Years: 2005 and 2007
Location: Calgary (2005) and Edmonton (2007)
Profile: Doug O’Halloran became president of his meatpacking union local within a year of beginning work in the plant in 1973. That began a lifelong trade union career that led to his becoming president of UFCW Local 401 from 1989 till his death in 2019. Organizing new locals in the meatpacking and grocery sectors and beyond became his passion. Lakeside Packers was a target but it only became reachable after 70 Sudanese-origin workers were fired in 2004 for defending their rights. Those who remained on the job invited UFCW to organize the plant to help in their fight against poor pay, draconian working conditions, and terrible housing conditions. Despite a strong organizing drive to counter company misinformation about unions, only 51.4 percent of workers voted to unionize. Company intransigence then forced Local 401 into a first-contract strike in which the company and the RCMP employed violent means to keep the plant open with strikebreakers. Striker militancy threatened the company’s anti-union strategy. The company responded with what O’Halloran viewed as an attempt to intimidate him by forcing his car off the road under guise of attempting to deliver an injunction. O’Halloran ended up hospitalized in what the company claimed was an accident but the union viewed as an attempted murder of their leader. O’Halloran was permanently disabled by the incident but he believes that public opinion turned so strongly against the company that Lakeside agreed to settle shortly afterwards. The Brooks interview focuses on the Lakeside strike while the Edmonton interview, though it also deals with Lakeside, adds materials related to the Safeway provincial strike of 1997 and the Palace Casino strike in Edmonton in 2007.
Keywords: Immigrant workers; Lakeside Packers organization; Lakeside Packers strike; Meatpacking workers; Palace Casino strike; Retail workers; Safeway strike; Strikebreakers; Sudanese workers; UFCW Local 401; Violence during strikes
Transcripts (PDF): 2005 2007
See also: Temporary Foreign Workers