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  5. Unifor, a union for everyone

Unifor is a new kind of union. We advocate for all workers – union and non-union, employed and unemployed – because all workers deserve healthy and safe workplaces, and all of us can work together to build stronger communities.

Unifor brings a modern approach to unionism: we are taking the best from our history and pushing forward to make the most of the future ahead.

Our members work in production, skilled trades, technical, office and professional jobs; in major auto, energy, health care, independent auto parts, aerospace, retail and wholesale trade; in specialty vehicles, ship building, electrical and electronics, general manufacturing, media, telecommunications, air transportation, railways, and other transportation; in fisheries and forestry; in universities, mining and smelting; in hospitality and gaming, general services, public services, and much more.

A third of our members are women, and we include more indigenous people and workers of colour than ever before. Together we are Unifor: 305,000 members in workplaces across Canada from coast to coast to coast, the biggest industrial union in the history of the Canadian labour movement!

Where we come from

Unifor was formed on Labour Day weekend 2013, as the CAW and CEP came together. Our unions both brought a rich history of political action and workplace struggle into the mix. And, we both brought our experiences of undertaking important structural changes that have revitalized and strengthened us.

The Communications, Energy and Paperworkers was formed in 1992, as a result of a merger of three smaller unions. The new CEP brought together nearly 150 years of history and 140,000 members, and became the 4th largest private sector union at the time. All three of the unions that merged to form the CEP had broken away from international unions, and they also shared very similar democratic structures.

The CAW was formed in 1985 after the Canadian and Quebec Councils of the United Auto Workers made a decision to cut ties with the international union. Over the years between 1985 and the formation of Unifor, the CAW changed drastically. Manufacturing faced a major decline and the union expanded into health care, rail, airlines, service and retail along with many other new sectors.

Our combined history, and our determination to create a better world, will make us an unstoppable force in Canada in the years to come.

The Unifor Constitution on elected Workplace Representatives – Article 15

The Unifor Constitution says that stewards, committeepersons and workplace representatives are elected for three year terms. They must take the oath of office. The Unifor Constitution also explains the recall procedure.

  1. All workplace representatives shall be actively involved in the issue-based campaigns, educational programs and community initiatives of the union.
  2. All committeepersons, stewards and other workplace representatives shall serve terms of the same duration as their Local Union Executive Officers. In the case of newly organized workplaces, however, the first term of office will be for two years.
  3. A Local Union Executive Officer may also serve as a workplace representative.
  4. An elected workplace representative may be recalled by the members he/she represents for failing to perform the duties of the office.
  5. Members he/she represents will sign a petition listing the specific complaints against the representative and file it with the Local Union. The Local Union will notify the representative of the specific complaints and will give due notice to the represented members of a special meeting for recall. A two-thirds vote of the members present at the special meeting is required to recall.
  6. Each Local Union will set out in its By-Laws the number of petitioners required for a recall and the quorum needed to hold a recall meeting.
  7. An elected workplace representative can face recall only once during her/his term of office.

The oath of office

The Installing Officer says:

“Do you pledge on your honour to perform the duties of your respective offices as required by the Constitution of the Union and to bear true and faithful allegiance to Unifor?

Do you pledge to promote a harassment and discrimination-free environment and work to ensure the human rights of all members are respected?

Do you pledge to support, advance and carry out all official policies of the Union and to work tirelessly to advance and build the membership of our Union?

Do you pledge to deliver all books, papers, and other property of the Union that may be in your possession at the end of your term to your successor in office, and at all times conduct yourself as becomes a member of this Union?”

Officers respond: “I do.”

The Installing Officer then says: “Your responsibilities are defined in the By-Laws, Constitution and policies of Unifor. Should any emergency arise not provided for in these, you are expected to act according to the dictates of common sense, guided by an earnest desire to advance the best interest of the Union. I trust you will all faithfully perform your duties so that you may gain the esteem of your brothers and sisters and the approval of your conscience.

“You will now assume your respective offices.”
(Page 76 of Unifor Constitution, 2013)


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