June 11, 2012
Two of Canada's biggest unions are considering opening member-ship to everyone, including the unemployed and retired, when they merge. A committee working on the merger of the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers unions floated the proposal in a recently released report outlining the potential structure of the new union.
"A new category of membership would be developed to allow unemployed workers, workers in workplaces where the union is not yet certified, young people, and precarious or temporary workers to also join the union - albeit without traditional bargaining status," the report reads.
"It's about engaging and providing the kind of necessary support for one another, recognizing we're all part of the 99 per cent," said CAW president Ken Lewenza.
There are many reasons why people would sign up to join the new CAW/CEP, Lewenza said. They would have access to support and resources, a strong national organization lobbying the government in their interest and, potentially, the chance to join group health and pension plans with other members.
The new category would also benefit the merged union because of the increase in member dues. Lewenza said that's not the main reason for the move and the two unions plan to discuss a lower rate for members in the new category.
"It's not a revenue generator, it's a confidence generator," he said.
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Original source article: Unions see benefit to open membership