June 8, 2012
Frequently Asked Questions
How did these new union discussions start?
Back in November and December 2011, leaders from both CEP and CAW met informally to talk about the issues facing their own unions and the labour movement more broadly.
Both unions have faced their share of difficulties over the past five years with declining membership and density caused by workplace closures in key industries (forestry and pulp and paper, general manufacturing, telecommunications, auto, media). Both unions have had the frustration of dealing with anti-worker governments, federally and provincially, which have attacked workers and allowed for ever more aggressive attacks by employers. Both unions recognized the need to make a major change to increase labour’s strength and build capacity to better serve members’ needs and interests.
From there, the leaders met with their union’s respective national executive boards who approved the launching of more formal discussions about the possibility of joining together to create a new union, with new practices.
Do the CEP and CAW need to join together to survive? Is that why this is happening?
No. Both unions are financially stable and are able to support their current structures. Rather, both unions view the creation of a new organization as an exciting opportunity to build on the best practices of each union and develop new models of inclusion, mobilization and organization of current and new members.
What would this new union look like?
The new union would have a critical mass in every province of the country, with more than 300,000 members in 23 sectors of the economy. There would be tremendous potential for growth in sectors where the unions are already strong, and even build into new sectors of the economy. To find out more about what the new union would look like, please visit: http://www.newunionproject.ca/about/
Is this just a merger of CEP and CAW?
No, it is not a merger. The two unions are joining to form a new organization. The new union will embody the best practices of both unions, under a new structure, with new ways of organizing and doing outreach to current and possible new members. For more on the proposed structure, please visit: http://www.newunionproject.ca/third-report-of-the-caw-cep-new-union-proposal-committee/
Will retired workers still be able to be involved in the new union?
Yes, certainly, the involvement of retired workers will be very welcome in the new union. Retired workers are an excellent asset and contribute a great deal of activism and enthusiasm. There will be a position on the national executive board for a Retired Worker Representative, in addition to other structures and avenues for involvement.
What will the National Executive Board look like?
The National Executive Board will have a rank and file majority base. It will include the national officers and Regional Directors. It will also include the elected chairpersons of the four Regional Councils and the Quebec Council. A further 14 members of the National Executive Board will be elected to represent industrial councils, equity groups, skilled trades, and retirees.
What kind of regional representation will there be?
Regional representation and structures will be an important element of the new union. Across the country, local unions will take part in Regional Councils – B.C.; Prairies (Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba); Ontario; Atlantic (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador). There will also be a Quebec Council. The Councils will meet at least once a year. There will also be Regional Directors – Western Canada, Ontario and Atlantic Canada. With the National President, Secretary-Treasurer and Quebec Director, these directors will be elected every three years.
The Regional Councils will elect an executive board, from which one person will be delegated to sit on the National Executive Board. These Councils will have an important role in building the union in every region of the country.
Additionally, local delegates from across the country will meet once a year as a national body in the Canadian Council.
Who can join this new union?
If formed, the new union will undertake an ambitious and strategic organizing push –particularly in key sectors where the union is already strong.
The new union will be a general workers union, therefore open to all working people. The new union will be branching out beyond the structures of traditional certified bargaining units. A new category of membership would be developed to allow unemployed workers, workers in workplaces where the union is not yet certified, young people, and precarious or temporary workers to also join the union – albeit without traditional bargaining status.
In reaching out to these hard-to-organize segments of the working class, the new union would demonstrate its commitment to be a relevant force fighting on behalf of all working Canadians.
How will the new union deal with political action? What about the issue of political affiliation?
Both CEP and CAW are unions with a strong history of activism. The intention is to create new union with a strong foundation in political activism to take on the issues of importance to members, both in their workplaces and in their communities. The issue of political party affiliation has not yet been addressed.
Will members have a chance to vote on this new union proposal?
Yes. Delegates to the CAW Constitutional and Collective Bargaining Convention (August 20-24) and the CEP Convention (October 14-19) will be able to vote on the new union proposal. Local union members will elect delegates from their local to vote at the Conventions. Local union members can also voice their opinions at regional meetings which have been set up across the country, and they can ask questions or send comments to be passed along to the Proposal Committee http://www.newunionproject.ca/contact-us/.
How will the dues be calculated for the new union?
A harmonized percentage-based dues formula will be developed for the new union, in a manner consistent with the current level of dues being paid. The exact formula has not yet been determined, but the Committee will ensure that dues are consistent with current rates.
Have a question that you couldn’t find here?
Send a message via: http://www.newunionproject.ca/contact-us/ and the answer will be sent to you and posted as soon as possible.