The Canadian Farmworkers Union: Social Movements and Labour Arrangements
Blackman, T. A. (2016). The Canadian Farmworkers Union: Social Movements and Labour Arrangements.
In the 1970s, many Canadians were shocked to hear of the woefully unfit working conditions and discrimination of farm labourers, particularly in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. The labour force was characterised by predominantly new immigrants, most of whom who were women, children, and elders. The working conditions of that time motivated key individuals to instigate a movement to seek justice for these marginalised workers. Using archival material and semi-structured interviews this study focuses on the formation, efforts, and flows of the Farm Workers Organising Committee (FWOC) and shortly thereafter the Canadian Farm Workers Union (CFU) from 1979 until approximately 1993. This time period and the struggle of seasonal and full-time farm labourers is well documented as the emergence of a trade union that influenced improved working conditions for farm labourers. However, the FWOC and CFU had emerged using strategies that were not typical of traditional trade unions of that time. The CFU operated outside of the typical arrangements of traditional trade unions to make their organisational effort possible. Despite the CFU’s eventual decline they were a pivotal group for enhancing farmworkers rights and voice in the province. This thesis argues that the FWOC and the CFU are better positioned as a social movement when examining the evolution of the movement’s strategies, goals, and outcomes.