In a move that could have a major effect on bargaining in theindustry, the UAW rejected a request from the union’s Canadiansection for a more independent role within the union. Immediately afterthe decision by the union’s International Executive Board, UAWPresident Owen Bieber and Canadian Director Robert White announced thata committee would be formed to oversee a separation of the Canadianmembers from the union. The separation entails such issues asapportioning the union’s property and its $600 million strike fund.
The split between the U.S. and Canadian sections of the union canbe traced to the changing economic relationship between the two nationsand resulting differences in collective bargaining goals. In 1980, theCanadians objected to the concessions agreed to by U.S. employees ofChrysler Corp., and in 1982 struck the company to obtain more favorableterms for Canadian and U.
S. employees. In 1984, the Canadian balked ataccepting the settlement pattern for U.S. employees of Ford and GM andstruck GM for 1i days before gaining a larger wage increase than theirU.S.
counterparts. The stoppage caused some turmoil within the unionbecause it shut off the flow of some parts from GM’s Canadianplants, leading to the layoff of 90,000 GM workers in the United States. Despite the differences, Bieber said he believed the union will beable to carry out the split “in an orderly and proper fashion. . .
. We are friendly, and we’ll continue to be friendly.” Similar sentiments were expressed by White, who said the splitdoesn’t represent “a war between our two countries ormemberships or the leaderships of the two countries.
We expect to havein the end two different organizations with close . . . ties.” Executives of the auto companies were less hopeful, saying that thebreakup might prompt them to line up alternate sources of supply forparts currently made only in their Canadian plants. White said he didnot believe this would be a serious problem because the companies willbase decisions on production sources on “where they can makemoney” rather than “whether we’re an international unionor not.” the Canadian section of the union comprises 120,000 workers orabout 10 percent of total UAW membership.