The working men and women of North America played a crucial role in many of the great changes occurring over the last 100 years in industrialization, transportation and social justice. Their struggles and triumphs shaped the economic, class and social trends more than any other group. The rise of North America’s working families into the middle class, the empowerment of workers through collective bargaining and on-the-job protections of health, safety and retirement security lead to the establishment of a powerful voice for workers and dignity in the workplace.
These remarkable gains took place in the short historical space of 100 years due in large part to the courage and determined efforts of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. The strong-willed members of this great union made the 20th century the Teamster Century.
Our Local 647 History
Your Local is the second oldest in Canada. Established in 1934, our Local organised thousands in dairy, bakery, and catering. Our members work as fluid milk, ice cream, fresh and frozen bakery, margarine and mayonnaise production and distribution, catering and distribution workers. Our Local 647 has a rich History and successful history. Our Union has built up many strong Collective Agreements and has helped build and protect good paying middle class jobs across Ontario.
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) was officially founded in 1903, when two different organizations, the Teams Drivers International Union (formed in 1898) and the Teamsters National Union of America (formed in 1902) united to improve working conditions for drivers, cargo handlers, and helpers.
In 1912, the history of transportation was changed forever by the first transcontinental delivery of merchandise by truck. This major new mode of transportation led to new problems and new needs. It was during these years that Teamsters Canada built its reputation as a strong, dynamic, and militant, union that knew how to fight for its members rights.
A period of transition
The 1920s and 1930s were a period of great transition and growth. As it continued to expand and strengthen its base, the IBT became affiliated with the Canadian Trade and Labour Congress. In Canada, the Teamsters developed its internal organization accordingly, by adopting a concept of Joint Councils and Regional Conferences. During this time, the Union continued to expand into industrial, food processing and focused in the Bakery, Dairy, Laundry and other core industries.
Birth of the Canadian Conference
In 1976, the Canadian Conference of Teamsters was formed in recognition of the needs, interests, and aspirations, of its Canadian membership, that at the time numbered over 74,000.
In 1992, a proposal was submitted to the general executive committee to change the name from “Canadian Conference of Teamsters” to “Teamsters Canada,” in recognition of the special sovereignty needs of Canadian members.
In 1994, delegates to the Teamsters Canada Special Convention adopted changes to the union regulations, granting Teamsters Canada a greater role in administering the affairs of its members and those of Canadian unions affiliated internationally.
In 1994, Teamsters Canada also created its own strike fund for Canadian members. This fund is now the strongest strike fund in the labour movement.
Teamsters Canada. An Autonomous Organization.
In 1995, the terms of a proposal to amend the International Constitution regarding Canadian sovereignty were negotiated, granting Teamsters Canada more independence and control over issues affecting Canadian members.
To this end, an amendment was passed at the International Convention in 1996 to create the position of president of Teamsters Canada. Candidates for this position could now be elected by the Canadian membership. Other changes to the IBT Constitution have also been considered in order to recognize Canadian sovereignty.
In June 2001, a historic agreement was announced between the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and Teamsters Canada, resulting in entrenchment, in the union’s constitution, of autonomy for members, local sections, joint councils and the national governing body in Canada.
In other words, Teamsters Canada would now be an autonomous organization, while remaining affiliated with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
In the era of globalization, given the industrial sectors in which Teamsters Canada members work, maintenance of a link with the international union was essential.
At the same time, Canadian autonomy since 2001 has given our union the tools it needs to represent and defend member interests on both the national and international scenes.
The ability of the Teamsters to positively influence changes in the labour market is clearly illustrated by the presence of a lobbyist in Ottawa whose job it is to advance important issues affecting the welfare of our members.
Because Teamsters Canada is not affiliated with any political party, we have become a preferred representative to governments. Senior officials, cabinet ministers and sometimes even premiers and prime ministers consult our union’s officials to help them make crucial decisions for our country’s future.
In addition, numerous campaigns have been launched for the purpose of keeping union members and the Canadian public informed about key issues of the 21st century.
In fact, the main issue for our union in the next few years will almost certainly be the level of motivation of Canadian workers in a rather heartless labour market, one that has less and less consideration for its important human capital.
The Teamsters Union is active not only in standing up for our members, but for important social issues as well.
The Teamsters donate hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations every year to numerous charitable causes across the country. For example, Teamsters Canada’s Women’s Caucus provides assistance to women and children in need.
Another example is that our Ontario Locals lend a helping hand to underprivileged children. But, most importantly, the Teamsters have helped build the middle class across all of North America.
Now the Union battling multinational corporations to protect and advance good paying jobs with stronger benefits.
The Teamsters Union now represents nearly 1.4 million members – making us the most powerful union in North America.