August 31, 1946 (20th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)


This item has to do with conciliation and I should like to speak briefly in connection with it. One matter of major
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interest to me, in addition to questions I have raised during the course of the session, is the typographical dispute. First I should like to make it clear that this dispute is between certain publishers and a union which is clearly a well-established trade union organization. The minister knows as well as I do that the international typographical union is one of the oldest on the North American continent. I was interested to learn a short time ago that at a banquet held by this union in Toronto in October,[DOT] 1944, a message was received from the Prime Minister in which he expressed his regret at being unable to accept an invitation to attend. In part he said:
I regret not being able to be present as at one time I wrote a short history of the international typographical union as a study in trade union methods. It was published in the Journal of Political Economy of the University of Chicago that year. The international typographical union is a model for others to follow.
I was interested in getting from the library a copy of volume 5 for 1896-97 of the Journal of Political Economy, and reading the article on the international typographical union which appears at page 458 and following, written by the present Prime Minister. I mention this only to make it clear that this is not some passing organization which is out to stir up trouble. It is one of the oldest unions on the North American continent, and has been recognized for some time by no less a person than the Prime Minister, as a model for others to follow.
As I understand it, the dispute arose in Winnipeg nearly a year ago when contracts then in existence between the union and the two daily newspapers there were about to expire and it was time to seek negotiation of a new contract. The union in seeking this new contract was desirous of improving rts position in the matter of hours of work, take-home pay and certain other conditions-but mainly the first two items I have mentioned. The negotiations had not proceeded very far until something of an impasse was reached. But the publishers made an issue, not out of the things really at stake, namely hours and wages, but rather out of certain words in the contract as proposed by the union. The words were these:
Provided however local union laws not affecting wages, hours and working conditions, and the general laws of the international typographical union, shall not be subject to arbitration.
The publishers picked out this clause and declared it to indicate in the main two things: (1) that the union was asking for something contrary to the law of Canada; and (2) that the local union in Winnipeg, of which I am a

member, was being dictated to by the head office of the international union in Indianapolis. My understanding of the situation is that that was a wholly false position for the publishers to take. In the matter of the second claim, that there was dictation from the head office in Indianapolis, I am in a position to know that decisions all through this dispute have been taken in a democratic way by one of the most democratic trade unions in North America.
When local unions are part of an international union, the minister will know what I mean when I say that that is part of their strength. It is best for them not to be just a local group, but to be part of a nation-wide, and in this instance, a continent-wide organization. They draw from that fact all the strength they can in their struggle with their employers. But the basic decision whether certain conditions should be sought, and, if such conditions are not met, whether the workers should go out on strike, is made by the members of the local union themselves.
With respect to the other charge, that the union was seeking something contrary to the law of Canada, let me say that I take strong exception to it on several grounds. To begin with, there can be no objection to the expression "provided however local union laws"-and please note this part of it-"not affecting wages, hours and working conditions"-and I go on-"and the general laws of the international typographical union shall not be subject to arbitration". In that clause asking for the exception from arbitration of certain laws of the union, specific exception from the exception is made with reference to matters affecting wages, hours and working conditions. Those are, by definition in P.C. 1003, the essential items in a collective agreement so far as Canadian law is concerned. I contend that on the face of it the wording of the clause objected to cannot be called contrary to Canadian law. In addition, similar clauses have been in contracts between the international typographical union and a great many Canadian newspapers for a great number of years. That information is already on Hansard for June 26, where the minister gave answers to certain questions which I asked, to be found on pages 2848 and 2849. These were:
1. Have any contracts between the international typographical union and Canadian newspaper publishers prior to November, 1945, contained a clause providing in any way for the accepting of the union's laws, not relating to hours, wages and working conditions, from arbitration.
To that the minister leplied. "Yes."

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My next question was:
If so, with what newspapers and dating back how long?
The answer to that question took about two pages, listing newspapers in many cities in most of the provinces of Canada which have had contracts with the typographical union including such a clause. More recently some new contracts have been signed with other papers where no disputes obtain, and there is on Hansard a specific answer with respect to one of those, namely, the Ottawa Journal, which since the other disputes began has signed a contract including such a clause as this, with one qualification to which I will refer in just a moment.
My contention in all of this is that that clause is not contrary to Canadian law. Furthermore, the proof is found in the many contracts of a similar nature which have existed down through the years. Since that was a point on which an impasse was reached, namely, the wording I have just quoted, an attempt was made-I am not going to discuss now which side took the initiative, or where it came from-to try to reach conciliation on that point. The result was a meeting with officials of the Department of Labour on January 30, 1946, at which were present not only officials of the Department of Labour but representatives of both parties to the dispute. When the meeting was over it was agreed all round that certain words should be added to that clause to which objection had been taken. The clause as amended, and as accepted by the international typographical union, reads:
Provided, however, local union laws not affecting wages, hours and working conditions and the general laws of the international typographical union shall not be subject to arbitration except in so far as such arbitration and the results thereof are compulsory under Canadian law.
The addition of those last sixteen words clears away any doubt as to the desire or thought of the international typographical union to do anything contrary to Canadian law. When I was speaking a moment ago about the Ottawa Journal I mentioned a certain qualification. I had reference to that last phrase which has been added to the wording of the Journal contract.
It seems to me that a mountain has been made out of a mole hill with respect to this clause which has been in dispute. There is no doubt in my mind that that is not the issue. The issue is wages and hours, and also the question whether or not the publishers concerned are as anxious as they might be to see unions in this country strong. At any 63260-360
rate, issue having been made on that point my quarrel with the Minister of Labour-I am going to be quite frank, because it is early in the morning and there is no reason for our losing tempers; on the other hand let us on both sides speak our minds about this; he is a member of this house and he can make his reply-is that throughout the piece he has helped to give credence and strength to the ideas that the publishers-

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