The People's Summit Marquee Series Presents:
President of the Canadian Labour Congress
Monday, June 12, 1995
Saint Mary's University
Burke Education Building
Bob White was elected President of the Canadian Labour Congress in June
1992 and re-elected in 1994. His involvement with the labour movement
began when he went to work at the age of 15 in Woodstock, Ont., and by
the time one year had passed he'd participated in his first strike.
Today, as President of the CLC, he is the chief spokesperson for 2.2
million working Canadians.
White's journey though the movement and the workforce has put him on
the picket lines and at parliamentary committees. He was the central
figure of the crtically acclaimed National Film Board production Final
Offer and has published his autobiography Hard Bar-gains: My Life on
White got his start in union politics and organizing with the United
Auto Workers (UAW). By 1959 he was president of UAW Local 636 and in 1960
was appointed UAW international representative and assigned to organizing
duties in Canada. In 1972 he became administrative assistant to the UAW
director of Canada.
In 1984 he was at the centre of one of the most dramatic movements in
Canadian labour history when UAW was restructured and the Canadian Auto
Workers Union (CAW) emerged to reshape the Canadian labour landscape. The
founding convention for the new union took place in 1985 and White was
acclaimed the first CAW-CANADA president, serving three terms.
He has spoken out in Canada and around the world for human rights and
led innovative bargaining for indexed pensions and many other issues.
White became a household word during the debates around the Canada-US
Free Trade Agreement, as one of the most outspoken opponents of the deal.
He has been a lifelong member of the New Democratic Party of Canada and
participates actively on the broader political stage.
He was the first major leader in Canada to speak out against cruise
missile testing. In Munich, Germany, he put the case before Chancellor
Helmut Kohl to put a dramatic rise in OECD-country unemployment on the G7
Summit agenda. As a strong advocate for dialogue between workers and
their representatives, White has taken his ideas around the world.