Meetings of CWA Canada's legislative body
will be fewer and farther between starting this year, but
they will offer a bigger bang for the buck.
Delegates to the fall meeting of the National Representative
Council (NRC) agreed to several bylaw amendments, one of
which now requires them to convene annually rather than twice
"A number of (CWA Canada) Locals have lost a lot of
members to layoffs and downsizing, leaving workplaces understaffed
so it's difficult for people to get the time off to attend
council meetings," says Scott Edmonds, a member of the
Bylaws committee and The Newspaper Guild's Canada West vice-president.
Edmonds says the union wanted to offer a lot more at an
annual meeting and do everything possible to make people
want to come. With the addition of educational programs,
seminars and workshops, the NRC sessions will stretch from
two to at least three days.
CWA Canada does offer subsidies to its smaller Locals, enabling
them to send delegates to NRC meetings, which are held in
different cities across the country. The 2010 meeting is
scheduled for April 23-25 in Ottawa.
Rules for departures
The departure of one of CWA Canada's
Locals in December 2008 "brought home the need to have clear guidelines" on
how that should be accomplished "so that the wishes
of members will be respected," says Edmonds.
Although the right to leave was written into the merger
agreement when newspaper guild locals joined the Communications
Workers of America in the 1990s, the mechanics of how to
do that were not spelled out.
Noting that most unions don't have this right in their constitutions,
Edmonds says the bylaw amendments will ensure that it's a
transparent and democratic process that is decided by a secret
"Both national and Local unions have to ensure their
responsibilities to each other have been met and that members
get a fair hearing. The process cannot tip the balance in
either direction," he says.
Rules for discipline
Another significant amendment to the bylaws was introduction
of specific instructions for dealing with any member or officer
who is accused of violating union rules.
Edmonds says there had previously only
been a mention to contact the national office if there was
a problem. Now, the bylaws will contain a condensed version
of the due process as set out in the CWA
"We needed to have procedures in place for how members
and officers could be held to account if they brought the
Local into disrepute," says Edmonds.
A copy of the amended bylaws will soon be posted on the
CWA|SCA Canada website.