Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2021-01-05

Origins of Canada's Wagner Model of Industrial Relations: The United Auto Workers in Canada and the Suppression of "Rank and File" Unionism, 1936-1953

Document type Article
Author Wells, Donald M.
Journal The Canadian Journal of Sociology / Cahiers canadiens de sociologie
Volume 20
Date 1995 Spring
Pages 193-225


Focusing on the origins of the United Automobile Workers (UAW) in Canada during the 1940s, this study analyzes the evolution of a work-centred, "rank and file" model of unionism into a top-down model of economistic unionism centred on collective bargaining and the stabilization of labour-management relations in the workplace. In order to attain organizational security, UAW leaders turned to state elites. The main price of employer and state acceptance of such security was the union leaders' agreement to suppress worker "direct action." This tradeoff has helped to shape the current limits of trade union mobilization in Canada. --Publisher's description