Browse "Unions & Labour"

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Winnipeg General Strike of 1919

The Winnipeg General Strike of 1919 was the largest strike in Canadian history. Between 15 May and 25 June 1919, more than 30,000 workers left their jobs. Factories, shops, transit and city services shut down. The strike resulted in arrests, injuries and the deaths of two protestors. It did not immediately succeed in empowering workers and improving job conditions. But the strike did help unite the working class in Canada. Some of its participants helped establish what is now the New Democratic Party.

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Windsor Ford Strike of 1945

The Windsor Ford Strike was a 99-day strike from 12 September to 19 December 1945 by 11,000 employees of the Windsor, Ontario, Ford Motor Company plant. Some 8,000 auto workers from other plants also participated. The Ford workers, who were led by the United Automobile Workers of Canada (UAW), demanded recognition of their union by Ford and mandatory membership for all plant workers. The strike was ultimately resolved through binding arbitration under Supreme Court Justice Ivan C. Rand and resulted in the widely used Rand Formula.

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Asbestos Strike of 1949

The Asbestos Strike began on 14 February 1949 and paralyzed major asbestos mines in Quebec for almost five months. The Quebec government sided with the main employer, an American-owned company, against the 5,000 unionized mine workers. From the start, the strike created conflicts between the provincial government and the Roman Catholic Church, which usually sided with the government. One of the longest and most violent labour conflicts in Quebec history, it helped lay the groundwork for the Quiet Revolution.

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ACTRA

The Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists, better known as ACTRA, is the union that represents performers in Canada’s English-language radio, television and film industries. Through its Performers’ Rights Society, it secures and disburses use fees, royalties, residuals and all other forms of performers’ compensation. Some of ACTRA's other activities include administering health insurance and retirement plans for its 22,000 members, negotiating and administering collective agreements, minimum rates and working conditions, lobbying for Canadian content and a strong Canadian production industry, and promoting and celebrating Canadian talent.

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AFL-CIO

The American Federation of Labor (established 1886) consisted of skilled craft unions that disagreed with the reform policies and organization of the Knights of Labor.

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United Farmers of Alberta

In 1915 it organized the United Farm Women of Alberta, which energetically campaigned for WOMEN'S SUFFRAGE (gained in Alberta in 1916) and struggled to secure better education and health services in rural Alberta.

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Alberta Wheat Pool

 During the first years of operation, companies like Alberta Pacific Grain and United Grain Growers agreed to process the first Pool deliveries through their own facilities.

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Trades and Labor Congress of Canada

Founded in 1883, the Trades and Labor Congress of Canada (TLC) was the first union central to take lasting root in Canada. Principally bringing together craft unions, the TLC was the largest workers’ organization in Canada at the turn of the 20th century. The TLC saw its membership fluctuate in the 20th century because of the fierce competition between national and international unions and the rise of industrial unionism. In 1956, the organization merged with the Canadian Congress of Labour to become the Canadian Labour Congress.

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Strikes and Lockouts

A strike is the withholding of labour by workers in order to obtain better wages or working conditions. A lockout is the opposite, being the temporary shutdown of a business by an employer to compel employees to accept certain conditions.

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One Big Union

The One Big Union (OBU) was a radical labour union formed in Western Canada in 1919. It aimed to empower workers through mass organization along industrial lines. The OBU met fierce opposition from other parts of the labour movement, the federal government, employers and the press. Nevertheless, it helped transform the role of unions in Canada.

Click here for definitions of key terms used in this article.

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United Farmers of Canada

The United Farmers of Canada was a militant farmers' organization established 1926 as the United Farmers of Canada (Saskatchewan Section). It combined the radical Farmers' Union of Canada and the more conservative Saskatchewan GRAIN GROWERS' ASSOCIATION.