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: www.newunionproject.ca. Figure 1 summarizes the timeline of the work that must be completed by the founding convention.
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.
Working Group Membership
|Constitution||Lewis Gottheil (Co-Chair)
|Michel Ouimet (Co-Chair)
|Communications||Susan Spratt (Co-Chair)
|Peter Murdoch (Co-Chair)
|Organizing||Tim Carrie (Co-Chair)
|Jim Britton (Co-Chair)
|Implementation||Deb Tveit (Co-Chair)
|Kim Ginter (Co-Chair)
|Staff Relations||Peter Kennedy (Co-Chair)
Donna St. Louis
|Gaétan Ménard (Co-Chair)
|Conventions||Peter Kennedy (Co-Chair
|Gaétan Ménard (Co-Chair)
Summary of Workshop Group
Progress to Date (end-January 2013)
|Working Group||Main Work|