Top dogs at CAW, CEP will not seek leadership of new super union

Jerry Dias, high-ranking union official, expected to helm Unifor

Ken Lewenza and Dave Coles, presidents of the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) union and the Communications Energy & Paperworkers (CEP) union of Canada, announced today that they will pass the torch on to a new leader of the forthcoming joint union, Unifor.

During a press conference on Aug. 8, Lewenza and Coles said they would retire and take the role of ambassador for the historic union merger between CAW and CEP to form Unifor. Lewenza explained that Unifor’s leader is not a one or two year job, but at least a six to seven-year commitment, and he couldn’t start something he knew he wouldn’t be able to finish.

Both endorsed Jerry Dias, Lewenza’s assistant for the top job of Unifor.

Coles said after 14 months of deliberation, they have put together their “dream team.”

“Unifor is a unique experiment that has never been tried in the labour movement before, and I am absolutely thrilled to be participating and handing off to the new leadership team headed by Jerry Dias,” Coles said.

Lewenza added that there are challenging times ahead for the labour movement, and that Unifor will build the confidence needed to tackle those issues.

After the merger, Unifor will represent more than 300,000 workers in approximately 20 sectors across the country. Its founding convention is slated for Labour Day weekend in Toronto.

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