Previous weeks in Canadian Labour History

TWLH-Feb-1

A month earlier, on January 14, the 1,500 members of Local 2995 of the Lumber and Sawmill Workers Union (part of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America), walked out on strike. Their employer, Spruce Falls Power and Paper Company, was trying to break the pattern bargaining that had taken place for years in the region. The mill…
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TWLH-Jun-4

In 1981 after a 42-day strike, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) won postal workers across Canada 17 weeks of paid maternity leave. The concept of longer periods of paid maternity leave than was available through unemployment insurance benefits soon became mainstream and expanded across the country. Paid maternity leave benefits – a guaranteed period for new mothers to…
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TWLH-Jun-1

As Canada’s economy industrialized through the early years of the 20th century, its workforce also changed. Once an economy driven by local craftsmen, skilled labourers and farmers, Canada’s cities were now filled with a mass, unskilled labour force drawn to work in the factories, mills and construction yards. Canada’s West was also quickly growing and already chafing under the economic…
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Quebec Women March for “Bread and Roses”

In 1994, Françoise David took the helm of the Québec Women’s Federation (FFQ) with a mission to advance the fight against poverty and social exclusion. To put pressure on the newly elected government of Jacques Parizeau, David organized a mass march, branded “Bread and Roses”. Bread symbolizing work and better economic conditions and roses symbolizing a better quality of life…
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The Westray coal mine explodes, killing the 26 miners working underground

On May 9, 1992, just eight months after opening with federal and provincial government support, an underground methane explosion killed all 26 miners working in the Westray coal mine.
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TWLH-Apr-1

Canada’s unions have a long history of standing up for fairness. This includes standing up for the rights of workers in the face of homophobia and discrimination based on their sexual orientation. In 1991, Delwin Vriend worked in Edmonton as a full-time chemistry laboratory coordinator at The King’s College, a school affiliated with the Christian Reformed Church. Openly gay and…
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TWLH-Apr-2

Unions exist to help working people get organized and stand together to win a better deal for their families and their communities. Workers know that fairness is won through unity – with one another in their union local and with other locals in their union. They also need to support workers in other unions through solidarity. Often this means respecting…
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TWLH-Mar-4

By February 1912, IWW (Industrial Workers of the World) membership on the CN (Canadian Northern Railway) stood at 8,000. The government ignored the demand for adequate sanitation and an end to piece-rate or “gypo” wages. (The term “gypo” was a slang term for a logger working by the piece, or by the thousand board feet, for a wage or any other…
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TWLH-Mar-3

In the aftermath of the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike, the Conservative government of Sir Robert Borden enacted Section 98 of the Criminal Code. This new law gave the federal government extraordinary powers to combat what it saw as an imminent threat to Canadian society. The law was extremely broad and carried a penalty of up to 20 years in prison.…
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TWLH-Mar-2

Working conditions on today’s construction sites and factory floors, in schools, office buildings, warehouses, restaurants – any workplace, really – are often taken for granted. We see fire extinguishers and sprinklers, first aid stations and emergency exits. We see the safety barriers, the hard hats, and the labels that warn of explosives, poisons and burns. We know they are there…
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