The formative years of the trade union movement in Saskatchewan 1905 - 1920
Cherwinski, Walter Joseph Carl
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The choice of the years 1905 to 1919 as the formative years of the trade union movement in Saskatchewan was by no means arbitrary. The years 1905 marked the formation of the first permanent, non-railway local union. The intervening years until 1919 were years of further formation and consolidation, of recognition and entrenchment, of expansion and demise, of hope and of failure. The fifteen years in question were the heyday of the craft unions, and more specifically of the building trades which expanded to meet the demands of a new and rapidly developing province. Like the people of the province, generally these unions expressed great optimism for the future. At times their expansion showed a distinct lack of rhyme or reason, but then no one was overly concerned with caution. Besides, there was no reason to be cautious when crops were good and there was an ever-increasing number of acres from which these crops could be gleaned. Only with the war was this optimistic speculation checked; only then did organized labour realize that security was an obscure quantity, quick to disappear, and that the position of the workingman had to be bolstered by means which were at variance with the established order. The upheaval of 1919 which resulted produced a Thermidorean reaction, the legacy of which had its effects throughout the 1920's and even into the 1930's.