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Hargrove threatens to leave labour congress over sanctions

CBC Newsworld, WebPosted Tue Jun 27, 2000, 07:34:39

OTTAWA - The head of the Canadian Auto Workers says his union could tear up its membership to the country's central labour body.

Buzz Hargrove says the CAW will break away from the Canadian Labour Congress and start its own governing body if sanctions are imposed against it.

Two weeks ago, Canadian Labour Congress president Ken Georgetti warned the autoworkers union it had been found guilty of violating the CLC constitution by raiding some 5,000 workers from the Service Employees International Union.

Georgetti told Hargrove in a letter that if the CAW did not stop raiding, the CLC would have no choice but to invoke sanctions.

Those sanctions essentially kick the CAW off all decision-making bodies of the CLC.

On Monday, the CLC executive decided to uphold that order, and beginning July 1, those sanctions will begin if Hargrove doesn't change his position.

Hargrove says that's not likely. "This is about a more open organization. This is about democracy versus protecting the club," he said.

Hargrove says the CAW never poached members that didn't want to come over. He says the Service Employees International Union went to court trying to keep the 5,000 workers from leaving, in spite of a 98 per cent vote to move over to the CAW.

"If the only solution is that we ignore the workers, and allow their union to threaten and discharge workers, then it's one I'm not buying into," said Hargrove.

But the CLC says the CAW did not follow the procedure and rules of the constitution - rules which require an investigation before members change banners. It's a procedure, the CLC says, to protect the democratic rights of its workers.