Mine Mill & Smelter Workers - Local 598 / C.A.W.

   19 Regent Street South,

Sudbury, Ontario  P3C 4B7



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The President's Corner


Regulations needed to check corporate greed

By RICK GRYLLS

Published: September 23rd, 2008

Prime Minister Stephen Harper promises to cut government taxes on diesel fuel by two cents a litre over four years.

Two cents be dammed. I want the 30 cents a litre taken from me by speculators and profiteers over the last couple of years.

The weakness of our government to have a planned economy allows the draining of billions of citizens' dollars to corporate and individual bank

accounts, much to foreign countries. The lack of disposable income affects the economy to the point we are teetering on a recession.

In 1935, Prime Minister R. B. Bennett promised a New Deal for the Canadian people in his throne speech, which astounded a lot of his Conservative as well as Liberal "diehards."

Bennett said: "You have been witnesses of grave defects and abuses in the capitalist system. Unemployment and want are proof of this. This requires modification in the capitalist system, to enable it to serve the people more effectively."

During that session, the government passed an act to establish unemployment insurance and social insurance and also set a minimum wage and limited hours of work.

The great depression of the 1930s lasted 11 years. Today, the capitalist system has had little change that would allow a planned economy to work for the benefit of citizens, community, country and corporations. The draining of income by

unchecked profiteering has broken the balance of growth and prosperity for our system and will affect the small business owners, the mom and pop operations the most. To me, this is treachery and betrayal, causing harm leading to individual and family disaster for many Canadians.

Bennett was right then and it is still needed today: "Modifications in the capitalist system, to enable it to serve the people more effectively." Record profits for many major corporations, but banks and markets are crashing causing working men and women's retirement portfolios financial harm.

Other counties years ago made governmental laws and regulations that have benefited the citizens. Norway held off allowing the development of their oil fields until they found developers who would adhere to the partnership and regulations that saw the government hold some ownership. Within two decades, Norway has invested tens of billions of royalties for future generations.

Among G8 countries, Canada's corporations pay the second least amount of taxes and the citizens pay the second highest taxes. In Canada, oil prices go up, profits double, Harper give tax breaks to the tar sands and no royalties for the people.

Progressive Conservative Premier Danny Williams of Newfoundland and Labrador has just signed an oil agreement for that province's natural resource that will benefit his province for years to come. His take on Harper is that the Canadian people have to vote him out of power.

The history of change for the betterment of the masses, with such things as Tommy Douglas's fight to establish medicare, public utilities and energy has always been opposed by those who wish to own them for themselves.

A corporate or a citizen government is the choice in this election and if those who have been turned off politics stood up and voted for change, it would happen.

Today, we need to vote citizens into our government who will protect our future, build a better tomorrow with a planned economy and natural resources and not leave us at the mercy of the faults of a capitalist system that betrays our social democratic rights.

Rick Grylls is president of Mine Mill Local 598/CAW

Source: http://www.thesudburystar.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=1208339


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Sudbury Soils Study 2008

By Rick Grylls
Published: Jume 9, 2008

Download Media News Release (PDF - 47.3kb)

As a citizen of the area since 1952 and an employee of mining since 1969, I have experienced the changes of time here in Sudbury.

The changes have come only by the blood, sweat and tears of a community that endured the most destructive carnage of lost lives in the mines, mills, smelters and refinery, all the while living surrounded by an environment of a dead and bleak landscape from years of hideous industrial pollution.

I have been on the front lines of representation of the employees since 1973, as a Steward, Health and Safety member, Executive Board member and the last seven years as the senior officer, the President of Mine Mill 598/CAW.

The changes within the workplace and within the community have always been opposed by the companies as too expensive or not needed. The re-greening of Sudbury, the safety standards within the industry, and the betterment of our community has always had an allied relationship with workers collective strength of their union.

I have a front seat within our community and in using material from the Sudbury Soil Study and other sources, I have prepared this statement.  It is not easy to put into a few words the context or my conclusion of the study, which can be found at www.sudburysoilstudy.com.


Sudbury Soils Study 2008

By union observer Rick Grylls

From the paper SARA – History of Sudbury Smelters June 1st, 2004:

20 Environmental Consciousness Awakens

“With the birth of the environmental movements in the 1960s, major sources of industrial pollution came under public scrutiny for the first time. Although the dangers present in smelter emissions had been a concern to the community since the days of the early roaster yards. Only in the 1960s did the local, national and global concern reach the critical mass necessary to bring about change.

In 1967, the Ontario legislature passed the Air Pollution Act, and announced a schedule for reducing Inco’s emissions. That same year, Inco’s annual report included a section called “Pollution Control” for the first time.  In 1968, the province created the Environmental Health Studies and Services Branch of the Department of Health.  The first site selected to study the effects of long-term exposure to air pollution was Sudbury.”

20.1 The Government Response
“Although the companies were complying with the existing emissions controls, the bottom line remained of paramount importance; the Coniston smelter was closed because it was obsolete, and the Falconbridge pyrrhotite plant was an uneconomic operation. When the companies complained that the emission reduction targets threatened profits and jobs, the government capitulated, allowing the companies more time to meet reduction targets.

The trend of governments placing the interest of the mining industry ahead of environmental problems was highlighted by the widely publicized Happy Valley episode. In 1972, air pollution readings recorded conditions unfit for human habitation. The provincial Energy and Resources Minister decided it would be better to move the families than to interrupt production.

“Happy Valley has become the first community to be wiped from the map of Canada to make way for continued air pollution.”-Neil Stevens, Canadian Dimension, Nov. 1974

The extent of the pollution problem was brought into sharp focus by a secret 1974 federal government document titled “The Sudbury Pollution problem: Socio-Economic background,” inadvertently made public in 1977.  Using a U.S. -based formula, the report concluded that environmental damage would cost Sudbury “approximately $465,850,000 caused by emissions to human health, vegetation and property value in the Sudbury area on an annual basis (emphasis in original) Although it is difficult to place a dollar value on health effects, and both the MOE and the companies had invested considerable time, money and expertise into producing hundreds of reports investigating the environment health of the area, this report brought the enormity of the problem to the public eye.”

“Government has been extremely lenient with Inco and Falconbridge. Historically there have been no prosecutions under applicable environmental legislation, and from 1924-1970 there was a curtailment of a citizens right to sue for pollution damages, and there has been a lack of government-sponsored research on the damage caused by the copper-nickel smelters.” –The Sudbury Pollution Problem, Environment Canada 1974

20.2 Acid Rain and Sulphur Dioxide
“In the 1970s another “new” environmental issue hit the headlines: acid rain. Although Inco’s superstack had reduced the effects of emissions in the immediate area of the smelter, studies were showing that the dispersion did not necessary equal elimination: what goes up must come down. As lakes across North America showed damages from emissions produced in other provinces and even other countries, increasingly stringent controls came into effect.”

20.3 Metals in Sudbury Soil
“Not till the late 1960s did environmental concerns expand to include metal levels and acidifications of soils. Into the 1970s, studies by local foresters and ecologists showed that soil acidity and concentrations of copper and nickel were elevated in many of the same areas where sulphur dioxide damage had been observed. Researchers reported that it was acidity of the soil combined with the heavy metals that created an environment toxic to plant growth.

Public and regulatory interest in contaminated soils has greatly increased in the past decade. With the advent of the MOE soil cleanup guidelines in 1997, regulations and industry had a clear set of criteria with which to make comparisons with monitoring data. In September 2001, the MOE released a summary report of approximately 30 years of soil metals data collected in the City of Greater Sudbury entitled “Metals in soil and vegetation in the Sudbury area – Survey of 2000 and addition historic data”. That report concluded that the concentrations of nickel, copper, cobalt and arsenic are elevated in the three historic smelting centres of Copper Cliff, Coniston and Falconbridge.

On September 12th, 2001 the Ministry of Environment held an open house at the Falconbridge Legion on the Sudbury soil samples that had been taken up to that time. One other person other than me showed up that day as people where preoccupied by the Twin Towers destruction. The information that had been collected had prompted the MOE to order an extensive assessment to review the 100 years of mining pollution.

The Falconbridge manager of that day assured me that the companies would take on the expense of the study and that the study was completely independent with the companies only input to the structure of the review would be supplying technical data to the committee.

As the next year unfolded I felt as a Union President of Mine Mill 598/CAW representing the workers of Falconbridge (now Xstrata) I would also stay at arms length and not apply for the Public Advisory Committee (PAC for short). In 2002 the process begins to take form and the study begins in January 2003.

The early process involved community information and interaction meetings on land, air, water, fish, from which came the most common question, expressed one evening from a bewildered mother when she rose up and quoted “to hell with the birds and bees, the flowers and trees what about my children”

As 2003 ended most of the community show and tells were rapped up and the internal structure of the assessment was well entrenched to structure, definition and to the questions to be asked by the Technical Committee, (TC for short). It also became aware to us that the companies were doing more then providing data; they were full partners at the table contrary to the total independent quotes the year before.

The title “health risk assessment” leads most to believe something different then what will actually happen.

From the November 5th 2004 Sudbury Soils Study update:
 

What is a Risk Assessment?

“Risk assessments can be carried out with a various elements of nature in mind: the physical environment (soil, air, surface water, and ground water), plants and animals, and humans within the study area. A risk assessment examines the possible risk to human health from hazards, such as exposure to chemicals in the environment. This type of study must take into account all factors that might affect how people respond to the chemicals. Things like a person’s age, length and duration of contact with the chemicals in air, water, soil, dust and food, lifestyle activities and occupation.”


What is a Human Health Study?

“Human health studies examine the health conditions of a particular community, and identify trends that might occur as a result of exposures or changes in the environment.

Human health studies can be done in a variety of ways. These include surveys, self-evaluation reports of health status, and database analyses of measured health events such as cancer, hospitalizations and prescription use, just to name a few.”


From the Union “Risk Assessment” meeting, October 26th, 2004 Sudbury:

“Risk assessments do not look directly at the health of the people. Risk assessment would probably conclude that there is no health risk.”

 “One at a time, not a problem, together there is a problem. There are interactions between chemicals such as nickel, copper, cobalt, cadmium, selenium, mercury and arsenic. We need to know more about the additive affect. An example, nickel and copper and sulfur dioxide and nitrogen, these mixes cause cancers, clean up SO2, nickel and copper pollutants.”
Thomas C. Hutchinson Full Professor, Environmental and Research Studies, Trent University


From The Sudbury Star May 27, 2005

“However, no risk assessment to date has been able to answer all the questions, particularly with respect to cumulative effects.”
Dr. Christopher Wren, SARA Group


Enter the Unions 2004

In 2003 Homer Seguin and I questioned loudly that we did not trust the companies within the process and that the questions should be expanded to real health studies of the life long residents of Sudbury. We also questioned the single element theory of chemicals verses the synergistic combination of chemicals. While very little research has been sponsored to allow scientists to find out the effects of toxic cocktails of a number of elements together, it is know that the nickel/copper combination is a higher toxin than the single science assessments of each element, nickel or copper, on their own.   
Because of our voiced concerns, the unions were viewed as enemies to the sanction of the Technical Committee. We viewed the mining companies as the foxes in the hen house and we were viewed as “henny penny” and the sky is falling.
 
Active Union representatives were reluctantly allowed to observe the public meetings starting February 12th, 2004, but not the many working group meetings they held without observers and support staff.  Homer being retired was not accepted here or the PAC committee because you needed unanimous votes from the TC committee.

One of the earliest observations I had was the five TC groups at the meeting were defending their position and interest of the people they represented. It was evident that not only the study was on some minds but also averting liability.

 (Note: April 14th, 2008 the community of Blackwell, Oklahoma filed a class action suit against Blackwell Zinc smelter for contaminating the town with 58 million pounds of toxic waste including lead, arsenic, cadmium and zinc.
In their worst polluting years the two Sudbury mining companies chimneys emitted close to 3 million tons of emissions a year. Their total in 100 years is over 100 million tons. 

There is no recording of the amounts of fugitive emissions escaping from mines, mills, smelters and refinery into the towns and cities.
Lead as a chemical of concern was being held up by one of the mining companies but consensus was arrived because of strong public concerned from TC members. The clinical cleaning of the minutes of the meetings that were going on the web site was another area of expertise.

We were viewed with suspicion during the meetings as were others and it was evident any time that Homer Seguin or Eric Gillespie the environmental lawyer representing Port Colburne citizens in their soil contamination study was mentioned or when they addressed the committee, by the facial gestures and comments at the table after they left. 

In the fall of 2007 via their government standing and regulations the Ministry of Environment had concerns, which draw a long process to reach final consensus on a few details. Meeting after meeting was being cancelled and carried over into 2008. Unknown to the unions, because we were not informed and did not find out until 3 p.m. Tuesday May 13th at the 2008 public meetings that the company managers Fred Stanford and Mike Romaniuk had gotten involved months earlier and forced the process forward. We had no knowledge or observation of what took place for the last four months up to these public meetings.

The unions were not made aware of the City of Sudbury presentation or the press release held just before the public meetings on the 13th of which I found out from a newspaper ad.

The rudest observation I saw was at the Tuesday, May 13th, 2008, 7 p.m. public information meeting at Science North when Homer was making his way up to the mike during the public input time. Up to this time the other citizens did not draw any reaction from TC representatives, but when Homer was making his way to the mike, many TC members, especially the company ones I was sitting behind, reacted with disgusted facial expressions, comments and laughing between themselves.

This ongoing disregard of unions and others is still very evident.

The Union, a legal right of every employee, was formed in 1942 by the workers of the mining companies to have a collective agreement with the employer to achieve better Health, Safety, work rules and payment for their labour, thereby enriching the lives of their family and community. It was men like Homer who fought from the 1950s to today for Health and Safety improvements in the workplace, environmental improvements for our community, WCB payments for workers who got cancers from working in the sintering plants, and the enactment of the 1979 Occupational Health and Safety Act that makes Sudbury Mines some of the safest in the world.
Maybe if those smirking faces sat through as many inquests of workers killed on the job, or the home visits to the grieving widows and orphaned children, or hospital visits to friends dying from cancer, maybe they would understand the compassion of Mr. Homer Seguin in getting answers to the unasked questions in relationship to the 100 years of pollution and our cities citizens health issues.

In my seven years as President of Mine Mill 598/CAW I have signed over 250 letters offering our Unions condolences for the loss of a husband, father of whom many were my close co-workers.  Since 1990 over 570 of our members have died and their average age is 72, seven years less then the Canadian average.


Sudbury Soil Study Report

The report indicates the citizens of the area are still being negatively affected by lead and nickel. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) in Atlanta, Georgia, public health statement for nickel tells you about nickel and its compounds and the effect of exposures. Person receptors are inhalation, ingestions, and skin contact.

From ATSDR: “Under acidic conditions, nickel is more mobile in soil and may seep into groundwater. Nickel does not appear to concentrate in fish. Studies show that it does not accumulate in plants growing on land that has been treated with nickel-containing sludge or in small animals.

“The concentration of nickel in water from rivers and lakes is very low. The average concentration of nickel is usually less than 10 parts of nickel in a billion parts of water (ppb) in rivers and lakes”

“The average concentration of nickel in drinking water is about 2ppb”.
“The highest levels of nickel in drinking water, about 72 ppb, have been found in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada, where there is a large natural nickel deposit and where nickel is mined and refined.”

“The most common adverse health affect of nickel in humans is an allergic reaction to nickel.”

“The International Agency for research on Cancer (IARC) has determined that some nickel compounds are carcinogenic to humans and that metallic nickel may possibly be carcinogenic to humans. The EPA has determined those nickel refinery dust and nickel subsulfides are human carcinogens.”

From the Sudbury water quality data March 31, 2003: “The source water, the Wahnapitei River, like all surface sources may be under the influence of several sources of contamination. The primary influence is from atmospheric deposition of acid and metals from nickel and copper smelting operations in Sudbury, as well as mine drainage from the abandoned Whistle Mine north of Lake Wahnapitei. Although this has been a greater influence in the past, the river does have elevated levels of nickel, copper and manganese due to the smelting industry.”

“Precautions: some people may be more vulnerable to contaminates in drinking water then the general population, in particular immuno-compromised persons, some elderly and infants. These people should seek advice about drinking water from their health care provider.”

Skin contact and ingestion have little effect on humans but inhalation exposure for a long period of time, especially the workers in the plant can be harmful. The Sudbury Study and other information indicate residents in the areas in and around the smelters have been exposed and are still an area of concern. Respiratory inflammation and respiratory cancers cannot be ruled out.  The companies need to do more pollution control.


Falconbridge Arsenic Human Health Study

(Not part of study but referenced to on page 21, 3.2.7.)

In May 2004 the Sudbury District Health unit gave warning to the citizens of Falconbridge that they should take precautions with the soil as it contained higher amounts of metals especially arsenic. This causes a stir with the residents and the TC committee. The citizen reaction led to a urinary heath study (outside the Sudbury Soils Study) of seven hundred residents from Hanmer and Falconbridge. The study shows the same arsenic levels in both groups even though Falconbridge soils contains much high arsenic levels.
 
This study is compared to four other Canadian studies from cities with high industrial arsenic in the soil. Pages 38 and 39 of study:

Falconbridge 2004: Overall Mean=7.2 (5.6): Under 13 Mean=9.1 (5.6)
Wawa 2001:            Overall Mean=5.6 (4.4): Under 13 Mean= 7.0 (5.1)
Wawa 2002:                                                     Under 13 Mean=5.6 (3.4) 
Deloro 1999:           Overall Mean=4.36 (4.0): Under 13 Mean=5.34 (5.6)
Sydney 2002            Overall Mean=6.4 (8.2):  Under 13 Mean=6.7 (9.5)               

The May 2005 letter to Falconbridge and Hanmer citizens gave answers to two questions.

Keep in mind these the guideline of arsenic is viewed as “typical daily intakes of arsenic” by Canadians.

Question One: Do Falconbridge residents have higher arsenic levels than residents living in a comparison area with lower levels of arsenic in their soil?

Answer: No. Overall, Falconbridge residents’ urinary arsenic levels were very similar to those in the comparison community of Hanmer, which had lower levels of arsenic in soil.

Question Two: What health risks relative to other communities are associated with the urinary arsenic levels of Falconbridge residents?

Answer: Falconbridge and Hanmer residents on average are within typical daily intakes of arsenic by Canadians, and therefore are not at any increased exposure as compared to other Canadians in general. Health risk associated with arsenic levels for Falconbridge residents would be similar to those in the comparison community of Hanmer.

The letter sent to the homes and given to the public did not give all the answers from the study answer. What was missing from page 51 and 52 of the report is:

“With respect to absolute risk, however, it is known that arsenic exposure in general in Canada is close to or above the toxicological boundaries of increased cancer risk. Health Canada uses the rates of 1/1,000,000 or 1 in 1/100,000 as an acceptable risk. However, most arsenic exposures in Canada provide a toxicological risk level above this level. What this means is that according to the mathematical risks of cancer, much of our ordinary arsenic intake as Canadians will be calculated as an increased risk.

For arsenic, the question is then, are Falconbridge or Hanmer residents experiencing an additional preventable risk because of their geographic location, the soils levels, or other circumstances? This study indicates that, on a community level, neither Falconbridge nor Hanmer shows preventable sources of environmental arsenic exposure, and in particular, not a soil-related risk of elevated inorganic urinary arsenic”

If the average Canadian whose “arsenic exposure in general in Canada is close to or above the toxicological boundaries of increased cancer risk.” and “much of our ordinary arsenic intake as Canadians will be calculated as an increased risk.” and Sudbury citizens consume the average food basket as the Canadian general population but we have the highest arsenic study, then how could the answer read “neither Falconbridge nor Hanmer shows preventable sources of environmental arsenic exposure.” 

What is not asked or answered is why the Falconbridge study shows the residents had the highest levels of arsenic of the five contaminated site studies and the Sudbury study conclusion is “it is not from the soil”, then how are the residents getting more arsenic into their system then other Canadians.


Final observations and recommendations of this observer:

By the time the unions reached the table as observers the course forward was set. The questions we would have liked to be part of the study did not get included. By narrowing down questions you can reach pre-concluded answers.

We only viewed a small fraction of the actual work process and material at the TC public meetings and observed no working committee meetings.

This studied was aimed at future risk as reflected in the first SSS conclusion;
“1. Based on current conditions in the Sudbury area, the study predicted little risk of health effects on Sudbury area residents associated with metals in the environment.”

This study is in no way associated to the previous 100 years of health risks and exposures from the 100 million tons of pollutants our historical Sudbury citizens faced and the effects it might have caused, which citizens personally live with today.

The people who did the science provided 100% accuracy to what they were instructed to do.

The support staffs to the TC committee, the observer, secretary, chair, and others were accountable to their given tasks.

The five active TC committee’s representatives from Vale Inco, Xstrata (Falconbridge), Ministry of Environment, The Sudbury District Health Unit and the Greater City of Sudbury defended the positions of those they represented, and some showed resentment to the presence of the unions.

The towns and city continues to be polluted with fugitive chemicals of concern and sulfuric acid from the three smelter sites, from uncontrolled emissions from converter isles, furnaces, unprotected custom feed, and tailing waste and slag piles, exported by vehicles, wind and the rain off the mining properties.

The towns and city land has the historical fallout of 100 years.
The study showed the 100 million tons of historical pollutions that fell from the sky has filtered into the ground and lays buried just below the surface, or settled on bottom of water covered areas, some of which has reached the water table and in disturbing it increases your contact with it. 

The two companies, while voicing their strongest future commitment, must be keep accountable for the past and daily pollution output by stack, converters, furnaces, mines, slag on and off the property, tailing ponds, custom feeds, cottrell and smelter dust stockpiled in the open and exposed to wind and rain. Some of these stockpiles have been placed outside, unprotected in the last seven years while the study was taking place.

While re-greening is happening, that the companies increase their accountable for the rehabilitation of past contaminations of mine sites, tailing ponds, slag piles and dead land now, the sooner the better, not at the end of mine life closure plan.

Today’s citizens should rejoice in the fact their children face a much cleaner future (approximately 10% of stack emissions and unknown amount of site fugitives) than what their parents faced in the past.

Citizens must become aware of the personal hygiene information distributed by the Ministry of Environment and the Sudbury District Health Unit regarding the chemicals of concern found in the soil, home dust and food, especially arsenic, lead and nickel.

The Unions will continue to work in making the companies improve the dust control and other Heath and Safety elements in the mines, mills, smelters and refinery on behalf of the citizens they represent in the workplace, which will reduce the public’s exposures from fugitive emission contamination and increase the life of the employees.

The companies must provide funding to the Sudbury District Health Unit for a truly independent “Health Audit of the Citizens of Sudbury”, re the high numbers of cancers, diseases and shortened life span.

In conclusion I would like to relate the value of the study in comparison to real life situations.

If all risk assessments were viewed as well groomed dogs at the New York world dog show, the Sudbury Risk Assessment would win first place, but in answering the relationship of the 100 years of pollution and the real health questions about our citizens this Sudbury Health Risk Assessment will be as productive as sending a neutered dog to stud a breeding farm.

Like a good illusionist who has mesmerized the audience and in pulling down the curtain, it has made the elephant disappear and replaced it with a mouse.


 

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From the Desk of the President

By Rick Grylls
Published: April 28, 2008

Brothers and Sisters:

Every year, the Sudbury and District Labour Council holds the April 28th Day of Mourning Service at City Hall. Our Local also holds the Mine Mill Workers Memorial Day Service on June 20th. We started June 20th Services in 1985 on the first anniversary of rock burst that claimed the lives of four Mine Mill members.

The following was my speech at the Monday, April 28th, 2008 Day of Mourning.

Each year we gather to remember the names and faces of our family, friends, co-workers and neighbours who have passed away or suffer from accidents and disease.

In the silence of our consciousness we offer up personal prayers to the God of our mind and heart.

Some of us question why me? Some of us hope not to be victims of accidents and disease.

The one belief of all of us gathered here today is – we will continue to raise the awareness of health and safety in our homes, in our workplace, in our schools and community.

 

It is about gathering enough knowledge to make health and safety an awareness that guides our thoughts and actions in everything we do.

I believe we face a number of obstacles to reach that goal.

Education

Children reach the first age of wisdom between the ages of 9 and 13.

This is when our society should be educating that generation with the lessons we have learned in our workplaces, not when they are 16, 17, 18 or older, when they enter a workplace that too many times give no education at all.

The second age of wisdom starts around 60 and our society should be harnessing that wisdom in developing the health and safety knowledge they possess.

Sudbury and the North have led the way these last 60 years in the changes to the rights of the workers on the job and in reflecting and remembering those who left this world before their time.

Another hurdle is getting all sections of our society to the same table to establish a school program that every student would take.

This would produce safer first-time drivers on our highways. It will produce safer workers for our workplaces.

Health and Wellness

For those of us who deal with the daily issues in the workplace, the last number of years shows an increase in mental health issues.

If you have been following the good work of the Sudbury District Health Unit and the Canadian Mental Health Association, you would see they have clearly identified a number issues and solutions.

The first is that poverty is directly related to many of our society’s problems. The poor health of children in poverty will follow them their whole life span.

Every year there is a growing number of the working poor. We have to make our politicians ashamed that Canada has a child poverty rate of almost 20 percent.

It is clearly stated that the sooner we break that terrible cycle this part of our society is trapped in, the better the whole future of Canada will be.

"Depression & Anxiety in the Workplace"

  • Every year, 7.5 million Canadians (1 in 4) suffer from depression, an anxiety disorder, substance abuse, or another mental disorder.
  • Most Canadians suffering from depression are between 25 and 64.
  • Almost three-quarters of the respondents to the 2002 Canadian Community Health survey aged 25 to 64 who had developed a major depressive episode in the past 12 months, were employed.
  • Mental health conditions underlie half of Canadian work absences, or 3.5 days per person annually.
  • Depression and anxiety disorders cause more work absences than any other condition.
  • The financial cost of mood and anxiety disorders must also take into account the reduced productivity of ill workers who manage to stay on the job… "Presenteeism" adds an estimated $8.1 billion, for a minimum annual total cost of $14.4 billion for depression and anxiety.

We are working to have a stronger understanding of these issues and improving the Employees Assistance Programs that are available to assist us or our family members, if the need arises.

We also must pay better attention to those who are suppose to be taking care of our health care system as it is being sold out by the business right and our health care workers are suffering high rates of violence, mental and physical fatigue.

We must stop the conservatives from gaining power again.

Our Canada, in all its bounty, should not be for sale. It should be defended.

 

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Corporate power needs to be checked

By Rick Grylls
Published: September 19, 2007

Dinosaurs, kings, queens, emperors and now corporations have all had a time when they ruled the world. Dinosaurs still rule the living room of my grandsons Nolan and Harper and granddaughter Kalem 3, is entrapped in the fantasy charm of princesses and kingdoms.

Some devastating event ended the rule of the dinosaurs millions of years ago, and the first real crack in kingships came in 1215, when the people of England revolted and threatened to kill King John who, to save his neck, signed the Magna Carta. Most historians view this as the first real legislation that gave people community rights from the ownership of supreme power of a kingship.

Many other events have taken place to bring democracy to our lives. The French Revolution is when the people took the power away from a French king. The American Revolution was people taking power from the British Empire for self rule.

Mahatma Gandhi defied the British rulers of India and marched to the ocean to gather salt, thereby starting the passive revolution to bring self rule to his home-land, India. The British had made laws that made it illegal for the Indian people to gather salt from the ocean, as they claimed it belonged to Britain because they were the dominant power.

These are only a few of the many events that have freed people from tyranny and domination that corrupt power brings. Reviewing the state of the world since the end of the Second World War, one must wonder with the bloodshed from ethnic clashes and military power governments, what future event will be needed to bring understanding, peace, friendship, prosperity and true democracy to our world.

Most of us have been associated with a team or group of like-minded people from where friendships have grown. Over the years, workers of CAW Local 61 Bracebridge have become friends of CAW Local 598 Sudbury, 599 Timmins, 103 and 991 North Bay. We always looked forward to meeting and sharing time at CAW council, Workers Memorial Day, educational and other events.

A year ago, the president of Local 61, representing 400 plus manufacturing workers, was summoned into the head office and delivered the untimely fate of closure of a business of over 50 years at the end of 2007. The company was closing its three Canadian shops and transferring production to the U.S. and Mexico. Those new foreign workers will now provide the product for Canadian assembly lines, increase profits for the owners and, at the same time, put more than 1,000 Canadians out of work.

During the last couple of years, this is only 1/3 of one per cent of the 300,000 well-paying Canadian jobs that provided benefits and pensions for those citizens, which were taken by corporations shipping their companies out of Canada.

Oshawa was just delivered a 1,200 worker layoff from the most productive and awarded assembly line, because corporations can transfer the work to lesser governed areas of environment, health and safety regulations and labour costs and increase the profit margin when bringing the product back into Canada.
On Saturday, around 40 workers from Timmins, Sudbury, North Bay and Oshawa will travel to Bracebridge to partake in the final CAW Local 61 event, a barbecue and boat cruise on Muskoka Lake for active, retired and laid-off workers.

Our locals and the national union will provide donations of approximately $7,000 to ensure the day is a success for the members and their 100-plus children.

This community of 15,000 has lost more than 500 jobs; the people have been burdened with a diminished future of opportunity and growth.

There are Canadians who believe we need an event to alter the power of the corporations who, with castles in the clouds, a moat full of lawyers and lobbyists, only exist in a paper world with no boundaries or loyalties for the people. They use us as a capital colony for the sole purpose of a consumer base with no real agenda for Canada as a country with a destiny or future.

This farewell gathering of CAW workers' jobs in Bracebridge the acknowledgement of the devastation to the families and their community is only the beginning.

Rick Grylls is president of Mine Mill Local 598/CAW.

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March 16th, 2007

      The principle of all the workers joining together to establish rules and rates for their labour, in a single collective agreement, still stands the test of time for producing the best benefits and protection for the workers.

      The right of workers to assemble their collective strength in such a manner as a union has always had an opposing side from those who control the markets. 

      Many believe the beginning of modern times and the first real collective actions that produced change for human and social rights was the Magna Charter, written during an uprising of citizens (surfs in the history books) against King John of England in the 1200s. 

      In North America during the 1800s, the carry- over of European culture and rights of an employee to have a union were being re-enacted. The mining camps of the U.S. West were harsh and brutal work places, which led to the workers organizing secretly out of fear of being blackballed or, in some cases death, in order to establish the right to have a union. 

      In 1893, after 25 hard years of court actions, the workers were granted the right to legally have a union and the Western Federation of Miners was formed. Several years later they re-named themselves the Mine Mill and Smelter Workers Union. 

      The logo of the Mine Mill and Smelter Workers Union has three letters - I, E, and O within it, signifying three principles - Independence, Education and Organize. 

Independence from the control of the owners; established by having rights to better wages, benefits and work conditions; 

Education of their children and others to enjoy the betterment that a Union brings to a worker’s life; 

Organize other workers to join the ranks of unionized workers to create a stronger voice for those who labour for a living and in creating social change.

Local 598

      Organizing grew and for 40 years, the workers of Northern Ontario were called upon to join the Mine Mill and Smelter Workers Union. There was some success in the early 1900s, but it was not until the late 1930s and early 1940s, the fear created by the owners was overcome, and in 1943 the workers of Sudbury chartered the Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers Local 598.  Local 598 grew into the largest Mine Mill Local representing 20,000 workers at INCO and Falconbridge.

      A second Local, 1030 was chartered and successfully organized many workers in other Sudbury area businesses.

      Sudbury was one of the world’s largest mining camps and the workers saw a need to provide offices and gathering places in the many small towns of the area. Donating $1.00 a month over and above their dues, they soon built their first Union Hall at 19 Regent Street with other halls soon to follow in Chelmsford, Creighton, Coniston, Garson and the Richard Lake children’s camp ground. 

      The halls and campgrounds were fully used by the members from an evening out with your friends, to weddings, parties, dances, crafts and other activities for their children. 

The Raids

      The only place in the world where there are International Unions is North America. In 1953 the Canadian workers of Mine Mill gained their independence from the International American Mine Mill Union, but stood and worked together as two separate Unions. 

      The opposing to social-based Unions, especially the strength of the two Mine Mill Unions in North America was systematically attacked by the American government, along with the aid of Steelworkers and others. The CIA and the American government used the great “Red Scare”, full of misconceptions and lies to mislead the people about a connection to communism.  (History has uncovered the lies, but this still happens today, in other areas such as “weapons of mass destruction”) 

      They planned to insert a pro-American based agenda and union, the Steelworkers, into all Mine Mill Locals. 

      There was a CIA agent in Sudbury for many years, creating lies and rumors to defeat the Mine Millers.

      In 1965, the Mine Mill 598 INCO workers lost to the Steelworkers by 15 votes, with many accusations of a rigged vote and months of delay before the votes were counted.

      The Falconbridge workers voted to stay Mine Mill and independent from an American-based union.  

      In 1969, the remaining Canadian Mine Mill Locals met in Winnipeg and succumbed to the American agenda by merging with the Steelworkers. Some Canadian locals rejected the merger and went on to change their name to become independent unions, because they feared the stigma created by the “Red Scare”.  

      The workers of Falconbridge fought this curse again and stayed independent of the merger and became the last Local to carry the Mine Mill and Smelter Workers Union voice and logo in North America. 

New beginnings

      In the 1970s and 1980s, the stigma waned as the truth slowly emerged about the lies of the American “Red Scare” about our Union.  We joined 45,000 other Canadians in the Confederation of Canadian Unions (CCU), because we were still barred from joining the internationally controlled CCU, the Canadian Labour Congress. 

      Local 598 stayed an independent Union from 1969 to 1993, when we merged with the Canadian Auto Workers Union. 

Note: Our Local’s relationships with individuals within the Steelworkers and CLC have grown beyond the differences of the sixties, seventies and eighties. 

Canadian Auto Workers Union 1984

      Within the United Auto Workers Union in the early 1980’s, the international differences were at its worst. The 90,000 Canadians in this union were not satisfied by the American agenda and, under the leadership of Bob White, fought for and gained their own Canadian independence from the American based Union.  

      The CAW soon was recognized as a strong voice on behalf of working Canadians. Their independence, worker-based ethics and social conscience soon drew together many independent unions like Mine Mill 598 and today, we stand as members of the 265,000 Canadians of CAW.

12 Cents in Trust

      When we merged with the CAW, our Local was able to keep within its structure the property and our historical strike fund of 1.5 million dollars. Our forefathers, in balancing the internal well being of the union, mandated the interest from the original strike fund to be used to offset the property costs (The new 12 cent fund does not). 

      The 2000/2001 strike led us to open the Local’s strike fund and support the workers as was intended and we used over $1.2 million. The CAW National Union strike fund supported the strike with $12.5 million. With a unanimous vote on February 21st, 2001, the workers agreed to a 12-cent an hour dues check-off to replenish the Local’s strike fund. In 2004, we used these funds to support the workers during the three-week strike and bargaining costs and we again voted to continue the 12-cent dues.  

      In November 2004, the membership instructed the Local to increase the amount of arbitrations, knowing they would need to fund the extra spending in the future. 

      In 2006, the membership agreed to pay the extra $100,000 of the $225,000 arbitration costs and the 2007 bargaining costs from the 12-cent fund. In that period, we were successful with 19 of 20 arbitrations, which helped the 2007 bargaining committee to a successful agreement. 

      The subject of continuing the 12-cent dues is again being reviewed by the bargaining committee and they will be coming back to the membership with recommendations to look at. All the actions and spending of funds have been used with the instructions of the membership. 

      At today’s income of base wage plus nickel and incentive bonus amounts to between $40.00 and $70.00 an hour.  The 12-cent fund, off the top of our workers’ income is split about 6 cents to the worker and 6 cents to Harper and McGinty in taxes. 

      In 2004, the OCT workers at Xstrata Nickel adopted the principle of a 12-cent fund, but extended its use to fight arbitrations. They continue to support this action today. 

      For 6-cents an hour difference, I personally will advocate the continuance of the fund for another three years with a set amount available for arbitrations, if needed. 

      Our union founders were wise to donate a dollar a month to build the halls and campgrounds. They set aside 25% of their dues to the strike fund we used in 2000 and allotted the use of the interest to support the properties trust fund. 

      I take council in their wisdom and believe we should continue to build a better future for the membership of Mine Mill 598/CAW. 

Rick Grylls,
President

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When Corporate Titans Roll Over,

the Workers Need to Tread Carefully

 

By Rick Grylls

 

            Corporate mergers and acquisitions are booming in Canada.  According to data released last week by investment bankers Crosbie & Co., some $50 billion worth of M&A activity was announced involving Canadian companies in the third quarter.  That’s the highest in five years, this most since the hyperactive days of the dot-com bubble.

 

            The $13 billion proposed deal between Inco and Falconbridge obviously contributed to this spike in takeover activity.  But the trend is being experienced more broadly throughout the mining sector, too (witness the Placer Dome – Barrick manoeuvring).

 

            The logic of the takeover artists seems to be this: “Prices are high, and it’s faster to buy someone else’s resource base than to develop our own.”  But whether merger mania provides any real benefit to the actual productive operations that these companies run is highly debatable.  It is ironic that Canadian companies spent far more trying to buy each other out last quarter, than on the real capital investments that truly drive our economic progress.

 

            Nevertheless, the takeover binge is real.  The question facing workers is how we can best avoid getting squashed in the middle, whenever these corporate titans start bed-hopping.

 

            The CAW’s strategy is to seek any bargaining leverage that we may have, during the drawn-out process of approving a merger or restructuring.  Then we use this leverage to enhance the job security and well-being of our members as the process unfolds.

 

            Sometimes this leverage is found at the bargaining table, if we happen to have contract talks scheduled, or if our approval is needed for resulting workplace changes.  Sometimes we find leverage before courts or regulatory agencies, where we can demand job protections and other guarantees for workers.  And sometimes, the leverage is found in the political arena – pressuring politicians to demand a higher level of corporate accountability, in return for their approval or participation in a merger or restructuring situation.

 

            Our strategy will vary from case to case, depending on the issues involved and the leverage that we find.  Two things are always true, however.  First, workers must be active through this process; if we sit back and just “trust” the companies involved, we’ll get taken to the cleaners.  Second, workers have far more ability to influence these events, when they have a union.  Just look at the sad experience of workers in non-unionized restructurings (such as the bankruptcy of Eaton’s), who had no ability to fight for their rights and were left with little at the end of the day.

 

            Some observers have argued that Inco’s bid for Falconbridge should be endorsed simply because Inco is a Canadian company.  Believe me, the CAW believes in Canadian independence more than anyone: the whole history of our union involves fighting to be masters in our own house.  But to assume that a company will be more loyal to Canada and Canadians, simply because its owners are Canadian, is naïve to the point of being irresponsible.

 

            Sure, Inco is headquartered in Canada.  But it is a global company, more so every day.  One third of its capital assets are located in Indonesia, New Caledonia, and other foreign jurisdictions – and this proportion will grow with huge investments in Goro and other third-world developments.  The vast majority of its net sales occur outside of Canada.  And Inco follows the dictates of worldwide capital and commodity markets as automatically as any other global behemoth.  Like other Canadian multinationals (such as Nortel or Bombardier), Inco will be quick to jettison Canadian workers and communities if they see the prospect of higher profits in foreign jurisdictions.

 

            We have learned the hard way that Canadian-owned companies, just like any others, must be held accountable to the communities where they operate through binding commitments and performance requirements – whether those are negotiated with the union, with government, or with regulatory agencies.

 

            That’s why the CAW has proposed the negotiation of a formal merger plan, as a condition of any approved consolidation of Inco and Falconbridge.  The plan would require the sign-on of all stakeholders: the companies, its unions, governments at all levels (including regional and municipal), and even mining suppliers.  It would require the merged company to make clear commitments to Canadian investment, employment, and purchasing targets, as a condition of having the merger approved.  Without those commitments, stakeholders should oppose the merger – or look for a better offer from someone else.

 

            This merger, like any other, will have an upside and a downside.  There are clearly potential savings that could be attained from rationalizing operations, especially in the Sudbury area.  If those savings were piled back into Canadian developments, with appropriate safeguards and transition assistance, it’s probably something we could support.  But only if the commitments are clear and binding.

 

            Rubber-stamping the proposed Inco-Falconbridge merger, as some have been quick to do, is the best way to devalue whatever bargaining power workers and other stakeholders can find.  Without that leverage, we can never ensure that the deal offers net benefits for workers – not just for investors and bankers.

 

Rick Grylls is President of CAW Local 598, representing 1300 workers at Falconbridge in Sudbury.  The CAW’s proposal for a merger plan, “Two Sides of the Coin,” is available at www.caw.ca.

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Summer Notes from the President.

Richard Lake Campground Sale

The first phase required for the sale of the Richard Lake property has been completed. The purchaser had 60 days in which to receive environmental approval for his project, and this has been received. The second phase requires the buyer applies for and succeeds in having the property rezoned. This process could take up to a year. If they are successful at this stage, the sale will become final.

The union has retained five acres of lakefront on the north side of the campground and 110 acres located on the south side of Highway 69.

Company Union Meeting September 10th 2004

In February we were forced to strike to protect our jobs from being contracted out.

With the closure of Lockerby Mine in September, all of the P&M employees currently at that site will be moving to other mines in the MMBU.  Earlier this year the Union had put an outstanding contracting out arbitration into abeyance. This action allowed the company until September to put our job postings and manpower in order. With vacancies created by the retirements of many older workers, there have continued to be significant numbers of contractors onsite in the MMBU.

As a result of the closure the company must to identify the manpower requirements for the rest of this year and 2005 and post or fill vacancies for the employees displaced from Lockerby. They must also identify the old flex work group and how to post the work these employees are doing. We have put them on notice that them we will grieve every contractor on site come October.

FYI

The company will be addressing the union leadership on Friday September the 10th regarding issues relating to manpower, job postings, the Company-Union relationship and the future of the company. Union officers from our local and the National office will meet with senior Falconbridge management from corporate office sometime after that to discuss issues of mutual concern.

Rick Grylls,

July 14, 2004


Vacation Fiasco

November 2003 – From a Company Six Sigma Project on hours of work, vacation and absenteeism, management makes policy changes to the percentages of workers off at any one time, and that vacations must be booked before January 1st, 2004.

 This shift from February/March vacation booking time to November/December, with less people off during prime time has the workers asking their Union leadership to help.  They want time to book their family vacations with their spouses time off.

 Other Work Places – The Union looked at other industries and found many booked the starting of the vacation year, later into the calendar year.  We also had a concern with Article 17.05 – Vacation Shutdown “…Notification of such a vacation shutdown shall be communicated by March 31st of the year in which the shutdown is to occur”, which the Company did not want to change.

 February 21st, 2004 – During bargaining, the Company refused to go back to the old policy of 20% of workers off during prime time of summer, Christmas, spring break and hunting season.

 We did agree to work at adjusting the vacation scheduling year from January 1st to May 1st to help families schedule family vacations and offset any late chance shutdowns from Article 17.05 – Vacation Shutdown”.

 We knew the workers’ 2004 vacations were booked, and a few might want some time off in the four-month gap from January to April 2005.  The Company agreed to look at any worker’s request, on an individual basis.

 Company Changes Mechanical/Electrical – The Company told the Union that they were going to re-book mechanics and electricians because they had some problems from their November changes because they had gone to a full beat schedule.  We recommended that they leave everything as is, because the 2004 vacations were booked.  We said leave it until May 2005.  They did not take our advice.

 More Company Changes – Someone, somewhere in that throng of management, made more changes to their plans and decided to re-book everyone’s vacation.  By the time we heard of this latest change, everything was a mess.  In talking to them on May 14th, 2004, they agreed that there is a mess and will review individual cases, if the latest re-booking has altered a worker’s plans.

 Who To Blame – With this mess in the workplace, we have heard that some staff have told the workers it was the Union who did this big change.  Let’s get one thing straight – the Union, at the request of the membership, did work at and achieve the changing of the start of our vacation year to May 1st.  We know that there would be some individual cases of conflict in the first four months of 2005.  The Company and Union agreed to look at these cases.

 Re-booking 2004 Vacations – The re-booking of the mechanical/electrical schedules and then re-booking the whole freaking work force is by the management or if you wish mismanagement actions, theirs and theirs alone

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 Taking a Stand Does Make a Difference 

Our Union, through the Bargaining Committee has brought us a tentative agreement that not only serves to reinforce our sixty-year-old collective agreement, but also provides language that carries us well into the next decade, to the mining of Nickel Rim South. In addition, this language deals with any new ore bodies in existing mines such as at Fraser-Morgan.

We have language that deals with contractors and the hiring of new employees. We have held our ground against the company’s attempts to reduce the effectiveness of our contract language, and to achieve concessions from our benefits and pensions packages. Our Negotiating Team was able to achieve these goals through the strong support of the rank and file membership and the active support of the retirees of this local.

This generation of Mine Mill / CAW – Local 598 workers has fought the corporate agenda, and we have held our ground. Looking back to the three month strike which created our defined pension plan, our six and a half month strike of 200/2001, and now this three week struggle, we can truly see that, “Taking a Stand makes a difference in the shaping of our futures.

Our collective agreement is the basis of our rights on the job.

It is the responsibility of each and every one of us to learn the context of our Collective Agreement.

It is the responsibility of each and every one of us to live our Collective Agreement on the job. If there is a violation – grieve. Support your stewards, and health and safety reps when they ask.

It is the responsibility of each and every one of us to protect our Collective Agreement, even if it means that we must go on strike every three years.

Taking a Stand Makes a Difference.

It is the rank and file of our Union, standing side by side in solidarity, that give us our strength.

Rick Grylls,

President.

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My apologies to the members of Mine Mill and Smelter Workers Union 598/CAW

 

Sunday February 1 2004 7:40 a.m.    

4 Lindsley St. Falconbridge Ontario

 

While I sit here writing, I can look out my window though the leafless trees and see my fellow Sisters and Brothers on our smelter picket line. It is an inspiring picture, the temperature is around twenty five below Celsius, the dawn starting to chase away the darkness. The first sun light, casts long shadows of the two smokestacks across the fences into the town site. The eastern hills are frost laden and a misty fog arises from the valley, reflecting the face of the sun.

It seems like yesterday that we settled the bitter seven month strike of 2000/2001 and returned to OUR workplace. This morning my view is that I must apologize for some of the positions that I have taken over the last three years. In February 2001 I became the President of this proud and historical local, and I took on the task of building an on the job, working relationship, with management.

The early months were difficult as they attacked the injured and accommodated workers, refused to follow the collective agreement in the worksites, and abused the workers with an irrational discipline policy. Their front line supervision policies have resulted in hundreds of grievances, and an increase in the workers distrust of this company. The stewards have, and continue, to do a good job protecting the RIGHTS of the workers.

 In time management appeared to begin working with us through the Health and Safety programs. Today because of the dedication of the Union safety reps we have some of  the best programs and accident statistics ever.

On the communications of the business strategies, and policies I promoted, with management the fact we had to work together on the issues that would lead us to a better relationship and a secure future for us all. I stood with them at employee meetings, at city council, at the business of commerce’s meetings promoting a working relationship for all stakeholders

The company’s mission statement is, “for all the stakeholders, the employees, the community and the shareholder”.

The last nine weeks of sitting at the hotel waiting to bargain with these people, who in the end forced us onto the picket line once again, brings me to my apology.

I apologize for thinking that these people would live up to their mission statement, would think of all three parts of this company in their dealings and work with us to secure our future together. Somewhere deep in the heart of this management group there are people who will not deliver in practice, what they preach.

 

Rick Grylls

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Saturday January 24, 2004

Falconbridge, Ontario

 Saturday morning thoughts from Rick Grylls president of the Mine Mill and Smelter Workers Union 598/CAW

 As I reflect the last 8 weeks of sitting and waiting for this company bargaining committee to have open and honest dialogue I have to wonder if three years of working with management has been productive in taking care of, as the mission statement states the three stakeholders of this company: the employees, the community and the shareholders.

I am one of the 40% of Sudbury employees that fit into the all three group, while many more are grouped as employees/community. With share holders, the majority is just that and has no ties to the betterment of the employees or our community.

 THE COMPANY

 We have heard a well rehearsed script from the company on how it is in hard times, and that the C1 cost has to be controlled. The major C1 factor within the reach of the 1060 production and maintenance workers is the amount of tonnage that we do, or do not produce. We have all seen the mismanagement of the production time cycles, the poor equipment, the poor treatment of the workers, the poor management skills in living up to our collective agreement, the disregard of the health and safety act, the employment standards act and the human rights act. When we ask the company bargaining committee to talk about these daily problems they say it is an operational problem not a collective agreement issue.

We have to address these issues now!

 THE SHAREHOLDER

 Six months ago the shares were around $17 while today they are $35. The long term forecast for nickel is very good with best profits ever in near reach. The analysts have upgraded the company into the top ten industry money makers/values in the world market for the next number of years. We sit on top of the wealthiest find of our history here in Sudbury, Nickel Rim South with vast unexplored areas still ready to give shareholders many years of good return on their investment.

 THE EMPLOYEE

 The employee invests with his labour and the sacrifice of years of good health and generally enjoys a lifespan well below the nations average.

“He missed the point that while we grow as a society, the power of capital grew in step. So why shouldn’t capital-investors, financiers, and the shareholders-have to deal with receiving less during times of economic trouble? Why should capital get to hold on to its relatively steady growth while working people inevitably had to accept less?” (Quote from page 154 “LABOUR OF LOVE the fight to create a more humane Canada” Buzz Hargrove, President of CAW.)

Employee Commitment

In 2001 Allen Hayward took a step forward and for the first time in the history of Falconbridge asked the two Union presidents, myself and Myles Sullivan USWA 2020, to work together on writing and implementing the Joint Health and Safety programs into the work areas. Today we have the best numbers ever and a new directive to the workers of “STOP WORK AND CORRECT” the problems. With this effort over the last three years the workers have started to improve their lot in a safe life in the workplace and still meet the production targets.

The employee is more loyal to the success of the shareholder, the community and the company by their good community and workplace ethics than the managers of Noranda/Falconbridge who want to maximize the personal careers by maximizing profits at any costs.

 THE UNION

 For sixty years the citizens of this community have stood together under a joint collective agreement as employees, to provide the common principles on how we treat each other and in gaining better work conditions and sharing the wealth of our labour.

Today we are again faced with a far away corporate agenda that will stop at nothing in taking away the security of the employees and their community, by increasing their profitability by lowering the wages and benefits of the people doing the work.

To move forward in finding a way to produce more wealth the Union has offered through this set of talks that we will assist the management in developing and implementing efficiency into the workplace to increase production thus profitability just as we have in producing the best health and safety program ever.

We have told them WE WILL NOT drive their corporate profits up at the expense of the worker and their community.

 RELATIONSHIP

 The next week will set the agenda for the next three years. For the past three years as the senior employee representative of the 1060 active employees I have work at building a working relationship to deal with the on the job issues. The real problem as I see it is the managers and supervisors are afraid to admit to their mistakes in dealing with the issues because their personal career will not advance.

This mismanagement of the relationship has to be addressed but again the company does not want to talk about the on the job issues at the bargaining table.

WE ARE THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION and with out the workers the investors would never make a nickel. They are willing to scab your jobs and change the direction of our local society. This natural resource belongs to us all for the betterment of all.

We have told the company, hire the contractors who are doing the work so they and our community will benefit from the wages, benefits and long term security of a pension.

 This week what we do on the job is important in helping the bargaining committee establish how the relationship will be for the next period of time. We can work together or we can fight each other, the future lies in how this company treats its workers.

 “The rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and the middle class gets confused.”—Dave Barrett

 “Every society needs some shared values to hold it together.”—George Soros

 “The goal of government should be to improve the life changes of the citizens.”—German sociologist Ralf Dahrendorf

  “No man lives without jostling and being jostled; in all ways he has to elbow himself through the world, giving and receiving offence.”—Thomas Carlyle

 “At their best, unions are in the vanguard of challenging the status quo and driving social change.”—Sam Gindin

Link to comments from George Markic

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Below are the contents of a letter from Rick Grylls to Rick Bartolucci, Minister of Northern Development and Mines

Rick,

A quick note just want to bring you up to date on the contract talks and the ever growing prospect of a strike.

CONTRACTING OUT

The company agenda is again, on contracting out, as much as possible, all future work, including the work under our Mine Mill contract. While this sounds like, a good business strategy to increase profitability for the company and it's financial investors we must not forget that the Province and it's Citizens are also the second half of the equation in owning and developing the rich natural resources of the ore that lies below our feet. 

SOCIAL CONTRACT

The social contract that allow companies to develop the natural resources is to hire the citizens as employees and provide fair wages and benefits, thereby sustaining the economy and the community. 

The corporate agenda to max their share at the cost of the Province and the people, will weaken the long term health of the Sudbury and Provinces economy.  

MINEMILL598/CAW

We have made a commitment to work with them at increasing production and maintenance efficiencies to allow more profitability, but we refuse to increase the companies share of the wealth, by taking wages, benefits and pensions away from the people that are doing the work.

We have asked them to hire the contractors doing the Mine Mill work so they become employees and benefit from the standard of living we have achieved, which allows the community to prosper. 

SCAB LABOUR

The company has hired LPI the most notorious labour breaking private police force.

They plan to run the operations with scab labour.

They are willing to push the system.

We the men and women who produce the wealth thought our labour, who have built this community and who pay the price of dying before our time, 7 to 8 years below the nations average will not allow the bay street agenda to erode our community. 

SUPPORT

Rick you stood on our picket line in 2000/2001 and spoke against scab labour. You spoke at the RWDSU conference in Florida with Robin McArther against scab labour. We need you to speak against scab labour once again to protect the balance of sharing the wealth we produce.

On behalf of the members of Mine Mill and Smelter Workers Union Local 598/CAW and the citizens of Sudbury, yours truly

Rick Grylls

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