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After a brief summer break, On the Line is back with more BC labour history! In September 1938, the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) brought their theatrical musical hit “Pins and Needles” to Vancouver, BC, where it played to glowing reviews. Among the audience were trades union members of all kinds and noted labour artist Fraser …
 
June is Indigenous History Month in Canada, and this year, the country has been rocked by the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves of Indigenous children who attended residential school over the decades. This edition of On the Line takes note of Indigenous History month with a different aspect of BC's Indigenous history: one that is not tragic,…
 
May is Asian Heritage Month; last month was Sikh Heritage Month. Both groups are justly celebrated for their contributions to the fabric of BC. At the same time, they also suffered many years of exploitation and discrimination, much of it in the workplace. For many reasons, including the racist policies of many unions, they were very hard to organi…
 
April 28th marks Canada's annual Day of Mourning. Of course, industrial accidents are not the only risk workers face; occupational diseases, brought on by hazardous workplace conditions, have also claimed a terrible toll. One of the worst has been silicosis, a coating of the lungs by deadly silica dust inhaled by generations of hard-rock miners. To…
 
In 1974, years before other Canadian unions won maternity leave benefits in collective agreements, the Association of University & College Employees (AUCE) Local 1 at the University of BC (UBC) made history. In its first collective agreement, UBC clerical and library workers achieved contract language that provided fully funded maternity leave for …
 
In this episode, we look back one hundred years to Valentine's Day, 1921. On that traditional day of romance, a group of courageous public school teachers in New Westminster, BC did the unthinkable: they went on strike. Their walkout had a lasting, positive impact on teachers across the province for years to come. There would not be another strike …
 
From the 1870's on, the coal miners of Vancouver Island had fought strike after strike to force the hardnosed coal barons to recognize a union. Thanks to strikebreakers, blacklists, anti-union courts and the forces of so-called law and order, they lost them all. Finally, in 1911, the miners invited in the tough, experienced and deep-pocketed United…
 
On July 19, 1983, members of the BC Government and Service Employees Union, better known as the BCGEU, learned that the large Tranquille Institution in Kamloops, British Columbia would be shut down. For the 600 BCGEU members at the site, many of whom had worked with the residents for years, this was simply unacceptable. They decided to take matters…
 
Nearly 90 years ago, in the dark years of the Great Depression, union membership and the number of strikes in BC fell dramatically; but every now and then, against all odds, workers took a stand. It happened in Sept. 1931 at the Fraser Mills Lumber Plant on the shores of the Fraser River in Maillardville, now part of Coquitlam. A diverse group of r…
 
At the annual Miners Memorial Weekend held in Cumberland, British Columbia each June, participants lay roses at the grave of the famous labour martyr Ginger Goodwin. Nearby his distinctive headstone, almost unnoticed, is a simple metal plate affixed to a stone. This modest marker identifies the grave of coal miner Joe Naylor (1872-1946), an unsung …
 
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