days until our Collective Agreement expires, we are preparing, we are united and we will make change.

President’s Message – May 2008

Preparing for Bargaining 2009

On May 13, 2008, the entire Component Executive met as part of our regular ACCEX quarterly meetings to continue our discussions on the memberships’ bargaining proposals and next steps.  The Toronto Local had previously struck an ad-hoc committee whose mandate was to collate the hundreds of bargaining proposals received from their base.  This was presented to the ACCEX in the form of “amendments” to the Collective Agreement.  A tremendous amount of work was involved in this process and I would like to personally thank Cidalia Ribeiro, Local 4092 President, and her committee for a job well done, notwithstanding of course the tremendous efforts made by each one of our Local Union Offices in this endeavour.  All proposals system wide will be incorporated into this process. 

Next, we will go through the Collective Agreement with a fine tooth comb, cleaning up existing language and incorporating your proposals.  Once this is completed, a CUPE National Research Representative will assist with the preparation of a bargaining survey which will ask you specific questions relating to your proposals.  This will in turn provide the Component Executive with its negotiating “mandate”.  We are hopeful that the bargaining survey will be brought to you by October / November 2008.

Air Canada’s Outsourcing of Heavy Aircraft Maintenance Overseas

In my August 2007 President’s Message I wrote an article highlighting the concerns the Union had about the safety issues we may face with Air Canada outsourcing its heavy aircraft maintenance overseas.  It seems my predictions may be coming true.  Below is an excerpt from the above-noted message:

            “Firstly, proper and effective government oversight of such overseas heavy aircraft maintenance             facilities has always been difficult.  Our safety onboard our aircraft is now at the mercy of narrow profit motives, trying to take advantage of low wages and the absence of effective government regulations overseas.”

Just recently both Southwest and United Airlines had problems with their outsourced maintenance to overseas locations.  So much so, that Southwest will not be transferring any more of its maintenance work to El Salvador due to a recent heavy duty ($10.2 million) FAA fine for possible maintenance violations.

As well, Southwest recently had to ground 44 airplanes.

Air Canada has purchased a majority controlling interest in TACA Aeroman, a heavy aircraft maintenance operation in El Salvador. 

A Bit of Union History

On May 1, 1886, 80,000 people marched down Michigan Avenue, Chicago in the first-ever modern May Day Parade, in support of the eight hour day, in the midst of a general strike.  But three days later, workers gathered in Chicago’s Haymarket Square to protest the deaths of four strikers at the hands of city police the day before, during a fight with strike breakers and company thugs. 

It was a peaceful rally. Chicago mayor Carter Harrison showed up to watch but went home early. The speakers – including August Spies and Samuel Fielden – decried the earlier violence and urged calm.  But as Fielden finished his speech, the police advanced on the rally, armed and in formation. Someone threw a bomb at the police line. It killed one police officer.  Mayhem ensued. Sixty officers were wounded along with an unknown number of civilians. Seven policemen and at least four workers were killed.

To this day, no one knows who threw the bomb. Many suspect it was a Pinkertons agent acting as an agent provocateur. Others suspect it was a disgruntled worker.  But no one – not even the prosecutors at the trials that followed – could make any connection between the death of Constable Matthias Degan and the eight men charged with his murder at Haymarket, all of whom were prominent union leaders.

In what’s considered one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in American history, a jury found all eight guilty and sentenced seven of them to death. Two men had their sentences commuted to life in prison. One committed suicide in jail. On November 11, 1887, four men, August Spies, Albert Parsons, Adolph Fischer and George Engel were hanged.

In contrast, more conservative unions in the United States – who had rejected the call for the eight hour day – were busy organizing their own holiday, which later became “Labour Day.” US President Grover Cleveland recognized Labour Day in 1887, to avoid giving support to the more progressive May Day movement.  Later, after the Soviet Union adopted May Day, the US government designated the first of May as “Loyalty Day”.

While we’re never ones to pass up a chance at a parade or picnic of working people – we think we should support Labour Day events – we feel it’s important to think of those workers who laid down their lives for the eight hour day and other basic labour standards that we now take for granted.  Corporate globalization is driving down wages world wide. Companies are shuttering profitable operations to find more profits elsewhere. In the face of this, we should remember how May Day started: 80,000 working people from all professions, trades and walks of life, coming together to seek the betterment of all on a street in Chicago.

CUPE is a community-based union we see how our work and our wages benefit those in manufacturing, resources, service industries, small businesses and professional roles, and how all of us pay taxes that in turn pay our wages. We see we are all interconnected.  Let us use May 1, 2008 to remember we are connected working people everywhere.

Component Committee Appointments

I am pleased to appoint Doug Hay as a Trustee on the WIP Board of Trustees.  Doug will also remain on the WSIB Committee.  I would like to personally thank Doug for all his continued hard work, dedication and commitment to the Union.

Important Date – Sunday June 1, 2008

June 1, 2008 marks the 25th anniversary of Injured Workers’ Day!  A rally will be held at the Ontario Legislature Queen’s Park at 11:00am on that day in support of Labour and injured workers across Canada.

In unity,

Lesley Swann,

President, Air Canada Component of CUPE