Bienfait: The Saskatchewan Miners' Struggle of '31

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University of Toronto Press, 2002 - Business & Economics - 180 pages
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Against all odds, the miners of Bienfait, Saskatchewan attempted, in 1931, to change their miserable situation by organizing a union. Stephen Endicott focuses on the miners' tumultuous thirty-day strike to explore the social consequences of capitalist restructuring during the Great Depression. The miners' bid to gain union recognition with the aid of the Workers' Unity League of Canada failed, and Endicott's in'depth examination of the key factors and players attempts to explain why it did so, and why a similar union drive a decade later eventually succeeded.

Based on a large number of both oral and written primary resources, Bienfait offers a new interpretation of the role of the corporations, the government, the courts and the police and in the process demonstrates how a militant union leadership helped the workers gain the strength and unity of purpose to challenge the powers of wealth and deep-seated prejudice. Endicott opens a new chapter in the history of Canadian labour relations which reveals much about Canadians and Canadian society during the Depression.

 

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Contents

Introduction
3
The Bienfait Coalfields
8
John Billis and Family
25
Boruks Boarding House
34
August Gaining Momentum
46
September On Strike
62
Strikers versus the Strip Mine
77
The Parade
87
Spreading of Seeds
127
Changing Organization of Capital in the BienfaitEstevan Coalfields
139
Proposed Contract Estevan District
140
History of Union Organization in BienfaitEstevan Coalfields
141
Notes
143
Annotated Bibliography
161
Illustration Credits
169
Index
171

Sticking with the Union
95
The Trials
111

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About the author (2002)

Stephen Lyon Endicott is a Senior Scholar (retired) in History, the School of Arts and Letters, the Atkinson Faculty of Liberal and Professional Studies, York University.

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