This Discussion Paper is intended to provide you with some background information and present some of the issues. The Task Force members have not presumed that they are raising all of the possible issues around Convention Delegate Entitlement. Rather they are depending on input from across the country to ensure that all of the issues are canvassed.
Once the results have been compiled, recommendations will be made to the National Executive Board.
Entitlement to attend CUPE National Convention has remained virtually unchanged since CUPE was formed forty years ago. At that time, the structures within CUPE were fairly consistent; that is, each local union was made up of one bargaining unit with one employer. A locals delegates came from (and represented) a specific bargaining unit.
Over time, we have seen many changes that have created anomalies to the “formula” of one Local = one bargaining unit = one employer.
Labour legislation makes it difficult to form unions. To counter this, many locals bring new groups of members into their local as a “sub-local”. This makes organizing easier and gives small groups of workers a sense of belonging and financial clout to increase their bargaining power.
This results in what is often termed a “composite” local. This is one local, which holds more than one bargaining unit certificate with multiple employers. The bargaining structure in composite locals varies from province to province.
For example, Local 1158 in Alberta holds certificates with nine separate employers. Composite locals pay per capita on the total membership, which in Local 1158s case entitles them to four delegates to National Convention. If each of their certificates were a different local, the “collective” would be entitled to eleven delegates.
We expect the trend to organize into sub-locals will continue because of the needs of small groups.
This is a fairly new challenge, which has come about because of employer restructuring.
Local 4400 is a good example because it merged a large number of locals into one, and it poses a variety of challenges.
When one school board was created to cover the new City of Toronto, 18 bargaining units were merged into one. The relatively small school board locals that had existed already faced a representation challenge because their members worked in sites (schools) dispersed across a smaller City. This challenge was magnified 18 times for the new local which now has its members spread across a Mega City. In addition, some of the previous locals were occupation-specific (instructors, maintenance, transport, clerical, cafeteria, educational assistants). They now all bargain together.
There have been similar forced mergers in almost every other province.
Attached is a chart that shows the changes in Convention Delegate Entitlement for recent mergers. In almost all cases, there is an overall decrease in entitlement.
Despite the public sector restructuring which has resulted in an increased number of mega locals, small employers are much more common that larger ones. And workers in those small workplaces are unionizing. This has resulted in CUPE locals that are very small.
- 9% (202) of CUPE locals have ten or fewer members
- 14.7% (316) have 11-25
- 17.7% (380) have 26-50
There are likely a number of sub-locals with fewer than 50 members but because they are reported under a composite local, they are not included in these percentages.
Although delegate entitlement may not be an issue for small locals, the ability of small locals to attend National Convention remains an issue for our Union.
These are locals that represent members who are employed by the same employer but work across their respective province.
- Local 873 Ambulance Paramedics of BC (2500 members)
- Local 3911 Athabasca University (Alberta) (200 members)
- Local 1500 Hydro-Qub0065c (Qub0065c) (5600 members)
- Local 1750 Workplace Safety Insurance Board of Ontario (3200 members)
- Local 2329 Newfoundland Provincial Public Library Board (195 members)
The question for provincial locals is whether or not there are delegate entitlement issues related to geography.
Other Representation Entitlements
In addition to, and separate from, delegate entitlements of Locals, the following additional entities are entitled to one delegate each:
- Provincial Divisions
- District Councils
- Service Divisions
- Provincial Councils of Unions
- Councils of Unions
- Each national equity-seeking committee
Their structures are defined in Article 4 of the Constitution, and can be summarized as follows:
a. Provincial Divisions
- one per province
- at least 10 Locals must belong
- each province currently has a Provincial Division
b. District Councils
- within a province, and by region
- at least 5 chartered Locals must belong
- currently have 30 District Councils across Canada
c. Service Divisions
- jurisdiction is determined by the NEB
- all locals in the jurisdiction belong to the Service Division
- currently have two: Airline Division and Hospital Employees Union
d. Provincial Council of Unions
- intended to provide a structure for the sole purpose of certification and collective bargaining where provincial labour legislation makes it possible and advisable
- currently we have no provincial councils of unions
e. Councils of Unions
- NEB establishes and sets the jurisdiction for the purpose of collective bargaining
- Locals have the option to join
- currently we have 18 Councils of Unions
f. Equity-seeking Committees
- National Pink Triangle Committee
- National Rainbow Committee
- National Womens Committee
Again, Locals who are affiliated to any of the above structures receive their delegate entitlement separately.