Globalization, Deregulation and Privatization... These were the three words that motivated us to move forward to build a Union for the 21st Century. We needed to build a Union where we as members could come together and share our common interests.
We needed to build a Union that provided us with the flexibility to respond to the opportunities that would emerge as the Canadian economy restructured in response to mobility of Capital. We began the modernization of our Union in 1999 and I am pleased to say that we have built that Union. In 2014 we will be celebrating the 15th Anniversary of the Canadian Union of Skilled Workers. As part of our transition we have made some very dynamic changes to the way that we organize the relationship between the members and the organization we call the union.
With the new Constitution firmly in place and supported by the membership, we began the shift from a top-down service provider type of union to an organization that responds to the needs of the members and their families.
The thought that the President is the “boss” or authority figure within CUSW needed to be pushed out of the way so that the members could move forward and create the reality that has become CUSW.
I am pleased to report that we have made great progress in this direction. Communication has shifted from a central voice (the union office) to a choir of voices flowing from every part of the organization.
Messaging now flows in all directions within the organization. We can see and feel real life in the circle we designed (above) to display how we function as an organization. It has truly come alive.
The interplay between the members and the structures that we created to govern our activities is becoming more and more a seamless flow of ideas amongst thought leaders. Members who take on roles such as steward, health and safety representative or Unit Executive member also participate in policy development through their involvement in the National Committees. Ideas that are generated in one area, as we seek solutions to issues, are implemented elsewhere within CUSW simply because they are really good ideas.
Members have embraced the concept that within CUSW there is no restriction on the creation of ideas. Whenever we ask for members to come forward and contribute through involvement we are overwhelmed with the number and quality of the people who respond.
The NEB Strategy meeting in September identified that we have moved forward far enough in our transition to reignite the concept of the “knowledge worker”. This is a concept that was introduced back in 1999 when we embarked on our journey. A “knowledge worker” is a person that can see and understand the changes that are taking place in the world around us.
As we move forward building the 21st Century Union we need the input and ideas of all of the members of CUSW in determining the path that we will follow. To help provide a window on the social and economic changes that are impacting our lives, the NEB has approved the “Innovation Station” (cusw.ca/web/innovation-station), in addition to www.cuswnexus.ca, and the monthly Broadcast that is produced on the 2nd Tuesday of each month and the “Labour Leadership” support through MCI.
Another part of stimulating participation in the future direction of CUSW will come through a monthly update that will be known simply as “Share some 21st Century Insights with Joe Mulhall”. I will write on developments in society and industry from this vantage point. It will be good to get back to generating both controversy and healthy debate through information.
The 1990’s gave us the I’ll believe it when I see it – “Show me” mentality. But this mental outlook is not helpful in creating a future in the 21st Century. The challenge for us at CUSW is to shift our thought to embrace innovation, creativity and fresh new ideas. Sometimes it is as simple as rearranging some words. The 21st Century will give us the - I will see it when I believe it – “Imagine it” mentality.
– Joe Mulhall