Canadian Auto Workers president Ken Lewanza is stepping down as the CAW gets ready to merge with the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP). The resulting organization will have more than 300,000 members.
Lewanza has led the CAW for the past five years. He and Dave Coles, CEP president who is also stepping down, endorsed CAW official Jerry Dias to take the reins at the new union, which will be Canada’s largest trade union and take the name Unifor. Unifor will have its founding convention at the end of the month in Toronto where a complete leadership team will be elected.
Dias, a long time CAW activist, has been a shop steward, local president and since 2007 he’s been an assistant to the CAW president. Lewanza, who led the union during the bankruptcies and bailouts of General Motors and Chrysler, said that he would become an ambassador for Unifor and work locally in his hometown of Windsor, Ontario, just across the Detroit River from the Motor City. He also would not rule out running for political office.