1st CAW National Youth Conference

Port Elgin, Ontario

May 5, 2000

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1st CAW National Youth Conference
1st CAW National Youth Conference
dated May 5, 2000

1st CAW National Youth Conference
Port Elgin, Ontario, May 5, 2000
      The youth of the Canadian Auto Workers union want to learn, be involved, be active and be listened to. That was the general feeling of over 200 delegates attending the first national CAW Youth Conference held at the CAW Family Education Centre in Port Elgin Ontario.
      At the opening plenary session Peggy Nash, Assistant to the national president, challenged youth to find ways to get involved in building the union.

Peggy Nash
Assistant to CAW National President

      "I'd like to encourage you to think about ways that you'd like to address issues that you are concerned about, and use the union to do that. I'd like you to think about ways in which you'd like to see the union change, or accommodate more activism from young people in our union.
      This conference is about reshaping workers struggles with new meaning and new activism."

      The delegates exchanged experiences and opinions, and developed new ideas.
      Several panel discussions with youth activists, along with a speech from Naomi Klein, author of "No Logo, Taking Aim At The Brand Bully" and a play "The Spirit of Harriet Tubman" provided inspiration and information.
      National President Buzz Hargrove joined the delegates in a "Bear Pit" session where he fielded a great many questions.

Buzz Hargrove
CAW National President

      "Again I want to repeat, the worst thing in the world would be to have a group of people leaving here, saying this was all about trying to propagandize us, and get us working in the union. That's not what this is about. This is simply about saying to a lot of young people - that the union is a vehicle. It's available, it's open, it's friendly, and it's safe, if you want to be an activist. If you want to participate in any level, whether that's just being a union supporter in the workplace, or being a local union activist, leader, staff member, or national president. The union is a vehicle. It's your vehicle."

      After three days of discussion, a number of key issues were identified. First and foremost was the need for the youth in the CAW to be educated about the union, to get involved in the union and its social activism, and to get the older union members to pay attention to the youth and work with them.
      The delegates also urged the union to make a "Youth Committee", a standing committee in every local. They also want a mentoring program at the local level to be implemented to prepare youth for their eventual takeover of the union from the older generation.

CAW "Fighting Back Makes a Difference."

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