New Union Update and Timeline

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January 31, 2013

The project to form a new Canadian union (building on the existing strengths of the CAW and the CEP) is off to a very busy start this New Year.

After all, the clock is ticking: The new union’s founding convention will be held August 30 to September 1 in Toronto – just in time for members to march under their new banner in the 2013 Labour Day parades that will occur across Canada.

But before delegates arrive at the convention (to approve the union’s constitution and plan of action, and elect its first leaders), a tremendous amount of work must be completed. To this end, leaders of the CAW and CEP have established six specialized Working Groups, to talk through the details of forming a new union, and develop recommendations on many of the specific issues.

These Working Groups were mandated in the final report of the New Union Proposal Committee (this report was overwhelmingly adopted at both the CAW and CEP conventions last year). The members of the Working Groups are listed in the attached Table 1; each is co-chaired by one CAW and one CEP leader. The Working Groups are addressing the following areas:

Constitution: Draft a formal constitution and other founding documents and policies. This working group will also take responsibility for ensuring the smooth maintenance of bargaining rights.

Communications: Undertake research, consultation, and testing work associated with selecting a name and logo for the new union, and prepare an ambitious communications strategy for the new union’s launch.

Organizing: Draft an ambitious organizing strategy, including a “wave” of organizing initiatives to be launched when the new union is formed. This group will also design and implement the Proposal Committee’s vision for new non-traditional forms of membership.

Implementation: Develop an implementation and transition plan for consolidating the two unions (including the integration of offices, information systems, national departments, and other operational matters).

Staff Relations: A leadership team from both unions will initiate discussions with the various staff unions at both the CAW and CEP to ensure a fair, secure transition for the unions’ employees (including non-represented employees). The two unions have already committed that no union employees will be laid-off as a result of the creation of the new union.

Convention: Oversee organization and logistics associated with the founding convention of the new union.

Most of the Working Groups held initial meetings before the Christmas holiday shut-down. Further meetings of each group took place in January, and more will occur regularly through the next several months. Table 2 (attached) summarizes the initial progress of the Working Groups.

Leaders from the CEP and CAW also agreed to obtain additional input to support the work of three of the key Working Groups. Additional sub-committees of national and local leaders from both unions (called a “Reference Group”) will be created to assist the work of the Constitution, Communications, and Organizing Working Groups. These three Reference Groups will be composed of several members from each union, from regions across Canada. The Reference Groups will serve as a “sounding board” for their respective Working Groups – allowing them to test tentative findings against a broader body of active trade unionists.

Recommendations from the Working Groups will eventually be forwarded for review to the National Executive Boards of the CAW and the CEP, in two batches:

  •  Preliminary recommendations will be considered by the two NEBs at their meetings in late March.
  • Final recommendations will be considered by the two NEBs in late May.

Following final approval of the recommendations (revised as needed) by the NEBs in May, the two Boards will jointly issue a formal “call to convention”: inviting local unions from across the CAW and CEP to begin electing their delegates to the founding convention.

In addition to the formal review of Working Group recommendations by the two NEBs, the new union Proposal Committee will also reconvene twice (once in March, and once in May) to hear reports from the Working Groups. Recall that the Proposal Committee (composed of 8 senior leaders from each union, which oversaw the initial work on the new union) was the body first tasked with developing the proposal for a new union which was endorsed by both founding unions last year. The Proposal Committee will now ensure that the output from the Working Groups is consistent with the thrust of its final report (Towards a New Union) which it submitted to last year’s CAW and CEP conventions.

During April and May (before any final recommendations are considered by the two NEBs), regional forums will be organized for local union leaders from both unions to receive feedback on the initial recommendations from the Working Groups. Those regional meetings will put special focus on reviewing initial proposals regarding:

  • the name, logo, and identity of the new union;
  • the new union’s constitution; and
  • initial recommendations regarding non-traditional membership structures and organizing strategies.

All the Working Groups will consider feedback from the regional meetings as they fine-tune their recommendations regarding all aspects of the new union’s philosophy, structure, and operations.

In total, therefore, the process of building our new union will utilize numerous channels through which leaders and activists are contributing their ideas, expertise, and opinions: the six Working Groups, three Reference Groups, review sessions of the Proposal Committee, several regional consultations, and final review and approval of recommendations by the NEBs of both unions. Progress reports will continue to be posted on the New Union website: Figure 1 summarizes the timeline of the work that must be completed by the founding convention.

Figure 1

New Union Timeline Jan 2013


Individual members and observers are also invited to contribute their ideas as we move forward. For example, right now the New Union website features a survey asking for ideas and suggestions regarding the new union’s name, logo, and identity. Thousands of respondents have already completed the survey: the deadline for further submissions is February 4:

Please watch the New Union website for more details on the progress of the Working Groups, plans for the regional meetings, and details of the founding convention.


Table 1

Working Group Membership

Working Group CAW CEP
Constitution Lewis Gottheil (Co-Chair)
Sylvain Martin
Rick Garant
Bill Murnighan
Alex Keeney
Denise McMorris
David Robertson
Michel Ouimet (Co-Chair)
Joseph Gargiso
Angela Adams
Dean Carvery
Jackie Lys
Rino Ouellet
Fred Wilson
Dave Moffat
Communications Susan Spratt (Co-Chair)
Chris Buckley
Serge Dupont
Shannon Devine
Angelo DiCaro
John McClyment
Peter Murdoch (Co-Chair)
Chuck Shewfelt
Barb Dolan
Michelle Walsh
Roxanne Dubois
Marie-Andrée L’Heureux
Laurent Levesque
Organizing Tim Carrie (Co-Chair)
Bob Chernecki
Deb Tveit
John Aman
Martin Lambert
Jim Stanford
David Robertson
Jim Britton (Co-Chair)
Dave Moffat
Renaud Gagne
Laura Davis
Fred Wilson
Duncan Brown
Implementation Deb Tveit (Co-Chair)
Peter Kennedy
Richard Vann
Graeme Brown
Shahmez Khimji
Martin Lambert
Jo-Ann Hannah
Kim Ginter (Co-Chair)
Gaétan Ménard
Don Boucher
Line Brisson
Jasen Murphy
Patty Barrera
Staff Relations Peter Kennedy (Co-Chair)
Ken Lewenza
Deb Tveit
Bob Orr
Mike Reuter
Kevin Hancock
Donna St. Louis
Kelly Campbell
Gaétan Ménard (Co-Chair)
Dave Coles
Jasen Murphy
M-H Sansfaçon
Bob Smart
Daniel Cloutier
Dora Brazeau
Linda McCrorie
Conventions Peter Kennedy (Co-Chair
Graeme Brown
Shahmez Khimji
Karen Davis
Angie Niles
Shannon Devine
Gaétan Ménard (Co-Chair)
Jasen Murphy
Nicole Brûlé
Michelle Walsh


Table 2

Summary of Workshop Group

Progress to Date (end-January 2013)

Working Group Main Work
  • Prepared detailed comparison of existing CAW & CEP constitutions.
  • Developed list of gaps and issues to be resolved in the new constitution.
  • Developed a catalogue of existing CAW & CEP policy statements, identified overlaps & gaps.
  • Identified and began working on policy statements which need to be prepared for founding convention (including statements on anti-harassment and the operation of the defense/strike fund).
  • Began drafting constitutional language to reflect the final report of Proposal Committee: sub-topics addressed so far include membership, the National Executive Board, and the Canadian Council.
  • Completed a detailed review of constitutional language regarding the new union’s review board, appeals, and charges.
  • Developed plan of work and list of specific tasks.
  • Issued request for proposals from communications consultants for work around name/logo design and testing.
  • Released a public survey (on-line and hard copy) to receive input and suggestions regarding name / logo / image (deadline Feb. 4).
  • Hosted a half-day seminar with outside communications experts on issues to consider in choosing the new union’s name / image / logo.
  • Contracted two consulting groups to provide assistance with conception & design, focus groups, and testing.
  • Held meeting of its Reference Group on January 28 to review progress so far, and discuss communications needs for locals and communities in the new union.
  • Developed plan of work and list of specific tasks.
  • Hosted a half-day seminar with outside speakers on experience with new membership & organizing models.
  • Agreed to develop both an organizing policy (long-lived policy) and an organizing plan (immediate priorities) to be presented to the founding convention.
  • Developed a detailed outline for the organizing policy document, and began writing it.
  • Developing a proposal for a new membership category called Community Members (consisting of members not in certified bargaining units), and began discussing details of their role, rights, and responsibilities in the new union.
  • Held meeting of its Reference Group on January 30 to review progress so far and consider challenges and opportunities in organizing new members.
  • Developed a plan for integration of technology & computer systems.
  • Reviewed existing CEP & CAW offices and other facilities, and began developing a plan for the new union’s offices and properties.
  • Began discussing the integration of finances in the new union, assigning tasks (receivables, payables, etc.) to different offices.
  • Began developing an organizational structure for national departments within the new union.
Staff Relations
  • Held initial meetings with leadership of the two unions representing national staff representatives at the CAW & CEP.
  • Meetings with leadership of the two unions representing support staff at the CAW & CEP will also occur.
  • Developed a catalogue of organizational matters to be resolved for the convention (facility booking, AV, room bookings, etc.).
  • Began considering agenda, guest speakers, and other events.
  • Began developing media and communications strategy for the founding convention.
  • Will consider an “Economic and political overview” document to be presented at the convention.