Interviewed by Rod Mickleburgh
Stan Shewaga was born in St. Boniface and grew up in the north end of Winnipeg. After working in Louisiana for a while, he joined the American Army in the fifties, when he was about 17. After he left the army, he hitch hiked throughout Canada and ended up working in logging in B.C., where he learned to be a rigger. He received his journeyman ironworker ticket while working at the pulp mill in Port Alberni. After that, he started working at Harmac, the pulp mill in Nanaimo, B.C., where he got his millwright’s ticket.
In the sixties, Stan was initially involved with the International Brotherhood of Pulp, Sulphite, and Paper Mill Workers at Harmac, a union he became disillusioned with because he thought it was undemocratic. He then became active in the campaign for Harmac workers to become a local of the independent Pulp, Paper and Woodworkers Union of Canada (PPWC). They were successful in 1967. Stan served several terms as president and vice-president of the union until his retirement in 1996.
In this interview, Stan talks about his experiences in forming Local 8 of the PPWC, in labour negotiations and strikes, and relationships with other unions and labour organizations. He shares his views on a wide range of topics including internationalism and international unions, independent Canadian unions, union democracy, union structures, limits on the terms of office for elected union officials, pork choppers, raiding, and organizing the unorganized.
Rigging; ironworker; Harmac Pulp Operations; millwright; pulp mills; PPWC (Pulp; Paper and Woodworkers of Canada; became Public and Private Workers of Canada); Ironworkers Union (International Association of Bridge; Structural; Ornamental; and Reinforcing Ironworkers); International Brotherhood of Pulp; Sulphite; and Paper Mill Workers; union democracy; United Steelworkers (United Steel; Paper and Forestry; Rubber; Manufacturing; Energy; Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union); World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU); Russian Woodworkers’ Federation; BC Federation of Labour; International Woodworkers of America (IWA); pork choppers; international unions; independent Canadian unions; raiding; organizing the unorganized; Pulp Bureau; Canadian Paper Workers’ Union (CPU); NDP; strikes; Confederation of Canadian Unions (CCU); Canadian Auto Workers (National Automobile; Aerospace; Transportation and General Workers Union of Canada); CAIMAW (Canadian Association of Industrial Mechanical and Allied Workers); CASAW (Canadian Association of Smelter and Allied Workers); ICTU (Independent Canadian Transit Union); Tommy McGrath; Gordie Wickham; Joseph Tonelli; Angus McPhee; Pat O’Neill; Jack Munro; Reg Ginn; Art Gruntman; Dave Stupich; Dave Barrett; Bill King; Buddy Hare; Fred Mullins; Orville Bratton; Angus McPhee