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HARD BARGAINS: MY LIFE ON THE LINE.

White, Bob.

Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, 1987. 380pp, cloth, $26,95, ISBN 0-7710-8836-l. CIP.

Grades 9 and up
Reviewed by Joan M. Payzant

Volume 16 Number 3
1988 May


Hard Bargains is just what Bob White, leader of the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW), wanted it to be:

a book that looks candidly at a union and its leader from the inside. Media portrayals of unions are seldom sympathetic, and people outside the labour movement often have only a vague idea of how unions work. I decided that if my story could help Canadians understand unions, then I would do it.

Do it he has, with the brilliant assistance of ghost-writer June Callwood, who listened to hours of Bob White's recollections on tape and organized the material into this readable account of White's involvement in unions from 1951 to 1987.

White emerges as a tough and dedicated fighter for the rights of workers, a staunch Canadian, and an opponent of the proliferation of nuclear arms and free trade with the United States. His relationships with other prominent labour leaders-Walter Reuther, Dennis McDermott and Doug Fraser, for instanceómake intriguing reading. So do the backroom battles and night-long negotiating sessions with companies like Fleck Manufacturing, the "Big Three" auto manufacturers, and Michelin Tires (Canada) Ltd.

The crowning achievement of Bob White's career to date has probably been the formation of the CAW, which, unlike its American parent, the UAW, has held the line against the "Big Three." I did gain insight into an understanding of unions and labour leaders from Hard Bargains, but as a white-collar worker I don't like them any better than I did before.

The book has a comprehensive index for ready reference. It is recommended for those who want to learn all there is to know about Canada's connections with the UAW, and Bob White's determination to secede from it when the Canadian region was not given more autonomy.


Joan M. Payzant, Dartmouth, N.S.
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