About this site
This site is an archive of all the content; news posts, articles, and discussions, created by MFD contributors between the years 2000 and 2006.
The archive contains approximately 5845 items broken down into 15 categories: news, topic, weekly, Trough, CCWIPP, Backroom Chronicles, CUPE, HJ Finnamore, General, Opinion, Swiss Chalet, Teamsters, toolkit, United Association. You can browse the archive by visiting the browse page and optionally setting the browsing criteria which includes the categories listed above and also provides an option to browse by author.
Alternatively, we've also included a Google Site Search utility, found at the top of every page, so you may search the entire archive for whatever keywords you choose.
The front page of the archive contains 4 sets of dynamically updating lists and one set of MFD's favorite content items. Each dynamic list contains the 10 most popular items from their respective categories as measured in page hits.
Although we've done our best to ensure the integrity of the archives content, you may find some broken links scattered throughout.
Members for Democracy (MFD) was founded in 1997 when a small group of United Food & Commerical Workers Union (UFCW), Local 1518, members in British Columbia decided that it was time to challenge the ineffective leadership of their Local.
In late 1999, MFD ran an effective reform slate in Local 1518's executive election but ultimately lost under suspicious circumstances. Alleging ballot tampering, MFD challenged the election results. In response to the challenge, the UFCW seized the ballot box and removed it to Ontario. Thus would begin the first of two courtroom dramas between MFD and the UFCW.
The MFD website was launched in the spring of 2000 and almost immediately drew in a small but diverse, outspoken, and, for the most part, intelligent audience. The common denominator seemed to be democratic unionism, or rather the lack thereof in the predominately business oriented labour movement of the time.
The MFD message was simple:
Fully democratic unions are essential to improving the lives of working people today and in the future.. To that end, MFD sought to engage and empower working people by providing news & information, an outlet for discussion & debate, and, most importantly, support for those who would step up to challenge the status quo.
Despite the big ideas and bold intentions, the following year, 2001, was almost the end of MFD. That Summer, lacking the funds to continue the court battle with the UFCW over the 1999 election results, MFD was forced to drop the lawsuit. That same Summer, one of MFD's founding members left the fledging reform group amidst horrifying and tragic personal circumstances.
MFD was but one click away from disappearing forever. In fact, MFD did disappear, but only for a few minutes.
Amidst the subsequent flurry of e-mail and telephone calls, the groundwork was soon laid for a new MFD. Promising a broader scope for a more expansive community, MFD took on the mantra of engagement:
engage others and engage the future was the war cry. And engaging others was exactly what MFD did.
In February of 2002, almost two years after the MFD website was launched, the UFCW tried to cancel their
engagement by slapping MFD with a lawsuit alleging defamation and seeking a declaration that MFD's use of the UFCW's name constituted "passing off". The suit also sought an injunction that would have restrained MFD from ever using the UFCW's name or acronym without the UFCW's approval and consent.
It was a bold but ultimately foolish move by the UFCW as MFD wasn't going offline without a fight.
Over the following four years, in between bouts of legal paper-pushing with the UFCW, MFD continued to engage their audience and their opponents. No one was safe. Frequent targets included unions like the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), and misguided leader Andy Stern and his Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Not even Ken Georgetti, the high priest of the Canadian Labour Council (CLC), escaped unscathed. MFD went after them all and, in doing so, MFD grew.
Soon MFD was entertaining members from all kinds and types of unions. Steel Workers, Auto Workers, Pipe Trades, Hospital Employees, Office Workers... the list goes on. MFD also suffered their fair share of labour consultants, greasy lawyers, and union staffers and executives. For the most part, those that fell into the latter group didn't stick around for very long. It can be said, however, that those that did had something in common with the rest of the gang: an interest in democratic unionism and a desire to see that concept put back into practice.
During this same period of time there were a number of interesting developments in and around the labour movement. The world witnessed the Italian General Strike of 2002, the California Grocery Workers Strike in 2003-2004, the first unionized Wal-Mart in Jonquière Quebec in 2004, and who could forget the messy, and altogether impotent, break-up of the AFL-CIO in 2005.
It seemed to MFD that the times, they were a changing and with that in mind, MFD was eager to change too.
In November of 2005, at the conclusion of the 5 year legal dispute with the United Food & Commercial Workers International Union, the Supreme Court of British Columbia issued a decision ordering MFD to stop using the ufcw.net domain name.
In her ruling, the Judge stated:
It is only the bare use of the acronym ufcw in the domain that is objectionable. Should the defendants chose to use ufcw as part its of domain name such as using the domain name like ufcwmembersfordemocracy or ufcwmfd or some other name which incorporates but is not exclusively comprised of the plaintiff's acronym, this may well not amount to a misrepresentation.
It was like music to MFD ears. Now free of the five-hundred pound gorilla and only $100 and a usable domain name poorer, MFD was free to get back to what they do best;
engaging the future.
You can now find a number of the MFD contributors doing their new thing at their new home at uncharted.ca.
MFD would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has contributed or participated in ufcw.net over the years. We sincerely appreciate your patronage and we look forward to more of it at uncharted.ca.