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One Day Longer

One Day Longer: A Memoir

Lynn Williams
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    One Day Longer
    Book Description:

    Providing an insider's perspective on union developments and issues,One Day Longeris a profound reflection of Williams's impressive career.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-9925-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Leo W. Gerard

    I was a young union activist and smelter worker in 1977 when Lynn Williams, the new international secretary of the Steelworkers, offered me a full-time job. If I accepted, my wife and I would have to leave our hometown of Sudbury and relocate to Toronto. Whatʹs more, I had just unsuccessfully managed a campaign for a candidate who almost won a union election to represent workers in Ontario. But it was a candidate whom Lynn did not support. Unsure whether he valued my organizing skills or if he intended to fire me at the first chance, I was faced with...

    (pp. ix-xii)
    (pp. xiii-2)
    (pp. 3-16)

    The driving force, the creative energy in my family, goes back to my fatherʹs mother, Eva Sherk. A devoutly religious person, she had been raised a Mennonite but left that denomination when she married my grandfather, Daniel Wilhelm (later Williams), at about the age of eighteen. She was very committed to education. Her fondest wish had been to pass her entrance to high school, but she was unable to accomplish that because, as the oldest child, she was required to work on the farm. Spring was planting season and fall was harvest time, so she was never able to have...

    (pp. 17-28)

    On enrolling at McMaster in September 1941, I had intended to enter the ministry so I started out in a four-year honours program in English and philosophy, thinking it was a good introduction for the later study of theology. My plan to become a theological student had one enormous recreational advantage: it meant I could play on the theology football team in the intramural sports program. Had I been required to try out for the freshmen team, it would have been impossible for me to make the squad because it had a full complement of former high school stars who...

    (pp. 29-48)

    The Eaton campaign in the late 1940s had a critical impact on my involvement in the labour movement. Indeed, it is difficult for me to imagine any other way I could have learned as much as I did about the work of union organizing.

    Those of us involved in the Eaton campaign saw it as the first step in organizing the department-store field in Canada. The decision to focus initially on Eatonʹs Toronto operations was essentially based on the large size of those operations relative to all others. There were five principal sites: three stores (the main store at Queen...

    (pp. 49-65)

    Following the Eaton defeat, Wally was the first person to go. Although Ernie had less seniority, Eileen felt that Wally, who was younger and had more education and more varied experience, could more easily find work either within or outside the labour movement. I took it upon myself to meet and talk with Charlie Millard about him and the Steelworkers took him on. So we were short Wally and, after a few months went by, Eileen decided to leave too.

    Only Olive, Ernie, and I remained. Continuing to pursue the goal of department store organizing, we developed a two-prong strategy....

  10. 5 BACK EAST
    (pp. 66-82)

    Going to work for the Steelworkers was a very positive move for me in monetary terms, as my income effectively doubled. Not so pleasant, however, as we pursued our department-store strategy, were assignments away from home. My first taste of this was in Windsor. Then came Regina, but this time my family accompanied me. Olive and I had done the preliminary work for the Simpsons-Sears campaign in the summer of 1954, and the following spring Audrey and I and our two children moved to a rented house in Regina. We lived there until Christmas, which meant that, instead of suffering...

    (pp. 83-110)

    On moving to the Niagara peninsula in 1957, I hoped to learn more about the work of the union in the field in its various facets: collective bargaining, arbitrating, community organizing, and all the rest. In this, I succeeded. During my time in the area, from 1957 to 1965, I was involved in a number of organizing efforts and labour disputes, starting with Welland Tubes and Atlas and continuing through a succession of other cases which broadened my experience and deepened my knowledge. Along the way, I also pursued political causes and helped to found a university. These years were...

  12. 7 SUDBURY
    (pp. 111-124)

    Not all my work in the late 1950s and the first half of the 1960s was confined to the Niagara peninsula. In 1963 Inco finally announced that, with certification of the Port Colborne and Sudbury locals now in place, it was ready to enter into negotiations for a collective agreement. I moved north for a time to participate in the talks.

    My personal participation in the events in Sudbury leading to the certification of the Steelworkers in October 1962 had been minimal. I was more occupied with the concurrent campaign at the Inco plant in Port Colborne. The two locals,...

    (pp. 125-146)

    The years immediately following my transfer to the district office in 1965 passed as quickly as any time I have known. In the beginning, I was busy mostly with campaigning and bargaining at Inco in Sudbury. In fact, from the summer of 1965 until the summer of 1966, I really lived in Sudbury, finding it possible far too seldom to be back in Toronto for a weekend, or even more rarely for a day or two of working at the office. After we had defeated Mine Mill for the second time, much more decisively than the first, and reached a...

  14. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
    (pp. 147-188)

    There is no hanging on to one elected position while you run for another in the Steelworkers system. You run for one, and you make it or not. If I were to run for the post of vice-president, it meant really putting my future on the line – risking the loss of a fine position that I thoroughly enjoyed for an unknown future. On the other hand, this was an opportunity to take the Canadian experience in our union into the highest councils of the union, thereby ensuring that Canadian concerns were recognized and, more important, furthering the broadest possible...

    (pp. 189-205)

    One could feel the politics in the air. The administrative structure Lloyd had established, with each officer being responsible for certain functions and departments, reinforced by three of us – Joe Odorcich, Frank McKee, and I – being active in the pursuit of the presidency, provided both a base of support and a great deal of space for politics. It meant that there was immediately an embryonic campaign organization in place.

    An officersʹ meeting made some immediate decisions. The constitution was clear. Lloyd had died a short time before the vacancy of an unexpired term could be filled by board...

    (pp. 206-225)

    During the early years of my presidency, and continuing right through to the end, I assigned the negotiations with our staff unions to myself. My theory was that there were many difficult messages to be delivered and difficult facts to be assessed and, remembering how our members felt about messengers, that these would be better coming from me directly rather than from someone to whom I had assigned the task. I was always pleased with this decision. In fact, I cannot imagine any way of dealing with these issues nearly as satisfactorily in a non-union setting. The union provides excellent...

    (pp. 226-240)

    In my second full term as president, running from 1989 to 1994, I faced some new challenges and some old ones, not least of which was the continuing crisis in the steel industry. I also carried on with a variety of initiatives that dated to my first term and that, indeed, had been special preoccupations of mine throughout my career in the labour movement. Of these, none was more important than organizing.

    In many ways, organizing the unorganized is the principal mission and challenge of the labour movement. Certainly, it was my first love and the activity where the greatest...

    (pp. 241-263)

    In the first year of my second term, 1989, we were faced with an unusual circumstance: for the first time in a long time, the steel industry made some money. In truth, I believe that this was somewhat aided and abetted, if not created, by our work stoppage at U.S. Steel in 1986–7. Having the major player out of the market for six months certainly did not harm the market prospects of the other players and everyone was enjoying some profit making, though, as it turned out, the good times were short-lived. During this volatile period, two principal priorities...

    (pp. 264-272)

    My final weeks in office were a mix of goodbye visits, clearing up problems to enable George Becker, my successor, to begin with as clean a slate as possible, and trying to disentangle files to some degree. George and his colleagues arranged a magnificent retirement dinner for Ed Ball and me. On 3 March 1994, the installation of the officers for the new term was held, and the next day, for the first time since 1947, I was not employed in the labour movement. It was a strange idea to contemplate, and stranger yet to experience.

    It had been an...

  21. Appendices
    (pp. 273-300)
  22. INDEX
    (pp. 301-320)