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Toronto Feature: Printers' Strike
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General Motors Strike Settled
This article was originally published in Maclean’s magazine on October 28, 1996. Partner content is not updated.For picketing Canadian autoworkers, it was a symbolic gesture. With the strike against General Motors of Canada Ltd. dragging into its third week, tempers flared at a cavernous GM plant in Oshawa, Ont.
Winnipeg General Strike: Canada's Most Influential Strike
An eerie calm descended on the streets of Winnipeg on the morning of May 15, 1919. The street cars and delivery wagons lay idle. Some 50,000 tradesmen, labourers, city and provincial employees had walked off the job, leaving the city paralyzed. It was North America's first general strike.
Sleeping Car Porters in Canada
Sleeping car porters were railway employees who attended to passengers aboard sleeping cars. Porters were responsible for passengers’ needs throughout a train trip, including carrying luggage, setting up beds, pressing clothes and shining shoes, and serving food and beverages, among other services. The vast majority of sleeping car porters were Black men and the position was one of only a few job opportunities available to Black men in Canada. While the position carried respect and prestige for Black men in their communities, the work demanded long hours for little pay. Porters could be fired suddenly and were often subjected to racist treatment. Black Canadian porters formed the first Black railway union in North America (1917) and became members of the larger Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters in 1939. Both unions combatted racism and the many challenges that porters experienced on the job.
On to Ottawa Trek and Regina Riot
In April 1935, about 1,500 residents of federal Unemployment Relief Camps in British Columbia went on strike. They travelled by train and truck to Vancouver to protest poor conditions in the Depression-era camps. After their months-long protest proved futile, they decided to take their fight to Ottawa. On 3 June, more than 1,000 strikers began travelling across the country, riding atop railcars. By the time they reached Regina, they were 2,000 strong. But they were stopped in Regina, where the strike leaders were arrested, resulting in the violent Regina Riot on 1 July 1935.
Winnipeg General Strike of 1919
The Winnipeg General Strike of 1919 was the largest strike in Canadian history (see Strikes and Lockouts). Between 15 May and 25 June 1919, more than 30,000 workers left their jobs (see Work). 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 (see Labour Organization). Some of its participants helped establish what is now the New Democratic Party.
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This is the full-length entry about the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919. For a plain-language summary, please see Winnipeg General Strike of 1919 (Plain-language Summary).