WINNIPEG – Today marks the 95th anniversary of the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike where over 25,000 workers walked off the job in support of fair wages, and better working conditions.
“Winnipeg is a union town” said Mike Davidson, President of CUPE Local 500 representing City of Winnipeg employees, “our city was built through the hard work and dedication of union members and our collective history has been built by the labour movement’s struggles”.
At 11:00 am on May 15, 1919, workers left their jobs and marched into the streets of Winnipeg, leading to one of the biggest labour actions Canada has ever seen. Strikers included both the private and public sectors, and ranged from garment workers to police officers. On June 21, 1919, the Royal North-West Mounted Police and hired union busters rode on horseback and fired into a crowd of thousands of workers, killing two and injuring countless others.
“Our achievements as a union all stem from early labour actions like the 1919 strike” said Kelly Moist, President of CUPE Manitoba, “these achievements over time include maternity leave, fair wages, vacation language, the 8-hour work day, and even the weekend”.
According to the Canadian Labour Congress, approximately 36% of all workers in Winnipeg are currently members of a union, translating into 133,400 Winnipeggers.
“The 1919 strike means a lot to us as a union movement” said Moist, “it shows us the sacrifices working people are willing to make in order to better the working and living conditions for everyone”.
CUPE Manitoba represents approximately 25,000 public sector workers in health care, municipalities, school divisions, energy, airlines, social services and childcare, post-secondary education, and more.