even started negotiating but the reality is, when we open with the company, those things are now gone and not included in the opening language. As stated, the last negotiated contract becomes our starting point. If you think about bargaining in these terms then do a side by side comparison of the 2012 and 2016 contracts you will find many, many gains.
I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to the bargaining committee led by Vice President Doug Boughner out of the local for their hard work in achieving a deal which members at Integram could put confidence in. Although the first contract fell short of expectations, the bargaining committee was able to go back to the table and negotiate something that over 88% of the membership was happy with. I would also like to extend my thanks to the members at Integram as well as all the other members from various other workplaces that showed support for the workers there during the strike. Although we did receive a good acceptance by our membership on our second vote, we need to recognize that GM Foam will exit our facility and we need to work to maintain RU/TR Foam as the Job Security Letter no long exists for that product.
I would like to extend my appreciation to our Standing Committees for all their hard work and dedication. They all do a tremendous amount of work within our Local and in the broader community. Each member of a Standing Committee has a responsibility that focuses on priorities of quality of life, with a broad voice to educate, inform and promote what they stand for. Congratulations to each of you who has applied to participate, whether applied, elected or acclaimed. Each person can participate in each respective committee meeting and be part of the treat work done by this Local Union.
I have lost count on how many days the Librarians have been on strike. This is an inexcusable thing that is happening at our libraries across the county. It sickens me that our politicians cannot see the forest through the trees and see the damage that they are causing both to the families that are affected directly with striking members to the members of the community that use these vital services. I implore each and every one of our Local 444 members to contact the Library board and insist that they get back to the negotiating table and bargain a fair contract that gets these workers back on the job and these vital services returned to our community.
Support Staff Strike
It seems to me that we are entering a time of unrest in this region. Workers are constantly being taken advantage of by groups that control their destiny. The support staff and janitorial workers represented out of Local 2458 are another one of these adversely affected groups. For some reason the Catholic School board believes it can dictate a contract instead of bargaining one with its workers. I ask all Local 444 members to please support these striking workers by stopping by a picket line and calling the Catholic School board and insisting that they get back to the task at hand, negotiating a fair settlement for the workers. Just think of the scab work being done while our brothers and sisters are on strike fighting for a fair contract. Seeing judges abuse their authority of placing sanctions like injunctions that are unfair to people trying to fight for their livelihoods. This is a direct reason for unions to be politically involved and fighting scab legislation or the governments that implement it. I stand and support the custodian, maintenance, office, clerical and technicians that the custodian, maintenance, office, clerical and technicians that have stood strong and will work with Local 2458 leadership in any capacity they request to help get a resolve to this dire situation.
On November 2nd there was a Trans Pacific Partnership town hall meeting that took place that saw guest speakers Maude Barlow and CLC President Hasan Yussef as well as former CAW President Ken Lewenza giving presentations. Also at this event was as 12 year old youth activist, Jada Malott, who gave an inspiring talk about how the TPP is affecting the youth and that Governments need to listen because the youth of today are the voters of tomorrow. This trade deal has severe repercussions across the country and could cost Canadians thousands of good paying jobs. These are jobs we cannot afford to lose as we have already lost enough over the past decade. Our Liberal majority Government needs to listen when we talk about trade and the need for them to put Canadians interest ahead of the corporations.
As this will be the last 444 News report before the holiday season I would like to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season. Please remember that there are a lot of our own members that work in the service industry that will not enjoy the same time off as most of us to spend with family. So I trust they will find some quality time and precious moments to share with loved ones during this holiday season. As the President of Local 444, I want to thank all of you for making this Local one of the best Locals in the world. To each of you, both active and retired, I want to wish you Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year