Name for CAW-CEP merger unveiled: Unifor

Union’s goal is to ‘redefine who can join,’ open doors to every group in Canada

Unifor. That’s the new name of the union formed by the merger of the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, representing more than 300,000 workers across the country in more than 20 different economic sectors.

The new name — and logo — were voted on by the national executive boards of CAW and CEP during meetings May 28 to 29.
Unifor is not just another union but a new union, with a new approach to be a strong voice for working people in all sectors and in all jobs, said Peter Kennedy, CAW national secretary-treasurer and new union proposal committee co-chair.

“We both have our own long histories of struggle, fights that have gone back over decades. We have our own cultures, our own unique way of doing things, but we’re coming together in a new organization that will do things in a new, innovative, modern way that has not happened previously within the labour movement.”

In a column that ran in the Windsor Star on June 4, CAW national president Ken Lewenza and CEP national president Dave Coles acknowledged the name wasn’t popular in all corners.

“In the days following the launch, many have asked: ‘Why Unifor? I like it, but I don’t get it.’ Some have said they think it’s a refreshing change, something new. Others feel we’ve missed the mark, and that’s okay too,” they wrote. “Unifor is a unique name. It’s attention grabbing. Part of its appeal, as we’ve seen since the launch, is that it’s hard to ignore. And it’s intentionally ambiguous. We want it to mean different and personal things to our increasingly diverse membership.”

The bigger, better union will have a new approach, opening its doors to new kinds of membership, said Gaétan Ménard, CEP national secretary-treasurer and new union proposal committee co-chair.

“We will redefine who can join the union… We will open our doors to each and every group in this country that has an action plan… they can join, unionized or not, they can join us and we will make that action plan happen,” he said. “We’re going to be stronger and more united when it comes to meeting political and economic challenges.”

The new union is modern, forward-looking and welcoming to everyone, said Coles.

“It’s a name to show that we are here to build a union for the future, one that is responsive to the needs of all Canadians in the 21st century.”

The new red-and-white logo uses colours that are vibrant and symbolic, he said.

“We have chosen a shield, a shield to represent us. This shield shows the strength, the protection and the security our union will offer."

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