Joseph Morris

Joseph Morris, labour organizer (b in Lancashire, Eng 14 June 1913; d at Victoria BC 1996). In 1929 Morris immigrated to Ladysmith, BC, where he worked as a scaler in the bush.
Joseph Morris, labour organizer (b in Lancashire, Eng 14 June 1913; d at Victoria BC 1996). In 1929 Morris immigrated to Ladysmith, BC, where he worked as a scaler in the bush.


Morris, Joseph

Joseph Morris, labour organizer (b in Lancashire, Eng 14 June 1913; d at Victoria BC 1996). In 1929 Morris immigrated to Ladysmith, BC, where he worked as a scaler in the bush. He organized for the International Woodworkers of America and rose through the ranks to become president of Local 1-80 (1948). After defeating communist opponents in a campaign which demonstrated his toughness, he was elected as the union's regional president in Western Canada (1953-62). He was next elected executive vice president of the CANADIAN LABOUR CONGRESS until 1974, when he became the congress's president.

Morris was a pragmatist who viewed work in the labour movement as a battle for small gains. Deliberate, honest and frank in his manner, his tenacity and ability to get things done won him respect. Though cool toward the idea of political strikes, under his leadership, the CLC in 1976 issued a "manifesto" favouring tripartite decision making, and opposed wage controls in a "national day of protest" - the largest organized demonstration in Canadian history, which involved over one million workers. The walkout did not change the policy but it did unite the labour movement against controls and convinced some business people of its position.

In 1977 Morris was elected chair of the International Labor Organization and was the first labour leader to be so honoured. He retired from the congress presidency in 1978, the same year he was made an officer of the Order of Canada. In 1984 he became a Companion of the Order of Canada. Morris then served on the boards of a number of organizations including the Bank of Canada and BC Ferries Corp. He died at the age of 83.