February 28, 2014 - No. 20
Should Governments Pour
Public Money into Privately-Owned Chrysler?
The Right and Courage to Say No!
• The Right and Courage to Say No!
Steel Not Steal!
• U.S. Steel Cuts Back on Salaried Employees
- Local 1005 USW
• U.S. Supreme Court Attacks Workers' Rights
• A Budget in Contradiction with the Needs of a
• Austerity and Prosperity
• Key Measures in the Budget
by Haitian Human Rights Defender, Attorney Mario Joseph
• Ten Years After Haiti's Coup d'Etat: The
Human Rights Record - Canadian Haiti Action Committee
Should Governments Pour Public Money into
The Right and Courage to Say No!
The CEO of Chrysler Sergio Marchionne has been speaking
to the mass media asking Canadians to agree with pouring public funds
into his private company and forcing autoworkers to accept concessions.
To be sure, this is nothing new. Billions of dollars from the public
treasury have gone into Chrysler's private
coffers for years and autoworkers have made enormous concessions.
Through the media, CEO Marchionne attempts to convince
Canadians and autoworkers that no alternative is possible to paying the
rich and forcing workers to take concessions. The main thrust of his
argument is that all governments throughout the world pay private auto
monopolies to build and maintain plants,
and autoworkers everywhere are giving concessions so Canada and
Canadian workers must do so as well or risk losing auto production
altogether. Everybody does it so then must you, goes the neo-liberal
Marchionne declares in
essence that capitalism has sunk
into such an incoherent abyss that the state must funnel public money
to the rich and workers must lower their claims on the value they
produce or else the owners of capital will destroy the economy. Yet
public funds and concessions, no guarantees exist.
The federal, Ontario and U.S. governments poured billions of public
money into what Marchionne calls old Chrysler, and workers
gave huge concessions but it did not survive beyond 2009. He says new
Chrysler, which is now controlled by private shareholders of the
Fiat, is not responsible to pay back any public funds received by old
Chrysler and workers must make further concessions. So on it goes
in a downward spiral that gives Canadians pause and much to think about.
In the dark world of gangsters, when people are "made an
offer they can't refuse," the immediate issue is to survive as best one
can. But within the situation, the search is on for an alternative to
extortion because existing under constant threats, anarchy, violence
and lack of control over the direction of one's
life is no way to live. It is not human! Humans have always battled to
find an alternative to a bad situation. The struggle to find and
implement an alternative created society, first to escape the brutality
of nature, and then move forward through class struggle to the people's
empowerment. No reason in the world
suggests that progress ends with Marchionne's threats and drivel of no
alternative to wrecking manufacturing, paying the rich and workers
The right and courage to say No!
The power to deprive the gangsters of their
power to extort!
Great feats are accomplished when people summon up the
courage to say No! An alternative emerges out of the No!
Canadians refuse extortion as a way of life and do not accept the
anti-human line of no alternative. The struggle centres on acquiring
the power to deprive Marchionne and others of his ilk of their monopoly
power to extort what they want and wreck Canada's economy.
Canadian autoworkers and their allies will continue to
produce automobiles with or without Marchionne and his private Fiat
Empire. If Marchionne refuses to recognize the rights of Canadians to
an automotive sector that produces for the benefit of Canada and its
working class and not against them, then production
will proceed without his private empire. Canadians will find a way to
move production in a new direction without the suffocating presence of
Marchionne and his rich patrons.
Canadians should draw a line
in the snow and declare
that the private monopolies have gone too far and must stand down.
Canadians are determined to empower themselves and create a public
authority with the political power to deprive the auto monopolies and
others from selling products in Canada unless
they also produce them here while recognizing the rights of the working
class. Canada has all the raw material and expertise it needs for
workers to produce most modern commodities from scratch. Canadians do
not want or need dictators such as Marchionne issuing threats and
ultimatums. The sum of the public
capital already given to the auto monopolies is more than enough to
begin a public enterprise of comparable size to what now exists.
Canadians are a modern educated dignified people who
want to decide on the direction of their economy and society and
exercise control over them. They do not accept the helpless feeling
when somebody tells them a bad situation is to be made worse unless
they fall on their knees and give up their dignity and
humanity. Canadians did not transform this country into a modern life
and world without the determination and ability to solve problems and
find an alternative to the difficulties standing in their way, an
alternative that carved out a new direction forward.
Canadians say No! to Marchionne's boorish
threats and ultimatums and are determined to find an alternative.
Canadians say No! to pouring public money into private
monopolies. Workers say No! to concessions and declare firmly
that concessions are not solutions! The people
say No! to the monopoly wrecking of their socialized economy
and country. The people are determined to acquire the political power
necessary to deprive the global gangsters of their power to deprive
Canadians of their rights.
to Extortion and Ultimatums!
Stop Paying the Rich!
Manufacturing Yes! Nation-Wrecking No!
Who Decides? We Decide!
Who Controls? We Control!
Steel Not Steal!
U.S. Steel Cuts Back on Salaried Employees
On February 3, U.S. Steel sent out a letter to
employees (see text below) claiming it needs to make layoffs in order
to be profitable. The jobs which are being eliminated belong to
salaried employees at all levels, including foremen, supervisors,
secretarial staff and some upper management between Hamilton
Works and Lake Erie Works.
The ratio between salaried
employees and production
workers is very high: 2 to 1, an issue which was previously raised by
Local 1005 to point out how unsustainable it was to think that two
production workers should be sustaining one salaried employee. What are
all these salaried people doing, 1005 asked?
We still don't know. But it is clear that this announcement is related
to the announcement about the end of steelmaking production in
Hamilton. If steelmaking were to start up the Company would have to
hire about 400-500 workers and some of the salaried employees would be
used there. About 50 salaried people
were let go right after the announcement in October 2013, and this is
the next step for U.S. Steel.
Before the announcement there were about 800 salaried
employees between the Hamilton and Lake Erie plants. There are 600
workers, members of Local 1005 and about 900 workers affiliated with
Local 8782. When the lockout ended at Lake Erie, U.S. Steel had lost
about 250 workers due to retirement and
quits. The Coke Ovens department is still not running at Lake Erie
which will require about 100 additional workers.
Text of U.S. Steel's Letter
Dear fellow employees:
As you know, our company is deeply involved in Project
Carnegie, a global initiative to streamline the way we run our business
in the pursuit of financial sustainability.
After taking a very close look at our operations for
opportunities to make them more profitable and improve our cost
structure, we have made the difficult decision to reduce our
non-represented employment levels at U. S. Steel Canada by 175 salaried
employees. We are committed to informing all affected employees
by end of day Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014.
The reduction is a part of an across-the-board,
company-wide program to reduce high administrative costs, This decision
was not made lightly, but it is necessary to control our costs and help
move our company into an era of sustained profitability.
Outplacement resources from the federal and provincial
governments as well as the company will be available to impacted
I want to take this opportunity to thank all of our
employees for their dedication and commitment to the company and your
efforts to manufacture the highest quality value-added steel for our
I encourage you all to remain focused on our core
values, particularly safety, as we move through this transition.
Mike McQuade President and General Manager U. S.
U.S. Supreme Court Attacks Workers' Rights
The U.S. Supreme Court
issued an outrageous ruling on
January 27 according to which workers will not get paid for the time it
takes them to put on work clothes and safety equipment. This ruling not
only deprived steelworkers of their rights, it denied the existence of
basic economic law. All nine justices ruled
that the work-time steelworkers spend donning and doffing required
protective equipment within a U.S. Steel plant in Gary, Indiana is not
part of the working day and therefore produces no value.
The personal protective equipment
(PPE) that the
steelworkers must don and doff includes, according to the ruling, "a
flame-retardant jacket; pair of pants, and hood; a hardhat; a snood
[headgear]; wristlets; work gloves; leggings; metatarsal boots; safety
glasses; earplugs; and a respirator."
Without donning the PPE, the steelworkers cannot perform
their jobs. This means the equipment itself forms part of the value of
the work they do in a similar fashion to tools and machinery. The value
of the PPE and the work-time spent putting it on and taking it off is
transferred into the steel the workers produce.
Without the PPE and the work-time involved in donning and doffing it,
steelworkers would produce no steel and its equivalent value.
U.S. Steel seizes the steel and the value steelworkers
produce, as the private property of the owners of the monopoly. This
includes the value of the PPE transferred to the steel during the
production process, which is the PPE's depreciation through wear and
tear and the work-time required in donning and doffing
The Supreme Court ruling deprives steelworkers of their
rightful claim on the value they produce and reproduce through their
work-time. The anti-worker judgement could become a precedent to
deprive workers of their rightful claim on any portion of the working
day such as rest or lunch periods, downtime,
walking to other workstations or work-time spent on duties not related
to their regularly scheduled work.
The ruling contradicts a 1946 Supreme Court explanation
of the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act that "the statutory
workweek includes all time during which an employee is necessarily
required to be on the employer's premises, on duty or at a prescribed
workplace... [Workers must be paid even for
activities such as], putting on aprons and overalls [and] removing
shirts... These activities are clearly work." Partly due to the immense
size of many modern workplaces, these judgements on work-time were
clarified in the federal Portal-to-Portal Act of 1947. This
law required companies "to pay wages
for all the time that passes from when a worker walks in the [company]
door to when the worker walks out the door."
The recent neo-liberal ruling is not without monetary
consequences for the present and former 800 steelworkers at the U.S.
Steel Gary mill. Justice Antonin Scalia, who delivered the opinion,
wrote, "In the aggregate, the amount of time -- and thus money --
involved is likely to be quite large."
Local 1005 USW in its weekly newsletter, Information Update, writes,
"Workers should note that this was a state-organized
attack on their rights. Not only is the Supreme Court a state
institution, the Obama executive supported U.S. Steel's court case with
money and lawyers. Also, employers' groups mainly in the food industry
actively lobbied and intervened to deprive workers
of their rights. The Grocery Manufacturers Association presented a
brief saying a ruling favouring the steelworkers would be 'devastating
to many employers.'
"Conditions in the U.S. and Canada have degenerated to
the point where owners of capital and their political representatives
consider it "devastating" to recognize and uphold the rights of
workers, even outlawing workers' claims on the value they produce
through their work-time and criminalizing their collective
actions for a say and control over their terms of employment.
"Information Update considers this a very
serious matter. Cleary, there is no limit to what companies like U.S.
Steel are prepared to do and to what governments and courts in their
service are prepared to do. It is utterly depraved. Society cannot
afford to have people in positions of economic and political
authority who are so self-serving."
(The case is Sandifer v. United States Steel
Corporation, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 12-417.)
2014-2015 Quebec Budget
A Budget in Contradiction with the
Needs of a Modern
The 2014-2015 Quebec budget presented February 20 by
Minister of Finance and Economy Nicolas Marceau is inconsistent with
the needs of a modern Quebec that recognizes and guarantees the rights
of all. A modern Quebec requires an economic and budgetary policy that
mobilizes the people and the vast resources
of the society to meet the growing needs of the people. Such a budget
determine the expenditures necessary to meet the needs of all and
reproduce the economy, and would mobilize everyone's energy to produce
sufficient revenue for that purpose.
The opposite is happening with this budget. The
government proudly says that its spending on social programs is the
lowest Quebec has seen in the past 15 years. Spending for social
programs increased by 1.2 per cent in 2012-2013 to 2.5 per cent in
2013-2014 and is set at 2 per cent per year until 2016-2017.
These figures are historic lows, we are told. They fall short of the
needs of the population and mean drastic cuts to already inadequate
services. In addition, this year the cost of daycare will begin to
increase annually, Hydro-Québec rates will escalate and tuition
fees for foreign students will also rise, not to mention
unannounced costs that result from spending cuts to social programs.
At the same time the level of fiscal and budgetary
resources allocated to pay the rich reached new heights in the name of
economic growth, job creation and prosperity. We are witnessing the
transfer of ever greater amounts of social wealth into the hands of
private monopoly interests which use it for their own
purposes. This wealth is squandered in ventures over which the people
and the government have no control. This impoverishes the economy and
increases the imbalance between the different interests of society.
Quebec has an abundance of natural and human resources
and a fighting, educated and productive working class. Once workers
organize themselves on the basis of their own independent politics and
decide to bring the social wealth they produce under their control,
anything is possible. Neo-liberal policy sees
no alternative but to pay the rich and considers workers, students,
women and the elderly as costs to be constantly reduced. Neo-liberal
policies and the budget of the current government and previous
governments are at odds with the needs of society. The problem posed
for solution is to vest in the people the power
to decide the direction of the economy.
Austerity and Prosperity
Premier Pauline Marois, responding to political
opponents who accuse her of not
meeting the deadline for a balanced budget and not making enough
spending cuts, remarked, "They choose
austerity. Us -- we choose prosperity."
According to the Larousse
Dictionary, prosperity is a
"state marked by expansion and abundance;" "the state of someone who is
in a favourable position economically or regarding health." Synonyms
are: development, growth, expansion, happiness, fortune, wealth.
Antonyms are: misfortune, misery, poverty, crisis,
depression, stagnation, ruin.
Austerity is an "economic policy to reduce the total
income available for consumption through taxes, wage freezes, forced
loans, credit restrictions and control of investments." Synonyms are:
asceticism, puritanism, rigour, sobriety.
Austerity is therefore not the opposite of or an
alternative to prosperity. The opposite of austerity is to increase the
total income available for consumption and allow wages and investment
to increase to meet the needs of society. Prosperity belongs to another
category altogether and "rejecting austerity" neither
guarantees prosperity, nor ensures that Quebec comes out of
"misfortune, misery, poverty, crisis, depression, stagnation, ruin."
In fact, all the governments of Canada, whether they
invoke austerity or not, pass laws and vote on budgets with spending
cuts to social programs and public services and attack the wages and
working conditions of public sector employees. According to Ms. Marois,
the Liberals and the Coalition Avenir Quebec,
who propose to maintain spending increases at 1.5 per cent per year or
less, are for austerity while the government is against austerity since
it wants to increase spending to two per cent. It is absurd.
So what is the Premier talking about?
Rather than reducing the issue of budget expenditures
and government revenues to these partisan games, the government should
seriously address the major challenge facing Quebec: how to use
our abundant resources, our educated population and our industries,
established with our sweat and blood and tears and
that of those who have gone before us, to meet the needs and
aspirations of Quebeckers. With all its wealth and capacity, Quebec can
certainly guarantee them the dignified standard of living of an
advanced society. It can fully care for the ill, educate its youth at
the highest level and offer its seniors security in retirement, with
happiness, dignity and peace of mind.
For Your Information
Key Measures in the Quebec Budget
- The Quebec budget confirms a $2.5 billion deficit for
projects a deficit of $1.75 billion for 2014-2015 and a balanced budget
- The growth for spending on social programs is set at
2% per year
from 2014-2015 to 2016-2017. The budget allocates an increase of 3% for
health and education while other ministries will reduce their spending
- The budget provides for the implementation of
funding ("the money follows the patient") in the health care system.
The funding is based on the performance of health care facilities and
has led to many closures, particularly in Ontario.
- The cost of child care, which is currently set at $7
per day, will
increase to $8 per day on September 1, 2014; $9 on September 1, 2015
and to $9.20 as of September 1, 2016.
- Tuition fees for international students will increase.
- The budget preempts the bargaining of public
their collective agreements, which expire March 31, 2015, to
"reasonable compensation" that can be adjusted according to the state
of the economy and government revenues.
- The budget pressures school boards to reduce spending
by $125 million through various measures including mergers.
- The budget ratifies the decision in the November 2013
statement that grants a 10-year tax holiday to all companies that
invest $200 million in projects in Quebec, instead of$300 million as
was previously the case.
- The policy of reducing electricity rates for
businesses from the
electricity surplus as decided last October will now apply to companies
that have a consumption threshold of 2 MW to 15 MW.
- The government will increase its involvement in mining
including allowing the Société québécoise
(SOQUEM) to partner with junior mining companies, financing almost all
of their exploration activities.
- The budget ratifies the government's decision to apply
public-private partnership formula to two exploration projects on
Anticosti Island. The government has announced deals with Petrolia
Corridor Resourses, Maurel & Prom and Junex, and is investing $115
million in these two projects.
- The government will develop a program to identify 300
promising Quebec companies (referred to as "gazelles") that will
receive subsidies to increase their sales to $200 million or more.
Speaking Tour by Haitian Human Rights
Defender Attorney Mario Joseph
Ten Years After Haiti's Coup d'Etat:
The Human Rights Record
29th, 2004, military and diplomatic forces from Canada, the
US,and France occupied key positions of Haiti's capital and
orchestrated the removal of the country's elected president,
Jean-Bertrand Aristide. According to many human rights defenders in
Haiti and internationally, the result has been a human rights disaster.
Joseph has played a central role in fighting for the human and
democratic rights of the Haitian people – even in the danger and chaos
following this notorious coup d'etat ten years ago. His talks in
Canada will offer a fresh and unmediated view of the political and
human rights picture in contemporary Haiti. What has been the legacy of
the 2004 coup in the realm of human rights? What role has Canada
played, and what role should it be playing, in Haiti? These and other
topics will be explored.
Times). He is the recipient of numerous awards and honours in
of law and human rights, including the Katharine and George Alexander
law prize of Santa Clara Law School (2009). In 2013, he was a final
nominee for the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders. His
office in Port au Prince is the Bureau des avocats internationaux
(Office of International Lawyers). Together with its partner office in
Boston, the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, the BAI has
spearheaded the historic legal action against the United Nations over
the world body's negligence in the arrival and spread of cholera in
Haiti in 2010. The cholera epidemic has killed more than 8,000 Haitian
Friday, February 28
233 Gilmour St., one block west of
Organized by: Akasan,
Kozayiti/Ottawa Haiti Solidarity Committee,
For information: firstname.lastname@example.org
New Glasgow, NS
Protest at Constituency
Office of Minister of Justice Peter McKay
Saturday, March 1 -- 1:00
Organized by: Altantic
Regional Solidarity Network
Click to enlarge.
Read The Marxist-Leninist