CAW and CEP presidents to step down in September as unions merge

TORONTO – The presidents of two major Canadian unions — the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada — will be stepping down in September as their two groups merge.

CEP President Dave Coles says neither he nor CAW President Ken Lewenza will seek leadership of the new union, named Unifor.

An official announcement is expected at a noon news conference in Toronto.

Coles says he and Lewenza plan to endorse senior CAW official Jerry Dias to lead Unifor.

Coles has been president of the CEP since 2006, while Lewenza was elected the national president of the CAW in 2008, replacing Buzz Hargrove.

The new union will represent more than 300,000 workers across roughly 20 sectors of the economy, primarily in manufacturing, communications and transportation.

Unifor will also represent some public sector employees in the health, education and transit sectors.

Coles said the union’s new leadership will be elected during a founding convention scheduled for Labour Day weekend.

“This is about building something new and different that’s never been tried in the world before,” Coles said.