70 Incredible Years
What began as a small movement within a hard-working immigrant community has become one of the largest independent and most diversified unions in Canada
By Wayne Prins
For many years since its founding in 1952, CLAC was the lone union voice promoting collaborative, interest-based worker advocacy in Canada. While the traditional labour movement wailed for generations about class struggle and relentlessly pursued power through fabricated conflict, CLAC remained focused on our core beliefs: the inherent dignity of each worker, the dignity of work itself, and the role of a positive work community in the pursuit of worker interests.
In more recent years, CLAC’s model has been widely adopted, at least in theory, by much of the Canadian labour movement. Declining union density in the private sector drove traditional unions to look at the principles that CLAC pioneered and that made us so successful.
We are immensely proud of CLAC’s heritage of applying values and principles derived from a biblical understanding of people, work, and community into modern and diverse workplaces. How this is done in practice has evolved through the years, but these foundational values and principles are articulated today in basically the same way that they were 70 years ago. Every worker is created equal—regardless of job, position, seniority, ability, age, gender, race, ethnicity, colour, religion, sexual orientation, status, or anything else. This equality is the basis for mutual respect and dignity, which we demand in the workplace.
We are created to work, and work itself is good. Work grants us opportunity to express and use our gifts and abilities, and it allows us to accomplish meaningful and fulfilling tasks, often in service to others. Through work, we provide for ourselves and our loved ones. Securing fair wages and benefits is one of our primary functions as a union.
Lastly, we are created to live in community. Although the last two years have forced a greater degree of isolation on all of us, we are not meant to live that way. We are meant to live in connection and harmony with others, particularly with those we live and work with.
In community we laugh together, we support each other in moments of difficulty, we lean on each other in pursuit of collective goals, and we experience a sense of belonging. CLAC’s goal has always been to create positive work communities, with strong relationships that go beyond union ranks.
We are profoundly grateful for you, our members, who make our work possible. Without you, CLAC is just an idea. But with over 60,000 members across the country, we’re much more than an idea—we’re a force for positive change and better lives for workers across this country. Thank you for making that possible.
Here’s to celebrating 70 incredible years for CLAC and anticipating many more!