Election Process in Unions

Unions are democratic organizations, which means the direction of the unions is in the hands of the members. They elect their executive on a national, provincial and local level to receive an adequate representation. 
Since every union operates slightly different, the election processes also vary in each union. The following shall be an example of an election process in a national union. 

Executive Elections

The most essential executive body is the executive committee. It is nomrally comprised of a president, vice-president, treasurer and secretary but can include more positions. A typical term for these officers is two – three years.

Executive committees are established and elected on all levels of the union. The national executive is the governing body. It is often made up of an executive committee and one elected member (or the president) from each province or region.  The provincial executive has an executive committee as well and sometimes includes elected members from each local.

Larger locals can be divided into chapters because they represent their members at different job sites. Each local and chapter elects their executive.

Election process

Generally, voting on provincial and local level is done at polling places, postal vote or vote by machine. There may be variations of these voting procedures, which could also include online voting.

Voting for the national executive takes place at the AGM. In most cases, voting is conducted via secret ballot and majority vote. The larger the union the more likely it is to have delegates at the AGM who vote on behalf of the members. 

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Larger unions are geographically divided. These regions or provinces consist of locals and their bargaining units. If a union has many members, they elect or appoint delegates which are sent to regular conventions / AGMs. Local presidents can also be delegates for special conventions.

The number of delegates depends on the active membership numbers. For example, each local is entitled to send one delegate for every 100 members to the AGM. 

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Other Union Elections

Union members can elect more than just their executive. A significant link between the union and a bargaining unit are the union stewards (also called shop stewards). They are elected from their fellow employees whose interests they represent and defend. Additionally, members can elect their health and safety representative.

Since most locals are somehow grouped geographically, members elect area and district representatives at the AGM. They can also be part of the national or provincial executive board. Depending on the membership, there can be at least two representatives for each district.

If the union is operating on an international level, members or rather delegates can elect international officers. 

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