Profile: Born and raised in Ottawa, Gerry Beauchamp moved to Edmonton and began work at Swifts, later Gainers, in 1952, initially working on the loading dock, loading beef and icing the cars in which beef was hauled. Gradually his work shifted to checking product. In the early 1960s he became a shop steward, then chief shop steward, and eventually president for about 10 years. As president Beauchamp fought the company for improvements in health and safety. His interview describes the unsafe conditions in the plant. Voted out from the presidency in 1982, Beauchamp was in a minority in opposing new owner Peter Pocklington’s call for wage and benefit concessions in 1984 and his speed-up of the work to kill more animals in a shorter period. During the Gainers strike of 1986, Beauchamp was one of two people charged with tracking where company products were taken and then organizing speakers and pickets across Canada to pressure companies to join the union’s boycott. After the strike, said Beauchamp, the atmosphere in the plant was terrible. He retired in 1994.
Keywords: Amalgamated Meat Cutters of America; Boycotts; Concession bargaining; Gainers Strike; Loading beef; Local union president; Pickets for a boycott; Shop steward; Swifts; United Packinghouse Workers.
Transcript: Download PDF