Canadian Office and Professional Employees’
Union / Syndicat Canadien des employees & employes
professionels et de bureau
2nd Fl., 4595 Canada Way, Burnaby, B.C. V5G 4L9 / #250 – 1200 Papineau Ave., Montreal, QC H2K 4S6
Phone: (604) 299-0378 Fax: (604) 299-8211 Website: www.opeiu.ca / Phone: 514-522-6511 Fax: 514-522-9000 Website: www.sepb.qc.ca
News Release Sunday, June 20, 2004
New 33,000 member independent Canadian union created through decision of Canadian OPEIU members to separate from U.S. International union
Canadian Office and Professional Employees’ Union gains support of 74% of members for Canadian autonomy in just one month
Bal Harbour, Florida – A new 33,000 member
independent Canadian union – the Canadian Office and
Professional Employees’ Union – was created today when the Canadian National Committee of the
Office & Professional Employees’ International Union (OPEIU)’s unanimously voted to separate from
the U.S.-based union and declare Canadian autonomy.
The new union will use the acronym COPE, says Jerri New, who
becomes the union’s national
president and continues as president of BC-based COPE Local 378, formerly OPEIU 378. The
Canadian National Committee made the decision during the International union’s convention in Florida,
New said that the Canadian National Committee declared autonomy
using a provision of the
International’s constitution that allows Canadian members to decide to separate.
“We have had overwhelming support from Canadian members since this
campaign began one month
ago,” New said. “More than 74% of our members in Canada have signed autonomy authorization
forms and today we have made the historic decision to form a national union.”
“Our members have democratically decided that it is time for
Canadians to control our own union, in our
own country,” New said. “Despite regrettable attempts by the International union’s executive to stop us
from exercising our right under the constitution to become autonomous, we have succeeded with the
strong support of our members.”
New said COPE, which has members across the country, will continue
to be affiliated with the
Canadian Labour Congress and provincial federations of labour. She said there will not be any
changes in ongoing contractual relations with employers or in members’ dues. A first convention of the
new union will be held in Canada this fall.
“All existing collective agreements between employers and OPEIU
locals will continue as before and
union members’ dues will remain the same,” New said. “This is only a change in union name and
structure.” In Quebec the union will be known as Syndicat Canadien des employees & employes
professionels et de bureau and by the acronymn SEPB.
Serge Cadieux, the current director of SEPB-Quebec who was
acclaimed national COPE Secretary-
Treasurer, said: “The new union has taken the necessary steps to make sure that in any labour
dispute, all COPE members will get the same benefits as before.”
“Furthermore, the creation of this new union means the over $3
million formerly paid to the OPEIU in
the United States will stay in Canada, for Canadian members,” Cadieux added.
COPE Local 378, formerly OPEIU Local 378, represents about 11,000
members in British Columbia,
including workers at ICBC, BC Hydro, Terasen, Accenture, Hastings Racecourse, TransLink and other
employers. Employers elsewhere in Canada include the Mouvement Desjardins, Laurentian Bank of
Canada and Gaz Metropolitain in Quebec; Saskatchewan’s SGI Insurance; in Ontario: Ticketmaster,
the Ombudsman, the Community Care Access Centre; and credit unions, trade union offices and other
public and private sector employers across Canada.
For More information visit our website at www.opeiu.ca and click on
to the Canadian Flag located on
our home page.