CAW-CEP merger in the works

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Roystonbones

I am a union person and one of my unions these days is CEP. I have gone to several conferences, representing my local,  over the last year where CEP and CAW members have gathered to talk about the merger and what we want the new Union to look like.  I have to say that some of the ideas were forward looking and I was quite impressed.

Now, I am an old lefty so it takes a lot to impress me these days, but the idea of asscoaite membership is  something I have brought up to Federation and CLC members more than once. The talk at the conferences was that associate members could be provided things like a death benefit and a  reduced cost for health benefits as the money would be pooled from thier dues for this. Other talk at the conferences were to provide advocacy for WCB, Employment standards and providing discourse on social and union issues - solidarity across union/nonunion lines. Not unlike the old Unemployed Action Centres.The idea hasnt been fully flushed out, even it it is already in the constitution. It is a new area and some of it will be developed as it unfolds.

This is not necvesarily an unprecedented move. CAW already has retiree locals and this is sort of based on that model. If the membership is serious about providing solidarity to all then this is a huge step forward.

I agree with others though - the name sucks

1weasel

"what stops unions from partnering with other organizations (women, students, anti-poverty, aboriginal, etc.) to help provide a broader range of "go-to" resources, to workers and members of the community in general?"

 

Wasn't something like that going on during the student demonstrations in Quebec?  I do know some of the initial discussions were influenced by that protest and the Occupy movement.

1weasel

Any word on who is running for the Unifor executive?  Seems too quiet with less than four weeks to the founding convention.

Unionist

1weasel wrote:

Any word on who is running for the Unifor executive?  Seems too quiet with less than four weeks to the founding convention.

Looks more like a coronation, unfortunately. Lewenza and Coles apparently won't run, and the word is that the CAW's Jerry Dias will get the presidency. There is a secretary-treasurer's position - word used to be that it would go to Peter Kennedy (currently CAW sec-treas), but I doubt both top jobs would go to the same union. Then there are four "regional directors". Québec members of both unions have been told, since April, that the Québec director's position would go to the CEP's Michel Ouimet. No idea about the rest of the country. I'll be (pleasantly) surprised if there are any contested elections. Everything about this merger, including the choice of the name Unifor, has been done in top-down fashion. Not an encouraging start IMHO.

Is that what you meant by "executive"? Or the elected rank-and-filers who will be in the new national executive board?

If anyone has more info, please share.

 

Unionist

Ok, here's the "unity team" nominees:

Quote:

Both leaders [Coles and Lewenza] endorsed CAW Assistant to the President Jerry Dias as the nominee for President of Unifor. Dias is joined by a team of 24 other trade unionists, all of whom will be nominated to fill each of the 25 positions on the new union's National Executive Board.  This includes the three top officers of the union: President, Secretary-Treasurer, and the Quebec Director. This is the only time that the complete National Executive Board will be presented at a Unifor Convention as a slate.

"CAW Secretary-Treasurer Peter Kennedy, who co-chaired the New Union Project and has served as CAW National Secretary-Treasurer since 2009, has our continuing and unwavering support," Lewenza said. Kennedy will be the Unity Team's candidate for the position of Unifor Secretary-Treasurer.

Michel Ouimet, current CEP Executive Vice President for Quebec, is the Unity Team's nominee for Quebec Director of Unifor.  CAW Quebec Director Sylvain Martin will continue on as Michel's assistant.

Also nominated as part of the Unity Team is CAW Health Care Director Katha Fortier, in the role of Ontario Director, Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour President Lana Payne as Atlantic Director, and CEP National Representative Scott Doherty as Western Director.

There will also be Quebec and Regional Council Chairpersons :

Quebec - Marcel Rondeau (CAW)
Atlantic - Penny Fawcett (CEP)
Ontario - Dino Chiodo (CAW)
Prairie - Christy Best (CEP)
B.C. - Andrea MacBride (CEP)

Industry Council Representatives (11):

Energy - Angela Adams (CEP)
Resources - Earle McCurdy (CAW)
Services - Cheryl Robinson (CAW)
Media - Randy Kitt (CEP)
Health Care - Nancy McMurphy (CAW)
Retail - Christine Connor (CAW)
Forestry - Jean-Pierre Lafond (CEP)
Communications - Marc Rousseau (CEP)
Manufacturing - Roland Kiehne (CAW)
Auto - Gary Beck (CAW)
Transportation - Heather Grant (CAW)

Three other designated NEB positions:
Skilled Trades - Dave Cassidy (CAW)
Retired Workers - Len Harrison (CAW)
Racialized and Indigenous Workers - Ruth Pryce (CAW)

Some good folks on there, and some others.

Now you know whom to vote for! Smile

genstrike

I've been a little concerned with this from the start (more so recently as I'm now a CAW member).  While the discussion papers touched on some interesting ideas, it seemed to me like there wasn't much talk of improving and re-invigorating rank and file democracy.

If this is just going to be some extensively stage-managed coronation ceremony where everything has been stiched up behind the scenes before the delegates arrive like every other labour convention, I'm going to have to seriously doubt that this whole Unifor project is going to be much of an improvement on what we have now.

autoworker autoworker's picture

genstrike wrote:

I've been a little concerned with this from the start (more so recently as I'm now a CAW member).  While the discussion papers touched on some interesting ideas, it seemed to me like there wasn't much talk of improving and re-invigorating rank and file democracy.

If this is just going to be some extensively stage-managed coronation ceremony where everything has been stiched up behind the scenes before the delegates arrive like every other labour convention, I'm going to have to seriously doubt that this whole Unifor project is going to be much of an improvement on what we have now.

I'll second that.

janfromthebruce

hopefully they vote to change the name from unifor because that is such a non starter - in my opinion.

autoworker autoworker's picture

janfromthebruce wrote:

hopefully they vote to change the name from unifor because that is such a non starter - in my opinion.

The only input the rank and file had on the merger, as far as I could tell, was a contest to name it. As you can see, it's a winner, and what substitutes for democracy nowadays.

janfromthebruce

Sorry to hear that AW.

1weasel

The CAW president also has the authority to pluck people from individual union locals and appoint them to the national staff, which has been rife with criticism about how the process to choose a new president is being conducted.

In one sign of how politically charged the process of replacing Mr. Hargrove has become, sources in the union's national office and several locals across the country said they are convinced that if Mr. Lewenza wins, he will stay on as president for just a single three-year term and then be replaced by another of Mr. Hargrove's assistants, Jerry Dias.

Mr. Dias, 49, oversees negotiations and discussions with Chrysler Canada Inc. from the national office and has responsibility for unionized auto parts plants in Canada. He was promoted to the job as Mr. Hargrove's assistant last year and took over the auto parts file from Mr. Collins.

Both he and Mr. Lewenza shot down the theory.

"I'm going to take the job for the long haul," Mr. Lewenza said. "I don't think anybody in our union could jump in and say 'well, I'm only here for one term.' That's never been my style and it's not going to be my style tomorrow."

Mr. Dias dismissed it as a conspiracy theory.

"That makes no sense," he said. "The conspiracy theory of Ken in for one term and warming the seat - that's absolutely ridiculous."

Greg Keenan, The Globe and Mail, 8 July 2008.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Mergers and acquisitions, just a normal part of the capitalist system.  Of course there will be a proxy war to see who the Chairman and Board will be in the new structure.

Unionist

Not even.

Unionist

dp

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Breaking: Rank and file member Lindsay Hinshelwood formerly from CAW Local 707 (Ford) has been nominated from the floor to run against Jerry Dias for Unifor president. 

ETA: She lost. Results: 82.51% Jerry Dias 17.49% Lindsay Hinshelwood

And Hinshelwood wrote this piece for rabble back in 2009: Saying No to Concessions. Cool chick! Hope to see more of her.

Unionist

I didn't watch it all... but amidst all the tired top-down pre-programmed rhetoric, this resonated with me. A young sister of colour rose to the mic in the morning and said: "I have yet to see a single woman leader speak, or a person of colour. How is this union supposed to represent me?" Lewenza replied that they were working on these issues and that once we had Unifor, she'd see diversity etc. She replied: "You've been working on this for two years, and you still have to work some more?" You could see and hear delegates around her standing and applauding. Lewenza got impatient and said something like, "well there's nothing I can do about that at this point", and moved on.

Does anyone have a clip of that - or better direct quotes?

I haven't seen and felt the "new" that Unifor is supposed to reflect yet. And I didn't hear one single word about rank-and-file democracy. Without a commitment to building and strengthening that democracy, this labour movement (and this union) can't face and defeat the erosion and the outright onslaughts.

We need more.

ETA: Ok, I found it - it starts at about 2:17:15 of [url=http://www.newunionconvention.ca/video-on-demand-august-31-2013-morning/... video[/url].

 

Unionist

And here's my quick transcription:

Quote:
Delegate at mic: Good morning. I'm not sure if this is a point of order, or a point of privilege, but it has to be a point of something. I've been here since yesterday, and as a woman of colour, I'm getting increasingly frustrated listening to everybody talking about how our new union will be representative. I have yet to see a single woman leader from our membership stand up and speak. I have yet to see a single person of colour stand up and say something - and I don't know how this union is going to represent people like me, when... [makes a sweeping gesture with her hand indicating the front table and shrugs her shoulders].

[Applause, cheers.]

Ken Lewenza: Again, once you've passed Unifor, you'll see the diversity of the National Executive Board and obviously the officers. And all of us know in those particular areas of equality, we're always gonna have some challenging times. But we're committed to diversity and that's the best I can say. And by you reinforcing that message again reinforces us at the podium here today to contemplate how we build stronger diversity in our union.

Delegate: If this has been being built for two years, and the best you can say is that there's work to be done?

Lewenza: That's the best I can do right now, sister.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Ahh, thanks for that transcript, Unionist. I heard this go down over Twitter (and other delegates reiterated the point at later moments), but didn't know who spoke or what she said. Brava, sister!

One point: I've heard, though I don't know the relevent document, that the executive must have a certain percentage of rank and file members in it, which is a new addition to the constitution from what CAW and CEP had. I could be wrong about this, and I'll try to track it down, but it's something.

Also comforting is that sisters like the speaker you mentioned haven't abandoned the union project yet. They'll win, of course. It just might not be Unifor who gets to be there when it happens.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

And rabble's new Labour reporter, H.G Watson (who has been tirelessly reporting on this convention over the past week and live tweeted it throughout the day), interviewed that delegate (Kerry Ann-Taylor) in the piece she filed tonight:

"It was just burning me up," she said "Today it was man after man talking about how good the union was and how representative it was. I was like, 'no, you're not representing me.'" Dave Coles, outgoing president of CEP, promised that delegates would be impressed by the diversity of the incoming national executive board.

As the newly elected board stands currently, 11 members are women and 14 are men. One, Ruth Pryce, the racialized and Indigenous workers representative, is a person of colour. Unifor's constitution requires that the gender composition of the national executive be proportional to gender representation of the union. Unifor has 86,000 female members, about a third of their 300,000 workers.

 

autoworker autoworker's picture

I wonder whether the 1% at the convention, authentically represents the values of the remaining 99% of the rank and file.

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