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    "The fight is never about grapes or lettuce. It is always about people."
    Cesar Chavez




    :: Monday, August 01, 2005 ::

    Reflections on the Birth of the Canadian Auto Workers - By Herman Rosenfeld, CAW, Labor Notes August 2005
    This campaign was based upon the recent experience of the union in challenging wage controls and plant closures. It mobilized elected leaders in various workplaces to convince their co-workers that unions must remain independent of their employers; that concessions to employers only lead to more of the same, and that unions have to make gains, even in the toughest of times. Canadian Director and later CAW President Bob White's approach was summarized by the slogan, "You don't need a union to walk backwards."

    The last straw was the GM strike of 1984, when UAW President Owen Bieber threatened to withhold strike funds from the Canadians if they rejected lump sums and profit-sharing. White led a successful strike which defeated GM but also held off the threats coming from UAW headquarters.

    Soon after the GM strike, the Canadian District Council - an elected, rank-and-file body that had been meeting regularly since the 1930s - overwhelmingly accepted White's proposal to ask the UAW leadership to give the Canadians full autonomy. The proposal was rejected by the UAW International Executive Board and the Canadians moved to form our own union.
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