Sy Pederson



Interviewed by Phil Legg

Sy Pederson was born into a logging family of fallers in Courtenay and followed the family tradition when he turned 21.  Falling was a dangerous job and Sy recognized the hazard posed by the piecework system.  He organized fallers in an illegal strike in 1972, despite union opposition, where they stayed home to successfully achieve a day rate system.  Active in his union, the International Woodworkers of America (IWA), he became president of his local as well as of the labour council.

Sy participated in forest industry collective bargaining, including significant bargaining to fight contracting out. They mass picketed and confronted the employers’ practice of recording retained earnings.  Sy ran three times for the Communist Party in federal elections but later became independent and supported the policies and Members of Parliament (MPs) and Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) of the New Democratic Party (NDP) on Vancouver Island.

He emphasized the need for organizing at the union and community level, e.g. Council of Canadians, and the need for honesty with people engaged in struggles.  Today, Sy is involved in making films.


International Woodworkers of America (IWA); faller; logging; forest industry; chainsaw; contract work; piecework; day work; Courtenay; Dave Barrett; Jack Munro; Solidarity; Keith Bennett; Forest Industrial Relations (FIR); Lloyd Doidge; Bill Vander Zalm; Gordon Campbell; New Democratic Party (NDP); retained earnings; organizing; strikes; selective strike; British Columbia Federation of Labour (BC Fed); collective bargaining

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Sy Pederson (right) with Bill Lee at baseball camp in Courtenay BC, 2014.


This interview was conducted with help from the Kaatza Station Museum Archives.