So, what about CLAC?

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So, what about CLAC?

Anyone have some familiarity with the activities of  the Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC)?

I have heard that they are contractor/employer friendly, and their website suggests the same:

While the union is not affiliated with any church or religious group, it bases its approach to labour relations on certain key beliefs: that all human beings must be treated with dignity and respect; that workplace justice is vital; that workplace cooperation is better than workplace warfare; and that workers should have choices, even when it comes to union matters.


Why do people support CLAC even though they are not represented by it?

They believe that the old-style unionism traps people into Big-Brother-like unions that hold them hostage to an outdated adversarial agenda of worker pitted against management. Solidarity members pay dues because they believe the best way to effect change is to sign their names and become an active part of an organization that makes a tangible difference.

I have also heard that they have made advances in Alberta. I'm interested in having a conversation about their activities in/against the labour movement. Anyone know anything?


Have a look at [url= thread from last year[/url], j.m. It may have a couple links of interest. CLAC is an organized boss-inspired effort to undermine real trade unions.


Yeah, they have been busy here too:

What that first page doesn't tell you is that they want to pay youths a lower minimum wage than the rest of us (I guess someone should stick a dictionary under their collective nose and show them what the word "minimum" actually means).

And they support Saskatchewan's creation of employer unions too:



Just to highlight a intro to CLAC link bagkitty provided in the previous thread:


CLAC was established in 1952 by Dutch immigrants, largely members of the Christian Reformed Church who were disgruntled with the Canadian Labour Congress and its member unions. Most of its locals remained in Ontario until CLAC won a breakthrough campaign to represent 2,500 workers at the Save-On Foods grocery chain throughout Alberta, through voluntary recognition by the employer. By the mid-1980s, CLAC had begun moving into the construction sector. They currently have 11 regional offices, 150 full-time staff members and a membership of 43,000.

The Dutch Christian Reformed have a very strong tendency towards the Conservative Party, and, geographically, notable areas of Dutch migration (such as the Holland Marsh/Bradford and Niagara) have signficant Conservative party activity. This is not to say that the Dutch "bring" this to these areas, but they certainly do harbour and foster conservatism where they are.

The dirty history of the dutch in the 1950s is how, through the sponsorship program, they exploited other dutch migrants for labour until they "worked it off". I still remember how one of my close relatives, in an effort to bring extra money home, lost extremities while harvesting (and underaged) and she was deemed "not useful for work", and didn't work on a farm again (at least as a wage labourer). Obviously she was left uncompensated for her losses.

Obviously I am not suggesting that these are the people behind CLAC, but the logics of this particular group (Christian Reformed Dutch) that started CLAC are scary scary scary.



Definition of CLAC - a rat union, who I believe have been banned in at least one atlantic province.

laine lowe laine lowe's picture

A colleague of mine asked me about what I thouoght of CLAC last year. I responded, "not much - they undermine workers rights and are too favourable to bosses/management".  We work together on training and employment for Aborigina people and I guess he thought that working with CLAC might be a workaround some of the problems he was encountering with unions.

My Cat Knows Better My Cat Knows Better's picture

CLAC - A branch of the Corporation's Human Resources Department. Value to the Workforce: none.


The Transportation Safety Board today released its Report into the November 2008 crash of a Pacific Coastal plane that killed several workers.  The workers were employed by Peter Kiewit Sons, one of the firms CLAC "purchased" from Rocco Solitaro and the former General Workers Union ( another "rat" organisation). 

Section 2.13 of the Report reads:


"Kiewit had previously applied pressure to complete the flights by pursuing other operators

when Pacific Coastal cancelled flights due to weather. This practice continued after the

16 November 2008 accident on Thormanby Island and can greatly influence pilot and operator

decision-making processes".


Nowhere I can find in the Report (or any media reports) is CLAC mentioned. If PKS was pressuring Coastal to fly in dangerous conditions, one would think any "union" worth its salt would be pushing back. I can understand why workers would be reluctant to exercise their legal right to refuse and not fly as CLAC is not known for backing its members.


This is not an isolated incident. CLAC signed a yellow dog deal to "supply labour" on Horizon's tar sands project. Horizon and its subcontractors soon became a major user of temporary foreign workers. Two from China were killed when part of the tank farm under construction collapsed.


IMHO, these and other examples suggest it isn't just a failure to represent that sets CLAC apart from real unions - working under a CLAC agreement may be plain dangerous.

laine lowe laine lowe's picture

I hope CLAC's responsibility is pointed out, munroe. It's shame that they have many people convinced that they are representing labour rights.


As far as I know, the only ones who actually believe the CLAC mythology are CLAC Reps and employers .


CLAC is represented in many health care fields. 

You would be surprised to hear the favourable comments of the Organization I know I was.  Ironically the other more traditional unions do not seem to be reaching their rank and file membership and I do not hear alot of favourable comments.

So exactly what do u say to rank and file members who like Clac. ? 

I can tell u if you start with " Its not a union"  your conversation ends pretty quick.




I'm decades from on the ground in BC. But I think munroe minimizes the fact that CLAC would have a lot of expressed support among employees

Because they dont want to be members of a union, and generally did not want to be before CLAC was on the scene. They think they are better off without a union; or at a minimum, that a union wont do them any good, will cost them money, and might put thair job at risk.... all for nothing [as they perceive it].

There are a lot of serious chicken and egg questions about why that is and what to do about it. But CLAC takes hold where the ground is already fertile.

When you hear favourable stuff about CLAC from the employees where it is certified, versus [often] apparent apathy where workers have a union, thats not an apples to oranges comparison.

Its a comparison of a situation where CLAC provides the fig leaf the employees were didposed to be receptive about, versus a situation where workers are doing a lot of taking for granted. That said, ask them whether they'd rather be without a union and you wont get just shrugs. Widespread alienation from the union and its purpose is an issue, but its not to be taken at the stricly face value way madmax has observed it.


I too am decades from the ground in BC.

I am speaking of Ontario Health Care Workers who have CLAC as their representation and like it. Are they union savy or apathetic? Not necessarily  either.  They are workers/employees who don't know the difference from what we would call a "real union" and how we perceive CLAC and CLACs actions.

I have to say  there isn't alot of "active" Labour on this forum and I think that is indicative of the Labour movement.  

I see better things for Ontario, but at this point in time, Until the upper echelons recognise the state of their core, foundation and  growth potential, and until they decide to engage the grassroots again, I will continue to hear things like "CLAC has been great for us". 





How do you know there isn't a lot of active labour on forum? I will gladly put my hand up as belonging to that group.

My husband's old workplace was successfully raided by CLAC, and the workforce have been out of the frying pan and into the fire. They are not better off then they were, but they did have legitimate complaints about the old union leadership, which failed to engage them to an extreme point. It was a workplace that had poorly trained Stewards on site, but no local executive within the workforce. It seems that in workplaces where the leadership is not engaged and onsite, there is disengagement. Having said that, as a union executive who works side by side with members in my local, it is always hard to make our membership care. We often hear that their dues are a waste, until they have to file a grievance and sit in with the legal counsel we hire and pay for on their behalf, the arbitrations we pursue etc. That wouldn't happen with CLAC. They would be told to shut up and work.