CAW Laments Passing of Jack Nichol

November 24, 2009, 2:53 PM EST

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The CAW is mourning the death of Jack Nichol, a trade union leader who helped workers in the West Coast fishing industry during some of the most turbulent years in their history.

Nichol was president of the United Fishermen and Allied Workers Union (UFAWU) from 1977 to 1993. He passed away November 6 in Vancouver. He was 83.

He was first elected to union office in 1964 and was a key figure in shaping the union's direction during some of its toughest years. Among his accomplishments was an historic pay equity agreement for women shore workers that ended years of pay discrimination in the fish processing plants.

Along with fellow union officers Steve Stavenes and Homer Stevens, he won wide respect across Canada in 1967, when he went to jail rather than instruct union members to accept a back to work injunction without a vote.

Nichol also spoke up on behalf of dozens of coastal communities seeking to maintain the fishing industry and protect their fisheries resources. Under his leadership the union became a prominent voice on environmental issues, organizing campaigns against the Moran Dam on the Fraser River and the Kemano Completion project and sending the first community delegation to Norway in 1981 to investigate the environmental impact of salmon farms.

A memorial service was held at the Maritime Labour Centre in Vancouver on November 20. The UFAWU merged with the CAW in June 1996.

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