Workers' Movement

Militarization of Canadian
Industrial Production and Workplaces

The federal government has now officially announced that for the next 20 to 30 years, the Halifax Shipyards owned by the Irving billionaire clan from New Brunswick, will be building $25 billion worth of warships for the Canadian navy.

The deafening propaganda carried out for months in anticipation of this decision immediately went into high gear. From the CBC to the Herald chain of newspapers, the emphasis is to hype the self-serving logic of the monopolies about how the long-suffering industrial workforce and working families of Nova Scotia have now been "ensured stability of employment" for the next 20 to 30 years. This will then be used to dictate their working conditions and deprive them of the right to resist this dictate.

Nova Scotians experienced how this disinformation operates in the 1980s when the coal miners of Cape Breton were laid off en masse as the last of the large mines operated by the federal-government-owned Devco monopoly were closed forever. For 13 years provincial and federal government departments and their apologists told them that the "nationalization" of the mine by Ottawa was going to ensure their future for decades to come. They could rely on this plan and did not need to organize themselves to make sure they could control their future themselves.

In the 1990s, Liberal and Conservative provincial governments summarily shuttered and cratered the steel mill in Sydney (Cape Breton) after decades of echoing lying propaganda about how the supply of Cape Breton coal from its own mines would ensure the mill's future.

Five years ago, the mill workers of the Stora Kopparberg paper mill at Port Hawkesbury, NS were assured that their employment future was being secured by the Swedish-Finnish monopoly's acquisition of the most modern supercalendar press in the North American printing trades at that time. Weeks later, Stora pulled out, dumping the whole operation into the lap of the Cerberus Capital Corp., vulture capitalists in Ohio, so they could maximize profits from this technological advance by chopping more than one-third of the mill's workforce.

After each of these traumatic events, the aim of disinformation about a secure and bright future has been precisely to keep the workers from drawing the warranted conclusion that they must organize themselves to take up the affairs which affect their lives. They are to keep themselves tied to the coat-tails of others to make the decisions which affect their lives while their role is to complain or comment from the sidelines. The overall theme of the disinformation has always been that a bright future is just around the corner if only the workers agree to go along with what makes maximum amounts of money and sense for the rich and powerful.

In this vein, Nova Scotians were in recent years offered a bright future in the Alberta tar sands. The media happily recounted stories about the endless quantities of regular work and overtime at "fabulous" wages for skilled industrial workers.

The telling feature of today's disinformation surrounding the naval contracts is the absence of any mention or discussion of the war preparations the government is dragging Canada into. No discussion takes place of what militarizing the economy entails. The government claims that it is cutting costs, but this does not include military spending which is wasteful and unproductive. There is also the militarization of the workplace which will take place as armed thugs are brought in to guarantee production and the company's dictate. How many thug "foremen" will the federal government and the Irving capitalists be arming to police how the contract work is completed inside the shipyard? How many minutes will the workers be permitted to down tools for breaks before the Irvings and the armed forces at their disposal impose their dictate? What restrictions will they impose on the unions?

Already, every effort is being made to establish a new national labour relations regime which declares that any aspect of the economy deemed a matter of national security is under direct government dictate. The essence of the precedents the government is setting with how the Air Canada and Canada Post workers are dealt with is precisely to outlaw the right to resist oppression and exploitation. The fight for the rights of all is being made illegal while all-sided concerted action is being taken to make the imposition of the dictate of the monopolies the new "rule of law."

TML Weekly calls on the shipyard workers to go into the new situation with their eyes open and take the conscious decision not to fall prey to the disinformation whose aim is to convert them into an enslaved labour force whose right to uphold the rights which belong to them by virtue of being workers and human beings is criminalized.

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U.S. Steel

The Human Factor/Social Consciousness at
Local 1005 United Steelworkers

With the ratification of a three-year contract, Local 1005 members have concluded the latest battle for their rights and dignity. Local 1005's conscious act to resist U.S. Steel's unjust eleven-month lock-out has opened a new path for the Workers' Opposition and deepened Canadians' understanding of how to defend the rights of all during this period of neoliberal globalization. Resistance exposes the enemy for all to see and deepens our social consciousness and understanding of how to prepare for the even greater battles that lie ahead.

The owners and executives of U.S. Steel stand exposed as alien creatures that bring nothing to Hamilton except their big egos and thieving aims. The self-serving practice of U.S. Steel shows that Canada's socialized economy cannot develop and provide security for the people with U.S. and other monopolies in control of our basic sectors. Their anti-social interests stand in sharp contradiction with the rights and interests of Canadians. Their aim to build their empires blocks Canadian nation-building. Nothing is sacred to those who see Canada, its workers and natural assets as means to fatten their empires.

The struggle of Local 1005 reveals that our future in the face of monopoly right is found in uniting, mobilizing and organizing the working class to stand up for itself and fight for its security and rights. Workers themselves, armed with their own thinking and social consciousness are the human factor on which Canadians can depend.

Local 1005 repeatedly held the federal and Ontario governments responsible for the defence of Canadians and their rights, in this case steelworkers and their steel mill that were under attack by a powerful foreign predator. The federal and provincial governments refused to lift a finger as U.S. Steel attacked over ten thousand active and retired Canadians and young workers just starting out as steelworkers, shutting down and putting into danger a viable Hamilton steel mill capable of producing enormous wealth to meet the needs of the people. Local 1005 repeatedly pointed to the disinforming role of the local newspaper as it attempted to undermine the resistance of steelworkers and serve up the Hamilton community and its members to the anti-Canadian interests of a foreign monopoly. Workers and their allies supported this work, showing proof of the fact that once the organized worker's opposition solves the problem of the weakness of a worker's movement which does not develop its own independent leading role, governments and the monopoly-controlled media will be held to account for their refusal to stand with Canadians in defence of their rights and security.

Local 1005 did not rely on governments or the monopoly-media to carry its banner. It relied on the unity and determination of its own members, retirees and allies in the community and across the country. It mobilized those directly involved with weekly meetings to sort out their independent views and strategy. Local 1005 through its own efforts established its own media with members writing and disseminating their Information Update and taking their views to fellow Canadians using billboards, street discussions, demonstrations, rallies and meetings with all who would discuss the difficult situation facing the Canadian working class and the way forward.

The activities of Local 1005 put its own voice in the fore in defence of the rights of all. It did not rely on those vacillating forces that have consistently shown they do not have the best interests of workers and Canada at heart. It did not get sidetracked either by those who claim to represent the highest ideals but take responsibility for nothing. By taking a bold step forward to involve its members and retirees in discussion on strategy to the best of its ability and possibilities and to act as a tribune on behalf of themselves, Local 1005 has opened new ground in building the working class movement.

The eleven-month attack, which began as a shutdown of the blast furnace and turned into a phony lock-out, is a consequence of the owners and executives of U.S. Steel and their hirelings and fifth column in Canada hoping to smash the backbone of the Hamilton working class. This did not happen, far from it! The Hamilton working class has proved in practice with the staunch resistance of Local 1005 and its allies at the head that it is coming to grips with the new conditions in the post-social contract era. This is but the opening shot in the new era of resistance! The battle will only be won when the rights and security of all have been secured in law, politics and practice with the working class in control of its own fate and the destiny of the country! Local 1005 has demonstrated the way forward in practice; let working class organizers and politicians, and all workers and their allies take up the battle in defence of the rights of all with renewed vigour. Let us together build an effective and powerful Workers' Opposition.

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Tentative Agreement Ratified

On Saturday, October 15, members of Local 1005 USW ratified a three-year contract with U.S. Steel. With 612 of 733 eligible voters casting a ballot, 61 per cent voted in favour of the contract and 39 per cent were opposed.

Local 1005 pointed out after the vote that all members were well informed about the contract. "We wanted to make sure all our members were fully aware of the situation they face and of the responsibilities towards not just themselves and their families, but also towards the retirees, the future generation of workers, their union and their community," Local 1005 President Rolf Gerstenberger pointed out.

It is also clear that practically nobody was pleased with the contract which contains the two major concessions U.S. Steel would not budge on -- it gives up indexing on pensions and deprives new hires of a defined benefit pension plan. Despite this, to the best of their ability and for as long as it still had meaning, active and retired members of Local 1005 showed U.S. Steel in no uncertain terms that Hamilton steelworkers will kow-tow to no one.

Information Update asked Rolf what he thought of the view of the Spectator in particular which seems to be going out of its way to say that this contract is virtually the same contract we would have gotten 11 months ago.

"Despite the setback, there is no reason to be disheartened," Rolf emphasized. "The Spectator and some side-line commentators who never believed in the fight in the first place are the ones saying that what the company offered today is virtually the same as it offered eleven months ago. This is simply not true but their aim in making these meaningless evaluations is to say that we should not have resisted, we should not have organized to get another outcome.

"Not only 11 months ago, but as recently as a couple of weeks ago, the Company still thought it could get away with dictating whatever it wanted. It found out it could not. There is nothing virtual about the difference between now and eleven months ago. It is only when a union takes a militant stand in defence of the rights of its members and its own role as their bargaining agent in the context of defending the rights of all, that it becomes clear how matters really stand. Everyone saw what it takes to defend what belongs to us by right. In the case of the Company, everyone saw what it means to defend the most narrow self-serving money-grubbing interests of a few big shots. They saw how dangerous it is to put Canada in foreign hands and we got an inkling of the fight which lies ahead to hold not only these companies like U.S. Steel to account but also governments.

"As a result of the militant stand taken by the active and retired members of Local 1005 and the community, everyone is now fully aware of what U.S. Steel is and how its word means nothing.

"Right from the beginning we said our security lies in the fight for the rights of all. This whole process has taught all of us the necessity to stand together. We not only upheld our dignity which the company sought to trample underfoot, but we understood first hand that this is the only way forward in the future as well.

"You can see how the Company tried to break its promises under the Investment Canada Act with impunity and that it thinks that there is one law for them, the law of getting away with whatever serves their momentary interests, and another law for the rest of us, who lose our houses if we don't pay our mortgages.

"Because the workers fought they were able to show the entire community how cynical and self-serving a company like U.S. Steel is, and the dangers Canada faces in foreign hands.

"Far from this fight being to no avail, it will stand us in good stead to deal with the serious challenges facing us going forward.

"The truth of the matter is that the workers' security lies in the fight for the rights of all. Did we break new ground? Yes, certainly. In a very practical manner we understood that we have to fight all over again to establish a regime which favours those who work and create the wealth Canada depends on for its well-being. The new regime of labour relations the Government of Canada wants to impose on the entire country, and the concerted attacks which are being escalated against unions are just the tip of the iceberg of what lies ahead. Even as workers thought they would be enjoying their retirement in security or providing for their families with security, we now have a better idea of the fight this country faces. Workers across the country have to join forces in a very real way like we did in this fight. We have broken new ground by defining our fight. Now we have to carry it forward. Together we worked out what was to be done and what could be achieved at this time. We have to do no less in the future as well. And we will become better at it. The refusal of U.S. Steel to publicly commit to making the pension fund solvent and its constant repetition of a decontextualized interpretation of the law which tries to distort its intent tells us something about the fight facing us going forward. We will make sure it is held to account."

On behalf of Local 1005 USW, Rolf expressed profound gratitude to the community for its support throughout the lockout, especially to the workers' families and pensioners, the many union locals and businesses, city councillors, the Mayor and many others. "We will continue to stand with all the pensioners who deserved better. We will continue to fight for a strong union," Rolf concluded.




(Information Update #37, October 18, 2011, www.uswa1005.ca)

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U.S. Steel's Attempts to Argue "Common Sense"
in Federal Court Backfire

When Arrogance and Stickhandling Give Rise to Abject Humiliation

Abject: Adjective
1. (of a situation or condition) Extremely bad, unpleasant, and degrading.
2. contemptible; despicable; base-spirited: an abject coward. 3. shamelessly servile; slavish.
Synonyms: miserable - mean - vile - wretched - despicable - poor

Local 1005 USW is happy to report that on October 6, steelworkers won a small victory in federal court. All the definitions of the words abject humiliation above apply to what steelworkers witnessed there when U.S. Steel lost its appeal for the second time. "It was truly amazing to see the mighty U.S. Steel brought to its knees for its incredible arrogance of thinking that it could appeal a second time the same decision it already lost once despite having absolutely no new law to argue," Local 1005 USW President Rolf Gerstenberger, present in the court, told Information Update. "It was truly embarrassing to see U.S. Steel's high paid Canadian lawyer try to stickhandle in the most pathetic way, putting his very integrity as a lawyer on the line instead of standing up to U.S. Steel's shenanigans which hold Canadian law and courts in utter contempt. This is the very same Mr. Barrack who represented Stelco in Justice Farley's Company Creditor's Arrangement Act (CCAA) Court. Justice Farley's justice was not real justice and he let Stelco get away with a fraudulent claim for bankruptcy protection for purposes of letting it dispossess all its creditors and common shareholders and to try to blackmail Local 1005 into giving up its pension. But this time Mr. Barrack's own bankruptcy went too far. He got what he deserved for his willingness to give up all notions of professional integrity, to do the bidding of U.S. Steel," Rolf said. "And let's face it," he added, "In the case of lawyers, it's not as if standards of integrity are that high to begin with!"

Local 1005 Executive Jake Lombardo, who was also in the court to witness the proceedings, said that for steelworkers it is very shocking that courts can decide to declare the demands of workers illegal within days and issue injunctions such as those against Local 1005 when members and supporters were trying to stop U.S. Steel from shipping out Hamilton's coke while refusing to produce steel. But when it comes to declaring illegal the activities of U.S Steel, it's an entirely different ballgame that drags on for years and years.

Now that U.S. Steel has been brought to order yet again, can we now hope that the main case against U.S. Steel for breaking its production and employment commitments under the Investment Canada Act (ICA) may proceed?

Report on October 6 Court Hearing

On October 6, three judges of the Federal Court of Appeal summarily dismissed another one of U.S. Steel's appeals in the Attorney General of Canada's lawsuit. The judges were so peeved at U.S. Steel for wasting the court's time they ordered the company to pay maximum costs.

The judges were obviously not amused with the antics of high priced U.S. Steel attorney Michael Barrack. They speedily and without ceremony interrupted his very poor stickhandling to ask him on exactly what new legal argument was he basing this second appeal. Under the authority of what law are you making this case, asked Justice Stratas, sounding rather annoyed, constitutional or common law?

Barrack, who admitted before he began that he would probably "not have an easy Thursday in court," seemed lost for words and replied sheepishly, "Under common sense." To the very end he tried to assure the judges his presentation was going to be brief and he did not intend to waste their time. Despite this, people in the court rolled their eyes when Barrack compared the amendment's demand for monthly production and employment commitments with the original agreement for annual commitments, as being like "arresting somebody for speeding and then sentencing him for not mowing the lawn." In fact, the entire court was scandalized by this attempt to waste the Court's time on the basis of this so-called common sense! (See notes below on the amendment U.S. Steel was appealing for the second time.)

The judges appeared annoyed at Barrack's comparison and began to glance at their watches. Barrack shuffled his papers and, trying to strike a serious tone of someone who knows how to run a steel mill, said one cannot ask for monthly commitments in production and employment because there are months where there are shutdowns for maintenance for example and it may be that during such a month zero steel is produced and zero workers are employed.

"Uh oh," said the steelworkers in the court. Since U.S. Steel took over Stelco that was precisely the problem: month after month zero steel is produced and zero workers are employed. This "common sense" argument was so incredibly silly, it was hard to believe their ears, they told Information Update.

The judges abruptly called for a 15 minute recess but after half an hour had still not returned. The court was buzzing with the expectation that the judges were writing their ruling and that would be it. Someone remarked that it was because of this kind of U.S. Steel stalling tactic that a justice ruled last November for the amendment. The court case has now dragged on well past the three year period of U.S. Steel's commitments under the ICA from November 1, 2007 to October 31, 2010.

The judges returned to the court and told John Syme, the lawyer for the Attorney General, that it was pointless for him to present the Attorney General's defence of the amendment as they had already written up their dismissal of the appeal and did not want to spend any more time on the matter. They then agreed with Syme that U.S. Steel should pay maximum costs. Justice Stratas concluded that this was now the third level of court hearing dedicated to this amendment, implying openly that they hoped it would be the last.

Notes on the Amendment

The Amendment drawn up by Prothonotary (Justice) Martha Milczynski November 25, 2010 because of the stalling of U.S. Steel states that monthly commitments under the authority of the ICA will come into effect following the conclusion of the court case if the company loses the lawsuit. The amendment could force U.S. Steel to find ways to meet the original production and employment commitments following the date of the final ruling or face mounting financial penalties for a full three years.

The amended paragraph 3 of the application (Federal Court, February 25, 2011) now requests the Court to issue an order directing U.S. Steel to:

"a. Produce X million tons of steel at the Canadian Business, as defined in this Application, at a rate of 4.345 million tons per year following the issuance of the Court's order in this matter where:

"X= Y-Z; Y= 13.035 million tons; Z= total tons of steel produced by the Canadian Business in those months during the Term, as defined in the Application, where steel production equalled or exceeded 362,083 tons; and

"b. maintain an average employment level of 3,105 employees on a full time equivalent basis over X months following the issuance of the Court's order in this matter, where:

"X=Y-Z; Y=36 months; Z= the number of months during the Term in which the Canadian Business's average employment level equalled or exceeded 3,105 employees on a full time equivalent basis."

(Information Update #36, October 11, 2011, www.uswa1005.ca)

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GM

Autoworkers Must Heed Threats to Their Pensions and Take Appropriate Action to Defend Their Rights

Threats to the security of GM pensions in the U.S. must be taken seriously in Canada. The onslaught on retired autoworker health care benefits began in the U.S. and soon moved north. GM executives made it clear during their campaign to renege on contracted health care benefits that they hold no responsibility for any Canadian post-employment benefits including pensions. GM executives in their class action lawsuit against retirees in Ontario and Quebec went so far as to declare that they have the right "to unilaterally terminate" any post-employment benefit they consider detrimental to the U.S. monopoly's viability.

The recently ratified GM/UAW collective agreement contains an addendum entitled: "Pension De-Risk Consideration: 2011 UAW-GM Supplemental Agreement Exhibit A (Pension Plan)."

The letter states in part, "The parties agreed that the national parties may mutually agree during the term of this agreement to amend the [pension] plan to add retirement options for some or all existing retirees to help GM reduce the volatility and risk related to the plan and benefit existing retirees by providing an additional voluntary option."

This language replicates that used to destroy the system of post-employment health care benefits, which had become for retirees a legal collective claim on GM revenue. GM unilaterally negated retirees claim to secure health care with its introduction of a Health Care Trust (HCT), also known in the U.S. as voluntary employee benefits association (VEBA) which, once established, is no longer funded from company revenue. Retirees did not agree or vote to have their health care benefits reduced and put into an HCT. The HCT was simply declared a necessary part of GM's anti-worker anti-social restructuring "to reduce the volatility and risk of the existing plan and make the company viable." No alternative was discussed or allowed to be discussed. GM, with the active instigation of governments, simply dictated the destruction of the existing contracted health care obligation. Retirees did not agree or vote to destroy the contracted health care benefit system and replace it with the HCT that effectively reduces their benefits. GM, the governments and courts forcibly introduced the HCT as part of GM's anti-worker anti-social restructuring in 2009 and are now putting it into practice.


U.S. autoworkers protest government scheme to permit GM to absolve itself of obligations
to provide retirees with health care benefits so as to qualify for bailout funds.

The current GM/UAW letter "to amend the [pension] plan" implies that GM has the right to change the pension system without the agreement of the retirees who no longer can vote for or against collective agreements. GM says it has the right "to unilaterally terminate" any post-retirement benefit and the letter "Pension De-Risk" reiterates this belief. The fact that it is couched in vague terms such as "voluntary options" and "mutually agree" is meant to fool the gullible and give GM a blank cheque.

GM has no right to change the pension system without the conscious participation and informed consent of the retirees. However, retirees can only make their public right to a say in the security of their pensions a reality through restricting GM's monopoly right to change unilaterally their pension plan. No other force than a united determined opposition by retirees themselves can stop GM's monopoly right "to add retirement options for some or all existing retirees to help GM," as the letter states.

The courts will not help workers as they have already ruled that GM has the right "to unilaterally terminate" health care benefits and replace them with the HCT. Governments have refused to help and hold GM to account for unilaterally breaking contracted obligations. Quite the opposite. The Ontario, federal and U.S. governments egged on GM to break its commitments to retirees under the hoax of an anti-worker anti-social restructuring to make the monopoly viable through concessions and bailouts using public money.

Those governments have consistently refused to introduce comprehensive public health care coverage for all members of society and have blocked any progressive movement towards a universal retirement system that guarantees workers the security of the standard of living they fought for and acquired during their active working lives funded from a government claim on the collective wealth workers produce annually. It is the height of narrow self-serving duplicity and capital-centred ignorance that governments, courts and the monopolies insist that tearing down the standard of living of the working class is a solution to the general economic crisis or the particular problems of a company. To argue and carry out in practice that the way a monopoly can be viable is by negating the rights of its workers, lowering their standard of living, wrecking the means of production and paying the rich with public money reflect a system that needs a fundamental change and new direction. Concessions are not solutions! Stop paying the rich! Manufacturing yes! Nation-wrecking no!

GM's threat to retirees' pensions in the U.S. must be taken seriously in Canada. Actions with analysis should be organized at once to tell GM, the other auto monopolies and governments that these attempts to undermine the security of autoworkers' pensions will be met with determined resistance and will not pass!

Autoworker retirees do not want "voluntary options;" they want their pension plans made whole, solvent and secure now! That is the law, that is GM's contracted obligation and that is the inalienable public right of autoworkers!

Defend the Pensions We Have! Fight for Pensions for All!
Monopoly Right No! Public Right Yes!

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Fraser Paper

Oppose Legalized Theft of Pensions --
Retirees Form Victims of Brookfield Association


Fraser Paper retirees demonstrate in Gatineau, QC, Edmunston, NB and Toronto, ON
against theft of pensions, January 2011.

On October 6, retirees of the former Fraser Paper from Edmunston, New Brunswick and Thurso, Quebec, joined forces to form the Victims of Brookfield Association. The Fraser Paper retirees lost up to 35 per cent of their pensions when forestry monopoly Fraser Paper entered bankruptcy protection in 2009, was restructured and subsequently sold to Twin Rivers Paper Co., which currently operates mills in Edmunston and Madawaska in the state of Maine. As a result, some 2,000 unionized Fraser Paper Canadian pensioners have seen their retirement investments slashed. About 1,600 of them live in New Brunswick and the others are in Ontario and Quebec. Workers call this scheme the Brookfield Asset Management Fraud because Brookfield held the controlling interest in Fraser Paper and still does in Twin Rivers Paper. It bankrupted the company, restructured it and sold it to itself, closing some plants (including the Thurso mill), reducing the wages and the benefits of those who remained working there and drastically cutting the retirees' pensions.

Posted below is an interview with Clyde Winchester, the President of the Edmunston Retirees Committee.

TML: First of all, congratulations on the founding of the Victims of Brookfield Association. You are joining those retirees and active workers across the country who are stepping up their fight against the legalized theft of pensions.

Clyde Winchester: Thank you. Our association represents the retirees of former Fraser Paper in Edmunston and Atholville in New Brunswick and Thurso in Quebec. Our committee in Edmunston was very active for over a year and a half before we launched the association. We have done representations; we have done research. We have about 350 Fraser Paper retirees in Edmunston at the moment. The Edmunston mill is still in operation under the name of the new company Twin Rivers while the mill in Atholville was part of Fraser until it was closed at the beginning of the 1990s.

The aim of the association is first to recuperate the monies we have lost. Our newly formed association has decided to go directly against Brookfield Asset Management. The reason for this is that we cannot go against Fraser Paper because it does not exist any more. Brookfield closed Fraser Paper and reopened under a new name, Twin Rivers -- the same place, the same workers, the same wages and services but with a different name. From my apartment I can still see the same plant where I worked for 37 years. It is the same mill but a part of our pensions has disappeared. It is Brookfield that has pulled the strings for all these years.

When Fraser Paper went under bankruptcy protection, the first place they went to get money was our pension funds, $170 million. Even those who are still working at the Edmunston mill will lose the same amount as us when they retire, 35.4 per cent of their pensions. Our association wants these monies back. We have decided to launch a class action against Brookfield Asset Management. Our aim is to expose publicly the real nature of Brookfield Asset Management. They are worth billions but when it comes to workers and their pensions, they couldn't care less. We expect to go before the Court either at the end of October or beginning of November.

TML: In your press release, you say retirees and active workers are united in this struggle. Can you elaborate?

CW: This is very important. We say we must all work together. It is all the same union, the same workers, the same friends. We all know each other. And we are all in the same boat. If we each go our own way it is only going to get worse. It is better to be together than to be divided. It is important for the people of the region too. It is important for them to see we are all working together rather than each one in our own group going our separate ways. It makes people more optimistic because otherwise they have the impression we are just quarrelling with one another.

TML: Can you give us some idea of the impact of these pension cuts?

CW: In my case, I worked for Fraser paper for 37 years. They were 37 good years but I decided to retire. I had done my share of work and wanted to enjoy a peaceful life in retirement. Just a year and a half after I retired, my pension was cut by 35.4 per cent.

The impact on all the retirees is huge. In my case, I lost $1,000 of my monthly pension. It is a huge amount. It has only been five years since I retired, but those who retired 20 to 25 years ago have a smaller pension than mine so the impact on them after being cut by 35.4 per cent is even greater. Many of those who retired a long time ago have to go on social welfare now. You work because we all have to work, but you want to get your pension and you think they are going to thank you for those good years of service and giving them your body and life. You think, well now it is my turn to go home and enjoy my retirement, but then you lose $1,000 a month.

We have emphasized in the media that this is a problem for the region also. We don't have the same amount of money to spend in the community. Your life and the life of the people in the region changes.

TML: Your work is a contribution to the same struggle developing across the whole country against the legalized theft of pensions and other benefits that belong to the workers by right.

CW: Yes, I agree with that. People all across the country are worried because if companies like Brookfield Asset Management get away with what they do, then any big company can do it. What is happening to us is a trend in the country. Maybe this is done legally, but it is not just. We do not accept that at all. We are going to fight until we die or run out of money completely but we hope it won't come to that! We have no choice. I think we are helping wake up Canada. Edmunston is not that big -- there are only about 15,000 people in the town. People know that if we can do this, it can be done anywhere in Canada.

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October 22, 2011 Bulletin • Return to Index • Write to: editor@cpcml.ca