Unions and abortionists have had a long history in Canada

The U.S.-based United Auto Workers made an unusual demand last month in national contract negotiations with General Motors Corp. and Chrysler: it wants the automakers to pay for voluntary abortions as part of employee health care coverage.

The union, representing 307,000 workers and 522,000 retirees, surviving spouses and dependents, refused to comment, although a spokesperson for the New York-based Alan Guttmacher Insitute, which specializes in reproductive issues, told the media the demand appeared to be “the only case of its kind right now.” The institute added: “There is very little information about how frequent this is in union talks.”

While abortions are covered in Canada by government health care spending, most Americans depend upon health coverage provided by their employers. The demand might not even be feasible, as several states prohibit insurance coverage of abortions.

In spite of the widespread availability of free abortions in Canada, Canadian unions have maintained a long friendship with the pro-abortion movement. According to a website maintained by now-retired, long-time trade union reform activist Stephen Gray (www.geocities.com/graysinfo), the Ontario Federation of Labour has donated thousands of dollars to the defence fund of Canada’s foremost abortionist, Henry Morgentaler, while the B.C. Federation of Labour has solicited funds for abortion clinics.

Gray’s website even re-prints a damning quotation from a brochure published by the B.C. Coalition for Abortion Clinics: “The B.C. Federation of Labour and the Canadian Labour Congress, along with other labour organizations, have long supported women’s ‘right to choice’ on abortion, free-standing abortion clinics and medicare coverage for abortion.”

The B.C.-based Gray told The Interim that he is not surprised by the UAW’s demand for abortion coverage. “Over the past few years, unions have been encroaching into the personal, religious and moral issues without ever polling their members,” said Gray. “I don’t believe this is a demand made by the (union’s) rank and file.”

Gray argued Canadian union bosses have forged a mutually advantageous alliance with radical feminists and other groups in the New Democratic Party’s electoral coalition. He complained that “collective bargaining has evolved into collective coercion,” and expressed little hope the automakers will resist the UAW’s demands. “I think the corporate chiefs will fold like a knife,” said Gray.

A self-described “long-time union guy,” and editor of the Save the Union Movement newsletter from 1990 to 2001, Gray said he frequently met with hostility from his own union representatives when he challenged them on abortion and other issues. “They just laughed at me, and they threatened to take away my union card,” said Gray, adding that his fellow workers generally agreed with him. “Regardless of how they felt about abortion, a majority of them agreed with me that a union just exists to bargain collectively.”

Asked if union leaders in Canada are out of touch with their members, Gray responded by talking about his own experiences. He said it bothered him when union bosses spent money on pro-abortion and pro-gay rights causes at the same time that union dues were high and laid-off members were struggling to pay the bills. “If any other organization in Canada had pulled these stunts with members’ money, charges would have been laid, but companies and politicians are scared, so (unions) do what they like,” said Gray.

Interestingly, Gray’s arguments were reinforced by a National Post/Global National poll that showed only 28 per cent of union members were “very satisfied” with their unions’ representation of their issues. About 73 per cent of respondents indicated unions should spend income derived from union dues only on workplace issues, not on political causes.