West Kootenays

First local owned Labour Centre, 910 Portland St, Trail, 1950 – Rare Books and Special Collections, UBC, BC1449-49e

The International Union of Mine, Mill, and Smelter Workers dates to 1893 when a small group of miners created the Western Federation of Miners in Butte, Montana. The Rossland Miners’ Union (1895) became Canada’s first recorded local in 1895. In 1916 the WFM changed its name to the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers and constitutional amendments in 1955 firmly established the Canadian section of the union. The Union expended much energy in jurisdictional disputes and contended with raids from the International Steelworkers of America. The two unions merged in 1967.

Some resources on West Kootenay labour history:

Verzuh, Ron. Printer’s Devils. Caitlin Press, 2023.

Verzuh, Ron. “A Crusading Voice for the Mining West: How the Rossland Evening World Served
Militant Workers at the Turn of the 20th Century,” Labour/Le Travail 92 (Fall 2023): 229-258.

Verzuh, Ron. Smelter Wars: A Rebellious Red Trade Union Fights for its Life in Wartime Western Canada. University of Toronto Press, 2022.

Verzuh, Ron. “The Rossland Evening World: A Workers’ Voice for the Kootenays”. British Columbia History (Winter 2021): 5-10.

Verzuh, Ron. “The Raiding of Local 480: A Historic Cold War Struggle for Union Supremacy in a Small Canadian City,” Labour/Le Travail 82 (Fall 2018): 81–117.

Verzuh, Ron. Remembering Salt: How a Blacklisted Hollywood Movie Brought the Spectre of McCarthyism to a Small Canadian Town  Labour/LeTravail 76 (Fall 2015): 165–198.

Verzuh, Ron.The Smelter Poets: The Inspiring Role of Worker Poetry in a BC Labour Newspaper during the “Age of the CIO”. BC Studies No 177, Spring 2013.

King, Al, and Kate Braid. Red Bait!: Struggles of a Mine Mill Local. Vancouver: Kingbird Publishing, 1998.

Steedman, Mercedes, Peter Suschnigg, and Dieter K. Buse (Ed.). Hard Lessons: The Mine Mill Union in the Canadian Labour Movement. Toronto, ON: Dundurn Press, 1995.

Solski, Mike, and John Smaller. Mine Mill: The History of the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers in Canada Since 1895. Ottawa, ON: Steel Rail Publishing, 1984.

Jordan, Rosa.The Struggle: A Brief History of Local Labour Movements and the Rossland Miners’ Union Hall, 1985. USW Local 1-480.

Koerner, Steve. The Rossland Miners’ Strike: 1901-1902. Unpublished manuscript.

WATCH: “Joe Hill’s Secret Canadian Hideout” A search for a man who never died, video by Ron Verzuh, 2014. 8:02.