A New Union for
New Times
Presentation on the
CAW-CEP New Union Process
The Context:
An Unprecedented Attack on Workers
• Corporations are more aggressive and arrogant than ever.
− Caterpillar, Brookfield, Rio Tinto, Vale, Resolute.
− Not surprising, given the power they’ve been granted
(globalization, labour laws, tax cuts).
• Governments stand idly by (or worse yet join the attack).
• Public attitudes have become more hostile, viewing unions
as a “special vested interest.”
− This hurts our power.
− This hurts our ability to organize new members.
• Bottom line: Union power is eroding, and workers’ wellbeing is suffering as a result.
Union Density: Canada
vs. U.S.
Union Density
Canada vs. U.S.
% Workers with Union Coverage
50
40
Canada Private
30
20
Canada now where
10 was in 1984,
U.S.
heading same way
U.S. Private
0
1945
1955
1965
1975
1985
1995
2005
The Core Idea
• CAW and CEP have many factors in common:
− Commitment to Canadian membership-driven social
unionism.
− Critical mass in many sectors of the economy.
− Broad reach across all of Canada.
• Together we are stronger.
• Even more promising: we could use the founding of
a new organization (MORE than just a merger) to
revitalize the image and practice of trade unionism.
− This will inspire others to join.
Membership Profile
CAW:
193,500
CEP:
110,000
Manufacturing 45%
87,000
Energy
30%
33,050
Services
32%
61,900
Comm’ns
29%
32,267
Transportation 17%
32,900
Paper
27%
29,584
Primary
11,600
Media
14%
15,093
6%
Strong in every region and in every sector
Major Auto
Pulp and Paper
Auto Parts
Forestry and Sawmills
Aerospace
Media and Graphics
Truck and Bus
Hospitality and Gaming
TV, Radio and Newspapers
Other Manufacturing
Shipbuilding
Education
Telecommunications
Fisheries
Airlines
Railways
Road and Marine Transport
Oil and Gas
Grocery Stores
Mining and Metals
Health Care
Social Services
Petrochemicals…
CEP and CAW combined membership by
province
9,000
NT/NU/YK 558
52,090
12,280
27,800
17,359
155,878
10,000
6,160 330
11,800
Both Private and Public Sectors
• A new union would have a significant ‘critical mass’
of members across most sectors of the economy.
• While the majority of members would be in the
private sector, the union would also represent tens
of thousands of workers in the public sector,
including public services (like health care,
education, and public transportation) as well as
crown corporations.
• These members work in health care, universities,
municipal transit, school boards, social services and
crown corporations across the country.
Seizing an Opportunity…
• CAW and CEP are both strong, capable, financially viable
unions.
• We recognize the challenges facing the labour
movement, and our two unions.
• But we are not driven to form a new union out of
desperation.
• Rather, this is an opportunity to combine resources,
renew our practices, and strengthen our capacity to fight.
• The times are more challenging than ever for workers
and unions…
… and we must improve our ability to face those challenges.
Early Steps
• Initial informal discussions between leaders.
• First 2-day leadership meeting (Nov. 2011).
• Preparation of discussion paper, A Moment of Truth
for Canadian Unions.
− Initial release & media coverage (Dec. 2011).
• Second, larger full-day leadership meeting (Jan.
2012).
• Agreement on “Process Protocol” to launches
formal process.
• Formation of formal Proposal Committee.
Proposal Committee
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Composed of 8 senior leaders from each union.
Co-chairs are the two Secretary-Treasurers:
− CEP: Gaétan Ménard
− CAW: Peter Kennedy
Supported by 3 staff from each side.
Goal is to prepare a report that will be submitted to both unions’
conventions.
− CAW: August
− CEP: October
This report would provide a “roadmap” for forming a new
organization.
− NOT a detailed constitution (that would come later, if both unions
approve).
Special one-day workshop held on union renewal and innovation
February 25, 2012.
First meeting of Proposal Committee was held February 26-27, 2012.
Timeline
•
•
•
•
•
•
February: Full Proposal Committee meets to identify issues,
determine work plan, establish sub-committees.
March – June: Proposal Committee and sub-committees have
further meetings to perform detailed research & have further
discussion on specific issues.
March – June: Progress reports provided to regular meetings &
councils of both unions.
April – June: Special joint regional meetings held to brief local
leaders and activists from both unions, gather input on founding
principles of a new union.
July: Report & supporting communication materials are prepared
for the two conventions.
August (CAW) / October (CEP): Presentation of report &
recommendations to the two conventions.
Transparency & Communication
• Goal: Keep process as transparent as possible to
keep locals, leaders, and activists informed as we go
along.
− Minimize “surprises,” confusion, gossip.
• Public statements will be prepared & released after
each Proposal Committee meeting.
• Joint web site www.newunionproject.ca established
to post documents simultaneously (in both
languages).
• Reports & consultations at regular councils and
meetings held in both unions.
What’s “New” About the New Union?
•
•
•
•
•
A bigger union will be stronger and more capable of fighting back.
But the new union must also be ready and able to do some things
differently.
Throughout this process, leadership will be considering new practices and
structures that will enhance:
− Our appeal to unorganized workers.
− Our ability to organize new units & campaigns.
− The visibility & power of our locals in communities.
− Our critical mass in bargaining in specific sectors.
Innovative ideas will be proposed and discussed as the process
continues.
Some things will not change:
− Our commitment to providing first-rate representation to our members.
− Our democratic, member-driven structure.
− Our engagement in the broader debates struggles that shape society.
Lots to Talk About
•
•
There are many questions about what a new union would look
like:
− Name?
− Structure?
− Democratic governance?
− Bargaining strategy?
− Organizing strategy?
− New practices?
These are the issues that the Proposal Committee will discuss
and report on.
Next Steps
•
•
•
•
•
•
Proposal Committee and sub-committees are continuing their
work.
Proposals for new practices & structures are being developed
and discussed.
Reports to conventions will be made in August/October.
If they approve the “roadmap,” then the process will move to
the next stage:
− Final agreements on structure, finances, constitution.
− Finalize founding documents.
Full democratic process will be respected throughout:
− No new union can be formed until approved by special founding
convention of each existing union.
Possible foundation of new union: mid-2013?
Input is Welcome
• The joint website (www.newunionproject.ca) will
post regular reports.
• Can sign up for news feed there, to receive
updates directly.
• Suggestions & ideas can be submitted to
respective union officers.
A Hopeful Moment
• This is a time of danger for unions, but a time of
opportunity too.
• So far the idea of a new, stronger, more innovative
union has been welcomed warmly in both
organizations.
• It would also be a spark for the whole labour
movement.
− There will be wide interest in joining the new union.
• Workers need the power of a union more than ever.
• Our responsibility is to imagine and build the
strongest, most effective fighting force we can.
“What motivates and energizes me in this whole process
of creating a new union is the perspective of building a
new organization anchored in communities, ready to
defend the social, political and economical interests of all
workers, unionized or not. The commitment and energy
of the Proposal Committee members is very
encouraging.” - Gaétan Ménard, CEP Secretary-Treasurer
and Proposal Committee Co-chair
“The prospect of creating a new union is one filled with
tremendous potential for our two individual unions, the
members we represent and the labour movement as a
whole. The Proposal Committee is now working to carefully
address the many structural, organizational and financial
issues involved in possibly creating a new union.” - Peter
Kennedy, CAW Secretary-Treasurer and Proposal Committee
Co-chair
“The work of the Proposal Committee is fundamentally
important for Canadian labour. We are building the foundation
for a new type of union organization in Canada that can
effectively take on right-wing governments and powerful
corporate interests. That’s a tall order, but I am confident that if
it can be done, our two unions will do it!” - Dave Coles, CEP
President
“Workers across this country need a strong, militant and
innovative labour movement to represent them and push for
greater social, economic and political equality. If we’re
successful in creating this new union, I know it will be a
powerful force in Canadian civil society and an even stronger
voice for Canadian workers.” - Ken Lewenza, CAW President
Thank You
www.newunionproject.ca
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A New Union for New Times