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This month in IAM history: January, 2016

Click on an event in the calendar below for more information.

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January 1January 6January 20January 31January 25January 26January 28January 29January 30

January's theme
Something Special in the Air

Auto mechanic

The first airplane flight in Canada occurred on February 23, 1909. But it wasn’t until 1939 that a national airline was formed — Trans Canada Air Lines.

Within two years, the IAM became the first union to represent workers in the company that would become Air Canada, through Local Lodge 741. Since then, the IAM has been the largest union in Canada’s air transport sector.

Along with Air Canada, we represent workers at Bearskin Airlines, Air Labrador, Keewatin Air, British Airways, and Air Transat.

We have represented workers at Calgary-based Pacific Western Airlines where relations were not always cordial — especially during a six-month strike that began on November 20, 1985.

We also represented workers at Nordair, Transair, and Eastern Provincial when their airlines merged with Canadian Pacific Airlines; it in turn was purchased by Pacific Western and the named changed to Canadian Airlines International. >

The relationship between the IAM and Canadian was pushed to the breaking point in 1996 when the airline threatened to cease operations if employees wouldn’t accept a 10% wage rollback.

Under the leadership of IAM Canadian General Vice-President Dave Ritchie, the IAM forced Canadian to revise its position, brought in federal and provincial government aid, cut the rollbacks by half and in some cases eliminated the need for a wage cut for the lower paid classifications.

Life has never been easy for the IAM when it comes to airlines in Canada. Air Canada bought Canadian Airlines in 2001 and by 2004 was on the brink of bankruptcy. The airline demanded huge concessions from its workforce, including elimination of the pension plan. Once again the IAM stood its ground. When other airline unions were about to cave in on the pension issue, Ritchie made it clear: touch the pensions and the airline can stay on the ground for good. The pensions were saved but since that time, continued government interference in collective bargaining at Air Canada has created more turbulence that our leadership is determined to overcome for our members.

IAM Local Lodges chartered in the month of January:

January 1: LL118, Montreal QC (1934), LL1120, Thunder Bay ON (1946), LL386, Owen Sound ON (1954), LL423, Montreal QC (1968), LL2323, Malton ON (1968), LL2324, Richmond BC (1968), LL2583, Calgary AB (1976)
January 27: LL235, Toronto ON (1892)
January 28: LL1660, Lachine QC (1943)


January 1 : Old Age Security comes into effect, 1952

The Canadian Parliament passed the Old Age Security Act in 1951, a federally funded and regulated taxable pension. All Canadians aged 70 and over received $40 per month, regardless of financial position. The Old Age Assistance Act was also passed at this time, targeting Canadians aged 65-69. The Federal and Provincial governments split the cost and it was administered provincially. Payment was also $40. Recipients were required to demonstrate financial need, and there was a stigma attached as a result. Both the Old Age Secruity Act and the Old Age Assistance Act paved the way for the current Canada Pension Plan and also Old Age Security benefits such as the Guaranteed Income Supplement. For more information please see this article in the Canadian Encyclopedia


Canada Pension Plan takes effect, 1966

The Canada Pension Plan was enacted in order to address what was perceived as inadequate Old Age Security payments. By 1964 payments were raised to $75 a month from $40, but it was still not considered enough retirement income. This compulsory program covers the vast majority of the labour force. Employees and employers contribute, and it is available to the self-employed. Payment is related to wages and salaries. The Canada pension moves and adapts with the individual as opposed to the occupation. The Canada Pension Plan includes other benefits such as long-term disability. For more information please see this article in the Canadian Encyclopedia


NAFTA trade agreement implemented, 1994

NAFTA expanded an existing free trade network between Canada and the United States to include Mexico. NAFTA set the precedent for subsequent free trade agreements with countries such as South Korea and the European Free Trade Association. For more information please see this article in the Canadian Encyclopedia


January 6 : Toronto Labour Council approves principle of equal pay between sexes, 1882

Under the leadership of Leona Barry of the Knights of Labour, the goal of equal pay between the sexes was approved in 1882. The Toronto Trades and Labour Council lead to a nation-wide advocacy federation, the Trades and Labour Congress of Canada, which was founded the following year in 1883. this article in the Canadian Encyclopedia


January 20: Joseph Mairs, United Mine Workers activist, dies in prison in Ladysmith BC, 1914

Joseph MairsMairs was born in Scotland. He immigrated to Canada with his family and became a mine worker. Mairs was part of a strike against Canadian Collieries (Dunsmuir) Limited, for union recognition. The dispute became a lockout that lasted from September 1912 until August 1914. Workers and their families were evicted from company homes, and the company brought in strikebreakers. In August 1913, a riot broke out in Nanaimo and one followed in Ladysmith. The government brought in militia and arrested over 200 strikers. Mairs pleaded guilty to rioting and was sentenced to 16 months in Oakalla Prison Farm. He died there of peritonitis after receiving inadequate medical care. For more information please see this article in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography


January 25: Catherine Callbeck of PEI becomes Canada’s first female premier to win a general election, 1993

Callbeck, CatherineCatherine Callbeck is the second woman to serve as a Premier in Canada. She has a background in business administration overseeing a family enterprise and was director of the Canadian Institute for Research on Public Policy. Callbeck was Prince Edward Island’s Liberal minister of health, social services, and minister responsible for disabled people before becoming Premier. She resigned her position in 1996. For more information please see this this article in the Canadian Encyclopedia


January 26: 16,000 Ontario CUPE hospital workers stage wildcat strike; CUPE President Grace Hartman jailed for 30 days, 1981

CUPE President Grace Hartman was imprisoned for facilitating an illegal strike. At the time hospital workers were forbidden from striking but Hartman maintained they should have a collective bargaining position. For more information please see this this article in the Canadian Encyclopedia


January 28: Manitoba women get the right to vote in provincial elections, 1916

Mock Parliament at Walker TheatreManitoba women were the first in Canada to vote in provincial elections and also hold public office. Nellie McClung was instrumental in extending the franchise to women in her home province and beyond. From 1912 to 1915 McClung, as part of the Political Equity League, advanced the suffrage cause. This tremendously successful initiative gained national exposure. Members staged a show and mock parliament in 1914 in order to raise necessary funds. McClung acted as premier deciding whether men should vote. Women across Canada could vote federally as of 1918, and other provinces passed suffrage legislation over the course of the next 20 years. For more information please see this this article in the Canadian Encyclopedia


January 29: Introduction of the Rand Formula, 1946

The formula was named after Supreme Court Justice Ivan Rand, after a Ford Motor strike in Windsor in the fall of 1945 was resolved by court arbitration. The decision made paying union dues compulsory for all workers protected by a union contract. The Rand formula has become standard procedure for collective agreements across Canada. It also ensures financial resources for unions and penalties for violating the agreement. The Rand Formula protects both workers and employers while encouraging collective bargaining. For more information please see this this article in the Canadian Encyclopedia


January 30: Supreme Court of Canada affirms the right to strike, 2015

The right to strike is guaranteed in the Canadian Constitution and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In Saskatchewan Federation of Labour vs. Saskatchewan, the Supreme Court of Canada declared the Public Service Essential Services Act unconstitutional with a vote of 5 to 4. In this particular case the limited amount of public sector workers that were deemed essential and not allowed to strike has been relaxed. The province of Saskatchewan will now need to re configure how they deal with strikes while ensuring essential services remain in place. For more information please see this this article in Slaw Canada’s Online Legal Magazine.


January 31: 400 women telephone operators in Toronto strike Bell Telephone, 1907

The strike of the “Hello Girls” received a tremendous amount of news coverage and public sympathy. The female-dominated telephone operator industry was dealing with wage cutbacks and walked off the job as a result. The strikers ultimately did not achieve the goal of better wages and conditions, or form a Union, but the strike challenged attitudes about submissive women employees by demonstrating solidarity. It forced Bell as an employer to seriously reconsider how they treat employees in order to cultivate loyalty. For more information please see this this article from Labour/Le Travail (available in English only).