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U.S. autoworkers urge Canadians to join fight

autoworkerGeorge Windau, 57, a Jeep worker for 30 years in Toledo, is among autoworkers who protested Sunday, the first news media day of the Detroit auto show at Cobo Center.
ANDRE J. JACKSON/Detroit Free Press

 

January 13th, 2009 2:06 am
U.S. autoworkers urge Canadians to join fight
Demonstration at NAIAS to protest more concessions  –  By Grace Macaluso / Windsor Star
American autoworkers urged their Canadian counterparts Sunday to join forces and fight “union busting” concessions that are part of multi-billion-dollar loan agreements designed to keep the Detroit Three afloat.

About 50 placard-waving protesters staged a demonstration outside the North American International Auto Show in a bid to draw attention to the push for wage and benefit concessions they fear will be forced on autoworkers in negotiations between the UAW and the companies.

“We’re in this mess altogether, and I think we need to have cross-border solidarity,” said Frank Hammer, a General Motors retiree. “And I’d love to see Canadian and U.S. workers in the same union once again. I believe in many ways they’ve led the way especially in national health care in Canada. This is what we need to have on this side of the river.”

Wendy Thompson, a UAW retiree and co-ordinator of the protest, said provisions designed to bring UAW wages in line with workers at foreign auto plants are unacceptable.

Outgoing president George W. Bush “wants to destroy unions,” said Thompson. “To say as conditions unions have to go down to standards, wages, benefits of non-union workers will cause wages of non-union plants to spiral downward. The message we want to get out is unions help the economy. they don’t hurt it because if you lower wages, who can buy anything?”

Thompson called on president-elect Barack Obama to rescind the conditions being imposed on unions in the loan agreements. She also urged Canadian labour leaders to support the fight for universal health care in the U.S.

“In the United States, we need a single-tier health-care system like you have in Canada,” said Thompson.

She said autoworkers on both sides of the border must stand united in the fight to preserve North American jobs.

The Bush administration agreed to provide about US$17 billion in financial assistance to General Motors, Chrysler and Ford, while the Canadian and Ontario governments agreed to dole out about C$4 billion to the Canadian auto companies.

Although details of the Canadian aid have yet to be disclosed, Canadian Auto Workers leader Ken Lewenza has repeatedly rejected calls for wage and benefits concession, saying that his members have already sacrificed enough to keep the automakers competitive.

Visit the Physicains for a National Health Programs, frequently asked questions (LINK) to see how a single payer system would also benefit American business & YOU!

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