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This month in IAM history: March, 2016

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

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March 4March 7March 8March 10March14March 17March 25March 27March 31

March's theme
IAM Sisters Want Rights for All

IAM women

Ask any Canadian IAM sister what she wants her union to obtain for all women in Canada and she will give you a very thorough answer.

How about job security and protection through the elimination of outsourcing? Or the guarantee that all persons have the right to employment which provides for dignity and respect within their communities?

There should also be guaranteed, adequate, paid family leave and quality universal child care and elder care. Guaranteed universal health care should be available to all Canadians. We should have access to and equity in public education at all levels from grade school to university.

For those who do not attend university, there should be guaranteed workplace training and/or apprenticeships which do not infringe on workers’ family time in every workplace.

The list doesn’t end here; our IAM sisters demand that there be protection from violence, mental and physical abuse in all aspects of our lives, at home, at school, at work and in our communities. We should ensure that all persons in positions of power or authority can be held accountable for their actions. We should ensure that all forms of public education include accurate information on diseases (i.e. HIV/ AIDS), labour history and the history of all equity seeking groups. Our sisters also believe that organized labour must have an equal voice and vote within any and all organizations that have the ability to execute changes which may affect them. Finally, we must ensure all people are not without the essentials of life, that they are recognized as equals and that they are treated with fairness, dignity and respect; which must be enshrined through adequate and enforceable measures.

This is a well thought-out answer and that’s why the IAM has given all of its members an entire month to think about the values stated above.

March is International Women’s Month.

IAM Local Lodges chartered in the month of March:

March 1: LL712, Montreal QC (1940); LL2374, Strathroy ON (1969); LL2603, Winnipeg MB (1977); LL2711, Penticton BC (1982)
March 8: LL1751, Dorval QC (1946)
March 10: LL2412, North Bay ON (1970)
March 21: LL1681, Edmonton AB (1959)


March 4: Avalanche in Rogers Pass BC kills 58 men clearing snow from CP tracks, 1910

Photo courtesy of the Revelstoke Museum & Archives

A typical pattern of alternating hot and cold weather made for a balmy night with lots of snow. Dozens of workers were clearing the accumulation of previous slides from the Canadian Pacific Railway main line. A sudden, unexpected avalanche charged down on them, leaving death and destruction in its wake. For more information please see this article in the Revelstoke Current.


March 7: 23-week strike begins at Fleck Automotive, 1978

80 of the 146 female employees at an automotive wiring production plant walked off the job. Workers formally wanted wage increases and union security. They were also dealing with unsafe and unsanitary work conditions and sexual harassment. Provincial politicians were publically supporting opposite sides. The bitter dispute lasted 163 days. It involved hundreds of police officers behaving violently towards strikers. The strike ended with the workers having their demands met. It also led to the Rand Formula being entrenched in the Ontario Labour Relations Act in 1980. For more information please see this article on the UNIFOR website.


March 8: International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day celebrates the “social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.” It also serves as a reminder to continue the struggle for gender equality, and is part of the wider advancement of human rights. Observed since early 20th century, no one organization or government has full ownership – International Women’s Day remains a collaboration of events and initiatives in dozens of countries. For more information please see this article on the International Women’s Day website.


March 10: USW loses 7-month strike for union recognition in Murdochville QC, 1957

Labour leader Jean Marchand 1,000 Gaspe Copper Mines employees in this company town walked off the job. Their employer brought in strikebreakers, and there were violent clashes with police. The Quebec Federation of Labour (QFL) and Canadian Catholic Federation of Labour became involved as well. After seven months, the strike ended but the demands of the workers were never met. For more information please see this article in the Canadian Encyclopedia


March 14: Women granted right to vote in Saskatchewan, 1916

Saskatchewan was the second province to extend the franchise to women, shortly after Manitoba in January of the same year. Women were first able to vote federally in 1918. It was the culmination of a gradual and peaceful endeavour lead by a group of Prairie female activists called the Famous Five. For more information please see this article in the Canadian Encyclopedia.


March 17: First test run of the first jet engine designed in Canada, the Avro Chinook, 1948

The Avro Chinook was the first Canadian turbojet engine. It was designed by Turbo Research and manufactured by Avro Canada. The Avro Chinook was never used operationally, but influenced later engine designs. For more information please see this article in Wikipedia.


March 17: Hoggs Hollow disaster in Toronto draws attention to exploitation of immigrant workers, 1960

Five Italian migrant workers lost their lives during a tunnel construction. They were trapped 35 feet underground. Their story drew attention to a lack of safety protocol and a subsequent Royal Commission improved standards in Ontario. For more information please see this Toronto plaque.


March 25: Workman’s Compensation Act is passed into law in Ontario, 1915

The Workman’s Compensation Act was the result of an 1889 Royal Commission on the Relations of Labour and Capital. The goal was to provide adequate compensation for a variety of injuries suffered and diseases contracted in the workplace. The legislation covered Rehabilitation, health care, and other benefits. The Act removed automatic blame from employers, acknowledging “some level of injury is inevitable and that compensation should be provided without regard to responsibility.” Ontario was the first province to enact such legislation and now all jurisdictions have it. Coverage is financed by employers and based on the probability of an accident occurring in any given industry. For more information please see this article in the Canadian Encyclopedia


March 25: First flight of the Avro Arrow, 1958

Avro ArrowThe Avro Arrow is the successor to the CF-100 Canuck. The Canadian company A.V. Roe developed this supersonic aircraft in the wake of the Second World War, during the height of the Cold War. Work began in 1948. Despite successful test flights, the Conservative Government of the day cancelled the project in 1959 siting financial concerns. For more information please see this article in the Canadian Encyclopedia. Please also see the February section of the IAM Calendar.


March 27: Railway strike draws thousands of workers off the job, 1912

7,000 employees of the Canadian Northern Railway went on strike, led by the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). The strike took place in the Fraser Valley part of British Columbia. The IWW workers, known as “Wobblies,” ultimately lost their fight and the union collapsed by 1914. The IWW and their syndicalist ethos paved the way for the successor One Big Union. For more information please see this article in the Canadian Encyclopedia.


March 31: Bill C-45, prescribing corporate penalties for workplace deaths and injuries, is passed, 2004

This amendment to the Criminal Code holds companies accountable for certain workplace deaths and injuries. It is partially the result of hearings held by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. Please see this Government of Canada website for more information.