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Canadian Strikes

This subject guide is meant to assist students, particularly those enrolled in IRE1611, with research papers and assignments.

Ontario - A Selection of Notable Strikes (click on the tab, then scroll down for information on the strike)

Caesars Windsor Strike 2018

Union: Unifor. Local 444

Employer: Caesars Windsor (Casino)

“The 2,300 unionized workers at Caesars Windsor are wrapping up their 7th week on strike. Twice, they have voted down tentative agreements that were recommended by the bargaining committee of Unifor Local 444. The sheer size of the bargaining unit and the variety of occupations involved are likely making it difficult for union leadership to get a deal their members like, according to Johanna Weststar, a professor at Western University in London who specializes in industrial relations.”

“We expect striking workers to disagree with their employer, but striking workers at Caesars Windsor also disagree with each other. That was made clear when they rejected a second tentative contract agreement. …  ‘It makes communication to the membership more complicated because you have many more issues to deal with, many more people to bring onside and many more people to sort of make sure that they are getting something that they need in the contract,’ [Weststar] said.”

CBC News, May 24, 2018: “Caesars deal difficult because of variety and number of jobs, says prof”

CBC Radio, May 24, 2018: “Caesars Strike” (6:06, audio)

Windsor Star, May 30, 2018: “Provincial mediator to speak with both sides in Caesars Windsor strike,” by Dalson Chen 

Windsor Star, May 22, 2018: “Unifor looks to regroup Tuesday, to end longest strike ever at Caesars Windsor,” by Sharon Hill

CBC News, May 19, 2018: “Ongoing strike at Caesars Windsor hurting local tourism industry”

Windsor Star, May 8, 2018: “'A rotten shame.’ Unifor Local 444 calls out Caesars Windsor management, city mayor,” by Dalson Chen

York University Strike 2018

Union: Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). Local 3903 (Contract Faculty, Teaching Assistants, Graduate Assistants and Research Assistants)

Employer: York University

“For the second time in three years, thousands of faculty at York University are on strike, with exam preparation and final marks hanging in the balance for 46,000 undergraduate students. Teaching assistants, part-time faculty and graduate assistants were expected to hold a rally on Monday morning on the campus in north Toronto. Picketing will start Tuesday, although classes remain open.”

“Six months of bargaining did not lead to an agreement between the union representing the instructors and the university, the two parties announced Friday. The weekend brought no last-minute deal and the Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents the striking workers, said that the strike began Monday at 12:01 am. Temporary contracts, job security and the structure of work and funding for graduate students and assistants are among the issues still on the table. Unlike in the spring 2015 strike, however, York has not cancelled courses. …  But with thousands of instructors out of the classroom, students may find some of their classes cannot continue.”

“Relations between the school and the union are frayed. Last year, CUPE filed a complaint at the Ontario Labour Board against the university, alleging that a change in how it funds graduate students cost it 690 members. The complaint was put on hold during bargaining. But instructors’ demands are also similar to those voiced by other professors in the higher education sector. College faculty who took to the picket lines for five weeks this fall argued that colleges are overly reliant on temporary staff.”

Lancaster House Collective Bargaining eAlert, No. 98 (Jan. 30, 2019): "Arbitrator declines to award union's "exceptionally ambitious" proposals in settlement of collective agreements at York University after lengthy strike". (CIRHR Library)

York University Labour Update

The end of of the York University strike (CIRHR Tumblr)

The Globe and Mail, April 13, 2018: “There is no end in sight for the latest York University strike. Here’s why,” by Simona Chiose

The Star, April 13, 2018: "Labour minister appoints ‘investigator’ to look into York University strike: with no end in sight to the six-week-old strike, the province is sending in an 'industrial investigator' to get to the bottom of the strife.

Rank & File, April 6, 2018: “Striking against precarious work at York,” by Rawan Abdelbaki

CBC News, Mar 22, 2018: CUPE files unfair labour practices complaint against York University.

CUPE 3903 website

The Globe and Mail, March 5, 2018: “York University contract faculty go on strike as negotiations break down,” by Simona Chiose

CBC News, March 4, 2018: “York University contract staff kicks off strike action on Monday with mass rally,” by Desmond Brown

The Toronto Star, March 4, 2018: “York University contract workers opt for strike after negotiations fail,” by Jayme Poisson

CBC March 8, 2018: “York University rejects counter-offer from CUPE, strike continues” 

Temporary Instructors

“York University will not negotiate away its right to recruit from among the world’s most talented academics and to bring a diversity of views into the university’s classrooms, the school’s president said on the first day of a strike by part-time instructors and teaching and graduate assistants.”

“One of the key outstanding issues in the dispute is the ability of long-time contract instructors to have their positions converted to tenure-track posts. Maintaining a pathway between temporary and permanent work is a way to protect instructors from being trapped in precarious work, the union representing the roughly 3,000 strikers said.”

“You have to have taught for at least 10 years to be eligible for the program,” said Lina Nasr, the spokeswoman for the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Local 3903. “This is about job security, this is about stable work for our members,” she said.”

The Globe and Mail, March 6, 2018: “York University, union at odds over temporary instructors,” SimonaCHiose

OCUFA, March 6, 2018: An open letter to the President of York University March 6, 2018 

Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario, February 7, 2017: “Understanding the Student Experience of a University Labour Strike: Identifying Strategies to Counter Negative Impact,” by Christine M. Wickens, Cathy Labrish, Azar Masoumi, Lisa M. Fiksenbaum, and Esther R. Greenglass (78 pages, PDF)

Ontario College Strike 2017

Image result for ontario colleges strike union

Union: Ontario Public Sector Employees Union (OPSEU). Local 653

Employer: College Employer Council

The five-week college teachers' strike is the longest labour stoppage in the history of the Ontario college system. On Sunday, November 19, 2017, the Ontario Liberal Government passed back-to-work legislation, Bill 178, Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology Labour Dispute Resolution Act, 2017 (An Act to resolve the labour dispute between the College Employer Council and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union)

Almost 70 per cent of college professors voted in favour of a strike in September 2017. Just over 234,000 full-time and almost 100,000 part-time students attend the province's colleges. The College Employer Council, which bargains for all the colleges in Ontario, offered to extend the current contract and raise wages by 7.75 per cent over four years, with a cap on maximum salaries of $115,378.

The colleges were not budging on two demands. One of the most contentious was the union's insistence that faculty must have a greater say in the governance of colleges. The union wanted to begin discussions that would lead to the creation of senates, in which faculty make up a majority of the governing body. Senates are standard at universities where they operate alongside boards of governors. But in the college sector, only Sheridan College has such a body – Sheridan is working toward becoming a university by 2020.

Eight-six per cent of faculty voted to reject Council’s November 6 offer. Ninety-five per cent of the 12,841 people on the voters’ list voted.

Global News, November 23, 2017: "Ontario college strike: OPSEU promises to challenge back-to-work legislation"

Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), November 23, 2017: "OPSEU to file Charter challenge over college back-to-work law"

CBC News, November 19, 2017: "Ontario college strike ends as back-to-work legislation passed"

TVO The Agenda, November 17, 2017: "An Ontario College Strike Out: There's Got to be a Better Way"

CBC News, November 17, 2017: "Ontario Legislature set for weekend debate on bill to end college strike"

Bill 178, Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology Labour Dispute Resolution Act, 2017 (An Act to resolve the labour dispute between the College Employer Council and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union)

OPSEU, November 16, 2017: “College faculty reject contract, call on employer to get back to the table”

CBC News, November 16, 2017: “No end in sight to college strike as faculty members vote against new contract” by Andrea Janus

Ontario Labour Relations Board, November 6, 2017: “Management Offer for Settlement” (19 pages, PDF)

OPSEU, November 16, 2017: “College faculty reject contract, call on employer to get back to the table”

Global News, November 14, 2017: “Students launch class action lawsuit against Ontario’s colleges over strike”


The Globe and Mail, October 13, 2017: "Locked in labour dispute, Ontario colleges, union risk Monday instructor strike" by Simona Chiose

CBC News, October 16, 2017: Why Ontario college faculty members are on strike:  Union for 12,000 workers fighting for job security, academic freedom as 500,000 are without classes,” by Makda Ghebreslassie

Ontario Public Service Employees Union, October 14, 2017: “Union Proposals: Final Offer for Settlement,” by the College Employer Council (8 pages, PDF)

The College Employer Council, October 13, 2017: “College Faculty Bargaining – Monetary Issues”  (1 page, PDF)

Ontario Colleges at 50: A Better Plan website.

College Employer Council Historical Documents Pertaining to the College System:

Whitaker Report 2008: This report sets out a number of recommendations by Kevin Whitaker to the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities.

Vision 2000: In 1988, the Council was asked to oversee a project to review of the mandate of the colleges (after its inception 25 years ago) and develop “a vision of the college system in the year 2000”.

Quality and Opportunity (1990)

Gandz Report (1988): This is the report of the Colleges Collective Bargaining Commission, which was assigned by the Minister of Colleges and Universities to examine the current collective bargaining model in the college system and provide recommendations to make the process more effective.

Skolnik Report (1985): This is the report of the Instructional Assignment Review Committee. The Committee was established by an Act of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario (S.O., 1984, c.4) in November 1984, to conduct “a comprehensive review of all aspects of instructional assignments” in the Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology, and to submit its report and recommendations to the Minister of Colleges and Universities.

Ontario Lottery & Gaming Corporation Rideau Carlton Raceway Lockout 2016

Ottawa, Ontario

Union: Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC). Local 71201.

Employer: Ontario Lottery Gaming Corp. (OLG)

The unionized workers at the Rideau Carleton Raceway Slots were locked out by management in December 2015. After five months, the workers with PSAC, Local 71201, agreed to binding arbitration. On Sept. 15, 2016 arbitrator William Kaplan opted to go with the final offer put forth by the OLG. The 124 workers got a lump sum payment of $2,800, a wage increase of 1.75% in year four, and no increase in year five. PSAC had asked for a lump sum payment of $5,000, a 2% wage increase in year four and another 3% increase in year five. Workers were set to return to work on June 2, 2016.

Ontario Lottery Gaming Corporation v PSAC, 2016 CanLII 60529 (ON LA), Sept. 15, 2016

Arbitrator picks OLG offer in Rideau Carleton Slots contract dispute, by Don Butler, Ottawa Citizen, Sept. 21, 2016

University of Toronto Teaching Assistants Strike 2015

UofT Teaching assistants strike 2015

Toronto, Ontario

Union: Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). Local 3902 (Unit 1)  (all Post-Doctoral Fellows, graduate students in the School of Graduate Studies and undergraduate students in the University of Toronto employed as teaching assistants, teaching fellows, demonstrators, tutors, markers, instructors, teaching laboratory assistants, Chief Presiding Officers, invigilators and part-time lecturers)

Employer: University of Toronto

Birdsell Bauer, L. (2017). Professors-in-training or precarious workers? identity, coalition building, and social movement unionism in the 2015 University of Toronto graduate employee strike. Labor Studies Journal, 42(4), 273-294.

The Globe and Mail, July 6, 2015: “University of Toronto wins arbitration against teaching-assistant union,” by Simona Chiose

Full-text of the decision on CanLII: Governing Council of the University of Toronto v CUPE Local 3902, Unit 1, 2015 CanLII 38167 (ON LA)

U of T, CUPE 3902 Unit 1 agree to binding arbitration to end strike immediately, March 26, 2015

Statement from President Meric Gertler re: CUPE 3902 Unit 1 Strike, March 25, 2015

U of T teaching assistants reject deal; uncertainty at York over classes, by Louise Brown, Toronto Star, Tuesday, March 24, 2015

"U of T strike taking toll on undergraduate students”, by Simona Chiose, Globe and Mail, March 23, 2015

"Completing the Term",  a message from the Dean of Arts and Science, David Cameron, March 23, 2015

Podcast, March 23, 2015: Meric Gertler, President of the University of Toronto on Metro Toronto with Matt Galloway (start at 12:20 minutes - the first half is about the TTC project delay)

CUPE 3902

University of Toronto Faculty Association (UTFA) Strike Update #3, March 23, 2015

University of Toronto Office of the Vice-President and Provost Update: Strike at UofT Campuses

Open Letter from Faculty, Emeriti and Librarians at the University of Toronto as published in the Toronto Star, March 17, 2015

"Why U of T, York strikes are more than labour disputes", by Zane Schwartz, Globe & Mail, March 4, 2015

“Austerity Strangles Ontario: the TA strikes in context”, by David Bush and Doug Nesbitt,, March 4, 2015

“Bigger questions surround University of Toronto strike”, by Rosemary Westwood, Metro News, March 3, 2015

Strike deadline looms for U of T, York U teaching assistants, by Louise Brown, Toronto Star, February 25, 2015

York University Contract Faculty and Teaching Assistants Strike 2015

York University teaching assistants strike 2015

Toronto, Ontario

Union: Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). Local 3903 (Contract Faculty, Teaching Assistants, Graduate Assistants and Research Assistants)

Employer: York University

Caivano, D., Doody, R., Maley, T., & Vandenberg, C. (2016). Critical pedagogy in the neoliberal university: Reflections on the 2015 York University strike through a Marcusean lens. New Political Science, 38(4), 501-515.

Tentative settlement reached. Employer capitulates: CUPE 3903 wins tuition offset, LGBTQ as Equity group, improved Unit 3 minimum funding, CUPE 3903, March 29, 2015

Striking teaching assistants reach tentative deal with York University, by Ethan Lou. Toronto Star, March 29, 2015

York University and teaching assistant staff reach tentative deal to end strike, Globe & Mail, March 29, 2015

U of T teaching assistants reject deal; uncertainty at York over classes, by Louise Brown, Toronto Star, Tuesday, March 24, 2015

CUPE 3903 and CUPE 3903 "in the news"

York University Faculty Relations Bargaining Update

"Why U of T, York strikes are more than labour disputes", by Zane Schwartz, Globe & Mail, March 4, 2015

"York suspends classes, exams and academic activities during strike", by Louise Brown, Toronto Star, March 2, 2015

Strike deadline looms for U of T, York U teaching assistants, by Louise Brown, Toronto Star, February 25, 2015

Toronto Crown Aluminum Can Plant Strike 2013-

Toronto crown aluminum can plant strike 2013

Toronto, Ontario

Union: United Steelworkers (USW). Local 9176

Employer: Crown Metal Packing Canada (Weston, Ontario plant)

The 133 employees of USW Local 9176 went on strike 6 September 2013, which ended 22 months later. The Crown Metal plant in northwest Toronto called for a two-tier wage schedule, where new hires would be paid less than existing workers. The contract initially offered by Crown Metal also limited workers’ ability to file grievances and eliminated an existing cost-of-living allowance.

After the walk-out, Crown Metal used replacement workers – management, new hires, and workers brought in from their non-unionized Calgary plant – to continue operations. The USW has used boycotts, public advocacy campaigns and lobbying at Queen's Park to force a settlement.

In March 2015 the province appointed Morton Mitchnick, an experienced mediator-arbitrator and former chair of the Ontario Labour Relations Board to conduct an Industrial Inquiry Commission to facilitate a resolution in the dispute. The last time the government appointed an Industrial Inquiry Commissioner was in 2007.

A new six-year collective agreement was reached with the assistance of the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB). The USW filed a complaint of bad faith bargaining and unfair labour practices with the OLRB. A tentative agreement was reached on 8 July when the company dropped its condition that the 34 leading union supporters could not have their jobs back even after a settlement is reached. The new collective agreement guarantees the rights of all striking employees to return to their jobs. Under existing Ontario law, striking workers have the right to automatically return to their jobs but this right is lost after six months on the picket line. It also includes enhanced retirement and severance provisions for employees who decide not to return to the plant.

Marty Warren, USW Ontario Director: "Clearly, this strike demonstrates the pressing need for amendments to the Labour Relations Act that would provide for binding arbitration in long and difficult strikes and would impose a ban on the use of replacement workers. We urge the Liberal government to take the necessary steps through the current labour law review process to commit to those reforms."

22-month-long strike at Ontario beer can maker a cautionary tale for factory workers”, Financial Post, July 17, 2015

Bitterness remains as Crown Metal workers end 2-year strike”, The Toronto Star, July 20, 2105

"New Contract Ratified at Crown Metal Packaging, Strike Ends", USW Local 9176, July 19, 2015

"Striking Crown Can workers: 20 months and counting",, May 4, 2015.


Ontario Teachers Strike 2012-2013

Teacher's strike
Province of Ontario

Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) and Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF)

Teachers began political protests in September 2012 when the Ontario Government passed Bill 115, the Putting Students First Act. Teachers stopped voluntary and extracurricular activities and in December elementary teachers staged one-day strikes across the province to protest the Act.

Terms of the Putting Students First Act include:

  • two-year contract
  • two-year salary freeze
  • 1.5-per-cent pay cut in the form of three unpaid professional development days
  • restructured short-term sick leave plan that would include up to 10 sick days (reduced from 20)
  • limitation on the legality of teachers' unions and support staff going on strike
  • removal of ability to bank sick days for a cash-out upon retirement

ETFO planned a one-day, province wide walkout for January 11, 2013 and OSSTF planned a one-day, province wide walkout on January 16, 2013. The government went to the Ontario Labour Relations Board to stop the planned walkout. The OLRB ruled that the walkout is an illegal strike and the teachers called off the one-day strike. Elementary schools in the Greater Essex County District School Board were closed.

The Putting Students First Act was repealed on January 23, 2013..

On March 1, the secondary school teachers ended their extracurricular protest as a goodwill gesture in light of positive talks with the province's government.

On 19 April 2013 the OSSTF voted 84% in favour of a deal, which is made up of amendments to the two-year contracts the government imposed on teachers under Bill 115. The new agreement has improved maternity leave benefits, and boosted payouts to newer teachers who are not eligible for payments of unused sick days when they retire. The agreement also states that no changes to teachers' pay grid - giving them automatic yearly wage increases for education and years teaching - will be imposed.

On 23 June 2013 the ETFO voted 91% to accept the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), will override and improve upon the imposed terms of Bill 115.  The MOU gives them a 2% salary increase, effective September 2014. The salary increase will eliminate a wage gap between public elementary teachers and their Catholic and French counterparts.


MacNeil, M. (2014). Collective bargaining between teachers and the province of ontario, 2012-2013: A study in charter politics. Education Law Journal, 23(2), 121-147.

"Ontario government's "inflexible and intransigent" approach to bargaining violated Charter of Rights, judge rules", August 16, 2016, Lancaster House. "A Superior Court judge found that the Ontario government violated the freedom of association rights of five education-sector unions under s.2(d) of the Charter when it failed to bargain with the unions and instead imposed collective agreement terms and conditions through passage of the so-called Putting Students First Act. The Court found that this infringement of collective bargaining rights could not be saved as a reasonable limit under s.1 of the Charter." Full text of decision: Ontario Public Service Employees Union, Lorie St. Amand and Robyn Lambe v. The Crown in Right of Ontario and Ontario Public School Boards' Association

U.S. Steel Lockout 2010-2011

Hamilton, Ontario

Union: United Steelworkers (USW) Local 1005

Employer: Hamilton Works U.S. Steel Canada

750 USW Local 1005 members were locked out of the Hamilton Works steel manufacturing plant since November 2010. At issue was the employee pension plan. The employer U.S. Steel wanted to end pension indexing and change the current defined pension plan to a defined contribution scheme.   This extended lockout ended with EI benefits  running out and U.S. Steel considering shutting the plant.

USW 1005 website

Vale Strike 2009-2010

Sudbury, Ontario

Union: United Steelworkers (USW) Local 6500

Employer: Vale Corporation

3300 United Steelworkers (USW) local 6500 members went on strike against Vale Corporation, a subsidiary of a large multinational mining company.  The strike lasted almost a year, the longest strike in Canadian history, and on July 7, 2010 USW members returned to work accepting some major concessions.  The biggest issues on the negotiating table were changes to pension plans for new hires, reductions in the profit-sharing benefits and imposed retirements and layoffs.  Vale used 1200 contract staff during the strike to maintain operations.


Link to UTLibraries article:

Peters, J. (2010). Down in the vale: Corporate globalization, unions on the defensive, and the USW local 6500 strike in sudbury, 2009-2010. Labour, (66), 73-73-105,321-322,7.


"Will the strike ever end?" Interview on TVO's The Agenda


City of Toronto Municipal Workers Strike 2009

Toronto, Ontario

Union: Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 416 (outside workers) and Local 79 (inside workers)

Employer: City of Toronto

In the six-week 'garbage strike of 2009'  24,000 indoor and 6,000 outdoor workers of  the City of Toronto walked off the job June 22, 2009.  They went on strike over concessions, the main one being the right for municipal workers to bank and cash out unused sick leave. The city claimed the banked sick days had become an expensive entitlment that most other municipalities had elminated. The most noticeable effect of the strike was the cessation of garbage pickup and the creation of temporary drop off locations.

The settlement reached included annual wage increases of 1, 2, and 3 percent respectively over three years and a gradual phasing out of sick-leave entitlements.

York University Contract Faculty and Teaching Assistants Strike 2008-2009

Toronto, Ontario

Union: Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). Local 3903 (Contract Faculty, Teaching Assistants, Graduate Assistants and Research Assistants)

Employer: York University, North York

3,350 contract professors along with teaching and research assistants of CUPE Local 3903 walked off the job on November 6, 2008.  One of the major issues being negotiated was job security for the contract faculty as York University has begun hiring more and more staff on temporary contracts.  This was one of the longest university faculty strikes in Canadian history as they did not return to work until 85 days later on January 29, 2009, when the provincial parliament legislated the union back to work with the York University Labour Disputes Resolution Act. The case was then referred to binding arbitration.

Kuhling, C. (2002). How CUPE 3903 struck and won. Just Labour 1, 77-85. (PDF, 9 pages)

For the position statements of CUPE, York University and the ILO, see: International Labour Organization. Reports of the Committee on Freedom of Association 360th Report of the Committee on Freedom of Association. Case no. 2803 Complaint against the Government of Canada presented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)

Ottawa Bus Strike 2008-2009

Ottawa bus strike 2008-2009

Ottawa, Ontario

Union: Amalgamated Transit, Local 279

Employer: The City of Ottawa

As the snow piled up, so did the animosity between staff and the city, when in late 2008, Ottawa's transit workers walked off the job. Amalgamated Transit, Local 279, represented 2,300 drivers, mechanics and dispatchers who worked for OC Transpo, in a bitter battle with the City of Ottawa that lasted 51 days. With federal back-to-work legislation likely, the two sides hammered out a deal as the strike stretched into its eighth week. Contentious issues included: work scheduling, wage increases, sick leave and contracting out services.

CBC News, January 29, 2009: "City, union reach deal to end Ottawa transit strike"

Toronto Transit Commission Strikes 2006 and 2008

TTC strike

Photo by Squeaky rat

Toronto, Ontario

Union:  Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113

Employer: Toronto Transit Commission (TTC)

The 2006 strike was an illegal "wildcat" strike and the 2008 strike was a legal strike action.  Both strikes lasted one day and generated much discussion about back-to-work legislation

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113

Ontario Teachers' Strike 1997


In the fall of 1997, 126,000 teachers participated in an illegal strike in reaction to the Mike Harris led Ontario government's education reform legislation.  It lasted 2 weeks.  There were 9 days of action which happened in the following two years where public sector workers essentially shut down cities across Ontario.


Hargrove, B. (1998) Ontario teachers strike. Our Times, 17(1), 13-13.

Ontario Public Service Employees' Union Strike (the second strike) 2002

Toronto, Ontario

Union: Ontario Public Service Employees' Union

Employer: Ontario Government

45,000 public service employees voted overwhelmingly to strike and went off the job March 13. The strike ended May 5, 2002, 54 days later. OPSEU won significant wage increases and greater job security for contract employees. The government gained the right to pay for performance bonuses, but lost the attempt to take full control of the pension plan surplus.


"Settlement ends longest public service strike in Ontario History: full report and decision", Collective Bargaining [newsletter], by Lancaster House, May/June 2002.

Kozolanka, K. (2006). "Taming labour in neo-liberal Ontario: Oppositional political communication in a time of "crisis". Canadian Journal of Communication, 31(3), 561-580.

York University Faculty Strike 1997

Toronto, Ontario

Union: York University Faculty Association (YUFA)

Employer: York University, North York

York University faculty and librarians were on strike from March 20 to May 13, 1997.


Briskin, L., & Newson, J. (1999). Making equity a priority: Anatomy of the York University strike of 1997. Feminist Studies, 25(1), 105-118.

Grayson, J. P., & York University (Toronto, Ont.). (1998). Student hardship and support for a faculty strike. North York, Ont.: Institute for Social Research, York University.

Ontario Public Service Employees' Union Strike (the first strike) 1996


Union: Ontario Public Service Employees' Union

Employer: Ontario Government

OPSEU struck legally for the first time in their history (Ontario civil servants were given the legal right to strike by Bill 117 in February 1994, during Ontario's first NDP government). The strike lasted five weeks and was in opposition to Mike Harris government's proposed job cuts.

Rapaport, D. (1999). No justice, no peace : the 1996 OPSEU strike against the Harris government in Ontario. Montreal : McGill-Queen's University Press.
UTLibraries link to catalogue record and e-book:

Kozolanka, K. (2006). "Taming labour in neo-liberal ontario: Oppositional political communication in a time of "crisis". Canadian Journal of Communication, 31(3), 561-580.

Fenell, T. (April 1, 1996) "Ontario Public Service Strike Violence". McLeans Magazine.


Ontario Hospital Workers Strike 1981

Image result for Ontario Hospital Workers Strike


Union: Canadian Union of Public Employees - various locals

Employer: Ontario Hospital Association (OHA)

The strike began in less than 36 hours on January 25, 1981 with over 50 of the 65 CUPE unionized hospitals and over 10,000 workers participating in the strike. The strike was caused by a government fiscal crisis, which caused the government to lower their expenses, which caused pressure on hospital administration to try and be more cost efficient and workers increase their productivity (ie, they would have to see more patients and the patients were to have a higher turn-around time). Since the unionized workers did not fare well with CUPE, due to various prejudices, there was not much support with their issues and the hospital workers were forced to strike on their own accord. The illegal strike happened despite the threats made the government, police, and the OHA made regarding legal action, being suspended or dismissed, and even abuse against the workers if they decided to strike. The Ontario Supreme Court released an injunction against the strike on January 31, 1981, forcing these workers to get back to work. After being forced back to work, the union was refused a no retaliation clause. This meant that many striking union members had to face penalties; 34 workers were fired and over 3000 workers were suspended for varying periods of time (ranging from a few days to a year long).

White, J. P. (1990). Hospital strike: Women, unions, and public sector conflict. Toronto: Thompson Educational Pub.

Inco Strike 1966, 1969, 1975, 1978 - 1979, 1982

Sudbury, Ontario

Union: United Steelworkers

Employer: Inco (later renamed Vale)

Singh, P., Zinni, D.M. & Jain, H.C. (2005). The effects of the use of striker replacement workers in Canada: An analysis of four cases. Labor Studies Journal, 30(2), 61-85.

*The CIRHR library maintains an archive on the 1978 - 1979 strike, please request from Library staff.

Blue Cross Strike 1979-1981


A first contract strike between Local 2078 of the United Auto Workers and the Ontario Hospital Association/Blue Cross.  The union was eventually decertified.


Ontario Labour Relations Board Reports - Cases dealing with this strike appear in the following issues: March 1979 p. 2, July 1980 p. 1036, December 1980 p. 1759, March 1981 p. 304, April 1981 p. 468, June 1981 p. 763. (Request from library staff)


*The CIRHR library maintains an archive on this strike, please request from Library staff.

Radio Shack Strike 1979-1980

A first contract strike lasting August 9, 1979 to April 7, 1980 between the United Steelworkers and Radio Shack.  Charges of unfair labour practices resulted in a case before the Ontario court.

*The CIRHR library maintains an archive on this strike, please request from Library staff.

Ontario Jail Guards Strike 1979-1980

*The CIRHR library maintains an archive on this strike, please request from Library staff.

Boise Cascade Strike 1978-1981

Kenora and Fort Francis, Ontario

A strike between the lumber and sawmill workers union and Boise Cascade from July 1978 until November 1981.  Several other unions were involved and considerable violence occured.


*CIRHR Library maintains a collection of newspaper clippings on this strike

Fleck Strike 1978

fleck strike
Centralia, Ontario

Union: United Automobile Workers (UAW)

Employer: Fleck Manufacturing Company

The Fleck Strike was a 163 day strike of 80 female workers trying to obtain a first contract from Fleck Manufacturing. The conditions of the plant were negligible, with no temperature control (in both winter and summer), the building had rats, uncollected garbage, high dust levels and poor safety conditions (including no guards) on the machines. According to workers, clean-ups were only done on the days of inspection and unsafe equipment were temporarily shut down for the day in order to get past the Ministry of Labour's inspections. The strike began on March 6, 1978 and the company continued to operate without the striking workers, using the employees who decided against striking, supervisors, and summer student workers. Conflicts on the picket lines resulted in two striking workers being arrested and there were reports of picketers being pushed into snowbanks by police officers, as well as other police tactics to intimidate the picketers. The picketers decided to do secondary picketing to Fleck's biggest customer, Ford Motor Company of Canada, in order to put added pressure on Fleck. As a result from the pressure that was put on Ford, the company decided to cut back on their quotas required of Fleck. A mediator eventually came in and argued for a compromise between UAW and Fleck, where the company must recognize the union and all the workers, including the replacement workers, must vote for a first contract. Since this strike was a huge public relations issue, the premier Bill Davis decided to make the Rand Formula mandatory within Ontario law.

The Fleck Strike: The women’s strike that changed labour law and the labour movement, Rise Up! A Digital Archive of Feminist Activism, 2016.

The Fleck Women, video by Timothy Bongard, Kem Murch, and Judy McGowan, Cablecast Community Broadcasting, London Ontario, 1978, 18 minutes. Rise Up! A Digital Archive of Feminist Activism

30 years after the Fleck strike, Blast Furnace Canada, March 29, 2015.

Eaton, J. (1990). The Fleck strike: Law on the Line. Kingston, Ont., Canada: Industrial Relations Centre, Queen's University. 

Backhouse, C. (1980). The Fleck Strike: Case Study in the Need for First Contract Arbitration. Osgoode Hall Law Journal 18(4), 495-553.

*CIRHR Library maintains a collection of newspaper clippings on this strike.

Metro Toronto Teachers' Strike 1975-1976

Kervin, J. B., & Ontario. (1977). A report on the 1975 Metro Toronto teacher-board negotiations and strike. Toronto: Centre for Industrial Relations, University of Toronto.


*The CIRHR library maintains an archive on this strike. Request from Library staff.

Elliot Lake Wildcat Strike 1974

Elliot Lake, Ontario

Union: United Steelworkers of America

Employer: Denison Uranium Mine

In 1974 1,000 Steelworkers went on a three-week wildcat strike at Elliot Lake's Denison uranium mine that resulted in the Government of Ontario appointing a royal commission headed by James Ham. The workers struck over the high levels of radiation exposure. The strike was one of Canada's first health and safety-related walkouts.

The Ham Commission on Mine Safety resulted in the creation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act in 1979.

MacDowell, L. S. (2012). The Elliot Lake Uranium Miners’ Battle to Gain Occupational Health and Safety Improvements, 1950–1980. Labour / Le Travail 69(1), 91-118. The Canadian Committee on Labour History.

Ontario. (1976). Report of the Royal Commission on the Health and Safety of Workers in Mines. Toronto: Ministry of the Attorney General, Province of Ontario.

Artistic Woodwork Strike 1973

Toronto, Ontario

Union: Canadian Textile and Chemical Union

Employer: Artistic Woodwork

First contract strike.

Milligan, I. (2014). A relationship culminates: the 1973 Artistic Woodwork strike. in I. Millian, Rebel youth: 1960s labour unrest, young workers, and new leftists in English Canada (pp. 150-171. Vancouver: UBC Press.

Caufield, J. (1974). "The little strike that grew and grew". Toronto Life - Vertical Files (By request from library staff)

Milligan, I. (2010). "The force of all our numbers: New leftists, labour, and the 1973 Artistic Woodwork strike".  Labour/Le Travail, 66, 37-71.

*The CIRHR library maintains an archive on this strike, please request from Library staff.

Texpac Strike 1971

*The CIRHR library maintains an archive on this strike. Request from Library staff.

Reesor Siding Strike 1963

Reesor Siding, Ontario

Reesor Siding Strike

1500 members of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America union went on strike halting producation at the Spruce Falls Power and Paper Company.  The month long strike ended in a brutal interaction between the police, the woodcutters and the farmers in the region and 11 people were shot resulting in 3 deaths. This has become an important strike in Canadian history.


CBC Digital archives piece

Royal York Hotel Strike 1961-1962

Milloy, J. (2006). A battle royal: service work activism and the 1961-1962 Royal York strike. Labour/Le Travail. 58, 13-40.

Davidson, M.E. (2010). The Royal York Hotel case : the "right" to strike -- and not be fired for striking. in J. Fudge & E. Tucker (Eds.), Work on trial: Canadian labour law struggles. Toronto: Irwin Law for the Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History.

*The CIRHR library maintains an archive on this strike, please request from Library staff.

General Motors Strikes 1956 and 1966

Oshawa, Ontario

Union: Canadian Auto Workers

Employer: General Motors


CBC Archives

Fine, S. (1969). Sit-down: the General Motors strike of 1936-1937. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Stelco Strike 1946

Hamilton, Ontario

Union: United Steelworkers

Employer: Stelco


"July 15, 1946: About 2,000 Stelco workers walk off the job in one of the most bitter strikes in Canadian labour history. They want higher wages, a 40-hour work week and, most importantly, formal recognition of their union as a bargaining unit. The 81-day strike is later hailed by academics as a major victory for the union movement."

Hamilton Spectator. (August 27, 2007). Stelco Timeline: A Story of Booms, Busts and Back Again.

Ford Strike 1945

ford strike 1945
Windsor, Ont.

Union: United Auto Workers Local 200 (Windsor, Ontario)

Employer: Ford Co.

After workers found out that their demands could not be met, they quickly formed picket lines and began a 99 day strike. The workers' main demand was for union security and union dues. In order to reinforce picket lines, workers created a barricade of vehicles in which the army was being instructed to remove the vehicles to get rid of the barricade. The president of United Auto Workers Local 200 declared any removal of the vehicles from this barricade to break the strike. Other unions such as Chrysler Local 195 joined the protest and picket lines in solidarity to the Ford workers. The Ford Strike of 1945 ended through an agreement that created the Rand Formula, where workers who benefit from a union must help in the maintenance of their union by paying union dues.

*The CIRHR library maintains an archive on this strike, please request from Library staff.

Workers History Museum. Canada's Rand Formula (DVD). "This documentary video covers the historic compromise in 1946 that ended a 99-day strike by the United Auto Workers Local 200 in Windsor, ON. Mr Justice Ivan Rand of the Supreme Court of Canada arbitrated the dispute. His creative award instituted a new form of union security: union dues are collected from every member of the bargaining unit whether or not they belong to the union when a majority have voted to join the Union. This award included a price for unions: it outlawed strikes during the life of a collective agreement and insisted on a secret ballot prior to strike action. This documentary traces the evolution of this uniquely Canadian approach, generally known as the Rand Formula, in modern Canadian labour law."-- Back cover.

Baruth-Walsh, M. E., & Walsh, G. M. (1995). Strike!: 99 days on the line : the workers' own story of the 1945 Windsor Ford strike. Ottawa: Penumbra Press.

Colling, H. (1995). Ninety-nine days: The Ford strike in Windsor, 1945. Toronto: NC Press Limited.

Abella, I. M. (1974). On strike: six key labour struggles in Canada, 1919-1949. Toronto: James Lewis & Samuel Publishers.

Kirkland Lake Gold Miners' Strike 1941-1942

Kirkland Lake, Ontario

Union:  International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers Local 240

Employer: various mines

MacDowell, L. S. (2001). Remember Kirkland Lake: The gold miners' strike of 1941-42. Toronto: Canadian Scholars' Press.

Book description from the publisher's website:


Remember Kirkland Lake: The Gold Miners' Strike of 1941–42 tells the story of one of the most important industrial disputes in Canadian labour history. This strike united the Canadian labour movement around the demand for collective bargaining legislation, which it won in 1944 and which remains central to our industrial relations system.

The book provides a comprehensive analysis of all the factors in this dramatic dispute. At the community level, a social history approach examines the local living and working conditions of the miners and their families, the role of the women in the dispute, and the ethnic makeup of the workforce.


General Motors Strike 1947

general motors strike 1947

Oshawa, Ont.

Union: United Auto Workers (UAW), Local 222

Employer: General Motors Canada (GM)

After a failed attempt to unionize in 1928, about 4,000 assembly-line workers at Oshawa, Ont.,'s General Motors (GM) Canada plant went on strike on April 8, 1937. Top demands included: an 8-hour workday, increased wages, a seniority system, and recognition of the union -- UAW, Local 222. In response, Ontario's premier ordered reinforcements from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). This move was not received well. Yet, on April 13 more RCMP reinforcements were called in. Then-Ontario Premier Mitchell Hepburn ultimately created his own police force, derisively dubbed "Hepburn’s Hussars” and “Sons-of-Mitches.” GM eventually settled with the union on April 23. The strike is credited with bringing industrial unionism north of the 49th parallel.

MacDowell, L. S., & Radforth, I. W. (1992). Canadian working class history. 2nd ed. Toronto: Canadian Scholars' Press. Chapter 21: After the stirke: Labour relations in Oshawa, 1937-1939.

Abella, I. M. (1974). On strike: six key labour struggles in Canada, 1919-1949. Toronto: James Lewis & Samuel Publishers.

Stratford Furniture Workers Strike 1943

stratford furniture workers strike 1943

Stratford, Ont.

Union: Workers Unity League
Employer: Five furniture factories

Amidst the Great Depression workers in Stratford, Ont., on September 14, 1933. Employers of the five largest furniture manufacturers in the Southwestern Ontario city refused to recognize the workers union -- the Workers Unity League. By September 21, chicken pluckers also took to the picket lines. Emotions rose over who would feed the chickens while workers were on strike, which some assumed was a guise for strikebreaking activities. In late September the military was called in. This aggressive move brought national attention to the workers' plight. More than a month after the strike began one of the companies made a deal with its workers on October 18. By October 27 the military presence was called off due to bad publicity. This did not spell an end to the strike, though, as employers still refused to recognize the union. Workers gave up on unionizing, instead opting for wage increases and a shorter work week. By November 4, 1933, all the furniture workers and chicken pluckers were back at work. 

Abella, I. M. (1974). On strike: six key labour struggles in Canada, 1919-1949. Toronto: James Lewis & Samuel Publishers.

Cobalt Miners Strike 1919

"The noon blast of July 23, 1919, whistled some 2,500 silver miners to a work stoppage in the Northern Ontario town of Cobalt. The men, members of Cobalt Miners Union, Local 146 of the International Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers Union, struck fourteen active mines in the Cobalt area. The dispute pitted employees against managers, the latter represented by the well-organized Temiskaming Mine Managers Association, presided over by H.A. Kee, manager of the Kerr Lake Mine. On the employees' side, the Cobalt Miners Union had as president J.P. (Jimmy) Maguire, a man intimately associated with the union since its coming to Cobalt in 1906."

Hogan, B. F. (1978). Cobalt: Year of the strike, 1919. Cobalt, Ont: Highway Book Shop.

Bell Telephone Strike 1980

"Operators were happy with their new contract. Wages for the highest-paid operators would increase to 291.40 a wekk by September 1981. The drastic disparity between operators working in different regions would be eliminated the month after. The company paid everyone retroactive back pay of 15.9 percent on wages earned from November 2, 1978, to November  25, 1979; and 12.2 percent for the time period after November 25, 1978. On November 2, 1980, wages were to increase by a further 9.0 percent with a COLA provision for inflation beyond 8 percent on November 1, 1981. The new contract expired on November 24, 1981."

Roberts, J. M. (2015). Cracked: how telephone operators took on Canada’s largest corporation…and won! Toronto: Dundurn

Toronto Street Railway Strikes 1886

"It was 11 March 1886, the second day of a labour dispute triggered by unionists in the employ of the privately owned Toronto Street Railway Company (tsr), which had a monopoly on streetcar services in the fast-growing city. Commentators divided over how serious these public disturbances were. Judge McDougall, chairman of the board of police commissioners, was concerned about maintaining public order and insisted it was imperative “to demonstrate the fact that a mob cannot do with this town as it pleases.” The Toronto World asked rhetorically, “If a crowd can rule the street whenever it sees fit, where is it all going to end. Yet, William Howland, Toronto’s urban-reform mayor appeared less perturbed by the crowd actions when he publicly chastised the tsr for provoking the dispute with its anti-union policy. Journalists writing for the daily press were struck by the good-humoured mood of the vast crowds, and maintained that even the police, hard pressed as they were to maintain order, seemed to enter into the fun at least in the dispute’s early stages."

Radforth, I.(2015). Playful Crowds and the 1886 Toronto Street Railway Strikes. Labour / Le Travail 76(1), 133-164. The Canadian Committee on Labour History.

The Printers' Strike 1872

Hamilton's 1,500-strong nine-hour procession. May 15 1872 (Canadian Illustrated News, courtesy Library and Archives Canada/C-58640).

Hamilton, Ontario

Union: Toronto Typographical Union

Employer: Master Printers Association (MPA) of Toronto

The fight for a shorter workday, dubbed the Nine-Hour Movement, gained steam in the late 1800s in North America, culminating in the Toronto Printers’ Strike of 1872. The movement reportedly started with a gathering in Hamilton in the first month of 1872. The idea quickly caught on, with many other local unions across Canada staging protests. The Toronto Typographical Union went on strike on March 25, 1872, much to the chagrin of the owner of Canada's largest newspaper at the time, The Globe. The prickly George Brown ran anti-union ads and editorials in his newspaper, which backfired by only bringing more attention -- and support -- to the workers. Ultimately the Nine-Hour Movement failed, but set the stage for the "Eight Hours Work, Eight Hours Leisure, Eight Hours Rest" movement. And while workers didn't get a nine-hour workday in 1872, unions did become legal on June 14, 1874 with the introduction of the Trade Union Act by then-Prime Minister John A. Macdonald., August 13, 2013: "The Nine-Hour Movement" How civil disobedience made unions legal"

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