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Uaw to caw to unifor guelph humber

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    Assignment ID: FG133135466

    Case study- From UAW to CAW to UNIFOR Guelph Humber- Subject -Labour Relations

    As shown by the discussion of the 1940s Rand Formula decision, the UAW had a long history in Canada. For much of that period, the Canadian union members simply followed the direction provided by their American leaders. However, the 1980s marked a turbulent time in the auto industry. There were numerous layoffs; there was also increased competition from non-North American manufacturers. The following events show how the CAW was created during this turmoil to become Canada’s largest private sector union. In 1982 negotiations, the president of General Motors made a public statement that if Canadian workers did not follow the concessions of their American counterparts, there would be plant closures and relocations. GM settled with small gains for workers and without a strike. However, the Chrysler negotiations that followed resulted in a strike. As Gindin (1995) states, after a five-week strike, Chrysler agreed to accept the union’s opening-day proposals-Canadian workers even won a wage increase. In so doing, the Canadians had shown they were a force to be reckoned with.

    The next round of bargaining came in 1984. GM settled in the United States with no wage gains for workers. After a thirteen-day strike, Canadian workers earned an annual increase that their American counterparts did not. This again signalled the independence, and strength, of the Canada component of the UAW. In December of that year, Bob White (then Canadian director of the UAW) called for a vote regarding the formation of a new, independent Canadian union. Only four of the 350 delegates voted against the call for the Canadian union. In September 1985, after nine months spent negotiating the terms of separation, the legal and monetary issues were settled; the Canadian UAW was formed. In 1986, it was renamed the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW).In the twenty years that followed, the CAW became the largest public sector union in Canada. After it was founded, it merged with more than thirty other unions/locals to represent workers in many industries beyond the auto sector (e.g., airline, fishery, retail, mining, rail). Given the diversity of its membership, the CAW took a leadership role in matters of equity. In fact, since 1986, it has held an annual human rights conference. As its human rights policy stated: Unions emerged not only to collectively protect workers from the arbitrary use of power by employers and governments, but also to create a culture of equality and dignity for all members in their ranks. Achieving higher wages and better working conditions for workers is no more important in the final analysis than achieving solidarity among all workers (CAW, 2006b). The CAW’s fight for equity among disadvantaged workers has even included workers not represented by it. For example, the CAW website displays policy and discussion papers on issues ranging from employment insurance to protection of workers in the sex trade. It is a union that clearly made a mark on the country. In 2013, the CAW and the CEP joined forces to create Unifor. Unifor is Canada’s largest private sector union, representing more than 315,000 workers in a wide range of industries including communications, manufacturing, national resources, transportation, and service. The union has a broad mandate. It positions itself as representing all workers (both employed and unemployed). The union continues to focus on economic gains for its members as well as on social justice, as shown on its webpage “What we stand for.” On that page, the first paragraph states:

    Unifor strives to protect the economic rights of our members and every member of the workforce (employed or unemployed). Unifor advocates for and defends the economic rights of working people, safer workplaces, secure employment, wages and benefits that provide a decent standard of living and dignity and respect in the workplace.That page goes on to present the core principles that define Unifor, which relate to the following: union renewal/generational change, democracy, gender and equity, openness and inclusiveness, accountability and transparency, solidarity, militancy, progressiveness, and dynamism.

    The union is also an affiliate of a global network of unions called IndustriALL, which presents 50 million employees in 140 countries.Sources: CAW (2005, 2006a, 2006b, 2006c); Gindin (1995); M1 Secretary (2012); Raina (2014); Unifor (2019a, 2019b, 2019c).

    1. Discuss how Unifor can be seen to have both a “bread and butter” and “social justice” orientation?

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