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Quaale, Gordon (1921–2004)

Gordon Loyal Quaale was born on September 24, 1921, at Weldon, Saskatchewan, and died on June 20, 2004, in Nanaimo, BC. He was a trade union activist who carried the traditions of the 1940s’ socially active unionism to a new generation in the 1970s. After being discharged from the Navy in 1945, Quaale went to work as a carpenter, an Industrial Standards Officer for the provincial government, and a union representative for the Canadian Congress of Labour and the National Union of Public Service Employees (NUPSE). In 1963, NUPSE merged with the National Union of Public Employees to form the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). Quaale worked as a CUPE representative until 1973, when he became the acting director for Saskatchewan.

Much of Quaale’s career was spent working with health care workers; he was the chief negotiator during the Estevan and Prince Albert hospital strikes in 1969–70. Quaale worked hard for the unity of health care workers, and in 1973 the first provincial hospital agreement was reached. When wage controls threatened the hard-won gains of public employees, he organized CUPE and lobbied the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour for a massive demonstration, which was held on February 2, 1976. Quaale said that his work with the predominately female heath care workers made him a convinced feminist, and he encouraged women activists and hired women staff representatives. He also supported CUPE’s efforts to organize Aboriginal workers and train Aboriginal activists.

James Holmes

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