Profile: Mikhail Bjorge is a university professor in Labour Studies and History who has taught at various Canadian universities. He holds a PhD from Queen’s University. Before pursuing graduate studies, he worked as a postal worker in Edmonton and was active in the Canadian Union of Postal Workers. Born in Grande Prairie, Bjorge grew up in northern Alberta and Red Deer.
Bjorge’s interview focuses principally on labour radicalism in Alberta that led to general strikes of miners and then unionists in general in Edmonton and Calgary in 1919. He discusses the local, national, and international contexts of the great labour revolt in 1919, which he views as an uprising against the industrial capitalist system. With an emphasis on the Edmonton general strike, Bjorge explains why the strike was at once spirited and yet far less inclusive than the Winnipeg General Strike. Also, in the interview, Bjorge provides a brief history of postal workers’ radicalism and the hostility that that has provoked from Canadian governments and the corporate sector over time. He analyzes the 1918 general strike of postal workers, and the postal workers’ illegal strikes in the 1960s that forced the federal government to recognize public service unions and their right to strike. He also comments on CUPW today and on the shape of workers’ struggles in our times.
Keywords: Coal miners’ general strike, 1919; Edmonton General Strike, 1919; One Big Union; PC 1003 (1944);Postal general strike of 1918; Postal strikes of 1960s and beyond; Winnipeg General Strike; 1919 as international revolt.
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