Major Unions To Defend Canada’s West Coast


OTTAWA – Major unions have endorsed a mass sit-in to defend Canada’s West Coast from tar sands pipelines and tankers.

The Communications Energy and Paperworkers Union (CEP), the Canadian Autoworkers Union (CAW), the BC Teachers’ Federation, the United Fishermen and Allied Workers’ Union-CAW, and the Canadian Union of Public Employees BC (CUPE BC) have all added their names to the growing list endorsing the October 22 Defend Our Coast mass sit-in against tar sands tankers and pipelines in Victoria.

‘More than 50 BC communities have said “no” to these tar sands export pipelines and the tanker traffic they will bring to BC’s pristine coastline,’ said CUPE BC President Barry O’Neill. ‘That’s along with 132 First Nations, and thousands of working people right across Canada.’

Susan Lambert, president of the BC Teachers’ Federation said: ‘The students in our classrooms are keenly aware of environmental issues, and they are demanding that we adults do our part to ensure that the world they inherit is clean, healthy and sustainable. We all have a responsibility to take a stand for our children and grandchildren.’

On September 12, over 80 influential leaders from the business, First Nations, environmental, labour, academic, medical and artistic communities endorsed the sit-in at the provincial legislature. The sit-in will highlight the widespread opposition in BC and across Canada to tar sands pipelines and the threat they pose to coastal ecosystems and inland watersheds on unceded First Nations territories.

‘The on-going risks that these tar sands pipelines and tankers pose aren’t worth any price. Tens of thousands of unionised and other jobs depend on healthy river and ocean ecosystems,’ said Susan Spratt CAW Area Director for BC and AB.

‘On October 22nd we will be standing in solidarity with thousands of working people in BC and our First Nations sisters and brothers.’

The October 22 sit-in builds on the success of previous protests against tar sands expansion and pipeline projects in the US and Canada: the August 2011 sit-ins in Washington DC that helped delay approval of the Keystone XL pipeline and the September 2011 sit-in in Ottawa that helped put Canadian tar sands pipeline proposals in the national spotlight.

•OTTAWA – Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) union negotiators have reached a new four-year tentative agreement with Chrysler Canada, which follows the same key economic features as the pattern agreements reached earlier with Ford and General Motors.

CAW President Ken Lewenza outlined some key details of the tentative agreement at a media conference tonight at the Sheraton Centre Hotel in Toronto.

‘We achieved the entire pattern intact,’ Lewenza said.

The agreement includes a $3,000 bonus for members after ratification and cost of living lump sum payments of $2,000 in December of each of 2013, 2014, and 2015.

He said the agreement provides protection of current pension benefits for existing workers.

The company agreed to the same 10-year new hire grow-in programme included in the Ford and GM agreements with new hires starting at $20.40, which is equal to 60 per cent of the current base rate and grow in to full compensation after 10 years.

CAW members at Ford voted 82 per cent in favour of their agreement at ratification meetings September 22 and 23. CAW members who work at General Motors started voting on their tentative agreement at ratification meetings September 26 with voting wrapped up by September 27.

Chrysler workers will vote on the tentative agreement at ratification meetings in Brampton, Etobicoke and Windsor, Ontario this weekend, September 29 and 30.

‘We want a transition from dependence on fossil fuels that is fair to the workers in the sector, as well as a national energy strategy that includes good green jobs and long-term energy security to Canadians,’ asserted Jim Britton, Regional Vice President, CEP.