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Caw Union Strike Disrupts Lakehead Grad 2005

Caw Union Strike Disrupts Lakehead Grad 2005

What I was completely disgusted with was the CAW union. Let me say, they have COMPLETELY lost my support. They insisted that the students and guests park outside the campus and walk across the picket line. Drive, walk, what's the difference? In both cases, you're breaking the line. The CAW members of the day must not be aware they are still entitled to use their brain and some common sense during the strike. This was bad because:

1. You're annoying the students who spent anywhere between 3-10 years working for this day. This is OUR day, and we should be allowed to have it.

2. The family / friends, many of whom are from out of town, are NOT going to support your cause because they know nothing about it anyway. Inconveniencing them is only going to make things worse.

3. Reasonable people are aware that CAW union members are only patronizing us as a means to an end. That's great, but reasonable people expect reason as well, and this was just blatant lack of common sense.

The university was initially going to contract out the workers, and workers would get a pay cut. I think such a tactic is despicable. Then the university made a deal - No union workers will get a pay cut, but once they quit, the new workers hired on will be contracted out (for minimum wage). So what's the big deal? Doesn't the university have the right to hire whoever they want? Is the university obligated to maintain union positions? I think not!

"Living wage positions! Too much to ask?

To me, a "living wage position" is a wage whereby a single person can acquire the basic necessities of life while working no more than 40 hours a week under safe working conditions. The university, nor any employer, is obligated to pay a person to support his / her family. You want to raise a family? Wonderful - do the responsible thing and get good financial footing before you undertake the task. Period. Nobody is forcing anyone to have a child and in no way are employers responsible to ensure that workers can support their children. Liveable wage, in my book, refers to supporting the individual, not their family.

For the record, I'm all in favour of minimum wage, and would even like to see it increased to $10 an hour, but some of these custodians are getting double that, and they whine and complain about President Gilbert getting $200,000 a year. Here's an idea - before getting jealous of somebody else's EARNINGS, they can spend 10 years in school getting the Ph.D and trying to get the 200K position for themselves. You can't have it both ways. You choose to be employed as unskilled labour, you become aware of supply and demand and how this will affect your wage. A 1000 level ECON course at a community college may help here.

Now please don't look at me as being greedy since I make a lot of money and don't have to slave by mopping floors and what not - but FYI, e-commerce money is available to any of you willing to get it. There is absolutely no special advantage I have over any of the CAW workers. All it takes is a fast computer and high speed internet. I did it, they can too. As well, FYI, I think any person who is purely capitalist or purely socialist is naive. The best system is a mixture of the two.

In any case, maybe I should write a letter to the Chronicle or something. CAW really annoyed a lot of people today.

To say something positive, the CAW workers did want out flowers to grads.

From The Chronicle Journal:

CAW has flowers for LU grads

By Chen Chekki - The Chronicle-Journal

May 29, 2005

Lakehead University’s 60 striking maintenance workers chose the school’s graduation day to step up their picketing against LU administrators and show support to graduating students.

Canadian Auto Workers Local 229 had seven of its strikers give carnations to new LU graduates just before convocation Saturday at the Thunder Bay Community Auditorium.

Other union members and their supporters remained at LU, where pickets at the major entrances to the campus asked people to park off campus as a show of support to the union.

Some cars could be seen parked on the edge of Oliver Road on the north side of the campus in the morning.

“It’s been great so far,” said Andy Savela, president of Local 229.

After the morning convocation finished at the auditorium, many of the graduates went to a lunch on campus.

Kurt Dahl, a striker and member of CAW’s bargaining committee, said most of those who went to the lunch honoured the union’s request to park off campus.

Signs displayed by the strikers included one that said “Thumbs up to the grads, thumbs down to the scabs.”

The workers have not had a contract since June 2004. They’ve been on strike since April 11.

The university’s desire to contract out some of their jobs is a key issue in the dispute.

Local 229 alleges the university is refusing to discuss the contracting-out issue during their negotiations. Savela said that for as long as that’s the case, any future meetings will be “pointless.”

The last time the two sides bargained was in early May, Dahl said.

A meeting is being considered for June 6, said university spokeswoman Eleanor Abaya.

She said the union is wrong in thinking that certain issues won’t be discussed.

“The contracting clause is still there . . . and it is up to the union to respond to that offer,” Abaya said.

“When you go to the table, let’s talk. That’s our attitude.”

She said the union’s decision to give carnations to graduates as they entered the convocation was a “good gesture” and said it was done in a peaceful and respectful way.

Abaya added that LU was expecting “a little bit more” from the strikers.

But the strikers said their dispute has never been with the students. CAW members said no officials from the auditorium or LU bothered them as they handed out the carnations.

The labour dispute also touched the convocation inside the auditorium.

Honorary degree recipients Phil Fontaine and Maude Barlow declined to show up because of the strike.

Take care,

Matt Canning

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