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The Struggle for Rights at Work: The United Electrical Workers, Contract Enforcement, and the Limits of Grievance Arbitration at Canadian General Electric and Westinghouse Canada, 1940s to 1960s.

FOR DECADES CANADIAN trade unionists have expressed frustration with the grievance arbitration system, but this tends to be limited to criticisms of the legalistic nature of the process and the costs and delays involved in getting a judgement. There is little discussion or debate about the denial of the right to strike, which is the central feature of the system. Nor is there much discussion about approaches to contract enforcement that situate legal strategies in broader political strategies to use worker power effectively, including the withdrawal of labour. This study investigates how the United Electrical Workers (UE), a left-led union, defended workers' rights at Canadian General Electric (CGE) and Westinghouse in the early years of the new legal regime. Specifically, it charts the North American origins of grievance arbitration systems, sketches the development of personnel policies in the electrical industry, surveys the UE Canadian district's struggle to establish contractual relations and codify workplace rights at these two corporations, reconstructs the elements of UE'S approach to contract enforcement, and reviews a number of mid-contract work stoppages at CGE and Westinghouse between 1946 and 1966 to determine how the union, workers, employers, and arbitrators negotiated the ban on grievance strikes as they adjusted to new legislation and new collective agreement language.

PENDANT DES DECENNIES, les syndicalistes canadiens ont exprime leur frustration a l'egard du systeme d'arbitrage des griefs, mais cela tend a se limiter aux critiques sur la nature legaliste du processus, ainsi que sur les couts et les retards lies a l'obtention d'un jugement. IL y a peu de discussions ou de debats sur la denegation du droit de greve, qui est la caracteristique centrale du systeme. IL n'y a pas non plus beaucoup de discussions sur les methodes d'application des contrats qui situent les strategies juridiques dans des strategies politiques plus larges pour utiliser efficacement le pouvoir des travailleurs, y compris le retrait du travail. Cette etude examine comment le United Electrical Workers (UE), un syndicat dirige par la gauche, a defendu les droits des travailleurs chez Canadian General Electric (CGE) et Westinghouse dans les premieres annees du nouveau regime juridique. Plus precisement, elle retrace les origines nord-americaines des systemes d'arbitrage des griefs, esquisse le developpement des politiques du personnel dans l'industrie electrique, passe en revue les difficultes rencontrees par le district canadien de l'UE pour etablir des relations contractuelles et codifier les droits du travail dans ees deux entreprises, reconstruit les elements de l'approche de l'UE a l'execution des contrats et examine un certain nombre d'arrets de travail a mi-contrat chez CGE et Westinghouse entre 1946 et 1966 pour determiner comment le syndicat, les travailleurs, les employeurs et les arbitres ont negocie l'interdiction des greves de grief a mesure qu'elles s'adaptaient a la nouvelle legislation et au nouveau libelle de la convention collective.

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Author:Taylor, Jeffery
Publication:Labour/Le Travail
Article Type:Author abstract
Date:Mar 22, 2019
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