Canadian members to leave UAW Essay

In a move that could have a major effect on bargaining in the
industry, the UAW rejected a request from the union’s Canadian
section for a more independent role within the union. Immediately after
the decision by the union’s International Executive Board, UAW
President Owen Bieber and Canadian Director Robert White announced that
a committee would be formed to oversee a separation of the Canadian
members from the union. The separation entails such issues as
apportioning the union’s property and its $600 million strike fund.

The split between the U.S. and Canadian sections of the union can
be traced to the changing economic relationship between the two nations
and resulting differences in collective bargaining goals. In 1980, the
Canadians objected to the concessions agreed to by U.S. employees of
Chrysler Corp., and in 1982 struck the company to obtain more favorable
terms for Canadian and U.S. employees. In 1984, the Canadian balked at
accepting the settlement pattern for U.S. employees of Ford and GM and
struck GM for 1i days before gaining a larger wage increase than their
U.S. counterparts. The stoppage caused some turmoil within the union
because it shut off the flow of some parts from GM’s Canadian
plants, leading to the layoff of 90,000 GM workers in the United States.

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Despite the differences, Bieber said he believed the union will be
able 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 split
doesn’t represent “a war between our two countries or
memberships or the leaderships of the two countries. We expect to have
in the end two different organizations with close . . . ties.”

Executives of the auto companies were less hopeful, saying that the
breakup might prompt them to line up alternate sources of supply for
parts currently made only in their Canadian plants. White said he did
not believe this would be a serious problem because the companies will
base decisions on production sources on “where they can make
money” rather than “whether we’re an international union
or not.”

the Canadian section of the union comprises 120,000 workers or
about 10 percent of total UAW membership.


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