Progress Report on the CAW-CEP New Union Project
Working Group recommendations approved by both National Executive Boards
Schedule of regional forums announced
Founding convention of new union set for Toronto, August 30-September 1
Work towards the formation of a new Canadian union, integrating the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union (CEP), is continuing at a busy pace.
Since the beginning of the year, six special Working Groups have been holding multiple meetings to develop a plan of action for the formation of the new union. These Working Groups have addressed several key areas: writing a constitution for the new union; developing a communications plan (including a new name); developing a strategy for new member organizing; planning for the integration of new union structures, staff, and offices; staff relations; and detailed preparations for the founding convention.
Recommendations arising from each of those Working Groups were forwarded in March to the New Union Proposal Committee. That is the body consisting of 8 senior leaders from each union, that issued the original report last summer proposing the formation of a new union (titled “Towards a New Union”). The Proposal Committee endorsed all of the Working Group recommendations (including adopting a near-complete draft of the new union’s proposed constitution), and forwarded them to the respective National Executive Boards of both unions for review and approval.
The NEB of CAW met in Port Elgin, ON, March 18-21 to review the six reports. The CAW executive unanimously endorsed the Working Group recommendations. Subsequently, the CEP NEB held two sessions (in Ottawa and Toronto) to consider the same reports. On April 9 it too voted unanimously to endorse all the Working Group recommendations.
“I am very pleased with the incredible amount of work that has been completed by the Working Groups in such a short period of time,” said Gaétan Ménard, National Secretary-Treasurer of the CEP and co-chair of the Proposal Committee. “These committees have really rolled up their sleeves. Their work is laying the foundation for a successful launch of our new organization.”
“This project is much more than a merger,” said Peter Kennedy, National Secretary-Treasurer of the CAW and the other co-chair of the Proposal Committee. “We are building a new organization, with innovative, improved practices in a number of key areas – like organizing, representation, and communications. This requires the expertise and commitment of our leaders and activists from both unions, and they are delivering.”
A series of 14 regional meetings has been organized to brief local leaders and activists from both unions on the Working Group reports and the timetable for the formation of the new union. These meetings will also include detailed presentations on the process for selecting a name for the new union; on the new union’s constitution; and on innovative strategies for broadening union membership to include Canadians working outside of traditional bargaining units.
The tour of regional meetings kicks off on April 25 in Thunder Bay. A full schedule is posted here.
The name for the new union has not yet been selected. Communications specialists from both founding unions have been working with designers and conducting focus group testing of potential names and identities. A full report on that process will be provided to the regional meetings. A final decision on the new name will be made by the NEBs of the CAW and the CEP later this spring.
The new union will hold its founding convention in Toronto, at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, from Friday August 30 through Sunday September 1. Members of the new union will then be able to march under their new banners in the Labour Day parades occurring in communities across Canada on September 2.
Further reports and resources related to the New Union Project are available at www.newunionproject.ca.