September 24, 2019

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The Winnipeg General Strike: How it unfolded

March 1919 —In Calgary, union leaders from across Western Canada rallied around the idea to form One Big Union. The convention spurred conversations that ultimately influenced the Winnipeg general strikers about two months later.

May 1-2 —Members of the Winnipeg Building Trades Council and the Metal Trades Council went on strike. Employees at Vulcan Iron Works, who manufactured railway parts, and those from Manitoba Bridge and Dominion Bridge had previously struck in 1917 and 1918 as well, decrying long work hours, low wages and awful working conditions. They also wanted access to collective bargaining.

May 6 —The Winnipeg Trades and Labour Council called for a vote on whether all union members should hold a sympathetic strike to support the building and metal trades workers. Ultimately, 8,667 union members voted to strike and 645 opposed strike action. The union members formed a strike committee of about 300 people, with 15 people working in the inner circle.

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