Once locals have thought through these items, the following steps should be taken to initiate the merger process.
Step One Identifying a potential merger partner(s)
Ideally, a Local should seek out a merger partner that not only is open to the idea of merging, but also one that shares common views and goals, and is in the same or approximate geographic vicinity. Having a previous relationship with the local (e.g., having shared resources or space together either currently or in the past) while ideal, is not necessary. If you are uncertain of which local to approach as a potential merger partner, please contact your National Staff Representative or Area Director for assistance.
Step Two Begin discussions with local union executive board members
The leadership of each Local Union Executive Board should begin having discussions together on what they hope to achieve by merging, their needs and expectations, asking questions and raising concerns, identifying solutions, and developing a rough action plan, timetable and proposal they can bring back to their respective membership. It is important to consider what the local union’s goals are and how a merger can help deliver them.
Analyzing a potential merger from all angles is critical. Find out what key local union representatives think are the benefits and drawbacks of a merger, and what are the strengths and weaknesses. It is recommended that meeting conversations are properly documented so that there are no misunderstandings or confusion that could derail merger plans down the road.
Step Three Talk to the membership
It is critical to gauge the receptiveness and motivation of local union members to undertake a merger. Without rank-and-file support, mergers are destined to fail.
Members’ resistance to a proposedmerger may be well founded. Members may feel that it is not in the best strategic interest of the local union. At the same time, resistance may stem from misguided fears about the loss of local union autonomy. Alternatively, it may be rooted in a deep-seated emotional attachment to a local union’s own history. Sometimes, resistance stems from a simple lack of understanding of the merger process itself, or not knowing its intended benefits and the opportunities for greater union and community building. Having open conversations with members of the local union executive, stewards, committeepersons and the members’ themselves can serve as a helpful starting point. Locals may also consider conducting a simple survey of members.
Step Four Draft a merger agreement
A Merger Agreement is an important document that essentially outlines the full merger proposal between the locals. While each Merger Agreement will be unique to the locals involved, many may include similar language or clauses around:
Local union number: whichnumber will the amalgamated local take
Administration: the date inwhich the merger will come into effect, which by-laws (and amendments) will the local follow and how files and records will be transferred
Elections and governance: what will the Local leadership structure (including committees) look like and the date of the next elections for local union officers
Assets and liabilities: how will the assets and liabilities of the joining local union be transferred and managed, including any bank/credit union accounts
Finances: how and when local financial audits will take place, and local dues requirements and formula
A sample Merger Agreement template for you to use and modify has been included as an appendix in this document. However, if you require further assistance in developing a Merger Agreement, please contact the Unifor Constitutional Department.
Step Five Present a proposal, and full information, to members for approval
Once a proposal and Merger Agreement is crafted, it is vital that a meeting is called and that the merger proposal and agreement is presented to members for discussion, debate and a membership vote. Members will expect to receive full information about the decision-making process. Local leadership will also need to explain how the proposed merger would benefit the members and how many (if not all) of the potential challenges will be managed.
Members will expect to know how a merger will affect existing democratic structures, representation (including among elected members of the Executive Board), committees, delegate entitlements to councils and conventions, and other matters. Members may also be eager to know what a merger will mean for resources like office space, financial assets and liabilities, staffing and other details. It is important for local union leadership to anticipate these and other questions before a presenting a formal proposal and come prepared to answer these questions.
Members’ questions and concerns may require follow-up discussions with the partnering local union before approving a final draft.
In organizing a special membershipmeeting , it is recommended to provide at least 14 days of notice and to hold the meeting at a location that provides for maximum participation of the membership.
While a simple majority membership vote (of those present) is required in order to proceed with any local unionmerger, we do recommend that members vote by secret ballot with clear, easy to understand language that spells out the intentions of the two local unions.
Step Six National Executive Board approval of merger application
Once the membership has approved the merger, the final step is for the Merger Agreement to be brought to Unifor’s National Executive Board for review and approval. A notification of approval will go to the local coming from the National President’s office.