From LABOR-L@YORKU.CA Sat Mar 10 15:18:53 2001
Date: Sat, 10 Mar 2001 14:25:03 -0500
Sender: Forum on Labor in the Global Economy <LABOR-L@YORKU.CA>
From: Charles Brown <CharlesB@CNCL.CI.DETROIT.MI.US>
Subject: From Alan Maki

Future is at stake in this struggle in Canada!

From Alan Maki, 10 March 2001

Sisters and Brothers,

Members of the Canadian Auto Workers union (CAW) are involved in a very difficult strike in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, just fifty miles from North Dakota. They, like us at this conference, are struggling against the very real affects of globalization and its impact on the lives of working people. The Winnipeg Labour Council (WLC) has taken a stand. So should we. I urge you to read the resolutions below passed by the WLC. We must do everything possible to try to block John Buhler from moving his company—Versatile, to the United States in order to circumvent the collective bargaining process in Canada; resolutions of solidarity, petitions, letter writing, demonstrations of solidarity are called for to support our sisters and brothers walking the picket lines in Winnipeg where for much of the winter temperatures have been minus thirty degrees. Unity and solidarity. Not only is John Buhler trying to break this strike, he is trying to bring down the Manitoba government now controlled by the New Democratic Party.

The New Democratic Party (NDP), a political party of organized labour in Canada, was elected as the governing party in the Province of Manitoba at the last election; primarily because the Winnipeg Labour Council and its affiliates, together with the Manitoba Federation of Labour mobilized working people and farmers to take an active part in the political process and urged working people to vote like workers. They urged working people to vote NDP in order to, win, for all workers and farmers, through legislation what could not be won at the bargaining table. This was a winning strategy. One of the first actions of the new NDP government was to pass legislation making it very easy for working people to join unions. John Buhler was a leader of the attempts by the corporations—including US multinationals—which pumped thousands of dollars into the corporate campaign that tried to defeat this very progressive piece of legislation benefiting working people. John Buhler owns a number of plants. At the time declared he would move his plants to union free environments in the United States. If John Buhler can get away with this kind of blackmail and union busting so can any employer in North America. The banks and investors are backing John Buhler; we in the United States must stand in unity with our Canadian sisters and brothers.

Our future is at stake in their struggle!

The Winnipeg Labour Council passed the following two resolutions on the situation at the Versatile factory on Tuesday, February 20, 2001. The overwhelming majority of delegates, with only a few abstentions and no opposition, supported the resolutions. Delegates spoke in support of the resolutions.

The resolutions call for strike support, for a full inquiry with public hearings, freezing of the assets of the factory, and for public ownership and democratic control of the factory in the interests of farmers and all Canadians.

Over 250 workers at Versatile, members of CAW 2224, have been on strike since Nov. 3, 2000 (350 are on lay-off). The owner is demanding huge concessions, including contracting out and no seniority.

I would encourage you to do whatever you can to demonstrate your solidarity with the members of CAW Local 2224, including: getting your union local to send resolutions of support, financial contributions, and insist that your representatives in the US Congress send a loud clear message to Mr. Buhler that he will not be allowed to evade the collective bargaining process and move this plant to the United States as a means to wreak havoc on the lives of Canadian workers by leaving them without jobs because they have the courage to fight for their rights on the shop floor, on the picket line, and in the voting booth. In reality, John Buhler is using his corporate wealth to thwart democracy. Do we want Mr. Buhler to bring this kind of corporate citizenship to the United States? Aren't there enough John Buhlers here already? Just look at the way sweatshops have proliferated throughout the South.

I urge you to circulate these two resolutions as widely as possible.

You can contact the Winnipeg Labour Council at: 103-275 Broadway, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3C 4M6; telephone: 204-942-0522; fax: 204-942-7396.

Yours in the struggle,

Alan Maki

Emergency resolution on the Versatile tractor plant

Whereas John Buhler, the new owner of the Versatile factory, the last tractor plant in Canada, has stated he will move the operation to North Dakota by 2002;

Whereas Mr. Buhler bought the factory with the support of all levels of government and stated it was to save jobs in Canada and specifically in Winnipeg;

Whereas governments have supported the Versatile factory with tax breaks and different subsidies over many years;

Whereas 600 jobs will be lost and more jobs will be affected if the plant is moved;

Be it resolved that the Winnipeg Labour Council demand all levels of government organize an emergency, full scale inquiry with public hearings into the fate of the Versatile factory and the jobs and pensions of the workers before Mr. Buhler is allowed to move the factory;

Be it further resolved that the Winnipeg Labour Council participate in strike support at the Versatile factory and at information pickets at Mr. Buhler's other factories.

Position on the Runaway Versatile Plant

Whereas 600 jobs will be lost from Winnipeg if the Versatile tractor factory is moved;

Whereas Versatile's new owner, Mr. Buhler, stated that he bought the factory to save jobs in Winnipeg;

Whereas the loss of the jobs at the Versatile factory will greatly damage Winnipeg's economy;

Whereas Versatile is the last tractor factory in Canada and moving it to the U.S.A. will harm our ability to control our agricultural industry and to support Canadian farmers;

Whereas Mr. Buhler and all previous private owners have failed to save the jobs of the Versatile workers and Mr. Buhler is demanding unacceptable concessions from the workers who have been on strike since November 3, 2000;

Whereas public ownership of the New Flyer plant in the 1970s succeeded in saving thousands of jobs;

Be it resolved that the Winnipeg Labour Council demand that the Manitoba government freeze the assets of the Versatile factory until such time as Mr. Buhler makes an acceptable offer to the workers at Versatile and he agrees to keep the factory in Winnipeg;

Be it further resolved that the Winnipeg Labour Council publicly support public ownership and democratic control of the Versatile factory in the interests of the people and especially the farmers of Canada.