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The border in question this program is produced and recorded at the University of British Columbia Canada under a grant from the National Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters. What's International. This is the fifth of 10 programs examining facets of the relationship between the United States and Canada. This program is devoted to the increasingly vexatious question of the position of Canada's union ties with big American unions and asks the question what's International. Time is the spring of 1957. The place is Toronto the heart of Canada's industrial complex. The location is a meeting of the powerful Canadian Manufacturers Association. I fear the penetration of foreign unions into this country. The Canadian manufacturer must compete against the United States and other nations.
Meantime employees of the Canadian manufacturer are represented by the same U.S. Union as the employees of his American competitor. Now what's to prevent the United States Union from strangling the productive capacity of a Canadian company in the same field at any and so desires. Now this isn't a healthy position for Canada. Do you realize that a man sitting in Detroit can decide whether you have a bottle of milk delivered to your door tomorrow morning. Over three quarters of organized Canadian labor is directly affiliated with unions with headquarters in the United States Detroit Cleveland Chicago New York. The fair in Canada now is that most of the Dominion's million and a half union members are really not members of international unions but in fact are just members of American unions. Editorials from St.
John's Newfoundland to Victoria British Columbia have made this exact charge that what is meant by international unions is really American unions. These so-called international unions the editorials charged are based on American labor philosophy the economics which guide these American demands are based on American economic ideals and American economic situations. And these editorials declare that in few instances can these American dream demands be realistically applied across the forty ninth parallel. Obviously if there is control of the potential of control of the nation's labor force a very delicate situation is created. And so for many years now labor officials above and below the border have been a pains to point out that there is no control or domination of Canadian labor by their international headquarters in the United States. Dr. Eugene 4C director of research for the Canadian Labor Congress replied to these charges in this way a few years ago in Ottawa.
The overwhelming majority of Canadian unionists belong to international unions with headquarters in the United States. That is how it has been is now and will be as far ahead as I can see. But the good Indian labor Congress runs its own affairs and often notably on political action and foreign policy but it was a completely different line from the AFL CIO the Canadian branches of international unions also run their own affairs with one qualification that strikes usually require the consent of the International Office which must foot the bill. And naturally cannot undertake to issue blank checks to its going to be and locals. Practically all the rest of the chatter about American control is eyewash spouting from pure ignorance. But how about the views of an American leader of one of these internationals one of the biggest and most powerful the giant Teamsters Union.
The leader of the Teamsters one James Riddle Hopper was asked if there is U.S. domination of Canadian labor Teamsters Union inartistic Teamsters International Union and not dominate except Eliot's and Canada we have a candidate. Representative has hire international law organizers and I are international. What meter. We have affect me Canadian citizens as officers of our unions. And above all we have the Canadian membership and the democratic process can guarantee them some fact that Canadians represent them in their endeavor for better likelihood. And so another denial of us control or domination of Canadian labor. But in Canada and Americans will ignore this fact at their peril. There are changes taking place. The industrialists have conceded that there is U.S. financial control and today Labor is also having another look at their situation visa be the United States. Canada's labor movement is now allied with the Dominion
Socialist Party and obviously no political party in any country can afford even the suspicion of foreign control no matter how beneficence and benign. Hence labor leaders and the new social party members seem to be taking a second look. Jules Barber is an American who is vitally concerned about the changes taking place between the two big neighbors sharing the northern half of North America. Late in the 150 years Mr Barber published a book which attempts to explain this phenomenon to his countrymen. He called his book Good fences make good neighbors. And in one section of the book examines the labor aspect of Canadian American relations. At one point he says since the 1880s according to a study made by a Canadian scholar JT Montagu of Canadian workers have aligned themselves in unions with American workers and have profited from the relation during the late 19th and early 20th centuries he pointed out American unions sent organizers to Canada. Later the kind of help offered
changed at times to the American unions of loans to more often they have given advice or technical help and on still other occasions they have given money or provided full time staff. Mr Montague brought out additional points in an academic journal to illustrate the influence of American unions upon Canadian affiliates. That's a quote of 70 international unions analyzed 53 require permission from authorities located in the United States before locals can strike with the full support of the Union. The Americans have sometimes appointed fellow Americans to full time staff positions in Canada. The Canadian director of the textile workers union of America has for example always been an American citizen and the clothing unions have used Americans for local managers. The most noteworthy of examples of American interference in Canadian districts relates to the changing of Canadian directors such events as the dismissal of the entire Canadian staff of the United rubber workers unquote. Mr. Montagu concluded that the
international unions have meant much to the organization of workers in Canada but that once organized there are few constitutional provisions among the international unions which safeguard the Canadian minority from being overwhelmed by the larger American membership. Alex McDonnell is a lawyer a former member of parliament and now a member of the provincial legislature and he is a socialist. This is how he views the situation. But I think the control of industry is far far more significant control and control. Canadian unions from their international offices which in many cases are in the United States. But. With what I think is an awakening Canadian nationalism I feel sure that the. International control and the trade union field is going to be attenuated in the next few years. I don't think a national movement as such will take place. In the near
future. Certainly because. It's very hard for a group of trade unionists who are enrolled in an international trade union to break from it. Or to break the international control but I think it will come gradually. I think. As is the case with many a case already with many of the large unions particularly the industrial ones the international control will be nominal. The Canadian units will be allowed to go their own way very freely. There have been very few cases of successful breakaways in the last few years. But while the. The form will remain on. The Internet the union will still be international. The constitution will be still be there which probably gives strong powers to the international headquarters. I think the substance of control will disappear. In fact the international offices will have to go along with what their Canadian membership want and not
interfere with their activities as much as they have in the past. Now let's go back and talk again with James Riddle Hoffa of the Teamsters on this question. For example could a Canadian local call a strike without reference to its U.S. headquarters. Not more so they caught an American Yes. They caught up the financial requirements of the International Union after having once authorized to strike we are required by constitutional authority. To pay out of necessary the entire international union strike here thirty nine million dollars. It's not just right. There. Already has some discretionary procedures. Do you think the American worker would like it if the situation reversed her history. Just getting to the Canadian border. Yes he was going to be a guy that he has the. Economic support I would say yes but I question what the American workers feel the
same way if they had international headquarters where say. I don't believe the location of the international headquarters criteria except the members either in Canada are asked whether or not it is proper of filiation that they belong to. Do you think they would agree to it or would they accepted I would think that we went in front of our convention and we were Canadian representatives and American representatives at that convention as delegates. Good reason that we should. Find our facts were right and our presentation was proper they wouldn't hesitate to vote. What would happen to a Canadian reputed to go on. While Canadians go on strike unless its membership desired to go on strike by majority I'm thinking of a strike that would affect several locals and one.
Refused to go on strike. Or Constitution. Talking of area wide bargaining which is a special provision in our Constitution. For a vote and democratic fashion membership to be part of that area barking. Once they've become part of that area by giving them the accept the responsibility as a democratic organization that the majority shall control. I would question whether or not a problem whatever arises. As a contract refusing to support contract in total. I remember talking to a senior officer of this local of the Teamsters and he told me that he was in favor of dissolving the borders. Could you tell me what your attitude toward the border. When you say solving the border I assume you mean that the United States become one. Country. While certainly we can have 50
states in the United States. And if the Canadian people as such by a national referendum they started the chain of. The government. I would be the last person to say that it's improper they have the authority. To do so by actions of the people not by anybody else. Would you be the first one to advocate such a thing. I would never presume that I have the right to advocate that the Canadian government be changed only Canadians should have that right. I understand the hundred trusteeship. Some one of them. Can you tell me why this local has not been released from PNB car since I have been in office for now three years I have been in the federal courts trying to get them to release these local federal courts of what kind Washington D.C. I find no reason.
And I find no justification. Are they local unions in trusteeship not being released from trusteeship and I have advocated it in the courts my responses speak for themselves I've advocated at membership meetings and I have the authority here I want to announce tonight at tonight's meeting. That we had released all of them trusteeship not just in Canada but all of the United States. I don't believe in trusteeship local unions. Well no I asked you originally whether you thought there was any US domination of Canadian labor and you said in effect there wasn't but now you're telling me that the American courts are able to it cert extraterritorial jurisdiction on a Canadian Labor body. We believe that the federal court exerted. This is the American I'm saying the American federal court. Went outside of the. Justice in taking this position. And it's my firm belief that the.
Authority. And being able to say that this international. Trusteeship get that decision. Why is that. Why should it be even considered Canadian labor except the jurisdiction of an American court. I think I explained that because of the benefits association. Related. Transport conditions can require such coordination. Having. Two international unions are very labor organizations in the field of transportation. But describe the effectiveness. I remember being able to increase their standard of living to the point that their direst are having a left turn onto final point then is there any difference in the lines of communication between your headquarters and your US locos and your headquarters
and the Canadian local positively not in the same structure exist and voting. Just as if the border didn't exist and is correct just as though it was another state. There it is another state just like another state. Well that's the sort of bland American assumption that burns Canadians. This gratuitous presumption that the greatest compliment that can be paid Canada is that she is considered as just another STATE OF THE UNION sets northern blood streams a boiling with the heat capable of warming any arctic night. Thus some observers note that even within the solid ranks of international labor a gulf is whitening becoming evident even through the barrage of labor cliches. Take one example a tough two fisted Canadian Labor leader Irish Pat wholemeal secretary of the B.C. Federation of labor it was asked is there U.S. domination of Canadian labor.
Well I don't think that the answer to that can be yes or no. I think that in some instances there is evidence of domination by some international unions of their membership here. And this I think is attributable to the apathy of the particular local unions. Now there are two cases come to mind and one of those of course the Teamsters and the other is the bridge structure and iron workers union in which case I think it was clearly established that the locals here in Canada have been and are continuing to be influenced to a considerable degree by the policy of the International Union. Is this a bad thing. It depends on what the point is in some instances that might be good in others it's bad in this particular instance I don't think it's good. Which instance are you referring to. I'm referring to the ends of the instance in the brain structure an ironworker is where a lot of unfavorable publicity was created as a result of the actions of the international and I'm referring of course to some of the incidents in the Teamsters in particular in Toronto
where a union was under the trusteeship for a considerable period of time. Now this kind of action does very little to enhance good relations between Canadian and American unions to do explain a little bit more about the Toronto local of the teams. Well here we had a situation where a large local involving I think somewhere in the vicinity of 6000 members was placed under trusteeship for several years without reason. Well I there were several reasons advanced Of course one was that the union was not going along with international policy. I don't know what the real reason was but this was the reason that was advanced farther and for several years this large local was placed under the trusteeship and this we don't agree with. If there's a genuine need for trusteeship if the union has misconducted itself if its finances have are in order then we agree of course that there should be a limited period in which this is cleaned up year a year and a half or something to that effect. But to keep local unions under trusteeship indefinitely particularly
when it's a. In some cases it's up to a United States court to make the final determination as to whether they will come out or not is not good policy. What is the purpose of putting a trust Union under trusteeship if there isn't any evidence of misbehavior. Well as I say again I couldn't answer that question of course the people who you should ask that are the people who put civilians under trusteeship. There happened several suggestions that if in these particular instances at least that it was because of conflict of policy between the local union and the international. And I think the steelworkers is probably a classic example of where there was no domination because as you'll recall a year and a half ago when their international president Mr. McDonnell suggested that they shouldn't concern themselves with politics particularly with support of the new party at the steelworkers Canadian convention he was told to mind his own business and to go back and make any suggestions he had on politics to his members of the
United States and they Canadian steelworkers voted unanimously to support the new party. Do you think there's any chance of the Canadian locals or Canadian labor breaking away gradually perhaps but breaking away from the internationals in the United States. Well I don't exactly think that there are any immediate signs of a break way but I do believe that there is a growing awareness on the part of Canadian labor. That it is a very vital role to play in our society. I think there are there's a realize ation that constitutionally there is a difference between what our approach to problems must be and what the approach of unions in the United States must be. And this is of course as a result of the difference in our constitutional setup what is the difference between the two. Whatever group. Well I think that it's safe to say that Canadian labor. With all its flaws is far more idealistic more conscious of the role it can play in social change than our trade unions in
the United States. And I think that this is as a result of the heritage of. Well shall we say social awareness or political awareness which has existed in Canada for a great number of years and the labor movement. Now this is not to the same extent at all in the United States. There have been isolated cases of. Of unions working for. Democratic socialism I think in the main that they have been prepared to either support the Republicans or the Democratic parties. But in Canada there has always been a large segment of labor which has supported the social democratic movement and which I think will continue to do so. Do you think there's not a danger in labor supporting the new party as the Socialist Party is now called. In as much as there is the suspicion that there is an international control control from across the border. Well I think Canadian labor is growing up I think this is evident more so all the time now an
example. Is I think the fact that now the. As they were call apart councils which were chartered at one time by the AFL CIO are now chartered by the Canadian Labor Congress. I would imagine that in the years ahead that the building trades councils which now function exclusively under the Ever Vail CIO building trades department might well come under the jurisdiction of the Canadian Labor Congress. So I think that there is constantly a process in which Canadian labor is demanding. More autonomy. We don't mind cooperation but I don't think we particularly like Domini. This is rather a new phenomenon with labor people I can remember not too long ago talking to labor people who vehemently denied that there was any kind of control in the United States and the picture seems to change. People like yourself now are admitting that there is some control in some areas. I have never denied that I have cited incidents after incidents where in particular cases that this is true but I I think it would be wrong to say as
I pointed out to you that this exists with all international unions there are a great many international unions who do a good job in which the Canadian membership has just as much a voice just as much roll as others and in which they are specifically recognised that because of the different problems in Canada and because of our additional different constitutional processes that they must have the right to this autonomy in order to make their own decisions here. And in unions where this is recognised. Then I think it works out much better for the International for the Canadian membership and for good international relations. Eugene force is probably Labour's elder statesman in Canada so there is absolutely no control from the internationals in the United States. Is he correct in saying. Well that is a very broad statement by saying there is no control I have cited two incidents for you where I believe there is control I think that this can be supported. And I think that Dr. foresees statements is a general statement because that he would
admit that in the specific incidents which I have mentioned that this is true but again on the broad mass of international unions they do a good job for their membership. They recognize that Canadians have different problems and that they have the right to determine what their approach to these problems will be. How did it all start mixed up with the United States you know in the first place. Well I think that we have to go back a long way to get to the origin of this new labor movement of course originated in Britain and with the British emigrants as they came out here they planted the seeds of trade unionism now at one time Canadian unions were affiliated or were branches of parent unions which had their headquarters in Britain. This was in 1860 1870 and as a matter of fact until almost the turn of the century this was true. Now it became evident of course that you couldn't keep sending delegates to conferences in London due to the travel conditions of that time communications and other things. So with the expansion of the trade union movement.
It became more reasonable to expect that the cooperation would be between American trade unions and Canadian trade unions. And this I think is the logical development of the relations which now exist as an extension of what has happened over the past hundred years in the labor movement in Canada. Do you see any danger in Canada as close affiliation and labor. With United States danger to Canadian sovereignty. Well I see I see far greater danger in the tight control which corporations exist over there a danger is that a greater that is a much greater danger in my opinion as a matter of fact when you consider that 61 percent of our gross national product is controlled by economic forces outside of our control. Then I think that this is a much greater danger than control by American trade unions because at least our membership and our affiliated unions have some say in what the policy what the course
of activities is going to be. Whereas when you have complete control of corporations. Canadians have no say. Good bad or indifferent how these corporations are going to be. And this is in my opinion a much greater danger than any control from international unions. Now do you remember that Friday in the slip of James Harper earlier regarding Canada and the Teamsters. Just as if the border didn't think that is correct just as though it was another state. Well how does a Canadian Labor leader feel about that sort of sentiment. Here again is Pat wholemeal. Well I resent this very very much of course as a Canadian. And like I resent a lot of Jimmy Hoffa's other remarks. I think it illustrates very clearly a complete lack of understanding on the part of Mr. Hoffa and some Americans of the historic role which Canada has played and their attitude of taking us for granted. I think as I pointed out to us earlier that Canadians are gradually assuming a larger and larger share responsibility and that
unless the attitude of Mr. Hoffa and some Americans changed the concept of Canada being merely another state that it's going to do a lot to disrupt good international relations. Then there is the dollars and cents question of union dues going to the United States. But more important than any flow of actual money to the United States head offices is perhaps the potential in control. Several years ago the Canadian economy was seriously disrupted by a strike of railway fireman. Now while the question of whether modern trains needed firemen have been a burning issue in the United States for at least as long as it has been in Canada the problem was fought out in Canada which led some observers to claim that kind of it was being used as a testing ground by the union's American head office. Paradoxically some indication of the amount of actual US control may come from the United States itself. A little while ago gas big copper Mines Ltd. was suing the United States Steel Workers for over
five million dollars for losses suffered in a 1957 strike. But the mining company wasn't suing the Canadian look but rather the union's head office in Pittsburgh. A decision in favor of the Canadian company would mean that American courts recognize the control that the union has in Canadian labor affairs. Such then is another area in Canadian American relations which is undergoing rapid alteration and from the U.S. point of view one not necessarily for the better. Whereas legislation has already been passed in Canada to attempt to recapture control of U.S. companies in the Dominion. No such legislation is likely in the field of labor but Labor man in Canada will tell Americans assuming that they are interested that labor here is alive to the dangers of foreign control. And what Americans must understand today is that Canadians on occasion may exercise their right to revolt tomorrow
script and ovation by William McCarthy production Bill about on time. The boy in question this program is produced and recorded by the University of British Columbia Canada and under a grant from the National Educational Television and Radio Center and is being distributed by the National Association of educational broadcasters. This is the end. A radio network.
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The border in question
What's "international"?
Producing Organization
University of British Columbia
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program focuses on the position of Canadian union ties with big American unions.
Series Description
Documentary series on U.S.-Canadian relations, from a Canadian point of view.
Broadcast Date
Global Affairs
Media type
Narrator: Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.
Producing Organization: University of British Columbia
Production Manager: Valentine, Bill
Writer: McCarthy, William
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 61-57-5 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:52
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Chicago: “The border in question; What's "international"?,” 1961-11-28, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed December 9, 2023,
MLA: “The border in question; What's "international"?.” 1961-11-28. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. December 9, 2023. <>.
APA: The border in question; What's "international"?. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from