Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2022-05-16

The Toronto Airport Workers’ Council: Renewing Workplace Organizing and Socialist Labor Education

Document type Article
Author Gray, Paul Christopher
Author House, Jordan
Journal Labor Studies Journal
Volume 44
Date 2019 March
ISSN 0160-449X
Pages 8-35


Among the 40,000 workers in Canada’s largest workplace, Lester B. Pearson International Airport in Toronto, a small but significant group of worker-organizers has created the Toronto Airport Workers’ Council (TAWC), a nonunion organization open to all Pearson workers. In this paper, we discuss the capitalist context of Canadian labor relations and the neoliberal restructuring that has attacked working conditions and workers’ solidarity across the airline industry. Then, after examining the insufficient responses by the twelve Pearson unions, we explain how workers formed the TAWC, whose participatory structures, direct action strategy, and broader class focus have achieved considerable successes, despite tensions with union leaders wary of potential “dual unionism.” We also discuss how the TAWC provides a space for socialist-led workplace organizing training and political education by the Toronto Labour Committee. Finally, we explore the possible roles of this council model in labor movement renewal and labor education in socialist movement renewal.