Profile: Shane Dawson was special assistant to Doug O’Halloran, then president of UFCW at the time of this interview. Born in Newfoundland, Shane Dawson worked at National Sea Products before embarking on a lifelong career in the labour movement. He has worked for UFCW since 1987 and in 2021, was serving as Director of Organizing for UFCW in British Columbia.
Dawson was an organizer at Lakeside Packers in Brooks during the entire period from 1997 to 2004 when UFCW, Local 401 fought an uphill battle to unionize the workers. In his interview, Dawson describes how both the company and the white population of Brooks attempted to prevent unionization. He credits the non-white, mainly immigrant workers, with leading the charge to form the union and then win the strike that yielded a first contract. He itemizes improvements in the workers’ lives on and off the job which union efforts have helped to achieve. He also provides a strong defence of the idea that workers who are recruited for jobs in Canada should be allowed to become citizens rather than classified as temporary foreign workers and given no path to citizenship.
Keywords: African workers; Brooks; Citizenship for all new immigrants; Filipino workers; Lakeside Packers unionization drive; Lakeside Packers strike, 2005; UFCW organizing
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