August 13, 2007

CAW unveils strategy for “greening” the Canadian automotive industry

St. John’s, Newfoundland – Delegates at a Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW) Joint Council meeting in St. John’s have unanimously endorsed a discussion paper that commits the CAW to the fight against climate change, while also strengthening Canada’s auto industry and other crucial domestic sectors.

The paper contains a detailed strategy for “greening” the Canadian automotive industry, which the union says directly employs over 150,000 manufacturing workers but has suffered in the face of “one-way offshore imports.”

Key elements of the plan include:

  • Support for compulsory fuel efficiency regulations on new vehicles, as long as standards are defined according to vehicle size and have adequate phase-in periods. This ensures that the burden of new standards is fairly shared among all automakers, both domestic and importers.
  • Major public support for Canadian manufacturing investments in green vehicles and components, such as hybrid vehicles and clean diesel engines.
  • A joint government-business-labour strategy to improve the economic viability of small car production within Canada.
  • Limits on offshore imports to the domestic market.

  • Major investments in public transit.

The paper strongly criticized the federal government’s “feebate” program, which provides a government rebate to purchasers of the most fuel-efficient imported vehicles but imposes new taxes on larger domestic vehicles.

“There’s no inherent conflict between protecting our jobs, and protecting the environment,” says CAW president Buzz Hargrove. “And our union has always supported good environmental policies. I am confident we can find policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen our domestic industries. But to do this, we have to do better than the shallow, politically-driven band-aids which the Harper government is applying to this issue.”

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