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LABRST 1A03 (334)
David Goutor (299)

Craft Unionism, Knights of st Crispin, birth of labour movement

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McMaster University
Labour Studies
David Goutor

Lecture 4 Oct. 5 2011 Resisting Industrialization Separation between business interests and the world of work. One impact of industrialization when a business class emerges. Organizations start to push for businesses interests beyond particular subjects. The biggest subject of this time is investments in infrastructure ie. More railways/canals nd 2 impact is trade. Craft Unionism Unions stuck up for the interest of craft workers. Unions primarily represented small groups of skilled trade workers. They protected workers against the changes happening in industrialization. They tried to keep a lot of this transformation happening from the status of skilled trades workers. Unions were conservative in some ways, trying to conserve the traditional and customary ways of doing things & keep it from changing into a new role. Unions were also exclusive. They are for the skilled workers, the workers that had some sort of leverage in the workplace. They tended to be older and established. They wanted to keep out a lot of competition and preserve ideas and status they had. This is about the standards of living they had, stats in community they had. They had status in the workplace, nobody telling them what to do. On the other hand, not fair to call them entirely traditional. In some ways they are very much radical in the sense they fight very directly with their bosses over control of the workplace. To craft workers and craft unions this is what it was all about. Who controls, who says how things are done. That was not entirely replaced by new technologies. Instead a lot of it was still needed, so craft unions made sure where they had control, they asserted it. They didn't have the boss ordering around. If craft unions are strong, they control the workplace so they are a threat. The idea of mutual support- workers organizing together to stand up to their bosses and stand up for themselves. Craft unions look to the past, they didn't like all the changes that new advances in technology and economy were bringing. They wanted to set an example for bosses and other workers. Shoemakers The Knights of St. Crispin They were a classic example of workers that unite and rally around traditions, also a classic example of a union that becomes defeated. Shoe makers saw themselves and providing something essential. They really drew on this sense of pride and tradition. They are considered the “classic” industry. When transportation innovations hit, one of the biggest things that came in were shoes. It is very difficult for shoemakers to adapt to the new times. The iron molders and printers organize successfully. They assert control of the workplace. The key thing is control of the workplace. The union controls how many workers are brought in, the work they did ect.. Preserving control, preserving fairness. “We are not going to work for what the boss tells us”. Unions get together, decide what kind of things they want done in what style, and this is the price. Birth of Labour Movement- A lot of the unions are very localized. Not a lot of cohesion, the struggles happened in very localized kinds of ways. Unions within different towns doing the same kind of work were starting to pull together. You don't want the classic problem- people find out there is no union in the next down, they'll get all their work done there. If that happens you need unions to be formed in all different places. In Canada this happens in a particular way. In the USAunions are already created. They are well established and mostly know a lot about the issues. After a fair bit of hesitation, Canadian unions decide to join the largerAmerican networks. Canadians saw the international unions as beneficial to join. Issues: Head quarters was in New york, Chicago. Hamilton creates the trades assembly- trade unions. The first local trades assembly in Canada. Theres a local assembly that gets going. What you see happening is unions from different trades getting together from the assemblies. A lot of organizations are very locally focused. Local issues is what their focus is on. Supporting other Unions when they go on strike was very important. When carpenters go on strike- other unions will jump in and assist. Boycotts- if an employers work or attitude toward workers is bad, you try to put pressure on them by organizing boycotts. Boycotts did not just take form of consumer action, also took form of work. Unions running warehouses- when some companies are strongly anti-union, the workers would refuse to unload the trucks to add pressure onto companies that are anti union. City contracts would pay fair rates. Campaigns focused on one big cause- Hours of work called the 9 hour campaign.A general cause for a maximum of 9 hours of work per day. 9 hour work day was much bigger fought in Britain. USA were pushing for an 8 hour day, and Canada 9 hour day. Gives you an idea of the conditions of the time. 9 hour day 6 days a week. Before- you would work as long as the boss told you too. There needed to be some sort of law so bosses couldn't tell workers how long they were working. They really try and push this around Canada. It is a significant movement because of the arguments it produces. The first campaign it produces are trying to make broader arguments of society. How workers could be viewed. The conventional view of workers was you needed to keep them busy all the time.A major by product of industrialization.A method of control- you needed to keep workers busy so they would not get into trouble. Aterm that struck fear was idol masses. If they were idol, they might drink too much, fight, talk about revolution.A sense you get a larger group of industrial workers- you will get unrest. The 9 hours movement really pushes back- pushes a different view of workers. Don't fear the workers, fear the conditions. Workers can be very good members and role members if they get time away from work. What is creating so much social strain is that workers cannot get away from their jobs. Families and communities go so long with out the workers in their family. Sons grow up w/o their fathers. Families emerge w/o the fathers. If they had more time in community they would become better, self improvement, keep their boys in line. The problem is not workers- it's the conditions. Victorian values- very suspicious of workers, they might need help. With 12-14 hour working days workers couldn't fulfil victorian values. Its not really the workers that are threatening these victorian values- its the bosses. They are the ones keeping the workers there all day n night. The Basic strategy of the 9 hour pioneers was quite clever. They decided to have rotating strikes around ontario and quebec pushing for the 9 hour day. The printers strike decide to make the 9 hour work day apart of its bargain. It decides to make that a key demand. It becomes a very big strike and there will be all types of politics. Major crises! The first time labour issues go on the BIG political stage. The other part is while all this agitation that is happening around the 9 hours movement- the other issue was the legality of unions. George Brown- The publisher of the toronto globe and mail. He is one of the biggest figures. He wants nothing to do with unions. He sees unions as a violation in a very fundamental way of how the economy should work. Pure Free Market is what he believed in.Any organizing to keep the market from being free was bad. He goes on for a month in response to a large part- all the major newspapers in the city are being disrupted. One of the biggest rallies had- about 10,000, and got a lot of attention. Showed how large organizations were becoming. This rally was so impressive, they decided to find a particular day for labour to rally. In response to the rally a lot of people who are sympathetic to unions feel very inspired, on the other side George Brown really starts shitting bricks. He is quite alarmed. He goes to the police and demands the police arrest the strike leaders. There should be an absolute free market for anything that can be traded. The legality of unions becomes a big issue right away. The toronto police agree with George Brown and arrest all the leaders of the strike. Brown starts saying Unions are killing freedom of markets. Sir JohnA MacDonald (Browns Rival) sees a big opportunity to make it seem like Brown has lost his cool, and get these union people on his side. He passes a trade union act. It was not radical- borrowed from british law. Addresses that Unions are not criminal, they have the rights. Picketing- marching in front of a business. Legalization on one hand, criminal law on the other. A lot of union leaders are very happy with MacDonald. It is not all about systems, not all about social force. Things come along that are not expected. One thing from the printer strike is that labour issues become a part of political discussion. Liberalism is a frustrating term. If you are called a liberal in the USA you “sip lattes”. Liberalism- root word is Liberty. If you are a true liberal, you believe in maximizing liberty. Offshot of liberalism is Libertarianism. Indivi
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