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SEIU leadership vote to leave U.S.-based Union and merge with CAW

SEIU press release, 20 February 2000

TORONTO, Feb. 20 /CNW/ - At a meeting of the Canadian leadership of the Service Employees International Union held at the Delta Chelsea Hotel today, elected representatives from SEIU locals across Ontario voted on a resolution to disaffiliate from their U.S.-based SEIU International Union and merge with the 243,000-member CAW.

The proposal to disaffiliate from SEIU International and merge with CAW was endorsed by a majority of SEIU locals in Ontario, representing more than 30,000 SEIU Canada members. "We need to belong to a Canadian organization that can speak up for our members here in Canada," said Local 210 President Ken Brown. "We're facing made-in-Canada problems, especially in health care, where so many of our members work."

"We continue to be inhibited by Washington in our efforts to respond to the problems and challenges our members face in Canada."

Brown tendered his resignation as International Vice-President of the SEIU International Executive Board earlier today.

Members of each local will have the opportunity to vote on the proposal at meetings scheduled for Thursday, March 2. "We're a democratic organization," Brown emphasized. "The Canadian membership will make the final determination."

Brown said he and other SEIU Canada leaders had voted to merge with the CAW because of its record in bargaining and organizing, in addition to the range of services it offers members. He emphasized the CAW's strength and profile would help his members win better contracts at the bargaining table and pressure government to maintain a healthy public-sector, where the majority of SEIU Canada members work.

CAW President Buzz Hargrove said he welcomed the SEIU proposal. "Should the membership support their leaders' proposal, the resulting merger will be immensely beneficial to the members of both our unions," Hargrove said. "These SEIU members will bring to us their vast experience in a wide range of important sectors in our economy," he said.

"I am confident for our part that the CAW's resources, combined with our ability as a Canadian union to find Canadian solutions for made-in-Canada challenges, will help SEIU members," Hargrove said.

For further information: Jim Pare, SEIU, (416) 347-3994

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