Improving Democracy at the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC)

At the virtual Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) convention June 16-18, the USW is seeking the support of delegates for a constitutional resolution that will improve CLC democracy.

USW Delegates to CLC Convention – Support the Constitutional Resolution to Improve CLC Democracy

In the past, unions brought in busloads of delegates to CLC conventions on voting day, with the intention of stacking an election. This constitutional change would prevent that from happening in the future.

The proposed constitutional resolution focuses on delegate entitlement and will:

  • make elections at convention fairer.
  • mean that votes on resolutions and other policy matters will be more reflective of our organizations.

The Problem

  1. The CLC is a body of affiliates. Individual members can’t join the CLC, nor can locals.
    But for conventions, the CLC goes around the affiliates and gives credentials directly to the locals of those affiliates.
    • join the CLC
    • have representation on the Canadian Council and Executive Committee
    • make appointments to CLC committees
    • are able to participate in Federations of Labour and Labour Councils
    • pay dues

    Accordingly, decisions about CLC procedures and policies and programs are all made by affiliates of the CLC at the various governing bodies

  2. There is no established definition of what a local is. Our unions each have a unique history and range of terms and internal structures. From locals, to lodges, to branches and components. Different unions use the term local to mean different things.
    Without a set, agreed-upon definition, a union can claim any number of “locals,” and there is no fair way to monitor it.

  3. The current constitution says that delegate credentials for a CLC Convention are to be allocated to locals of affiliates. Locals get one delegate for the first 1,000 members and another delegate for every additional 500 members.
    As a result, unions get delegates based on the way they structure themselves internally, not based on how many members they pay dues for.
    The following example shows actual membership and delegate entitlement numbers for a few national affiliates to the CLC (from a CLC Credentials report), and a comparison of how many delegates unions would receive under the proposed resolution. Union names have been removed.

      Members (#s) Current Delegate
    Proposed Resolution's
    Delegate Entitlement
    Union A 20,000 192 39
    Union B  30,900 100 61
    Union C  31,294 77 62
    Union D  36,313 83 72
    Union E  37,519 110 74
    Union F  93,194 265 185
    Union G  94,575 190 188
    Union H  206,303 958 412
    Union I  238,059 478 475

    Under the current rules, a union with a membership of 94,575 is entitled to 190 delegates. Another union with a membership of 20,000 (less than a quarter of the size) is entitled 192.
    This system has at least two serious problems:

    1. There is no way to control the number of delegates a union can claim, because there is no definition of what a local is. With no way to monitor the system, affiliates can claim any number of locals they care to, and bring a large number of delegates onto the floor on election day and essentially buy the elections.
    2. The CLC can’t keep track of the thousands of locals across the country; “locals” that merge, or cease to be, still receive credentials.

The Proposed Solution

The CLC's resolutions committee has produced a composite resolution on the issue and has recommended concurrence. (Resolution re: Article 10 Regular Conventions (Delegate Entitlement)

The USW Urges its Delegates to Support this Composite Resolution at Convention

The resolution proposes a set and agreed-upon system of representation by membership. CLC-affiliated unions would be entitled to delegates to convention based on their size.

All affiliates would get delegates on the same basis: one delegate for the first 1,000 members, and one for every 500 members above that, based on a union’s dues payments over the year preceding the CLC Convention.

How would affiliates assign delegates? That is up to their own democratic structures and processes.  

Please Support the CLC Constitutional Resolution

Please share this page with others who are attending the CLC convention in June. Move motions in your union or labour council urging support for the resolution.

And most of all, debate the issues! As a democratic union, we fundamentally believe that democratic participation must be at the heart of a strong and vibrant labour movement.

Learn more about the CLC Convention, get the convention call and more here.

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416-544-5946 or

Communications Department - Québec
Clairandrée Cauchy

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