he wave of public sector organizing reflected the growing discontent among Canadian workers. In the 1960s, a slowing economy with rising inflation collided with worker's expectations to share in the strong corporate profits of the post-war years. Management and governments, for the most part, continued strenuously to resist union demands. Despite labour's hard won changes in labour legislation, corporations fought union recognition and especially the settlement of first contracts. Injunctions against strikes and picketers became commonplace, as the courts seemed regularly to rule in favour of employers. When strikes did occur many of the old intimidation tactics of earlier years reappeared. Companies specializing in strike breaking found their services in demand, and, in the opinion of union activists, police intervened too frequently to crush picket lines and intimidate strikers and their leaders.

Strikes were frequent in the 1960s. But differences in the kinds of strikes compared to earlier periods in Canadian history were noticeable. In 1966, when the number of strikes (617) and strikers involved peaked at levels higher than those of the 1940s, they did so within a system of contract collective bargaining. For example, many strikes revolved around contract renewals -not over the right to collective bargaining itself. Contract bargaining was supposed to ensure that strikes were illegal during the life of a contract. However, as workers' discontent deepened, more and more of them walked off the job illegally in what were known as wild-cat strikes. In the 1960s, wild-cat strikes were a growing phenomenon; indeed, these strikes accounted for one third of disputes reported in 1966. Workers ignored the legalities of their contracts and struck to protest speed-ups on the assembly line, the firing of a fellow worker, and slow resolution of grievances or contract negotiations. In some instances, wild-cat strikers and their leaders found themselves at odds with one another. The contract system put union leaders in a compromising position, because they were held legally responsible for the actions of their members. Therefore, if the leaders endorsed these actions, they risked arrest and their union faced financial penalties. On the other hand, failure to support the strikers created a dangerous rift between them and their membership. This dilemma was one of the negative consequences of the "Great Compromise" by which labour had won important collective bargaining rights in the World War II era.

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