general strikes in alberta

map of alberta

1919, may 26 - june 17 - calgary general strike follows founding convention of the one big union
the founding convention of the one big union (o.b.u.), composed of members of the more radical existing unions, as well as of the outlawed industrial workers of the world and the socialist party of canada, was scheduled for may 1919 in calgary. in that same month, a successful general strike was organized in winnipeg. in an unprecedented move, the one big union and the craft unions put aside their differences and voted overwhelmingly to support the winnipeg general strike with one of their own.

the electrical workers, rail workers and city employees were among the larger groups of workers that refused to go along with the general strike. the greatest sacrifice, however, may have been among the postal workers, who voted to go on strike despite threats of termination by the postmaster. these workers stayed out the entire during of the strike, despite the rigorous recruitment of scabs by the postmaster with the help of a local citizens' committee. the focus of the general strike turned from a "sympathy" action for fellow workers in winnipeg to a locally-oriented protest of the firing of postal workers. unfortunately, despite significant pressure by many community groups, many of the postal workers did not get their jobs back. on june 20, r.a. pritchard, the o.b.u. leader from winnipeg, was arrested in calgary on charges of seditious conspiracy.

for more, visit Eugene Plawiuk's general strike page

1919, may 26 - june 27 - edmonton joins winnipeg's call for a sympathy strike

the edmonton trades and labor council responded quickly to the call from the winnipeg trades and labor council for sympathy action. despite the fact that the more conservative international unions were dominant in edmonton than elsewhere, and despite city leaders' overwhelming confidence that no strike would be called, nearly 90% of edmonton unions voted in favor of taking strike action. even non-unionized chinese workers risking deportation walked out in support.

all but the most essential services in the city were shut down. the city was run by hundreds of common workers serving on various committees directed by a steering committee of 75 unionists. despite the heavy fire from the business community, edmonton's mayor joe clarke refused to allow strikebreakers or the use of force in the official handling of the city-wide strike. he negotiated with the strike committee to ensure that necessary operations continued. while joe clarke lost his re-election bid because of his support of the workers, the edmonton strike, in concert with the other general strikes in cities across canada, was instrumental in securing the 8 hour day and the 6 day week, as well as radicalized a large portion of the canadian work force.

for more, visit Eugene Plawiuk's general strike page

the world : north america : canada : alberta