February 12, 2018 – The Unifor decision to disaffiliate from the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) has been consuming a great deal of energy within the Labour movement across Canada. The IAM joins the vast majority of Canadian union members in our criticism of this decision by Unifor’s leadership.
As we are all aware, the CLC issued a statement (in French and English) on this topic last week. There has been a great deal of activity and comment on social media with regard to this topic, and much criticism of Unifor’s divisive actions. The CLC represents over 3 million union members across this country, and it is this solidarity that has built the society we enjoy here in Canada.
The IAM stands solidly with the labour community across Canada in condemning the actions of Unifor in the strongest possible terms; both for disaffiliating from the CLC and for using this as a launch-pad to start raiding against UNITE HERE Local 75. In a unanimous decision by the CLC Council last week, our Canadian labour movement reaffirmed the commitment of its 55 Canadian affiliates to stand solidly behind UNITE HERE Local 75 in this fight.
Frankly, it is beyond the scope of belief that this was not a planned activity by Unifor’s leadership, who saw an opportunity to raid the members of a CLC affiliate. I have spoken personally with Ian Robb of UNITE HERE, who has stated that the former President of Local 75 resigned the same day as Unifor disaffiliated from the CLC; also on that day she showed up at one of their worksites as a Unifor organizer. Clearly this disaffiliation was planned in order to facilitate Unifor’s raid on a CLC affiliate.
When there are unorganized workers across this country in need of representation (Tim Hortons workers being a current example), Unifor instead sows the seeds of discontent among workers who are already represented.
In recent weeks, IAM Representatives have received calls from workers looking to change their representation. In each case, we have reached out to the Union leaders responsible for these workers, and advised them that there is an issue in the bargaining unit that needs to be investigated. This is the requirement set forth in Article 4 of the CLC Constitution, and it is the right thing to do. This will continue to be our process.
For absolute clarity, the IAM does not endorse or participate in any raiding activities. It is our view that we must focus our energies on organizing the unorganized workers across Canada.
We have expended a great deal of energy and resources on our various organizing activities and programs. This is on-going, and we will continue to build upon the work we are doing in this field.
Finally, a few comments on the attacks against International Unions that seems to be a major theme of Unifor’s leadership, and upon which Unifor is building an excuse for their destructive raiding actions:
- The IAM is a strong and diverse International Union that prides itself on working hard on behalf of its members and on our ability to represent workers in every field of endeavour.
- We have over 125 years of experience representing workers across Canada.
- We enjoy great autonomy and diversity across our great country, and we are tireless advocates within Parliament, Provincial Legislatures and City Halls.
- We stand strong as representatives on National, Provincial and Regional committees, at conventions and conferences, as well as within the various departments of our own union across North America.
The Canadian General Vice-President is elected solely by the Canadian Membership, and sits on the Executive Council of the IAM as an equal partner.
I am personally proud of the Union we have built together. I am proud of the work we do in representing our members every day. I am proud and pleased that our Union, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, is a strong affiliated member of the Canadian Labour Congress. I am proud that we stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers of all International, National, and Provincial Unions across this country.
And I am proud that we have integrity, and that we do not raid our friends and allies. We will not waver from these principles.
In Solidarity and friendship,
General Vice President IAMAW Canada