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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - May 1, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta May 1974 THE LETHBRlDQf HERALD -41 Tough-speaking Labor leader ends long career this month OTTAWA Forty- seven years 17-year-old Donald Macdonald choked in swirling black dust as he struggled for a living in the grime of the Cape Breton coal docks This the wiry Nova as president of the Canadian Labor Congress stood face-to-face with Finance Minister Turner debating the effects of in- flation on the country's work- ers In that span of time Mr who retires as CLC president in has been a co-operative store union organ- izer and international labor chieftain He has been branded a Bol- shevik yet was despised by the Communists He was blacklisted by Dominion Coal Co and disowned by his own union Prime Minister Trudeau has termed him a great proponent of workers' rights and he is an officer of the Order of Canada But the tough-spoken labor leader says it was his role as a coal-shoveller on the Sydney p'frs in the 1920s and 1930s that moulded his character. Mr MacDonald sat at his desk during a inter- recalling his career and puffing and cleaning the ever- present pipe that is his trade- ma irk When he spoke of the armed camp that was industrial Cape Breton during the miners' strikes of the 1920s he paced about and passionately described the setting of his youth 'Most of the it was civil he said The workers' tight in those years was not for pay increases but to keep wage cuts to a minimum STREETS BLOCKED During the LSydney and neighboring towns were spotted with gun emplace- ments and the streets were sometimes blocked with po- lice and militia Mr MarDoriald's job with Dominion Coal was lo load the coal into vessels tor shipment in all types of with Hveiy breeze stirring blinding and suffocating dust It was a brutal bloody job It was an bad and dangerous job in- ferno was a paradise corn- pared to He attributes a chronic bronchial condition to the ef- fcvK of the coal al- though lie sayb the work gave him a good physique His bac kground rnado him proud high principled and pat simonious say people who have worked under him 'He is honorable to the point of obstinacy sometimes see him as impatient and hot-tempered Horn in Hahtax in Mr MacDonald while moved with his laimiv to Capo Breton where mother opened a boarding house The house became a meet- ing place tor union members and when Mr MacDonald gari work after high school he became aclive m his local At 21 he was president of Local of the United Mine Workers of America Coal-shippers were paid by the tonnage thev shovelled and never knew from day to day what their earnings would be after thi oe shifts in he received a Christmas take-home of one penny He chuckled as he recalled that his before union dues were totalled 26 cents The company took off the 25-cent union dues WAS BLACKLISTED Mr known around Sydney as Duke be- cause of his con- servative was black- listed by the company be- cause of a wildcat strike he did nol support The walkout occurred as Mr MacDonald sought to have his local paid a weekly minimum of While he was home with m- flucnya the men walked it was union execu- DONALD MACDONALD tives who first took action against Mr MacDonald and the local The mine workers' district president told him to get the men back to their jobs by 7 a m nett day told him to go to that I had nothing to do with taking them out 1 had rejected strike motions tor the past several meetings because f knew I going to qet the thing settled When HIP district president said he would revoke the lo- cal's Mr MacDonald stood firm told him he didn't have the power He couldn't issue so he couldn't re- voke them But the international presi- dent ot the the legen- daiy John L Lewis backed the distiid president Mr MacDonald appealed unsuc- cessfully to the mid national union convention Despite the Mr MacDonald has not lobl hus faith in mtei national unions and has little sympathy for what he considers extreme la- bor nationalism oi personal power were not in my mind contused with tile principles ot union- ism he said eompam had been trying to get me for so the minute the UMW revoked my charier they stepped in They tired all of us in the tnsl then took back all members except the four officers Subsequently they took hack all but me REFUSED OLD JOB He was later vindicated by a gin eminent board and could have returned to his old job but refused He found a job counter-hop- ping in a co-operative store His talents made him manager with a weekly salary of A strong supporter of the old Co-operative Commonwealth Federation Mr MacDonald ran and won in the 1941 Nova Scotia election with support from the unions good credit He was chosen leader of the three-man CCF contingent lo the legislature 'It was he re- called had never been in the legislature m my life but I walked m as the chief of a three-man group While he was an MLA he became an organizer for the Canadian Congress of Labor one of two labor groups which merged to form the CLC in 1956 With internal struggles rag- ing in the laboi Mr Mar-Donald planted him- self firmly in the ranks of thobe who fought communism were a serious threat to the democratic Jiadf union movement In of membership they were but in terms of their expertise and aiticulaie spokesmen they strong TIMES CHANGED The changing tunps recently brought back into the CLC fold some of the unions expelled as Communist-led in the even though Mr MacDonald remains a foe of communism years have wrought amazing he said when the outcasts returned It is the healing of such breaches in the labor move- ment that Mr MacDonald sees at- one ot most sig- nificant events during his time .3 union officei When he was ary- treasurer ot the old CCL in tile that indiislnal-umon organisation had 300 000 mem- bers after the meiger with the crafts-dominated Trades and Laboi ess m organizing ampaigns among public and the entry of othei gioups. membership of the CLC has. swelled to 1 8 million Mi caieer as a dominant figure in the labor movement was nearly cut short in the 1950s when Bill Mahonev now a Canadian director of the powerful United Steelvvorkers of challenged his position as congress secretary tieasurer Mi MacDonald was seen as the but lie fought back and won a narrow vic- tory In 1967 Mr MacDonald took over as acting congress presi- dent when Claude Jodoin was felled by illness The follow- ing year he was confirmed in his own right He capped his career in 1972 when he was chosen president of the Intei national Confederation of Free Trade the first non-European to hold the post He retains that position un- til and says he hopes to devote more time to that role after being freed of his CLC duties Indians seek more funds OTTAWA James Bay Indians are seeking an additional from the federal government to continue their legal battle against the Quebec government's giant hydro project in Northern the Commons Indian Affairs committee has been informed Peter assistant dep- uty minister of Indian told the committee that the would cover legal and consultant fees for the next three months In response to a request by Alexandre Cyr Gaspoj and agreed to by all the committee was provided with a statement accounting for the given so far to the Quebec Association of Indians by the federal government Legal fees for the four law- yers conducting the Indian case against the power project amounted to the committee was told The Indians won a temporary injunction against continuation of the project in Quebec Superior Court last year but the Quebec Court of Appeal decided to allow work on the project to continue while the province appeals the injunction Commission will study corruption LONDON Prime Minister Harold Wilson announced here that a rtryal commission is to study sources of possible corruption in local and national government The decision follows a scandal in the Newcastle area ot the northeast England where local officials and civi1 servants were convicted of bribery in arranging contracts for public buildings When an opposition member suggested the royal commission would sweep scandals under the rug Wilson replied 1 A lot of things have been going on under and it is the desire of every member of this House that these stones should be turned over Manitoba flood control patrol This amphibious armored personnel carrier The besides being used for and communications vehicle is one of a number can carry 12 men or up 10 400 sandbags for flood being used on the Manitoba flood scene by members control efforts of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry SHOP SEARS FOR A BRIGHT IDEA Sears 6 Light Chandelier 134 Reg. 6 light chandelier made of Strass cut crystal the finest crystal Europe has to offer Over 550 crystals m four remarkable designs catch and reflect the light. 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