Leadership and staff in the Union of Northern Workers from 1967 to 1996

Powell, Chris (2000) Leadership and staff in the Union of Northern Workers from 1967 to 1996. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

The Union of Northern Workers, known as the Northwest Territories Public Service Association prior to 1987, is the largest labour union in the Northwest Territories. Northern labour is a little explored field in Canadian history, and as such, this work surveys new ground. Trade unionism in the North's private sector began at the close of the Second World War. The UNW, however, like most public sector unions in Canada, had its roots in the 1960s. This study examines issues pertaining to the union's leadership and staff from 1967, when correctional workers in Yellowknife first organized, until the 1996 convention, when the union took steps to divide into two separate unions in anticipation of the creation of Nunavut in 1999. -- From its start, the union's geographic jurisdiction distinguished the UNW as unique among Canada's public service unions. It and its predecessor, the NWTPSA represented workers in Canada's most northern reaches. The challenges of life in the North were as real for the union as they were for its members. A relatively small membership spread across such a huge land mass presented obstacles with regards to leadership and service. Also, cultural factors differentiated the organization from others. With an increasing native membership, mostly Inuit, Inuktitut became the union's second language. Distinguishing the union institutionally was its component status within the Public Service Alliance of Canada. The quality of the relationship between these two bodies regularly fluctuated between excellent and belligerent. Similarly, the union's relationship with the Northwest Territories Federation of Labour degenerated from founding member to pariah status, in spite of the UNW comprising the overwhelming majority of the Federation's membership. -- As the union grew from a fly-by-night, seat-of-the-pants organization of less than 100 members at its inception, to over 5,000 when it divided, leadership and staffing gained increasing importance. To meet the challenges of representing northern workers, the union increasingly attempted to professionalize its leadership cadre. The effect of this was an increasing distance between members and leaders which ultimately resulted in the secession of the Nunavut membership.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/9217
Item ID: 9217
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 230-240.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > History
Date: 2000
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Canada--Northwest Territories
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Union of Northern Workers; Labor unions--Northwest Territories--Officials and employees; Labor unions--Northwest Territories--History

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