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The Raiding of Local 480 – A Labour History

November 26, 2018
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My article, “The Raiding of Local 480: A Historic Cold War Struggle for Union Supremacy in a Small Canadian City,” has been published in Canada’s foremost labour history journal, Labour/Le Travail 82 (Fall 2018): 81-117.

Raiders abandon Mine-Mill Local 480 to join the Steelworkers.

Abstract

This brief history highlights one of the most hard-fought but little-explored labour wars in North American history, one that engulfed the raiding United Steelworkers of America (USWA) in an expensive two-year struggle at the giant Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company of Canada (CM&S) in the smelter city of Trail, British Columbia. In the early 1950s, Steel attempted to convince the 5,000+ members of Communist-led Local 480 of the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers (Mine-Mill) to abandon their union. It almost succeeded, using the Red-baiting tactics of the Cold War era and thus enflaming a bitter ideological debate in the small community near the Canada-U.S. border. Consulting the personal recollections of those who experienced the raid first hand, this article reconstructs a too-seldom-consulted local workers’ view of the raid, with numerous secondary sources showing why and how the community ultimately supported its Communist union leaders over the CIO-sanctioned Steel raiders.

NOTE: Some of my readers have asked if they could read the full article. I am under a 12-month embargo.  This is protect the subscription revenue that L/LT relies on. Digital versions of the article should be available through university libraries that subscribe to L/LT via ProjectMuse, JStor, Erudit, etc.

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