The Catholic Church was a powerful entity that manifested prominently in all levels of society in the province of Quebec, and the workplace was no exception. In 1921, the Canadian and Catholic Confederation of Labour (C.C.C.L.) was formed not only to unite the local confessional unions, but ideally to also provide a buffer against secular syndicates making a name for themselves in Canada, such as the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations. The C.C.C.L.’s inclination for tradition and pacifistic dispute resolution became progressively ineffectual as strikes became more frequent and as the conservative provincial government under Premier Maurice Duplessis sought to quash unionization in Quebec. The true test of Catholic unionism in Quebec came in 1949 when 5,000 workers in the province’s asbestos mines went on strike to protest inadequate pay and benefits as well as poor health conditions. Three months into the demonstrations, the C.C.C.L. nearly lost its members to the secular Congress of Industrial Organizations (C.I.O.) and their charitable donations to the strikers and their families. The C.C.C.L. never fully recovered from the developments of the asbestos strikes, and in its later years it became more liberal and even allied with secular unions to save itself from oblivion. The Confederation survived into the 1950s, but it was nowhere near as powerful as it had been in its early years. From the closed shops of the 1930s to the asbestos strikes, Quebec’s unionized workers learned that classic Catholic values had no place in an ever-modernizing labor world.
Changing of the Guard: The Evolution of Catholic Trade Unionism in Quebec, 1907-1960.
Undergraduate Review, 16, 139-154.
Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/undergrad_rev/vol16/iss2/14
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