Saturday, April 30, 2005

Union members choose CMAW

Union members choose CMAW
Support for Canadian Union Increases to 97%

BC Carpenters Union President Len Embree says Labour Board vote returns released this week show support for the union's Canadian Autonomy movement is increasing.

"Right now membership endorsement is 97 per cent." says Embree. "This is up from the 83 per cent support shown when our members voted to move their union from American to Canadian control in 2003."

"The BC membership has been striving for Canadian autonomy for decades," says Construction Maintenance and Allied Workers President Brian Zdrilic. "The latest votes clearly demonstrate the wishes of the members to transfer their bargaining rights to CMAW."

Zdrilic says he always believed the vote would be favourable. "However, we are ecstatic at the results. This clearly shows the ground swell for Canadian autonomy is membership driven. Members do not want to be controlled from Washington, DC," says Zdrilic who also represents Millwrights Local Union 2736.

Since last summer the BC Carpenters Union has been asking its members working for over 149 employers across BC to switch to the new CMAW union which is a joint bargaining council in partnership with the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada. The applications are being opposed by some employers and the US head office in Washington, DC, as well as some other Building Trades unions.

"Canadian workers want control over their own union affairs," says Dave Coles, Vice President of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union and partner with the BC Carpenters in CMAW. "This is no surprise to us; CEP was created by merging unions who had all left their international masters. These workers are simply continuing the struggle for independence."

The BC Union has been involved in a long struggle for autonomy from its US based parent organization, the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, also referred to as the "International." The cross-border dispute has intensified over the past decade as the International has increasingly interfered with Canadian members' rights to elect their own officers and make autonomous policy decisions in the interests of Canadian workers.

The votes being counted so far are those of industrial shops, school board employees and All-Employee construction certifications only. The Labour Board has yet to order a count of the ballots cast by any of the craft certified members pending the outcome of a hearing which is expected sometime this summer.

The Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union represents 162,000 members working from coast to coast, including 12,000 in British Columbia.