Contact Bruce Allen
Office: 905-682-2611 ext 225
JIM STANFORD Unifor Economist had the following article published in the Globe and Mail. April 2015
A huge loan for foreign Volkswagen plants carries no obligation to buy from Canadian suppliers
You could hear jaws dropping onto factory floors right across Ontario's auto belt last week. Export Development Canada (EDC) announced a loan of 400-million (about $530-million) to Volkswagen. The money was not to lure the company - which this year may rank as the world's largest auto maker - to Canada. On the contrary, we're helping finance Volkswagen's growth 4,000 kilometres away, with expanded factories in Mexico and Tennessee, and a new plant in Mexico.
EDC is a federally owned agency, offering loans and other supports to Canadian exporters. Why on Earth would it help Volkswagen expand in Mexico and Tennessee? It's not as if Volkswagen needs our help. With revenues last year of 200-billion, and profits of 12.7-billion, it can easily raise all the commercial capital it needs.
And officials with EDC emphasize its support for Volkswagen is not contingent on buying anything from Canada. That would violate the rules of"free trade."
The only requirement is that Volkswagen network with Canadian suppliers to discuss business opportunities in Mexico and Tennessee. For $530-million, that had better be one heck of a "meet and greet"
Even if a Canadian supplier wins a Volkswagen contract, it's unlikely the work would occur in Canada. Canadian parts suppliers have opened dozens of factories in Mexico and the Deep South - often required to locate near assembly plants. But EDC doesn't mind: Helping Canadian-owned firms open plants in Mexico is part of its strategy.
Mexico's auto industry, powered by cheap labour, a growing supply base and lucrative subsidies, is scooping up virtually all new greenfield auto investment in North America. Eight new assembly plants have been built or announced there since 2009. The "giant sucking sound" predicted by Ross Perot in the debate over NAFTA has become a reality.
That's bad enough. But watching a Canadian government agency assist that southward migration is incredible.
There's an ugly side to Mexico's industrial boom. Contrary to promises of prosperity and democracy, its workers remain desperate. Real manufacturing wages have not grown; labour costs are now cheaper there than in China. Trade unionism and other political activity is suppressed, often violently - evidenced horrifically by last year's murder of 43 student protesters, in which the local mayor and police have been implicated. The normal institutional forces that, in a free society, would allow Mexicans to win a fairer share of the wealth they produce have been short-circuited.
Mexico produced 3.4 million vehicles last year, worth $100 billion. Canada exported $484 million in parts to Mexico last year - and our exports are shrinking (down 30 per cent since 2001). Each dollar of Mexican output now has less than one half-cent of Canadian content.
Our auto deficit with Mexico exceeded $10-billion last year; our total deficit with Mexico was $23-billion.
EDC claims its loans will help us capture a few more crumbs from the auto industry's southward migration. Its convoluted logic highlights the contradictions of Canada's approach to autos under NAFTA's lopsided rules.
We aren't allowed to "subsidize" purchases of Canadian products.
So why must we bribe companies just to look at our products - something that should be automatic under true competition?
Volkswagen sold $4-billion worth of vehicles in Canada last year. Shouldn't we demand some Canadian purchases from the company, in return for all that business, instead of begging for it?
Meanwhile, back home in Germany, Volkswagen is 20-per-cent state-owned, and benefits from various public technology, training and capital supports. German wages are significantly higher than Canada's, yet Volkswagen hasn't closed a German factory in decades.
Ottawa could try the same thing. Instead, it sold off its General Motors shares this month (for the short-term gain of balancing its budget). It has a fund to entice auto investment to Canada, but can't seem to spend it (auto makers don't like its unwieldy rules, and they're infatuated with Mexico anyway). We could use other government levers (including EDC) to attract auto makers here. Instead, Ottawa signs more trade agreements with places (such as Korea) that have no more interest in Canadian cars than Mexico does.
The fatalism of EDC's strategy is stunning. But the incoherence of Canada's overall auto strategy is even worse.
National Day of Mourning
On April 28, workers, their families and others will gather at community events across Ontario to remember those killed as a result of unsafe and unhealthy work. On this day, the National Day of Mourning (DOM), they will also recognize the hundreds of thousands who annually suffer injuries and develop illnesses caused by unsafe and unhealthy work. Equally important, DOM events serve as a reminder and a source of inspiration that much work remains to end this preventable suffering.
The Workers Health & Safety Centre's (WHSC) theme for the 2015 Day of Mourning, the strength of one, the power of many, recognizes the essential contributions individual workers, health and safety representatives and others make in the pursuit of prevention. Though, it also highlights the need to engage a wider audience to further the goal of safer and healthier workplaces. This approach laid the foundation for Ontario's first Occupational Health & Safety Act (the Act) more than 30 years ago.
More recently, it led to new employer obligations to ensure untrained or inadequately trained construction workers complete a Ministry of Labour (MOL)-approved, working at heights training program before they can work at heights and use fall protection equipment and systems. As in past years, the WHSC will lend support to the many workers, unions, labour councils, community partners and others who organize Day of Mourning events and activities across the province (see below for link to events).
The National Day of Mourning was first recognized by the Canadian Labour Congress in 1984 to raise public awareness about worker injuries, illness and death. The Canadian Parliament officially acknowledged the Day of Mourning in 1991. Today the day is observed in more than 100 countries worldwide.
The pursuit of prevention begins with you. Join the power of many and attend a Day of Mourning event in your community. Click on the following link to see the dates and locations of events in your area. Link to Poster
In Solidarity, Bruce Allen
Investing in Auto Industry Benefits Everyone
Saturdays Standard published an article written by GM Plant Chairperson Tim McKinnon. The article is about the importance of investing in the auto sector. The article can be read at the following link Read Article
Planning For Your Future
***SPACE AVAILABLE - last class this term*** Local 199 education committee has scheduled the very popular Planning for the Future Course, Saturday 18th April. This course is designed to help our members prepare and plan for the transition from worker to retiree. The course emphasizes the importance of advance planning and covers six main topics.
- Social & Leisure Time
- Legal Planning - Wills & Probate
- Pensions & Benefits - Service Canada CPP & OAS
- Financial Planning - FirstOntario Credit Union
- Retiree Chapter - Retiree Chapter Activities
- GM Benefits - GM Pension & Benefit Rep
Both members and their spouses are encouraged to attend. A hot lunch, tea & coffee, will be provided at no cost to the member. Space is limited and the class is almost full. For more information or to register, please contact Patty Stoddart or Peter Scott. 905-682-2611 ext 238
Unifor Educational Scholarships
Every year Unifor offers education bursaries for Unifor members children who are entering their first year post-secondary education at a public institution in Canada. This year there are 28 $2,000 bursaries available. Applications are available at the union hall or can be printed from the following link.
Unifor Scholarship Application
The Application form must be completed and submitted no later than April 30th 2015.
GM Employment Opportunity
A Supplemental Workforce Employee agreement has been entered into by the Union and the Company. To apply click on the following link and follow the online instruction. You will be asked for a current e mail and resume. On Line Application
Seneca Manufacturing - Work Refusal
At last night's General Membership meeting Peter Bonnette, chairperson at Seneca Manufacturing raised several concerns about health and safety of the workers in the plant. Management has neglected to maintain the workplace and conditions were deteriorating rapidly. After several attempts to have these issues corrected without resolve, Peter contacted the Ministry of Labour two weeks ago and made an official complaint, however the Ministry of Labour did not visit the workplace and had to be contacted again.
This morning the complaint was escalated with an Occupational Health & Safety work refusal involving all members in this unit. This was enough to get the attention of the manger who met with Larry Greenhalgh, Bruce Allen and all the members from the unit. He committed to clean up the workplace and address the safety concerns. The most immediate concerns were quickly resolved.
The members returned to work after a brief stoppage of approximately 2 hours. The Ministry of Labour Will be meeting with the Peter Bonnette and Bruce Allen regarding outstanding issues. We would like to thank all the members who attended last night's meeting who offered support to the members at Seneca.
Run-Off Election Results
The results from the run-off election have been calculated and can be seen by clicking on the following link Run-off Election results
Steve McMullen, Election Committee, Unifor local 199
Remembering Ron Davis (1936 - 2015)
The passing of Ron Davis marks a milestone in the history of local 199. Brother Davis had a prominent role in the leadership of our local union which spans the decades. Brother Davis was a Shop Committee Person in the GM Foundry, a Vice President and finally the President of our local union. During this time he became widely known and much liked throughout the Canadian Region of the UAW and CAW. Ron Davis was also a prominent member of the local labour movement and the community through his many years of involvement in the St Catharines District Labour council and his relentless support of the united way.
Ron Davis without a doubt was a veteran of the many battles which molded our history including the struggle against concessions in the early 1980's which led to the creation of the CAW. Ron sat at many negotiating tables including as a member of the GM Master Bargaining Table in 1990 and 1993. Ron could be a terror on a picket line as I saw to my astonishment and amusement when delegates to the CAW GM intra corporation Council visited strikers at an auto parts pant on the off shifts of Toronto in the late 1990's. That day I got a firsthand sense of how seriously Ron Davis took being on a picket line.
Ron Davis joins a prestigious picket line of Local 199 leaders, including James Connell, Gordon Lambert, John Clout, and John Washuta who were all instrumental in shaping the history of Local 199. It is a history worthy of a deep appreciation and respect and gratitude. Ron Davis has left us a legacy of valuable lessons indispensable to or wellbeing as a labour organization. We are all indebted to the Brother Ron Davis. On behalf of the membership & staff of Unifor Local 199, I would like to express our condolences to the Davis family.
There will be a Celebration of Ron's Life on Saturday 21st of Feb from 1-4pm in the retirees Lounge.
Bruce Allen, President Unifor Local 199
Ron Davis Tribute & Images
Ron Davis Tribute & Images
Images from Ron's Celebation of Life
Letter from Jim Bradley
Unifor Night at the Ice Dogs
Come out and support Unifor Local 199 and enjoy an evening of exciting hockey. The recreation committee has organized discount tickets for Unifor members and their families. Saturday, February 28,2015, 7;00 pm at the new Meridian Centre in St. Catharines. The game is between, Niagara Ice Dogs and North Bay Battalions.
Tickets are only $17 each, for all Unifor members, family and friends. Tickets can be purchased in GM Plant from Jason Copeland in the Union Centre on dayshift, 905-641-6617,or Ken Naldjieff nightshift, radio 298, call or text 905-329-4477.
If you are not in the plant, retirees and members from other units, call Ken will arrange to get you the tickets. Tickets are going fast so hurry and get yours at these prices before we sell out.
TARGET workers Need your Help and Support
On January 15, 17,600 Target workers learned that they would be losing their jobs, some effective immediately. Despite the fact they paid Employment Insurance premiums every pay cheque many of these workers won't even qualify for Employment Insurance. Unifor is urging the federal government to take immediate action to grant EI access to all those Target workers who wouldn't otherwise qualify.
We are asking all our members take a few minutes to click on the following link to send a message to Federal Minister of Employment Jason Kenney and the Canadian government that you think this is unjust. All you need to do is click on the link fill in a few text boxes and click send. You can make a difference for these workers.
Take Action Send a Message Click here
Open Letter from President Jerry Dias
GM Retiree's Feb 2015
Today a meeting was scheduled for the new retirees from the GM unit, unfortunately the weather was very uncooperative and we were all faced with a foot of snow in the side streets. Eleven retirees attended the meeting. Rob and Bruce has scheduled a second date for those of you who could not attend. Monday, 23rd February, 2015 at 10:00 am
New Retiree's Feb 2015
Run-Off Election Local 199
The results from last weeks election have been calculated and can be seen by clicking on the following link Notice of Run-off Election and Election results The results require a run off for three positions Trustee (all units) and the Alternate Sunbstance Abuse Rep & Alternate Placement rep. (both at GM)
A run off election has been scheduled at local 199. Voting will take place between 12th - 18th of February. The pre vote will be Friday, 13th February 2015 - from 8 am - 3:30pm @ the Union Hall.
For workplace voting dates and times click on the following link, they will also be posted in each workplace. Election Times & Locations all units
Steve McMullen, Election Committee, Unifor local 199
2015 A New Year with Challenges and Opportunities
Since taking over from Wayne Gates as president the past year was certainly an eventful one. Our Union hall was sold and we leased back the office space and retiree lounge for five years. New contracts were negotiated at five units; Iafrate, Spencer ARL, FirstOntario, Ed Learn Ford and Niagara Motors. Two of our Units closed, Coutts library and Georgia Pacific. Special thanks to the members of these units during these challenging times. The face of the Executive Board is also changing, Wayne Gates was elected MPP for Niagara Falls and Rick Jones will be retiring in February. I would like to wish Wayne and Rick all the best and thank them for representing the membership. We ended the year on a high note by donating over $13,000 to community groups who help those less fortunate than ourselves.
With 2014 behind us we are now faced with a new year which will be full of challenges and opportunities. Coming up in January 2015 we have a Special Meeting to discuss and approve the local union bylaws. An election to fill two Executive Board positions and several workplace positions in four of our units. John Pula is asking for volunteers and donations for the Alzheimer's Walk which will be held at Brock University. Information about all of these events are posted below.
In 2015 a Federal Election will be called which is an opportunity to make badly needed political change in this country and to advance the interests of working people. To see a complete listing of events coming up in 2015 please visit the Unifor Events Calendar. The calendar is updated regularly. Events Calendar
I look forward to working with you all through the year.
Bruce Allen, President Unifor local 199
On behalf of the Executive Board.
2015 Walk for Memories - Alzheimers Society Niagara
The 2015 Alzheimer Walk for Memories held at Brock University was once again a great success. Special thanks and congratulations to Jon Pula, Team Unifor captain and those of you who sponsored the team helping to bring the total team donation for Team Unifor to $ 2,300. Together we continue to show that the members of Unifor Local 199 support our community. The goal for this year’s event was reached by raising over $65,000. Walk for memories images
The Unifor Family Education Centre offers a variety of educational programs to our members. A complete listing has been posted at the following link. Application forms are available at the union hall and at the monthly membership meeting.