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New National President for CAW
Published: September 8, 2008

With the retirement of Buzz Hargrove, the National Union held a special convention September 6th in Toronto to install a new president until our three year elections, to be held August 2009 in Quebec City.

Over the last couple of months three candidates showed interest in stepping into the position.  The long standing process within the UAW and now the CAW was those candidates would seek approval of the National Executive Board, NEB.  The process, while different from our elections, also provides opportunity for the candidate to have the support of the National Executive Board at the convention.

Ken Lewenza received majority support during the process and in the end the other two candidates stepped down, accepted the process and backed Ken for the position of President.  At the convention no other person was nominated and Ken was acclaimed the third President of CAW.

Ken Lewenza has been a rank and file President of Local 444 Windsor for 14 years.  He has been on the NEB and the CAW Council President for 10 years.  He resides in one of the most historical labour cities in Canada, which has seen its share of ups and downs.  Windsor’s labour community has been an ally of Mine Mill since the 1940s, especially during the steel raids and strikes we in Sudbury have faced.  

The Canadian manufacturing industries, especially the auto sector, has been down-sized and Canadian jobs sent overseas.  Over 300,000 Canadians with good paying, benefit-based workplaces have lost their livelihood in the past couple of years and many are ending up in service jobs for less money and benefits.  The loss of Canadian wages for corporation profits is not good for Canadian communities such as Windsor. 

Ken has been fighting hard for his members and community and his experience and dedication to the Union is unquestionable.  He will be leading a strong NEB and 250,000 Canadians from 250 locals from coast to coast to coast.

Brother Hargrove leaves the position he held for 16 years as Canada’s foremost labour leader in representing workers organized and unorganized.  As past president Bob White did for Buzz Hargrove, Buzz leaves with a connection of being available for advice and assistance when needed, and it will be much appreciated by Ken, the NEB and the membership.

Buzz Hargrove has been at the forefront of growing and adding diversity by merging with 33 independent Canadian unions, including our independent Union, Mine Mill in 1993.  He has lead the way to change our workplace and society practices steeped in harassment and discrimination, resulting in improving equality for women, minorities and persons of different sexuality.  

He has challenged the governments and corporations to be community-based in their policies and practices, especially concerning benefits and Medicare.  These last 16 years under his strong leadership, the Canadian people have gained improvements.

President Lewenza starts his term with the challenge of a Federal government election, where we have to defeat the capital reformists, led by Harper, who puts corporations before citizen polices and practices. We need fair trade for our communities – not free trade for the corporations.  Our Union also faces a continual loss of good manufacturing jobs and our fellow Canadians and their families face unemployment and drastic downturns in their lives.

Our National Union will be lead by a strong social democratic Unionist and we will continue to advance the CAW in leading the way for Canadians.

 

Yours in Solidarity,
Rick Grylls, President.

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