Democracy Is the Key

Democracy is a key trade union principle which plays a pivotal role at the TWU. Being accountable to our members and giving every member a say in the affairs of our Union creates an atmosphere of involvement and solidarity. It is that solidarity that has supported TWU leadership in obtaining some of the best Collective Agreements in Canada. It all starts with member participation. This means more than letting the members vote once every few years, then giving Union leaders the right to make all the decisions. Union democracy is a continuous process of participation, representation and information. Depending on the mechanisms used, this can be a timely and expensive process but one that is essential to the good health of the Union. Great care must be taken in ensuring that our structure meets both the needs of our members while keeping costs in control. Our members expect and deserve good stewardship for their Union dues.


Locals are the building blocks of our structure. Under the terms of the Constitution, Locals are chartered by the Executive Council of the Union and jurisdiction is determined by Convention.

The TWU Constitution provides Locals with a good deal of autonomy. Locals usually meet monthly or every other month to conduct business. It is important that you attend your Local meetings in order to report problems in your workplace, provide feedback to your union on job-related matters and receive updated information from your Union Representatives. Your participation ensures that the Union keeps a pulse on the events that matter to you and your input is vital as your Representatives go forward to address those issues. Once you have sent in your membership application you will receive meeting notices that will tell you when and where your next Local meeting will be. As well, you will receive letters, bulletins and a quarterly newspaper called the "TWU Transmitter" which will keep you up to date on the latest happenings at the TWU as well as the federal and global labour issues that may impact you and your community.

Locals also:

  • Adopt, repeal or amend bylaws and rules to be consistent with the TWU constitution.
  • Hold annual elections for Local Executive positions.
  • Decide on the length for terms of office.
  • Make recommendations to Policy and Bargaining Conventions.
  • Keep their own financial accounts and report any business conducted to head office.
  • Participate in labour education and activities.

The members of each Local elect Executive Committees which represent the membership. Most Local Executive Committees consist of the following positions:

  • President
  • Vice-President
  • Secretary-Treasurer
  • Convention Delegate(s)
  • Counsellor(s)
  • And other Officers as Local Bylaws may specify.

As a member in good standing you are encouraged to exercise both your voice and your vote at Local meetings and to elect those Executive members who you feel will best represent you. All Local officers are subject to an election process regulated by the Union's Constitution. This ensures that accountability is maintained via the democratic process and the TWU takes pride in the fact that Union Officers of every level are elected.

Responsibilities Of Local Executive

Here is a brief description of the responsibilities that are entailed in each Local position:

Local President

  • The Local President chairs all general or specially-called Local meetings.
  • In order for the business of the Local to be conducted in an orderly manner, all discussion and questions are directed through the Chair.
  • The President should remain impartial, helpful and fair.

Local Vice-President

  • Assists the President during the general meetings.
  • Takes the Chair when the President is absent, wishes to speak or when there is a challenge to the Chair.

Local Secretary-Treasurer

  • Assists the Local President.
  • Advises the Union office of meeting dates and proposed agenda items for inclusion on meeting notices to the members no later than fourteen 14 days prior to the meeting date.
  • Handles all correspondence directed to the Local and refers it to the appropriate meeting.
  • Maintains records of membership attendance at Local meetings, as well as a roll call of Officers at each meeting.
  • Is responsible for the preparation and safe custody of the minutes of the proceedings of the Local.
  • Mails copies of the minutes of the Local General Meetings to the Secretary-Treasurer of the Union no later than fourteen 14 days after the Local meeting.
  • Sends copies of any resolutions from the Local that are to be handled by Convention Committees.
  • Processes applications and transfers. Maintains Local membership records.
  • Records members' address changes and refers those to the Union office.
  • Sends in all changes of the Local Executive, showing those to be added or deleted.
  • Retains custody of all books of the Local. The same may be inspected by any members of the Local at reasonable times.
  • Is responsible for the payment of all proper Local expenses, and for all payments authorized by the Local out of the Social Fund. Retains all financial records.
  • Submits the books to the Audit Committee yearly and forwards the Audit Committee's Report to the Union office.
  • Maintains Local Bylaw records.
  • Shall receive a monthly stipend of $95.00.

Local-Convention Delegates

(Each Local shall have a number of Counsellors who shall be those people elected as Convention Delegates. Alternate Convention Delegates will be considered as Alternate Counsellors.)

  • Handles grievances within the Local that cannot be resolved by the first-level Shop Stewards.
  • Assists the Business Agents in the preparation of grievances going to the Industrial Relations level and at arbitration.
  • Represents their Local at Conventions.
  • Works closely with Business Agents on Local issues.

Local-elected Shop Stewards

(may also be Counsellors or Directors)

  • Signs up new members.
  • Handles first-level grievances.
  • Monitors workplace conditions as set out in the Collective Agreement.
  • Acts as an educator to the members and builds Local solidarity by being an advocate of the Local's members and the labour movement.