CAW, CEP pitch merger of 2 unions

The CAW and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union are set to release a final merger proposal today in Toronto.

Union would create largest private-sector union in Canada's history

CAW national president Ken Lewenza began merger talks with the CEP eight months ago. (CAW)

Two of Canada's biggest unions about to take the next step toward a possible merger.

The CAW and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union (CEP) are set to release a final merger proposal Wednesday. It will be the blueprint that could form the foundation of the largest industrial union ever in Canada.  

Officials at both unions were on hand at an event at Ryerson University in Toronto to pitch the idea of joining forces.

"We want to make it so that any worker in Canada who wants to be represented by a union will be," CEP president Dave Coles said.

"Even though we have differences, we have more in common," CAW head Ken Lewenza added.

The two unions say the merger comes in response to what it calls multiple attacks on the country's labour force, including several pieces of back-to-work legislation passed by the federal government.

"The private sector is not investing in jobs and technology," said Peter Kennedy, the CAW's co-chair of the committee proposing the merger. "They are holding on to their wealth."

Among the details revealed Wednesday are that the combined union would consist of five regional councils, and be headed by a 25-member executive board.

The final report to form a new union will be presented to members of both unions at their respective conventions later this year. The CAW convention is later this month. The CEP meets in October.

Formal discussions on a possible merger started more than eight months ago.

No need for 'reinventing the wheel'

CAW Local 444 president Dino Chiodo of Windsor, Ont., where the CAW represents thousands of auto workers, parts suppliers and casino workers, supports a merger.

He said joining together makes the union movement stronger.

He said a merger would make it more efficient in representing the needs of the workforce.

"We could be more comprehensive on sharing materials and using materials rather than reinventing the wheel on everything we do," Chiodo said.

If CAW members approve the merger at their convention in Toronto on Aug. 20 and CEP delegates do the same at their convention in October, a union representing 325,000 workers would be created.