Founding President Congratulates Union on Anniversary
August 28, 2010, 11:00 AM EST
The decision to create a rank and file democratic structure governing the CAW set in place an important foundation for the union, said CAW Founding President Bob White. "We wanted a different structure for our union," stressed White in his address to the CAW/TCA Joint Council in Montreal on August 27. "We wanted to establish a rank and file board, filled with people who are doing the work of the union on a regular basis -this was a complete change in the structure from what we knew at the international union."
"It is fundamentally important to get voices from the workplace to shape the decisions of the union," said White.
White said that interference from the international union and a widening gap in bargaining priorities and militancy on either side of the border created the conditions where it was no longer beneficial for the Canadians to stay in the UAW.
White reflected on his own trajectory as a union leader, starting with his first union meeting at his job at Hay and Co. in Woodstock, Ontario - invited there by an older co-worker. He was asked to stand for a position and not knowing exactly what it was, he obliged and got involved in the union from then on. He later went on to become president of Local 636 until being appointed as a UAW organizer. In 1972, White was appointed assistant to the Canadian Director Dennis McDermott. White, with the tremendous support of local leadership and staff led the then Canadian Region of the UAW out of the international union to form the CAW in 1985.