Renewal at the CAW Family Education Centre

May 3, 2011, 10:25 AM EST


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A strategic plan to reinvigorate the CAW's Family Education Centre in Port Elgin, Ontario with new groups of participants, new courses, increased national and local union contributions and a new oversight committee is in the works.

CAW National Secretary-Treasurer Peter Kennedy and Education Director Rick Rose provided CAW Council delegates with a detailed review of the impact on the centre of declining membership and a reduction in funding from The Big Three automakers.

The Family Education Centre (FEC) has been left with a sizable deficit of approximately $5 million over the last five years, Kennedy said. But the strategic plan outlined to delegates establishes new goals and ideas to address this deficit, he said. It provides an opportunity to re-invigorate education programs at the centre.

The plan outlines a number of goals including:

- an annual occupancy target which calls for a 38 per cent increase in course attendance;

- the launch of a new series of CAW leadership courses;

- developing a series of new courses that target different membership groups including older workers, retired workers, youth, skilled trades, team leaders and workers from different economic sectors;

- calls for a plan to encourage members from other unions to attend the FEC;

- an increase in Paid Education Leave (PEL) finances by bargaining PEL in more workplaces, collecting all PEL funds, and bargaining an increase in current PEL funding by 1 cent per hour, wherever possible;

- establishment of a new Family Education Centre oversight committee that will meet each month to oversee the centre, track developments and establish operational plans.

CAW President Ken Lewenza stressed the importance of this new plan and the vital contribution that Port Elgin has made to the membership and the growth of the CAW over the years.

"When people leave Port Elgin after any one of the PEL programs, after any one of the conferences, they go back to their workplace a different person," Lewenza said.

"Many people in this room developed their confidence here at Port Elgin. They developed their ability to stand up at a mike and speak better than any Parliamentarian. This confidence comes from the interaction at this Centre," Lewenza said.

Delegates approved the plan, which was developed over the last year by a task force chaired by CAW Work Organization and Training Director David Roberston.

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