Founded in 1969 on the initiative of veteran labour organizers Kent ROWLEY and Madeleine PARENT, the Confederation of Canadian Unions (originally the Council of Canadian Unions 1969-73) is dedicated to the establishment of a democratic, independent Canadian labour movement free of the influence of American-based international unions. In 1994 the CCU contained approximately 20 000 members in 11 affiliated unions, in both the public and private sector.
The CCU has been a progressive leader in the struggle for workers' rights and social justice for all Canadians and was the first labour federation in Canada to call for equal pay for work of equal value. Criticism of business unionism and competition for members frequently brings the CCU into conflict with Canada's major labour federation, the CANADIAN LABOUR CONGRESS. Although the CCU accounts for only a tiny percentage of organized labour in Canada, its appeals for independence and new members have influenced the creation of autonomy guidelines within many international unions and encouraged some independent breakaways.