CLAC and Unifor Actions Only Serve to Destroy the Labour Movement

The Executive Director of the Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC), Wayne Prins, has taken to publically praising Unifor President Jerry Dias for pulling his more than 300,000 members out of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC).

Prins props up his praise with what amounts to hollow sentiments about democracy and freedom of choice for unionized workers.

On the one hand, you have Dias who claims to be the saviour of democracy and the ultimate defender of the rights of unionized workers to have the union of their own choosing, when in reality it is cheaper and easier to simply steal already unionized workers away from their union rather than commit to putting in the work and resources to organize workers who are not represented by a union.

Dias’ Unifor represents, in part, the auto industry, which according to many analysts will see a further loss of unionized workers in the future. Do not be fooled by Dias’ attempts to frame his decisions around the altruistic desire to be some knight in shining armour, defending worker choice and democracy, when in reality his actions are nothing more than self-serving attempts at stealing already represented workers from their unions for his own survival.

Unionized workers who are unhappy with their union already have a mechanism within the Canadian Labour Congress where they can make application to legitimately leave their union and join another if they are unsatisfied with their current level of representation. Access to democratic avenues has always been available to union members under the umbrella of the CLC. This process allows workers to have the true democratic right to vote for a union of their choice. However, this procedure does not help Dias grow his membership and so he has chosen to break away from the CLC, like other past leadership of the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) and Unifor have done.

And so now we have CLAC Executive Director Wayne Prins crowing, “When workers have access to a range of labour options, union leaders are held accountable to their members because they can’t rely on no raid pacts to keep their membership from leaving.” And, “A union that is willing to be held accountable to its members is a union that must work harder to establish trust with its members, must be transparent in its conduct, and must provide real value in exchange for union dues,” he concludes.

The authenticity of these statements would be laughable coming from CLAC if they weren’t so dangerous to the labour movement. Due to their oftentimes “too cozy” approach with employers, CLAC is not generally regarded highly or accepted to be a union by actual legitimate unions across the country. Prins’ Association is known as the organization that will sign a contract with employers to prevent real unions from representing those workers. CLAC has a reputation of signing contracts with employers that can only be viewed with scepticism in the areas of wages, benefits, and representation, to name a few important issues. CLAC believes in what they have referred to as a non-confrontational approach to dealing with employers. In fact, in most cases they don’t believe in one of the biggest hammers available to unionized workers; a strike. Simply put, CLAC lacks the will to play hardball when necessary with difficult employers and their pretty words about accountability, trust, and transparency ring hollow.

So don’t be fooled by Dias and Prins into thinking they hold dear the principles of character, honesty, and upholding democratic views. In reality, none of these things are true, and are in fact having the opposite effect of ripping the legitimate labour movement apart with these divisive tactics, which should be shunned by unionized workers.

I believe strongly that we must look very carefully at what we know to be true and not get caught up in CLAC’s and Unifor’s BS.


Doug O’Halloran, President UFCW Local 401