As the number of jobs gets fewer in the manufacturing sector of Canadian Auto Workers, the union struggles to remain relevant. Its leaders have determined that to achieve this, it is planning to enter a merger with another major private-sector union, the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers (CEP). Canada's most powerful union was formed sometime in 1949, starting with a series of strikes that were participated in by many of GM’s workers at its Oshawa, Ontario, plants. They had won plenty of concessions after walking out on nearly all contracts. Its workers were able to keep a “good standard of living" for a long time.
But 27 years after its separation from the United Auto Workers, the CAW's membership has dropped nearly 30% in the last six years. In a joint discussion paper released last month, the two unions said that if they don’t change and if this doesn’t happen quickly then they will decline in the same way that U.S. unions have fallen. It said that there has to be a reversal in the drop of its membership, power, and prestige.
CAW and CEP leaders hope to form a union that would be composed of around 300,000 members, which would be the private sector's largest by far. Its new name hasn’t been decided yet, says Autonews. This would cover more sectors and would make use of sentiment that has propelled the Occupy movement. It’s also expected to attract non-unionized workers. In addition, this new union would gain CEP's strength in the oil industry of Alberta. This is the Canadian economy’s strongest sector.