Canada’s unions are mourning the loss of a great and inspirational leader, former Canadian Labour Congress president Bob White, who has died at age 81.
“Bob was courageous leader who blazed a lot of trails in the labour movement,” said CLC president Hassan Yussuff.
“He will be remembered by all of us for his fearless leadership and his commitment to social justice for people in Canada and around the world,” he added.
White became president of the Canadian Auto Workers at its founding convention in 1985, where he served until being elected president of the Canadian Labour Congress in June 1992. He was re-elected in 1994 and retired in 1999.
Through that time he was recognized around the world as a staunch defender of human rights and social justice, and was an icon in Canada’s anti-apartheid movement.
He championed fairness for workers around the world as the first Canadian president of the OECD’s Trade Union Advisory Committee (TUAC) and as chair of the Human and Trade Union Rights Committee of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, now called the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions.
He also worked tirelessly to keep Canada’s unions strong.
“Bob White embraced change and recognized that in order to stay relevant, unions had to adapt and welcome leadership from women, workers of colour and all equity-seeking groups,” said Yussuff.
“I will remember him as a great friend and mentor who encouraged me, as a young worker of colour, to step up and lead, first at the CAW, and then as vice president at the CLC,” he added.
“We all send our heartfelt condolences to his family today,” he said.