As part of leadership of central labour bodies for a quarter century, I have seen the best and worst of our behaviour, and learned how hard it is to build and maintain solidarity among diverse unions and competing interests. 6. That will provide guidance for the steps we need to take in the coming weeks. It is crucial for national unions that wish to enforce the removal of existing affiliates of labour council to ensure there is an alternative funding stream in place, by enforcing affiliation of all of their locals to labour councils. American-based international unions dominated and heavily influenced how Canadian labour was organised in the pre-war years. I was elected as a Representative of Carpenters Local 27 in December of 1982. After long and painful debates on how to end raiding, Article 4 was developed to offer workers a realistic option of fixing problems within their unions instead of seeking another home. With Bill 148 in Ontario we have a unique opportunity to utilize tools that can dramatically change the reality of life for hundreds of thousands, and in the process help shape the politics of the coming decade. If we do it right, we will emerge with a movement that is ready for the immense challenges of the years to come. The legitimacy of North American labour unions is being called into question. I can honestly say that despite the tens of millions of dollars squandered in those efforts, the lives of workers have seldom been improved as a consequence. But by that time relationships had been permanently damaged, and very few labour councils or federations have been able to regain the active involvement of construction unions. Throughout history, labor worker unions continue to struggle for equal opportunities, treatment, and fair wages, sparking social criticism through films, magazine articles, and news soundbites. At the national level NAFTA calls for our urgent attention. As the working class of this country becomes truly multi-racial in every region, we have to examine the urgency of achieving equity within every institution in this country, including our own. Since then, many internationals have gone through a process of creating Canadian structures, which has led to those unions being able to authentically represent the interests and distinct union culture of Canadian members. Some of the difficult dynamics we face in a time of Donald Trump and global trade deals can only be addressed by an honest conversation about this issue, and a commitment of every union to develop robust structures that reflect their unique realities and strengths. In the coming months, every union in Ontario should be dedicating its full attention to helping bring union voice to hundreds of thousands of unrepresented workers using the tools of Bill 148. On January 17th, 2018 the Canadian labour movement was plunged into a crisis with the exit of Unifor from the Canadian Labour Congress and the launching of raids on bargaining units of UNITEHERE Local 75. There needs to be an honest assessment of what we should look and feel like a decade from now. We fought for and won many of the rights enjoyed by all workers today – minimum wages, overtime pay, workplace safety standards, maternity and parental leave, vacation pay, and protection from discrimination and harassment. That was won in 1974 after fierce controversy over Canadian autonomy and workers leaving their internationals to form Canadian unions. This is hardly a time for internal division, a further entrenchment of competitive unionism, or ignoring the organizational impasse and strategic drift at the centre of the Canadian labour movement. John Cartwright / January 28, 2018Syndicated. 2. I can honestly say that despite the tens of millions of dollars squandered in those efforts, the lives of workers have seldom been improved as a consequence. What happens if another union is intentionally supporting the application, hoping to be the beneficiary of a displacement application? More than 75% of our operating budget comes to us in the form of donations from our readers. John Cartwright is President of the Toronto and York Region Labour Council. If we do it right, we will emerge with a movement that is ready for the immense challenges of the years to come. No group of workers should be held captive to an organization that does not serve their needs or respect their voice. The topic of union renewal is full of landmines, but absolutely necessary. It was bitter and divisive. The Labour Movement in English Canada During the Great Depression, about 1 in 4 workers in Canada were unemployed so the federal government under Prime Minister R.B. When and under what procedures do union members have a right to decide to change unions (given that the relevant articles in the CLC constitution and rulings of umpires in disputes clarify next to nothing)? What happens when a parent union disrupts the process and carries out reprisals against the member applying? With Bill 148 in Ontario we have a unique opportunity to utilize tools that can dramatically change the reality of life for hundreds of thousands, and in the process help shape the politics of the coming decade. I am cautiously optimistic that the foundation of our labour movement is solid enough to allow us to survive, and grow. This crisis will severely affect labour councils. It will take courage on all our parts to get through this. This open letter is intended as an urgent call for leaders in our movement, at every level, to strive to find a solution to this potential rupture before it becomes irreparable. In the coming months, every union in Ontario should be dedicating its full attention to helping bring union voice to hundreds of thousands of unrepresented workers using the tools of Bill 148. Our supporters are part of everything we do. Some will explain how they have a culture of local autonomy and cannot force people to belong. A crisis has suddenly erupted within the Canadian labour movement, falling along old divisions of the movement’s archaic organizational structure, and assisted by the lack of any strategic focus or signs of even modest political ambitions beyond self-preservation in either the labour central or any of its affiliates. The key issues in that split 37 years ago were similar to what we face today. The events have opened up a series of questions, some related to the specific case at hand, and others speaking just as much to the organizational impasse of the Canadian union movement. This is not caused by a lack of rhetoric. Article 26 of the CLC Constitution says there will be minimum standards of self-government. In addition to a loss of union jobs, globalization also accelerated Canada’s shift from a manufacturing to a service sector-dominated nation, further weakening prospects for organizing. I am cautiously optimistic that the foundation of our labour movement is solid enough to allow us to survive, and grow. However, a union being Canadian is by itself no guarantee of progressive or effective practice. LABR 1290 - Introduction to the Canadian Labour Movement (Formerly 153.129) An introduction to the development of the contemporary working-class movement in Canada and to workplace issues today. No group of workers should be held captive to an organization that does not serve their needs or respect their voice. In 2001, I was elected to lead the Toronto & York Region Labour Council. The key issues in that split 37 years ago were similar to what we face today. On the other hand, when we were able to undertake multi-union organizing drives in the construction industry during the 1990s, we succeeded in bringing union standards to thousands of members, and Toronto now enjoys the highest level of unionization in construction anywhere in North America outside of Quebec. On January 17th, 2018 the Canadian labour movement was plunged into a crisis with the exit of Unifor from the Canadian Labour Congress and the launching of raids on bargaining units of UNITEHERE Local 75. Unifor and the Detroit Three. At the launch, the class direction became clear. The CLC Constitution Article 5.4 also calls for every one of those unions to ensure their locals are affiliated to federations and labour councils, but there is a silent wall of refusal to enforce that part of the constitution. In 1891, localised labour parties were formed, by trade union members in the British colonies of Australia.They later amalgamated to form the Australian Labor Party (ALP). 1. I was elected as a Representative of Carpenters Local 27 in December of 1982. Many of us know the benefits of working closely with our American colleagues who are leading tremendous struggles against overwhelming odds. Click here for Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, and Part 6. There will be some bruises and setbacks along the way. As unions we can help to educate and empower our members so … Are the efforts to sign up Local 75 members little more than a raid? A crisis has suddenly erupted within the Canadian labour movement, falling along old divisions of the movement’s archaic organizational structure, and assisted by the lack of any strategic focus or signs of even modest political ambitions beyond self-preservation in either the labour central or any of its affiliates. And to allow time to explore solutions before hardening differences. Surveying the continental scene, we find conservative politicians in multiple jurisdictions attacking union security. Some will explain how they have a culture of local autonomy and cannot force people to belong. Unifor would face those same sanctions today if it had not disaffiliated. Just once a year we appeal to you to contribute to make it possible to continue this work. But they might not spend much time talking about the history of Canada’s labour movement or their basic rights under existing labour laws – in much of Canada, this history has been glossed over or ignored, leading some academics to conclude “the Canadian worker has been a neglected figure in Canadian history.” This is an important event as this department was responsible for key decisions and was the go-to department when problems arose. How can the Canadian workers’ movement push forward in this era when unions and workers are taking such a beating in a spirit of solidarity, when such divisions between unions are happening? Feminists active in the labour movement worked with other union women to put pressure on their unions and central labour bodies to take up issues such as affirmative action/employment equity, childcare, equal pay for work of equal value, maternity leave, and sexual harassment. But in reality, instead of the labour party demanded by worker militants, a popular front movement was set up. There was no national unity a… Fortunately, we have a different history, which includes a commitment to coalition work and a social democratic party that, despite its flaws, has been crucial to the extensive social policies and labour laws we enjoy. That will provide guidance for the steps we need to take in the coming weeks. 5. In 2016, the United Nations adopted Target 8.7 as one of its Sustainable Development Goals, calling on all governments to take immediate and effective measures to end forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking, as well as child labour in all its forms. What happens if another union is intentionally supporting the application, hoping to be the beneficiary of a displacement application? Union democracy is a fundamental principle of our movement. Information is power. But there are clear examples of the best commitment – Steelworkers and Postal Workers require mandatory affiliation, as did CAW before the creation of Unifor. In that role I have been afforded the opportunity to meet with my counterparts in labour councils of all sizes, across the geography of this country. Throughout history, labor unions have played a vital role in the relationship between workers and owners and have helped to improve conditions for working-class people. Union democracy is a fundamental principle of our movement. Raiding has rightly been identified as a cancer in our movement. What is most vital is that we continue to work together on key issues and campaigns, and maintain the strongest possible personal relationships with every union activist in our community. Nobody doubts that there must be penalties to stop raiding but instead of immediately forcing Labour Councils into a divisive action, the CLC should allow time for everyone to digest the implications of this split before imposing an administrative answer to a deeply political problem. Many of us know the benefits of working closely with our American colleagues who are leading tremendous struggles against overwhelming odds. In that role I have been afforded the opportunity to meet with my counterparts in labour councils of all sizes, across the geography of this country. There have been few actual raids since its adoption. They were assigned to a task force appointed after the convention, but at some point we should allow a full debate on this contentious issue. 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