Canadian Auto Workers, CEP union eye merger

Fri Dec 16, 2011 5:43pm EST
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TORONTO (Reuters) - Two of Canada's biggest labor unions are discussing a merger, Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) National President Ken Lewenza said in an interview on Friday.

Lewenza said the CAW is considering a tie-up with the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP), though talks are "very preliminary".

"The bottom line is, what's in the interest of our combined membership, and what's in the interest of the labor movement? If we've got some common objectives, we can make it happen," he said.

Lewenza said the unions' top leaders and executive boards have held discussions and that talks started in earnest three to four months ago.

The CAW split from the U.S. United Auto Workers in the 1980s, and now has 195,000 members in sectors as diverse as aerospace, postsecondary education and retail.

As well as Canadian employees at the three Detroit automakers, it represents workers at Air Canada, and both Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd and Canadian National Railway Co.

The CEP dominates media, forestry, energy and telecommunications, and has a number of bargaining units at BCE Inc, Canada's biggest telecoms company. According to its website, CEP has 130,000 members.

(Reporting By Allison Martell; Editing by Peter Galloway)