The Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan

 

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Saskatchewan Federation of Labour (SFL)

First Constitutional Convention of the Saskatchewan Labour Federation, Regina, 1944.
Saskatchewan Archives Board R-B11003

The Saskatchewan Federation of Labour is the central body for trade unionists and the largest labour organization in the province. The Federation represents over 90,000 workers from three dozen unions. Membership in the SFL is voluntary, and local unions decide to affiliate by democratic vote of the members. The SFL is itself affiliated with the Canadian Labour Congress, the national trade union central. SFL activities include lobbying governments for better labour laws, promoting a favourable image of unions and workers to the media and the public, and speaking on behalf of the half-million wage earners in Saskatchewan.

The first federation of labour was established by the old Canadian Congress of Labour (CCL) in 1944, and represented the industrial unions which had members in meat-packing plants, foundries and steel mills, the forestry industry, and several Crown corporations. The first Federation of Labour was headed by Hub Elkin, a packinghouse worker from Moose Jaw. The early SFL was closely allied with the new CCF government, which passed labour legislation that was advantageous to workers wishing to organize. In 1953, the craft unions set up a second—and to some extent rival—Saskatchewan Federation of Labour to house the unions and membership of the skilled trades such as carpenters, electricians, plumbers, and organized employees in the printing trades and the craft unions on the railways. This second provincial labour central was chartered by and affiliated to the Trades and Labour Congress of Canada (TLC). The first president of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour (TLC) was Andrew Tait.

In 1956, the TLC and CCL merged to form the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), and the provincial federations amalgamated as well. In the fall of 1956 at the old Labour Temple on Osler Street, in Regina, the two groups joined to establish one Saskatchewan Federation of Labour. The first president of the new federation was Fred McClelland, a stationary steam engineer from Saskatoon. In 1978, the SFL made history by electing Nadine Hunt as its president, the first woman in Canada to head a provincial federation of labour.

Garnet Dishaw

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