Sunday, October 17, 2010

Len Poirier Report to Rail Confrence in Halifax


October 2010

  • Bio, update and involvement in the Local and at National level.

I was the President of CAW Local 4268, an amalgamated local based across Southern Ontario for four terms. The local was made of all types of road transportation units, freight movement docks and support personal. Our members are long haul drivers, city drivers, members of the waste/recycling industry, cross dock operations, auto and general freight movers as well as school bus drivers.

In 2008, I became a staff member of the CAW, working primarily in the road transport sector out of our Kitchener regional office. My assignment is working with my former local as well as other locals with members of DHL Canada and Allied Systems Canada.

  • I helped establish the CAW Road Transportation Council and we had our initial conference at the Port Elgin Family Education Centre.  We are in the process of organizing a CAW Transportation Conference for the fall of 2011.

-          This transportation conference will bring leadership personnel from all sectors of our membership which encompasses all sectors of the Canadian transportation infrastructure. We have members in all types of road transportation - taxi, courier, heavy equipment, waste/recycling, hourly workers and owner-operators, auto parts and general freight, armored truck etc.

-          We have airlines and supporting workers

-          Ship building and Marine workers

-          Rail and supporting workers

  • We are the largest group of related workers in the CAW, a fact that historically we have not recognized amongst ourselves, so we should not be surprised that Canadians do not think of the CAW as a transportation Union. We will change that!

  • Bill Murnighan of our research department recently did a little home work for us and here are his results:

Sector:            Air Transportation    15,500
                        Rail                             11,400
                        Road                          20,200
                        Marine                        2,500 = Almost 50,000
Manufactures of Transportation
                        Specialty Vehicles   7,000
                        Shipbuilding             1,500
Aerospace                 10,000
Auto                            24,000
Auto parts                  32,500= Almost 75,000

For a total of:                                     125,000.

  • 125,000 members in the transportation sector and we do not even consider ourselves a transportation Union! I echo Bill’s comments when he said: “Whether we drive it, or manufacture it, in the CAW “We make it move”.

  • Our next step is to take pride in whom we are and who we represent.  We must help increase our own sector specific density, while reaching out to others in the industry to show that we can and will successfully represent them.

  • In the Road Transport Council we have been involved in some locations more so than others in supporting and participating in the ITF (International Transport Workers Federation) days of action every fall. These campaigns are global endeavors that allow us to use as a tool in educating our members’ as well non union workers about our common issues and has been effective in organizing.

  • Workers across borders and jurisdictions have the same concerns, some more than others but as more and more multi-national corporations take over the logistics of the world’s freight, our need to work together is greater than ever. Working together with International organizations, like the ITF is important but we know the importance of having a Canadian Union fighting for Canadians within our jurisdictions, is the best way to fight for respect in our workplaces. Fighting locally first is our way of fighting globally with our contributions.

  • In some locations, companies use owner-operators as a tool against hourly workers and vice-versa but it is here, when brothers and sisters come together in solidarity that real pressure and advancements are made at the bargaining table. The employers feel the solidarity and the members themselves understand that by standing up for someone else’s issues you are standing up for yourself!

  • An advantage that we have in Canada is the ability for owner-operators to be members of the bargaining units or have units that are completely made up of owner-operators or brokers as we commonly refer to them as.

  • Brokers are more like every other worker than they sometimes choose to recognize. They have been sold on having greater flexibility, being their own boss and being a business owner as well. Representing brokers sometimes has its’ own set of challenges because we need to bargain different protections and rates for them. The companies like to think there is a greater ability to pressure one worker (broker) against another but a solid membership of brokers can be fighting the employers at their own game by not only controlling their labour but also their capital as tool in bargaining.

  • Some typical bargaining requirements that are unique to brokers can be: allowances to label trucks and paint colours, parking facilities with hydro hook up for winter months, cargo insurance, accident insurance, WCB (or equivalent), running rights and plates, road tolls, rates of pay in what-ever form that is whether it is a tonnage, mileage, hourly cartage rate, trip rates and one of the most volatile issues the price of fuel.

  • Fuel price is a variable that can eat away at any broker’s bottom line and without protections built into a collective agreement it becomes a difficult situation. In Ontario one of our most successful bargained issues is that of a fuel escalator clause that protects the owner operator from the fluctuating price of fuel. During periods of rising prices our brokers are sheltered and continue to roll. If interested I can explain some of these formulas but their intention is a broker’s pay he receives for his labour is not spent on buying fuel for his truck.

  • Sometimes workers’ compensation becomes an important issue for owner operators.

  • Here are a couple examples of fuel escalators: And then I will share the current RTC newsletter and our new organizing leaflet for the Road Transportation sector.


Fuel: The Company agrees to sell fuel to the Brokers at a price to be determined by the Company at the beginning of each month.

The Company will pay a fuel escalator to mileage and hourly Brokers from time to time determined in accordance with the following formula:

1.    The Company shall determine its fuel price for each month as close to the beginning of the month as possible and compare that price to the "base price", as defined below.  For each full $.01 / litre increase above the base price then in effect the mileage rates set out in Schedule "B" shall be increased for that month by .625 cents per mile rounded to the nearest 3 decimal points plus $0.015 (1.5 cents) per mile.  For each full $0.01 / litre increase above the base price then in effect, the hourly rate will be adjusted by $0.179 per hour and such escalator shall apply to all hourly rates for highway brokers that month.  The adjustment for the Standby and Way freighting rate will be $0.124 / hour for each full $0.01 / litre increase.

2.  The "base price" will be for year 1 = 0.5160.  Year 2 = 0.5289.  Year 3 = .5421

  • Therefore as an example a Broker today whose mileage rate $1.19 a mile and pays $0.79 per litre of fuel with the escalator calculated equals $1.359 per mile.


Line haul Tractor Mileage              A fuel escalation of .75%* for every 1 cent
Line hauls Tractor Hourly               Increase per Litre in fuel over .50 cents

*During the winter months of October 1st through to April 1st the escalation will increase to .80% over .50 cents per litre for every 1 cent increase.

  • The above fuel clause is based on the Owner Operators providing receipt copies, and the Owner Operator will be dealt with individually based on where each individual’s fuel is bought (gross cost including GST.)

* Here a broker who paid $0.80 a litre will be paid (during winter) 80% of the cost he buys fuel for over $.50 litre. Therefore they would receive 80% of the $ .30 = $ .24 for each litre of fuel they purchased.

Diesel Retrofit

As of October 1, 2010, all B.C.-registered commercial diesel veihicles of model years 1989-1993 with a licensed gross vehicle weight of more than 8,200 kg must install an emission reduction device.