This round at the union – The strike at Dupuis Frères in 1952

“The textile workers went on strike in Saint-Henri. It was with the hope of restoring the balance between wages and the rising cost of living. But at once the cost of living increased still further, so that in spite of the sufferings of the strike almost nothing has changed the conditions of working life. But the workers earn a lot, Rose-Anna hears from all sides; they are going to ruin the industry, they are disturbing the economy. It’s still odd, Rose-Anna thinks, that it’s always the workers who blame it for driving up prices and upsetting the economy. Why not also the invisible characters that are so difficult to imagine behind the high walls of the mills, the factories of Saint-Henri, far beyond these ramparts of steam smoke, machine rolling? “
– Gabrielle Roy


In 1948, LA ROMANCIÈRE Gabrielle Roy addressed the Royal Society of Canada. She then gave her audience some news about some of the characters in Bonheur d’occasion , her famous novel, whose story runs from the end of February to the end of May 1940, in the working-class district of Saint-Henri, in Montreal.

The war was over. Rose-Anna was optimistic, but still roamed the streets in search of housing. Her husband Azarius was now driving a taxi, blissfully thinking of the Italian military campaign in which he had participated. Florentine, meanwhile, worker in an ammunition factory, had climbed the social ladder by becoming a saleswoman in a department store. [1]The novelist, who had written her speech in the post-war context, had invented a staging in which working-class people were trying to cope with the problems and opportunities of the future. The openings were formidable, at the moment when this generation, after several punches on the table during and after the war, was pushing the threshold between what is feasible and what is desirable. The limits of the possible could not then be defined according to the old saying: “We do not do what we want, but what we can. It had to change.

One could not think of a better introduction to this examination of a strike of employees of a department store that occurred in 1952. [2]It is precisely in this context, marked by a continuation of the union effervescence that, in Quebec, is rooted in the period of the war and then overflowing on the new economy of peacetime – that we can begin our analysis of the strike at Dupuis Frères. Social unrest, strikes, unionization, and other grassroots movements were all manifestations of a general tendency for ordinary people to emerge from a phenomenal war effort – both from the point of view of the deployment of civilian forces. and that of the privations they had known in the country and on the battlefield – wanted to be able to pick up some of the manna that had begun to fall. A new social order was to be put in place.

Historians and great pundits of politics have traditionally exaggerated the singularity or preponderance of the Quiet Revolution, which began in the 1960s, as the one and only movement of change in the social history of post-war Quebec. For example, it was said (and still says) that the province had until then lived the “great darkness”. Jocelyn Létourneau objected to this caricatural vision of our recent history, a perception that corresponds more to the collective complacency of the elites of the Quiet Revolution than to historical reality. [3] Brian Young and John Dickinson, for their part, believe that the complexity of the post-war situation in Quebec requires, in itself, change.

At the time, there were elements of continuity, among others, the power of the Catholic Church and the political hegemony of Maurice Duplessis. According to Mi-chael Gauvreau, religious continuity is based first and foremost on the adherence of the Quebec masses to Catholic values; continuity is a matter of conviction rather than a tradition of clerical domination, a continuity that finds its origins in a past both immediate and distant. [5] On the other hand, there were also some new elements, including a strong increase in “ethnic” immigration, suburban sprawl and the advent of a consumption-oriented lifestyle, the entry of women into the labor market and the emergence of the working class, better organized,

New and old elements do not evolve in a vacuum, independently of each other. There is interaction. Old and new come together, share the scene even in the everyday life of simple households whose modern furniture – chrome kitchen, appliances, radio and television – complete the space with holy images and crucifixes, hanging on the wall of the kitchen or that of the bedroom. [6]Around the table in the dining room, the father offers his blessing on New Year’s Day; after which, the conversation may relate to the latest exploits of Maurice Richard, as told by the newspaper or the radio. Such a material culture, such a global culture: we are dealing with a complex universe, built of old and new. The history of the post-war period, of which our story is part, must therefore take into account a broad and complex context of change that encompasses the whole of this society, not just religion or politics; a society that moved, a culture that bubbled, sometimes characterized by the interlocking elements, thus preparing the ground for the great “now” that engulfed all of Quebec in all its spheres, from the 1960s. The working world would be at the rendezvous of the Quiet Revolution. In fact, the working world was at the rendezvous well before its breakup.

In this article, we will analyze a particular manifestation of this great labor movement that was a catalyst for essential change, both in the era of this labor conflict and in the 1950s and in the longer term. Other approaches examine how women, the media and the nascent middle class have helped to reshape Quebec society during this decade. [7] For some, the Church was a conduit of “modernity” in Quebec, as early as the 1930s. [8] Our objective here is to restore the labor movement in the history of post-war Quebec, to present it as one of the key factors of change.

From 1940 to 1960, the economy was marked by the increase in purchasing power of all employees, both in Quebec and in Canada. Within the unions, we manage to improve the material fate of the members by obtaining salary increases which, according to Jacques Rouillard, were substantial. [9] We also managed to reduce the work week. Later – this begins in the 1950s – will come the demands of paid vacation and recognition of seniority. When it comes to home economics, workers move from the world of need, where spending on housing and food, on their own, engulfs much of the budget, the world of aspirations, where desire and not need, motivates consumption. [10]It is true that the gradual lifting of the Canadian government’s rationing policy after the war has had the effect of allowing the consumer market to grow. [11] Technology, and at the same time the productivity of industrial workers, is also making good progress, paving the way for the transfer of part of the workforce to other activities, including the tertiary sector. [12]

However, in our view, the labor movement is one of the major elements in understanding the rise in consumer demand, as the phenomenon occurs during the war years. The movement channels, so to speak, the demand. It achieves this by focusing on a unionization strategy during the war, coupled with the deployment of numerous strikes, particularly in large industries. After the conflict, the unions will anchor their struggles around a new labor relations regime, created in 1944, whose keystone is the collective agreement. The nature of the economy is such that these improvements are not easily made: they are obtained by incessant struggles. The struggles

During the war, everything was not looking good on the side of the Quebec labor unions. The unionization rate is on the rise and the workers, once regrouped, do not hesitate to take the big means to advance their demands. According to Evelyn Dumas and Jacques Rouillard, there were, in 1942 and 1943, particularly large and intense strike movements. [13]The workers demanded better terms from employers, knowing full well that the latter could hardly engage in long confrontations with the unions, given the insatiable appetite of the war machine for goods, equipment and supplies. ammunition. The tramway strike in Montreal in 1943 threatened to cripple production at Montréal’s war plants. The federal government is intervening to stop it. In the following year, Privy Council Order No. 1003 will be followed. This is an attempt to bring order to the labor relations process. [14]

At about the same time, the Quebec government is called upon to intervene to settle certain labor disputes. A police, fire and public works strike broke out in December 1943. It was triggered as a result of the employer’s refusal – a public body – to recognize the arbitration award. [15]The same year, at the factories of Price Brothers in Saguenay, the employer recognizes two branches affiliated to international unions, but refuses to do the same for a third, affiliated to the Confederation of Catholic Workers of Canada (CTCC); however, it represents the majority of workers. The government then forces the company to recognize this last union entity and shortly afterwards creates a commission of inquiry, the Prévost commission. [16] The result will be the Labor Relations Act, sanctioned in February 1944. This law provides a framework for union recognition and the negotiation of a collective agreement. If the employer is required to bargain in good faith, however, the employer is not obliged to enter into a collective agreement. An established process is planned, ranging from accreditation, at the beginning of the negotiation, to the conciliation and arbitration stages, and finally, the filing of the draft collective agreement. The union with 60 per cent support is entitled to represent the entire bargaining unit. Finally, the law prohibits any recourse to strike or lockout, as long as the entire process has not been completed. [17]

The purpose of the law, according to Robert Stewart Willis, was to position the government vis-à-vis employees and the employer to facilitate negotiation and ensure stability. [18] Thus, labor relations are now in the public domain and not in the private domain. Another law passed at the same time, the Public Service Employee Dispute Act , aims to regulate labor relations in the public sector. The government is completely in charge of the game, the unions having no right to strike. [19]In retrospect, it can be said that the system was conducive to the rebuffing or interference of political power at the provincial level. Maurice Duplessis would not fail to enjoy it. Still, at the end of the war, Quebec has a brand new legal framework for labor relations, a regime also designed by its instigator, Adélard Godbout, to occupy this provincial jurisdiction. [20] The strategy of the trade unions (and therefore of the employers) would therefore be to put this scheme to the test.

Although ritualized, framed, like a confrontation in a court of justice, the labor relations regime is, by its essence, conflictual. The situation will fuel polarity. The labor market is no longer the same at the end of the war. There are more workers, including demobilized soldiers, for available positions. And since production no longer has to support the once-urgent and national war effort, the federal government intervenes less and less as an arbiter. Everything is in place for a happy confrontation between bosses and unions who, in the aftermath of 1945, can at any time throw the gloves on the ice.

Historiography recognizes, in post-war Québec, a number of legal and illegal confrontations, based on a union and employer strategy designed to test the limits of the new collective bargaining system. The month of January 1949 was marked by the strike of the Alliance of Catholic Teachers, a union representing teachers in Montreal, the vast majority of whom were women. These people did not have the right to go on strike, and yet they did, defying the compulsory arbitration system governing the negotiation of agreements with the employer. Then follows a series of political and judicial confrontations involving notably the intervention of the Archbishop of Montreal, Paul-Émile Léger, the[21] The following month, a massive and violent confrontation broke out in the Asbestos region, which lasted until July. Health, wages and liability issues in the workplace are the subject of litigation. The company’s management also refused to recognize the principle of a closed shop, which was in keeping with the Rand formula. The integrity of the union as the sole bargaining agent for the workers is called into question.

The same issue is evident during the strike of the Associated Textile workers in Louiseville in 1952 and 1953. In 1957, the rejection of union certification is at the heart of the strike of the Gaspe Copper Mines workers, in Murdochville. [22]In all these cases, the union seeks to secure its position as sole and independent bargaining agent. And, every time, the employer tries to undermine this function of the union. In Murdochville, this is a victory for the company all the way: we are attacking the labor relations process, delaying the conciliation and arbitration process. Exasperated by this delay, the union launched an illegal strike: it withdrew its accreditation and, in the end, it is broken. After the settlement of the dispute, the union is sued in court for losses incurred during the strike. The company is everything except a good winner!

The strike at Dupuis Frères concerned precisely union recognition, but in this case, the union respected the rules of the game: the work stoppage was completely legal. The confrontation resulted in a union victory, which was not the case for the strikes mentioned above, yet better known. The CTCC’s successful efforts to obtain union certification for Dupuis employees and to negotiate a first collective agreement were all the more remarkable as an attempt to unionize the 15,000 employees of the T. Eaton Company a few years earlier. had failed. [23] For these reasons, the showdown deserves more attention from historians. [24]

Although significant studies have already been done on the subject, among others, the work of Pierre Vadeboncoeur and Mary Catherine Matthews, the importance of the strike and its outcome must be examined and from the point of view of the general report it represents. between work and capital in the post-war economy and that of the precise situation that prevailed at Dupuis at that time, and that, from a diversified and identifiable documentation. [25] Our outlook is based on research in the fund Dupuis School archives des Hautes Etudes Commerciales; the CSN archives, including the minutes of the union office, the National Union of Commercial Employees, Dupuis Frères section, [26]and finally, articles from Montreal’s major daily newspapers, La Presse, Le Devoir, The Montreal Gazette, and The Montreal Star , some of which have been viewed in Library and Archives Canada’s collections in Ottawa, others in books on the strike at the Clipping Division of the Federal Ministry of Labor. [27]

The case of the Dupuis strike can instruct us on these two facets, general and particular, of the history of the post-war period. We will first examine the general context and specific conditions that led to the strike. We will then analyze the sequence of events, which took place in four phases or series of facts over time. The difficulties arise from small details, sometimes it is said. In our opinion, it is important to take the time to reconsider the events in order, because it emerges from the exercise a perspective allowing us to apprehend the highly theatrical issue of the conflict. In labor relations, there can be no conflict without theater! On the picket lines and in the media.

Our approach is direct and unpretentious. We dare to believe that this article will incite historians to attack resolutely the completion of the story sketched here. We offer a preliminary outline, which others will be able to complete in their own way, the purpose of the exercise being, at first, to bring out this strike of the mothballs of History. In this way, readers will be able to recognize the feat of the Dupuis workers for what it is: a victory for the world of Florentine Lacasse in postwar Montreal. Women workers had gained a minimum of legitimacy, dignity and economic justice. This victory will have been their bridgehead, their little place in the sun, in the new consumer economy that emerged little by little. Finally,

When my father pleaded before the court, it was understood that there must be two parties to it: the plaintiff and the defendant, in a civil action; counsel for the accused and the Crown Attorney in a criminal case. The same goes for labor relations: at least two parties are always needed.


Some 1035 employees (out of a total of 1140) from Dupuis took part in the strike. It is estimated that between 200 and 300 of them worked in the mail order division at the company’s warehouse in the Saint-Henri district, while the others (800 to 900) worked at the store located in the St. Catherine Street. In both places, most were women. [28] They had a strong sense of belonging to the union. In principle, there is nothing surprising because, in the opinion of some veterans of the trade union movement, women can be an excellent union fighting instrument. [29]Joy Parr, in her study of a Penman workers’ strike in 1949, dissects the psychological, territorial and social foundations that form the basis of “womanly militance” and “neighborly wrath” in Paris, Ontario. [30] At Dupuis, however, women’s anger is a relatively new trend since, since the founding of the Employee Association in 1919, the company had never experienced a serious labor dispute, much less a formal collective bargaining agreement. .

The new spirit of union militancy was, in part, an effect of the post-war period. It was also the result of changes within Dupuis Frères. We will examine each of these two perspectives in turn. Remarkably, we are dealing with a Canadian-French union that is attacking a bastion of the French Canadian business community. The employer is accused of wanting to kill workers in the name of any national interest. [31] The union therefore attacks both a member in good standing of the business establishment and a national symbol. [32]

The company

Nazaire Dupuis opened a retail store on Sainte-Catherine Street in 1868. [33]Two years later, the business moved into a new three-storey, larger building. His brothers officially became partners in the company which then took the name of Dupuis Frères. Twelve years later, she moved to her permanent and permanent premises at the corner of Saint-André and Sainte-Catherine streets. On the death of its founder, in 1876, the property of the company was retroceded to a partnership formed by two of his brothers, Odilon and Louis-Napoléon, which lasted from 1882 to 1898. From that year, and until 1924, another young brother of Nazaire, Narcisse, remained at the helm of the company. His son Albert took over and was posted from 1924 to 1945, and Raymond’s son, Raymond, was in charge of the company until 1961,

Dupuis boasted of being the commercial emporium of French Canadians; the company was entirely Canadian-French, at all hierarchical levels. [34] However, in its version of its own history, the company is rather discreet about its recourse to Canadian-English capital and foreign capital in order to ensure its existence. [35]The store was located east of Saint-Laurent Boulevard, a symbolic demarcation line between English Montreal and French Montreal. For example, the Dupuis store was just outside the commercial zone on the west side of Sainte-Catherine Street, where its competitors – Eaton, Morgan, Simpson and Ogilvie had settled. The location of Dupuis in the east might not have been so disadvantageous. A significant number of small footwear, drug, lingerie, beverage, cigar, etc. stores, all located along St. Catherine Street, helped attract consumers to this part of the city, as well as hairdressers, butchers, grocery stores and restaurants[36]

In addition, the volume of business customers increased more and more, as the island of Montréal became urbanized in the 20th century. The north and east of the city experienced a significant expansion during the 1940s. [37] The Montreal tramway network facilitated the transportation of Dupuis customers. For example, the Saint-Denis-Sault line allowed people to travel from Montréal-Nord to downtown in less than an hour. [38]And thanks to the completion of the construction of the Jacques Cartier Bridge, or Le Havre Bridge, in 1930, the people on the south shore ended a few blocks from the store. In September 1951, the Montreal Bus Terminal of the Provincial Transportation Company was to open close to the store. This terminus offered the promise of a larger customer base. [39]

The company was well aware of population, real estate and employment trends in the east end of the city, which numbered about 800,000 in 1956. This is reflected in the intricacy of a brief submitted to the Gordon Commission on the Economic Prospects in 1956. [40] Also the Dupuis were determined to succeed, regardless of what sector of the city was going to set the pole of economic attraction. [41] In the economy rather flourishing of the postwar period, when wages, until the 1960s, exceeded the increases in the cost of living, Dupuis probably felt the wind blew the right edge, ie, that is to say for them. [42]

The Dupuis company was not the only one to take advantage of the promising postwar situation. At Canadian Tire, the Toronto firm, sales in the first three months of 1946 had doubled compared to the previous year, with the end of tire restrictions contributing to it. [43] The company expanded gradually to Quebec and the Atlantic Provinces in the 1950s. Canadian Tire’s first French catalog was published in 1957. Shortly thereafter, the concept of automobile service centers was introduced. a dozen were built in and around Toronto. [44]

The big two, Eaton and Simpson, are not inactive. Eaton bought the nine David Spence Ltd stores in 1948 to consolidate its presence in British Columbia. It is time for optimism in the retail sector. The slogan of the Eaton’s Spring-Summer 1946 catalog sums up the situation: one can read, in large print, on the cover page: “THE FUTURE IS ABOUT US”. Simpson, for his part, swallows shops, town after city: the firm of Smallman and Ingram in London in 1944, and RH Williams and Son of Regina two years later. In 1953, it entered into a strategic alliance with a large American corporation, resulting in Simpson-Sears. The companies are growing, new markets are conquered, such as the suburbs, which are established around large urban centers.

Since Brothers saw big. In the late 1940s, the company embarked on an ambitious program of improvements and rebuilding. The architect Henri S. Labelle was going to confer the dignity that suited the facade and interior design of a department store in a big city. The construction of a seven-storey building would have cost more than $ 1 million, if not more. [45] In the early 1950s, the company operated on the Island of Montreal four warehouses, a mail order center, a delivery facility, a wholesale department and a small store at the Windsor Hotel. [46] Three branches, four order counters and one million copies of the mail order catalog made it possible to reach the mid-rural and mid-urban clienteles.

The workforce of Dupuis was about 1200 people, depending on the season. During the holidays, additional staff were hired, sometimes up to 500 employees. Women made up the largest share of the workforce, a practice that has been prevalent throughout the Canadian department store sector since the early 20th century. [47] The first reports of the strike indicate that they represented 590 members (57 per cent) of all unionized staff, which numbered 1,035. [48]Data from the 1930s indicate that already, at that time, the number of women employed was significantly higher than that of men. In 1930, there were just over 1000 employees, of which 731 were in retail (433) and mail order (298); of these, 499 were women, that is, 68 percent. In the administration and accounts offices, women accounted for 83 percent of staff, while men were more numerous (77 percent) in the “store services” category. [49]These men were perhaps specialized workers, electricians, carpenters … There is reason to believe that it was probably also men who, as a rule, occupied the supervisory positions in the store, which could explain why they will be much more likely than women to return to work during the first week of the strike. [50]

Dupuis boasted of being a staple of the Canadian-French business community. The front page of the company’s catalogs of sale was often decorated with slogans and patriotic symbols: the maple leaf, images of traditional heroes, among others, Dollard des Ormeaux (“savior of the colony in 1660”), and inscriptions reminding that the company was administered by French Canadians for French Canadians – “Catalog … published by a house owned and administered by French Canadians”. [51] The publication, written entirely in French, was designed to appeal to a Francophone and Catholic clientele. [52]

Dupuis had close relations with the Catholic clergy and his prelates. It had developed a department specifically to meet the special needs of clergy and religious communities. She began publishing a “catalog of the clergy” in the 1930s, so eager to make herself useful to this powerful portion of the French-Canadian elite. [53] Catholicism was an integral part of its sales strategy. The company’s newsletter, Le Duprex , founded in 1926, one day published the photograph of the company’s president, Albert Dupuis, wearing the costume of Knight of the Order of St. Gregory the Great, [54] the distinction he had been awarded after his nomination had been submitted by his employees, represented by their union, the Catholic and National Union of Store Employees.

The syndicate

The Catholic presence was a sine qua nonin the conduct of business at Dupuis, particularly with respect to labor relations. The union, founded in 1919, was a Catholic association, affiliated with a Catholic trade union organization, CTCC. It was a priest and the superintendent of the company who presided over the July 1919 meeting when he was resolved to form a house union. For the founding assembly, which was to be held the following month, invitations were sent to the newspapers as well as to the managing director of Dupuis, A.-J. Dugal. At this meeting, Narcisse Dupuis, president of the store, spoke and recalled the paternal role that he had played in the realization of this project: “I am no stranger to the formation of your union. » [55]Undoubtedly, the company would play a leading role in the union’s activities over the next three decades.

The union was more of a friendly than a class struggle organ. Officials organized recreational evenings – charity sales, concerts, choirs, oyster dinners, hikes at Belmont Park – as well as various sports leagues – bowling and hockey. The Duprex pages provided detailed accounts of these activities. On the other hand, he was much more discreet about employees’ concerns about their working conditions. The publication, however, explicitly indicated to what end, ultimately, should be the loyalty of employees. The chaplain of the union did not go to extremes, saying: “You have a duty to fulfill, first to the house, and then to the union.” [56]

The union’s raison d’être was therefore to cultivate loyalty to the company, which appeared to be a kind of father in the minds of employees. Moreover, in the company’s documents, the expression “the large Dupuis family” was commonly used. [57] The presence of Émile Boucher, the superintendent of the company, at union meetings and activities, as well as the cash gifts offered from time to time by the owner to the union fund were obvious ways to remind employees that they were members of this big family. [58]In a word, the union was subordinated to a paternalistic direction. As for its ideological and Catholic function by virtue of its adherence to the social doctrine of the Church, the union emphasized collaboration between workers and bosses rather than confrontation.

The union of Dupuis employees experienced two legal transformations. The first occurred in 1935 when, under a provincial law, the Trade Unions Act , passed in 1924 (and amended twice in the 1930s), it became a legal entity by operation of law, affiliated by the fact even at CTCC. The law recognized unions as the legitimate representatives of employees for negotiating their collective agreement. [59] The union could thus have negotiated such a collective agreement but, for one reason or another, refrained from doing so until the end of the 1940s. In accordance with the terms of the new Labor Relations ActIn 1944, in 1950, the union issued a notice to the labor commissioner expressing his intention to negotiate a contract. The request was accepted. The union was ready to begin negotiations. It is as if we had decided to give up three decades of loyalty and submission to the boss. How to explain this shift?

The province-wide climate within CTCC

The change in labor relations across the province at the time partly addresses this question. The combative spirit and the transformation of the ideological foundation of union discourse within the CTCC, the powerhouse involved in the Dupuis strike, had something to do with it as well. The period immediately following the end of the Second World War was marked by considerable agitation. We have already mentioned this series of resounding strikes, many of which took place in Quebec, before or at the same time, or almost, as the conflict at Dupuis: the asbestos strike in Asbestos in 1949, the employees’ textile, in Louiseville, in 1952-1953, the shipyard workers and factories Canadian Vickers in 1952 [60]and the Shawinigan aluminum smelter from August to October 1951. [61] The union leaders and activists participating in these strikes were, in any case, entirely devoted to the cause. There was no question of losing a battle. The aggressive approach of trade union action actually contributed to a new social climate in Quebec. The union people were, unbeknownst to them, redoing the history of the province. All but one were unaware of the historical significance of their action. [62]

The war years were difficult for CTCC, which, in percentage terms, saw a drop in unionized workers under its auspices. The plant had lost ground relative to the international unions. When the war is over, the CTCC goes into attack mode. We are organizing; we organize ourselves. In 1951, a central strike fund was created to rescue one or other of the striking units. New leaders gain access to key CTCC positions. Gerard Picard, a guy with a strong personality, will be the president from 1946 to 1958, and Jean Marchand, the secretary from 1947 to 1961. Marchand, a graduate in social sciences from Laval University, had a different worldview of his colleagues, trades people working, for example,[63] Little by little, the power plant changes its way of thinking and, therefore, its way of doing things.

From the late 1940s, CTCC broke with the social doctrine of the Church, which had originally been the foundation. The old doctrine of corporatism is set aside and replaced by a trend towards corporate reform. This new way of thinking develops first in Europe, in the circles attached to Catholic syndicalism. In Quebec, during the post-war period, it was endorsed by progressive clergymen, for example, members of the Priestly Commission of Social Studies, founded by the Quebec Assembly of Bishops in 1948, and then spread within the leaders of the plant. The conception of the reform envisages the nature of the relations between workers and bosses as an association, a kind of social contract whose terms should not be governed by the strict law of supply and demand. In this new scenario of industrial relations, the collective agreement becomes the tool by which the new association is negotiated. The program is ambitious because there is a call for greater worker participation in the management, ownership and profits of the company.[64]

For employers at the time, this kind of reform was both unthinkable and unacceptable. For example, the owner of Canadian Johns-Manville categorically rejected the claims made by the CTCC-affiliated union during the 1949 strike in Asbestos that he viewed as a questioning of the integrity of property rights. [65]Duplessis shared this opinion and placed his “provincial police” and the provincial judicial and political system in the province at the disposal of Quebec employers facing conflicts of this kind. Bosses and leader will finally be right, the program of reforms, after the bitter defeat of the asbestos strike, would eventually be put aside in the early 1950s. It should remain, nevertheless some echoes, some inclinations.

Among the leaders of the CCCL, the attitude towards the social doctrine of the Church is changing. Among the members, the transition is perhaps more nuanced: we still see chaplains in the center until the late 1950s. The clergy still plays a role with the Catholic unions. For example, the minutes of a union meeting at Dupuis Frères in December 1950 indicate that the union proposes to purchase 200 copies of the pamphlet “The Workers’ Problem in Relation to the Social Doctrine of the Church”. The minutes also indicate that meetings may begin or end with “usual prayer”. [66]On the other hand, even very dear brothers and fathers can demonstrate a foolproof militancy. During the strike, Henri Pichette, the chaplain of the CCCL, encouraged the Dupuis strikers: “Your strike is your union and Christian cross and know how to carry it valiantly to the end against all …” [67]

In this context, the disciples of Christ were no longer mere agents of mercy: they had become soldiers fighting for justice against a Catholic and French-Canadian employer, reluctant to give justice to its employees. The irony of the situation is not lost on Jean Marchand: “The Dupuis house exploited the religious and nationalist feeling of French Canadians, and yet today it is doing everything in its power to destroy the Catholic union that groups its employees. » [68]And, according to Marchand, if one had to make a choice between justice and the nation, justice should take precedence over everything. Clearly, the way of thinking of union leaders was undergoing profound change. The comments of journalist Gerard Filion, at the beginning of the strike, reflect this new way of seeing things. His analysis may be symptomatic of the reflections of other Quebec activists and intellectuals:

Maison Dupuis Freres and Catholic unions are two institutions that are particularly dear to French Canadians. There is no reason to be astonished at the conflict that divides them. It is not because one is a French Canadian and one is Catholic that one sees the problems of the same eye and that one agrees on their solutions. [69]

Filion recognizes that there is a conflict of forces that polarizes the actors. As the situation warms up, the old notion of mutuality between bosses and workers, in the same Catholic formation, melts like butter in the pan. Rouillard reminds us that, through its history and in its approach to negotiation, the CTCC, regardless of its Catholic character, behaved generally like the international unions. [70]His negotiations with employers were marked by an escalation of arguments and insinuations, bluffing and power struggles. In such a situation, the union had to respond to the other party’s proposals or provocations to bargain. If the union did not fulfill its obligations, it was quickly brought back to order by the union members of the base who, they, were concerned about their situation and the future that the employer reserved for them. The starting point of the agitation of the Dupuis employees was the feeling that management intended to completely change the life and activities of the company.

The situation at Dupuis Frères

The late 1940s marked the beginning of a new era in marketing and management at Dupuis. Traditional advertising methods were still used. Judging by an article on the magazine published in 1950, the company’s ads abounded in the eight French-language newspapers in Montreal, while they were rather exceptional in the English-language dailies. [71] However, the company sought a more aggressive advertising approach to establish its store as “an interesting place to shop because something is always happening”. [72]With this in mind, we revampa the shelves of the store, harmonizing the decoration with the season and the nature of the goods offered. An internal broadcasting service was installed. The company experimented with new catchy tricks, such as the stowage on the roof of the store of a ten-meter balloon, inflated with helium, with a huge inscription, “DUPUIS”, or the Santa’s arrival, accompanied by his six elves, aboard a helicopter. We get involved in fashion. It was the well-known presenter on the radio, and later on television, Michelle Tisseyre, who hosted the Dupuis annual fashion show, presented at the Théâtre Saint-Denis from 1951. [73]

The new marketing approach was part of a new management philosophy that took place at Dupuis in two stages. First of all, Raymond Dupuis became the owner of the company and its chief executive, after the death of his father, in 1945. At only 38 years old, he had a new vision for the company, based on the renovation of the establishment and on a new way of doing things. The instrument to impose his vision was Roland Chagnon. Originally from Saint-Henri and a graduate of the HEC, Chagnon had acquired experience in a department store of the Old Capital, the Syndicat de Québec. He entered Dupuis in 1948 as Assistant Store Manager. Three years later, he was appointed manager and given the mandate to modernize the face of the company.

He had the employees in his sights. In 1950, at Dupuis, the salesmen received part of their remuneration in the form of commission. A quota was assigned to each store department. This sales goal was then divided by the number of sellers in each department. The performance obtained, radius by radius and vendor by seller, was measured against this standard to determine the weak points of sales and the exact cost of labor. The system may have resulted in an element of stress in the employees’ work environment, nervous to see their performance measured. Moreover, apparently, if the circumstances required it, Chagnon was prepared to do without hundreds of employees if they did not correspond to the[74] In other words, it was rumored that he was fired disposéà former employees to hire new.

Chagnon’s project was not enough for the union, nor was it the decision to retire the very popular managing director Émile Boucher. [75] It is not surprising, therefore, for employees to contact the Labor Relations Board in October 1950 to establish their union as their exclusive collective bargaining agent. The intention was to institute a formal labor relations process that would defend the interests of employees, given management’s stated intention to change the rules of the game.

Reading the minutes of the Dupuis union union office, there is a growing distance between the employer and the employees. In general, the union office was meeting somewhere in the St. Catherine Street store. In October 1950, the union moved all its documents and archives to a building owned by CTCC, located on Demontigny Street. [76]Several weeks later, all the members of the union office paid a courtesy call to the Dupuis management, who greeted them politely. There was something reassuring about Chagnon’s opening statement: “Mr. Chagnon,” the union’s minutes read, “said Dupuis Brothers had no objection to the union recognition recently demanded by our union. however, he did not think that the managers were included in this application. ” [77] The managing director, AJ Dugal was reassuring, although on the defensive: “The house has never been and is not yet opposed to national and Catholic unions; the proof is that the origin of the union came from the initiative of the senior officers of the house Dupuis Frères. “[78]

When a representative of the company asked the union what his attitude would be, once the official recognition was obtained, the latter answered him, through the voice of the president of the CTCC, Gérard Picard, that he would undertake to negotiate a (first) ) collective agreement. Despite promises by both parties that collaboration and goodwill would be demonstrated, the union and the company were well prepared to begin the fight.

The pre-strike: disagreements

A complex game of cat and mouse characterizes the rest of the negotiations. Boss and union can not agree on the key issues: wages and internal dispute resolution mechanisms, ie grievances, work week and union recognition. The union received its official accreditation from Quebec in January 1951. In March, it submitted a draft convention to the company. This one responded by offering a series of salary increases. Then, in April, she proposed to negotiate two collective agreements: one for the employees of the store, the other for the mail order agents. The employer may have wanted to create division within the unionized workforce. The union carried the a case before the Labor Relations Board, which in May declared that there would be only one bargaining agent, and only one collective agreement. This was a first victory for the employees.[79]

It was through its newsletter that Dupuis management presented its version of events to employees. In June, management felt that the negotiations were going well: “Everything continues without any acrimony on our part and, despite differences of opinion on certain points, we maintain our attitude that we recognize our employees the right to join a union under the auspices of CTCC. ” [80] Six months later, the Duprex even reported that” the Dupuis House whose prestige is growing in all areas will make every effort to conclude a collective agreement fair and just work. ” [81]Despite this speech, the company did not intend to change its position in any way unless forced to do so. She preferred to cling to her own program of change. According to the CTCC body, Le Travail , the company’s initial reaction to the draft collective agreement was to publish a letter “saying that any concession other than those that Dupuis Frères was willing to do would harm the stability of the employment of the staff “. [82]

The negotiation was momentarily interrupted. A conciliation round was held in May. [83] It failed and went on the stage of the arbitration. This process, begun in August 1951, lasted eight months and twelve meetings were held. To reach an agreement was not going to be easy. Perhaps the company felt that it would be in its interest to stretch the procedure so as to delay the moment when a legal strike order could be issued. In this way, she could get through the fall and the holiday season without interrupting her activities. [84]

When the arbitration report was filed in April 1952, the parties still disagreed. The negotiations resumed, but without much result. The parties disagreed, inter alia, on the issue of wages and the implementation of a grievance procedure. The union insisted that since the 1930s, Dupuis employees had had only three salary increases. Claiming a 20 per cent increase, the union supported its arguments by referring to The Statistical Review of Canada , which showed that Dupuis’ weekly wages were $ 15 below the provincial average, and citing a report from the Commission Royal Commission on Price Difference, which dated from 1933-1934. [85]

The Work presented a comparative portrait of Montreal’s main stores. In terms of wages, we learn that an Eaton sales clerk earned on average $ 13 per week more than Dupuis. At Eaton, as at Morgan, employees had a pension fund, which was not the case at Dupuis. Finally, the five-day week was a thing of the past at Simpson and at Morgan’s, but not at Dupuis, where it was vigorously opposed. There, the work week was five and a half days, which could include Friday nights and Saturday afternoons. There was no question of giving staff a full day off on Saturday, let alone the five-day week. [86]

With his information on the relatively unfavorable treatment of Dupuis employees, the union became a claimant. Among the requirements, the 40-hour week, spread over five days for store employees, and 41.5 hours for those of the postal counter. Overtime was to be paid on time and a half. It was not easy to win either for wages or hours, or for grievances. The union was asking for increases of $ 5 to $ 10 a week: the company offered a maximum of $ 2. She alleged that she could not offer more, for fear of having to raise prices and scare her customers. In addition, the company awarded employees $ 10 to $ 15 in bonuses for Christmas and a 20 per cent discount on their in-store purchases. [87]She did not move on the request of the five-day week. [88] On the question of recognition, the union demanded a closed workshop. Management, which objected in principle to the Rand formula, wanted to give employees who so wished the right not to join the union without the risk of losing their jobs. [89] With respect to the issue of grievances, Dupuis refused to sit with the union on a dispute resolution committee and certainly would not accept an arbitration system either. Management was convinced that a multitude of grievances would be filed, which would blur the interpersonal relationships. [90]

Dupuis’s uncompromising attitude was evident in his reaction to the arbitration committee’s recommendations on wages, which were formulated in April 1952. The union representative on the committee called for a wage increase of 20 per cent, the government representative recommended 16 per cent and that of the company, 12.5 percent. Dupuis simply ignored the committee and his recommendations and proposed a 7 percent increase to his staff. Even though the arbitration process was not binding, the company seemed reluctant to respect the spirit and even less the authority of the committee, including that of its own representative. It opened the way for a showdown with the union. [91] There was simply no way to negotiate.

On both sides of the table, tension was high even before 1952. In May 1951, the union received a $ 26 bill for the use of a telephone connection in the union office at the store; he immediately had it disconnected. [92] Six months later, the company refused to grant leave Payea a union that was to attend the annual conference of the CTCC. The local union union decided to reimburse the delegate’s expenses. [93] In the small details, just as in the big files, nothing went wrong.

At the end of April 1952, the union submitted another draft collective agreement, which was also rejected. A marathon series of five bargaining sessions was conducted on April 30 and May 1 st . Exasperated by the lack of progress, the employees voted on 1 st May in favor of a strike.

Strike triggered

On the first day of the strike, May 2, there was a mess at the opening of the store when, in just five minutes, more than a thousand people rushed to the entrance, including hundred strikers. If the union thought he was going to catch the company off guard, he was mistaken royally. Dozens of private detectives were on duty to maintain the order in the store. The two-story access was closed to facilitate security. Outside, police officers, some on horseback, were ordered to disperse any group of ten or more strikers. Raymond Dupuis arrived at the scene a little before midnight, the day before, to direct the operations. [94]Dozens of people – executives, managers, and non-union employees – joined him. Beforehand, dozens of employees had been telephoned to encourage them to return to work. Buses were made available for them to get to the store and leave safely. An underground tunnel, between the store and a warehouse in the vicinity, allowed for the discreet passage of goods and perhaps also of the staff.

The management of the company was determined to keep the store open. For example, she offered a 20 per cent discount to customers who would venture across the picket lines. It is estimated that 50,000 customers arrived at Dupuis on the second day of the strike to take advantage of this price reduction. To increase customer traffic, Dupuis featured full-page ads in the Montreal Star and La Presse . [95]The people who showed up at the store, the first days of the strike, were introduced to a new self-service system – which allowed the establishment to operate with a reduced workforce – which, according to the company, was a model for other department stores in Montreal. [96]Clients were told that to enter the store, they had to use the one entrance, accessible from St. Catherine Street. In addition, it only accepted cash purchases and did not allow for exchange, refunds or telephone orders. Customers were required to bring their goods to a cash counter located on each floor and, after paying, transporting them outside the building as there was no home delivery service. The elevators may have been working at that time – they were taken out of service on the first day of the strike – as customers flocked to the store. According to La Patrie , the shelves for female customers were particularly busy. [97]

The company was proud of its new “self-service” and claimed that it had been preparing this system for some time. The shelves of hardware and building materials, in the basement, were already functioning in this way, “a new formula, fruit of the scientific organization of modern enterprises”. A team of specialists, all graduates of the Pittsburgh School of Retailing, was preparing to completely reorganize the sales and distribution system. [98] In a sense, it was a rational response to an emergency. An article from the Financial Timesexplained that “it could be said that unthinking strikes can be, and often are, the trigger for the development of methods, systems and equipment that might otherwise not have emerged. [99] Fernand Lacroix, a journalist from Canada , pointed out that some confreres had examined Dupuis’ new sales system and that they would publish sensational reports on the subject in the Toronto press. It is likely that the company itself orchestrated this public relations campaign in favor of self-service, within the specialized press in the industrial and commercial fields. [100]

Under the circumstances, self-service was a timely option, but Dupuis still needed a minimum of service clerks each day. So we phoned employees to get them to work. The company recruited a good hundred HEC university students as part-time employees. [101] She even advertised job offers from the store’s speaker system, seeking to recruit clients who wanted to be hired. [102] On 7 May Dupuis was so convinced of her success she announced: “For our part, the strike is over. His spokesperson added that the recruiting office had to be closed because too many candidates had gone there to get a job.

In many ways, the strike was conducted on both pickets and in the media. The union was successful in making it difficult for both employees and customers to enter the store. We had found ways to remind people that a strike was going on. A young woman was arrested for having insulted passersby who were apparently preparing to enter the store and also spit on them. A few days later, on May 9, the union was returned to the union. From the upper floors of the store, people spit on young women strikers. [104]Two teenagers were arrested for distributing stickers in favor of the strike. The walls and windows of the neighborhood were besides covered with hundreds of these stickers, on which one could read: “Dupuis Frères sells at the same price as the other stores. Why do not they pay the same wages? The average Dupuis Frères salary in Canada is $ 28. » [105]

The public was directly witnessed, through the media, as well as through person-to-person contacts. Dupuis management continued to phone the employees to return home. The union, for its part, made a phone call to the heads of department to harass them. On the third day of the strike, on May 4, Gérard Picard came to the CHLP radio station to give his version of the facts. The president of the CCCL had a lot to say about the salaries paid by Dupuis; four and a half pages out of six of the typewritten transcripts of his remarks relate exclusively to this subject. Towards the end of his presentation, he reminded listeners of the company’s ability to pay:

There is not, I believe, a single citizen of Montreal, salaried or not, who is ready to defend such a scale of wages in 1952 …. Maison Dupuis is a prosperous enterprise as evidenced by all its balance sheets and we, as union members, can not accept that a successful business pays lower wages in a city like Montreal. [106] Picard concludes by saying, “Good evening, therefore, dear listeners, tomorrow night,” which suggests that it was able to address the public several times through the radio and that it was able to an integral part of the union’s communications strategy. [107]

Newspapers were also put to use in this confrontation. Newspaper Pages – The Montreal Star, La Presse and Le Devoir- Abounded in statements and statements giving the point of view or direction or union. They were particularly effective in circulating rumors: some suggested that it was the Communists who were stirring up the picket lines; or that the company offered $ 20 cash to each employee who reported for work; or that Dupuis was preparing to sell his assets to American interests. In this regard, the company replied that it was only consulting American experts on the issue of sales and distribution methods, and that it had no intention of selling. It seems that the rumor was launched by the union. [108] Both sides practiced vacuum boxing.

The second phase

During the following month, from May 9 to June 9, the union-management exchanges took on a tougher turn. This episode began on a Friday night.

Until May 9, the company had been quite successful in attracting customers to the store through its discount policy. For its part, the union was determined to make it hard for them. One of the union agitators, Michel Chartrand, devised a plan. Returning from Sherbrooke on a Friday night, a companion and he put some small white mice in the trunk of their car. They did so without the knowledge of the president of the CTCC, Picard, who was traveling with them. When they arrived in Montreal, they dropped him off at his office and headed for rue Sainte-Catherine, where they discreetly distributed the mice to the striking women who were on the picket lines. The small animals were introduced inside the store and dropped into the women’s clothing department. As they began to run through the store, explosions of firecrackers were heard. A wave of panic seized hundreds of customers and strikers. The order was quickly restored, but this nightmarish scene of mice and firecrackers surely tainted Dupuis’ image in the public mind.[109]

The definition of law enforcement also applied to journalists who came to the scene of the conflict. Detectives from the company or police arrested or abused reporters who came to cover the event. It was the perfect recipe to attract more media attention. The incident was reported in Le Devoir and La Presse . One of the journalists had to promise to make the negatives of his photos. Another had his notebooks confiscated and was escorted to the door where he was ordered to leave. “We know you were the leader of the gang,” they say. We have enough evidence against you. Go out and do not come back. » [110]A few weeks later, Dupuis issued a statement to explain his mistrust of reporters: “We find that several journalists are informed in advance of any demonstration, an attempt to create a panic or some uneasiness, early enough that they can go to the store and wait for events. ” [111] From the perspective of the company, the press was in league with the union. His exasperation could be felt as the agitation mounted.

The next day or the day after, a group of strikers managed to sneak inside the store. They paced the alleys shouting slogans and insults to both shoppers and clerks. One of the demonstrators was hit in the head from behind. Witnesses of the scene, customers began to scream with anger. The police intervened and arrested two men, who were taken to an office, and the police expelled the strikers from the store. [112]

Outside, on the pickets, the situation was getting worse. A foreman in the company’s garage was accused of attacking strikers, beating one with a chain and hitting a group of strikers who were demonstrating in their car. [113] On May 14, strikers managed to re-enter the store; they let go bees and frogs in order to discourage the customers. Nine people were arrested. Two days later, the first stinking bombs were thrown inside the store. A scramble involving protesters, detectives and police broke out at the main entrance. The strikers refused to retreat; a lady, witnessing the scene, burst into tears. [114]

Later, at 10:30 pm, a crowd massed outside trying to delay the departure of staff after the store closed. Protesters threw stones at buses that came to pick up strikebreakers. Two hundred policemen were on the scene, some on horseback. The traffic was immobilized in St. Catherine Street, because a crowd of curious had gathered there. [115] These gatherings became commonplace in the evening. For example, on May 25, the crowd was no less than 5,000 people. There were still many people on the streets when, in early June, several arrests were made for acts of violence on both sides of the picket lines.

On May 19, a lieutenant in the Montreal police sedition squad, John Boyczum, informed the press that he could recognize a good hundred Communists from the crowd outside the store. The next day, Dupuis issued a statement expressing his concern about the presence of communists in the ranks of lawyers and journalists of the CTCC. Pierre Vadeboncoeur, an advocate of the union, said outraged: “I consider the insinuation of Dupuis Frères as a baseness …” [116]The tactic of denigrating an opponent by calling him a communist – we were in the midst of a cold war – was far from being the prerogative of the company. The president of CTCC accused her of using Soviet-style methods against strikers. The police, meanwhile, found faithful anti-communist servants among the journalists of the written press.

In the headlines of La Presse , May 19, it reads: “Bees, frogs and young communists at the Dupuis store, Saturday.” The Gazette published information about a woman arrested at Dupuis, indicating that she had been sent to North Korea earlier in the year, in recognition of her work for the Youth Friendship League, an international organization of communist youths. . [117] Canadafor his part, drew a portrait of this same woman and that of another, also arrested, who would have stayed in the same communist country. This association with North Korea was intended to discredit the strikers and their supporters. At the time, Canadian troops and other UN allies were fighting against the communist regime. At home, as in all of North America, a strong anti-communist sentiment prevailed: we were in the midst of a witch hunt, instituted by US Senator Joseph McCarthy. To mobilize public opinion, there was nothing better than hunting communists. [118]

Recourse to the courts

As much for the union as for the company, it was essential to have public opinion on its side. Thus, around May 14, did the union start circulating a leaflet entitled “Why are we on strike? “. The next day, Dupuis began proceedings to obtain an injunction against the publisher of the document, the union of carpenters and carpenters, affiliated with the CTCC. The print was presented as a “false, misleading, denominational [sic] and defamatory writing”. The company was particularly shocked by the union’s claim that in-store prices had been raised by 20 per cent just prior to the special discount of the same value offered at the start of the strike. [119]In front of the court, as on the outside, the union appealed to the good conscience of the French Canadians: “This strike is neither more nor less the strike of the well-meaning French Canadians. The outcome of this strike will depend on the future of your children. ” [120] Dupuis believed that the union had cherchéà discredit the name of the company in the eyes of French Canadians, who constituted the majority of its customers.

The store management asked for a second injunction a few days later. She reproached the union again for carrying out a campaign based on insults, defamation, denigration, lies, etc. Agitators were attacked, including the union official responsible for the local Dupuis. The company intended to prohibit further intimidation, disorder and verbal attacks. The text of the injunction explicitly mentioned the damage to the windows and padlocks and the acts of intimidation near the entrance to the Saint-Henri postal outlet. This is one of the few indications that the battle of the strikers was not just being fought at the downtown store. [121]By this injunction, Dupuis sought to counter the union’s strategy of encirclement. The company implicitly recognized by this gesture that the picket lines produced their effect.

The company won the first round of this lawsuit by obtaining a temporary one-week injunction. However, the court’s final decision on June 13 establishes that the union was using methods that were within the confines of the law. [122]

In front of the court and in the press, the company treated the union representatives of communists and troublemakers. The union’s reaction was to broaden its base of popular support. The Union of Truck Drivers (Transport Drivers Union) urged its members and customers to stop doing business with Dupuis. In mid-May, the Trades and Labor Congress of Canada and the Canadian Brotherhood of Railway Employees supported the strikers. [123] They could also count on the union of asbestos workers, who had promised that its members would return every Dupuis catalogs received in the mail. [124]The Montreal Central Council (CTCC) asked city councilors sympathetic to the strikers’ cause to inquire about the tactics of big arms used by the municipal police. The credibility of the police in the early 1950s was a controversial issue. In May, Gerard Picard insinuated that Montreal police chief Albert Langlois, then at loggerheads with the city authorities, Pax Plante and Jean Drapeau, had better devote his legal knowledge and attention to the Caron investigation. on the Montreal Police. [125]Apparently, the union had some moral weight. The CTCC contacted the president of the National Boxing Association to ask him to dissuade star athlete Joe Louis from making a scheduled public appearance inside the Dupuis store. In the end, the famous boxer never showed up. [126]

A large assembly was held at the Palais du Commerce on May 30th. The union had asked permission to hold it in the Saint-Jacques market building in the east end of the city, but Mayor Camilien Houde had refused. Therefore, the mere mention of his name, during the assembly, caused a roar of boos among the crowd. A support telegram was sent out by employees of Toronto’s Eaton Company. Gerard Picard made the promise that the strike would last until victory was won. Jean Marchand affirmed, before the 5000 people present, that the big traders of 1952 behaved like feudal lords exploiting their peasants. “It is necessary,” thundered Marchand, “that this new period of feudalism should end like the others. » [127]Speakers urged the crowd to continue boycotting Dupuis. The strike was winding in the sails.

Third phase: the strike at its peak

From June 10 to July 21, the strike entered its third and final phase before its settlement. Relations between the police and the strikers, and between the union and company management had escalated since the end of May. The police were overwhelmed by insults for their anti-unionism: “You are not ashamed to support scabs! When you went on strike, the workers supported you. But they will not do it again in the future. » [128]On the picket line, on June 16, a Dupuis truck was knocked down. A few days earlier, on the 11th, a window of the shop had been broken, a jostling had broken out and about fifty policemen had had to restore order. Two days later, Provincial Labor Minister Antonio Barrette was asked to intervene, presumably at the request of the company, to clarify what constituted a legitimate and acceptable number of participants on a picket line. [129]

Thirteen people were arrested on the evening of the 13th after the strikers smashed a shop window and burst a shower of firecrackers over the heads of the non-striking employees as they boarded the buses that were driving them back. at their home. According to the Montreal Star , most of those arrested were in their 20s or 30s at the most. The police had even embarked a woman. [130]Perhaps there was nothing surprising about this, since Dupuis’s staff consisted mostly of women. On a poster remembrance of the strike, there are 47 men and only 10 women. However, it is mostly women that can be seen in the photos of the picket lines. They carry signs and stand, alongside some municipal policemen on horseback. Is it possible that hat pins have sometimes been used to distract horses? [131] The pickets were active day and night. “We had to overcome fear, always the first obstacle to overcome,” said Madeleine Brosseau, who was responsible for the strikers’ canteen, at the corner of boulevard Maisonneuve and Beaudry Street. [132]The photographs consulted show women dressed elegantly and rather warmly for this period of late spring or early summer. They participated in the strike while sacrificing nothing of their dignity.

On the evening of June 13, the police made arrests when the strikers began to sing a little too loudly. [133] Detectives store chased the suspects they accused of throwing stink bombs to discover that the real culprits were only seven or eight years! On June 16th, two large windows were shattered. Four days later, three others shattered. Two picketers were arrested for disturbing the peace: they would have shouted too loudly! A man on horseback strolled on St. Catherine Street, offering a provocative parody of the Montreal police riders, to the amusement of all. “Strikes are war,” Gérard Picard rightly commented in La Presse . [134]

Another great assembly took place on June 19th. [135] Enthusiasm for the strike was at its height. The Liberal deputy of Saint-Louis, David Rochon, took a stand: the boycott of the company Dupuis was to continue. Councilman Lucien Croteau went so far as to say that never before has Montreal experienced such a surge of emancipation and freedom of expression. Police were regularly criticized for their efforts to “break up” the strike.

The strike movement was felt during the parade of St. John the Baptist on June 24. Nearly a million spectators attended, including, of course, the Dupuis strikers. About twenty women had queued up and, when the Archbishop of Montreal passed by, Paul-Émile Léger, said: “The Dupuis Frères strikers pay tribute to you, my lord. And they hummed a regularly sung melody in their union meetings. Other groups of strikers, less polite, attacked the mayor Camilien Houde and his wife as they walked down Sherbrooke Street in a convertible. Houde, elegantly accoutred for the occasion and decked out with the “collar of office”, raised his hat to greet his fellow citizens. At some point during the journey, the car was splashed with rotten eggs – “… the chief magistrate of the city was sitting in a big yellow puddle from which there was a foul odor.” Houde was very embarrassed when the vehicle reached the large platform where he had to speak to greet the archbishop and other dignitaries, including the priest historian Lionel Groulx, which he did anyway, despite his dirty garb. When asked who, according to him, were the culprits, the mayor replied: “It’s the Communists! ” Archbishop and other dignitaries, including the priest historian Lionel Groulx, what he did anyway, despite his unclean garb. When asked who, according to him, were the culprits, the mayor replied: “It’s the Communists! ” Archbishop and other dignitaries, including the priest historian Lionel Groulx, what he did anyway, despite his unclean garb. When asked who, according to him, were the culprits, the mayor replied: “It’s the Communists! “[136]

It is likely that the rotten egg scene was fomented by Dupuis strikers and sympathizers, one of whom was arrested shortly thereafter. Two CTCC representatives, Pierre Vadeboncoeur and Michel Chartrand, were sent to the police station to have him released on bail. They met Houde, accompanied by his lawyer and dressed in a suit: “Where is he, my prisoner?” Asked the mayor. An exchange ensued between the latter and Chartrand: apparently, the two men already knew each other. Humiliated and furious, Houde raised his voice: “You, the Catholic unions, are murdering me with crucifixes. His resentment may have been exacerbated by the fact that his mother had worked at Dupuis several years before. [137]

In 1952, the CTCC experienced a busy summer. She took care of five strikes at the same time. On the eve of the Saint John parade, a group of 200 strikers from Dupuis visited other striking workers in Louiseville. [138] Gerard Picard declared that a simple sign from the government would be enough to cause the companies struggling with a strike, the Associated Textiles and Dupuis Frères, to negotiate in good faith. These words were reported in a Canadian Press dispatch. Union spokesmen alleged that Picard’s remarks had been misinterpreted. But the damage was done. Accused of not negotiating in good faith, Dupuis publicly replied, dates and details of meetings in support, stating:

It seems to us that we do not neglect any effort to come to an agreement and that it is very unfair in the circumstances to suggest that we are in bad faith. By putting in doubt our good faith, the statement of Mr. Picard is certainly not likely to create an atmosphere conducive to fruitful negotiations. [139]

The company adjourned the discussions and said it was ready to resume negotiations when and where the union would choose. In terms of public relations, he was on the defensive. Picard had to make amends, which he did shortly afterwards. “Mr. Picard claims not to have accused Dupuis Frères to negotiate in bad faith,” headline, June 26, a headline of the newspaper La Patrie .

The provincial government probably felt some pressure because 1952 was an election year. The elections, announced on May 28, were held on July 16. Maurice Duplessis resumed power, but apparently he was strangely absent from the debate surrounding the strike. Perhaps it was better not to get involved to avoid giving the Liberal opposition ammunition that would do its job. [140] At that time, Duplessis could have worked behind the scenes, hoping to convince Dupuis to return to the bargaining table, which the company decided to do in the end. Negotiations continued during the last two weeks of June, until July 2, when the parties found themselves once again in the dead end. TheMontreal Star reported the news: “The company said it was unable to grant an increase or retroactive treatment. She did not even give a cent. And the question was settled. They [union negotiators] got up and left the room. » [141]

Neither party seemed ready to compromise. The union, on the basis of information that proved justified, pointed several times to the financial dealings that took place behind the scenes at Dupuis. Jean-Louis Lévesque would be the real boss of Dupuis. Picard insinuated that the strike could facilitate a transfer of ownership of the company:

Depending on the financial structure of the Dupuis Frères company, someone may have an interest in having the strike continue. Because the more this strike will last, the more difficult the financial obligations of Dupuis Frères will be to satisfy. The day when it will not succeed, someone will be entitled to take control of the company, confiscating the common shares that were paid as collateral for the bonds. [142]

Picard’s statement was premonitory. Raymond Dupuis sold the business to Lévesque in 1960, but for the family members it was clear that the latter had for several years made indispensable to the company. [143]

At the same time, on July 8, Raymond Dupuis received a letter from an associate of the industrial relations firm Hurteau and Desmarais. [144]The address of the letter, “My dear Raymond,” suggests that the two men knew each other. Hurteau advised Dupuis to show more flexibility and generosity towards the strikers, qualities that were sorely lacking in the company’s approach. In the eyes of the public, Hurteau assessed, “Dupuis Frères assumes the traits of a victor trampling the vanquished”. He went on to say that a recent strike at the National Breweries ended in an illusory victory for the company. After this strike, which ended in a union failure, the brewery experienced a drop in popularity and sales. Dupuis could expect the same negative reaction from his clientele that came from the working class and the middle class. Above all, Dupuis had to make a deal that the union could have accepted by its members. Hurteau believed that once the strike was over the department store could proceed to a complete overhaul of the internal communication structure. Management and the union should relearn how to get along. It was about the future of free enterprise. The essence of Hurteau’s message was that something, someone had to yield. This is precisely what happened. The essential point of Hurteau’s message was that something had to give way. This is precisely what happened. The essential point of Hurteau’s message was that something had to give way. This is precisely what happened.


On July 20, Dupuis Frères announced a restructuring of its senior staff. Roland Chagnon was fired. Émile Boucher, the former Director of Personnel so popular, was returning to his position and promoted to Executive Vice President. A first collective agreement was prepared with the union within a few days. Management accepted the principal demands of the strikers; the union became the sole designated bargaining agent; the Rand formula was accepted; a grievance mechanism was established and salary increases were substantial: between $ 4 and $ 6 per week, depending on years of service. [145]The working week was set at 40 hours, spread over five days. For store employees, there was provision for additional hours on Friday nights. There would be no reprisals against the strikers. The archbishop of Montreal and the editor of Le Devoir , Gerard Filion, played an important role in resolving the impasse in the final days of the conflict. Mediation meetings were held for four days. The president of the company, Raymond Dupuis, and the union publicly thanked these two personalities for their roles in the resolution of the strike. [146] This was the first ever collective agreement in the history of Dupuis Frères. The company had just[147]

The strike officially ended at a large assembly of 900 strikers on Saturday, July 26, in the evening. Picard was warmly applauded – and greeted with a stirring of handkerchiefs, hats, and even chairs – when he announced that an agreement had been concluded. The president of the company, Ray-mond Dupuis, and the new vice-president, Émile Boucher, were warmly welcomed. Dupuis declared: “After so many weeks of painful separation, the house Dupuis will be happy to welcome you Monday morning. Picard described the collective agreement as a model for the entire industry. The last person to address the meeting was CTCC union organizer Philippe Girard. He testified to the sense of belonging to the company: “We had always considered Maison Dupuis Frères as our business. We had been kidnapped, and now we are returned. It’s like a woman coming back to her man. “[148]

On Monday morning, July 28, a hot and humid day, according to the newspapers, which also report the death of Evita Peron, Dupuis strikers strolled arm in arm along St. Catherine Street in a sort of parade. of victory: “… tears of joy, but not without a pinch of heart: the strike is over. ” [149] Peace was restored. Employees could return to work and the store and postal outlet of Dupuis could once again be fully dedicated to the satisfaction of its French-Canadian clientele. In the meantime, the whole of French Canada would quietly continue to transform its vision of the world and, by the same token, the turn of events to come.


“Life makes all comedians,” wrote novelist Arlette Cousture. And one could add that all working relationships are a matter of theater. Actors are working to achieve certain goals, conscious or latent. They work to maintain their position because, when the confrontation is committed for good, it gives rise to a dynamic of struggle that can lead to a victory or defeat, much larger than originally expected. In a way, the conflicts between workers and capitalists engender a similar dynamic, which can become difficult to control for one or other of the parties, when events rush. “Theater is the trap,” says Hamlet. One could add that theater has its own awareness and dynamics.

Who says “theater” says “means of communication”. In the case of the Dupuis Frères strike, two elements of this kind come to mind: the one, immediate, which sticks to the event, the other, which is rather withdrawn, not to say a reflection , of this one. In the immediate sense, pickets and the inside of the store become a two-way battlefield for expression, manifestation, provocation. Here, communication is frankly demonstrative. The workers and the capitalists compete directly in an arena, a boxing ring, one should say, which is a place recognizable by the participants and the spectators, that is to say the public. A second dimension refers to the mediated form of conflict. Our research, influenced by the privileged use of newspapers as sources, suggests that the confrontation between Dupuis and his unionized employees was largely through this medium. No doubt, in a later search, it would be necessary to add the radio as part of the context. Newspapers report the events of the day. They also publish rumors and press releases, sometimes one and the same thing, especially prepared by the parties engaged in the fight. On each side, one adjusts his behavior keeping in mind the aspect that such statement or action will take in the paper of the next day. It looks like politics! is unfolded largely through this medium. No doubt, in a later search, it would be necessary to add the radio as part of the context. Newspapers report the events of the day. They also publish rumors and press releases, sometimes one and the same thing, especially prepared by the parties engaged in the fight. On each side, one adjusts his behavior keeping in mind the aspect that such statement or action will take in the paper of the next day. It looks like politics! is unfolded largely through this medium. No doubt, in a later search, it would be necessary to add the radio as part of the context. Newspapers report the events of the day. They also publish rumors and press releases, sometimes one and the same thing, especially prepared by the parties engaged in the fight. On each side, one adjusts his behavior keeping in mind the aspect that such statement or action will take in the paper of the next day. It looks like politics! specially prepared by the parties engaged in the struggle. On each side, one adjusts his behavior keeping in mind the aspect that such statement or action will take in the paper of the next day. It looks like politics! specially prepared by the parties engaged in the struggle. On each side, one adjusts his behavior keeping in mind the aspect that such statement or action will take in the paper of the next day. It looks like politics!

This is not surprising given the bombing of media information that we know today. The important thing here is to establish the link between the contingency of the interactions of events, which can sometimes give rise to results that are difficult to predict, that is to say, that can reverse the situation, and on the other hand, the very nature of the communication, which can also have an impact on the situation because of the type of coverage, the interpretation, the bias, the amplification of the issues which then meets certain trends underlying the social or political body. In other words, an event is not only enshrined in a historical context that features the protagonists directly involved,[150] The Dupuis strike represents an episode of the labor struggle in Quebec in the early 1950s, during which the chain of events surrounding this conflict was linked to a broader social context. It also illustrates the dramatization of events reported by the media. Historians, from this conflict and others, should eventually consider how, from the point of view of the post-war media, actors have become good (heroes) or villains (scoundrels). There is a vast field of study to explore on this subject which ultimately relates to the impact of the media on public life – modern life requires. [151]

The strike was a matter of losers – “shit-eating” – and women, more French Canadians. These same French Canadians who were essentially treated as cheap labor and industrial cannon meat by the capitalists of Quebec, Canada and elsewhere since the end of the 19 th century. On the picket lines and in the press, there was a theater of dignity inherent in the union’s behavior. As if someone had said, “In the new post-war society, we, the workers, want our fair place in the sun. This was a settling of accounts that had been preparing for a long time.

The union battled a powerful company at a time when an ambitious modernization campaign was underway to structure a new style, image, store, and marketing vocabulary. The post-war economy was one of abundance or, rather, of greater hopes. In Canada, after the great crisis of the 1930s, the rationing, control and privations of wartime, “consumerism” was ready to make a big leap forward. The company Dupuis Frères was perfectly aware of this and sought to take advantage of it by modifying its image, its methods and its practices in its pursuit of bigger profits and an ever greater share of the market. Employees were not directly part of this strategy. They were, at most, a means to achieve the goals of the company. The workers had to be kept in a state of quiet subordination, just as they had always been since the company sponsored the creation of the union in 1919. But the union members did not want to continue as before.

At Dupuis Frères, workers articulated their demands, based on their own work experience and their own culture, in order to get their fair share. In doing so, they went against the company’s vision. In the Dupuis confrontation, as in Vickers’ and Asbestos’s, Louiseville’s and Murdochville’s, there was an awareness within the French-Canadian labor movement that society had arrived. at a turning point. The “left turn,” to use the words of historian Andrée Lévesque, was not going to be banned. The general trend of social change in the 1950s was a demand for change. At the top of society, a new generation of engineers, professionals,

At the bottom of the social pyramid, change was also in the air. There are many symptoms that indicate that the social mood is rather upset. Also the phenomenon of the popularity of Maurice Richard – that of hockey in general and riot Richard which highlighted the collective frustrations of French Canadians – is a good example. More and more working-class families are crowding into old and new duplexes and triplexes – the population of metropolitan Montreal has grown from 1.1 million in 1941 to 2.1 million, twenty years later . [152]French Canadians and immigrants settled in Montreal, losing hope for a new life on the outskirts of the city. The new suburbs, with their single-family dwellings, attracted those who were determined to make the “good life” there. Still far away or at hand, the good life was a powerful motive that fueled the demands of the workers who told themselves that if the capitalists could get their share of the pie, why would not they also have it.

Trade union activists see themselves as both workers and consumers. [153] If we find a root cause of the strike, then we must look towards the link are workers between their union as a combat tool and material aspirations. The Church still weighs quite heavy in the articulation of the union speech, [154]but it is clear that the locomotive of the movement obeys the deeper convictions of all the workers who have to make their way in hostile terrain. Quebec in the 1950s, no more than today, is neither the great darkness nor the earthly paradise. It is simply fertile ground for social, economic and political struggles that are sometimes spectacular and resounding, as only Quebec knows how to do. From yesterday to today, the common thread is not difficult to establish. The strike at Dupuis, as elsewhere, is a “modern” event, in the sense that it is similar to what follows. Remember, however, that the future of things is also called to evolve.

The process of renegotiating the place of workers in society continued beyond the 1960s. Union momentum contributed to the Quiet Revolution, but did not fully resolve with it. It continued to manifest itself in the campaigns orchestrated by the common front of the public sector during the 1970s. The social-democratic and populist discourse of René Lévesque and his initial separatist movement was largely based on this movement of the labor movement. which had originated in a real public theater of post-war confrontation, characterized by large assemblies, large demonstrations, and also placed under the sign of the scene of these little white mice, released in the store Dupuis Frères, to Montreal, in 1952. The little white mice are still running. The game is not over.

Shirley Lavertu and Alain Turgeon collaborated on the research and Marguerite Sauriol did a lot of mucking work as part of this work. Xavier Gélinas kindly agreed to comment on a preliminary version of this article as well as Peter Bischoff and Robert Tremblay. Pierre Vadeboncoeur, a former CSN official, shared his comments on the manuscript and the subject matter and gave us valuable advice. To all these people, we offer our most sincere thanks. This text was translated by Maurice Isabelle and revised by Pierre Cantin.


1 Gabrielle Roy, “Back to Saint-Henri. Welcome Address to the Royal Society of Canada, 1948 “, in Gabrielle Roy, Fragile Lights of the Earth. Miscellaneous Writings (Montreal 1996), 169-186. His novel had appeared in 1945.
2 For a more comprehensive study of labor relations in this sector, see Susan Porter Benson, Counter Cultures: Saleswomen, Managers and Customers in American Department Stores, 1890-1940 (Urbana 1986); and John Willis, “The Mail Order Catalog: An Achievement in Mass Distribution and Labor, in Claude Bellavance and Pierre Lanthier, eds., The territories of the firm / The Territories of Business (Sainte-Foy 2004), 173-199.
3 Jocelyn Letourneau, “Modern Quebec: A Chapter of the Great Collective Narrative of Quebeckers,” French Journal of Political Science, 42, 5 (October 1992), 765-785. The author presents a powerful argument about the function of history or rather its collective representation – “the great story of modern Quebec,” as the post-war intelligentsia called it. The explanation of the paradox between, on the one hand, the break with the past, which was found in 1960, and, on the other hand, the concomitant attachment to cultural fragments (concrete or abstract) of the past, is particularly striking. The weakness of its interpretation lies, in our opinion, in the underestimation of contradictory points of view on the past or contradictory perspectives embedded in the past: the workers and intellectuals in the 1950s are two distinct groups, although there have been links between the two.
4 John Dickinson and Brian Young, A Short History of Quebec (Montreal and Kingston 2003), 271 et seq.
5 Michael Gauvreau, The Catholic Origins of Quebec’s Quiet Revolution, 1931-1970 (Montreal and Kingston 2005).
6 This observation is inspired by an excellent exhibition of the Musée de la civilization “Never again as before. See also Never again as before – Quebec from 1945 to 1960 (Montreal 1995), Chapter 3.
7 On the media, see Susan Mann Trofimenkoff, The Dream of Nation. A Social and Intellectual History of Quebec (Toronto 1982), chapter 18; on the middle class, see Michael D. Behiels, “Quebec: Social Transformation and Ideological Renewal, 1940-1976” in MD Behiels, ed., Quebec since 1945. Selected Readings (Toronto 1987), 21-45.
8 Gauvreau, The Catholic Origins , 358. For this author, as an ideology and institution, the Catholic Church conditioned or filtered (“mediated”) the interface of Quebec society with modernity during the period 1930-1970 . In his opinion, this is a Quebec specificity, an example in which the engine of the Quiet Revolution is, by its nature, sociocultural rather than economic. In our opinion, the cultural universe of this same society is much larger than the mere sphere of the Catholic religion. The Belmont amusement park, the Montreal Forum, the cinema and the skating rink of the village or neighborhood are also cultural routes popular with ordinary people during the post-war period.
9 Jacques Rouillard, Quebec’s Syndicalism. Two centuries of history (Montreal, 2004), 126-129.
10 Rouillard, Quebec unionism , 129.
11 Yves Tremblay, “Slanted consumption. Price control and rationing during the Second World War, ” Review of French American History , 58, 4 (Spring 2005), 569-607.
12 Rouillard, Quebec unionism , 92.
13 There were 135 strikes in 1942 and 109 the following year. See Rouillard, Quebec Syndicalism , 130; and Évelyn Dumas, The Bitter Thirties in Quebec (Montreal 1975), 132-134.
14 Privy Council Order 1003 applied only to war industries. As a federal measure, it was followed by the Labor Act , adopted in 1948. See Rouillard, Le syndicalisme québécois , 250.
15 Jean-Guy Genest, Godbout (Sillery 1996), 259.
16 Rouillard, The Quebec Syndicalism , 99, 109.
17 Rouillard, Quebec unionism , 98 et ss.
18 See Robert Stewart Willis, “The Legal Nature of the Collective Labor Agreement in the Province of Quebec, Canada”, PhD, University of Montpellier, 1948, 48-52.
19 Rouillard, Quebec unionism , 99.
20 Genest, Godbout , 274 ff. Our thanks to Peter Bischoff for this reference. The act ensures that the Premier of Quebec can play the role of ultimate arbiter in labor disputes. Duplessis and, later, Robert Bourassa will not fail to play the role of saviors of the situation in the last instance.
21 Rouillard, Quebec unionism , 119-122.
22 Rouillard, Québec unions , 136 et seq. On the Louiseville strike, see J. Rouillard, History of the CSN, 1921-1981 (Montreal 1981), 202 et seq.
23 The abortive attempt to unionize the Eaton workers began in 1948, but not because of a break in labor relations. The movement affiliated with the US center, the Congress of Industrial Organizations, has taken the initiative, following similar efforts at Macy’s, Gimbel’s and Wanamaker’s, in the United States. During the 1940s, the American Federation of Labor, the other major powerhouse, reportedly attempted to unionize retail clerks at Simpson’s in Toronto. In short, in the eyes of the labor movement, Eaton was a huge pool of unionized workers. See Desmond Morton, Working People. An Illustrated History of the Canadian Labor Movement (Montreal and Kingston 1998), 215; and Eileen Safrin,The Eaton Drive. The Campaign to Organize Canada’s Largest Department Store, 1948 to 1952 (Toronto 1982., 34 et seq.
24 The strike at Dupuis Frères is mentioned in some general works, but is not analyzed in detail. See Trofimenkoff, The Dream of Nation , 272-273; Morton, “Working People 1998”, 219-220; Paul-André Linteau, Jean-Claude Robert and René Durocher, History of Contemporary Quebec , vol. 2: Quebec since 1930 (Montreal 1989), 315. Two historical syntheses make no mention of it: Denis Vaugeois, Jacques Lacourcière, Jean Provencher, Canada-Quebec – Historical Synthesis (Sillery 2000); and Brian Young and John Dickinson, A Short History of Quebec (Montreal and Kingston 2003).
25 Pierre Vadeboncoeur, “Dupuis Frères, 1952”, in On strike. The history of the CSN and the struggles led by its activists from 1937 to 1963 (Montreal 1963), 99-128. Mary Catherine Matthews, “Working for Family, Nation and God: Paternalism and the Dupuis Brothers Department Store, Montreal, 1926-1952,” MA, Montreal, McGill University, 1998. This latest study is essentially based on the Duprex employee bulletin. company; the author does not refer to it, or little, to the newspapers. Vadeboncoeur, for its part, does not cite its sources. It was therefore necessary to redo the search.
26 Fund of the Confederation of National Trade Unions, hereinafter referred to as the “CSN Fund”. National Union of Retail Trade Employees of Montreal (Dupuis Magasin section).
Minutes of the union’s executive committee, volume 1, 1950-1955. There is a record of minutes covering the years 1919 to 1926, see Fonds CSN, 1-5-6-5a. Minutes of the Executive Committee, 1919-1926.
27 “Dupuis Frères Ltée – Montreal, Quebec”. Library and Archives Canada, RG 27, Labor Canada , volume 493, microfilm T-4117. Newspapers probably publish biased accounts; however, they have the advantage of presenting the unfolding of events in a rigorous chronological framework. They remind us of the whole theatrical context of the conflict. They are unfortunately absent from Matthews ‘portion of Matthews’ strike study and are not included in Vadeboncoeur’s article either.
28 See exact numbers below. “Dupuis Frères Ltée – Montreal, Quebec”. Library and Archives Canada, RG 27, Labor Canada , volume 493, microfilm T-4117. There is discordance in the figures: the May 6th report mentions 650 men and 750 women for a total of 1400; we opted for the smallest number, 1035, which appears several times in the same reports. According to Morton, Dupuis employees were mostly widows, disabled and elderly ( Working People , 219). So far, we have found nothing to corroborate this assertion. Our colleague Joan Sangster undertook an analysis of individual files on Dupuis employees; the results of his research will be very useful.
29 Interview of the author with P. Vadeboncoeur, September 24, 2004.
30 Joy Parr, The Gender of Breadwinnners. Women, Men and Change in Two Industrial Towns, 1880-1950 (Toronto 1990), Chapter 5: “Womanly Militance, Neighborly Wrath”. Parr also underlines the important tension between endogenous and exogenous actors. The people of Paris do not fully trust union officers affiliated with the United Textile Workers or the directors of the Penman Company because, for the most part, they come from outside the city. Obviously, Montreal, with more than one million inhabitants, is not Paris, whose population is 5249 inhabitants in 1951. The employees of Dupuis had to know another type of feeling of community belonging which could likewise feed their class consciousness.
31 Historians attribute this remark to a union leader associated with the strike, Michel Chartrand. See Morton, Working People , 219; Bryan D. Palmer, Working Class Experience. Rethinking the History of Canadian Labor, 1800-1991 (Toronto 1992), 310.
32 The specter of a struggle within the French-Canadian community is not unlike the conflict between Jewish workers and employers in the garment industry, examined by GJJ Tulchinsky. The common ethno-religious ties did not prevent social conflicts. Tulchinsky, “Jewish Labor and Business in the Dressmakers” Strikes of the 1930s: A Clash of Cultures in Confined Spaces, “in Serge Courville and Normand Séguin, eds., Space and Culture. Space and Culture (Sainte-Foy 1995), 369-377.
33 The information provided here was taken from a previously unpublished document by Marguerite Sauriol, “Dupuis Frères Report”, Hull, August 2001 (Canadian Postal Museum – Canadian Museum of Civilization).
34 “I told you,” said a company representative on the CKAC radio station in 1936, “that Dupuis House is entirely French-Canadian … Dupuis Frères is 100 per cent French-Canadian. is only French-Canadian …. All the departments of Dupuis Frères without the slightest exception … are exploited and directed by her (Dupuis Frères.and commanded by French-Canadian department heads. “) Charles Bourgeois’s Causerie at CKAC, March 8th, 1936. HEC, Fonds Dupuis Freres, P0 49 Z99 0062 (20631.19-3-4-1.
35Reports from the credit agency RG Dunn indicate that the attraction of Odilon Dupuis for speculative investment brought the firm to the brink of bankruptcy in 1897. His brother Narcisse was able to buy his assets at the rate of 50 cents of the dollar, so Odilon’s financial situation was disastrous. The transaction was supervised by a Montreal-based haberdashery company (McIntyre and Sons), which in fact supported the Dupuis family business. Subsequently, the company sold the store’s premises to a European consortium, perhaps from the Belgians, in order to obtain the necessary cash to repay McIntyre. The latter was replaced by the Scottish firm Stewart, McDonald and Company, Glasgow. HEC, copy of the reports of RG Dunn and Company (Montreal, January 15, 1914).
36 City of Montreal Archives, 11.1.1, Series 4, Microfilm 1: Fire Insurance Plans, 55-66, dated 1949. See map on page 58 of this article.
37 Villeray, Montreal North and Saint-Michel, North; Rosemont, Montreal East, Longue-Pointe, in the East. See Paul-André Linteau, History of Montreal since Confederation (Montreal 2000), 354, 362.
38 Jacques Pharand, In the beautiful era of streetcars. A nostalgic journey in the past (Montreal 1997), 235.
39 See N. Desjardins, “Dupuis et Frères: A Centennial Canadian French”, La Presse (February 24, 1968). Previously, since 1925, the eastern terminus was located at the corner of Maisonneuve and Saint-Christophe streets, so close to the Dupuis store. See Press Clipping Records “Traveler, Terminus”. Archives of the City of Montreal.
40 “Brief Submitted by Dupuis Frères”, Montreal, February 21, 1956. Royal Commission on the Economic Prospects of Canada, 1951-1960 (Commissioner Walter Gordon). Library and Archives Canada, RG-33. The brief was filed in English.
41 N. Desjardins, “Dupuis and Brothers”. According to the author, Albert Dupuis did a great deal to influence the choice of the location of the Jacques Cartier Bridge and the bus terminal at the corner of Berri and Demontigny Streets.
42 For wages in relation to the cost of living, see Linteau, Histoire du Québec , 308.
43 Archives. University of Western Ontario, Canadian Tire Fund, Annual Report for year ended December 31, 1945, as of 1 st May 1946.
44 Fund Canadian Tire 34 th Annual Report for year ended December 31, 1960. See also Hugh McBride Our store: Canadian Tire – 75 years at your service (Toronto 1997), 55.
45 HEC, Dupuis Fund. “Annual Report for the year ending January 31, 1949”. Josette Dupuis-Leman, Albert’s daughter, the owner of the company until 1941, says that the cost of the renovations made at the store actually amounted to three million dollars: his brother Raymond had the madness of grandeur. See Leman, Dupuis Brothers. The People’s Store (Montreal 2001), 247.
46 See the list in National Union of Commercial Employees of Montreal, “Why are they on strike? A document on labor-management relations at Maison Dupuis Frères Ltée “(Montreal 1952), 14. Acquired in 1936, the mail order building was located on rue Brewster, in the Saint-Henri district, between Saint Antoine and St. James, several miles from the main store. The post office was accessible by tram. A special service was set up in August 1951. It allowed members to arrive on time by traveling several kilometers north-east to Saint-Stanislas Hall, Laurier Street. See Archives of the CSN. Minutes of the union executive committee, meeting of August 28, 1951.
47 Safrin, Eaton Drive (1982), 20.
48 Library and Archives Canada, “Unemployment Insurance Commission. Report on Industrial Dispute, May 5, 1952. RG-27, Labor Canada , 493, microfilm T-4117, file 61. See also the article on Dupuis in Canadian Variety Merchandising (December 1950).
49 Library and Archives Canada. “Royal Commission on Price Spreads and Mass Buying. Committee on Price Spreads. Proceedings, 3 (1934), 3638.
50 Library and Archives Canada, “Unemployment Insurance Commission. Report on Industrial Dispute “(May 5, 1952), RG-27, Labor Canada , 493, microfilm T-4117, file 61: There are 83 men at work that day and only 22 women.
51 General Catalog Dupuis Frères, Autumn-Winter 1931-1932. Collection of the Canadian Postal Museum – Canadian Museum of Civilization.
52 The first Eaton catalog written in French was published in 1927; Simpson followed suit the following year.
53 See John Willis, “Selling God by the Post in French Canada,” in Robert Klymasz and J. Willis, Revelations: Bi-Millenial Papers from the CMC (Hull 2001), 258-285.
54 The Duprex , 12, 11 (January 1946), 404. The “Catalog of the clergy,” autumn-winter 1939-1940 shows that Albert Dupuis and AJ Dugal were all members of the order.
55 See Archives of the CSN. National Union of Retail Employees of Montreal (store section), Minutes of the meetings of July 2, August 20 and August 22, 1919. Minutes of the Executive Committee, 1919-1926. 1-5-6-5a. It was on August 22nd that the founding assembly took place.
56 HEC, Fonds Dupuis Frères, The Duprex , 1, 5 (February 1927), quoted in Sylvie Marier, “The union at Dupuis Frères. From Origin to Strike, “McGill University Test, 2002, 33.
57 Matthews, “Working for Family,” 31-32; on the organization of leisure activities, 37-48. Other information in HEC, Fonds Dupuis Frères, “Anecdotes of the union since its formation”, Z990062 19-3-4-1.
58 The company made cash donations to the union on at least three occasions: $ 1,000 and another $ 250 in 1930, and $ 1,000 in 1944. See Marier, “The Union,” 34; on Émile Boucher, 28; in all three cases, its source is Duprex .
59 The law, which gave a restrictive interpretation of what constituted a legitimate union, was revised in 1934 and again in 1937. See RS Willis, “The Legal Nature”, 47.
60 The Vickers strike in the east end of Montreal was marked by violent confrontations, which had the effect of opposing the workers employed at the shipyard, affiliated with the CTCC, to the international union representing the factory workers. . In one of the incidents, a CTCC malabar beat up a man who was leading a group of international union supporters. Subsequently, it was discovered that this man was none other than John Boyczum, a lieutenant of the anti-subversion squad of the Montreal police. (Vadeboncoeur, interview, 2004).
61 See Linteau, History of Quebec , Chapter 22; Young and Dickinson, A Short History , chapter 8, and Trofimenkoff, The Dream of Nation , 272-73, 290 and ss. See also: Robert Quessy and Jacques Légaré, The history of aluminum workers in Shawinigan. Chronicle of the years 1937-1987 (Shawinigan 1988).
62 In his work, Trofimenkoff makes a rather astonishing statement: as a critic of contemporary society, we can say that the essay on the Asbestos conflict, The Strike of Asbestos , published under the direction of Pierre-Elliot Trudeau, is of greater historical significance than the strike itself. Thus, workers are confined to the trash of history while future prime ministers are invited to the front lines! ( The Dream of Nation, 290). Vadeboncoeur believes, for its part, that we need to qualify our way of seeing the trade union movement in the 1950s and to distinguish between the perception of events in the actors of the time and their consciousness of making history: “When the event happens, it is not the story that is made, it is the event. (Vadeboncoeur, interview, 2004)
63 Vadeboncoeur, interview (2004). See also Rouillard, Quebec unionism , 107-108.
64 J. Rouillard, “The asbestos strike of 1949 and the project of reform of the company. How the bosses defended his right of management “, Labor / The Work , 46 (autumn 2000), 323 and ss.
65 The company has a stewardship clause inserted in the text of the collective agreement that ends the dispute. See Rouillard, Le syndicalisme québécois , 135. See also J. Rouillard, “Major Changes in the Confederation of Catholic Workers of Canada, 1940-1960”, in Behiels, Quebec since 1945 , 114-115.
66 See CSN Fund. Minutes of the Executive Committee of the Union, December 19, 1950 and January 3, 1951. The pamphlet, “The Worker’s Problem”, is the circulated version of a pastoral letter from the bishops of Quebec. Published in 1950, it endorses the notion of corporate reform. See Rouillard, “The Asbestos Strike”, 328.
67 “Comfort for Strikers”, La Presse (May 9, 1952). The same Pichette blamed Dupuis Frères for not adhering to [his version of] the doctrine of the Church. See “You Do Your Duty,” The Work (May 16, 1952), 3. Pichette sits on the Commission of Priestly Studies, the same commission that puts forward the notion of business reform as a new foundation for the relationship between workers and bosses. It is possible that the boss of Dupuis Frères could not find this notion more acceptable than his colleague at the Canadian Johns-Mansville. See Rouillard, “The asbestos strike”, 325.
68 La Presse (May 5, 1952).
69 Le Devoir (May 3, 1952). Filion went on to say that, notwithstanding the plausibility of a conflict between these two Catholic entities, precisely because each was Catholic, there must be a minimum of goodwill between the parties. He concluded by insisting that both parties return to the bargaining table. In retrospect, Filion’s position was ultimately that of a journalist unable to stop hostilities, at least most of the conflict. It is possible that Matthews and other commentators place too much emphasis on the neo-nationalist faction among Quebec intellectuals, especially with respect to the labor movement. Further research and analysis on this subject would undoubtedly be timely.
70 Rouillard, Major Changes, 112.
71 Canadian Variety Merchandising (December 1950), 35. A draft of this article is kept at the HEC, Fonds Dupuis Frères, Z990062 19-3-4-1.
72 Ibid .
73 See biographical information on the Michelle Tisseyre fonds, Library and Archives Canada, . Tisseyre also worked for Eaton, Simpson and Holt-Renfrew. She was the hostof Radio-Canada’sfirst talk show , broadcast from 1953 to 1962.
74 This is the version given by two trade union leaders involved in the conflict, Pierre Vadeboncoeur and Michel Chartrand. See Vadeboncoeur, “Dupuis Frères, 1952”, 105; and Fernand Foisy, Michel Chartrand – The ways of a man of his word (Montreal 1999), 163. At the Le Syndicat de Québec department store, Chagnon had been controller (1938), managing director and director (1939.and assistant general manager ( 1941-1947) See Le Duprex , 14, 7 (June 1951), 177. See also “Dupuis Frères – Announced Changes”, The Montreal Star (March 22, 1951) On the sales quota system see: “Trade in Dupuis Frères Ltée … “in the magazine Commerce (May 1950), 27-28.
75 Leman, Dupuis Brothers , 240-241. Boucher was A.-J.’s son-in-law. Dugal, former manager of the store and executive.
76 Archives of the CSN. Fund of the National Union of Retail Trade Employees of Montreal (Dupuis Magasin Section), Minutes of the Executive Committee of the Union, Volume 1, 1950-1955, Meeting of October 22, 1950, 1-5-6-4a.
77 Minutes of the executive committee of the union, meeting of November 6, 1950. We do not know much about the exact role of department managers at Dupuis Frères. Further study of this category of employees would be very useful. In the United States, the store department manager – called buyer – jealously administers his department as a small kingdom. Susan Porter Bension, Counter Cultures: Saleswomen, managers and customers in American Department Stores, 1890-1940 (Urbana 1986), 17, 48, 66-67.
78 Dugal knew very well since he went to the founding meeting. Minutes of the executive committee of the union, meeting of October 22, 1950.
79 Minutes of the executive committee of the union, meeting of May 22, 1951. See also Vadeboncoeur, “Dupuis Frères 1952”, 105-107.
80 “The union at Dupuis Frères”, Le Duprex , 14, 7 (June 1951), 194. HEC-P.049W990003.
81 “Message – From the Personnel Office”, Le Duprex , 14, 8 (October 1951), 215. HEC-P.049W990003.
82 “The mood swings of Dupuis House”, Le Travail (May 9, 1952), 7.
83 Exceptionally, the meeting of May 14, 1951 was held in a provincial government building at 89 Notre-Dame Street. Perhaps provincial government labor relations representatives attended.
84 “Message – From the Personnel Office,” The Duprex , 14, 8, 226. HEC. See also Vadeboncoeur, “Dupuis Frères 1952”, 109. The union chose its representative for the arbitration procedure in June 1951, which would give the latter ample time to prepare. See Archives of the CSN. Minutes of the union executive committee, meeting of June 18, 1951.
85 “Famine wages”, Labor (9 May 1952), 4.
86 “Dupuis retards,” Labor (May 9, 1952), 4. See also the strike reports of the Department of Labor: Library and Archives Canada, RG-27, Labor Canada , 493, microfilm T-4117, file 61.
87 The company’s version can be found in “The Eye Behind The Scenes” (May 10, 1952). HEC P.049Z990054 – Syndicate – Strike 1952.
88 In its discussion of the conflict, the company describes its work schedule as having more advantages than those of 70 per cent of workers in the retail sector in Quebec. The company does not admit that the work week could last five and a half to six days. See “Development of Dupuis House for Employee Salaries,” Canada (May 2, 1952).
89 Vadeboncoeur, “Dupuis Brothers 1952”, 108.
90 Gérard Filion, “Strike at Dupuis Frères”, Le Devoir (May 31, 1952). HEC P.049Z990054 – Syndicate – Strike 1952.
91 Matthews, “Working for Family”, 95. See also why we are on strike , 18.
92 Archives of the CSN. Minutes of the executive committee of the union, meeting of May 22, 1951.
93 Ibid ., Meeting of 2 October 1951.
94 “The Dupuis Frères store keeps its doors open”, La Presse (May 2, 1952); “Dupuis opens without incident” and “Record of unprecedented sales”, La Presse (May 3, 1952); “Dupuis Brothers Clerks Strike for Pay Boost”, The Montreal Star (May 2, 1952) and “Quebec to Act in Strike at Dupuis Brothers”, The Montreal Star (May 3, 1952).
95 The Montreal Star (May 8, 1952). See also “50,000 people at Dupuis in eight hours”, La Presse (May 5, 1952).
96 “The eye behind the scenes” (10 May 1952). HEC P.049Z990054 – Syndicate – Strike 1952.
97 The Fatherland (May 4, 1952).
98 La Patrie (May 17, 1952).
99 “There Is a Lesson in the Dupuis Strike,” Financial Times (May 23, 1952).
100 See, for example, “Strike-Born Self-Serve to Stay at Dupuis Brothers”, Style Fortnightly (May 29, 1952). Lacroix Chronicle, Canada (May 24, 1952).
101 “Why are they on strike? A paper on labor-management relations at the May Dupuis Brothers Ltd., Montreal (1952), 29 et seq. At that time, the main campus of the HEC was located close to the store. From St. Catherine Street, walk to Amherst Street and turn west to Viger Street.
102 “Dupuis chooses new clerks among his clients”, La Presse (May 5, 1952); “Important events within 48 hours in the Dupuis employee strike? ” Le Devoir (May 5, 1952).
103 “We declare at Dupuis Frères that the strike is over”, Le Devoir (May 7, 1952).
104 “The system of self-service permanently? ” La Presse (8 May 1952); “Record of unprecedented sales”, La Presse (May 3, 1952).
105 “Two Juveniles Held in Strike,” The Montreal Star (May 6, 1952). See also “Record of unprecedented sales”, La Presse (May 3, 1952) and “The system of self-service permanently?”, La Presse (May 8, 1952).
106 Lecture by Mr. Gérard Picard, May 5, 1952, at CHLP. HEC P.049Z990054 – Syndicate – in the fund Dupuis, Strike 1952. The fact that we were able to find the complete transcript of this talk in the fund Dupuis, indicates that the company closely watched the public statements of the union, which does not nothing surprising. Note that the strike ended before the advent of television in Montreal in September 1952. See Trofimenkoff, Dream of Nation , 283. Radio was the most popular electronic medium of the time and union leaders take the floor, such as this president of the Montreal Skilled Trades Council who, in 1945, made a speech in favor of the war effort. See Rouillard, Quebec unionism94. The radio coverage of this strike and others, for example, that of 1949 in Asbestos, deserve to be studied.
107 The union used the airwaves to communicate with its members and the public. In April 1952, the union official was asked to have CKVL announce the imminent assembly of members three times. See Archives of the CSN, trade union assembly of April 3, 1952. As to the affirmation of Picard, to the effect that Dupuis was prosperous, the figures from the annual reports, as far as these encompass all aspects of the reality, seem to support this state of affairs. The company recorded profits of the order of $ 1.2 million in 1947 and 1948. The decline in 1950 ($ 709,000 and recovery in 1951, more than $ 900,000) See the annual reports Dupuis Frères, HEC, Dupuis Frères Fund. The Workcompiled the value of Dupuis Frères’ land holdings for Montreal only. These total, according to property tax receipts, $ 2.4 million. Work (May 9, 1952), 3.
108 “Strikers receive support from two higher trade union organizations”, Le Devoir (May 9, 1952).
109 The incident is recounted in Foisy, Michel Chartrand , 165-166. See also “Chez Dupuis Frères, a reporter for Le Devoir …”, Le Devoir (May 10, 1952); “Store Strikers Plan Meeting”, The Montreal Star (May 10, 1952).
110 “A reporter of the Duty held by members of the Broderick agency”, Le Devoir (May 10, 1952); “Firecrackers burst like gunshots,” La Presse (May 10, 1952).
111 “A letter from the Union of Journalists”, La Presse (May 24, 1952).
112 “1 hour of heckling and 7 hours of business”, La Presse (May 12, 1952).
113 “The strike at Dupuis Frères Ltée gives rise to legal proceedings”, Le Devoir (May 13, 1952).
114 “First Significant Events During Dupuis’s Evening Yesterday”, Le Devoir (May 17, 1952); “Bees, frogs and young communists at the Dupuis shop on Saturday”, La Presse (May 15, 1952). It would appear that the bees brought into the store by a CTCC nurse did not do much harm, just going to the ceiling. (Vadeboncoeur, interview, 2004)
115 “event at Dupuis from the staff last night,” La Presse (17 May 1952).
116 “What is the relationship between communists and journalists? ” Le Devoir (20 May 1952); see also “Other demonstration at Dupuis Frères”, Le Devoir (May 19, 1952).
117 One wonders how she was able to go there! See The Gazette (May 19, 1952); Canada (May 19, 1952).
118 On the subject of the communist witch hunt within the union community, see Rouillard, Le syndicalisme québécois , 102-103.
119 “Dupuis Frères brings an action of $ 150,000”, La Presse (May 15, 1952).
120 Ibid .
121 “The whole workers’ movement supports the strike by Dupuis Frères employees,” La Presse (May 16, 1952).
122 For a copy of the application for an injunction, see Motion for an Interim and Interlocutory Injunction (May 14, 1952). HEC P.049Z990054 – Union – Strike 1952 – Superior Court. In the same file, we find a copy of the decision of June 13 of the Superior Court, Dupuis Frères Applicant v. National Union of Joiners of Montreal Inc.
123 “Unprecedented demonstration of solidarity”, La Presse (16 May 1952); “Truckers refuse to break the picket lines at Dupuis”, Le Devoir (May 15, 1952).
124 Matthews, “Working for Family” (1998), 102.
125 “Important events within 48 hours in the Dupuis employee strike? ” Le Devoir (May 5, 1952); see also Linteau, History of Montreal , 532.
126 Archives of the CSN, 1-5-7-2-B, Montreal Central Council, General Assemblies, Minutes 1945-49, 1949-52, meeting of May 29, 1952. See also “Joe Louis refuses to cross the picket lines “, Le Devoir (May 28, 1952). Some gossips reportedly said the strikers paid Joe Louis for him not to show up. See The Eye Behind The Scenes (June 7, 1952), 8.
127 “Thousands of workers support the strikers at Dupuis Frères”, Le Devoir (May 31, 1952). See also “Another demonstration of solidarity with the Dupuis strikers”, La Presse (May 31, 1952).
128 “Thousands of workers support the strikers at Dupuis Frères”, Le Devoir (May 31, 1952).
129 “Intervention of Mr. Barrette”, La Presse (June 13, 1952); “Manifestations this morning at Simmons Bed and at Dupuis”, in Le Devoir (June 11, 1952); “Store Workers Demonstrate”, The Montreal Star (June 12, 1952).
130 “18 arrests last night at the doors of the Dupuis Frères store”, Le Devoir (June 14, 1952). Note that the headline indicates 18 arrests while there is 13 in the article.
131 Incident reported in Foisy, Michel Chartrand , 167. Photos of the strike can be found in the archives of the CSN – 30.1.3. Dupuis Frères, Conflict of 1952. The HEC archives also have them, Fonds Dupuis Frères – PO 49 X99 001, Strike of 1952.
132 Madeleine Brosseau, “The history of my union life”, in Vie ouvrière , 29, 138 (October 1979), 482. This lady was a member of the executive committee of the union in early 1952. Her father, who also worked at Dupuis Brothers – he was a manager – was ordered to retire that spring. His income went from $ 185 to $ 25 a week. Later, she wondered whether or not it was a coincidence.
133 A song, interpreted on the air of “Brother Jacques”, had already been used during the strike: “Dupuis Frères, Dupuis Frères / Sleep, Sleep / Take out your piastres, take out your piastres / Pay- we, pay us. See Matthews, Working for Family, 106.
134 The entire quotation reads: “The strike is war, and the collective agreement is the peace treaty: the union and the strikers are ready for both”; “Pourpar-lers: recovery at Dupuis Frères”, La Presse (June 20, 1952). See also “Broken windows at Dupuis Frères”, Le Devoir (June 17, 1952); “The negotiations seem to have begun for good at Dupuis Frères”, Le Devoir (June 21, 1952).
135 “Talks: recovery at Dupuis Frères”, La Presse (June 20, 1952).
136 “Rotting eggs were thrown at Mr. Houde”, Le Devoir (June 25, 1952).
137 Louis-Martin Tard, Camilien Houde. The Montreal Cyrano (Montreal 1999), 16. P. Vadeboncoeur, “A Minister, a Mayor, a Mouse, a Pole and an Omelet”, – Memories for Tomorrow .
138 “Store Strike End Sought”, The Montreal Star (June 24, 1952); “Special fee of $ 1.00 required by CTCC”, Le Devoir (June 23, 1952).
139 “Declaration which may interfere with negotiations at Dupuis Frères”, Canada (June 25, 1952). See also Union, Store Talks Delayed, in The Montreal Star (June 25, 1952). Remember that the Labor Relations Act requires employers to bargain in good faith.
140 Conrad Black makes no mention of the strike in his account of the 1952 elections and do not talk about it either, when it deals with relations with the Prime Minister the workers. See Conrad Black, Duplessis (Toronto 1977), 347 et seq. elections of 1952; 627 and ss. : relations with the working world.
141 “New Dupuis Strike Talks Unlikely Soon”, The Montreal Star (July 3, 1952).
142 “G. Picard asks MM. R. Dupuis and J.-L. Lévesque to explain “, Le Devoir (July 11, 1952).
143 Leman, Dupuis Frères , 247-248.
144 File containing correspondence between Robitaille, Hurteau and Desmarais Inc., and Raymond Dupuis, (July 8, 1952). Fonds Dupuis Frères, Syndicat Strève. HEC P0 49. Z99 0054 (21712.15-3-2-1.
145 See “Chez Dupuis peace has returned”, Le Travail (August 22, 1952), 3. See also “Collective Agreement between the National Union of Commercial Employees of Montreal CTCC and Dupuis Frères Limitée, July 28, 1952”. The agreement contained general provisions as well as separate sections for store employees and those of the mail order division. It covered all aspects of the work, including union breaks (10 minutes per day), vacation pay and statutory holidays.
146 “The reconciliation is total with the company Dupuis Frères Limitée”, La Presse (July 28, 1952.and Labor (August 22, 1952), 3. See also Micheline Lachance, Paul-Émile Léger The prince of the Church(Montreal 2000), volume 1, 155-156. According to the author, Léger played a decisive role in convincing Raymond Dupuis to cut off an overseas trip and return to the bargaining table. There is something ironic about this whole story. In May 1952 Léger spoke to graduates of the Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales and spoke of the need for a code of ethics governing the relationship between workers and employers. However, it was precisely students from this institution who were hired by Dupuis as “scabs” in the first days of the strike.
147 The company’s annual report for the fiscal year ended January 26, 1953 contains an entire paragraph on labor issues, a subject not discussed in previous reports. The 1954 report mentions the renewal of the collective agreement for the period from 1953 to 1956. “Mutual trust” is the expression used when it comes to relations between the employer and his employees. A third collective agreement was negotiated later in the decade and covered the years 1956 to 1958. The annual reports are at HEC, Fonds Dupuis Frères.
148 Quote from “Happy ending of the Dupuis strike”, Le Devoir (July 28, 1952). Originally from the Charlevoix region and with little schooling, Girard was perceived as a charismatic speaker and unparalleled motivator by the union members of the base: “He did what he wanted with his audience. Before the Second World War, he had been involved in various labor disputes, including the Sorel shipyards, Montreal tramway workers and Arvida. (Vadeboncoeur, interview, 2004)
149 Brosseau, “The history of my union life”, 482.
150 After examining the literature on analyzing incidents as a historical genre, Robert Darnton states, “While television-reported events dominate news, it’s a story that allows us to understand how events get in the way of news. and embedded in it (are embedded would certainly be interesting. “” It Happened One Night, ” New York Review of Books , 51, 11 (June 24, 2004), 64.
151 This observation recalls one of Létourneau’s observations: “… the representative trace is in no way separable from the practice represented. Those interested in pursuing Létourneau’s approach to biased interpretation of events in the post-war period could begin by gathering empirical data in the media rather than the observations of a small minority of thinkers and intellectuals. The media have certainly contributed a lot to the spread and progression of a certain “social discourse. Such empirical evidence could support what, at this point, is still no more than an unfounded assertion, despite its eloquence. See J. Létourneau, “Modern Quebec …”, 785.
152 Linteau, History of Montreal , 460.
153 In our view, an implicit motivation for Dupuis Frères ‘union members’ demands for a “good life” is an explicit part of the agitation to organize the employees of T. Eaton in Toronto in 1950. See Donica Belisle, “The Canadian Left Confronts Consumer Culture: Consumption and Unionization at Eaton’s in Postwar Toronto,” unpublished paper, presented at the annual meeting of the Canadian Historical Association (Toronto, May 2002).
154 Rouillard, “The Asbestos Strike”, 339.




By John Willis



Are you passionate about history?

Share that passion with the world. Join us: Contribute to History Cooperative