fter World War II, many unions proved intent on firming up the advances made during the previous several years. As well, thousands of unorganized workers looked to unionize. Certainly, everyone sought to prevent a return to the low wages and unsteady work that characterized the inter-war years. This reasoning once again brought labour into direct conflict with many employers. Business was not pleased with the concessions labour had won during the war and did not want to see those rights extended any further. Consequently, a new strike wave roared across the country. By 1950, when labour relations calmed somewhat, every major industry in every part of the country had been affected. As labour historian Craig Heron wrote about this time, "in the peak year of 1946, strikers shut down the British Columbia logging industry, the Ontario rubber industry, the central Canadian ports, the Southam newspaper chain, the country's steel industry, and dozens of mass-production plants in the biggest strike Canada had ever seen." (Heron, p.75) In the next several years, packing-house workers and railway workers launched a huge national strike. In Quebec, asbestos workers literally battled company and provincial police in a violent dispute that set labour on a new path in that province.

A landmark legal decision followed a strike in Windsor, Ontario involving 17,000 Ford workers. Justice Ivan Rand granted the union, as part of the settlement, the compulsory check-off of union dues. Rand ruled that all workers in a bargaining unit benefited from a union-negotiated contract. Therefore, he reasoned they must pay union dues, although they did not have to join the union. This decision meant a degree of financial stability for unions never previously enjoyed. This formula, when combined with the decision of the federal government to codify P.C. 1003 into the Industrial Relations and Disputes Act, created the legal framework for labour relations in Canada for the next 30 years.

Labour used its improved bargaining power to secure better wages and working conditions, and protection against arbitrary management decisions on firings and promotions through grievance and seniority clauses. The increased finances of the unions allowed them to hire more permanent staff and develop greater expertise in collective bargaining. These were all measures for which labour had fought long and hard. Important victories as they were, critics worried that these developments would make unions too bureaucratic and less responsive to the needs of their members.

Despite the solidarity apparent among workers in the post-war period, serious political differences continued to divide the movement. The antagonism between the supporters of the Communist Party of Canada and the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation worsened as the Cold War descended upon North America. As the political hysteria of the period deepened, social democrats and other anti-communists followed the lead of the unionists in the United States. They expelled communists from their industrial unions and eventually ejected a number of unions because of communist involvement in them. This exclusion included the International Wood Workers of America, British Columbia's largest union. The communists did not help their cause by continually offering uncritical support to the Soviet Union and its allies. This conflict within the "House of Labour" exploded in the 1950s and 1960s into some of the most vicious and violent battles between unions in our history. On a more positive note, though, the Canadian Congress of Labour and the Trades and Labor Congress were resolving many of their differences. In the early 1950s, discussions towards a merger of the two central bodies began in earnest.

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