Sisters and Brothers:
As we approach the end of 2018, I wish all IAM members and their families the very best of the Holiday Season! On behalf of the IAM Executive Council, and all the Staff and officers across Canada, I bring Seasons Greetings. At year’s end it is a time to reflect on the challenges we faced and to celebrate the successes we had.
I begin with the Organizing successes we achieved in 2018.
As I write this message, the IAM across Canada has organized in excess of 3,000 new members over the course of the past year. That is the largest increase in membership in over 20 years. Although the majority are in our ever-expandingIAM Healthcare division, I am pleased to say that we had organizing successesacross the country.
Those successes came in many sectors: airports and aerospace, automotive and manufacturing, service and health sector employees all saw the advantage of joining the IAM. It is clear that our Union is growing, and unorganized workers want Unions, now more than ever!
Butthe year was also not without its challenges. In the latter part of 2018, workers across Canada faced significant losses and downsizing announcements. In early November, Bombardier announced it will cut 5,000 jobs globally. At time of this writing, Bombardier has yet to advise us what impact this may have on IAM members at facilities in Montreal. Our IAM Representatives met with the Company and challenged them to maintain high-skill jobs in this manufacturing sector.
Earlier in 2018, IAM Representatives in Montreal also had the foresight to negotiate a reciprocal agreement between Bombardier and Airbus after that corporation became a majority stakeholder in the C-Series aircraft. The reciprocal agreement gives workers the right to maintain benefits when they transfer between companies.
Otherworkers also faced significant job loss announcements. Most recently, the announcement that closure of the GM plant in Oshawa will result in 2,500 job losses. And it is estimated there are up to 10 indirect jobs for each of those direct jobs. Just this week we hear of a call centre closure in Sydney Nova Scotia; another 700 workers out of work in this Christmas announcement. And Maple Leaf Foods plants in Brampton, Toronto and St. Mary’s, Ont., will be shuttered over the next few years, leaving 1,600 people out of work.
In other news, Canada Post workers across Canada have just been ordered back to work, ending their rotating strikes. This is gross interference with free collective bargaining by the Federal Liberals. CUPW members have been penalized for fighting for safe workplaces, pensions, and for wanting to be paid for hours worked. I am reminded of the powerful words of NDP Leader Tommy Douglas in 1968:
“With the stroke of a pen, those who have their hands on the levers of power can wipe out in a few days all the gains that you’ve made at the bargaining table and on the picket line.” (Tommy Douglas, 1968 Canadian Labour Congress Convention)
One of the few powers unions have is the right to strike, and that power is never exercised lightly and without deep consideration for the community and the union members we represent. But there are times when it’s the only means of sending a message. This power has now been taken away from CUPW, and removing this right can have great impact on workers across this country. It is time to show Solidarity for all workers who are increasingly victimized by corporate power and right-wing governments. We will continue to monitor this, and to fight for the preservation of Union rights for all workers.
Looking forward to 2019, the IAM is embarking on a number of activities, and we will be keeping you informed on all of them throughout the year. Not least of these, we have developed an Aerospace Strategy Policy document that will be unveiled early next year, and we will be reaching out to all IAM Activists to assist with promoting this high-value industry at all levels of government. We will certainly be asking for our membership’s participation in next year’s Federal election.
I once again thank you for your support over the past year, and we look forward to working closely with all our members throughout 2019. I wish you the very best of the season as you spend time with your families and friends. Stay safe!
In friendship and Solidarity,
General Vice President