Contemporary Unionism in the United States

By Clyde E. Dankert | Go to book overview

11
Union Jurisdiction

A SOVEREIGN labor organization, like a sovereign nation, is interested in having its boundaries definitely and clearly defined. Like a sovereign nation, too, it is very jealous of its "territorial" integrity, resisting strongly any attempts on the part of other unions at invasion. At the same time the organization is generally on the lookout for new, unclaimed "lands" to conquer, and very often it becomes involved in open conflict with one or more unions which are similarly bent on conquest. Sometimes it may even try to conquer lands that are already claimed and settled.

Boundary-line struggles between unions, commonly called jurisdictional disputes, bear a striking resemblance indeed to the struggles that occur between nations. They also resemble the struggles that are carried on in competitive business, in which each business unit attempts either to hold its established volume of trade or to obtain more. And, interestingly enough, the solutions arrived at for business jurisdictional disputes, if we may call them such, and for jurisdictional disputes between nations, bear a close resemblance to those used for the settlement of disputes between unions.


Jurisdictional Rights

The jurisdictional boundaries of a union are of two types, "territorial" and "trade." As was pointed out in the preceding chapter most of the important unions in this country have extended their jurisdiction to Canada and, in some instances, to other areas. Although there has been a certain amount of opposition in Canada to the intrusion of "foreign" unions, it has not been large, particularly since 1940 when the C.I.O. unions in the Dominion affiliated with the highly nationalistic All-Canadian Congress of Labor to form the Canadian Congress of Labor.1 Possibly the largest amount of remaining opposition is found in the Confederation of Catholic Workers of Canada. This organiza-

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1
The preamble of the Constitution of the All-Canadian Congress of Labor contained the following statement: "The Canadian labor movement must be freed from the reactionary influence of United States-controlled unions." This sentence had to be deleted, of course, from the new Constitution!

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