1940s Strike Wave
Nov. 23 2011
Long term implications of late 1940's-
Status of Women- women took on new roles during the war, traditional attitudes were the same. The changes seen
happening during the war was seen as temporary. Retrenchment- you see women go back to their traditional roles. In the
same way propaganda campaigns during the war to have women contribute to the war, they pushed women to go BACK to
their traditional duties to give men the jobs back. Framed as a reward- because we won the war your fathers and husbands
coming home, you don't have to work and take care of children anymore- make way for the men coming home. “Women of
Canada, you did a heroic job to the war, you did your part.... now go home”
Women proving they could do mens work was significant to feminists later on ie. Rosie the riviter
What happens with the economy? Media & policy makers were obsessed with the prospects of another depression. There is
not another depression in the late 40s.
Domestic Demand- wartime saw wages go up, and there was full employment- everyone who could work, did. Women
worked as well. There was very little to spend wages on- most things were rationed & not many consumer goods. Enormous
build up of demand. Instead of buying things people bought victory bonds & cashed them in after the war.
Government Policy- another big subject in economic and business debates. The Keynesian approach to economic approach
is used. Put more money into the pockets of average people. You get more social welfare and policies to have full
employment. Tax incentives for businesses that hire & infrastructure programs to create jobs & build up the economy long
term. ex. The st lawrence sea way- building up the big shipping system.
Government poured money into universities to fuel new innovation to keep the economy going. Most major innovations are
through government funded research.
International demand- to make sure lots of other places will buy canadian and american goods. Most important in the 40's is
the Marshal Plan.An ambitious plan to rebuild europe. Marshal plan was arguably the most successful international policy.
It rebuild western europe & also japan. Turned them into vibrant capitalist democracies. Canada was a big winner from this.
All of the things europe needed, Canada had. These things mean 1. Canada's economy booms & 2. international status is
secured as the most vibrant economic bases in the world. Basic idea of the role of government is now very different. It is
accepted that government can play an active and positive role. Business will benefit from this. Government spending will
boost the economy. This is the consensus until the 70s.
By 1945 unions feeling good- they have made significant gains. They made breakthroughs such as pc1003. Once it was in
place unions were able to use the law to organize a lot of work places & get recognition and status. They were feeling good,
but insecure. It is a temporary wartime measure. What happens when the war ends, back to regular economy, and when
employers push back??? You get a new very big strike wave through 45-47.
New & bigger strike wave. Biggest yet in Canada's history. These strikes are characterized as tests of strength. Will the
The biggest strike is the Ford windsor strike in 1945- Ford was determined that the union would not last. They were the
most resistant employers. They only started to establish themselves during the war. 2 big issues in the strike- 1. the closed
shop & the dues checkoff. The closed shop is a union concept that the shop is closed to any non-union member. The closed
shop is for union members only. This is the best union security members can get. Employers have to be members of union to
work there. Employer says “employees should be able to choose if they are union members or not” Dues checkoff- essential
survival question. It means when the employer does the paycheques, they do union deductions. It is important because when
you have industrial unions- the union spends a lot of time collecting money. It keeps activists busy just to get the money.
Wasn't an issue for craft unions because they were small. In industrial unions- they have 10,000 workers. They want the
employer to deduct the money. What both these demands speak to is a larger question of union security. The union wants
security for the long term. The employer doesn't want union security. They want individual workers to decide if they want to
be in the union and if they want to pay.
There is a broader issue- it is about whether there should be a union in the plant and how secure the union should be. If the
union is there we're constantly going to have strikes.. Asecure union means our assembly line is constantly going to face
shutdowns.-- thats what it becomes about. Strike drags on for a long time.
Union decides to they are going to increase pressure dramatically on the employer. They decide to occupy the power plant
of the factory. This means everything in the factory gets cold- the equipment gets cold. Company responds by storming the
power plant. The union responds by getting everyone to park their cars blocking the road that all the ford officials to get into
They call in Ivin Rand- he is called in to be the arbitrator of the strike. He decides to settle the two issues & will go further.
He will settle all of the broader issues the strike is about. The decision he makes will be a key part. He issues a ruling known
as the Rand Formula. The Rand formula at this time does not become a law. He takes two issues of union security (closed
shop & due checkoff) His verdict is as follows- Rand says no.. Individual freedom is important part of the law and is too
much compromise for someone to HAVE to become a union member to get the job. Shouldn't be forced if the employer says no. The issue of the dues checkoff Rand says yes. He looks at this from many angles. In his view all workers in a plant get
benefits of unions. Whether people are apart of the union or not- they get the same benefits. For Rand he says- everyone
gets benefits of union. Therefore workers should pay dues. Free riders- don't contribute to unions and don't care about the
union but get all the benefits & don't pay in/support. Economic benefit of the union is a sensible compromise for people to
pay the dues. Rand takes this further- he addresses broader concerns about the factory constantly getting disrupted. It is not
correct for a union to constantly disrupt a workplace.
If there are complaints that you have that what is happening during the work day- you have to take it