The Crisis in the ATU, Labour Shoots Itself in the Foot

Published on The Bullet, Socialist Project’s E-Bulletin No. 1382, by Sam Gindin and Herman Rosenfeld, March 14, 2017.

A sign of the tragic disarray of the Canadian labour movement is the extent to which its misadventures keep piling up. As the turmoil within the union representing the Ontario government’s unionized employees (Ontario Public Service Employees Union – OPSEU) hits the press, the chaos continues in Local 113 of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU). The 10,500 members in that local – over a third of the ATU’s Canadian membership – operate and maintain Toronto’s transit system, North America’s third largest public transit system, behind only New York and Mexico City. As with OPSEU, the acrimonious story is not about a tough strike or a response to an anti-union government. Rather, at a time when the union should be leading the charge to address popular frustrations with the failures in the city’s transit system, the local is preoccupied with a messy internal battle … //

… Breaking Away:

In trying to get a handle on this, a useful starting point is to compare it to an earlier breakaway from an American-based parent, one that is now generally even if not unanimously seen in positive terms: the formation of the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) a little over three decades ago. The following differences are significant:

  • 1): The formation of the CAW involved a nation-wide section of an international union (the United Auto Workers – UAW) breaking away. ATU Local 113 is a local in one city.
  • 2): The autoworkers’ major bargaining was fully integrated across Canada and the USA. Local 113 bargains autonomously.
  • //
  • 6): Finally, while it was easy to identify the Canadian autoworkers as representing progressive unionism against the faltering UAW, in the ATU conflict it is the Americans who apparently have the greater claim to that mantle. Larry Hanley, the president of the ATU, came to office with strong credentials in fighting for democratic unionism and won against the tired incumbents by promising to revive the union. He was one of the handful of U.S. union leaders who openly supported Bernie Sanders and has been moving to complement the workplace power of his members with community support through the organizing of a ‘bus riders’ union’. Hanley has as well dramatically expanded education and leadership training to ATU locals including in Canada. Local 113, according to Hanley, stands out as the one Canadian local that has abstained from these programs … //

… International Union, Canadian Members: … //
… The Process: … //
… Deeper Issues Confronting the Canadian Labour Movement: … //

… But this involves more than reducing the serious step of a breakaway to an abstract nationalism. Working class sovereignty can only have legitimate meaning if it starts with the Canadian rank and file as the final arbiters of changes in Canadian structures. It demands building the working class in both Canada and the U.S. through bringing more workers into unions rather than fighting over dues. And it means collectively struggling with how to reinvent our unions and extend their boundaries into all dimensions of working class lives.

(full text).

(Sam Gindin was an assistant to Bob White when he was CAW president, research director of the Canadian Auto Workers from 1974–2000 and is now an adjunct professor (retired) at York University in Toronto. He is the author of The Canadian Auto Workers: The Birth and Transformation of a Union.
Herman Rosenfeld is a Toronto-based socialist activist, educator, organizer and writer. He is a retired national staffperson with the Canadian Auto Workers (now Unifor), and worked in their Education Department


The Final Reformation, on Dissident Voice, by John Andrews, March 13, 2017: … our most trusted institutions – church and state – have sometimes been useful. The state provides us with some physical security and modest public services; and the church sometimes provides real emotional comfort to some people during the darkest hours of their lives. But for the few useful services these institutions sometimes provide they are also primarily responsible for causing massive misery, and impeding social progress. It has always been like that, and it still is …;

Poaching in Europe’s Suburbs, on Dissident Voice, by Binoy Kampmark, March 14, 2017: it was a matter of time. The war of poachers against those attempting to conserve species, and the animals themselves, took a gruesome turn this week …;

Oskar Lafontaine:
in Bestform, 41.49 min, hochgeladen von System Crash, 10. März 2017;
Wutrede am Aschermittwoch, 42.43 min, hochgeladen von Freie Propaganda NEO, 3. März 2017;

Still No Victory in Sight, on JACOBIN, by William Astore (he blogs at Bracing Views), March 2, 2017: the United States has been losing the war in Afghanistan. Whether or not Trump delivers a “surge” of new troops there, he will continue to lose that war;

Eugen Drewermann:
während der Sicherheitskonferenz, 18.30 min, hochgeladen von NuitDebout Munich, 18. Feb 2017;
Thema Tod – 2002, 30.51 min, hochgeladen von Drewermann und co, 29. Jan 2017;

You need more mitochondria in your life, on Women Who Cycle, by Nicola, Oct 7, 2015;
download Interval Training program, fit in 6 minutes a week, on, by Anja Taylor, Sept 29, 2015;

… and this:

Liberations Door – Snatam Kaur, 72.41 min,

uploaded by timesart1320 … more in autoplay.

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