CAW Elects New Slate to Lead the Union

August 20, 2009, 2:32 PM EST

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CAW delegates gathered from across the country in Quebec City have re-elected this afternoon Ken Lewenza as CAW National President, Jean-Pierre Fortin as Quebec Director and elected Peter Kennedy as National Secretary-Treasurer.

Over the last year the union has now elected three new top officers following the retirement of previous leadership.

"Our new leadership team will bring great energy, experience and vision to the many challenges our union faces," Lewenza said. "Part of these challenges will be to reach out to all working people in every sector of the economy, regardless of age, income, country of origin, language, religion, gender or sexual orientation and ensure that the union is not only relevant, but essential to the working lives of all people. That is our task for today and every day going forward."

Lewenza was first elected as National President on September 6, 2008 and has led the union through emergency bargaining and the then possible bankruptcies of Chrysler and General Motors, as well as bargaining with Air Canada. Lewenza has been active in the labour movement since beginning at Chrysler in 1972 and held a number of shop floor and local union positions at CAW Local 444 in Windsor Ontario, before leading the local for 14 years.

Peter Kennedy succeeds Jim O'Neil who ends his 18-year tenure as the union's National Secretary-Treasurer. Kennedy first joined the staff of the union as Education Director in 1989 and most recently held the post of assistant to the Secretary-Treasurer for the last 17 years. In this role, he oversaw the daily operations of the union as well as bargaining with General Motors, CAMI (GM-Suzuki joint venture in Ingersoll, Ontario) and the aerospace and electronics sectors of the union.

Jean-Pierre Fortin was first elected Quebec Director on April 26 2008 with the retirement of Luc Desnoyers, now Bloc MP for the federal riding of Rivière-des-Mille-Îles.  Fortin joined the union's staff in 1990 after being a union leader since the early 1970s at United Aircraft (now Pratt & Whitney).  Fortin held a position in the union's Organizing Department and later worked as the Montreal Area Director before being elected Quebec Director.
Early this afternoon, the three men were acclaimed by union delegates who gathered in Quebec City this week for the union's 9th Constitutional Convention.

Also elected to the union's National Executive Board were Christine Connor, CAW Local 414 president in Milton, Ontario (representing 15,000 retail and service sector workers across Ontario), Roland Kiehne, CAW Local 112 president, in Toronto (representing 3,000 workers in the aerospace, heavy equipment and auto parts manufacturing sectors), Jean Van Vliet, CAW Local 3000 president in New Westminster (representing service sector workers) and Nancy McMurphy, CAW Local 302 in London, Ontario (representing 5,500 health care workers).

The National Executive Board is the rank and file leadership body that oversees the direction of the union.

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