UE General President Carl Rosen was a guest at the 4th Constitutional Convention of UE’s Canadian sister union Unifor, which was held from August 8-12. Rosen joined 1,800 Unifor members as they debated and voted on priorities for their union and elected a new national president. Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of that country’s economy.
“Friends, we are in a moment, a moment of renewed worker militancy, and we must seize this moment,” said Unifor’s National Secretary-Treasurer Lana Payne in her opening remarks. “The power of a union isn’t measured by any one thing, or any one person, but in the sum total of its actions, our collective actions – at the bargaining table, in union halls, in our communities, and, yes, in the streets.”
Payne also blasted the Bank of Canada’s decision to raise interest rates “at a speed we haven’t seen in decades” as a “heavy-handed” means of dealing with inflation. “Slowing inflation by throwing workers into unemployment, even before workers’ wages are able to catch up with rising costs, is despicable,” she declared.
During the convention, Unifor publicly unveiled what Rosen called “a serious piece of work for building up electric vehicle production in Canada.” The report includes specific recommendations for how Canada can manage the transition to a green economy while creating high-quality, union jobs in the auto industry. (Unifor was formed from a merger of the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada in 2013.)
The convention also adopted a three-year “action plan” to build worker power across Canada, heard from Amazon Labor Union leader Derrick Palmer, and pressed Canada’s Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan on the importance of passing national anti-scab legislation.
Payne, the first woman to hold the position of National Secretary-Treasurer, was elected as National President, a post she will also be the first woman to hold, in a contested election. “We can have a fighting transparent democratic union,” said Payne. “We can build this union stronger, and we will, all of us together.”