The CAW's Long, Futile Road To Organizing Honda Plants

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler
the caw s long futile road to organizing honda plants

If you believe Ken Lewenza, president of the Canadian Auto Workers union, the CAW is well on its way to organizing Honda’s Alliston, Ontario assembly plant. Lewenza told Ward’s Auto that “We’re getting some enthusiastic and strong support, but we’re not there yet.” The biggest problem for Lewenza is that the CAW has been in that position for almost two decades with respect to Alliston and hasn’t made any progress.

You may not know that, if the only thing you’ve seen so far are totally inaccurate, poorly aggregated articles like “ CAW Begins to Organize Workers at Honda’s Ontario Factory“. This is simply not true. The CAW isn’t begging to organize workers at Alliston. Nor are Honda’s Canadian plant employees a bunch of pinkos who want to revolt against their foreign overlords while reaping the benefits of a union card. The truth is far more mundane and less exciting, as it usually is.

Honda hasn’t gone on the record with any publication regarding the CAW’s attempts – but we have sources that are familiar with the company, and are willing to talk to us. According to our source, the CAW has been trying this since at least the early1990s, but has never had much success.

There are assembly line workers at Alliston who want to unionize, but the majority apparently have no desire; wages are competitive and union dues don’t have to be paid. The union hasn’t been warmly received in the past either. Alliston, which builds the Honda Civic, CR-V, Acura MDX and ZDX, is one of Honda’s crown jewels in North America, and to Honda brass, the idea of unionization is anathema to the Big H’s corporate culture.

“It runs counter to the Japanese concept of loyalty,” our source said. “The whole idea is that if you’re loyal to the company, they’ll look out for you and your best interests. The workers shouldn’t need a union for that.” Honda also doesn’t want an outside force interfering in the way their plants are run. As our source put it “…[Organizing] interferes with the management structure of the plant itself – which is unacceptable to them.” As for what would happen if Alliston, or another Honda plant unionized? “Well,” said my source “ remember what happened to Wal-Mart in Quebec?”

The idea that the union is making “progress” like so many blog headlines suggest, may be relative to say, being nearly dead in the water over the past two decades. The CAW is, to put it lightly, f***ed if they don’t sign up new members, and in a world where even the Oshawa plant is at risk, their future is precarious at best.

Join the conversation
2 of 18 comments
  • "scarey" "scarey" on Jul 02, 2012

    The trouble with unions is that the workers trade their loyalty to the Brand for loyalty to the union. This necessitates a lack of shared goals with the brand and (nearly) always results in a drop in quality, as well as other tangible and intangible results. However, if you mistreat your workers long enough, you may get a union, and you probably deserve it. Little or no mistreatment, no union.

  • Oboylepr Oboylepr on Jul 04, 2012

    Lewenza must think the workers at Honda are idiots. If Honda workers want a good idea of what life will be life with the CAW, all the have to do is look at the mess in GM Oshawa. Thats the future they face if they unionise with the CAW. If they must have a union they should establish an independent union of their own. If they are to have a future keep the CAW out at all costs. The CAW is destroying the auto industry in Canada.

  • Analoggrotto Porsche will never reach the status of TESLA.
  • Analoggrotto WHy augment reality in a Ferrari when you can experience the future today among the elite of society's most affluent from behind the wheel of an Elon Muck SpaceX Affiliated TESLA.
  • Tassos I tried to post a link (2 mins of Trump's speech to a Detroit Supplier) but it did not show (yet).He lamented the demise of the Big 3 due to the EV mandates, and told them Idiot Joe Biden will make them bankrupt and they will all lose their jobs.The most important thing he did not mention was that none of the onetime big 3 can make a BEV at a profit, after more than a full decade of trying.What's more, The only automaker in the Free World that has been able to make a BEV at a profit and has massive sales, dwarfing all the rest BEV models put TOGETHER, is the very Domestic (But not unionized, and with good reason!) T E S L A.
  • Tassos I have been a very happy Honda owner for many many decades, this clueless clown does not know what he or she is talking about, IF he refers to me in his hatchet piece.I am a big admirer of the Honda Accord, of which I owned a coupe 5 speed from 1994 to 2016, it was way underpowered by today's standards but it had excellent quality inside and out.and also the CIvic hatch, which I bought new in 1991 and owned until it was totaled (100% the other guy's fault) in 2016, which was the perfect city car, (as its latin name suggests, illiterates) very lightweight and quick on its feed despite its modest HP.I also was always impressed by the Accord Hybrid, which has the same stellar MPG as the Camry Hybrid, but with far more satisfying driving dynamics and styling.So again, Christine, what the hell are you talking about?????
  • TheEndlessEnigma Here comes the Tassos rant...