Retiree Chair Report By Fred Dougan March 2017
It has been a very good winter as far as winters go. Things are coming together with our Retired Workers Chapter, Recreation Committee. They will be meeting on March 23rd, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. Hopefully, everything will come together and activities will begin in the Spring.
I am going to talk about the passing of my very good friend and friend to Local 199, Bob White. I first met Bob at the 1979 contract negotiations in Toronto. I told him then that we needed a fix for the classifications which were not covered by “25 and Out” in the pension agreements negotiated for the GM Foundry in St. Catharines. He asked me to tell him which job classifications should be covered. Then he asked further questions. I told him that it was a black person that had made up the list of classifications that got “25 and Out”. When you looked at the list of classifications which did not get “25 and Out” they were all white persons working on the job. I told him “25 and Out” was for the bad work environment not the color of your skin and he agreed. Consequently, in the 1979 contract negotiations, we negotiated “25 and Out” to cover workers having a 42000 Clock Number.
There are a lot of Foundry workers in Local 199 who are getting more money in their pensions every month because of Bob White. I am one of them and I am thankful for it.
I was also with Bob White in the 1982 contract negotiations when there were (21) plants closing in the USA and 2,000 were on layoff here. The UAW was negotiating contract concessions. Bob made it clear to all the Canadian leadership that we were going to fight these concessions and we did. Following the fight against them, we came out the better for it leading to the split between US and Canadian sections of the union in 1985.
Meanwhile, in 1984 we had been back at contract negotiations because the 1982 collective agreements were only for two years. In 1984, we saw another dog fight with the UAW leadership and Bob White prevailed again. Then in 1987, we went through our first set of contract negotiations as a Canadian union. Lead by Bob, we negotiated COLA for our pensions and job security provisions for $60,000 for multi-site plants and $75,000 stand-alone plants. We went on to make further gains under Bob’s leadership in 1990 prior to his becoming the President of the Canadian Labour Congress.
Bob White left quite a legacy. For us that legacy was of a time when we went to the bargaining table to make gains for our members and go forward not backward. That is why he will always be remembered and appreciated.