Chapter 2 - Searching for a New Deal
Poster by Clive Gardner for campaign to buy motor vehicles and other goods within the British Empire in late 1920s and early '30s. " I percieve the divine patience of your people, but where is their divine anger?" -Bertholt Brecht "The decadent international but individualistic capitalism in the hands of which we found ourselves after the war [WWI] is not a success. It is not intelligent, it is not beautiful, it is not just, it is not virtuous - and it doesn't deliver the goods. But when we wonder what to put in its place, we are perplexed." -John Maynard Keynes, 1933. "If there is technological advance without social advance, there is almost automatically an increase in human misery." -Michael Harrington The limits and possibilities of bringing unionization to the auto industry were shaped by the broader social context of the twenties and thirties. The unsuccessful stabs at unionization of auto in the twenties were part of a more general defeat of Canadian labour in that decade. Although workers continued to struggle for union representation in the early thirties, they were confronted by the seemingly insurmountable obstacles of powerful companies, hostile governments, and an extremely unfavourable economic environment. A breakthrough would result only ifunionization was part of something much bigger. As the depression dragged on, the failure of the economic system to provide any measure of security led to a questioning of the power of the èlites and sometimes of capitalism itself. The collapse of the economy, which had at first weakened the labour movement, soon led to an explosion of social protest and organization. Industrial unionism was a fundamental part of that upsurge, reviving the possibility of finally establishing permanent unions in auto and the other mass production industries. The Winnipeg General Strike of 1919 shut down this major city for six weeks, leaving decisions about essential services to the workers and their strike committee. It was supported by organized and unorganized workers, joined by sporadic sympathy strikes across the country, acknowledged at rallies in Europe, and even had the support of the police force (they were eventually replaced). The strike was part of an international explosion of militancy in the West after World War I, which in Europe temporarily threatened to overthrow governments and even the capitalist system. The strike began over the issue of union recognition but, with the employers' intransigence and the workers' growing confidence, it quickly escalated into the most encompassing general strike in North America - before or since. The strike represented a peak of labour militancy, but it also revealed labour's weakness in confronting the employer-state alliance. Those heady days, and the response of the employers and the government, left a legacy that influenced both the culture of the labour movement and the future development of working class parties. But the defeat also set the stage for labour's limited role in the twenties.
Courtesy of National Archives, C102879
Winnipeg General Strike
Poster by Clive Gardner for campaign to buy motor vehicles and other goods within the British Empire in late 1920s and early '30s.
" I percieve the divine patience of your people, but where is their divine anger?"
"The decadent international but individualistic capitalism in the hands of which we found ourselves after the war [WWI] is not a success. It is not intelligent, it is not beautiful, it is not just, it is not virtuous - and it doesn't deliver the goods. But when we wonder what to put in its place, we are perplexed."
-John Maynard Keynes, 1933.
"If there is technological advance without social advance, there is almost automatically an increase in human misery."
The limits and possibilities of bringing unionization to the auto industry were shaped by the broader social context of the twenties and thirties. The unsuccessful stabs at unionization of auto in the twenties were part of a more general defeat of Canadian labour in that decade. Although workers continued to struggle for union representation in the early thirties, they were confronted by the seemingly insurmountable obstacles of powerful companies, hostile governments, and an extremely unfavourable economic environment. A breakthrough would result only ifunionization was part of something much bigger. As the depression dragged on, the failure of the economic system to provide any measure of security led to a questioning of the power of the èlites and sometimes of capitalism itself. The collapse of the economy, which had at first weakened the labour movement, soon led to an explosion of social protest and organization. Industrial unionism was a fundamental part of that upsurge, reviving the possibility of finally establishing permanent unions in auto and the other mass production industries.
The Winnipeg General Strike of 1919 shut down this major city for six weeks, leaving decisions about essential services to the workers and their strike committee. It was supported by organized and unorganized workers, joined by sporadic sympathy strikes across the country, acknowledged at rallies in Europe, and even had the support of the police force (they were eventually replaced). The strike was part of an international explosion of militancy in the West after World War I, which in Europe temporarily threatened to overthrow governments and even the capitalist system.
The strike began over the issue of union recognition but, with the employers' intransigence and the workers' growing confidence, it quickly escalated into the most encompassing general strike in North America - before or since. The strike represented a peak of labour militancy, but it also revealed labour's weakness in confronting the employer-state alliance.
Those heady days, and the response of the employers and the government, left a legacy that influenced both the culture of the labour movement and the future development of working class parties. But the defeat also set the stage for labour's limited role in the twenties.
From Silence to Protest
In 1919, the labour militancy that had been building throughout Canada during World War I culminated in a general strike in Winnipeg. That strike was defeated, and that defeat affected Canadian labour well into the thirties. Business moved quickly and with confidence to consolidate its victory. For business, with American capital playing a prominent role, it was a period of dramatic expansion and concentration of corporate power. Keenly aware of the opportunities in the new mass production industries such as auto, business planned its restructuring of markets, technology, and labour's role in production.
For unions, the twenties were a decade of falling membership, division, and disarray. Union membership declined by sixteen per cent over the decade, even though the population increased by 1.6 million. Craft-based unionism, with its fossilized central labour bodies in both Canada and the U.S., watched from the sidelines - unable, but also unwilling, to address the new challenge of organizing the unskilled and semiskilled workers in these industries-of-the-future. Although there were some political upheavals in provincial and local politics, the Roaring Twenties roared right by the Canadian working class. Industrial unionism had taken its first steps decades earlier in mining, rail, and the textile industries. But by 1920, its most radical sections had been savagely repressed by employers and the state, and the remaining base became marginalized.
In the twenties, employers looked for less overt and more stable ways to deal with the economic restructuring ahead. Major companies such as Massey-Harris, which manufactured agricultural machinery, introduced so-called industrial councils to take advantage of the demoralized state of labour and to circumvent the development of independent unionism. These councils were really a form of company unionism, which sometimes included profit-sharing schemes and generally restricted workers to playing an advisory role on a plant-by-plant basis. In the steel industry in Hamilton, the union was eventually able to capture the council structure in the founding of an independent union. But the more common outcome was that summarized by G.D. Robertson, the federal minister of labour, in February, 1921:
If the industrial council plan had not been brought into existence I am very sure that today our industrial difficulties would be much greater than they are ... because of it, thousands of men in this country have had their viewpoints altered and have seen and realized the difficulties with which their employers have to contend.
These councils were common in the twenties, though rare within the young auto industry. General Motors Canada made a tentative move in this direction after the 1928 Oshawa strike, but neither GM nor the other auto majors found it necessary to follow suit elsewhere in either Canada or the U.S. until the thirties, when unionization became a more general threat. Like their present counterparts, these management-initiated union alternatives were primarily geared to workers' identification with the company's - as opposed to other workers' - problems.
|A Financial Post survey of leading Canadian Bankers and Financiers, done three months before the Great Crash, "failed to reveal any person that is pronouncedly pessimistic as to the future." Once the crash hit, the bankers and the press responded by ignoring it:
Source for quotations: Pierre Berton, The Great Depression, 1929-39
Labour's defeat in the 1920s, and the consequent growing inequality in income and power, became a factor in the coming depression. Without a strong labour movement and a progressive bloc, income lagged behind the accelerating capacity of the economy to produce goods. A crisis of underconsumption became inevitable: who would buy the goods? Without angry demands for an end to speculation and the regulation of the financiers, unsustainable fortunes imparted a superficial glow to a society about to crumble. And without a countervailing power that challenged the prevailing orthodoxy of free markets and fiscal restraint, the coming catastrophe was reinforced. Four years into the Great Depression, the value of output and exports in the economy had fallen by half. Unemployment had increased tenfold (from under three per cent to over thirty per cent). Incomes across the country had fallen by forty to fifty per cent (over seventy per cent in Saskatchewan). In auto, production was down by eighty per cent and employment, by fifty per cent. In rail alone, 65,000 workers were laid off. One in eight Canadians depended on a restricted and ungenerous emergency relief system.With the single exception of the U.S., Canada was hit harder than any other country by the Great Depression.
When the depression hit, unions and other social or political groups were hardly in a position to respond effectively. But as it became clear that the economy was not going to revive itself, and the squeeze on living standards would only get worse, opposition grew amongst farmers, young unemployed workers, and those still working. People began to question the system and its incredible failure to address their needs. The business èlite, which had taken the credit for the gains in the Roaring Twenties, was increasingly held accountable for the horror of the thirties, as Conrad, Finkel, and Strong-Boag note in History of the Canadian People:
Nothing disappeared as quickly during the thirties as support for laissez-faire. Suddenly unable to find work, people blamed profit-seeking capitalists for their plight and no longer found the ethos of 'free' enterprise so captivating.
Farmers lobbied and protested; tenants formed organizations to fight landlords and eviction; families fought local officials for relief; municipal politics became the scene of popular struggles; workers confronted company goons, police, and sometimes even the militia for the most basic of rights; and the unemployed organized themselves at the community level, joined workers on the picket line, and took to the streets in major demonstrations across the country (in 1931, 13,000 marched in Toronto; 12,000 in Winnipeg; and thousands more, in Vancouver and Montreal). Young single workers, unemployed and forced into relief camps, demanded jobs and dignity. Their increasing militancy culminated in the famous On-to-Ottawa trek. Hundreds of young men, whose average age was under twenty, rode the rails, and headed for the nation's capital before they were stopped in Regina.
Oh why don't you work like other men do?
Oh, I love my boss; he's a good friend of mine;
- Harry McLintock, "Hallelujah, I'm a bum"
Socialists and Industrial Unionism
These strikes and protests could not have happened without the active intervention of socialists - people who had a vision of society beyond capitalism and who were dedicated to building the resistance and political force that could achieve change. As the practical historians of labour, the socialists brought with them a link to past struggles. They, along with militants they influenced, provided the leadership that gave voice to frustrations and channelled anger into action.
There have always been links between trade unionism and socialism. Socialists wanted to replace capitalism, and workers who faced and challenged corporate power on a daily basis, readily lent an interested ear to their arguments. For instance, in Germany, socialist parties played a leading role in establishing the first unions, while in England, the unions built socialist or labour parties. This overlap of unionism and politics brought rich perspectives and added vital resources to trade union struggles; however, it was also a source of division that profoundly affected the development of unions.
After World War I, the socialist movement was divided into two main camps: the communists and the social democrats. What differentiated them at that time was primarily their views on the process of change. The communists looked to the Russian Revolution, the upheavals taking place in Central Europe, and general strikes like those in Winnipeg and Seattle as confirmations that revolutionary change was possible. Social democrats looked to these same events to conclude the opposite. In the Canadian context, for example, social democrats argued that, given Canada's democratic traditions, the only realistic model of change was a series of gradual reforms. Over time, these disagreements about process grew into differences about ultimate goals, the role of the working class in achieving change, and the international perspective of socialists (where they stood in the cold-war conflict between the U.S. and the Soviet Union).
| Young unemployed workers on the way|
to Ottawa (On-to-Ottawa trek).
Courtesy of Wayne State Archives
The Canadian CP was born in 1921. Its goal was to end capitalism and replace it with a society that was democratically controlled and planned by workers. Given the obvious reaction of those with power, the party emphasized that a strategy which depended solely or even primarily on parliament would fail. It was absolutely crucial to build a base that provided people with both a full appreciation of what was at stake and organizations through which they could defend themselves and fight for change. The working class was given the preeminent place in communist theory and practice, because of its direct participation in production, access to organizational resources, and potential leadership role in society. The main focus of communists was therefore to unify workers as a social force and develop amongst workers the understanding, confidence, and skills necessary for carrying out their potential role.
Throughout the twenties and especially in the thirties, communists played a leading role in strikes, in local protests of all kinds, and in organizing the unemployed and linking them with the employed. Few workers accepted the communist call for a revolution. But many responded to the arguments of the communists and respected their militancy, the resources and networks they brought to struggles, and their clear commitment to workers. In the thirties and forties, it was the communists who developed the deepest roots within the working class and trade unions, including those of the UAW in Canada. Canadian social democrats coalesced into the CCF (Cooperative Commonwealth Federation) in 1932. Its founding members included a loose alliance of farmers, workers, and urban intellectuals. In those first years, with capitalism's credibility increasingly challenged by the waste of the depression and by the possible development of a new party, the CCF insisted on calling itself a "movement" rather than a "party." As a movement, the focus was on educating, organizing, and inspiring people with possibilities and a vision. Leaders distributed reading lists, formed study groups, and travelled across the country to inform and to debate the issues. Newspapers were established to disseminate information and analysis: during the thirties, the CCF's central news co-op supported six newspapers in six different provinces.
The worker wears torn gloves.
- Poem by Ron Dickson, former chairperson at Hiram Walker, Windsor and retired staff member.
Although the CCF's Regina Manifesto (adopted in 1933) echoed with denunciations of capitalism, the views of the groups that made up the CCF alliance were very diverse. The CCF quickly evolved to an orientation geared to the reform, rather than the relacement, of the existing system. It viewed workers as an important constituency but not as the central actor in social change, and, unlike the communists, the CCF leaders chose parliament as their main arena for struggle. This development led social democrats away from the emphasis on mobilization and concern with in-depth education as the requirements of radical change, and towards the pragmatic compromises that seemed to make electoral victories possible.
Many working class militants wished to avoid the emerging confrontation between the CCF and the CP. They saw grounds for cooperation around workplace struggles and relevant reforms. Between 1935 and 1937, the critical period leading to the formation of the UAW, cooperation between communists and social democrats (the latter considering themselves simply "socialists") was at a peak in both Canada and the United States. The broad left that eventually developed within the Canadian UAW emerged from this period and included communists, many CCF members, and independent militants.
But the institutional demands of the CCF and the CP (i.e. the growth and influence of the two groups within the unions), and the interaction between these demands and internal union conflicts over positions and policies, increased tensions and aggravated divisions. David Lewis, national secretary of the CCF at the time, made it clear in his autobiography (David Lewis, The Good Fight), that the CCF's top priority in the unions was "to wrest control from the communists" no matter how "negative and distasteful" the process nor how "lacking in idealism" were some of the trade unionists with whom the CCF consequently made alliances.
Social democrats attacked the communists as impractical extremists. More important, and with some legitimacy, they charged that the CP's centralized structure was undemocratic and that the party itself was dependent on Moscow. That dependence led to swings in policy based on Moscow's needs and dictates, rather than those of Canadian workers, and it made workable alliances impossible. Communists responded, also with some legitimacy, that the parliamentary strategy of the CCF led to a preoccupation with convincing business of the respectability of social democrats. These conflicts not only damaged work amongst the working class, but also meant that social democrats were obsessed with distancing themselves from communists.
Charlie McDonald, a Ford employee in the late twenties who eventually became a president of Windsor Local 200, remarked that in the early days, all those who fought for workers were united in that they were all labelled "communists." He added that "The alleged commies were crucial to building the union in the early days ... Nobody else back then was crazy enough to believe it was possible ..."
The ringing preamble to the CCF's Regina Manifesto tells us of the mood of the times:
We aim to replace the present capitalist system with its inherent injustice and humanity by a social order from which the domination and exploitation of one class by another will be eliminated, in which economic planning will supersede unregulated private enterprise and competition, and in which genuine self-government based upon economic equality will be possible ...
Enter the CIO: Stepping on the Gas
In spite of the impressive protests and developments in Canada, the most dramatic mobilizations and the most significant changes occurred in the United States. The American economy was much more developed and urbanized than Canada's. Corporations had grown the fastest in the U.S. in the twenties, and the American economy had fallen the hardest in the depression. As in Canada, business heroes who so gladly took the credit for the good times were now less happy to be held accountable for the bad. Relative to Canada, the mythic size of the American heroes and the optimism of their promises left a proportionately greater resentment towards their failures.
In 1932, with the economy in a shambles, financial markets in chaos, the economic and political èlite in a daze about what to do, and the Republican Party in disrepute, Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected. Roosevelt viewed his mandate as saving capitalism by reforming it. He initiated the New Deal promising above all else to restore a sense of hope. His recovery program included bank regulation, credit to farmers, massive public works programs (especially in rural areas), a conservation program linked to jobs for young people, unemployment insurance and pensions, and labour reform that would limit the use of injunctions against workers and support the right to organize. This last right was driven less by any long-term commitment to the ideals of unionism than by Roosevelt's need to have labour as an ally and by the recognition that competition through wage cuts would drive purchasing power down, blocking any recovery.
The legislation Roosevelt introduced to promote union recognition was at this point very weak. But the impact of the public legitimacy the president gave to unionization cannot be underestimated. There was, according to the American Federation of Labor (AFL) executive, a "virtual uprising" of workers spontaneously organizing themselves to unionize. In the period from 1933 to 1935, the number of union members increased by one-third in the U.S., as almost one million workers rushed to join. In contrast, over the same period in Canada, union membership declined.
American companies did not share the new enthusiasm for giving workers an independent voice. The workers' zeal for unions and a measure of democracy in the workplace was met and matched by a corporate determination to keep these allegedly radical unions out. As the confrontations escalated, workers broadened the fight to include the unemployed, to bring non-union workers into their struggles, and to introduce new and innovative tactics. In general, American socialists and communists played critical leadership roles in these struggles.
|American Workers Rebel
In the textile industry, 325,000 American workers used cavalcades of pickets in cars and trucks to shut down workplaces across the southeast in September, 1934. In San Francisco, a strike by longshoremen - led by a rank-and-file movement after the existing leadership refused to do so - included a series of confrontations that saw 1,700 scabs brought in, two workers killed by police, and then a general strike in July, 1934, with an estimated 130,000 workers off the job. (This included restaurant workers, taxi-drivers, cleaners and dryers.)
In Minneapolis in May, 1934, teamsters led a fight out of a strike headquarters in an old garage. Five hundred workers were ready, at any time, to join picket lines. This number included mechanics working around the clock to service the 100 trucks available to transport the picket and a kitchen which, at its peak, served 10,000 meals in one day. In the same month in Toledo, a strike at an auto parts plant (Auto-lite) was weakened by an injunction and 1,500 scabs until unemployed workers, previously organized in unemployed councils, joined the fight and eventually forced the recognition of the union and the rehiring of the strikers. Two more workers were shot and killed.
Organizations of the unemployed had been playing a major role since before Roosevelt's election. In 1930, over one million unemployed workers were, according to some estimates, involved in demonstrations across the United States. Funerals for workers killed became political demonstrations of solidarity. In New York, 50,000 marched in one funeral after a worker was killed in a demonstration of the unemployed.
In 1932, a funeral in Detroit for four workers killed in a march of the unemployed on Ford's Dearborn plant included an estimated 20,000 people. The march had called for jobs, reduced work-time, free coal for the winter, medical care for employed and unemployed workers, and union recognition. In Chicago, approximately 60,000 came out in support at a funeral for three people killed in a fight over the eviction of a widow in one of Chicago's African-American neighbourhoods.
The polarization of American society, in and out of the workplace, and the failure of business to put forth any agenda that could solve both the economic crisis and growing social problems pushed the New Deal further. In 1935, Roosevelt's administration introduced, amongst other things, legislation on minimum labour standards (wages, hours of work, working age) and union recognition. The Wagner Act was designed to limit and control industrial unrest by granting workers the right to organize. The act established the freedom of workers to organize unions of their own choice without employer harassment and put in place labour boards to enforce this right, supervise elections, certify unions, and ensure that employers negotiated with the chosen union. The legislation excluded the past practice of allowing companies to establish company unions alongside a properly elected independent union.
The new protections for union activists meant that battles with employers could be fought on more equal terrain. But they also meant that the union could survive even ifit lost a particular battle. Before the legislation, ifa union lost a strike, it was gone. Without union recognition and with the employer free to fire activists at will, those activists still around after a defeated strike were defenseless. With the legislation, American workers seemed to be on the verge of the breakthrough to industrial unionism.
But the craft-based structure of the existing unions remained a barrier. At an AFL convention in 1935, John Lewis of the United Mineworkers challenged the leaders and the affiliates to move towards industrial unionism. He had experienced the growing militancy in his own union in which recommended contracts had been repeatedly rejected by the rank-and-file, and he knew that the radicalization of workers in the new industries would only grow: a rebellion was brewing amongst workers. Rebuffed, he joined with leaders from industries including textiles, rubber, radio, printing, and auto to form the CIO. His own union supplied the majority of staff and resources to start building industrially based unions. Over 150 full-time organizers were recruited and paid by the United Mineworkers to organize steelworkers.
The American labour movement could now combine the spontaneous militancy of workers confronted with the depression; militant leaderships at the local and national levels; public support (or at least less resistance from governments, the police, and the courts); and a structure appropriate to the new challenges. The remaining details were when, where, and how the movement would make that crucial breakthrough toward complete organization of a major industrial sector.
Canada: Shifting Out of Low
In Canada, as in the U.S., the despair of the depression and the discrediting of the èlites eventually led to resistance and growing militancy. This militancy led to local victories and even national advances. For example, in response to the growing unrest, some leading members of the business community accepted the need for an unemployment insurance program as a concession to the unemployed. In 1934, Charles Gordon, one of Canada's leading industrialists with close links to the banking sector, made the following argument in a letter to the prime minister, R.B. Bennett: "May I suggest ... that for our general self-preservation some such arrangement (of unemployment insurance) will have to be worked out in Canada." (In fact, however, unemployment insurance didn't come into effect until 1941).
Soon after these events and prior to an election, Bennett - as business-oriented a prime minister as Canada ever had - made an astonishing about-face arguing that "free competition and the open marketplace, as they were known in the old days, have lost their place in the system and the only substitute ... is government regulation and control." The prime minister went on to advocate, as part of his election platform, his own New Deal, which sounded very much like the American New Deal.
Bennett's conversion arrived too late to compensate for the losses in credibility he had accumulated over the preceding five years. But whether or not he was sincere, this turnaround reflected the same general factors that were also at work in the United States: the continuing bankruptcy of business and conservatives in dealing with the crisis and the growing pressures mobilized by the opposition outside of parliament. To those fighting for change, even the defeats left in their wake precious new contacts with other individuals and groups, as well as anger waiting for an outlet of expression. And the growing activism politicized thousands of formerly demoralized Canadians.
In the early thirties, militant strikes occurred across the country. They involved garment workers in Montreal, fishermen in British Columbia, chicken pluckers in Stratford, miners at Noranda-Rouyn in Quebec, and textile and furniture workers in Toronto. The majority of these strikes were led by the Workers Unity League (WUL), the communist labour central.
In auto, the failure to organize at the assemblers had shifted the focus to the parts industry and the possibility of making inroads in smaller, more manageable confrontations. These strikes were led by the Auto Workers Union (formerly the Automobile Workers' Industrial Union), also a WUL affiliate. Although one-third of the workforce in the Windsor area was unemployed in 1933, signs of an economic upturn encouraged strike action in the auto parts sector. By early 1934, two successful strikes had taken place (at Auto Specialties and Windsor Bedding), a third was under way (at Canadian Motor Lamp), and others were waiting in the wings. At Auto Specialties, after hearing that the company might "scab" the plant (hire temporary workers during the strike), hundreds of unemployed workers joined the picket line in solidarity.
| Champion spark plugs (Windsor), 1935. |
-Courtesy of the National Film Board.
The fight for union recognition couldn't, however, be won in the auto parts sector - the auto majors simply would not let that historic precedent be won amongst their suppliers. And so the parts companies would, when necessary, make concessions to workers in good times. When, however, circumstances moved in the companies' favour, management used the downturn to fire union activists and demoralize the rest of the workforce. Even where the movement had a foothold and made gains, it didn't yet have the capacity to sustain the fight in the workplace and build a union.
Through this period, only about fifteen per cent of Canadian workers were unionized, a figure comparable to that for the U.S., but less than half the level British unionists had achieved in an earlier period. In addition, few of these workers were in the increasingly crucial industrial sector. The mobilization that had taken place, as impressive as it was, remained local and regionally based. The workplaces and communities that engaged in struggles had few ties with each other; even strong regional movements - farmers in Saskatchewan, miners in Nova Scotia - remained isolated from one another. The missing link was the strong national political force that could bring Canada its own New Deal.
From today's perspective, it may seem that the CCF was the logical inheritor of the social democratic task of creating a more favourable political climate for unionism. But the CCF was itself regionally based (independent farmers formed its strongest core), and it was especially weak amongst industrial workers. In 1934, for example, the CCF in Ontario was virtually paralyzed after the Ontario leadership was ousted by the national office for having moved too far to the left and cooperating with communists. The CCF did not become a serious political threat to the Liberals and the Tories until almost a decade later, after the industrial unions were more firmly established and the CCF had secured roots in these unions.
In the context of the depression and given the power wielded by employers over workers desperate for a job, successful unionization called out for a measure of public legitimacy and legal-administrative support from governments and the courts. Without these elements, the task of building and sustaining organizations to take on the corporations was overwhelming. The young movement could not overcome the barriers it faced - high unemployment, corporations still powerful in spite of some loss of credibility, and the refusal of the state to acknowledge unionism as a basic democratic right. As it turned out, the missing ingredient in the thirties did not come from political developments within Canada; it came from the inspiration of the CIO victories in the United States.
Canada did not have a New Deal, but by way of the CIO, the American working class essentially shared its victory with Canadians. The CIO provided the opening that let Canadians move on to their own victories. When autoworkers in Flint and across the American Mid-west - who were in a position to win - took on GM, the Canadian border couldn't block the power, excitement, and implications of that victory.