From LABOR-L@YORKU.CA Fri Aug 4 16:43:48 2000
Date: Fri, 4 Aug 2000 15:27:34 -0500
Sender: Forum on Labor in the Global Economy <LABOR-L@YORKU.CA>
From: Marsha Niemeijer <marsha@YORKU.CA>
Subject: tough questions regarding caw-clc
Tough questions concerning the CLC sanctions against the CAW
In Labor Notes, August 2000
In the most recent Labor Notes issue the editors confront the readers
with the following 'tough questions', concerning the CLC sanctions
against the CAW. they have had little response so far. This is a complex
issue and I'm sure there are many amongst you who have opinions!
It is good that Labor Notes is trying to get a debate on this going, and
I know it will be of interest to the canadian and american readers of
Labor Notes. so, please consider the questions below. also, forward this
to as many lists as possible. with kind regards, marsha
The Canadian Auto Workers' dispute with the Canadian Labour Congress over
the 30,000 health care workers who want to leave SEIU and join the CAW
raises some tough questions that go beyond the particulars of that
situation. We invite readers to comment on the questions below, or others,
in the context of the CAW's and CLC's actions or in the context of other
situations you may have encountered. We will print responses in future issues.
Q: No "Raiding"?
Are the labor movement's strict rules against "raiding" simply a protection
of bureaucratic turf, treating the members like property? Or are the rules
necessary to the health of the movement, preventing waste of organizing
resources? If recruiting members of another union is sometimes OK, when?
And how should these rules be enforced?
Q: Free for all?
If union members have a right to choose what union they're in, how can we
prevent free-for-all campaigning to draw members from other unions? Can we
ensure that members who choose to change unions do so based on good,
complete information--not on slick, expensive PR? Does making it easy for
members to switch reinforce a view of unions as service providers--as if
switching unions is like switching phone companies?
Q: Reform first?
What responsibility do union members have to try to reform their current
union before deciding to join another? How does one judge whether such
efforts are worthwhile or a waste of energy?
Are the interests of Canadian workers best served by belonging to a
Canadian union or a so-called international union? Is there a different
situation for auto workers or steel workers, who face transnational
employers, than for health care workers? Do international unions increase
cross-border solidarity--or only contribute to U.S. domination of Canadian
culture and institutions?
Q: Second federation?
Would the formation of a second labor federation in Canada be too costly,
in terms of unity against the boss and resources wasted on raiding? Or
might the Canadian labor movement actually be strengthened if a second
federation is more democratic and more militant than the CLC?
What's the relative importance of belonging to the same union as others who
work in your industry? Can unions better represent workers when they
specialize in a particular industry or sector? Or is it best that we move
in the direction of general workers unions? How has the abandonment of
jurisdictional lines (with rail workers recruited into SEIU and fishing
workers into CAW, for instance) affected labor's ability to avoid and
resolve disputes over members?
[Send your comments to: Labor Notes, Tough Questions, 7435 Michigan Ave,
Detroit MI 48210; fax to 313/842-0227; or email <email@example.com>.]