This month marks the 70th anniversary of the first meeting of the Oshawa Tool, Die and Maintenance Council, which was the first ever meeting of a UAW-CIO Skilled Trades Council in Canada. This group morphed into what we know today as the Unifor Oshawa & Area Skilled Trades Council.
We still have the minutes of the first meetings.
Reading about the inaugural meeting, held on March 9, 1944 was such a breath of fresh air as we reflect on the vision that the workers had in 1944 – so similar to why we carry on our fight as the Unifor Canadian Skilled Trades Council today.
The reason that the men sat around the table in the first place, was to discuss trades concerns regarding rate of pay, classifications , “to see the apprentices get a fair and decent deal” , and to prevent the dilution of Skilled personnel by the Company by establishing a “Journeyman Committee” .
They discussed how the Council would “function” and where the Council would hold its rightful “place” within the Union…..without being a threat to the Shop Committee.
This group understood the Council could help the Shop Committee when Skilled Trades issues arise , being a strong “voice” for Trades within the Union to provide assistance to the Shop Committee , therefore advancing Trades issues from a single source, at the bargaining table as well as during the life of the collective agreement.
From the outset, the group spoke of organizing every tradesperson in the district, thus promoting the “Council Journeyman’s Card” – the method we use to identify Journeypersons in Unifor to this day.
For more info on Unifor Canadian Skilled Trades Council go to www.uniforskilledtrades.ca