Question 1: How SEIU and CAW dispute is a threat to labor unity and solidarity or to union democracy
The dispute between Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) present a threat to labor unity and solidarity as well as to union democracy (Savage, 2010). The dispute arose when SEIU opted to disseminate itself from the international union and join CAW union as an effort to make the Canadian labor union autonomous from The US. CAW which was one of the largest labor union in Canada responded aggressively by launching a counter-attack by suing Brown the president of SEIU and other top executive $5.5 million each and placing its members under trustee appointed in Washington (Hrynyshyn & Ross, 2011). The effort by Canadian labor congress (CLC) to assist the unions to settle their dispute bared no fruits, but it instead accelerated the problem. CLC banned CAW staffs from voting in district labor councils, provincial labor federations, and other CLC bodies. The banning of CAW had a negative impact on labor councils and federation in all districts and provinces across Canada mainly Ontario federation of labor (Traill, 2007).
Hence, it is evident that the dispute between the two unions made it difficult for laborers to move between different labor unions in Canada hence affecting labor unity in the country. It also denied employees the democratic right of choosing one unit over the other. A lot of energy and resources are also used in settling labor disputes rather than fighting the rights of employees. Nevertheless, the dispute between SEIU and CAW has to some extent helped to increase labor unity and solidarity as well as union democracy as a result of new rules that were enacted at the end of the dispute (Pierce & Bentham, 2007).
Question 3: Damages that Canadian labor movement might suffer from similar disputes
Disputes between labor unions such as the dispute between SEIU and CAW can lead to significant negative impacts on Canadian labor movement. One of the major effects of disputes between unions is the lack of unity and solidarity in the national labor movement. Canadian labor movement may also fail to carry out a collective bargain with the government on matters concerning employees (Heron, 2012). A lot of energy and resource are wasted in trying to resolve the disputes rather than fighting for employees’ rights. Disputes between unions also result to the lack of trust and confidence by employees and, as a result, most employees in the country may fail to join labor unions. This will lead the Canadian labor movement to lack power in fighting employee’s rights with employers and the government (Shantz, 2009).
Question 5: How Canadian locals can protect national autonomy while still enjoying international union membership benefits
In order for Canadian citizens to protect their autonomy while still enjoying the benefits served by the international union, the Canada labor congress should maintain a strong relationship with the parent international union. A Strong relationship can be maintained by allowing locals the right to choose their desired labor union hence they can be members of both international unions as well as the members of Canadian labor unions. The labor unions in Canada should also reduce disputes by setting up new rules and regulations that are in conformity with the objectives of the parent international union. Hence, locals will be able to enjoy national autonomy as well as benefits enjoyed by members of international unions (Bickerton & Stinson, 2008).
Bickerton, G., & Stinson, J. (2008). Challenges facing the Canadian Labor Movement in the context of globalization, unemployment and the casualization of labor. Labor and the Challenges of Globalization. What Prospects for Transnational Solidarity, 161-177.
Heron, C. (2012). The Canadian labor movement: a short history. James Lorimer & Company.
Hrynyshyn, D., & Ross, S. (2011). Canadian autoworkers, the climate crisis, and the contradictions of social unionism. Labor Studies Journal, 36(1), 5-36.
Pierce, J. & Bentham, K. J. (2007). Canadian industrial relations, 3rd Edition. Canada: Pearson Education.
Savage, L. (2010). Contemporary party-union relations in Canada. Labor Studies Journal, 35(1), 8-26.
Shantz, J. (2009). The limits of social unionism in Canada. WorkingUSA, 12(1), 113-129.
Traill, C. (2007). Ontario labor relations in the Wake of Bill 80: An analysis of the legislative attempt to enhance democracy and autonomy in Ontario construction union locals. Osgoode Hall Law School, pp. 1-43.