Clergy and other faith workers of the United Church of Canada and their families marked the official launch of their new union today in Toronto. The group held the inaugural meeting of the Unifor Unifaith Community Chapter that will aim to unite and mobilize members across the country.
Today, members attended the meeting in person or via electronic means. The meeting welcomed new members, adopted a set of founding bylaws and conducted the first election of the community chapter. Former CAW president Buzz Hargrove, Unifor representatives and other well-wishers attended the meeting.
“We have spent many years interacting with hundreds of people in paid accountable service to the church and we believe in the need to organize to provide support and representation to our members,” says Rev. Jim Evans, Unifaith’s interim president. “Now we’ve got a formal body of solidarity, and we can continue to build it.”
“This has been a fascinating and necessary journey for our members, starting with our nine years organizing as Clergy United with the CAW, and now with our transition to Unifaith following the formation of Unifor,” says Evans. “We attended the historic convention on Labour Day weekend and are proud to stand side by side the 300,000 sisters and brothers at Unifor, Canada’s largest union in the private sector.”
Since 2004, Evans and volunteers from the United Church have been educating colleagues and laity in self-care and social unionism; communicating with church people across the country; researching concerns regarding benefits, pensions, church closures and other issues; providing pastoral care and advocacy to clergy and families burdened by the church’s admittedly serious problems of isolation and bullying within its organization; and getting union cards signed by supporters.
Evans observes, “The origins of the United Church are closely linked to the Social Gospel movement of the early 20th century. The church has always presented itself as an advocate for social justice and an encourager of social unionism; its official pro-union statements include upholding the right of its own workers to form a union. By forming Unifaith, our leadership and members are respectfully acting in accordance with the United Church’s wisdom, going forward firmly in solidarity.”
More information on the Unifor Unifaith Community Chapter is available at www.unifaith.ca.