Unifor is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of former Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) President Bob White.

“Bob was a true maverick in the Canadian labour movement. He will be deeply missed and I extend my condolences to his family on behalf of all of Unifor,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “The CAW was born as a result of his determination and leadership, it is thanks to Bob that we have grown into the strong national union that we are today.”

In December 1984, White and the Canadian branch of the United Auto Workers made the historic decision to split from the American organization and establish a new union, renamed the Canadian Auto Workers. White was elected CAW President three times—at the CAW’s founding convention in in 1985, and again in 1988 and 1991.

White’s legacy includes groundbreaking negotiations with the Detroit Three, in addition to being a central leader in the fight against the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). During his tenure the CAW expanded in influence and size to include members outside of the auto sector. In 2013, the Canadian Auto Workers merged with the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada to create Unifor.

“Bob White’s legacy is a stronger and more equitable Canada, and a labour movement that stands up for Canadian workers,” said Dias. “Bob was a trailblazer, who fought not just for the union but also for social justice. He believed in using our collective strength to make both our workplaces and our world better places. His vision lives on and we will continue the fight in his honour.”