Steelworkers Reject CLC endorsement of Bill Morneau

On November 3, 2020, the United Steel Workers’ Union issued the following statement:

“Late on Friday, October 30, the Canadian Labour Congress, without consulting any union affiliate, announced a joint endorsement with the business lobby group, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, of former Finance Minister Bill Morneau for the role of Secretary General of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

This was a shocking action by the CLC, which is responsible to speak on behalf of working people – defending and strengthening the rights of workers. The CLC and its leadership team has roundly failed workers in its co-sponsored endorsement of Morneau. The USW, its Canadian leaders and members are outraged by this irresponsible and ridiculous action by CLC President Hassan Yussuff.

As Federal Finance Minister, Bill Morneau put forward Bill C-27, which had it been successful, would have imperilled retirement security for Canadians and set workers and pension plans back decades. Morneau was also a key part of a government which interfered in collective bargaining by legislating postal workers back to work, botched paying federal employees with the much-maligned Phoenix system and took numerous other actions that show Morneau has not been on the side of working people.

Partnering with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, without the input of any CLC affiliate, is also deeply troubling and shows a disregard for the labour unions that form the CLC. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is a body that has historically pushed for anti-worker policies that would either halt progress or set working people back.

It’s time for a leadership change at the Canadian Labour Congress that prioritizes the needs and concerns of working people over its own self-promotion. USW leaders and members are demanding better from our national labour leaders.”

Socialist Action shares the concerns expressed by the USW above.  Many labour activists believe that CLC President Hassan Yussuff, who is a prominent proponent of so-called ‘strategic voting’ that favours Liberal Party candidates at general elections, is angling for an appointment by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to the Canadian Senate.

How low will the CLC go?  Yussuff’s undemocratic action deepens decades of retreat by the organized labour movement.  It undermines the independence of the working class as a whole in relation to the parties of big business. 

The USW is correct to declare that “It’s time for a leadership change at the Canadian Labour Congress.”

Socialists call for the removal of class collaborationist union bureaucrats like Yussuff and a complete break with ‘strategic voting.’  Moreover, the situation demands more labour affiliation to the New Democratic Party, and a stronger fight for socialist policies inside the NDP and the unions.  A class struggle leadership is urgently needed to challenge neo-liberal austerity, pandemic disaster and environmental catastrophe in the work place and on the street.

If you wish to push for progress in that direction, please contact the Workers’ Action Movement:  www.thewam.ca

–      BW