Labour Congress Leans Left

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Last week’s Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) convention in Vancouver was all about elections. Left and right in the Congress battled for the position of Secretary Treasurer left open by feminist Nancy Riche’s retirement, and the left won.

In the left corner was Hassan Yussuff of the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW).Yussuff was the first person of colour to be the CLC’s executive vice-president, a position that he held for three years.

In the right corner was James Clancy from the National Union of Provincial & General Employees (NUPGE), backed by the Steelworkers, Teamsters and the conservative United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW).

While the race represented progressive action verses the status quo, it was also an attempt to punish the CAW for the antics of its controversial president Buzz Hargrove.As senior vice-president of the CLC, Yussuff should have been a shoe-in for the Secretary Treasurer position.

The fact that there was a fight illustrates deep divisions in the labour movement. That Yussuff won the fight shows that the left is gaining strength.

Another sign of the strength of the left or activist wing of the CLC was seen in the election for two vacant executive vice-presidents positions. Clancy and the Teamsters’ election support pact for Quebec Teamster Francois Laporte failed to derail the election of progressives Barb Byers from the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour and Marie Clarke-Walker of Canadian Union of Public Employees.

Clancy’s forces “bussed” in delegates especially for the vote, an anti-democratic tactic sometimes used in union elections. The convention delegates went from 2,400 on Wednesday to more than 3,000 on Thursday’s election day. Despite the attempt to stack the vote, Yussuff won by over 800 votes.

Other union federations like the Ontario Federation of Labour have outlawed such practices by requiring delegate registration before the Convention begins.

The convention also saw some important policy resolutions adopted, among them a commitment to promote proportional representation.

View photos from the convention below by clicking on the caption.

1. Hassan Yussuff, new CLC Secretary-Treasurer; Buzz Hargrove, President of the Canadian Auto Workers and Jim Clancy, failed candidate for Secretary-Treasurer.

2. Roy Romanow speaking to delegates on the Future of Healthcare.

3. Discussion forum of young social justice activists--a well attended event critical of the way the labour movement treats young members.

4. First-time delegate addresses convention on the need to organize more young people.

5. Canadian Labour Congress president, Ken Georgetti, during his opening address to the convention showing delegates how he feels about the policies of BC premier Gordon Campbell.

6. Delegates watch convention address.

7. A convention tribute to long-time trade union leader and activist J.C. Parrot, out-going CLC executive vice-president.

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