More than 600 Canadian Auto Workers union leaders from across Canada are meeting in Port Elgin, and the union’s upcoming merger is at the top of the agenda.

It is the last meeting for the union before the CAW merges with the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union this fall.

It is also the first major meeting since the union’s wind turbine began spinning last month.

On Friday, CAW National President Ken Lewenza addressed the team, and discussed the new union, labour relations, collective bargaining, the federal budget and other issues.

He says “Employers are doing this, they are merging, they’re combining their strengths. They’re having ongoing conferences in terms of how they can attack the labour movement…so we have to respond to those attacks.”

Ten years ago the CAW had 260,000 members, but they’re currently below 200,000.

But by joining the CEP they’ll become Canada’s largest private sector union with over 300,000 members in every province.

Without a merger there’s a feeling in the union movement that the country’s largest employer, the federal government, would pay off Canada’s $608-billion debt just by cutting jobs and wages.

The meeting continues through the weekend and picking a name for the new union continues to be a tough challenge.