Archive for February, 2008

Auto Industry Bloodbath Continues

February 12th, 2008

The damage locally her in Waterloo Region is drastic. Two weeks ago it was Ledco closing it’s doors (here, here and here), now it looks as though Martinrea International Inc. will close it’s Kitchener plant, killing 1,200 jobs. For those who ever spent time here, Martinrea is the former Budd Automotive plant on Homer Watson Drive.

What’s worse is the Globe and Mail is reporting that once again, the company tried to negotiate with the CAW, once again the CAW refused to discuss concessions of any kind:

…[a] union official said yesterday that in those talks Martinrea wanted to reduce the $50-an-hour wage and benefit costs by 50 per cent.

Mr. Hargrove said the CAW will not agree to pay cuts, noting that his members could work for free at the GM truck plant in Oshawa, Ont., for example, but even that would not have stopped the auto maker from eliminating one of three shifts of production there.

Of course, if the government threw in half-a-billion dollars, that would help. If the employees do, that “would not have stopped” the company from closing the plant.

It’s getting hard not to notice that this blood bath seems pretty one sided – CAW plants are getting killed.

Auto Industry, CAW

Controversy for Cambridge Liberal Nomination

February 12th, 2008

Cambridge Ontario has it’s federal Liberal candidate for the next federal election, but his nomination is controversial:

Gord Zeilstra has been named the Liberal candidate to represent Cambridge and North Dumfries in the next federal election, but the victory, like the nomination process, has been plagued by controversy.

The Cambridge Federal Liberal Association held its nomination meeting Sunday afternoon and Zeilstra came out on top, beating out Cambridge lawyer Rob Konduros by 24 votes. Waterloo Catholic District School Board trustee Judy Nairn and Jan Liggett followed in third and fourth spots, respectively.

Runner-up Konduros charges the results were skewed as Zeilstra’s winning votes represent votes by members who were illegally signed up.

Recently, the Liberal Party of Canada (Ontario) officials investigated and concluded that 262 signup forms – which cost candidates $1 each – were obtained for free from someone on the local riding association executive. Zeilstra was ordered to pay $262 in fines and to pay $1,000 collectively to the other three candidates for expenses lost as nomination meetings were cancelled due to investigations. Officials decided not to disqualify Zeilstra or his supporters signed up using the ill-gotten forms.

Konduros insists he is not bitter and will not challenge Zeilstra’s win but clearly stated that if illegal membership signups were disqualified as candidates requested, results would have been quite different.

“I lost by 24 votes, but if you exclude the 262 votes Gord obtained illegally, I was the clear winner by 238 votes,” he told the Times.

Zielstra was unshaken by the comments, admitting that people on his campaign did use signup forms that were not paid for, but emphasized other candidates were also given membership signup forms without having to dish out $1 each for them. Declining to name names or how many forms were not paid for, he said no one else was fined because he didn’t make a formal challenge.

It seems Gord Zeilstra will make a good Liberal. The Liberals have erred, in my opinion, choosing Zeilstra, because incumbent Gary Goodyear had his own controversy last month, and now it will be hard for the Liberals to use that as an issue in the upcoming election.

Silly Liberals

What’s Next For David Suzuki?

February 11th, 2008
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To: Mortal inhabitants of Earth
From: the offices of Beezulbub, Belial, Lucifer and Apollyon
Hell inc.

The rulers of Hell are pleased to announce, in conjunction with the David Suzuki Foundation, the first expansion of the borough of Hell, and it’s surrounding environs.

Pending environmental study, hell will be increasing it’s boundary’s to include a full new, tenth level. Tentatively called Deritus, the new level will be eternal home to global warming deniers and other environmental abasers.

Deritus will be guarded by a three headed bureaucrat, Suzukibus. The three heads of Suzukibus shall be named Amplify, Apply and Abuse. Inhabitants will spend eternity in the over-heated environs of hell, where they will be continually told, “it’s not hot,” “nothing wrong with a little heat,” and “don’t worry, an ice age is just around the corner.” They will further be made to sort unrecycled garbage into recyclables (paper & plastic), compostables and landfill.

Hell inc. and The David Suzuki Foundation are excited by this opportunity to join together in meting eternal punishment to any and all who dare oppose the opinion as given to them by David Suzuki Ph.D.

Satan, Lord of the Underworld
Suzuki, lord it over you.

Global Warming, Going... Going... Gone Nuts For The Environment, sazuki-ism

Saturday Fluffernutter: Amy Winehouse doing Bond; Britney mess;

February 9th, 2008
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The nutty stories from the fluffy world of celebrities.

Amy Winehouse has been rumoured to have been offered the theme song in the next James Bond movie: Quantum of Solace. However, apparently Winehouse has to prove she’s drug free in April before she will be given the job. This artist must be drug free policy goes a long way to explaining the dismal Bond themes the past number of movies. Amy Winehouse, clean or no, couldn’t possibly give a worst theme than Madonna did for Die Another Day, even if she has the title Quantum of Solace to work with. Wonder if Paul McCartney would have passed a sobriety test before penning Live and Let Die?

In other Amy Winehouse news, she was refused a Visa to enter the United States this week so she could attend the Grammy’s in Los Angeles tomorrow night. She did eventually receive the Visa, but too late to make it to the awards. No fear, however, as she is going to appear via satellite from London.

Neither Guns and Roses, nor Keith Richards have been asked to do the theme song to Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Britney Spears has been involved in a terrible saga this week, as courts are deciding who will be her guardian. She is 26 years old and her father has been given control of her legal and financial affairs as if she is an 80 year old Alzheimer’s patient. It may be time for a complete redefining of the word ‘sad.’

Led Zeppelin story of the week, courtesy of Ramble On. AT 5:00 AM Toronto time on Wednesday, the media began reporting the Led Zeppelin would play the Bonnaroo festival in Tennessee this June. It hit many media sites, including some of the most respected music journals (as well as this site). By 10:00 AM somebody spotted that the Bonnaroo artist page was advertising not Led Zeppelin, but Lez Zeppelin, and all girl Led Zeppelin tribute band. Oops!

Heath Ledger’s autopsy results were released this week: he died of a lethal combination of prescription and over the counter medications. The DEA is now investigating to see if Ledger was over-prescribed medication. Ledger died January 22nd in New York. Conversely, a coroners report has reported that Brad Renfroe, who died Jan. 15th, succumbed to a heroin and morphine overdose.

Ledger’s death has apparently shook up Hollywood, and party girl Kirsten Dunst has checked into rehab. A source has said that she’s “not doin well,” and “that the Heath Ledger thing put people over the edge.”

Britney, Fluffernutter

Further Inflexible Unionism

February 8th, 2008
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A few weeks ago I wrote about the closing of Ledco in Kitchener and the CAWs refusal to negotiate concessions, even though their members wanted the negotiation to occur. The refusal to negotiate directly resulted in Ledco closing it’s doors and declaring bankruptcy. The CAW then occupied the plant, blamed Stephen Harper/globilization/the big three. Pithily, I commented:

…you have to wonder if the CAW has no shame: this closing is directly attributable to their refusal to negotiate, and now they are occupying the plant demanding the company do just that.


… does the CAW, today, still refuse to negotiate wage and benefit cuts? And if so, what car will GM put in Oshawa when they are done putting 16 cars in US plants?

Yesterday, Peter Shawn Taylor, a “Waterloo based Freelance writer,” with quite a resume, has written a piece on Ledco, CAW Kills Jobs, Then Demands Severance, and the unions involvement. Taylor makes a few interesting comments:

The union then picketed the empty building for a while. CAW head Buzz Hargrove dropped by once to blame the factory owners and Ottawa. The CAW’s most recent gambit is to demand that Ford, Chrysler and GM ante up for Ledco’s missing severance. This is based on the heretofore unknown financial insight that companies have an “obligation” to cover the payrolls of firms they do business with. Of course none of this makes any practical sense.

The real point of the CAW riding off madly in all directions — casting blame, flexing flaccid muscles and taking nonsensical actions –is to distract everyone from the fact that the demise of the Ledco workers’ jobs was a strategic decision on the part of the CAW itself. In short, they were expendable.

He’s right too. In order to prove to the big three that the CAW is serious about no concessions, they had to let Ledco die. Taylor then points out the CAW position on concessions

It’s worth consider the wording of the CAW’s no-concession statement: “We will not cut our wages, pensions, and benefits. That will never save our industry; at absolute most, it slightly defers the inevitable.”

While Taylor considers this a fatalistic view, I had a different thought. If the above is true, would it not also be true for government bail outs? Especially when you consider a one time bail out of half a billion dollars would be about one years (give or take a hundred or so million) payroll at a big three assembly plant. In other words, Paul Martin’s $200M to GM Oshawa would have equally been saved by now had the union gave a 30% wage concession.

The material point, however, is that an apocalyptic showdown is coming this fall, the big three vs. the CAW. The big three have US concessions from last year in their pocket that may make Canada the most expensive place in the world to build cars. The CAW has it’s stubborn refusal to save Ledco as proof, that concessions are off the table. If you think the Ontario’s manufacturing has been in trouble up to now, a storm is coming to the Canadian auto industry this fall that will determine the future of the industry in Canada.

Auto Industry, CAW, I Love My Job, Wasted Away Again in Buzzistan

Building the Challenger

February 7th, 2008
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Bad news tends to reign in the Canadian auto industry, and it’s easy to be pessimistic. Today, however, I am going to allow a little optimism to run it’s course.

Chrysler’s Brampton Assembly has had it’s share of tough news in the past few years, not the least of which is a shift cancellation later this month. Yesterday at the Chicago Auto Show Chrysler was showing off the new Dodge Challenger, which will be built at the Brampton Plant. I won’t go into the parts of the article relating to fuel efficiency and long term prospects for the car, although they are fair comment. As I said, today I’m running with optimistic. So instead, here’s some pictures of the nice looking Dodge Challenger.

Auto Industry, I Love My Job

Led Zeppelin to Perform at Bonnaroo in June.

February 6th, 2008
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Update: I have been receiving media releases all morning about the upcoming Led Zeppelin concert at Bonnaro. A more than cursory look at the Bonnaroo line-up, however, will tell you that Lez Zeppelin, the all girl tribute band, and not Led Zeppelin will be playing in Tennessee this June. My apologies for reporting this erroneous story.

Led Zeppelin will do at least one more concert together, as the Bonnaroo Arts and Music Festival in Manchester, Tennessee has announced that Led Zeppelin will be performing there this June.

The festival also features Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, which allows Plant to throw in a Led Zeppelin performance while keeping up his tour commitments with Krauss.

The question is, can a tour really be that far behind? Will the band again put all that work into one performance, and not keep the train rolling? A tour seems, in my opinion, more likely today than it did yesterday.

Tickets for Bonnaroo go on sale Saturday Dec 16th.

via Ramble On.

Rockin' and Rollin' and Never Forgettin', The Mighty Zep

Picture of the Day: Parliament on the Canal

February 5th, 2008
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Happy Birthday…

February 4th, 2008

… Alice Cooper.

When we were kids he scared the hell out of our parents. Now he has one of the best radio shows going, Nights With Alice Cooper. In between, he gave us a pile of good old rock and roll, and managed (surprisingly, perhaps) to survive.

But it is for Welcome to My Nightmare, one of rock’s greatest albums, that I offer Alice Cooper a happy 60th birthday.

Birthday Wishes