Boilermakers in Ontario
History up to 1997
Written by Robert MacIntosh
The charter members of 1947 could never have imagined the legacy that they would leave to the next generation. Lodge 128 has been successfully serving the Boilermakers of Ontario for 69 years and counting.
The trade, of course, has a much longer history in Ontario, Lodge 128’s past administrations have been involved in its development for well over one hundred years.
Many lodges have been chartered in the province which are no longer in existence. Some had a very short duration, others survived for many decades. Nothing stays the same in life, but we’ll try to keep Lodge 128 in focus, as we review the boilermakers’ history in Ontario.
Looking into the beginning of the boilermaker trade in Ontario, it seems a bit murky at first glance. But there are some facts, which when laced together, give us some inkling. For instance, the first steamboat built on the Canadian-side of Lake Ontario was launched on 7th September 1816. This was a paddle-wheeler, the 700-ton Frontenac was 170 feet in length, she was built at Finkle’s Point in the shipyard of Teabout & Chapman. The site today is preserved as a public park near Bath.
What’s important is the fact that this was the beginning of steam navigation in what is now the province of Ontario. The steam plant which was placed in this wooden steamer was supplied by Boultan & Watt of Birmingham, England. This company was a pioneer in steam engineering and supplied many of the steam plants in early steamships. The practice was to ship the engine(s) complete along with the materials for the copper boiler(s), to be assembled on site.
From this first steamboat an industry grew, shipbuilding and ship repair would be important to the many small related industries, employing many hundreds of tradesmen including boilermakers, ship builders and others. These facilities stretched along the shores of the five Great Lakes from Kingston in the east, to Port Arthur in the west. This would be a source of employment for many generations to come.
Steam locomotives are very important to boilermaker-history everywhere. In Ontario the completion of the Montreal to Toronto line by the Grand Trunk Railway, with its connection to Chicago through Sarnia was only one, though the principal of the lines built between 1850 and 1860.
Other lines were built running north and south from small ports on Lake Ontario, mainly for lumber shipment. Rail connections were forged between Niagara Falls and Lake Huron, at Goderich. Also, there were rail links between Toronto-Hamilton and Windsor-Detroit.
The first steam locomotives on these lines were produced in U.S. shops and/or imported from England, but before very long the first locomotive produced in Canada rolled out of the shop at the James Good Foundry, located on the corner of Bay and Front Streets in Toronto, on 16th April 1853. It was named Toronto.
Locomotives during the early years were built mainly at Hamilton and Kingston, but any well-equipped iron works could undertake such a contract before locomotives become an assembly-line item. The railway companies established their own railway shops where they built some of their own.
Oil was discovered in the province at Oil Springs in 1858, the first refinery was built at Hamilton in 1860. Refining shifted to London next and then to Petrolia and on to Sarnia before the end of the century. This was only a beginning, but in the long term it would become an industry of immense importance to boilermakers.
By 1860, Toronto had become quite an industrial city, the railway industry gave other industries a real boost. Toronto Rolling Mills, Soho Foundry, Dickie Neill and Co, St. Lawrence Foundry and Currie Boilers were just some of the industries of those times.
A survey taken in 1871 shows that Toronto had a total of 560 factories, 113 of these relied on steam power to operate their machinery. There was a wide range: Metal Work; Woodworking; Brewing and Distilling; Flour Mills; Pork Packing; Publishing; Chemicals; Furniture; Clothing; Musical Instruments; Tobacco; Boot and Shoe; Brass, Tin etc.; Carriage; and others.
The “financial panic” depression- which set in about 1873 had a serious effect on industry. By 1878 the total number of factories was reduced to 55. However, when the recovery started after 1878, the pick-up was pretty fast: in 1881 the number rose to 870, ten years later it had reached 2,109. Then another economic downturn took place in the nineties: 1893 to 1897.
Just exactly when and where boilermakers first banded together in the province is not a matter of record. It is probable that a boilermakers union existed in Toronto before 1870.
The Confederation of Canada took place in 1867 and the joining together of the Provinces gave the various unions the urge to unite too. The first attempt to form central labour bodies took place in Ontario during this period at: Hamilton; Toronto; Ottawa; and, St. Catharines. The battle-cry of labour was for the nine-hour work day.
The Trade Union Act was passed in 1872 which legalized unions in Canada, consequently there are some records dated from that time.
Employers fought organized labour by threatening to fire workers involved in the campaign to shorten the established work day of 10 hours. One company employing boilermakers, among others, instructed it’s employees to sign a statement:
I, the undersigned, agree to work Messrs. Goldie, McCullock Co., of Galt, at my usual calling or trade, and will not in any way agitate or contribute pecuniary aid to such as are agitating for reduction of the present hours of labour now constituting a days work, while I remain in their employment.
The Toronto Trades Assembly’s records of 1872 indicate that there was a thriving labour movement consisting of five sections: Building Trades; Metal Trades; Woodworking; Miscellaneous; and, Carriage Making. One of the six metal trades listed is the Boilermakers’ Union.
The depression of 1873 had a disastrous effect on the fledging labour movement, by the end of the decade it had all but disappeared.
The Knights of Labour entered Ontario in 1881 and enjoyed considerable success. They began in Hamilton where it soon expanded to 25 locals. An independent Boilermakers’ Union continued to survive there, in spite of the panic at the Great Western Railway shops.
In 1883 the Hamilton Boilermakers affiliated with the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers and Iron Ship Builders becoming Branch 21 of that Organization. The Toronto Boilermakers Union followed in 1884, becoming Branch 22.
The Knights also had 40 local assemblies in Toronto consisting of various types of workers, Local Assembly 6724 was organized in 1886 for Boilermakers, Branches 21 and 22 members may have been involved as duel membership was not uncommon among the trades at that point in time.
The Knights Assemblies had adopted names: the Plumbers took Phoenix, the Machinists took George Stephenson, after the great engineer, and the Boilermakers chose Elite.
In 1889, another new boilermaker organization sprung into being in Atlanta. The Knights in the U.S., by this time, had begun to come apart and some of its boilermakers formed the National Brotherhood of Boilermakers and it spread like wildfire in the South. It soon jumped the border; three lodges of this Organization were organized in Canada in 1893: Lodge 104 was chartered in Winnipeg on 10th April; Lodge 106 was chartered in Toronto on 6th May; and, Lodge 112 in Montreal was chartered on 3rd November.
The two Boilermaker Brotherhoods were consolidated by 1894 and the lodges were re-numbered as a result: Lodge 104 became Lodge 126; Lodge 106 became Lodge 128: and Lodge 112 became Lodge 134.
Another financial panic hit in 1893 and lasted until 1897, it took a tremendous toll among the local unions, including Lodge 128, as the charter lapsed in 1895. However, boilermakers, being resilient, landed on their feet and were soon busy at reorganizing.
Lodge 128 was chartered again on 25th March 1898, becoming involved in an across-Canada organizing drive in the railway shops of the Canadian Pacific Railway. The American Federation of Labour (AFL) moved to give assistance to the international unions within the Trades & Labour Congress of Canada (TLC). Both these central labour bodies started about the same time in 1886.
The AFL and the TLC saw eye to eye on many things but differed on the question of dual unionism. The AFL was opposed to dealing with the Knights of Labour while the Knights remained affiliated to the TLC until 1902, when they were finally expelled.
The AFL appointed Canadian organizers who set about assisting the craft unions to get their house in order in Canada. Between 1898 and 1903 a string of International Brotherhood railroad lodges were chartered across Canada from Victoria to Moncton.
The big breakthrough for the boilermakers on the nation’s railways came in 1899 when the shop crafts negotiated their first agreement with the Canadian Pacific Railway.
The agreement didn’t come easy, as the CPR was caught up in the Open Shop Movement which was then widespread throughout the United States and Canada. This was the age of the Robber Barons when the wealth of the U.S. was controlled by a few rich and powerful men who manipulated the general economy.
The National Manufactures Association was orchestrating its employer-members in the U.S. and its counterpart was doing likewise in Canada: the Canadian Manufacturer’s Association. In spite of stiff opposition the craft unions were able to win Recognition by the CPR.
There was a hodge-podge of wage rates in the beginning as each of the shop unions negotiated something to suit conditions in their own respective regions with the result that wages varied considerably according to region.
By 1904 the wage system on the CPR was refined to just five different rates across the country. In Ontario the rates varied from 22 to 28 cents an hour, with the higher rate applying to Western Lake Superior.
By 1907, the rates were adjusted to “Eastern Lines” and “Western Lines” each with different wage rates. The dividing line was located at Broadview, Saskatchewan. The eastern hourly rate was pegged at 43 cents. Western rates were at 45 cents. The work day was now at nine hours.
In 1908 a movement was underway in both Canada and the United States, to bring the railway shop crafts together for coordinated action in bargaining and resisting undesirable actions by the employer. The CPR gave this movement further stimulation when it notified the boilermakers that their wages were being reduced. Joint action soon became a fact and a strike followed.
Replacement workers were brought in from Great Britain but when they arrived and realized that they were to be scabs, they joined the shop unions struggle against the employer. Nevertheless the strike was lost, but the federated trades movement concept persisted and would become a fact of life later on down the road.
Achieving a similar agreement with the Grand Trunk Railway, was not in the cards at that point in time. Lodge 297 was front and center in this struggle, after a bitter strike at the shops in Stratford in 1905, which eventually was lost, the strike leaders were fired and blacklisted for years.
A 1907 Brotherhood Roster indicates nine lodges operating in Ontario: L-325 Carleton Place; L-343 Collingwood; L-297 Stratford; L-203 London; L-413 St. Thomas; L-128 Toronto. Helpers Division: L-211 Toronto; L-206 Carleton Place and L-205 Collingwood.
In 1908 the International Brotherhood, while in convention at St. Paul, Minnesota, created a Canadian District and a member of Lodge 128 was elected International Vice President for Canada: Nick Quesnel. He won by a thin margin, 138 votes to 136 2/3 for John Galligan of Lodge 126.
The new IVP took charge as the nation-wide strike of shop crafts on the CPR was taking place, the one referred to above that didn’t go well, and lasted for nine weeks. He filed two reports to Headquarters that year in which he mentions a problem of dual unionism. This was a carry-over of an old feud within the national labour body, the TLC, following the expulsion of certain organizations from the recognized house of labour in 1902.
The expelled groups formed a new central labour body called the Canadian Federation of Labour, (not to be confused with the CFL of a much later date – 1982). This new organization was pushing the “nationalist” message and it caught the ear of some members in the established craft unions.
Lodge 128 was a mixed lodge in that the members worked in railway shops, contract shops and ship yards. Being diversified, interests varied, as is sometimes the case in mixed lodges, Lodge 128 was not unusual in that regard.
In September of 1910 a new Lodge 548 was chartered in Toronto especially for railway shop members. The contract shops were busy and the members in these units wanted more attention. It was agreed between the two that Lodge 128, in future, would service shops and shipyards.
The harmony, as reported by IVP Quesnel, didn’t last. Lodge 128 got caught up in the wave of nationalism then raging in Toronto, it came under the wing of the CFL and they let the Brotherhood charter lapse in 1911. The rump group called itself the Maple Leaf Lodge # 1.
In 1911, John P. Merrigan of Lodge 134, Montreal, had replaced Nick Quesnel as International Vice President for Canada. Exactly what happened to Quesnel is not clear, he just disappeared from the scene along with Lodge 128. Merrigan was appointed to fill the spot, he was present at the Little Rock Convention in 1912, where he was re-elected IVP and he would be around for quite a long spell.
The Trades and Labour Congress of Canada in 1911 took on a new significance for Boilermakers when John Cameron Watters became president of the house of labour. Watters had been financial secretary of Lodge 43 of the Helpers Division of the International Brotherhood of British Columbia, when he was elected the first president of the B.C. Federation of Labour in 1910.
He moved to Ottawa to take up his new post as president of the TLC, a position he would hold until 1919. Some very significant events affecting labour took place during this decade.
The First World War broke out in August of 1914, it would claim the lives of 60,000 Canadians before it came to a close in November 1918.
With so many gone to war the ranks of the unemployment thinned considerably. Industry geared up for war production and jobs became plentiful after the pre-war depression. It was a time of turmoil in the work place as employer-employee conflict was manifest. To add to these woes were the inter-union rivalry battles.
The war on the home front was not confined to Ontario alone, it was Canada wide. It was the worst decade for industrial relations up until that time in the history of the country and there hasn’t been one to equal it since.
This was also a period of progress for the crafts, especially in the railroad shops. By 1916 the Shop Crafts began writing their agreements within a single agreement with the Canadian Northern Railway System. The following year the CPR recognized the federated trades movement, finally. The trades were recognized as Division # 4 of the Railway Employee’s Department of the AFL.
Now for a look at wage rates in 1917, in shops of the CPR in Ontario the boilermakers were highest of all the shop crafts, at 50 cents per hour. There was a difference between the metal crafts, e.g. the steam fitters were 6 cents less.
In 1918 the Canadian War Labour Board ruled that the District # 4 Agreement on wage scales be applied to all railroads in the country. This followed a pattern set in the U.S. by the McAddo Award. A federal Order-in-Cabinet (P.C. 1768) legislated that the Award be applied throughout Canada.
This move eliminated the geographic differences, the rates were the same across the country, just as in the U.S., the first class mechanics went to 68 cents. The rate went to 72 cents in 1919. The last increase went into effect in 1920 bringing the hourly wage to 85 cents.
By 1917, Lodge 128 was recognized as a shipyard and contract shop local. There was a boom on in both sections but the contract shop members elected to manage their own affairs. As a result Lodge 637 was chartered in 1919 to handle contract shops.
The shipbuilding program prompted new yards to be opened on the St. Lawrence River, on the east coast, on the west coast and on the Great Lakes. Lodge 128 zoomed up to 600 members.
Other shipyard lodges in the province thrived too and new charters were issued to 500 members in Collingwood (L-343); 200 members in Midland (L-365); 200 members in Welland; and 100 members in Bridgeburgh (L-642). Other yards were busy at Kingston (L-210), St. Catharines (L-631) and Port Arthur (L-461).
The British American Shipbuilding Company at Welland built five 3,500-tonners before closing down in 1920.
The Allis Chalmers Company at Bridgesburgh built four steamers of the same tonnage.
The Collingwood Shipbuilding Company at Collingwood built twelve 2,900-tonners.
The Midland Shipbuilding Company at Midland built three 3,500-tonners.
The Polson Iron Works at Toronto built eight 3,500-tonners.
The Toronto Dry Dock & Shipbuilding at Toronto built two steamers.
The Port Arthur Shipbuilding Co., Ltd. at Port Arthur built sixteen steamers in all, before the boom ended.
In 1917 a new development took place within the International Brotherhood, the IVP had been run off his feet looking after the now, very busy Canadian District on his own. At the Brotherhood Convention that year in Kansas City, the District was cut into two Districts with the dividing line being at Port Arthur-Fort William.
Roscoe C. McCutchan of Lodge 126 was elected the new IVP for Western Canada, which included part of Ontario.
The coming of the second IVP was timely as the country was just too big and getting busy for one person to be responsible for. Traveling from coast to coast by train could be very time-consuming.
In 1918, refinery boilermakers at Imperial Oil in Sarnia were organized into Lodge 539. Boilermakers working in mines, mills and smelters for British American Nickel at Sudbury had their own Lodge 435.
The Brotherhood’s membership in Canada in 1914 stood at 866 members in 18 lodges. By 1919 the membership peaked at 8,851 in 53 lodges due to the wartime prosperity.
Employers prospered immensely from the war contracts but the squeeze came on the union movement when the economy slowed down. The shipyards’ order books slowed to peacetime conditions in this industry, causing some yards to close. The contract shops were adversely affected as well.
Two of the shipbuilding concerns were Bertram Shipyards and the Polson Iron Works at Toronto. Polson’s had been established in 1883 at the foot of Sherbourne Street on the lakeshore. They also established a shipbuilding yard at Owen Sound o Lake Huron in 1888. The Toronto plant flourished and extended along the waterfront from Sherbourne to Frederick Streets. By the time the plant was dismantled to make way for a railroad viaduct in 1920, the company had built over 150 large vessels.
The Brotherhood Journals, for this period, are short on reports from the eastern IVP, Merrigan, he indicated that all is going well except for cutbacks in shipbuilding. He had taken a year off in the 1919-20 era, he resigned and then resumed his duties again. McCutchan took over in his absence and he found out just how big the country was. A temporary organizer by the name of Clancy from L-126 was appointed to assist.
IVP McCutchan’s reports were much more frequent, it seems that his activity had been mostly concerned with reorganizing the aftermath of the One Big Union uprising in the west, and the Winnipeg General Strike in 1919.
Lodge 461 became a casualty in the OBU movement, the shipyard membership of 300-plus, along with hundreds of others in the Metal Trades Council, went out on strike at Port Arthur in 1920. This action was taken against the advice of the leaders of the international unions involved. The strike by 1,000 workers was lost.
By 1924, they had put things back together reasonably well as far as the railway shops were concerned: of the 2,820 boiler department employees on Canadian Railways (both east and west) 2,260 were members of the Brotherhood.
In addition to the railroad lodges mentioned earlier, there was a whole string of newer lodges in Ontario by the mid-twenties: L-271 Trenton; L-724 Belleville; L-742 Brockville; L-748 Smith Falls; L-394 Ottawa; L-505 Fort William; L-413 St. Thomas; L-417 North Bay; L-421 Hamilton; and, L-680 Brantford.
Meanwhile on the railroads the employers were reducing wages. In 1921 a cut of 8 cents an hour went into effect after considerable grumbling. In 1922 the companies demanded another cut of 7 cents. The unions in both countries balked at the cut and they went on strike in the U.S. (the dispute lasted two years and affected 25,000 Brotherhood members).
In Canada the Industrial Disputes Act was invoked and the dispute went to a Board for a decision. By the time the Board’s decision was handed down, the strike in the U.S. was going badly. Open shop conditions became the order of the day.
The unions in Canada decided to accept the reduction rather than risk the open shop fate. The common rate in the two countries ended from that time onward.
Wage increases during the 1920’s were small and far between until by 1929 the railway shop crafts in Ontario, and all of Canada, was 79 cents an hour. This was the year that the Great Depression set in, this one would prove to be the mother-of-all financial panics.
When the shipbuilding boom expired during the early half of the twenties so did some of the shipbuilding lodges, including Lodge 128, which closed out in 1925.
IVP Merrigan was challenged by Delegate H.B. Foster of L-134 at the Kansas City Convention in 1925. Foster was successful in his election bid, but strangely, he did not actually take office.
Walter J. Coyle of L-378, Moncton, who had been recently appointed International Representative, took over some of the IVP’s servicing duties. Subsequently, in 1927 he was appointed IVP to complete Foster’s term.
The effects of the slow down in our types of industries had a severe effect on the total membership in Canada. According to a report from IVP McCutchan, the numbers had leveled off at 2,108 in 1926.
During the next three years there had been some successful organizing drives carried out, resulting in an impressive increase: going up to 3,209 in 1929. Union representatives and their members, working in the contract lodges and railway shops, were bringing pressure on government representatives, at every level, to establish fair wage policies: municipal, provincial and federal.
On public projects the prevailing wage sought, was the union rate. This made a level playing field for union shops to compete with open shop contractors. This campaign was showing results up until the Stock Market Crash in October.
Returning to the TLC briefly, competition in the form of a new central labour body appeared on the scene in 1929. This was the All-Canadian Labour (ACCL) comprising the labour unions unfriendly to international unions.
The CFL had run out of steam by this time, but there were still enough nationalists remaining to start up a new organization. The ACCL would be around to haunt the TLC for some time to come. Among them were a few secessionists from our Brotherhood.
There had been a Brotherhood Convention in 1930 at Kansas City which saw a change in the IVP’s office in the west. Delegate A. B. Page, L-126 challenged the incumbent R. C. McCutchan and won. He however later declined to take office with the result that Archie Milligan was appointed to fill the position.
There was some good work done in the way of federal legislation early in this decade. In 1930, the federal government enacted the Fair Wages and Eight-hour Day Act. The Regulations that went along with the Act, required that a specified scale of wages be paid on federally-funded projects. The specs were updated from time to time to ensure that they were keeping up to the prevailing rates. The long years of lobbying had paid off.
The legislation worked because the Regulations gave it teeth, it took continued pressure on succeeding governments to keep upgrading the specs. In the U.S. the new Davis-Bacon Act gave similar protection. (More than half a century later, Mulroney’s Tories changed the Regulations, the requirement to issue wage specifications no longer applied. This removed the teeth from the legislation and it came at a time when the Open Shop Movement was on the rise again in Canada).
The International Brotherhood was accepted into the Building Trades Department of the AFL in 1931. Boilermakers had gone on construction sites before, of course, by virtue of their employment with contract shops, with erection contractors and with the oil refineries direct. From time to time there would be hassles from other trades anxious to do work within our jurisdiction. Now, we would have access to machinery with which to resolve jurisdiction disputes.
It soon paid dividends in the U.S. and would later do likewise in Canada. IVP Coyle reported, in the Boilermakers Journal, on a trip he made to Chicago where he visited some construction sites to view members of Lodge 1 and Lodge 374 building boilers and tanks out in the field. He told of boilers in the Fisk Street Power Station reaching 90 feet in height. He was obviously impressed.
Shortly after his return to Canada, he tells of a great amount of construction work in Montreal which was about to get under way. His first breakthrough came with Toronto Iron Works Ltd. who had the contract to build a tank farm at the B.A. Oil Refinery in that city.
Next, he mentions a number of boiler jobs in Montreal concerning Babcock-Wilcox & Goldie-McCulloch and Foster Wheeler Ltd., who were agreeable to paying the established “fair” wage. He mentions a third boiler contractor, who was Montreal-based, but he gave no name. An agreement with Imperial Oil Ltd. was also reported. All these working arrangements were verbal and were sealed only with a hand shake. We should recall that this was before the age of formal collective agreements for boilermakers on construction, but it was a beginning. Our first construction lodge in Canada started as a result of these early endeavors: Lodge 271 was chartered in Montreal in 1937.
It should be noted that about the same time, IVP Milligan reported some discussions with these Open Shop boiler companies on publicly funded projects in Saskatoon and Regina. He reported definite progress in both the public sector and the private sector in British Columbia affecting Lodge 194.
On the nation’s railroads, throughout the thirties, a deduction in wage rates was the rule, without changes to the “official” rates. This meant that when the unions started bargaining again in good times, they started from the “official” rate, not the cut rate.
The first cut of 10% came in 1931, increasing to 15% in 1933. In 1935, 5% was restored and beginning in 1937 the full restoration came in three month increments until the spring of 1938 saw the rate of 79 cents back in effect.
Things were stirring in the new central labour bodies, a split in the American Federation of Labor in the United States in 1936 gave birth to the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO). The effects were soon felt in Canada as these industrial unions organized north of the border. The inevitable happened: the new CIO and the ACCL began to discuss a merger. It would become a fact eventually (1940), the ACCL dropped its opposition to international unions and welcomed the new unions from across the border. The Canadian Congress of Labour (CCL) was the result.
One of the CCL affiliates was the Steel Workers’ Organizing Committee (SWOC), it’s organizers swarmed into basic industries, manufacturing plants and contract shops. It’s style of “wall to wall” organizing threw the craft into a state of confusion.
CIO organizing efforts along the east coast in the U.S. shipyards, spread from New England into Saint John and Halifax. They sewed seeds for the CCL to later reap when the local yards revived. Lodges 717 and 580 would have opposition.
Canada went to war again in 1939 having followed Britain’s move in September of that year. The war would last six years and claim the lives of more than 40,000 Canadians before all hostilities ceased in August of 1945.
As we entered the forties, the Brotherhood in Ontario was strongest in the railway shops. The war had an immediate effect on our Railway lodges across the country. Lodge 548 of Toronto was busy reinstating delinquent members.
The federal government stepped in, early in this war, pegging all wages at the existing level in 1940: @79 cents an hour for shop crafts. In 1941 a cost-living bonus was negotiated amounting to $1.93 per week.
In 1943 a six cents an hour increase was ordered by the War Labour Board. In 1944 the cost-of-living bonus was folded in and the rate was adjusted to 95 cents. By war’s end, the rate was increased to $1.05. By 1948 the rate had reached $1.22 plus some vacation with pay conditions.
The War created a lot of work causing a big demand for boilermaker skills. Field construction boomed in Quebec, IVP Coyle reports considerable progress with contractors who previously avoided recognition of us. He made a breakthrough with two more boiler firms: Combustion Engineering and Leonard Boilers.
IVP Coyle had, by 1941, three international representatives assisting him: J. A. Charron (L-?), John Wright (L-271) and Leonard Smith (L-?)
After an absence of 16 years, Lodge 128 was reorganized in 1941 as a shipyard lodge. Jim Higgins, the lodge representative, had a fight on his hands right from the beginning, beating off the CCL-CIO organizations who were doing their best to spread discontent among the members of the Brotherhood in the Toronto area.
Other marine lodges reorganized, in 1940: L-210 Kingston. In 1941: L-343 Collingwood; L-365 Midland; and L-461 Port Arthur; and, L-680 Port Dalhousie.
In spite of the fact that the Toronto yards did not have a closed shop agreement, the stewards kept the yards 85% organized by constant in-plant organizing.
The CCL affiliated unions were also guilty of raiding tactics among our members in the shipyards on Lake Huron and Lake Superior. On-going raids were being attempted in Quebec shipyards at the same time.
In 1943, a new lodge was chartered at Hamilton, Lodge 235, covering the Carter Hall and Aldinger Co., Ltd., shipyard, where hulls built in Toronto were outfitted. Another new lodge was chartered in 1943, at Windsor, Lodge 742 covering the Ojibway shipyard of the Canadian Bridge and Engineering Co.
In Sarnia, Lodge 631 was organized to take care of members working on the construction of a new synthetic rubber plant for the Polymer Corporation. By 1942, Sam Finlay (L-637) had been appointed International Representative and he would succeed Walter Coyle as, International Vice President, during the Brotherhood Convention held at Kansas City in 1944.
Shipyard Delegates to this Convention included: Jim Higgins L-128 Toronto; David C. Franklin L-210 Kingston; F.A. Daniels L-235 Hamilton; W. E. McConkey L-365 Midland; Cliff C. Cooper L-461 Port Arthur; and, Pat Gallagher L-742 Windsor. L-343 Collingwood and L-680 Port Dalhousie were not represented.
The Royal Canadian Navy launched a huge shipbuilding program early in war and this revived shipyards that had been closed for years along the Great Lakes, on the St. Lawrence River and on the west coast Commercial vessels were another huge source of work for the order books, mostly down river and in salt water ports.
This wartime activity shows up in the list of shipyard lodges then under agreement in Ontario: Collingwood Shipyard & Dry Dock Co., Collingwood; Canadian Dredge & Dock Co., Kingston; Dufferin Shipbuilding Co., Ltd. Toronto; John Inglis Company Ltd., Toronto; Kingston Shipbuilding Co. Ltd., Kingston; Muir Dry Dock Co. Ltd., Port Dalhousie; Midland Shipyards, Ltd., Midland; and, Port Arthur Shipbuilding Co., Port Arthur.
Five of these facilities built a total of 62 warships for the RCN, most of them saw service in the war, and some participated in the destruction of German and Italian submarines. None of the warships built on the Lakes were lost to enemy action.
Our members of Port Arthur built 8 corvettes, 5 Bangor class mine sweepers and 12 Algerine class mine sweepers. At Midland, they built 8 corvettes. In Collingwood, 13 corvettes were sent to the Atlantic coast. In Toronto, 8 Bangor class sweepers were built and at Kingston, our members turned out 8 corvettes.
In addition to naval vessels, there was commercial work carried out at Collingwood during this period in time: three 3,600 ton tankers and four “C” type coasters.
A legislative milestone in Canada was reached in 1944 when the federal government passed on, 17th February, P.C. 1008. The order set out the right of employees to form and join unions, prohibited unfair labour practices, established machinery for defining and certifying bargaining units, required compulsory collective bargaining and compulsory conciliation, and affirmed the right to strike except during the term of a collective agreement.
Both the TLC and the CCL hammered away at the government for such legislation, especially after the Wagner Act became law in the U.S. The Canadian Manufacturers’ Association fought vigorously against it. The government wanted to head off the type of industrial conflict seen during the First World War and saw P.C. 1008 as the answer. This demonstrated the amount of clout the two labour bodies really had when they saw eye to eye on a single issue.
P.C. 1008 had wide application, because of the war, the federal jurisdiction spread into provincial jurisdictions. When the feds receded in the post war years, the pace had been set in the provincial jurisdictions. Eventually similar legislation followed in the provinces where none existed before, as was the case in most of them.
Late in 1946, a milestone was reached in shipyard contract negotiations between Lodge 210 and the Canadian Shipbuilding and Engineering Ltd., of Kingston. The first union dues check-off provision in the shipbuilding industry on the Great Lakes, in Canada and United States. The check-off was slowly being accepted by the Toronto contract shops by this time too.
By 1946 a new railroad lodge was chartered in St. Thomas, Lodge 372, also in Windsor, Lodge 492.
In Brantford, Lodge 275 was organized for the members in Waterous Ltd., which was signed to an agreement in 1946.
The shipbuilding boom in Ontario was over by 1946, when the Toronto yards folded so did Lodge 128. Midland closed and there were big troubles in Collingwood and Port Arthur, the CCL unions had secured agreements in both of these units.
Jim Higgins was now (1947) a District Representative and Erney Bridges was also appointed for Ontario. Rene Walsh (L-271) of Montreal was also a D.R.
Lodge 128, being a survivor, bounced back in 1947, now chartered as a construction lodge with contract shops. This came at a time when the province was entering a construction boom. Field construction was, for the first time, covered by legislation (a hard-won legacy of W.W. II). It was now possible to achieve compulsory recognition and to negotiate a collective agreement.
There were only two other boilermaker construction lodges in Canada at the time: Lodge 271 in Montreal, chartered in 1937 and Lodge 359 in Vancouver, chartered in 1946. Lodge 146 in Edmonton came next after the Leduc oil discovery, it was chartered in 1948.
In 1954 another construction lodge was chartered in Manitoba and this one, Lodge 555, would be of particular importance to Lodge 128 because both held a jurisdictional interest in Northwestern Ontario. The break in the IVP’s specific territories is spelled out in the International Brotherhood Constitution as Port Arthur-Fort Williams, later to be combined and called Thunder Bay.
A collective agreement covering plate work had been negotiated with Horton Steel Works in 1946 that followed a pattern set in the United States by the International Brotherhood and Chicago Bridge & Iron covering most of the U.S. Other tank contractors in Canada soon became signatory (1947) and this became another lifeline for boilermakers right across the country. Among the other early signatories were: Sparling & Davis Co. and the Hamilton Bridge Co. Ltd. The tank agreement covered all of Canada.
The Toronto Builders Exchange signed an agreement binding all the affiliated Toronto Boilermaker contractors. Some of the other contactors abiding by the terms of the agreement were: Toronto Iron Works; Canadian Kellogg; Hardy Construction; Taylor Engineering; Combustion Engineering and Vickers Engineering.
This was a pretty good start for a young local lodge. By 1949 the hourly rates of pay in the field were: $1.60 for Mechanics and $1.35 for Helpers.
The contract shops rates ranged between $1.30 and $1.40. In the shipyards, the rate had not kept pace, owing to the duel union situation and the lack of orders, the rate stayed around the $1.15 level for Mechanics.
The year 1949 saw another milestone event for the Brotherhood take place, this was the 18th Consolidated Convention. It was held in the Mount Royal Hotel in Montreal, the first time in Canada. IVP Sam Finlay opened the convention as Temporary Chairman on the morning of 2nd May.
Lodge 128 was represented by a single delegate: Erney Bridges. Lodge 637 was represented by: Sam Finlay, R. Miller and Jim Higgins. Lodge 210 by Wm. Ryce.
Of course the railroad lodges vastly outnumbered the construction, shipyard and contract shop lodges in Eastern Canada. They were scattered all along the main lines between Fort William, at the head of the Lakes, and Kentville in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley. One was on the island of Newfoundland.
In 1949, the railroad membership was still very much the glue that held the Brotherhood together. Except for the periods associated with both world wars, it was the railroad lodge members who carried the ball for the Brotherhood. They would police their own jurisdiction helping to organize new lines, they’d notify the IVP of organizing potential in contract shops and assist him in door-knocking campaigns. They’d also lobby local politicians about paying the “transient rate” on publicly-funded projects.
This was about to change, diesel engines were coming around the bend and within ten years the steam locomotives would be little more than a pleasant memory. IVP Finlay had already begun to explore other fields as we see in his statement to this Convention:
“In order to show just what has been accomplished in actual membership gain in Canada in the shipbuilding, construction and contract shop fields in the last few years, I might quote the figures from our IST’s office. In January 1944, our total membership in Eastern Canada totaled 1,313, most of whom were employed in the shipyards; in January 1946, when many Government subsidized yards had closed, the total membership was 666; at this writing, with the October 1948 report, the latest available, the membership totals 1,914; a gain of 601 over the peak of the war period and 1,248 over 1946.”
We should also point out, that the IST’s report to this Convention showed the total membership standing at 90,763. This figure is way down from the peak of 364,997 reached in 1943. The drop-off was due to the massive reduction in war production. It should be recalled that in 1933 the total membership dipped to a low of 11,783. The leveling out from the post war period left a good base from which to build on.
Lodge 128 Executive Officers in 1947:
President: Jack Staples
Vice President: Peter Foster
Financial Secretary: Erney Bridges
Recording Secretary: A.L. Agate
Corresponding Secretary: William O’Donovan
Trustees: C. Pilkington, Chm., Gordon Nichol, A. L. Agate
The nation’s railway systems were completely shut down in August of 1950 when the parties failed to reach a contract settlement at the bargaining table. The Prime Minister called a special session of parliament which subsequently passed legislation ordering the workers back to work with a 4 percent wage increase effective 1st September. The items in dispute were referred to an arbitrator. In December the Award was released which contained an additional 4 cents per hour and the work week was reduced to 40 hours with 48 hours take home pay.
In 1952 they were back at the table again. After long drawn out negotiations, agreement was reached amounting to 16.5 cents an hour. Dues check-off was implemented in this agreement.
In 1954 it was more of the same: forced arbitration. The shop crafts were seeking improved annual vacations and 8 statutory holidays with pay. Effective 1st January 1955, an improved vacation schedule was implemented and 5 stats were granted.
They were back into bargaining late in 1955 and after going the distance, a conciliation board awarded a series of 4 percentage increases amounting to 11% in total and two more stats. A health & welfare plan also came into effect during the life of the agreement.
There were two more bargaining sessions before 1960 which brought the hourly rate for boilermakers and blacksmiths up from $1.81 on 1st April 1956 through a series of small increments to give an end rate of $2.05 on 1st April 1959.
There were two important Brotherhood conventions during this decade: at Minneapolis in 1953 and at Philadelphia in 1957. At Minneapolis, the delegates made history when the merger with the Blacksmiths and Forgers organization took place. Erney Bridges again was the lone delegate from Lodge 128.
At Philadelphia, some Brotherhood landmarks were established too, a national health & welfare plan and a national pension plan. Neither was applicable to Canadians, but the seed was planted in the Canadian delegates’ minds. Also the standards for a construction boilermaker apprenticeship program were adopted by the delegates.
Lodge 128 had a bigger delegation in attendance: Stan Petronski, John Kelly, Erney Bridges and Frank Young.
It was during the years between these two conventions that two new faces appeared around Lodge 128’s office in the old labour temple on Church Street in Toronto. The first was Stan Petronski, newly elected Business Manager, also the first person to hold this office in Lodge 128. Petronski had become a seasoned Job Steward in busy Southwestern Ontario, working on the construction of the huge J. Clark Keith steam generating station in Windsor and on several projects in Sarnia’s booming Chemical Valley.
Next was John D. Carroll (L-378) the newly appointed International Representative. He was a native on Moncton and had been employed in the CNR shops there. He was now working out of IVP Finlay’s office on Bloor Street. Carroll had been active in his local lodge affairs becoming General Chairman before being elected Vice President of Division #4 of the Railway Employee’s Department AFL in 1954.
Petronski and Carroll made a formidable team in countering the other craft unions, especially those who vied with the Boilermakers over work jurisdiction. They gained a lot of ground for Lodge 128 setting the pace for other construction lodges in the International Brotherhood, on both sides of the border.
This was a very important decade for construction boilermakers in both the United States and Canada. For the members of Lodge 128 it was no less important because it was a time when big deals were cooking in heavy construction. Life for the old-time boilermakers, who had long followed field work, would never be the same.
From this point onward, construction boilermakers would become part of Ontario’s burgeoning middle class. They’d live in a mortgaged home, drive a heavily financed automobile and perhaps send their kids to college. Their neighbours would possibly be hourly-paid blue-collared factory workers or white-collared salaried-type office workers.
There were jobs for anyone who wanted to work in Ontario, and people swarmed in from other provinces and as far away as Europe to share the good life in Utopia. Not a few would become members of Lodge 128.
The tank building industry was covered by a collective agreement and there was the agreement with the Toronto Builders Exchange, but the pivotal agreement for other field work in the province of Ontario was signed with Babcock-Wilcox & Goldie-McCulloch on 22nd October 1951. This Recognition was the beginning of the good life and the first element of the legacy which we mentioned in the opening piece.
This all-important agreement provided for Union Shop and dues check-off and an hourly rate of: $2.15 for Mechanics and $1.80 for Helpers. 4% vacation pay and a board allowance, where applicable. It was pivotal because it was province-wide in Scope. Other boiler firms followed and the large American contractors in the province abided by it, it became the standard agreement until the actual standard agreement came along.
The province was booming, Ontario Hydro Commission had undertaken a tremendous program of building power developments: in Toronto (8 units), the Richard L. Hearn Generating Station, at Windsor (4 units), the J. Clark Keith Station, and, at Niagara Falls (16 units) the Sir Adam Beck Station #2. World class steam plants were going up at Toronto and Windsor while the Honeymoon Capital was the site of a huge hydro electric development.
The joint Canada-United States St. Lawrence Seaway and Power Project was started in 1954 and completed in 1959. This was the culmination of five years of cooperation between the two neighbours. In addition to the new passage between the sea and the Great Lakes, there were two separate power projects, one for Ontario Hydro and one for the state of New York. In total there are 32 water turbines installed, 16 in the R.H. Saunders Generating Station near Cornwall and 16 the Robert Moses Power Dam (New York) together they produce a total of 1,860 MW. The combined work force on the two power projects alone exceeded 12,000 at peak.
In Sarnia, a tremendous construction program was under way: Stone and Webster were constructing a grass roots oil refinery for Canadian Oil. Next door another new one was going up for Sun Oil by Catalytic Construction. Meanwhile, Canadian Kellogg was carrying out a huge expansion at Imperial Oil’s existing plant. Foster Wheeler Corp. of New York was adding an extension to the Dow Chemical complex and the Polymer rubber plant was expanding. Besides the general contractors, a hundred sub-contractors were prospering. And the tank contractors were building many square miles of tank farms to accompany all these plants.
In Hamilton the erection of blast furnaces and tanks at Dominion Foundries and at the two Hamilton steel plants was in full swing. Boilers were being erected at Walkers Distilleries and the Ford Motor Company in Windsor and the new Ford plant at Oakville. Boilers were being installed at the General Motors plant in Oshawa.
Canadian Kellogg was busy on an extension to the British American refinery at Clarkson. There was smaller boilermaker projects, oil storage tanks and water towers too numerous to mention, and all of it was done under Union Shop conditions before the end of the decade.
According to IVP Finlay’s report to the 1957 Convention, it was in June of 1955 that it all came together, when a National Field and Boiler Erection Agreement for Canada was negotiated with nine contractors, members of the Canadian Boiler Society and the National Contractors’ Association. It covered all of Canada except British Columbia.
It was a one year agreement and when it was reopened, a new two year agreement was signed with 26 of the biggest names in the business, including the six most important boiler contractors.
Meanwhile another type of agreement was developed in Ontario which became a first for the International Brotherhood: Contract Plant Maintenance. This took place in 1951 at Sarnia when the Ontario Plant Maintenance Council was formed, composed of Representatives of Building Trades’ Organizations, in order to deal with Catalytic Construction and other interested employers. This resulted in an agreement being signed by eleven employers, the main one being Catalytic, who had a long-term maintenance contract at Sun Oil’s new refinery at Sarnia. This became the prototype agreement for Contract Plant Maintenance in Canada and the United States.
At the national level, the two houses of labour, which were then about equal size, took a turn in a different direction, they worked toward unity. It began at the same time as the AFL and the CIO in the United States began to work at unity there. In 1953 both the TLC and the CCL formed unity committees, the first product of these committees was a no-raiding pact. Then they went on to reach agreement on a merger.
A new constitution was drawn up and approved at conventions of both congresses in 1955. Finally, on 23 April 1956 in convention at Toronto the new Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) was born. Claude Jodoin, president of the former TLC was elected President of the new CLC. The newly elected Secretary-Treasurer of the CLC, Donald MacDonald, came out of the former CCL
The Merger with the Blacksmiths in 1953 added a lot of lodges to the Brotherhood. The Blacksmith lodges were given an extra digit (1) on the front of their previous number to avoid two lodges having the same number, e.g. Lodge 230 of the former Blacksmiths-Forgers organization in Hamilton became Lodge 1230 after the merger.
The effects of diesel locomotives coming on the scene had a dramatic impact on our membership employed in the railway industry during this decade. It was felt in the United States a few years ahead of Canada, but by the end of the decade, dieselization was total on Canadian railways.
At the 1957 Convention a program of consolidation of local lodges was started with the result that by the end of the decade, 344 local lodges were affected, these were reduced to 184 local lodges. This meant a reduction of 160 lodges.
In Canada, 39 railroad lodges were affected by the program, these were consolidated into 13 lodges. This meant that many of the lodges previously mentioned, as chartered in Ontario, were no more. By the end of 1959 there were 444 functioning lodges in the whole International Brotherhood.
There were Four Brotherhood conventions during this decade, the 21st Consolidated Convention at Long Beach, CA in 1961, the 22nd Consolidated Convention in 1965, the Special Convention in 1968 and the 23rd Consolidated Convention in 1969, the latter three were all held in Kansas City, MO.
Lodge 128 was represented at all of them. Just two delegates went to Long Beach, Frank Young and Alfred Cormier in 1961. At the next one in 1965, Stan Petronski and Metro Christian attended. Stan Petronski was the lone delegate at the Special Convention in 1968. And at the 1969 Convention three delegates attended from Lodge 128, Stan Petronski, Matt Bakker and Alfred Cormier.
Shipbuilding in Ontario by 1960 was, for the Brotherhood, centered at Port Weller, ideally located just above Lock One on the Welland Ship Canal. The Port Weller Dry Docks Ltd., employees were represented by Lodge 680. It is a well equipped facility and was among the best on the Great Lakes. It would eventually outlast all of its competitors on the Canadian-side of the Lakes.
In 1964, Lodge 128 had signed an agreement with Toronto Dry Dock Ltd., a shipyard which had been a thorn in the Brotherhood’s side for 25 years because of the low standard of wages and working conditions. A comparable agreement, with the one at Port Weller, was negotiated and a problem was resolved for the time being.
The sixties was a decade of progress in the construction industry. A new National Agreement covering Boiler Erection and Field Construction was negotiated which saw the Ontario hourly rate rise: in May 1961 – Mechanics $3.10 and Helpers $2.60. In July 1964 – $3.60 and $3.10 respectively. July 1965 – $3.75 and $3.25 respectively. This agreement was now binding on 78 signatory contractors.
The National Tank Agreement had nine signatory employers and the rates shown for: 1961 – $3.15 and $3.00 respectively. Next shown are for December 1964 – $3.50 and $3.10. June 1965 – $3.60 and $3.20. December 1965 – $3.65 and $3.25. June 1966 – $3.70 and $3.30. December 1966 – $3.75 and $3.35. June 1967 – $3.80 and $3.40.
Both agreements contained provision for 4% Vacation pay and a subsistence allowance, for days worked, $4.00 per day under the Boiler Agreement and $5.50 under the Tank Agreement.
There were changes in the International Vice Presidents’ offices too affecting Ontario. The first was in the West, when Harry Gomm retired in 1964, Donald G. Whan (L-146) was appointed to complete his unexpired term. He was re-elected IVP in 1965 and at numerous succeeding conventions.
Next, Sam Finlay IVP in the East, died in 1967 and John D. Carroll was appointed to complete his term and he was re-elected IVP in 1969 and at succeeding conventions.
A new International Representative, Al Comeau (L-378) was appointed meanwhile, to handle the industrial shops, railways and shipyards in the East. He came on the scene late in 1966.
There was already an international rep based in Quebec who sometimes was in the IVP’s office, this was Gerald Lebonte (L-271). He was replaced by Marcel Beauregard (L-271) in 1969. He was seen more frequently in Ontario.
In 1968, the differential in hourly wage rates in the two construction agreements was eliminated. Mechanics and Helpers on Boilers and Tanks were paid the same: $4.90 and $4.00 respectively.
The 1969 negotiations for renewal of the National Agreement was an historical round because of the fact that the Trust Funds originated from this agreement to make possible the creation of a health & welfare plan, a pension plan, and, an apprenticeship and upgrading plan. Joint trustees and joint committees were to be established, new responsibilities, not previously known, were about to be taken on by the parties to the agreement.
Projects for Ontario Hydro included the Lakeview steam generating station, construction began in the early sixties. This one would have an ultimate capacity of 2,400 megawatts generated from eight huge boilers.
Another large steam plant, the Lambton station, near Sarnia was starting, the fourth unit would be completed here in 1970. At Nanticoke another steam plant was given the green light. All of these thermal plants were coal-fired.
Also there was some hydro electric development on the Madawaska River at Stewartsville, at Aubrey Falls on the Mississauga River and at Barett Chute and Mountain Chute.
The Nuclear Age arrived in Ontario during this decade, The Douglas Point Nuclear Power Station on Lake Huron near Kincardine was under construction in 1960 with the unit coming into service in 1968, and this first unit was owned by the Atomic Energy Commission. Its purpose was to develop and demonstrate the reliability of the first CANDU Reactor.
Construction of Bruce “A” began in 1969 by Ontario Hydro. It would have four 825 MW reactors.
Expansions at two refineries and three chemical plants in Sarnia were going on during the latter half of the decade.
Ontario’s steel industry was expanding to meet the demand, construction was being carried out at Sault Ste. Marie, Hamilton and Nanticoke.
Mining contracts in Northern Ontario at Sudbury and Timmins were keeping boilermaker contractors busy building concentrators and smelters.
A uranium smelter was under construction at Port Hope.
In the beverage industry, there were expansions at John Labatt’s Brewery in Toronto and at Hiram Walker’s Distillery in Windsor.
On the nation’s railroads, there were agreements to be negotiated for the shop crafts for our members who survived dieselization. In Ontario, these were now grouped together into just two lodges: Lodge 417 North Bay and Lodge 548 Toronto.
Negotiations were, as usual, tough going. Finally, a Board Award provided for an increase of 14 cents an hour, spread over three increments in 1960 – ’61. There was improvement in vacations also.
They went back to the table again in December of 1961 and after going the whole route, with third parties etc., a settlement was hammered out which provided for an 8 cent per hour increase spread over two years. It also provided for a Job Security Fund.
Negotiations were complicated again in the next round of negotiations but the result was as follows for Boilermakers-Blacksmiths and other shop crafts: Hourly rates December 1963 $2.29 – January 1964 $2.35 – July 1964 $2.37 – January 1965 $2.42 – July 1965 $2.49.
It was the same difficult exercise next time, but an arbitration Board’s Award provided for five increment percentage increases which totaled overall: 24% over the 1965 rate. This carried them over until 1969.
Next time at the table things went a little smoother, an agreement was signed carrying them into the 1970’s. It provided for 6.5% increase in January 1969 and another 6.5% in January 1970. There also were improvements in shift premiums and health & welfare benefit.
The Building and Construction Trades Department AFL made some changes in Canada early in this decade. Previously the country was divided into regions same as in the United States. The Department maintained a staff of the Regional Directors each responsible for a specific region. It was Regional Director’s job to coordinate activities of the various Councils in the region for important activities such as: organizing; presenting submissions to the provincial governments; assisting in settling up councils to administer project agreements; arranging pre-job conferences and to generally assist affiliated unions. In the days when local unions operated on a lean budget and a one-man staff, often a green hand, the Regional Director earned his keep.
In time, the local unions began to build up their finances and enlarge staff, most local building and construction trades’ councils had a full-time secretary, and most provinces had a provincial council by 1970. Then provincial councils’ leaders began to rally for a Canadian Office in Ottawa and the Department agreed to give the request serious consideration.
Since 1968, there existed a defacto Advisory Board of the Building Trades in Canada, comprised of the top ranking officers and/or representatives from the affiliated unions. It was primarily set-up to get into matters affecting the Building Trades, and to act as a liaison with the CLC on any problems and legislation concerning the Building Trades in Canada.
It was this Board that sent delegations to visit and consult with the provincial councils as to the shape and structure of the proposed national office in Ottawa. Their findings supported the request.
The result was a complete restructuring of the Canadian arm of the Department. This was well before “restructuring” became an unpopular buzz-word, the three Regional Directors in Canada were retired. Each affiliated union to the Department named a high ranking Canadian to the Canadian Executive Board, replacing the Advisory Committee. An Executive Secretary was appointed, James A. McCambly of the Operating Engineers, was installed in the Ottawa office on 1st January 1971.
Collective bargaining in the construction industry took a number of turns in different directions at the beginning of this decade. First, was the loss of an important province at the national bargaining table. It was forced off the team by new provincial legislation in Quebec know there as Bill 290, it was introduced in 1969. All agreements for Quebec construction workers henceforth must be negotiated under the new legislation.
Lodge 271 still represented the Maritimes where a sub-office was maintained at Halifax. But this would change in 1973 when a new lodge for the Maritime Provinces was chartered, Lodge 73. Newfoundland & Labrador now had its own construction lodge, Lodge 203 was chartered in 1969.
New Labour legislation in Ontario, which became effective in 1971, sub-divided the construction industry into five sectors: residential; industrial; commercial and institutional; sewers, tunnels and water-mains; and electrical power systems construction sector.
Besides Quebec and Ontario, other provinces were reviewing their labour codes and changes were in the wind. It became evident that the contractual relationship between the boilermaker contractors and the International Brotherhood had to become more formalized.
The contractors previously grouped together into a committee prior to bargaining, chose a chairman, and come to the table prepared to hammer out an agreement. Their chairman was usually Bill Gibson, though not always, but for the most part he spoke for the contractors and represented them very well. He was a national figure in his own right as the person in charge of labour relations for Canadian Bechtel Ltd., perhaps leading the general contractor in the country.
The contractors got busy and formed the Boilermaker Contractors’ Association (BCA). In the complicated world of red tape things move slowly, but on 13th February 1974, BCA received its Certificate of Accreditation for Boilermaker Employers in Ontario.
BCA went on to meet the criteria in other provinces, except Quebec, so it could function according to the laws of the land. This took some years and a lot of leg-work on part of the BCA officers, but the contractual relationship with the Brotherhood has continued unbroken. This is another part of the boilermaker legacy to be passed on.
The Brotherhood and the BCA had a lot of work to do resulting from the 1969 negotiations and no time was lost in getting at it. Each of the Business Managers party to the collective agreement became Trustees to the Trust Funds governing the operation of the Health & Welfare Plan, which was yet to be determined, and the Pension Plan, which was yet to be determined. In addition, each of the two Canadian IVPs were named Trustees.
The BCA appointed an equivalent number of employer Trustees making a total of fourteen on each Board, the same Trustees served on both Boards. An Administrator was hired and the rest is history.
The Apprenticeship Training Plans and Upgrading Programs are provincial matters, according to the various provincial laws. BCA appointed members to joint committees and so did the local lodges. Progress varied between provinces as there was more work to do in certain provinces than in others.
The two IVPs, jointly-assigned an international representative, to assist the lodges at meetings with provincial government representatives to initiate and coordinate the Brotherhood’s goals. In provinces where the trade of boilermaker was not yet designated as a regulated trade, there was much work to do. Ontario was not one of those, consequently Lodge 128 was ready to go as soon as the funds began to flow in.
John Kelly was appointed the first Training Coordinator in Lodge 128. Kelly had long been a familiar figure in the lodge, was a qualified boilermaker, active in lodge affairs as an officer, and he worked along side Stan Petronski serving as his Assistant.
He soon sorted out what was required down at the Department of Labour as far as training was concerned. Then next move was to find out what Lodge 359 was doing in the way of training and apprenticeship. This lodge was the first to initiate the training of construction boilermaker apprentices in 1963.
Word went out from the Western IVP’s office to meet Kelly’s plane and show him some west coast hospitality. He received the Royal Treatment in the lodge office, was turned over to the Training Coordinator and, off together went to the Ministry of Labour to meet the provincial Director of Apprenticeship. One evening he was invited to break bread with the Lodge 359 Joint Apprenticeship Committee. He was given complete run of the classroom and shop floor facilities, including the library, for an entire week..
Kelly had certain goals in mind for Lodge 128, he set about upgrading the present journeymen first, and in order to do that he developed a training manual, using the information which he picked up along the way. Lodge 128’s Joint Apprenticeship Committee proudly released the first ever, print-shop produced, Construction Boilermaker Training Manual.
Kelly and his contemporaries in other lodges, later became back-up support for the international representative when the IVPs sent him to secure the Red Seal Status for our craft. Meetings with the Inter-provincial Standards Committee, where representations were made, were held on both coasts.
The presence of all the local lodge coordinators was essential, and the fact that they were all singing from the same hymn book, allowed the Boilermakers to be granted Red Seal Status in 1974, within two years of the initial request. On average, the time period was never less than six years with other building trades.
Other manuals have since been printed and more will follow, but the Red Seal is for a lifetime. This is a vital part of the legacy referred to in our opening piece.
The National Tank Agreement and the Boiler Erection and Field Construction were rolled into, the National Construction Agreement. In July of 1962 the hourly rate for Journeymen was $7.10 plus 12% for Vacation and Holiday (stats) Pay. Benefit Plan contributions were at: 20 cents to Health & Welfare and 10 cents to Pension. Contributions to training funds: 4 cents to Education and 1 cent to Apprenticeship. By 1976 the hourly rate rose to $10.88 By the end of the decade, the hourly rate was $13.47 plus 12% of gross for Vacation and Holiday Pay. Contributions to benefit plans: 45 cents to Health & Welfare and $1.35 to Pension. Training funds: 9 cents to Educational Fund and 2 cents to Apprenticeship.
The Construction Industry was a busy one in the seventies with Ontario Hydro leading the pack in spending, its capital assets stood at $5.2 billion in 1970, when it committed to a capital expansion at a cost of more than $3 billion. Among the committed projects was the Nanticoke steam generating plant, construction actually began in 1968 and continued over the next ten years. When completed in 1978 the 4,100 megawatts coal-fired station contained eight units and was the largest of its type in the world (and probably still is in 1997).
Construction of the Lennox generating station began in 1977 and continued into 1982. This oil-fired plant, with four units, is close to Kingston and it mainly serves as a reserve station.
A new thermal power station was started during the latter half of the decade: the Thunder Bay Generating Station, which is coal-fired.
The Pickering Nuclear Station on Lake Ontario, which began producing in 1971 with two units, began adding another two additional units in 1973, Pickering “A” was completed in 1975. Pickering “B” was in the planning stage.
Meanwhile expansion continued at the Bruce “A” Nuclear Station on Douglas Point, Lake Huron, it was completed in 1978. A second station was also now under way. Bruce “B” began construction in 1976 with four reactors planned, with 925 MW capacities each.
Heavy water is used as a moderator and coolant in the CANDU reactor, it is manufactured from Lake Huron water. A complex chemical process involving hydrogen sulphide gas and large amounts of steam is used to separate the heavy water from ordinary lake water. The Bruce Heavy Water Plant “A” went into production in 1973 and Heavy Water Plant “B” came on stream in 1981.
Oil refinery expansions announced in the early seventies resulted in growth at Sun Oil in Sarnia, British Petroleum at Bronte and the Gulf plant at Clarkston.
It was much the same story for the second half of the decade, Shell Oil in Sarnia added a huge expansion. So too, did a number of chemical plants enlarge their production facilities: Petrosar, Polysar; Union Carbide; Dupont; and, Erco.
The pulp and paper industry was booming and there were numerous expansions to existing mills: Howard Smith’s mill at Cornwall; Great Lakes Paper in Thunder Bay; Kimberley Clark at Terrace Bay; American Can at Marathon; Domtar at Red Rock; C.P. Forest Products at Dryden; and, Boise Cascade at Fort Frances.
The mining industry at Timmins was on the upswing with a large expansion to Texas Gulf’s plant: refinery, smelting and acid plants were completed in 1978.
At Elliot Lake, Rio Algom was bringing the Quirk Lake Mine’s production up to top capacity, this was completed in 1979.
A Sudbury, Falconbridge Mines Ltd., had two big undertakings, the Fraser Mine development and a smelter environmental improvement project. International Nickel also had a major environmental improvement program underway.
In the basic steel industry, Stelco had its huge Nanticoke project under construction, to be completed in 1980. Future plans here were put on hold.
At Hamilton, Stelco had a huge project underway on the improvement and expansion to its facilities during the latter half of the decade.
At Sault Ste. Marie, Algoma Steel had completed a massive expansion to its facilities toward the end of the decade.
In the Cement Industry, a new plant was being built at Bath and an expansion to an existing plant was going on in Bowmanville.
Lodge 128 by this time, had acquired a lot of real estate. There is the main office in a central location in Etobicoke, just off the Gardinar Expressway in Greater Toronto. When it was officially opened, International President Harold J. Buoy officiated at the ceremony and the Mayor welcomed Lodge 128 to Etobicoke. There were many out-of-town guests present, contractors, visiting Business Managers, International Officers and Representatives. The lodge members, acting as ushers, escorted groups through their new home showing off the premises, with evident pride.
It was a great improvement over the original downtown address of 167 Church Street, an address which served the Boilermakers through thick and thin for many generations. Those old pioneer boilermakers would look down from Heaven on this day, feeling very proud and no doubt thinking “I am a part of all that.” Besides the spacious general offices, there were the Training Coordinator’s quarters, training space and the meeting space. The Dispatch office was located with easy access for the members.
The lodge maintained sub-offices in: Sarnia, Sudbury, Thunder Bay (jointly with L-555), and Hamilton. They own some of the buildings from which local lodge representatives operate from, under the direction of the Business Manager. Training facilities are also located in the outlying communities. Lodge 128 had come a long way since May of 1947.
There was considerable organizing of new bargaining units at different locations in Ontario, one of these resulted in a new lodge being chartered, Lodge 275 at Cornwall, to look after the employees of Combustion Engineering-Superheater Ltd.
There was a new Heat Treating Agreement developed which was national in Scope and it involved a joint effort with the United Association. The shop and field employees came under agreement with Lodge 128 and/or UA Local 46, in Ontario. A similar agreement followed with non destructive testing laboratories covering technicians, which later blossomed into the Quality Control Council of Canada.
The “Quality Control Council” existed only in the minds of the Officers of the two organizations as early as 1970. An international representative was jointly-assigned to work directly with the Canadian Director of the United Association. The work of organizing the NDT technicians began in British Columbia where the first provincial agreement was established that year. Everything went relatively smooth and most contractors in the province became signatory.
Next it was on to Alberta, a technician was imported from B.C. as an organizer, Gordon Finley, and he did a bang-up job chasing down contractors’ crews out on the pipe line spreads, on construction sites and in contract shops, as well as in their own labs. An agreement was put in place there in 1973, it was also provincial.
Next came Ontario, it took some time to get all the ducks in a row here, with hearings before the Ontario Labour Relations Board etc., but success came in the end despite all the struggle.
Meanwhile the Officers, acting with vision, decided that the time had come to formalize the Quality Control Council of Canada. In January of 1973, those involved slipped into Edmonton and held the first constitutional meeting of the Council. The Constitution, which had been in draft form for some time, was duly adopted.
It was early in 1975 that the negotiation for first national collective agreement, covering NDT work, was concluded in Calgary. Stan Petronski represented Lodge 128 and signed on its behalf.
Contract Plant Maintenance had already a 20-year history as we moved into the seventies. The agreements were, by this time, being administered by the General Presidents’ Committee and they had grown enormously, no less than 23 plants across Canada were using this concept for their maintenance. Six of these were in Ontario: Shell Oil, Oakville; Shell Oil, Sarnia; Sun Oil, Sarnia; Gulf Oil, Clarkson; B.P. Oil, Bronte; and Ontario Hydro, Douglas Point.
There were two Brotherhood Conventions during this decade, the 24th Consolidated Convention was held in Denver in August of 1973, the 25th Consolidated was held in Vancouver in August of 1977. Delegates from Lodge 128 at Denver included: Stan Petronski, Matt Bakker and James Stewart. Delegates to Vancouver were: Stan Petronski, Matt Bakker, Mal Janigan, Jon McManus, John Kelly and Adrian Purdy.
The Vancouver Convention was a very important one for the International Brotherhood. It was here that the Delegates created the Construction Division giving the membership, in this industry, the attention it deserved. History was made on that day. It would prove to be a visionary move!
With the Shop Crafts in the Railway Industry, we entered the seventies with a two-year agreement covering 1969-70 providing for a 6.5% wage increase in each of those two years.
A new two-year agreement signed in 1971 provided for further increases of 8% in 1972 and 7% in 1972. In both of these agreements there were provisions for improving fringe benefits.
The next round of negotiations was tough which ended in arbitration hearings. The Award saw the Mechanics rates rise from $4.35 to $5.23 per hour, effective 1st January 1974.
For the first time pensions were on the table and improvements gained amounted to 4.3 cents per hour. There were improvements in other fringes such as vacations, one extra holiday and shift differentials.
When they went back to the table again for renewal it was one of the most complicated negotiations in recent memory. They began in direct negotiations, then to a third party: a government mediator, then on to a conciliator, then a conciliation board or arbitrator.
The eventual settlement was a good one, in total, it amounted to 21.8% over one year. The increase covered many items, too numerous to break down here. But remainder of 1974 was covered by a $350.00 lump sum bonus. The hourly rate in 1975 went to $6.04 plus COLA.
The next round was tough going too, with the whole gamut of third parties, but the settlement produced some good increases: in 1976 the Mechanic’s rate rose 11% and in 1977 it went up to 8.26%, making the hourly rate $7.30 per hour.
The Anti-Inflation Act came into play for the rest of this decade holding all increases at 6% per annum.
There was trouble brewing in the house of labour, at the upper echelon of the CLC the ages-old problem of craft unionism versus industrial unionism reared its ugly head. There was more to it than the ages-old convictions but we can’t go into that in this space, but they were problems serious enough to cause a split. The building trades’ unions left the CLC en masse and most of them united into a new central labour body, the Canadian Federation of Labour, in 1982.
James McCambly was elected to head up the new CFL as President. An office was opened in Ottawa, and the new voice of labour was off and running. It eagerly awaited the participation of the Carpenters, the Ironworkers and the Labourers. The Teamsters who had long since been out of the CLC were expected to participate too. But alas, they never came.
The CFL took on the responsibilities expected of it and functioned quite well. It established local labour councils which attracted some top talent as officers. Different types of leadership schools and work shops were sponsored in various provinces which featured qualified speakers. Throughout the eighties, there was a good deal of enthusiasm evident across the country but apparently not enough to attract the other building trades’ who were unattached.
Meanwhile the Canadian Office of the Building Trades Department was operating in the nation’s capital. It took some time to find the right man to fill the post of Executive Secretary, which had been vacated by McCambly. Eventually Guy Dumoulin of the Carpenters came forward to accept the post. He would enlarge the staff and enjoyed full support of the Canadian Executive Board.
There were two Brotherhood Conventions during this decade, the 26th Consolidated Convention was held in Chicago in 1981. This was where it was founded 100 years before, we celebrated our centennial that summer. It was a good year, the Brotherhood had reached its highest peacetime membership with 147,000.
This is remembered as a good convention, the Delegates were in a good mood, the weatherman had good weather, but there was one dark cloud on the horizon. This was due to an action by the new Republican President: he had just fired 12,000 air traffic controllers and de-certified their union. Soon the dark cloud would shadow the whole of the United States and parts of Canada too.
Delegates from Lodge 128 were: Matt Bakker, Mal Janigan, Stan Petronski Jr., Trenton Riches, James Stewart and Joe Duchesnay. Stan Sr., the long-time Business Manager, was in attendance also, but he was now international representative, since 1977. Also in attendance as Int. Rep. was J.D. McManus (L-128) along with Pat Arsenault, new Int. Rep. from L-271, who replaced M. Beauregard who passed away in 1979.
In Lodge 128, Matt Bakker had now assumed the mantle of leadership as Business Manager.
The 27th Consolidated Convention took place in August of 1986 at Hollywood, Florida. It was an important convention as it dealt with the merger agreement of 1984 with the Cement, Lime, Gypsum and Allied Workers’ International Union.
The Delegates were in a surly mood, as indeed was the whole labour movement. New words and phrases had become part of the every-day lexicon: Reaganomics; concessionary bargaining; roll-backs; deregulation; global economy; rust-belt; and, hamburger-flipper.
Words form bygone eras were brought back like: free trade; merit shop; union-busting; strike breakers; and, violence on the picket lines. Back home in Canada a new national Tory government was beginning to sing the same tune with the two western-most provinces moving decidedly to the right. The dark cloud of 1981 had swept into western Canada by mid-decade.
New ways to fight unions were developed: sham unions took the place of the traditional unions on some construction sites. Within a relatively short time, the figures for union organized construction versus the non-union type reversed from an 80%-20% ratio to vice versa. The figures are somewhat better for industrial type work but the pressure was on the Boilermakers, out west, to make concessions.
Lodge 128’s Delegation to this Convention was led by the new Business Manager, Stan Petronski Jr., and included: Joe Maloney, Mal Janigan, Alfred Cormier, John Petronski, and Frank Kelly. I.R. Stan Sr., and new Int. Rep. Mario Dube (L-73) were also in attendance.
The “Cement” lodges kept their old numbering system but added a “D” in front. By the end of the decade there were seven Cement lodges in Ontario: D364 Paris; D387 Picton; D366 Mississauga; D494 Burlington; D499 Killarney; D576 Hamilton; and, D488 Acton. The Railroad Industry in 1981 saw the Shop crafts reaching an hourly wage of $9.94 effective 1st January. In the contract years 1982, ’83 and ’84 there were improvements to: COLA; Pensions; Vacations; and, other fringe benefits.
In January 1984, wage increases sent the Mechanics rate to $13.40 per hour.
The following year the parties were back at it again but more complicated than ever as the Unions’ bargaining unit became divided. Three of the Shop Crafts applied to the Canada Labour Relations Board for separate bargaining certificates as opposed to the group bargaining.
While the CLRB took it’s time to deliberate on the application, bargaining continued, eventually, 25th March 1985, the Board granted separate certifications to the Carmen Machinists and Electrical Workers. On 17th January 1986 the CLRB granted certification to the rest of the Shop Crafts including the Boilermakers-Blacksmiths.
The next agreement brought them up until the end of 1986. It provided for four percent wage increases in each of the two years plus a long of fringe benefit improvements.
In July of 1989, a pact was signed which would provide for a 13.5% increase over a three year period. The fringe benefits were also improved.
In the Construction Industry, there were definite signs that the boom was slowing down. But on the bright side, mining was thriving as we entered this decade. A copper smelter and refinery at Kidd Creek was just coming on stream. At Port Colburne, Inco Metals had awarded a contract for a cobalt refinery.
Steel production had reached a new level with the opening of Stelco’s new Nanticoke plant in 1980 and the Algoma mill at Sault Ste. Marie went ahead with a new expansion which included a seamless-tube mill.
In pulp and paper, new installations were announced for American Can’s mill at Marathon. Domtar’s mill at Red Rock was getting a new recovery boiler and related ancillaries.
In the petroleum industry, Imperial Oil was adding yet another addition to its Sarnia operation. Petro Canada had an expansion going on at it’s Oakville refinery in the latter half of this decade. And Dupont was expanding it’s nylon facility at Kingston.
Ontario Hydro was completing the $2 billion expansion to it’s Pickering Nuclear Plant, Pickering “B” was completed in early 1986. The two plants, each with four reactors, had a total output capacity of 4,300 MK, enough to meet the needs of a city the size of metropolitan Toronto.
Concrete was first poured in 1981, for the Darlington Nuclear Station on Lake Ontario, further east from the Pickering Site. Plans called for four reactors originally, designed to produce 881,000 kW each. Boilermakers were on this project until sometime in the nineties.
At Douglas Point, Bruce “B” was still under construction, the fourth and last of four nuclear reactors came of stream in 1987. Meanwhile at Mormion Lake, in northwestern Ontario, the construction of the Atikokan coal-fired generating was just getting under way in 1981 for Ontario Hydro.
Construction negotiations with the Boilermaker Contractors’ Association had, by 1985, boosted the hourly rate in Ontario for Construction Boilermakers to $18.02 plus 12% combined Holiday and Vacation Pay. Contributions to benefit plans amounted to 50 cents to Health & Welfare, $1.45 to Pension, 17 cents to Education and 5 cents to Apprenticeship.
By the end of the decade, the rate had hit $21.66 in Ontario plus 12%. Contributions rose too, 87 cents per hour was going to Health & Welfare while $2.70 was going into Pension. 10 cents was going into a Lodge 128 Promotional Fund, 16 cents to Education and 2 cents to Apprenticeship.
This was a decade of many changes to the International Officers and Representatives. The new International Vice Presidents in Canada, in their report to the 1991 Convention, called it a changing of the guard.
First, Donald G. Whan, long-time (1964) IVP for Western Canada was appointed to the office of International Secretary-Treasurer in May 1986.
Whan was replaced by International Representative Richard Albright (L-146) who was sworn-in as IVP, also in May.
IVP John Carroll long-time (1967) IVP for Eastern Canada retired late in 1986 and he was replaced by recently appointed International Representative Alexander MacDonald (L-73). He was sworn-in as IVP in January 1987.
George Henry, former Business Manager Lodge 555 was appointed International Representative in 1986. He replaced Albright.
Robert MacIntosh L-359, long-time (1966) International Representative was appointed Assistant to the International President in 1986. Stan Petronski Jr. former Business Manager Lodge 128 was appointed International Representative in 1988. He followed Stan Sr. who retired.
Andre Fleury, former Business Representative Lodge 271 was appointed International Representative in 1989 following the death of Mario Dube.
John Crout L-580 was appointed International Representative in 1988 following the retirement of Al Comeau.
Dwight Harris L-359 was appointed International Representative in 1989.
Both Whan and MacIntosh retired 1st June 1989. They were the last of the “old guard” to put down their cudgels.
While the old guard changed, there was additional new International staff as a result of the merger in 1984:
Ross Seaman was appointed Coordinator of Cement Division, (Western Canada). Edward Mattocks was appointed International Representative, Cement Division (Eastern Canada).
Clarence Galliot was appointed International Representative, Cement Divison (Eastern Canada).
At the Canadian Federation of Labour in 1989, Alexander MacDonald was elected a Vice President of the central labour body.
The building of the St. Lawrence Seaway in the 1950’s was heralded as a boon to shipping for ports on both sides of the Great Lakes. But the opening of the new passage to the sea spelled doom for the many marine industries and the tradesmen who earned a living from seasonal repair work on the small steamers and the building of large lakers. The small vessels were soon made obsolete by the new Seaway. Large motor vessels replaced the large steam ships.
Instead on trans-shipping of cargo into small steamers to travel on the treacherous waters of the upper St. Lawrence River, the ocean-going ships could now travel between any port in the world to any port in the heart of the continent. Many big lakers too were eventually affected, tied-up for the want of cargo, some of them can be seen today rusting away in ports like Thunder Bay.
There is still considerable American and Canadian traffic on the Great Lakes. Algoma Central Marine Group of St. Catharine’s have 23 vessels plying these waters. These range in tonnage from between 14,000 to 22,000. The oldest was built in 1960 and the newest was built at Collingwood in 1983.
Canada Steamship Lines has 16 vessels in its fleet. They range in tonnage from 6,800 ton to 21,000. The oldest was built in 1961 and the newest was built at Collingwood in 1985.
Imperial Oil Ltd., has three tankers in it’s Great Lakes fleet ranging from 7,000 tons to 9,500 tons. The oldest was built in 1969 and the newest was built in 1974, both of these came out of the Port Weller Dry Docks Ltd.
N.V. Paterson & Sons Limited of Thunder Bay has a fleet of seven. These range in size from 9,300 tons to 20,000 tons. The oldest was built in 1959 and the youngest in 1985, at Collingwood.
ULS Corporation of Toronto has a fleet of 22 vessels ranging from 15,000 tons to 22,000 tons. The oldest was built in 1944 and rebuilt in 1983. The newest was built in 1976 at the Port Weller Dry Dock.
Desgagnes Transport Inc. of Quebec City has a fleet of nine smaller vessels ranging in size from 1,000 tons to 6,000 tons. The oldest was built in 1959 and the youngest was built in 1976 in Norway.
The present day state of shipbuilding in Ontario, where the Brotherhood once represented many hundreds, is dismal. At Kingston, where the small pre-Seaway steamers were built and serviced, is now a lovely, picturesque, tourist city, full of history. What remains of the old shipyard days are found there in the Steam Museum: a few riveting guns. Lodge 210 was present here for many years.
On Lake Huron at Midland, there is no evidence of this beautiful town ever having been a shipbuilding center. Collingwood is a museum town, the once big yard, where the first steel ship ever fabricated in Canada was built, is now totally dismantled.
On Lake Superior, the Port Arthur Dry Dock is mostly dismantled and left in an ugly mess, which is an eye-sore, to Thunder Bay’s otherwise attractive waterfront.
In Collingwood, Midland and Port Arthur the United Steelworkers were the final bargaining agents.
In all of Ontario, only the Port Weller Dry Dock remains a viable marine operation. Considering the number and age of the large Canadian ships which are active still, plus some smaller craft and barges, Lodge 680 should have a secure future. The collective bargaining process broke down here in 1994 resulting in a lock-out and a subsequent strike which turned into a proactive work stoppage: nine months. The members who weathered the storm were offered moral and financial support from sister lodges. The dispute was finally resolved and the yard returned to production again after the long closure.
Today, there is only one competing yard, it is down on the St. Lawrence River and it is very heavily subsidized by the Quebec taxpayers. This is a fairly-well equipped facility but its days are probably numbered too, unless a miraculous turnaround comes along. There is no other comparable facility remaining on this busy waterway. The year 1993 marked one hundred years since Lodge 128 was first organized. The railroad boilermakers were a component until L-548 was chartered as strictly a railroad lodge in 1911. We regret that these railroad members are not going to ride into the 21st Century with us as part of the Brotherhood.
The railroad lodges were closed following a decision of the Canada Labour Relations Board to de-certify us as the bargaining agent. Our first agreement was won in 1899 and the contractual relationship, although stormy, weathered until 31st December 1993.
The employers applied to the CLRB to consolidate all the Shop Crafts collective agreements into one. To make a very, long story shorter, the Board complied. With the proverbial stroke of the pen, all the shop crafts: Boilermakers & Blacksmiths; Machinists; United Association; Sheet Metal Workers; and, Carmen were molded into one. The CLRB dumped us all into the largest of the former shop crafts, namely the Carmen, who had recently merged into the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW). It was an abrupt ending to one of the oldest relationships in the history of Canadian industrial relations. Today, there are no railroad lodges left in Canada.
Our contract shop membership took a big hit when one of our largest manufacturing plants in Ontario, Howden Canada Ltd., closed it’s doors throwing 200 members out of work. This occurred in 1994 and there were a number of factors involved not the least of which is the Free Trade Agreement (Canada-United States-Mexico). The uncertainty of Ontario Hydro’s future was also a consideration.
Negotiations with the BCA at the national level saw wage rates for Construction Boilermakers reach a new high; by May of 1991 the journeymen went to an hourly rate of $24.20 plus 12% Vacation & Holiday Pay. Contributions to Pension were now at $3.50 and Health & Welfare at $1.17 per hour. Contributions to other funds remained unchanged except that an extra 5 cents was now going to the National Training Fund.
In 1995 a further set of negotiations will see and end rate of $26.54 in July of this year 1997. The 12% Vacation & Holiday Pay applies. Pension contributions will go to $4.55 and Health & Welfare to $2.25. Other hourly contributions include: 11 cents to Union Promotion; 31 cents to Education; 5 cents to Apprenticeship; and 5 cents to National Training.
There were two Brotherhood Conventions in the last decade counting down to the 21st Century. Both of these were held in Las Vegas, Nevada. At the 28th Consolidated Convention held in August 1991, the last two railroad lodges in Ontario were represented for the final time: Lodge 548 Toronto was represented by Hallam Banfield and Lodge 417 North Bay was represented by John Everitt.
Contract Shop Lodge 637 had four delegates: Bruce Cardno; Thomas McCulloch; Albert Neil; and Gunter Schlauch.
Shipbuilding Lodge 680 was represented by: Paul Brown; Ronald Hancock; Michel Latour; and Michael Simonds.
Lodge 128’s Delegation included Business Manager, Joe Maloney; Hugh Laird; Mike McCabe; John Petronski; Edward Power; Shane St. Croix and James Tinney.
At the 29th Consolidated Convention held in August 1996, Lodge 128’s delegation was led by Business Manager Edward Power. The Proceedings of this Convention are not available at this writing, so the other delegates cannot be recognized at this time.
In the Construction Industry there were some new turns of events to report. Shortly after the 1991 Convention, Joe Maloney had been appointed General Organizer leaving the Business Manager’s position open in Lodge 128. Edward Power was elected to fill the unexpired term and has since been re-elected.
Power became the sixth person in Lodge 128 to hold this spot since Stan Petronski Sr. was first elected to it during the mid 1950’s. Stan had the longest run at holding the spot, 20-plus years, except for one term when he missed out to Dennis Ryan (1969 -’72). After Stan was appointed International Representative during late 1977, Matt Bakker was elected to the office.
Stan Petronski Jr., ran successfully against Bakker, who had a bit less than 2 terms. In 1988, Stan Jr. was appointed International Representative. Joe Maloney followed Stan Jr. as Business Manager and he had a bit less than two terms when he was appointed General Organizer, leaving an opening. Ed Power was elected to the post, as has been pointed out above.
It is important to recognize that the office of Business Manager & Secretary Treasurer in Lodge 128 was split into two positions during the mid-seventies. The office of Secretary-Treasurer, after the split, was first held by Mal Janigan, followed by Joe Maloney; then Hugh Laird followed by James Tinney.
At the same time, it seems appropriate to mention Lodge 555 which has been patrolling the western frontier, i.e. the territory west of Lake Superior, since 1954. The first Business Manager in this lodge was Ken George, in 1960 Ken retired and he was replaced by Dan Semenuk, who stayed on only a short time. He was followed by Walter Evaskow who also left after a short stint, he was replaced by Ken Pasauko.
In 1972 George Henry successfully challenged Pasaluko to become Business Manager. Henry held on to the position until he was appointed International Representative in 1986. He was followed by Arthur Pearch who held it until ill health forced him to retire in 1996. Norman Ross was elected to replace him. Ross is the seventh person to hold the Business Manager’s office in Lodge 555.
At the Canadian Executive Board, Building & Construction Trades Department AFL-CIO in 1990, a new Chairman was elected: Richard C. Albright IVP. He was subsequently re-elected several times and as recent as 1996.
It should be noted here also that Joe Maloney in 1992, accepted a position as Assistant Executive Secretary in the Canadian Office of the Building Trades Department in Ottawa.
To update on the Boilermaker Contractors’ Association, let us recall their formation in 1970 which we referred to earlier. John Schel first appeared in this scenario in 1978 as a representative of Foster Wheeler Ltd., he became a Director of BCA in 1980 and in 1981 was elected Chairman. He held that position until he stepped down in 1988 to accept a staff position as President of BCA.
After a pile of paperwork and many miles of travel the BVA is recognized as the legitimate bargaining agent for its member contractors in all provinces except Quebec.
Eight of the nine provinces bargain together despite the legal entanglements created by the provincial Employers’ Association’ Accreditations. John Schel found a way to work around and through the maze of legalities. Our multi-provincial agreements are strictly legit and are in step with a multitude of provincial laws. British Columbia-Yukon Territory is covered by two agreements, each with different employer groups, but the BCA group leads the way.
Besides the primary reason for the BCA existing, which is collective bargaining, there are spin-off responsibilities. Among them is the appointment of Employer-Trustees to make decisions regarding the Benefit Plans. The responsibility of a Trustee is no light matter, it is spelled out in the Trust Agreement which must conform to the laws of Ontario, the situs of the Trust.
Union Trustees and Employer Trustees, upon acceptance of their appointments are equally liable for the decisions taken by the Board of Trustees. Once the meetings come to order there is no rank in the boardroom, each is individually responsible to conduct him/her self in a prudent manner. The Pension Trust is a very wealthy Fund in 1997 and it must guarantee that all members of the Pension Plan will collect their entitlement. This involves, among other things, investment of the funds so that they can generate interest at a reasonable rate of return. Money managers are engaged by the Board to advise, but the final decision is made by the Trustees.
So it follows, that the Trustees have major responsibilities, not something that every contractor-member would necessarily want to assume. The union trustees do not have a choice, it comes with the territory, but their responsibilities are no less.
The National Health & Welfare Plan is a different Trust Fund, but the same people act as Trustees to both benefit plans. The Plan is a very comprehensive plan which is in the running with a majority of the better plans in the construction industry.
Next there are the BCA appointed Joint Apprenticeship Committee (JAC) members which are equal in numbers to the Lodge 128 appointed members. There is lot of responsibility to this appointment, besides overseeing the disbursement of funds, there is the selection of a coordinator who is accountable to the JAC. The setting of the curriculum is in conjunction with the appropriate Department of the Ontario government. It is always a proud occasion for the JAC when they witness another class of Construction Boilermaker Apprentices graduating. This definitely, is part of the legacy.
Lodge 128 has come a long way since John Kelly began the job more than a quarter century ago, there have been several coordinators through the years. Today the job is in good hands, John Maloney has the position and he does it well. He works with the other construction lodges which in turn are coordinated by the National Training Coordinator (NTC).
In 1990 the BCA and the International Brotherhood in Canada had come to an agreement with the local lodges on setting up a national coordinator’s office with a view to have qualified boilermakers available for the future. It would be funded with contributions flowing from the collective agreements.
Bruce Ashton L-146 was selected from among the applicants. He had been training coordinator for some years in his home lodge and knew the art of lobbying government bureaucrats from hustling them in the corridors of Edmonton’s capital building.
He set up office in Edmonton, but was soon traveling to all lodges to work with the local coordinators. He was busy also applying his considerable skills on Parliament Hill in Ottawa with success.
Among his many achievements, is the Annual Apprenticeship Competitions which began in 1994. The top apprentice is judged by a system which included union-appointees, management-appointees and government-appointees. The winner each year receives the Donald G. Whan Award and goes on to Kansas City to compete in the International Competition.
The First Annual Competition was held in British Columbia in 1994, the Second Annual Competition was held in Nova Scotia in 1995, the Third was held in Alberta in 1996 and the Fourth Annual Competition is schedules to be held in Ontario in 1997.
During the current decade, new construction is at an all-time low in our fifty-year history. This is and always has been a cyclical industry, Boilermakers of old became used to the feast or famine aspects of our craft. Even though the years since 1947, there has been the up and down cycles but the neighboring lodges were often a safe haven because of our travel card system. The Red Seal makes this more acceptable.
For the first time in fifty years, all seven construction lodges are feeling the pinch from lack of new construction and none are encouraging travelers to register at their Dispatch Offices. In a couple of areas, both east and west, there are some very bright prospects but these are still well into the future.
These are major projects and although they are to be located well outside Ontario’s borders, Ontario is bound to benefit in some way. It is hard to imagine the industrial heartland of Canada not sharing in Inco’s plans for the new nickel mine in Labrador and the future development of Alberta’s rich Tar Sands. But it won’t be any time soon.
The federal (governing) politicians and certain financial pundits are telling us that Canada is coming into a recovery period, but we have to get by in the meantime. The tough times are tempered by maintenance/repair/revamp work. The Maintenance Agreements cover some work in: steel mills; utility plants; petro-chemical plants; gas plants; fertilizer plants, and others.
The IVP’s in reporting to the 29th Consolidated Convention, recognized that the National Maintenance Agreement (NMA) is a less-than-the-perfect agreement but the owners force us into them. It was either “get on board or sit at the gate and watch other trades do our work.” The NMA has produced 783,354 man hours (nationally) for our members in 1995.
The General Presidents’ Committee’s Agreement, which is a different type of agreement, has produced 1,349,984 man hours (nationally) for our members.
The General Presidents’ Committee in 1997 had 47-year old roots, going back to that first agreement in Sun Oil at Sarnia in 1951. This too is part of the legacy.
The Secretary Treasurer of the GPC is George Henry IR and Stan Petronski IR is also a member of the GPC.
One agreement which is not hurting is the one with the Non Destructive Testing Management Association (NDTMA) covering our non destructive testing technicians. The Quality Control Council of Canada keeps rolling on at a steady pace, gradually increasing in size each year. There are about 1,200 members in this group equally divided between the Brotherhood and the United Associations. Approximately one third of the total is located in Ontario. One-half of these are members of Lodge 128.
The Secretary is our International Representative Dwight Harris who works closely with George Meservier, U.A. Canadian Director, in administering the national agreement. The Business Managers administer at the provincial level, Edward Power, Lodge 128 and Sean O’Ryan UA Local 46, are the representatives in Ontario. There are two full-time QCCC Organizers out in the field: Phil Lane L-146 in the west and Ben McCann, a U.A. member in the east. The QCCC has deep roots now too, in January of 1998 it will be celebrating it’s 25th Anniversary. This too must be counted as part of the legacy.
Our “Cement” Division lodges in Canada have had some challenges to face as well in this decade. Besides work interruptions such as the eight-week lockout at the St. Lawrence Cement Company, there have been raids by two other unions to fend off, but the latter have been in other provinces. In spite of these difficulties some wage increases and improvements in conditions have been won. The Division has enjoyed some organizing successes in the west.
Our total International membership today is a bit less than 87,000 and 11,000 of these are in Canada, about equally divided between the two Vice Presidential areas. We are suffering membership loss like all our fellow trade unionists in Ontario and other places. As we ready ourselves for the new millennium we can take stock of our accomplishments with pride.
Boilermakers in Ontario have been organized for at least as long as Canada had been a country. Putting accomplishments aside for a moment, it is well to remember that adversity is no stranger to those who follow our craft. It has been a constant struggle ever since that first group of boilermakers began to organize in 1860’s. Many of the groups whom we were associated with in the Toronto Trades Assembly in 1872 had slipped into memory, but not the Boilermakers.
Steam is still a very important element of progress, necessary to operate our utilities, our resource industries and our processing plants. Boilermakers is an active trade today and one which is prepared for tomorrow. This lodge, over the past fifty years, has put down some sturdy anchor bold which should bode well for the next generation. This foundation is a worthy legacy for future boilermakers to build upon.
Robert MacIntosh, a member of Local 128, received his union card October 13th, 1950 working for Babcock & Wilcox in Windsor, Ontario. A few years later he headed west and was actively involved in Local 359 of the Boilermakers. He eventually became the Business Manager. Bob was appointed as International Representative and retired from the Boilermakers as our Brotherhood’s Official Historian.