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RE: Dairy Division Update for NAFTA 2.0

I would like to provide a brief update from the Dairy Division of Teamsters Canada to augment the excellent coverage already being provided by Brother John McCann, regarding the ongoing NAFTA negotiations. I have attached 2 articles (see links below) which I trust are of interest to provide an overview of what is at stake should the Canadian dairy supply management system fall prey to the US demands, as well as an article highlighting an article highlighting an ever-increasing number of US dairy advocacy groups suggesting the US dairy industry would be well served if they were to adopt a Canadian style supply management system, in an effort to illustrate the extreme positions and possibilities which could result from the modernization of NAFTA.

I recognize not all Teamsters Locals in Canada represent dairy workers, just like Local 987 does not represent a lot of cross-border truckers, but there is some benefit in all of us being aware of the potentially profound changes a re-negotiated NAFTA could have on our members in any of our jurisdictions. The Teamsters Union, both Teamsters Canada and the IBT, is North America’s dairy workers union, representing over 35,000 workers and their families, who process raw milk into its various forms and transport milk from not only the farm gate to the processors, like Parmalat, Saputo, Nestle and Agropur, to name just a few, but also transport the finished products by truck, train and air to destination markets around the world. The Teamsters Union has taken a leadership role in pressing its concerns with both Canadian and US trade representatives on issues of concern like cross-border trucking, dairy supply management, labour standards and international trade representative on issues of concerns like cross-border trucking, dairy supply management, labour standards and international trade dispute settlement procedures.

During the most recent Round 4 of NAFTA negotiations, Teamsters were front and centre in opposition to any changes to the Canadian dairy supply management system, a program which has become a generational pillar of Canadian commerce and has stood the test of time in its oversight and regulation of managing the balance between the production and supply of milk and the amount of product produced and available to the market. Managing milk production and sales in this way provides a stable market for the farmers who produce the milk, predictable production quotas for the processors and provides our dairy members with solid, good paying jobs, benefits and pensions as well as final product which can be trusted to be pure, safe and nutritious for public consumption.

The US dairy proposal for NAFTA 2.0 seeks to decimate Canada’s dairy supply management system, and with it the many thousands of Teamsters jobs, insisting on its complete dismantling over time, as well as totally unfettered access to the Canadian dairy market to dump its excess milk. The Teamsters applaud the Canadian government’s opposition to the dairy proposal and stand in solid support of not only our government, but the Dairy Farmers of Canada, the Dairy Farmers of Ontario, the National Farmers Union in the US, and a number of other American dairy farm family and worker advocacy groups, all united in opposition to any proposals to undermine dairy supply management. General President Hoffa and Teamsters Canada President Laporte hosted a Civil Society reception bringing together various leaders from worker advocacy groups, Canadian government negotiators, and supportive members of the US Senate, and spoke of the need to work together to advance a strong workers’ agenda in the modernized NAFTA.

Round 5 of the negotiations will continue in mid November.

 

Fraternally,

David Froelich

Director, Dairy Division

Teamsters Canada 

Click here to view article 1.

Click here to view article 2.

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"I was there when we brought the Union in. The first-time contract they won for us was unbelievable. It changed the quality of my life. I am now a Shop Steward and enjoy working with my Union and looking after my fellow workers. "

- Paul Landrecht - Shop Steward. Island Farms Dairy.

"I have been a member of Teamsters Local 464 for 23 years and have seen many of the executives come and go. Some of the previous executives nearly ran the Local into bankruptcy including losing our pension.  Bobby Kornhass, Bob Ryder and Paul Barton brought us back from the brink. Since they took over in 2000, we at Dairyland (Saputo) have had the best contracts I have seen since I have been there."

- Randy Onyschak
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