October 15, 2012
CEP-CAW merger creates Canada's largest private-sector union
By QMI Agency
The Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union (CEP) has voted in favour of a merger with the Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW), creating the nation's largest private-sector union.
"We make history today," CEP president Dave Coles said Monday. "If they pick on one of us, they pick on all of us!"
More than 1,500 delegates from the CEP are at the union's national convention in Quebec City this week, where members backed the formation of the new super-union in an overwhelming majority that CAW boss Ken Lewenza estimated at 97-98%.
The CAW had already approved the merger at its national convention in Toronto in August, with the unanimous vote of nearly 1,000 delegates.
The new mega-union will represent 310,000 members in 20 economic sectors including automotive, forestry, energy, telecommunications and media.
Invoking the Occupy movement from a year ago when millions around the world were decrying economic inequality, Lewenza said, "Ninety-nine percent of Canadians would benefit from union membership. The 1% have had it for too long."
A joint report released Aug. 1 said the dues of the new union would be set at the current CAW rate of 0.7% of workers' salaries -- slightly lower than the current CEP rate.
The new union would also have a $135-million defence fund to support striking workers.
The name of the new union has yet to be decided.