The land for what will become the city of Hamilton is deeded on the site of the present-day Gore Park.
The City of Hamilton is incorporated.
The Nine-Hour Movement, an international workers’ attempt to secure a nine-hour working day, holds marches across the country. The first march is held in Hamilton on May 15.
The Canadian Labour Union, the first attempt at a national central labour organization, is founded.
A severe economic recession takes hold in Canada and much of the world.
The first Canadian assembly of the Noble and Holy Order of Knights of Labor, an important labour reform organization founded in Philadelphia in 1869, is formed in Hamilton.
The Trades and Labor Congress of Canada (TLC) is formed.
Wages for outside labourers in Hamilton are 13.5 cents an hour.
The Hamilton Street Railway is electrified.
Labour Day becomes a national holiday.
Some City of Hamilton aldermen candidates support an eight-hour day for civic employees.
The National Department of Labour is established.
Wages for outside labourers in Hamilton Board are 15 cents an hour, reaching 18 cents by the end of the year.
Hamilton quarry workers go on strike. They are joined by road and sidewalk workers.
Hamilton Street Railway workers, Amalgamated Transit Workers Local 107, go out on strike in November. The strike turns violent after managers try to keep the system operating. Hamiltonians show their support by wearing blue “We Walk” buttons.
In the wake of the strike, Knights of Labor organizer Allan Studholme is elected as an independent labour MPP in the Ontario Legislature; he was the province’s only labour MPP until 1919.
Outside workers from two city departments in Hamilton join a strike for higher wages that was started by waterworks labourers.
Stelco, the Steel Company of Canada, is formed from a merging of a five smaller companies. It becomes one of Hamilton’s most important industries and employers.
Sewer workers in Hamilton go on strike, demanding their wages be increased from 20 cents to 25 cents an hour.
1,500 Hamilton civic employees attend one of their first annual picnics at Grimsby beach.
Wages for general labourers in Hamilton are 22 cents an hour.
An economic recession hits. It will lift once the war begins. War orders flow into factories, and there is soon a labour shortage.
World War I begins. As part of the British Empire, Canada joins the war effort. Ten thousand Hamiltonians voluntarily enlist, one of the highest enlistment rates in the country.
The Workmen’s Compensation Act is enacted in Ontario.
The population of Hamilton reaches 100,000.
The Ontario Temperance Act is passed; prohibition is opposed by many working-class Hamiltonians.
The minimum wage for outside civic labourers is 30 cents an hour.
The Canadian Labour Party is founded.
World War I ends.
In July, City of Hamilton outside employees are chartered as the Civic Employees Union Local 16208 under the American Federation of Labor (AFL). The Local’s first president is William Nolan.
The Vancouver General Strike, the first general strike in Canadian history, begins on August 2 as a one-day protest against the killing of draft evader and labour activist Albert Goodwin, who had called for a general strike in the event that any worker was drafted into the army against their will.
Hamilton firemen get a $2-a-week raise, as do salaried city workers making $1,200 or less a year. Female clerks get a $5-a-month raise at the discretion of department heads. Day labourers are given a raise of 3 cents an hour.
The Western Labour Conference in Calgary leads to the creation of One Big Union.
The Winnipeg General Strike begins on May 15, after negotiations break down between labour and management in the building and metal trades. Soon, 30,000 workers leave their jobs and join the strike. The strike continues until June 25, eight days after federal troops descend on the strikers.
Local 16208’s workers walk off the job for two days to back their demands for an eight-hour day with nine hours’ pay, at 45 cents an hour.
Hamilton city controllers set minimum and maximum salaries for male and female clerks. Women’s yearly rates were set at $500 and $840; for men, the rates were $600 and $1,200.
NUPSE, the National Union of Public Service Employees, is formed.
A postwar recession sees Hamilton’s unemployment rate climb to 15%.
Hamilton’s gravediggers go on strike.
An informal coalition of progressive MPs forms the Ginger Group in the House of Commons to fight for labour and social issues.
A stock market crash on October 29 ushers in the Great Depression. Over the next 10 years, the “Dirty Thirties,” cripples the lives of workers in Canada and around the world. In Hamilton, 51% of men and 33% of women lose their jobs or have their working hours drastically reduced, the highest number in any Canadian city except Windsor.
The city of Hamilton funds a two million-dollar work-for-relief program, like many such programs implemented in communities across Canada. Projects such as the northwest entrance and rock garden, a hospital on the mountain, sewer installation, playground construction, and alleyway paving are completed by unemployed labourers.
The Co-operative Commwealth Federation (CCF), a coalition of progressive, socialist, and labour groups, is founded in Calgary.
Hamilton civic employees agree to accept a voluntary salary reduction for the rest of this year and for 1933: a 5% reduction for those making betweeen $1,800 and $2,200.
In April, Hamilton outside workers charter with the Trades and Labour Congress of Canada (TLC) as the Hamilton Civic Maintenance Association Local 33.
Hamilton civic workers accept a 10% overall wage cut; 5% is restored in 1936, and the remaining 5% in 1937. Workers are given six paid statutory holidays and have to work a 44-hour week with the exception of the cemetery department, which works 48 hours a week.
Six thousand workers attend the civic employees’ picnic. Events include sports, a baby show, and vaudeville-style entertainment.
The Civic General Staff Association now represents 350 inside civic workers.
Approximately 1,500 residents of federal unemployment relief camps in British Columbia, led by the Workers’ Unity League, go on strike and travel by train and truck to Vancouver, Regina, and Ottawa to protest poor conditions in the camps. The strike leaders were eventually arrested, resulting in the Regina Riot.
Relief workers on civic projects go on strike for an adjustment to their reduced hours and rate of pay. Hundreds of civic workers were laid off during the Depression and returned to work for the city under the relief program.
The Hamilton Board of Control recommends partially restoring some of the workers’ pay reductions. More than $65,000 would be added in total.
Canada enters World War Two in September. Twenty thousand Hamiltonians enlisted in the war effort and, by the end, 4,000 were killed or declared missing in action.
Labour shortages and high inflation caused a wave of unionizing across Canada. Union membership rose 85% in Canada during the war.
The Canadian Congress of Labour (CCL) is founded.
The first compulsory national unemployment insurance system in Canada is introduced; it comes into operation in July 1941.
On April 25, City of Hamilton workers charter with the CCL as the Hamilton Civic Employees Union (HCEU; no Local number). Their first contract is ratified by city council on July 25, 1944, making Hamilton one of the first municipalities in Canada to sign an agreement with a recognized chartered union.
Almost 2,000 members of the new Local attend the 28th annual civic employees’ summer picnic.
Hamilton city council establishes the first pensions for fulltime civic workers. Employees will contribute 5% of their earnings.
Hamilton’s inside civic workers vote to join the AFL on June 20, creating the Hamilton Municipal Employees Association, Local 167.
The Local’s first President is J.M. Homer.
Sam Lawrence, stonecutter and trade union activist, becomes mayor of Hamilton.
HCEU members vote to join the National Organization of Civic, Utility and Electrical Workers (NOCUEW), Local 5.
World War Two comes to an end.
On September 12, 11,000 workers at the Ford Motor Company plant in Windsor walk off the job and into a 99-day strike. The workers are seeking recognition of their union, the United Automobile Workers of Canada (UAW), and mandatory membership for all workers at the plant. Binding arbitration resolves the deadlock and results in the Rand Formula being implemented the following year. The Rand Formula requires all workers covered by collective bargaining contracts to pay union dues — a closed-shop union.
Frank Rogers begins producing a newsletter called The Outsider for members of Local Five. He produces this newsletter single-handily from 1945 until 1978, when he retired.
On July 15, thousands of Stelco workers walk off the job, pressing for higher wages, a 40-hour week, and a requirement for the company to regularly deduct union dues. The strike lasts 85 days. Strikers are supported by many Hamiltonians, who join them on the lines and feed strikers and their families. Mayor Sam Lawrence is a staunch supporter of the strikers, leading a march of more than 10,000 people to the gates of Stelco in the midst of the strike.
During bargaining, Local 5 demands that the Rand Formula be applied to their union.
Local 167 demands that the Rand Formula be applied to their membership.
On June 13, Hamilton’s garbage workers walk off the job for a half-day wildcat strike. The strikers are seeking 44 hours’ pay for 40 hours of work each week, and an increase in hourly wages from 79½ cents to $1.00 an hour.
Hamilton is the most highly industrialized city in Canada.
Local 167 now has 1,000 members, and Local 5 has 820.
On August 10, Local 5’s garbage workers walk off the job after lengthy negotiations with the city break down. Inside workers and other sympathetic union members in Hamilton help strengthen their picket lines. The strike lasts 38 days and results in temporary dumps being set up around the city as an estimated 2,500 tons of garbage goes uncollected and Hamiltonians demand action from Mayor Jackson and the Board of Control. The union is seeking a five-day, 40-hour week with the same take-home pay as a 44-hour week; a raise of 10 cents/hour across the board; and a minimum hourly rate of $1.12, among other demands.
On September 11, NOCUEW changes its name to become the National Union of Public Service Employees (NUPSE).
The TLC and CCL merge to form the Canadian Labour Congress.
Local 5 adds Royal Botanical Gardens’ members to its ranks and signs the RGB workers’ first collective agreement.
Yearly honorariums are enacted for the first time for Local 5’s Board members, ranging from $200 for the president to $15 for auditors.
Local 5 becomes affiliated to the Federation of Civic Employees. Two federation committees are set up, one to revise its constitution and the other to look into hospital and medical plans for members.
More than 2,000 members of Locals 5, 167, and 794 attend a joint civic picnic at Burlington Beach.
Local 5 Board members agree to begin holding a draw at each membership meeting, as a way to boost attendance. The first prize is $2, and the second is $1. The draws continue to be held at meetings every year afterwards.
The New Democratic Party (NDP) is founded as the successor to the CCF.
Local 167 withdraws from the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) because of its close alignment with this new political party, continuing a long-standing tradition of not participating in politics or political movements.
Local 167 is now one of four Hamilton locals of the National Union of Public Employees.
After a seven-year process of negotiation, NUPSE and NUPE merge to become the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). NUPE’s Robert Rintoul is elected Secretary-Treasurer, and NUPSE’s Stan Little is elected President.
A new minimum wage law is enacted in Ontario: $1.00 an hour for men and 85 cents an hour for women
Local 167 sends a letter to Local 5, suggesting that, going forward, they begin negotiating together. It is not the first attempt at joint bargaining between the two Locals.
Local 5 now has 480 members.
Local 5’s Board passes a motion to disaffiliate with the Federation of Hamilton Civic Employees and instead join CUPE.
A wildcat postal strike across the country leads to the extension of collective bargaining rights to the majority of the public service.
Locals 5 and 167 form a joint committee to negotiate their next contract with the city.
The basic labour rate is $2.09 an hour.
Grace Hartman, who will go on to become CUPE’s first female president, is the guest speaker at Hamilton’s Labour Day festivities.
Local 167’s Executive approves the expenditure of $200 on its Miss Local 167 contest, a beauty contest for female members.
CUPE 101 in London, Ontario, eliminates separate collective agreements for men and women.
Medicare begins to be established, province by province, across the country.
Local 167 celebrates its 25th anniversary by inviting the charter’s signing officers to a stewards’ dinner and dance.
Local 167 member Karen Coleman wins the Miss Hamilton Labour Union Beauty Contest. She will represent the Local at all social events during the year.
CUPE adopts a 9-Point Plan on women’s rights. Equality will be a major focus for the union going forward.
Local 167 welcomes an Ontario Department of Labour report on conditions at Macassa Lodge concerning equal pay for equal work for male and female employees.
In the spring, 9,000 CUPE members join hundreds of thousands of Quebec workers in the Common Front, a major strike against the provincial government that shut down the province.
Locals 5 and 167 bargain contracts that push wages up by 18% over two years, as inflation rates creep into the double digits over the 1970s.
Grace Hartman is elected CUPE National president. She is the first woman to lead a North American trade union.
The province enacts legislation that introduces new regional government structures. In Hamilton, city workers are divided into two groups: The city retains the street and sanitation departments, parks and recreation, cemeteries, golf courses, and ski hills, while the new regional government takes over the sewer and water department, and regional roads and highways.
On July 11, Local 5’s garbage workers walk off the job; Local 167 workers join them on July 30. Board of Education workers also join the picket lines. The strike lasts until September 17. The main issues are wage parity with Toronto civic workers and a cost-of-living allowance that would help wages keep up with runaway inflation. This would require an annual increase of 15.6%, or 58 cents an hour. As in 1950, emergency dumps are set up across the city.
In response to soaring inflation rates (12.6% in 1975 alone), the federal government creates the Anti-Inflation Board (AIB) to try to control wages, The AIB caps wage rates at 10, 8, and 6% per year between 1974 and 1978, and all bargaining is subject to AIB approval. CUPE and other unions organize mass rallies across the country to protest the legislation.
On October 14, over a million workers walk off the job for a one-day general strike against wage controls.
Wage controls are lifted by the federal government.
Local 2171 in Flamborough becomes part of Local 5.
High inflation rates continue into the early 1980s, averaging 11.5%, and the unemployment rate reaches 11%.
The federal government implements a strategy of funding cuts and tax reductions, which, over time, result in a significant loss of public services.
A new city hall and civic square are built in Hamilton, part of a strategy to bring Hamiltonians back to the downtown area.
Local 5 becomes the first large CUPE Local to successfully negotiate paid leave for union training. Employers will also contribute one-half cent per hour for each employee in the bargaining unit to a central fund for this training. Under the plan, the education department will provide a residential training program consisting of 20 days of classroom time.
CUPE creates a remembrance day for workers killed or injured on the job. Local 5 member and activist Ed Thomas is instrumental in this work. The National Day of Mourning for workers killed or injured on the job is commemorated around the world on April 28.
The Canadian Auto Workers become independent of their former parent union, the United Auto Workers.
Local 167 now has five bargaining groups: City, Region, Health, Macassa Lodge unit, and the SPCA.
Ontario enacts pay equity legislation. CUPE’s first pay equity conference is held, making this issue part of CUPE’s core bargaining approach going forward.
CUPE Locals across Ontario work to convince municipal councils not to contract services out and/or to start contracting work back in.
Local 167’s new contract includes a provision to conduct job classification evaluations as a way to more easily and effectively negotiate wage increases. In all, 26 specific job classifications are created.
CUPE creates the Rainbow Committee. Its members include Local 5 President and activist Fred Loft.
The first pay equity plan is developed by the city of Hamilton and region. Job classes for all 7,000 employees, 52% of whom are women, will be assessed by union and management representatives for inequities.
Workers at the Royal Botanical Gardens walk off the job for 10 days. It will be the only strike in the organization’s history.
Local 5 joins the Ontario Division of CUPE.
CUPE completes the computerization of all Locals’ offices.
Ed Thomas begins writing the history of Local 5.
The first NDP government is elected in Ontario, with Bob Rae as the leader.
A prolonged economic recession begins, with the unemployment rate reaching a high of 11% by the middle of the decade.
CUPE is now Ontario’s largest union, with 130,000 members and 650 Locals.
The GST (Goods and Services Tax) is implemented. Nation-wide protests against the new tax are held on April 7 and 8.
The city of Hamilton cuts 50 full-time jobs.
In an attempt to deal with the effects of the recession, the Rae government introduces the Social Contract, which re-opens public-sector unions’ collective bargaining agreements and freezes workers’ wages. Workers are forced to take 12 days of unpaid leave a year, dubbed “Rae Days” by many Ontarians.
In Hamilton, the city tries to deal with its own budget shortfall by laying off civic workers for 15 Fridays during the year, and shuts down city hall for some of these Fridays.
NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, comes into effect.
As the recession deepens, Hamilton civic workers experience the largest temporary layoff yet: 900 workers are laid off for up to six weeks, and 64 full-time jobs are eliminated.
In November, there is an unsuccessful attempt by the Laborers’ International Union (LIU) Local 837 to raid Local 5.
Hamilton becomes the first major city in Canada to contract out water and wastewater treatment.
The Progressive Conservatives are elected in Ontario, with Mike Harris as leader.
As the Social Contract ends, most public-sector unions enter into new contract negotiations.
Ed Thomas finishes writing his book on the history of Local 5.
The Harris government begins implementing what it calls the Common Sense Revolution in an attempt to cut $8 billion from the provincial operating budget. It axes 10,600 civil service jobs, slashes welfare payments by one-fifth while instituting a workfare program for recipients, tries to force the closure of dozens of hospitals, and eliminates most school boards in the province.
This assault on workers and public services sparks massive demonstrations in 11 cities over the year — the Days of Action. In Hamilton, CUPE members set up picket lines at city hall, school board head offices, works yards, libraries, and social service offices. They also shut down local transit and impeded garbage collection.
Hamilton celebrates its sesquicentennial.
A forced municipal amalgamation process begins. In Hamilton, the city and regions will merge to become the Regional Municipality of Hamilton-Wentworth.
With amalgamation looming, Locals 5 and 167, as well as other CUPE Locals, begin talking about merging their Locals.
CUPE creates two new diversity seats. One of them is occupied by Fred Loft, Local 5 President and activist.
On May 3, Locals 5 and 167 merge to create Local 5167. Locals 1006, 1220, and 2064 join the new Local on September 8.
Local 958, Hamilton Harbour Commission, joins Local 5167 on January 16; Local 3418, DARTS, joins on May 2.
One hundred thousand Ontario workers win a pay equity settlement.
The Good Sheppard Centre is newly organized and becomes a sub-unit of Local 167 on December 19.
Local 5167 launches a successful campaign to stop the privatization of Wentworth Lodge.
Through Bill 136, the Public Sector Transition Stability Act of 1997, the city’s 3,500 civic workers are forced into a representation vote. It attempts to force Hamilton’s five unions, representing 3,500 garbage collectors, planners, clerks, bus drivers, public health nurses, operating engineers, and paramedics, into one giant Local. In the end, after a long process of negotiation, Local 5167 keeps all of its members and gains the ATU’s clerical positions as well.
Local 5167 leads a citizen campaign to take back control of Hamilton’s water and wastewater systems. The Water Watch Coalition is successful in getting city council to reverse its decision and resume operating the city’s water systems.
The city of Hamilton proposes splitting waste collection services between the public and private sector. Local 5167 takes on the challenge, and over a three-year period, provides better garbage collection services to Hamiltonians than does the private contractor. The city chooses to retain the private–public split, however.
Local 5167’s Executive Board passes a motion to include at least one Indigenous person and one person of colour on its executive.
Local 5167 sets up up a scholarship fund in the name of Carolyn Carter within Mohawk College. Ms. Carter was a long-time activist at the Local and within her workplace. The $1,000 bursary will be awarded each year to a student entering the Personal Support Worker Program at Mohawk.
The Local begins the process of buying its own office building.
The Local nominates Ed Thomas for the CUPE National Literacy Award “for his long commitment and advocacy in education and programs on literacy for employees within the City of Hamilton and internationally.”
A global financial crisis that began in late 2007, triggered by the collapse of the mortgage and housing markets in the United States, begins dragging Canada and much of the world into a recession.
The end of mandatory retirement at age 65 goes into effect in Ontario.
The Ontario government implements a wage-freeze policy for public-sector workers. One in four contracts reached after the March Budget contained no wage increases. Local 5167 successfully bargains a 3% increase for its members, however.
As the effects of the recession deepen, the Local grapples with a $170,000 deficit.
The Local buys a building at 818 King Street East in Hamilton. The new office, which used to be a car dealership and repair garge, comprises 5,300 square feet of space and ample parking.
The Local donates 34 boxes of historical documents to McMaster University’s archives.
Local 5167 moves into its new office building.
The city of Hamilton conducts a probe into city workers, accusing them of corruption and using city vehicles for personal use by selling asphalt out of the backs of trucks and dumping it, while charging for full days’ work. Twenty-nine frontline workers are fired, and 32 are investigated. In the end, the Local spends years grieving the firings and demanding that the workers be rehired. Most are awarded their jobs back in mid-2015.
Sandra Walker becomes the first female president of Local 5167.
City Housing superintendents become a unit of Local 5167. During bargaining of its first collective agreement, the unit merged with the larger city unit.
CUPE holds its first-ever Political Action Conference in November.
Local 5105, which represents St. Matthew’s House workers, joins Local 5167.
The Local’s Executive Board is awarded the Hamilton/Burlington United Way Community Spirit Award.
The Local launches the “I Love DARTS” campaign in a bid to save the accessible transportation service.
The Local launches the “Time To Care” campaign to help raise awareness about the need for a four-hour daily care legislated standard for long-term care residents in the facilities where its members work.
A light-rail transit line is planned to run along Main and King Streets in downtown Hamilton as part of the province’s Metrolinx regional transportation plan. Because Local 5167’s offices are within the line’s construction zone, the property is expropriated. The Local purchases 229 Kenilworth Avenue North, and begins constructing its new offices at that location.
*bold events on the timeline are specific to Local 5167