A Class Act
An Illustrated History of the Labour Movement in Newfoundland and Labrador

Gillespie, Bill
Publisher:  Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour, Newfoundland, Canada
Year Published:  1986
Pages:  148pp   ISBN:  0-9692623-0-2
Library of Congress Number:  HD6529.N44G54   Dewey:  331.88
Resource Type:  Book
Cx Number:  CX3290

Gillespie records the men and women who struggled within an economic system they did not control to improve the lives of their families and their class.

In the introduction to A Class Act Gregory S. Kealey writes that "The history of Newfoundland has too often been cast in the curiously combined mold of geographic determinism and 'great manism'. Little attention has been paid to working people except as passive victims of the elements and the merchants. Even less attention has been paid to women. Gillespie's work shows that from the earliest days the Irish and West country English who settled Newfoundland's rocky shores took an active role in determining their lives." Gillespie traces labour activism in Newfoundland back to 1832, when the first recorded strike of sealers occurred in the colony. He then goes on to record the efforts by Newfoundlanders to establish their unions over the years, often against fierce resistance for employers and government, until by 1948 Newfoundland had twice as many unionized workers on a per capita basis as Canada. At the same time, this is not a story of steady unbroken success: on the contrary, the Newfoundland labour movement has suffered some major defeats and setbacks. This book, with its historical overview, supported by many excellent photographs, gives a good sense of the historical roots of those working Newfoundlanders who are struggling to improve the lives of their families and their class. As the introduction notes, "The lessons of the past, offered by Gillespie's history, suggest the need for vigilance, militant, and ongoing working-class organization."

Table of Contents

1. The Craftsmen
2. Rise of the Industrials
3. The Fishermen's Protective Union
4. The Depression
5. Building a Movement
6. War - Over Here, Over There
7. Confederation
8. The IWA Strike
9. The Age of Activism

Subject Headings

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