436. Telegram From the Embassy in Canada to the Department of State0

1309. Department please pass copy this telegram to Secretary Goldberg.1 Reference: Embtel 1259 and Department telegram 1183.2 Serious [Page 1181]harm is being done to US-Canadian relations by interference of AFL–CIO and some of its affiliates in disputes between unions in Canada, especially after such disputes settled in accordance Canadian procedures.

Dispute which is causing most trouble presently is that between Seafarers International Union and Canadian Maritime Union over representation of men employed on ships of upper lakes and island shipping companies. SIU-instigated harassment of these ships in US and Canada has thus far cost companies about $500,000 resulted in beatings of both CMU and company representatives, involved courts and quasijudicial labor relations bodies of US and Canada as well as other government agencies, and no end to the struggle is in sight, even though violence may be curbed. This dispute, issue of which is settled in Canada under Canadian law, would long since have been over were it not for continual interference of US unions and AFL–CIO in US.

Understand that ship Howard L. Shaw has been immobilized in Chicago for over two weeks by refusal of International Longshoremen to handle her despite court injunction against SIU picketing.

Efforts of Canadian Labour Congress in direct discussions with AFL–CIO to settle matter including meeting of liasion committee in Washington June 4–5 have ended in failure. On June 5 according to CLC official Meany responded to request for guidance from Duluth Labor Council with telegram saying “No new policy necessary. SIU is affiliate of AFL–CIO and CMU is not.” This is tantamount to saying that Canadians do not have right to choose union to represent them unless it is affiliate of AFL–CIO.

Discussions of liasion committee equally unfruitful on other issues including recent decision by AFL–CIO to use its dispute machinery to settle jurisdictional dispute in Canadian paper mill.

There is feeling in CLC and on part of upper lakes management that retaliatory action against SIU-organized American ships only course available in view inability to persuade AFL–CIO or to obtain effective relief through NLRB and US courts. Some Canadian Government officials inclined to agree. Liberal leader Pearson reported to have expressed his shock and disgust at SIU-inspired violence. Feelings are rising and resentment increasing against AFL–CIO and international unions in general. Meetings this week of union members working on St. Lawrence Seaway and at Orr Docks Seven Islands and other points expected to order boycott of SIU-organized American ships effective immediately.

I believe these considerations should be brought promptly to George Meany’s serious attention and he should be urged strongly by high administration spokesman to place AFL–CIO in position of scrupulous [Page 1182]neutrality with regard to unsettled Canadian disputes and of respect for Canadian settlements and decisions when they are reached. Representation on upper Jakes and island shipping vessels is decided, and American unions should abide by decision.

Representation of Newfoundland loggers is also decided, and CLC will be compelled to recognize that fact. Where representation in Canada not yet decided, Canadians must make decisions. Naturally all such decisions are subject to change and international unions have right to try to alter situations to their advantage. However, they should confine their efforts to what is lawful and permissible with Canada and not try to impose solutions from US. Any other course will only exacerbate relations between two countries and cause restriction of international unionism in Canada.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 911.7342/6–1862. Confidential; Priority. Repeated to Toronto and Montreal.
  2. Secretary of Labor Authur J. Goldberg.
  3. Telegram 1259, June 6, reported that Ritchie had been instructed to request an investigation by U.S. authorities of incidents against Canadian ships in the Great Lakes. (Ibid., 911.7342/6–662) Telegram 1183, June 7, summarized the discussion with the Canadian Ambassador on June 6 and stressed that the United States was “quite prepared to comply with Canadian request.” (Ibid., 811.062/6–662) A memorandum of the conversation with Ritchie on June 6 is ibid.