Canada may soon have a new and dominant private sector union as the CAW and CEP continue to talk merger.

Both of these large unions are the products of earlier mergers, but forces are compelling another, and bigger, combination.

They have identified a “moment of truth” brought on by a number of factors.  Predictably, ”hostility from right wing governments” and “aggressive attacks by global employers” are blamed.  But more perceptively, they also identify the continued erosion of union density in the private sector, failure of organizing efforts, generational change, growing negative public opinion, and fragmentation of the labour movement.

Talks began last year and are continuing on a set course.  A final proposal is to be completed in July for presentation at annual conventions in August and October.  The hope is to have a new union up and running shortly thereafter.

The finer points of such a massive undertaking may yet throw the current plans off course, but if not, we can expect to see:

  • a new union with about 320,000 members in all provinces and in many different industries
  • an increased organizing budget
  • an immediate organizing push in industries in which either or both the CAW or CEP is already strong
  • a plan to aggressively organize in other industries
  • some new ideas to revitalize the labour movement, such as a new category of membership for unemployed, unorganized, temporary, young and other employees.

If the unions are right, employers can sit back and count on friendly governments to help them out.  But a better strategy is to work every day to ensure that your employees feel no need for union representation.

In the meantime, you can follow the progress of the proposed merger at New Union Project.