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Harnessing Labour Confrontation

Harnessing Labour Confrontation: Shaping the Postwar Settlement in Canada, 1943-1950

Copyright Date: 2002
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Harnessing Labour Confrontation
    Book Description:

    McInnis examines the reformation of Canadian society and its industrial relations regime from the perspective of labour organizations and their supporters and from that of government and business.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7561-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
    P.S. Mclnnis
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. Introduction: Reassessing the ′Labour Question′
    (pp. 1-18)

    The persistent image of working-class Canada in the early 1940s is of women and men toiling for the nation′s military machine during the Second World War. Afterwards, during the transition years of 1945 to 1950, these same people fought to retain their share of prosperity in a buoyant economy. This was a decade of heightened militancy and struggle both on the shop floor and on the picket line. Numerous incidents attest to the sheer tenacity demanded of labour organizers to endure management enmity and challenge non-union plants. The archival pictures of car blockades deployed to defend a Windsor factory perimeter,...

  6. CHAPTER ONE Home Front War: Labour and Political Economy in Second World War Canada
    (pp. 19-46)

    Contemplating postwar Canada, social scientist Leonard Marsh observed that, ′A nation at war for five years becomes quite different from the one which it would have been under conditions of peace. In this sense we will never return to the Canada we knew in 1939. Either in the way our government is conducted, or in the average standard of living we enjoy, and less in the state of mind of the people.′¹ The Second World War had undeniably left Canada a changed society, for examples supporting Marsh′s assessment abound. The war years set in motion social and political mechanisms for...

  7. CHAPTER TWO Planning Prosperity: The Debate on Postwar Canada
    (pp. 47-86)

    In 1995 efforts to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the war′s conclusion resulted in widely differing assessments of wartime planning and of its legacy for the postwar era.¹ Given this ongoing controversy, it is important to examine how the ′labour question′ was met and incorporated into the emergent postwar political economy. This chapter analyses the multiple debates that surfaced between 1943 and 1948, the period framed by the NWLB′s ′Inquiry into Labour Relations′ and the entrenchment of permanent postwar legislation with the proclamation of IRDIA.

    Both independently, and in conjunction with one another, those engaged in configuring postwar reconstruction shared...

  8. CHAPTER THREE Reconstructing Canada: Industrial Unions in the Immediate Postwar Era
    (pp. 87-112)

    At long last the war was drawing to a close. Canadians, justly proud of their contribution to the defeat of fascism, eagerly anticipated the occasion. With victory came Utopian promises of peace and prosperity for a nation that emerged from the war much bolstered in self-confidence. Yet, while workers were eager to take advantage of the unprecedented opportunity which would likely accompany peace, most also realized that there would be no guarantees of a livelihood once hostilities had ceased. Economic statistics confirmed these suspicions. Canadians employed in direct and indirect war-related work had reached a peak of 1,166,000 in October...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR Teamwork for Harmony: Labour-Management Production Committees and the Postwar Settlement in Canada
    (pp. 113-144)

    In October 1942, at a convention in Toronto of the American Federation of Labor, Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King called for the formal establishment of labour-management committees ′in every industry in our country′¹ King, as usual, was not advancing a bold initiative so much as following the trend to encourage teamwork and harmony among competing interests in the workplace. This signalled the start to what was to become one of the most successful and enduring cooperative experiments in Canadian industrial relations. Officially known as Labour-Management Production Committees (LMPCs), these bodies were to be deployed against the critical wartime problems...

  10. CHAPTER FIVE Legislating the Compromise: The Politics of Postwar Industrial Relations
    (pp. 145-182)

    Throughout the war, the same routine was followed exactly. Each spring the executive council of the CCL dutifully assembled, left their offices in centre-town Ottawa, and proceeded east on Wellington Street towards Union Station. This meeting place, situated across from imposing stone facades of Parliament Hill, the Langevin Block, and the Chateau Laurier, was government territory and every unionist knew it. Once inside the cavernous space, known officially as the Board of Transport Commissioners conference room (or ′railway committee room′), union executives read aloud their annual memoranda and distributed freshly printed copies of the text to the assembled ministers and...

  11. Conclusion: Interpreting the Legacy of the 1940s
    (pp. 183-194)

    In a 1947 speech before a predominantly business gathering at the Canadian Club, Pat Conroy, explaining labour′s goal of a postwar covenant, attempted both to placate and to forewarn his audience:

    Many in this room will be anti-labour ... but unions are increasingly important national institutions, so even if you do not like them you should become informed. Many employers have low estimates of labour leadership who think they are out to destroy business, many newspapers also seem to have this opinion. Labour leaders are just men who have weaknesses like everyone, and like Oliver Twist, [their] chief preoccupation will...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 195-252)
  13. Illustration Credits
    (pp. 253-254)
  14. Index
    (pp. 255-258)