CAW/CEP Merger Discussions

The CAW and CEP, two organizations with extensive experience with union mergers, have embarked on a joint exploration of whether to form a new alliance founded on "a genuinely new form of trade unionism: a unionism that is equated with the broader fight of all workers for justice and security."  In his 1995 history of the autoworkers, Sam Gindin reflected on the CAW's own experience with union mergers and their potential to foster greater understanding and solidarity among members:

"Although the mergers certainly added new and difficult challenges, they were also a source of strength and vitality. The mergers brought unions with their own rich histories, activists with talent and experience, and the energy of new members. In addition, they encouraged the development of a broader working class consciousness on the part of the past and future CAW members. CAW activists, having heard a report on the fisheries at the council, read the newspaper differently and paid more attention to what was happening to working people in Newfoundland. Students in the PEL program, listening to a passenger agent explain the impact of lean production on her work, realized that work reorganization was in fact part of something bigger and that service workers were really workers."

Academics such as Gary Chaison have emphasized that when it comes to union renewal, mergers are a poor substitute for re-evaluating existing approaches to organizing, educating, mobilizing, and bargaining.  The CAW/CEP discussion paper agrees, viewing merger as an opportunity to revitalize current practices and shake up the Canadian labour movement more broadly, rather than being an end in itself.

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