RankandFile.ca Endorses Hassan Husseini for CLC President

1970770_434435316658779_1507308423_nAfter careful consideration of election platforms, RankandFile.ca is endorsing Hassan Husseini for president of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC). The proposals put forward in his platform, if implemented, will work to develop progressive change in the Canadian labour movement. RankandFile.ca also believes that the current CLC leadership needs to be held accountable for its lacklustre record and poor decisions over the past fifteen years, especially since the economic crisis hit in 2008. The following is an explanation of why we came to this decision.

The Canadian Labour Congress is witnessing its first contested presidential election since 2005. It is also a three-way race between the CLC’s current president Ken Georgetti, the CLC Secretary-Treasurer Hassan Yussuff, and Hassan Husseini, a negotiator with the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC). This candidate primer has a useful breakdown of the three campaigns.

If official endorsements are any indication, Yussuff and Georgetti have the strongest campaigns. National executives from the Steelworkers, Teamsters, UFCW, NUPGE, LiUNA, CUPE, and IAMAW have all endorsed Georgetti. Yussuff has won support from national executive members of Unifor, PSAC, OECTA, FTQ, and the presidents of the Toronto/York and Peel district labour councils.

Meanwhile, Husseini’s campaign has won the support of three labour councils, (Halifax-Dartmouth, Guelph, and Fredericton district councils), two components of PSAC, several Unifor and CUPE locals, a couple area councils, the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (Ontario chapter), and the Asian Canadian Labour Alliance. There is a noticeable absence of individual union leader endorsements.

The three-way contest neatly represents the two souls of the Canadian labour movement. Early on, with just Husseini and Georgetti in the race, it looked as if there was a neat divide between those who wanted the CLC to continue on its current path and those looking for a shake-up. However, when Yussuff entered the race, it complicated the battlegrounds as both Yussuff and Husseini claim the mantle of change.

The platforms of both Ken Georgetti and Hassan Yussuff are too vague to warrant serious support. There are no real concrete proposals put forward. Buzzwords are not enough. And being a “good guy” is not a good enough reason to deserve votes for president of the CLC. Hassan Husseini’s campaign, meanwhile, includes several important concrete proposals.

One of the most exciting is his promise to shift resources away from the bizarre and far too expensive “Fairness Works” popsicle-themed ad campaign, and to hire organizers for each labour council. Husseini also speaks about cross-union collaboration in training, solidarity actions, and organizing the unorganized. This is a necessity if labour councils and the movement as a whole are to stop the employer and governmental offensive and begin making gains again.

Husseini is also proposing an independent set of political demands by labour which can be taken to political parties as a means of holding them to account. With the ongoing drift of the NDP (provincially and nationally) towards shallow tweakings of the system (i.e. going after ATM fees instead of the banks as a whole), labour also has to use its collective strength to place demands on political parties, including the NDP.

Endorsing Husseini is also a vote against a leadership that needs to be held to account for its record. The Canadian Pension Plan (CPP) campaign waged a few years ago is the most glaring example of the sort of self-inflicted failures that demand accountability. The campaign had pulled thousands of trade unionists into activity at town hall meetings and educationals. A series of MP office occupations took place, including around the raising of Old Age Security eligibility from age 65 to 67. Real pressure from union members and retirees put CPP reform on the national agenda. But once Ken Georgetti’s leadership team got closed-door hearings with politicians, the wider campaign was wound down. While direct lobbying of politicians cannot be ignored, the collective strength of the members, which built the labour movement in the first place, was squandered.

This meant that when CPP reform was finally on the agenda in 2013, the labour movement had no collective strength or bargaining power to bring to bear against the Tory government. As a result, the moment to reform CPP was lost, setting Canadian workers back once again.

RankandFile.ca believes Ken Georgetti and the CLC leadership should be held accountable for this unacceptable failure. It’s the most basic principle of trade unionism: without working together, collectively, we have no power to force employers to bargain. The same is true when we place demands on the government, whoever is in power. The CLC leadership didn’t simply fail to mobilize the membership. It mobilized members and then squandered that momentum through a failed lobbying effort. It chased leaders instead of building movements. This breeds cynicism among workers about the labour movement’s potential for a fightback.

This is why workers who recognize the need for a renewed labour movement driven by the rank-and-file ought to be organized into networks and groups capable of making decisions independent of labour leaders, or pushing labour leaders into making the best decisions, decisions which necessitate an active membership. Without such organization, labour leaders remain the only cohesive layer of the labour movement capable of making independent decisions. The rank-and-file need this power when labour leaders make bad or cowardly decisions, and the rank-and-file can only do this collectively.

Let’s be honest. The CLC itself is weak, perhaps weaker than it has ever been. The real power lies with the component unions of the congress. No matter who is elected, they will be facing an uphill battle in uniting the labour movement. However, at this juncture, electing a progressive leadership in Canada’s house of labour is an important step in rebuilding the confidence and militancy of the Canadian labour movement at all levels. Regardless of who ultimately wins we should recognize this election as an opportunity to build and strengthen networks of trade union activists and determine to make unions relevant political fighting forces for all workers in Canada. It is through this lens that we should understand the importance of the CLC presidential and other executive races.

In solidarity,

Editors of RankandFile.ca

Hassan Husseini is speaking at upcoming events in WinnipegFredericton, Saint John and Toronto. Please visit his website for more details. 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

2 thoughts on “RankandFile.ca Endorses Hassan Husseini for CLC President

  1. Since the introduction of the Rand Formula in Ontario and similar legal structures in the rest of Canada, organized labour has become an ossified bureaucracy more interested in writing letters, making court challenges, holding Saturday rallies and now posting on “facebook”, etc. than in real class struggle. Most elected union leaders are class collaborators. It will take a lot more than a “new” president of the CLC to turn this ship around. But we can always “Hope”.

  2. It seems like a lot of the big unions are lining up behind Georgetti- and from some rumours he seems to have secured enough to win. It is at times like these I am unsure of labour in Canada, I have been studying it for years- but it is time to really get to the bottom of some issues. I am glad at least this year their is a challenge and a push for some change. Sadly it is being blocked by those that like the current docile nature of the CLC. If the status quo is maintained at the CLC, and that is what the larger unions prefer- a CLC that is powerless- then why even have such a large entity at the top of labour? Truly it is a whole lot of resources to invest into a docile entity. I am sorry to say this but those in there know exactly what I am saying. It surely has become a decentralized beast when the center has no power- and to a point that things like an expensive advertising campaign sets up such infighting and disagreement. ( although I have to say I disagreed with it, but I do not have an eye on the revenues- so I am sure there was warranted criticism for excessive spending on such a short lived very expensive campaign) Especially when so many other things are crying for leadership, direction and resources.

    So if the decentralization is so rampant why keep a center? Why not allow the factions to mount their own centers and go that route?

    If the status quo is maintained at the CLC we will know that the larger unions want it that way- and that is mostly due to the level of decentralization of the political and regional interests. Why expend the resources to keep up a facade of solidarity- let it fall and let the others rebuild effective vehicles where real solidarity and togetherness can be hammered out.

    I would rather see 2-3 center that at least can agree on some effective direction rather than a facade of a center that can never do a thing because of the divisions in labour. Let the fall apart and rebuild itself. That way whatever all those historical battles and personalities that keep it all divided will be purged from the seats of power.

    We need somekind of change and I do think it will be impossible to make any progress for real change given the current divisions.

Add Comment