New Leadership Team Proposed for Unifor

August 8, 2013, 3:15 PM EST


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With the Unifor Founding Convention only weeks away, the CAW and CEP have created a Unity Team that is being proposed to lead the new Canadian union.

CAW President Ken Lewenza announced on Thursday that he will not be seeking the nomination for president at a press conference in Toronto. Lewenza will be staying on as CAW National President until the Unifor Founding Convention.  In a heartfelt address, Lewenza said that achieving the goals and ambitions of Unifor is a long-term effort and requires a new generation of leadership to carry it through.

He spoke candidly about how through his membership and involvement in the union, he was able improve his standard of living and that of his family.

"I went from earning a minimum wage to a middle class wage when I got a job at Chrysler," said Lewenza.  "For my family, that meant we could consider buying our own house, buying a car, having independence. For too many families then, and now, that's still only a dream. And that's unfair."

Similarly, CEP President Dave Coles will also be retiring with the formation of Unifor, but staying on as CEP National President until then. 

"I have full confidence in the 'dream team' of leadership candidates being put forward to lead Unifor, and revitalize the Canadian labour movement," said Coles. 

Both leaders 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. CEP Secretary-Treasurer Gaétan Ménard will assume the role of an additional senior position called Transition Officer, who will oversee the transition and integration of two unions into Unifor.

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)

For more information on the Unifor Founding Convention, please visit: http://www.newunionconvention.ca/

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