The entire labour and progressive movement in Alberta lost one of their most personal and valued members on March 4, 2022. Jack Hubler was a towering figure in the Plumbers and Pipefitters Union but also throughout the labour and social justice movements. He was one of the Alberta Labour History’s earliest activists and served on our Board for many years as well as participating in all of our activities. We all valued his friendship and his enthusiasm and encouragement for our work. Soft-spoken and always positive, he exemplified the solidarity and determination for justice for working people and the telling of workers’ stories in their own words that ALHI strives to represent.

Jack Hubler (centre) working the barbeque at the annual Edmonton District and Labour Council Barbecue for the Unemployed and Underemployed on Labour Day, 2007. It was just one of the many community events for which Jack received the Jim Shewchuk award that honours one trade unionist each year who  has made a “substantial contribution as a volunteer in the Alberta Capital Region in the human services field.”

Jack Hubler was born in High Prairie in 1936 and raised on a farm in Lesser Slave Like. Moving to Edmonton in 1957, he apprenticed as a plumber, gasfitter, and steamfitter/pipefitter. Joining the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Union, Local Union 488 in 1964, he became a lifelong dedicated activist. A member of the negotiating committee in 1968, he helped win health, welfare, and pension improvements. After a work accident in 1969, a crushed heel limited his options for physical work. 

In 1973 Hubler was elected business agent for 488, a position he held for 20 years. He witnessed sharp decline in trades membership during the 1980s recession as the Progressive Conservative government permitted unionized companies to spin off non-union companies and transfer contracts to them. Hubler joined the grassroots Dandelion movement that arose to protect union jobs. Apart from his lifelong 488 activities, he participated in the larger labour and progressive movement, including Public Interest Alberta the NDP, and ALHI.  Hubler’s activism was recognized with the Jim Shewchuk Award of the Edmonton District Labour Council and the United Way in 1997. His dedication to Local 488 was exemplified by his continuing to attend meetings until two days before his death in March, 2022.