UPCs - A New Way Of Doing Politics In The CAW

Port Elgin, Ontario

October 18, 2004


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UPCs - A New Way Of Doing Politics In The CAW
UPCs - A New Way Of Doing Politics In The CAW
dated October 18, 2004

Port Elgin, Ontario
September 17, 2004
       The Canadian Auto Workers union has entered a new era of political activism. Union leaders from across the country, meeting in Port Elgin, Ontario this weekend; unanimously endorsed the creation of a national and 300 local "Union in Politics Committees" or UPCs.
       According the Ken Lewenza, chair of the national UPC, this new structure will determine and carry out the union's political actions, on an "issue-based" rather than a "party-based" approach to politics.

Ken Lewenza
National UPC Chairperson

       "Our members want to talk about issues. They don't want to talk about political parties. At the end of the day the political parties that are closer to our issues will get the support of our members. So let's put the issues front and center. Let's garner the support of our members. Let's win the broader support of our community and then let our members decide what politician reflects those issues."

       CAW national president Buzz Hargrove said the change to "issue-based" politics will dramatically increase the union's political influence regardless of who is in power.

Buzz Hargrove
CAW national president

       "The main reason is to have influence. To be able to say to our members, "we took these issues and we went to whoever was in power, and because of your work, your support, our lobbying and our work, together we were able to effect change."

       Hargrove added the change is not a rejection of the NDP, but rather a change in the CAW's relationship with the party.

Buzz Hargrove
CAW national president

       "This makes the NDP work to attract our support as well, our leadership's and our activists' support. They can't take our support for granted as they have in the past. They will have to respond to the concerns that people are raising. I think it is healthier for the political process and certainly healthier for our union."

       As the new UPCs are formed in each of the 300 CAW locals, Paul Forder, CAW director of mobilization and campaigns, says the first challenge will be to determine what the members on the shop floor consider the key issues and then build campaigns around those issues.

Paul Forder
Dir. Mobilization & Campaigns

       "When you can activate 265,000 members and their leadership you've got a recipe for success and we will be a force to be reckoned with at every level of government, municipal, provincial and federal."

CAW "Fighting Back Makes a Difference."


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