Graduate Theses & Dissertations

That '70s Strike Support
This thesis examines three Ontario strikes during the 1970s: the Dare Foods, Ltd. strike in Kitchener, Ontario, 1972-1973; the Puretex Knitting Company strike in Toronto, 1978-1979; and the Inco strike in Sudbury, 1978-1979. These strikes highlight gender issues in the Canadian food production, textile, and mining industries in the 1970s, industries that were all markedly different in size and purpose, yet equally oppressive towards working women for different reasons, largely based on the regional character of each city the strikes took place in. In Kitchener, the women’s movement worked closely with the Dare union local and the left to mobilize against the company and grappled with the difficulties of framing women’s inequality within the labour movement. At Puretex, immigrant women workers were subject to electronic surveillance as a form of worker control, and a left-wing nationalist union needed to look outside of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) for allies in strike action. At Inco, an autonomous women’s group formed separate from the United Steelworkers of America (USWA) but struggled to overcome a negative perception of women’s labour activism in Sudbury. Ultimately, these strikes garnered a wide variety of support from working women and feminist groups, who often built or had pre-existing relationships with Canadian and American trade unions as well as the left-wing milieu of the 1970s. This thesis uses these strikes as case studies to argue that despite the complicated and at times uneven relationship between feminism, labour, and the left in the 1970s, feminist and left-wing strike support was crucial in sustaining rank-and-file militancy throughout the decade and stimulating activist careers for women in the feminist movement, in unions, and on the left. Author Keywords: 1970s, feminism, labour, left-wing, militancy, working-class

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