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EXHIBITIONS / Derailed / Uniting the Unions


Uniting the Unions

How the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters rallied and unified the labour movement in advocating on Canadian matters.

On April 23, 1956, members of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (BSCP) were among the delegation that attended a special convention in the Coliseum of the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto. The convention was called to bring unity among different fractions of the Canadian labour movement. The main differences were between unions that were independent and based solely in Canada and those like the BSCP that were part of an international or North American organization. The idea was that despite where the head offices of the unions were located, whether in Canada or not, the Canadian labour movement should speak with a united voice on Canadian matters. This convention resulted in the founding of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), which has since become the main national voice for Canadian labour. The BSCP had to fight to send delegates to the convention, as the organizers initially tried to keep Black workers away. The BSPC figuratively pushed its way into the convention and came armed with three resolutions calling on the new Congress to condemn Canada’s racists policies particularly in immigration.

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