Fighting the Good Fight for Sudbury Labour Unions, Safety and Dignity: The Homer Seguin Story – by Bill Bradley

Northern Life, Greater Sudbury’s community newspaper, gave Republic of permission to post Bill Bradley’s article.

Homer Sequin, now retired, but health and safety advocate for the past 50 years, has published his life story.

Entitled Fighting For Justice And Dignity: The Homer Seguin Story chronicles his life from the age of 16, when he started with Inco at the Sintering Plant in Copper Cliff, to his retirement in 1992.

The book is 173 pages, with 40 pictures and is self-published. Journal Printing printed the copies on recycled paper using union labour, said Seguin last Wednesday. Some of the pictures have never been viewed before.

“It chronicles the rise of the whole union movement here and my activity from being a steward on the safety committee to a union trustee in 1963, to vice-president of Local 6500 in 1965, to president in 1967,” said Seguin.

The book is hard-hitting. Seguin had to leave school early to help his mother make ends meet when his 39-year-old father drowned in 1950. At that time Inco did not pay a survivor’s pension, meaning a person had to be alive to receive a pension.

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Building a New Globalized and Diversified Labour Movement for the 21st Century – Leo W. Gerard, International President – United Steelworkers

Union representation in the 21st century is evolving and changing. And the United Steelworkers union is at the forefront of a ‘New Labour Movement.’

The last century was characterized by large-scale industrial organizing in industries that employed thousands of people in a single workplace. There are few of these concentrations of workers left in today’s decentralized, yet global, economy. Those that are left are mostly already unionized.

In Sudbury, there are still two such large groups of workers. For them, the biggest change in the nickel-mining industry has been the takeover of Canadian companies by large foreign-based corporations.

The new Brazilian-owned Vale-Inco has yet to be tested in collective bargaining with our union — in Sudbury, at least. But, at the time of writing this, members of USW Local 6166 in Thompson, MB, were in negotiations with Vale-Inco over familiar issues, such as pensions, wages, control over contracting out and health and safety. They are also working to protect the nickel price bonus, negotiated by the union in both Thompson and Sudbury, more than a decade ago and protected in every set of negotiations since.

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Danger Lurks Despite Modern Technology – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales - Canadian Mining JournalMarilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication.

The mining industry has made great strides toward establishing workplaces that are safe and healthy for employees. We almost take for granted our computer-assisted, automated and equipment-enabled jobs. For many in the mining and exploration sectors, helicopters are the only transportation that can reach remote locations. For some a trip on a “chopper” is as routine as tying on their boots.

But sometimes technology lets us down. The technology that allows modern helicopter to fly so that drill crews can reach remote sites failed last week, and people died.

One crash happened near Alice Arm about 150 km north of Prince Rupert, B.C. Four passengers lost their lives. Dead are the pilot David Jeffrey Reid of Sidney, B.C., two employees of Bodnar Drilling, Walter Bodnar and his nephew Nicholas Bodnar (both of Rose du Lac, Manitoba). Also killed was a prospector, Frank Moehling of Calgary. They were headed to the Homestake Ridge property belonging to Bravo Ventures.

The Hughes MB500 helicopter that went down on Aug. 6 belonged to Prism Helicopters of Pitt Meadows, B.C. It was chartered by Vancouver’s Bravo Venture Group that is testing its Homestake Ridge copper-gold property.

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Global Solidarity for Unions: A Vision That Works – by Patrick Veinot

Northern Life, Greater Sudbury’s community newspaper, gave Republic of permission to post Patrick Veinot’s article.

(Re: editorial written by Michael Atkins,Chickens coming home to roost with Inco Contract,July 15 edition of Northern Life)

Thank you Michael Atkins for the opportunity to clarify some of the differences between organizations. As well as correct some of your opinions on the leverage or the strength of USW Local 6500, when bargaining with, or as you would so have it, against Vale Brazil.

Let me begin by saying that the CAW is a National Union, run from the top down, focused largely on the Canadian Auto Industry. This is manufacturing, not mining, and since NAFTA the manufacturing Industry has, not surprisingly, been in trouble.

While their leadership continues to negotiate higher wages it could be said to be true, that almost in parallel they have been forced to negotiate lay-offs, often forming awkward relationships with unfriendly politicians for taxpayer subsidies.

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Chickens Coming Home to Roost with Inco Contract – by Michael Atkins

Northern Life, Greater Sudbury’s community newspaper, gave Republic of permission to post Michael Atkin’s column.

Michael Atkins

Buzz Hargrove, the feisty (I’m being kind) president of the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) union, recently said they would go on strike against General Motors (GM) if the auto maker did not promise new car products for Windsor, Oshawa, and St. Catharines, Ontario. A few days later, he changed his tune completely.

“You strike after something you think is achievable,” he said. “If we thought there was a product out there that we could strike and fight and win, then you can bet your boots we would be striking over it.”

Of course, what happened between the ultimatum and the climb down was that GM announced unceremoniously it would close a transmission plant in Windsor, whether the union liked it or not. Buzz is now negotiating severance packages, not new jobs.

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Rick Grylls – Local 598 President – Disputes Sudbury Soil Study by Bill Bradley

Northern Life, Greater Sudbury’s community newspaper, gave Republic of permission to post Bill Bradley’s article.

Rick Grylls - Local 598/CAW President“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.” Rick Grylls President, Local 598/CAW Sudbury Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers Union

The debate is not over. Comments regarding the Sudbury Soil Study are still coming in. Rick Grylls, Sudbury Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers Union, Local 598/CAW president, released a 13-page letter earlier this month disputing the study’s terms of reference.

“I was informed that the technical committee, the decision making body of the Sudbury Soil Study, discussed my letter at their last meeting on Thursday,” said Grylls.

According to Grylls, the real flaw in the Sudbury Soil Study is that the terms of reference for the research were already set before union representatives were able to participate in the study as observers.

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