Coaker, Sir William Ford

Sir William Ford Coaker, union leader, politician (b at St John's 19 Oct 1871; d at Boston 26 Oct 1938). Coaker began organizing the Fishermen's Protective Union during 1908-09. The Roman Catholic Church's hostility confined the union to the largely Protestant northeast coast of Newfoundland; nevertheless it had 20 000 members by 1914.

From the outset, Coaker had argued that the significant economic, social and political reforms needed to win justice for the working man could only be achieved if the union played a political role. The FPU did well in the 1913 election and joined the 1917 National Government. In 1919 Coaker entered Sir Richard SQUIRES's Cabinet and attempted but failed to impose order and regulation upon a fishing industry dislocated by postwar deflation and long characterized by inefficiency, particularly in marketing.