Canadian Labour Congress

The Canadian Labour Congress, or CLC (in French "le Congrès du travail du Canada" or CTC) is the central labour body in Canada to which most Canadian labor unions are affiliated.


The CLC was founded in 1956 by the Trades and Labour Congress of Canada (TLC) and the Canadian Congress of Labour (CCL), the two major labour congresses in Canada at the time. This brought together the skilled trades represented by the TLC and the unskilled workers represented by the CCL. This mirrors the union of the AFL-CIO in the United States which occurred in 1955.

Within the CLC there has always been conflict between the idea of direct political action by the labour movement which was influenced by the British Labour movement and American trade union vision of political action which is not ideologically based. The idea of direct political action has generally won out with strong (though never official) support for the major social democratic parties New Democratic Party (NDP) and its precursor the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF). This conflict was one of the reasons which led to the expulsion of the building trades (crafts) from the CLC in the early 1980s.

The CLC has supported the growth of public sector unions and a few high profile labour disputes in the 1970s and early 1980s. Along with a coalition of social activists they were also strongly opposed to the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) proposed by the Progressive Conservative government of Brian Mulroney in 1987. They felt that free trade with the United States would restrict the ability of the Canadian government to make autonomous decisions based upon the national interest. Many CLC representatives predicted the decline of Canadian cultural institutions and the loss of wages and social programs.

The CLC continues to have growth recently with teachers, nurses, and building trades. They remain committed to fighting neo-conservative governments at the federal and provincial level as well as strongly supporting social welfare programs and government intervention in the economy.

Structure and Executive

The current president is Ken Georgetti from British Columbia, a province known for polarized labour relations. Past presidents of note are Bob White (known for founding of the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) replacing the International United Auto Workers (UAW) as the union for auto workers in Canada), and Shirley Carr, the first woman to head the CLC. In 2005, long-time union activist Carol Wall is mounting the first ever challenge to Georgetti's presidency.

Conventions are held every three years. A union with 1000 or less members is entitled to one delegate. Another delegate is added after each increment of 500 members. Other delegates are permitted for national or provincial unions, as well as youth delegates. Committees are formed by the officers of the Congress to reach consensus on policy. The officers of the Congress are the president, secretary-treasurer, and two executive vice presidents. Officers are elected by secret ballot at the governing convention. The next convention is in June, 2005 in Montreal, Quebec

There is an executive council, governing body of the CLC between conventions, which consists of the congress officers, the leadership of the 22 largest unions in the CLC, and representatives of women, people of colour, aboriginal, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people, youth and retired workers. This group meets at least three times a year.

There is also an executive committee which looks after the affairs and administration of the congress. It consists of the president, the secretary-treasurer and the executive vice presidents. The remainder of the committee's members seek to include balance representation for public sector and private sector unions. Other members are chosen by vote of the executive council. This group meets at least four times a year.

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