Sunday, 26 October 2008

Convention Report Day 1

Bonjour. Greetings from Montreal. My apologies for not updating the blog last night but internet access at the hotel I'm in is $10 extra for 24 hours so I didn't think I needed to report that I had arrived safely and with no hitches. By posting a bit later tonight then I can also post tomorrow night within the 24 hours and then I'm good for another day.

Anyway, on to the report. The first day of the Convention got underway this morning with the usual intros, welcomes and President's address. President Dave Coles gave a generalized report on what has happened over the last two years. It definitely has been a difficult couple of years in forestry and manufacturing. Later on in the day in the report from the Officer's committee we heard that we had lost 12,000 members in the last two years. This was offset with the addition of 10,000 new members via the amalgamation with the Canadian Telecommunications Employees' Association (CTEA). However, the union is currently debt free and the Defence fund is very healthy. While the president spoke of the pressures on locals and the needs to stay strong and not enter into concessionary bargaining he did say, (and I believe I have this quote right) "of course, we will negotiate special deals to save jobs, and we have."

The Constitutional Committee then dealt with a couple of resolutions that had to be addressed prior to nominations and this took some time because people want to have their say, and they did and they have that right.

Following a lunch break, we heard that there were currently some 1200 in attendance. This includes delegates, alternates, guests, reps, etc.

As I mentioned before, we then heard from the Officers' Report Committee. This committee met in September to review the reports to the Convention and prepare the report for delegates on the state of our union. I suppose this is kind of like an audit and the committee had several recommendations on how things could be improved. I would say of primary interest to all who pay dues to the National is that the financial goals of the last two years have been attained. This includes the elimination of the General Fund debt and the building of the CEP Defence Fund to its strongest position ever. Membership strength remains stable at about 133,000 members due to the aforementioned addition of CTEA that offsets the losses in forestry and manufacturing. There is an impact financially and CEP revenues did not meet budgeted targets for 2007-2008. However, all union accounts are in surplus at this time. The committee report was fairly positive on a number of issues.

We then began the process of nominations and former National President (and one time National rep for our local) Brian Payne took over the chair for the purpose of nominations of National Officers. All three positions were back in by acclamation with Dave Coles as President, Gaetan Menard as Secretary-Treasurer and Peter Murdoch as Media Vice President. Then it was time to break into groups for Regional nominations. For the Western Region, Jim Britton was acclaimed as Vice President. Wendy Sol and Don Boucher were both acclaimed as Administrative Vice Presidents. Two sisters were acclaimed for the Women's Committee. I will have their names later when I know I have the spelling correct. Nominated for Rank and File members on the Executive (four to be elected of whom at least one has to be a woman) are Mark Cameron, Terry Schneider, Donna Fauchoux, Angela Adams and Brent Reid. Finally, nominated for Rank and File alternates were Janet Ingram-Jones, Amanda Freystad and Ian Simpson (I'm not sure about the spellings, except for Ian's). The unsuccessful nominee for Rank and File will have the chance to be nominated for alternate.

On the agenda for tomorrow are a couple more reports, an address by Riccardo Petrella and more work on resolutions.

My apologies for the length of my report but I do want to give you some of the information we are receiving. As it is I have greatly condensed the day. I was fortunate to sit at the table with the delegates from Local 76, Powell River and Local 1132, Crofton. I have been asked a number of times by Caucus members how things are going and I tell them it's fabulous! Actually, I try and relate some of the problems with gate hires and some of the other things we are experiencing, but I try and impress on them the fact that, though many of us did not agree with what happened, most of us realize (or at least I do) that we might not be running at all if we hadn't done something. Most I talk with understand, although they don't like what we did and how we did it. All know how difficult Catalyst is to deal with these days.

Here's the link to CEP's Convention report page although none of the report links seem to work yet.

That's it for now. The baseball game is about to start. I'll have more tomorrow.

In solidarity,


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