The joint CEP/CAW Proposal Committee has reached an important milestone in creating a new national union, coming to a consensus on a possible structure for the organization featuring a strong regional presence.
The Proposal Committee was established by the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union and the Canadian Auto Workers union to develop a plan for a new national union, which would be the largest private sector union in Canada representing more than 300,000 members. Following four days of meetings last week in Toronto the Proposal Committee, made up of eight representatives from each union, reached consensus on a plan that establishes a “robust regional presence” and outlines how the new union could be run.
“The Proposal Committee has brought forward a number of important ideas on the set up of the new union that would build union density across the country and establish new models for organizing,” said CAW President Ken Lewenza.
CEP President Dave Coles said “one of the goals of the project is to develop new ways to organize those who haven’t traditionally had a chance to belong to unions. We need to give them a voice,” he said. “The new union initiative is a reaction the Harper’s government’s bullying of workers,” added Coles. The new union would have a critical mass in every region of the country, unlike both separate unions now. Local unions would take part in regional councils in B.C., the Prairies, the Atlantic and Ontario. Quebec would also have its own council. The new union would have three elected national officers – President, Secretary-Treasurer and Quebec Director, in addition to three elected regional directors from Atlantic Canada, Ontario and Western Canada. The Proposal Committee dedicated much time to discussing organizing new members and workplaces and developing new models to allow greater outreach to unorganized workers. This would include creating a new category of membership to allow unemployed workers, those in workplaces that are not yet certified, young workers and precarious or temporary workers, to also join the union.
Further Proposal Committee meetings are slated for late May and June. (A list of Proposal Committee members can be found here: http://www.newunionproject.ca/who/). The final report and recommendations of the Proposal Committee will be submitted to the CAW Constitutional Convention in August, 2012 and the CEP Constitutional Convention in October, 2012. Only after the two conventions approve the plan for a new union would steps go ahead to launch the new union.