President’s Message


Dear Fellow CAWS Member:

                         I’d like to take this opportunity to share with my fellow members some information about CAWS.  As a member of a CAWS sanctioned market across Canada you are entitled to benefits of membership.   

                         CAWS has a long and distinguished history. At a joint meeting of 16 garment salesmen from Ontario and Quebec on May 15th 1953 at the LaSalle Hotel in Kingston Ontario a national organization came into being for the purpose of addressing problems common to all Canadian garment travelers and unifying regional markets on a national basis.

                         As CAWS looks forward to its 60th anniversary next year, the affiliate markets that make up the CAWS Board continue to be entrusted and challenged with the task of maintaining their national organization and its valued services to their members.

                         The CAWS office routinely responds to the usual member and industry requests for forms, contracts, sales rep wanted ads, CAWS Planners, grievance and contract issues. We currently have a slightly higher number of cases open than the normal 25 to 30.

                        New members are welcomed to the Association and offered an electronic or print version of the Membership Booklet that contains all the information necessary to educate them to their responsibilities and the benefits of membership. All members are also entitled to free unlimited consultations regarding their industry issues and contracts.

                        Noteworthy is the sales rep wanted service that allows manufacturers to email broadcast their advertisement for a sales agent to the entire membership across Canada, along with a posting on the CAWS website. When the manufacturer signs up for ad, they agree to enter into a CAWS contract and are made aware that CAWS members cannot accept representation of a line until is has been cleared with the previous sales rep.   

                        The CAWS Market Planner and CAWS website inform the industry about the association and its affiliated markets. If you have suggestions on how CAWS can improve its website please forward them to the CAWS office for the Board to review at the next meeting. The next Annual General meeting will be held June 1, 2012 in Toronto. Many retailers and manufacturers rely on the CAWS Market Planner as well as the website for market dates. Included in the cost of an ad on the CAWS Market Planner is a posting of the ad on the website.

                         The Board initiative to allow members an opportunity to discuss their grievances, industry issues and contracts during market seems to be popular with the members as evidenced by the increasing number of consultation requests each market. At the last Trends market over 43 members sought assistance and 11 new members were welcomed with a brief overview of the CAWS benefits they are entitled to as a Trends member. At the Thredz show 38 members were counseled and 9 new members welcomed and introduced to the benefits.

                        CAWS dues pay the premiums for the accidental disability plan that provides temporary income to members who have been hurt in an accident. Further details about the program can be obtained through CAW website or office.

                         The grievance/mediation program introduced over 20 years ago provides every member of the affiliated markets with a unique alternative to expensive litigation, in order to address their issues with manufacturers and fellow members. Members can seek advice and assistance regarding commissions, terminations, samples, contracts and clearing lines. The grievance process is initiated by a telephone inquiry or the filing of the grievance form with the CAWS office, followed by a telephone consultation with the member to discuss and formulate a plan of action. If the grievance involves failure to pay commission, no notice of termination or samples then the member is offered the opportunity to have CAWS invite the manufacturer to voluntarily mediate at no charge.

                         The success of mediation program is best measured by the thousands of line that have been cleared through successful mediation since the program’s inception.  

                         Grievances filed by members against other members usually involve failing to clear the line. The Clear a Line rule at section 18.08 of the CAWS bylaws obligates members who are being offered a line to call the current rep to confirm the manufacturer has fulfilled all its obligations to the current rep.

                         Members can also have unlimited consultations for advice on industry customs; on their rights under an existing written or oral contract; on the terms and conditions of an industry contract they’ve been asked to sign; on contract negotiations and on how to negotiate with their manufacturers. The trend toward written agreements in the industry is increasing the number of members requesting free advice on their contracts. 

                       In conclusion, as a group of proud professionals, CAWS members represent a collective of the most prestigious apparel markets across Canada, banding together to create a national voice of almost 60 years is something to be very proud of.

                     On behalf of the CAWS Board

                 Jody Longman, President
Caanadian Association of Wholesale Sales Representatives