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> Issue 27 > Page 6 - From Conversations with Steelworkers: How Mike Oleschuk got his Farm

Page 6 - From Conversations with Steelworkers: How Mike Oleschuk got his Farm

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1980/12/1 (391 reads)

wait maybe an hour and a half--the boss would check you in--and sometimes not. And if you don't get a shift that day, you go home, no pay. No such thing as a guarantee that you have a shift. No sir. (And when you had the old brick out?) The bricklay? ers and helpers go in there and line the furnace again. And after 1935 I changed my number to the open hearth. There were slag pockets, and you have to take that slag out. Sometimes it was so hard, you're jigging and jigging with the air hammer and you only get a little piece. I go with the air hammer, and the other fellows shovel up into the boxes, and I go again with the air hammer. You've got to break it, and they shovel it into boxes and the train picks it up and takes it away. After that, I was mill? wright for awhile. And when I retired I was in the brick--lining the.ladles for the steel. I retired in 1970. I worked 39 years at the steel plant. And I was always active. In 1936 we went for a union. We made a start. We called a mass meeting and people were scared. Only 7 of us landed there in the C.C.F. hall in the Pier. But we finally got organized and got the legislation, and we got the check? off. ((See "The Coming of the Trade Union 'Act, 1937," in Issue 23 of Cape Breton's Magazine.)) And the union bargained from 10 hours to the 8-hour day. And I was active in 1948, I was involved. The Seamen's Union came out on strike, tied up the ore boat. And Corbett was pres? ident of 1064, called me up. I was on the grievance committee, represented all the workers there on the open hearth. We went to a meeting in Glace Bay.' Jenkins was there. He represented the miners. And we decided, what are we going to do with the Seamen's Union? And it was solid--miners and steelworkers would support them. And we discussed that we needed a place to put them up. We had a labour temple hall on Mount Pleasant Street, and Jenkins and Corbett asked me if I would give the la? bour temple hall for the Seamen's Union to stay. I can't give it because we had at that time 90 members, and the members own that hall. Next day I called the meeting of our members, Ukrainian Benefit Society. I explained what the struggle was, and our members, nearly every one, were for the union--it was a progressive organization, you know what I mean. The motion was a- greed, give the hall for the seamen to stay there, cook there, go on the picket line. And we supported them--oh, over three months. Miners supported them, they even came from New Waterford and Glace Bay for the picket line. And the steelworkers went and helped them there on the picket line. But then propaganda was started, that this Seamen's Union was a communist union, all kinds of stuff that put the bo? geyman to the people. And next Sunday priests and ministers said, if those peo? ple stay out and we don't have the ore, the plant would be closed down. And the trouble started. And local boys were in the Seamen's Union. The steelworkers had a mass meeting. One fellow stepped up and told all the steel? workers there that we've got to look after ourselves, it's a communist union--if the plant goes down, where will we go? There was a meeting, and some said, go out and beat them. Anyhow, they went down and broke up the Seamen's Union picket line. And at that time, even miners from Glace Bay and New Waterford were on the picket line. Chased them away. And that broke the Seamen's Union strike. CONTINUED Energy Efficient Reeves Homes MODEL HOME K-MART PLAZA WELTON ST. HEAD OFFICE AND PLANT POINT EDWARD MODEL HOME RESERVE ST. GLACE BAY 539-3468 564-5573 " 849-6524 Point Edward Industrial Park, P.O.Box 1414 Sydney, NS BIP 6K3 "COMPARE BEFORE YOU BUY" T W Curry Limited Funeral Chapels AMBULANCE SERVICE 24 HOURS A DAY • EVERYDAY Main Office and Downtown Chapel: 390 George Street 564-8196 Parkview Chapel: 755 George Street 539-3002 564-8196 ''?'"'539-3002 ''Sirector'' SUBARU 4-Wheel Drive HON-DA. CIVIC AUTHORIZED SALES AND SERVICE KEN YAZER MOTORS LIMITED SYDNEY 539*1500 NOVA SCOTIA Z' .-'.._ CampGill rU Lighthouse Cape Breton Shopping Plaza Sydney River, Nova Scotia The Shop with the Answer to all your Lighting Needs.
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