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Dear Canadian kinship sisters and brothers:
There’s a lot to admire about your labor movement.
With village organizing, artistic street heat, and belligerent strikes, you’ve just scored the biggest win nonetheless in the Fight for $15, forcing a pro-corporate Ontario supervision to lift salary for 1.7 million workers and extend new card-check kinship recognition rights, paid sick leave, scheduling rights, and equal compensate for proxy and part-time workers. That’s inspiring! Last year’s organizing feat of 1,000 casino workers in Vancouver stands as another intense instance of grassroots power-building. And frequency a deteriorate goes by when we don’t hear about nonetheless another belligerent strike by construction workers, daycare workers, and others in Quebec, where kinship firmness stands at 40 percent, 4 times the US rate.
So there’s reason for us to be unapproachable of the northern cousins, maybe even a bit antagonistic of you.
That’s all the some-more reason for us to be repelled and worried to hear about the fratricidal separate now maturation within the Canadian residence of labor. The care of Unifor, the largest private zone Canadian union, announced progressing this month that it is leaving the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) over allegations that US-based general unions are nosiness in the inner affairs of their Canadian affiliates. The internet is abuzz with speak of CLC atonement against Unifor.
I’m not consultant adequate to parse by the reasons given for the Unifor-CLC split. I’m certain there are essential arguments all around, along with entrenched disagreements within the Canadian residence of labor, as there are firm to be in any vast and different federation.
But a disaster to solve those issues and sojourn assimilated would be inauspicious for workers all over. It would be a present for big business.
Those of us in the United States know this good – the unions went by a identical divorce a dozen years ago. It was calamitous.
Back in 2005, Andy Stern, boss of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), led his kinship and several others out of the AFL-CIO, arguing that the labor association was scantily committed to organizing. He argued that the association was stuck in an antiquated structure and slight mindset that got in the way of advancing the interests of operative people. And yes, he cited jurisdictional problems identical to the ones that Unifor leaders are citing today. (Also like Unifor’s leadership, Stern exited the labor association but a membership vote.)
Stern’s critique of the AFL-CIO was spot-on. The association indeed was not changing to meet the needs of today’s operative class, and it was overdue for a shake-up. But his solution was disastrous.
True, the breakaway labor group, Change to Win, led some critical organizing initiatives like the 5,000-worker Smithfield packinghouse campaign in North Carolina. But we also went by a duration of augmenting inter-union raiding, such as the wasteful, stupid, and eventually fatuous wars SEIU led against the hotel and grill workers union. Stern also got a ambience of his own medicine when the leaders of SEIU’s big California medical inner were suspended and shaped a rival kinship that went on to successfully raid many SEIU groups.
And as for Stern’s putative reason for splitting, that is, the need to classify some-more workers? In the decade given the breakup, US unions lost scarcely 1 million members and saw altogether firmness dump from 12.5 percent to 11.1 percent.
Workers inside and outward of unions, rather than seeing a labor transformation one to fight a antagonistic sovereign supervision and anti-union employers, grew dejected to declare a transformation so internally fractured. Why join this dysfunctional wreck?
Rather than strengthening the US labor movement, Stern’s separate enervated it. And now in an enfeebled state, US unions face the existential hazard of Trump.
There’s a element we schooled when we first assimilated the labor transformation 35 years ago. Arguments are fine, even required to safeguard inner democracy. When we’re caucusing among ourselves, we have knock-down, drag-out fights. But when the boss comes into the room, when we face off in the biggest fights against supervision or corporate power, we had better be unified. Or we all lose.
Guess who is officious overjoyed over the Canadian labor split?
Global companies are on the impetus in 2018, remaking industries and whole countries to remove increase by maximizing human exploitation, misery, and suffering. They wish to idle worker power, and are happy to see you fighting among yourselves instead of backing up to fight them.
The CEO of Tim Hortons is certainly gay to know that every unit of appetite you spend fighting one another is appetite not spent tackling the company’s critical attack on your ancestral $15 win. The executives of the global hotel chains, automobile manufacturers, construction firms, and financial institutions that work in your country, my country, and others are presumably salivating at the awaiting of exploiting this separate in the Canadian operative class.
In 2005, to clear SEIU’s depart from the AFL-CIO, Andy Stern asserted, “Our idea is not to order the labor transformation but to reconstruct it.” That sounds as tortured as Unifor’s stipulation last week, “It’s time to fix things in the work movement.”
No, problems don’t get bound by disengaging, and today’s worker transformation won’t get stronger by subtraction.
So greatfully – take it from us, your southern cousins. Get your act together. We’ve been down the trail of division, and we can guarantee you that it has a very, very unfortunate finale for operative people.