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Local 1524 and Local 1106

In Kitchener, Ontario, Local 1524 and Local 1106 already had developed an existing relationship by sharing a common union hall space (owned by the national office) in order to save on rental costs. Despite coming from very different sectors, Local 1524 in manufacturing (with approx. 850 members) and Local 1106 in healthcare (with approx. 3,200 members) both groups worked well together. The continued decline in the manufacturing sector however had taken a toll on the membership of 1524.

Doubts later began to rise as to the future of the Lear plant, the closure of which would negatively impact the local members at 1524. The leadership became increasingly concerned with their ability to maintain the resources necessary to continue participating in national union meetings, educational workshops, events and conferences. The leadership of both locals discussed the potential of a formal merger of 1524 into Local 1106 and reached out to the Area Director to receive assistance in drafting a Merger Agreement. The proposal was brought forward to the membership of each local for review.

The biggest concern raised by members was around the differences between the two sectors (manufacturing and healthcare) and how it may impact the overall functioning of the local and servicing. To overcome this challenge, steps were taken to have two service representatives with a healthcare background, and one from a manufacturing background put into place to assist the local. The local’s by-laws were also amended to reflect this change of having a combination of servicing reps from both sectors.

“We overcame member’s fear of the unknown by talking to them, acknowledging their concerns, and finding appropriate solutions that worked for everyone. In the end, the merger of the two locals was seamless and we are able to continue supporting our members in being engaged in the overall work of the Union.”

– Bill McLachlan, Local 1106 President

Local 2098 and Local 200

In the region of Windsor-Essex, Local 2098 was struggling after a particularly difficult round of contract bargaining with its main workplace, Diageo. With a shirking membership (hitting close to 130 members) and reduced resources, the local had already initiated discussions with another area local, Local 200, on ways they could share resources, such as office space and support staff. The President of Local 200 (with almost 2,000 members) approached the leadership of 2098 to discuss the possibility of a merger.

After a few months of discussions with respective local leadership, a Merger Agreement was drawn up that included pieces that Local 2098 felt it was critical to protect should a merger proceed. This included language around their retirees’ chapter and the locations of their membership meetings. The national office was also consulted on how to deal with local finances during a merger.

The proposal was then brought back to the membership for their input. Some Local 2098 members expressed concerns that this was a takeover by Local 200 that would result in not only a complete loss of identity for local members, but losing control and autonomy in local affairs. Concerns were acknowledged and reassurances were made that this was not a takeover and that Local 200 was in no way going to interfere in how 2098 contracts would be bargained. The vast majority of members eventually voted to support the merger and final approval was given by Unifor’s National Executive Board.

“It is important to stress that mergers are not takeovers. While smaller locals have a lot to gain by merging, larger locals also stand to greatly benefit by gaining knowledge of an entirely new sector and learning new perspectives and strategies around bargaining and how to represent members.”

– Dan Lacey, Local 200 Unit Chairperson (Diageo)

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