The Canadian Labour Movement
A Short History
by Craig Heron
with Charles Smith
The triumphs and setbacks of workers and the union movement in Canada
In The Canadian Labour Movement, historian Craig Heron and political scientist Charles Smith tell the story of Canada's workers from the midnineteenth century through to today, painting a vivid picture of key developments, such as the birth of craft unionism, the breakthroughs of the fifties and sixties, and the setbacks of the early twenty-first century.
The fourth edition of this book has been completely updated with a substantial new chapter that covers the period from the great recession of 2008 through to 2020. In this chapter, Smith describes the fallout of the financial crisis, how Stephen Harper's government restricted labour rights, the rise of the "gig economy" and precarious work, and the continued de-industrialization in the private sector. These pressures contributed to fracturing the movement, as when Unifor, the largest private sector union, split from the Canadian Labour Congress, the established "house of labour." Through it all, rank-and-file union members have fought for better conditions for all workers, including through campaigns like the fight for a $15 minimum wage.
The Canadian Labour Movement is the definitive book for anyone interested in understanding the origins, achievements, and challenges of the labour and social justice movements in Canada.
About the Authors
CRAIG HERON is a professor emeritus of History at York University in Toronto and the author of several works in Canadian social history, including Working in Steel: The Early Years in Canada, 1883—1935; The Workers' Revolt in Canada, and The Workers' Festival: A History of Labour Day in Canada.
CHARLES SMITH is an associate professor and department head of Political Studies at St. Thomas More College, University of Saskatchewan. He is co-author of Unions in Court: Organized Labour and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and co-editor of the journal Labour/Le Travail.
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