Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Canadian Auto Workers
The Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) is one of Canada's largest and highest profile trade unions. While rooted in the large auto plants of Ontario (especially Windsor, Brampton, Oakville, Oshawa) the CAW has in recent years expanded and now incorporates workers in industries from fisheries to air travel. Currently lead by Buzz Hargrove, the union is strongly left leaning and has been a significant backer of the NDP, although this relationship was strained federally during the leadership of Alexa McDonough and in Ontario under Bob Rae.
The union began as a the Canadian division of the United Auto Workers, founded in the 1930s. In the 1980s, Canadian labour began to become far more militant than their American counterparts. The focus of union activity had also changed. High wages and good benefits from the auto-companies had been achieved and the union saw the greater threat as coming from the federal government. This made large national unions that covered many industries more useful than international unions limited to only one industry. In 1985, the CAW, under the leadership of Bob White , broke from the UAW because the American union had been lobbying Congress to force the transfer of auto production from Canada to the US.
After separation, the CAW began to grow quickly in size and stature. It merged with a number of smaller unions to double in size and become the largest private sector union in the country. Most notable were the mergers with the Fishermen, Food, and Allied Workers and the Canadian Brotherhood of Railway Transport and General Workers . The CAW also played an important role in fighting the government of Brian Mulroney and such policies as the GST and free trade.
Under White and Hargrove, the CAW has moved toward the European model of social unionism and away from American business unionism .
In 2000 the CAW was expelled from the Canadian Labour Congress when several union locals left the SEIU and joined the CAW, prompting accusations of union raiding. A settlement was reached a year later that allowed the CAW to rejoin the national labour federation but relations with other unions such as the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the United Steel Workers of America and SEIU remain strained and the CAW remains outside of the Ontario Federation of Labour .
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