Magazine article Canadian Dimension

The CAW-Magna Agreement Not the Way Forward

Magazine article Canadian Dimension

The CAW-Magna Agreement Not the Way Forward

Article excerpt

Collective bargaining is a complex process. It requires assessments of relative power and strategic considerations that are usually only fully appreciated by the people directly involved. As such, we are reluctant to comment on the decision of the Canadian Autoworkers Union to agree to the Framework of Fairness Agreement (FAA) with Magna International Inc. The high public profile of the agreement, however, and the statements of CAW representatives that this agreement could be extended to other employers compel us to comment.

The agreement will enable CAW to obtain access to workers at five Magna plants each year to make the case for joining CAW and for coverage under a collective agreement that will be negotiated under the provisions of the FFA. There are currently 45 Magna plants in Canada. If all goes according to plan during the next nine years, over 18,000 workers would join the CAW and be entitled to participate in the union and its education programs. This would be an extremely positive development for the Magna workers, the CAW and the labour movement.

However, we believe that the problems associated with this agreement outweigh the benefits. In the Canadian labour movement it is recognized that in order to effectively represent workers the union must have the sole right to determine its own internal, democratic processes. This includes the method by which local union representatives are elected. The FFA places enormous restrictions on the rights of the Magna workers to participate in the union and to choose their own union representatives. It also limits union representation to one person per plant. This individual, called an Employee Advocate, will not be elected by the workers. Instead, he or she will be selected through a convoluted process, with the final decision being taken by the assistant to the CAW president. …

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