Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada

The Communications, Energy and Paperworkers (CEP) Union of Canada is the newest union in Canada, yet it has a history that goes back more than 150 years. The CEP was created at a founding convention in November 1992 when the Communications Workers of Canada (CWC), the Energy and Chemical Workers Union (ECWU), and the Canadian Paperworkers Union (CPU) merged forces after a year of discussions. The new CEP membership would exceed 150,000, making it the fourth-largest private sector union in Canada and the eighth-largest union in the Canadian Labour Congress.

CEP has an active history in the trade union movement in Saskatchewan. The presidents of the founding organizations all played key roles in the development of the labour movement in the province. Don Holder, president of the CPU, was responsible for organizing workers at the paper mill in Prince Albert, a local that has over 700 members today. Fred Pomeroy, an employee of SaskTel, was the treasurer of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour and the president of the CWC in Saskatchewan prior to taking on the national presidency of the CEP.

Additional strength came from fifty-year activist Ralph Wyatt, who retired from CEP in 1994. Wyatt negotiated for SaskTel employees for many years. Cy Palmer, a cableman from Saskatoon assisted with the organization of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour in the 1930s and 1940s. He later became a director in the Canadian Labour Congress.

The ECWU leader Neil Reimer, an employee of the Co-op Refinery, went on to become the national president of the ECWU. He was followed by Reg Baskin, from Churchbridge, an employee of SaskPower who worked his way up to be president of ECWU as well and executive vice-president of CEP prior to his retirement.

Ron Carlson