“The Canada we know was not built by the politicians, soldiers and businessmen who populate our history books. Our country was built on the toil and sweat of people who cleared forests, tilled fields, built canals, railways and cities and laboured in our factories and resource industries. When we study the lives and experiences of these people, we rediscover our own roots”.
Unions have been fighting on behalf of Canadian workers since 1830. Our own Local has been operating since 1948. As Alberta began it’s rapid industrialization after World War II worker’s realized the need to be represented collectively in order to protect their trade and advance their voices on the job and in the community.
Founding members like Brothers Merrill Baker and Steve Senio were not handed a union but took it upon themselves to build one despite sometimes harsh opposition. The union was initially chartered by the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) as Local 312. By 1949 members voted to join the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers. Local 720 finally came into being when they were issued a charter on July 6, 1949.
Since then generations of Ironworkers have worked for and volunteered their time to create and maintain a strong union. We have come a long way since before the union existed in 1949 when the hourly rate was $1.37 per hour. But a union is a lot more the about wage increases. We have played a positive role in raising safety levels, benefits, providing apprenticeship training and respect for workers on the job.
The Iron Worker's Song
The Local 720 Ironworkers' song