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Canadian members to leave UAW.

In a move that could have a major effect on bargaining in the industry, the UAW rejected a request from the union's Canadian section for a more independent role within the union. Immediately after the decision by the union's International Executive Board, UAW President Owen Bieber and Canadian Director Robert White announced that a committee would be formed to oversee a separation of the Canadian members from the union. The separation entails such issues as apportioning the union's property and its $600 million strike fund.

The split between the U.S. and Canadian sections of the union can be traced to the changing economic relationship between the two nations and resulting differences in collective bargaining goals. In 1980, the Canadians objected to the concessions agreed to by U.S. employees of Chrysler Corp., and in 1982 struck the company to obtain more favorable terms for Canadian and U.S. employees. In 1984, the Canadian balked at accepting the settlement pattern for U.S. employees of Ford and GM and struck GM for 1i days before gaining a larger wage increase than their U.S. counterparts. The stoppage caused some turmoil within the union because it shut off the flow of some parts from GM's Canadian plants, leading to the layoff of 90,000 GM workers in the United States.

Despite the differences, Bieber said he believed the union will be able to carry out the split "in an orderly and proper fashion. . . . We are friendly, and we'll continue to be friendly."

Similar sentiments were expressed by White, who said the split doesn't represent "a war between our two countries or memberships or the leaderships of the two countries. We expect to have in the end two different organizations with close . . . ties."

Executives of the auto companies were less hopeful, saying that the breakup might prompt them to line up alternate sources of supply for parts currently made only in their Canadian plants. White said he did not believe this would be a serious problem because the companies will base decisions on production sources on "where they can make money" rather than "whether we're an international union or not."

the Canadian section of the union comprises 120,000 workers or about 10 percent of total UAW membership.
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Author:Ruben, George
Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Date:Feb 1, 1985
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