UniforCase Study

A Union, for Everyone

Overview

Unifor is the result of an ambitious merger between the Canadian Auto Workers union (CAW) and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP).

As Canada’s largest private sector union with more than 310,000 members in every major sector of the economy, Unifor is committed to creating a strong and effective union – making positive change in communities and workplaces across the country.

We worked with Unifor to build a rich, interactive national digital presence that engages the membership and positions Unifor to meet the communication demands of a modern society. From the ground up, we helped Unifor build a brand new web platform to address the needs of over 310,000 members of what is now Canada’s largest private sector union.

As Unifor continues to grow and scale, we continue to support them and their many initiatives through the refinement of their digital ecosystem and the development of new tools to keep them deeply connected.

Unifor logo

Initiatives

  • National Website
  • Quebec Website
  • Union Locals Site Factory
  • Therefore Care Support
  • Digital Strategy

Results

  • 310,000+ members
  • 29% increased visits from previous year
  • 205K unique visitors
  • 32% traffic driven by mobile and tablet

The biggest union in Canada didn't just need a website, they needed a communication platform.

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Transform the way a union communicates between locals

Fluid communication between union locals and the national union requires streamlined communication channels to avoid delays and knowledge gaps. As the union continues its digital transformation process, content workflow automation has established stronger and more direct lines of communication between union factions.

map of Canada

Build multi-tier communication platforms for members

We designed and developed a multi-site architecture to properly represent and support the communication efforts of the national, quebec and 700+ local unions. A common code base and content architecture allows for cross-site communications and a familiar interface across all sites.

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Empowered activism through modern web technologies

Bringing about political and social change requires communication across multiple channels. We design and build platforms that integrate with modern web communication systems such as social media, sms and content syndication. Analytics are used to track goals and objectives.

Empowered activism through modern communication tools

Think nationally, act locally

Unifor consists of many small local chapters. While the National and Quebec offices focus on activities that affect the union as a whole, local chapters also wanted tools so they could better communicate with members. We developed an easy-to-use microsite platform that allows local chapters to get up and running without having to know anything about building a website.

The big challenge was delivering six design options and back-end authoring tools that supported both English and French. Plus a setup "wizard" to make it very simple for non-technical users to create a beautiful and branded web presence.

Unions don't discriminate, so their website can't either

Through structured brainstorming sessions with Therefore, Unifor realized that an effective digital communication platform must work across every device and screen size. Equally important, it needed to be fully accessible to members with disabilities.

Our mandate was clear: we needed to leverage responsive web design to ensure the site worked on everything from smartphones all the way up to desktop PCs. Plus we had to meet the W3C's WCAG 2.0 Level AA guidelines for web accessibility.

Connecting labour from coast to coast

Union membership spans every province and territory, but Unifor needed a single platform to service current and prospective members in both national languages. Union leadership also needed a set of tools to get their message out and keep members updated on initiatives and activities.

The result is Unifor.org, a website infrastructure that serves as a:

  • Member and chapter recruitment tool
  • Primary source for Unifor news and press releases
  • Educational program hub
  • Listing for activist tools and resources
  • Directory of local union chapters
  • Blogging platform
  • Campaign promotion tool
  • Content aggregation and syndication tool

Digital Ecosystem

Unifor has over 700 locals nationwide, with more on the way. We developed a system that scales and flexes to meet growth and change.

A Dynamic Publishing Platform

This platform gives Unifor the ability to publish and receive content to and from all of it’s locals, supporting the union as it grows.

A Site Factory Built Using Drupal CMS

Within days, we are able to spin up a new local union website complete with member services, social integration, CMS capabilities and a base from which the local can grow and scale.

Objectives Based Analytics

Analytics is used to gain insight into usage patterns that enable continual refinement and optimization, and measure against established goals and objectives.

Reflections and Outlook

Alex De Winne's picture
Alex De Winne
President / CEO

Creating a new standard for labour unions in Canada

Early in the process it was decided that the legacy constraints of the CEP or CAW digital infrastructures would not be limiters for what Unifor can be. Unifor needed to be a modern union and set the standard for what a labour union can be in Canada. Our main accomplishment working with Unifor was the building of a framework that standardized not only content workflows and the Unifor data model, but also the way in which users interact with the content through the many websites.

Activism Needs Modern Communication Systems

Since working with Unifor, we have worked with a number of other organizations that participate in vigorous campaigning for political and social change using web technologies. It’s important that these organizations use the same communication tools that the people they are trying to reach are using. The message unions are sending is important to both educate people and inform people when there is a need for change. We feel privileged to play our part.

Pushing the needle forward

As Unifor continues to grow and scale, we continue to support them and their many initiatives through the refinement of their digital ecosystem and the development of new tools to keep them deeply connected.

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