Buzz Hargrove Announces Retirement, NEB Endorses Ken Lewenza
July 8, 2008
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July 8, 2008
After 16 years of leading Canada's largest private sector union, Buzz Hargrove announced his retirement date at a press conference in Toronto July 8th, following a lengthy meeting with the CAW National Executive Board caucus and union staff.
"I have told the board that I am retiring and I will retire within the 30 day period if we can get a convention on. If not then by mid-September we'd better get a convention on because I will be retiring. At that special convention, when we call it and get the date and the logistics worked out the next president of the union will be decided."
Hargrove also announced the NEB's decision to unanimously endorse Ken Lewenza, president of CAW Local 444, chair of the Chrysler Master Bargaining Committee and president of the CAW Council, to be his successor.
"I'm proud to announce today that Ken Lewenza is the candidate of the CAW National Executive Board Caucus, supported by the staff of the union and we will be going into a convention and a national caucus that includes all elected delegates of the last constitution convention will be there, eligible to be delegates and eligible to vote on it.
Whoever gets elected is elected by secret ballot and will take over leading the union immediately following the decision of the delegates to that convention."
Hargrove explained why he decided to retire more than six months before his mandatory retirement date.
"I was concerned if we had a long campaign it would do exactly that and it would divide people and put in place divisions that would take years to heal. You know how politics work. People line up in camps. Look at political parties and look at the division and how long it takes sometimes to heal. I wanted to avoid that because we're not a political party. We are a union and our main objective, our main concentration, our main work and energy has to be improving the lot of our members, their families and underprivileged Canadians."
Fifty -three year old Lewenza has spent 36 years in the CAW in numerous local positions. In accepting the endorsement Lewenza praised Hargrove's leadership and said he had mixed feelings.
CAW Local 444 President
It is an opportunity for us to look at the incredible challenges that we have in the many sectors that we represent. It is an opportunity for us to engage each other on those particular issues, always, always taking in mind what is in the best interests of our members. This is not about Ken Lewenza. It's not about one of two people in this democratic process that we have. It's about bringing our union together as one, speaking as one for the best interests of our members. So today Buzz I thank you publically for your contribution to our union, for your mentoring, for your leadership and the CAW is one hell of an institution. It's one hell of a union and what makes our union different is the people that are in it."
Hargrove also announced the endorsement of Peter Kennedy as the NEB candidate to run for CAW Secretary-Treasurer next August at the 2009 Constitutional Convention, when incumbent Jim O'Neil retires.
Carol Phillips has announced that she would also be seeking election for the position. Hemi Mitic and Tom Collins, candidates for Hargrove's job have withdrawn from the race and thrown their support behind the candidacy of Ken Lewenza.
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