Profile: Steve Senio was the son of pre-WWI immigrants, and was raised in the Ukrainian settlement near Calmar, Alberta. Leaving his one-room school at age 15 after seventh grade to work at an Edmonton dairy and then as a farmworker, he lost three fingers in a farm accident. In 1938, he was hired by the Bridges Branch of the Alberta Department of Public Works to build steel bridges and ferries, receiving some of his pay in Social Credit scrip. He was injured and after receiving workers’ compensation, he enlisted in the Canadian Army, which sent him overseas to serve as an ordnance clerk until D-Day. After the war, Senio worked at the Experimental Farm in Agassiz, B.C. before returning to Edmonton to work at Dominion Bridge, where issues arose between the ironworkers and the Carpenters’ Union. He organized Local 720 of the Ironworkers Union in 1949, and as its business manager was able to negotiate pension and welfare benefits for ironworkers during the 1950s oil boom. He discusses the merger of the two rival labour congresses to form the Canadian Labour Congress, as well as his political work in the Edmonton Voters’ Association and the NDP.
Keywords: Bridge builders; Canadian Army; Edmonton Voters’ Association; Farmworkers; Ironworkers’ Union Local 720; NDP; Pension plans; Social Credit scrip; Ukrainian immigrants; Workers’ compensation.
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