Canadian Unions Merge

300,000 Workers Unite to Form Canada's Largest Private-Sector Union

Canadian Auto Workers head Ken Lewenza said the new union representing 22 sectors would provide workers with more bargaining clout

Two unions representing Canada's auto, energy, forestry, media and telecommunications workers merged Monday to form the nation's largest private-sector union.

Members of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP) voted in favor of uniting with the Canadian Auto Workers union (CAW), whose members had already agreed to the merger in August.

Their combined 300,000 members in 22 sectors across Canada marks the single largest coming together of two private-sector unions in Canadian history. A new name, however, has not yet been decided.

"With this new union we are sending out a clear message that labor is ready to do what is necessary to take on governments and employers who would like nothing better than to see us disappear," said CEP national president Dave Coles.

CAW head Ken Lewenza said in a statement the new union would provide workers with more bargaining clout in contract negotiations and would appeal more to new members.

"We will be stronger, more effective and yield greater influence," he said.

A founding convention will be scheduled in 2013.

Unions have faced a declined in Canada over the past decades, with the proportion of Canadian workers who are unionized dropping from 33.7% in 1997 to 31.2% in 2011, according to government figures.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012

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