CAW, CEP unions now known together as Unifor

The CAW and Communications, Energy and Paperworkers unions unveil their new name, Unifor, and logo in Toronto on Thursday.

New private sector union will represent 300,000 people in the Canadian workforce


9 years ago
Duration 2:32
The CAW and CEP are about to officially merge and the union's new name will be Unifor.

The CAW and Communications, Energy and Paperworkers unions will now be known as Unifor.

The two unions, who officially merge on Labour Day weekend, announced the new name Thursday in Toronto.

It's the latest step in their historic merger. The merger creates a 300,000-member union, the largest private sector union in Canada

More than 5,000 name suggestions were submitted by, but the winning entries remains a secret.

"Unifor is a name to show our traditional and long-standing union values: unity, solidarity, strength and determination," said CEP president Dave Coles, who unveiled the name and logo.

CAW national president Ken Lewenza was also on hand for the announcement.

"It has been an exercise over the last year that has been at times stressful and at times exciting," Lewenza said. "We’re turning the page on our particular names and particular history. But we’re turning a page with higher expectations."

Lewenza was a teenager when he began his career as an hourly employee at Chrysler in Windsor.

The release of the Unifor name and logo is another step leading to the founding convention Labour Day weekend in Toronto.

He admitted to being emotional about the name change and merger.

"I’ve been pacing around since 4 o’clock this morning," Lewenza told CBC Windsor's Tony Doucette, on the Early Shift. " The history of the CAW for me, personally, is emotional. Windsor and Essex, quite frankly,  are dominant in many ways."

Lewenza said the CAW will be with him "forever."

However, he said the union has changed.

"We’re not an auto union today as we were 30 years ago," he said.

Only 20 per cent of CAW members work in manufacturing. The union now includes employees in retail, service, gaming and mining.

"It’s not going to be a name that reflects a particular sector," Lewenza promised. "Unifor will not leave anybody behind."

Workers excited, worried

Dino Chiodo, the president of CAW Local 444 in Windsor, had two ideas for a new name. One was the General Workers Union.

Chiodo describes this as an exciting time for labour:

"I don't think the name really matters at the end of the day," he said. "I know people want a new, fresh version. They want a more modern concept of a name."

Chris Taylor is president of CAW Local 200, representing Ford workers in Windsor.

He's heard from members who worry about the CAW name disappearing, but Taylor said one has to look at the big picture: a new union with more than 300,000 members:

"I expect some excitement," Taylor said. "There's going be a lot of trepidation. People are going be concerned over a change of the name for sure, but I'm actually excited to hear what it's going to be."

The release of the name and logo is another step leading to the founding convention Labour Day weekend in Toronto.