Federal Government Knowledge Workers Move Towards the Creation of a New Union

April 30, 2002

The Social Science Employees Association (SSEA) and The Canadian Union of Professional and Technical Employees (CUPTE) have announced the formation of a joint committee to map out the details of a proposed merger. If successful, the new labour union would represent approximately 9,000 professionals, forming one of the largest groups of knowledge workers in the federal public service. SSEA currently represents approximately 8,000 employees in the Economics and Social Science Services Group employed by Treasury Board, as well as the Research Officers and Assistants at the Library of Parliament. CUPTE represents the approximately 1,100 Translators, Interpreters and Terminologists employed by Treasury Board.

"This is an exciting and challenging opportunity to build upon the strengths of each organization to create a new union, better suited to serving its members in a rapidly changing labour relations environment." said SSEA President Bill Krause.

This move comes in response to a variety of changes in federal government labour relations. The increasing popularity of Alternative Service Delivery models, the implementation of UCS, and the potential fall out from the Task Force on Modernizing Human Resources Management, all carry challenges to the continued existence or effectiveness of the smaller professional unions representing employees in the federal government.

It is as a result of similarities between their memberships and of the longstanding collaborative relationship that the leadership of both organizations decided to undertake the process of creating a new and unique organization representing a significant portion of federal government knowledge workers.

Entering into this process, the two unions have agreed on the fundamental principles which will guide them - principles that are already common to both unions;

* to provide an enhanced profile and increased visibility for a union of knowledge workers;

* to respect the autonomy of individual groups with regards to collective bargaining;

* to maintain a high level of services to which members of both organizations are accustomed, in a financially efficient manner;

* to respect democratic principles;

* to provide a fully bilingual union, both in services provided to members and in its major bodies;

* to speak with one voice while recognizing the specific character of each individual group.

Executives from both unions will jointly assess the political and financial feasibility of such a merger, before providing their respective memberships with as detailed a proposal as possible. Such a proposal will be submitted separately by CUPTE and SSEA to their respective members in separate ballots. A majority in both organizations will be necessary to make the merger a reality.

According to CUPTE's TR Group President Luc Pomerleau, "Such a partnership of knowledge workers will not only enhance resources and services available to members but will also result in the pooling of a unique sum of organizational experiences reflecting the specific nature of intellectual workers, the category which is expected to form the cornerstone of the future public service."