Industrial Wood and Allied Workers of Canada

IWA union workers on the picket line at Domtar, January 1973.
Donna Perkins (Saskatchewan Archives Board) S-SP-A7831-4, Saskatoon StarPhoenix fonds

Like their working-class counterparts across the country, lumber workers in Saskatchewan were swept up in the labour militancy during World War II and the immediate post-war period. Glen Thompson, a representative from the Trades and Labour Congress (TLC), organized about eighty workers in the Prince Albert Woodworkers Union in 1944. A year later, this new union was chartered directly by the TLC. In 1953 the Prince Albert Woodworkers Union became Local 184 of the International Woodworkers of America (IWA). The IWA became a national union, IWA Canada, in 1985. To reflect its changing membership in 1997, the IWA adopted the name Industrial Wood and Allied Workers-Canada (IWA-Canada). Today, Local 1-184, the Saskatchewan Local with jurisdiction over the entire province, has a membership of about 1,000 men and women who work in many different sectors of the provincial economy including sawmilling, secondary manufacturing, and services.

IWA represents sawmillers of all kinds, aspen harvesting crews, a peat moss harvesting operation, cabinet shops, rafter manufacturing, mobile home manufacturing, a town maintenance crew, and garage and service station outlets. Today, the IWA faces great challenges in representing workers, as merging companies become more powerful and hold the menace of unbalanced corporate agendas. In 2002 the United States escalated the softwood lumber dispute, with countervailing duties and anti-dumping charges as high as 27%. This ongoing dispute has put pressure on unions and companies as this industry struggles to stay competitive.

Harry Groenen

Further Reading

Neufeld, A., and A. Parnaby. 2000. The IWA in Canada: the Life and Times of an Industrial Union. Vancouver: IWA-Canada and New Star Books.