Page 57 - From George MacEachern's Autobiography
ISSUE : Issue 45
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1987/6/1
rassing to him to tell me why I hadn't been al? lowed to work the day before, but I thought, and still think, I knew the answer. I could only con? nect the loss of a shift with my saying what I did at the meeting. The unemployed union was a shield for the unem? ployed. One of the best things it did was put a stop to eviction of unemployed workers. They did such a good job of that, that the authorities stopped trying evictions. If the sheriff would take stuff out, they'd take it back. They only had to do that a few times. I think it was a wonderful example, this business of stopping evictions. Then there were court cases. One I car> think of right now was in Magistrate Crofton's court where an unemployed man was arrested for stealing coal. The presence of the unemployed delegation there had something to do, if not with the decision of the magistrate, with the action of the prosecutor. This man that stole the coal was fined $10,00 and costs. The lawyer, George Morrison, told the magis? trate, "In heaven's name, where do you think the man is going to get the $10.00? I should think if he had $10.00, he wouldn't bother stealing coal. He stole it because he didn't have any money." The magistrate, after giving it careful consideration, told him it could be $5,00 and Morrison told him that $5.00 was as hard for the man to get as $10.00. He thought this was a terrible thing. He never expected that it was going to come to that. So it went down to $3.00 and the lawyer still ob? jected, so the magistrate settled for having the man pay the costs in court. There were things like this that made us feel at least that somebody was backing us. It was a pretty active organization as well, quite democratic, with lots of participation. We'd have good meetings. They were weekly meetings. There was a good crowd every week. Many, of course, did adjust--too well, I think--$3.00 a week and steal? ing your coal. There were others, and myself as well, would feel that we deserved better than this and even thought that nothing could be much worse and if we wanted to tear things apart, then tear them apart. An assessment of the unemployed union was that it was one hell of a good movement. I would have liked to have seen it attached more in many ways to the general movement of unemployed throughout the country. It was fairly isolated but even as it was, it served a very useful purpose. It was to be thankful that things weren't even worse than they were at the time. We felt we could handle our own affairs. There wasn't even talk of co-operation with the people in Glace Bay or North Sydney. I think probably Dan MacKay, Forman Waye and M. A. MacKenzie would have been the ones that started the unemployment movement. Forman was the most cap? able. He had a lot of things going for him. He could be a pretty good organizer; he had some ex? perience with it. He was a good speaker too. That was an active organization, you know. I tell you there were some active meetings and demonstrations we had at the City Hall that a whole book could be written about. The time the Red Cross left a lot of used clothes at the unemployed hall. I don't Kelly's View Restaurant Open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.: Home Cooking for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner Enjoy Family Dining Overlooking the Bras d'Or Lakes and Kelly's Mountain East of Boularderie Centre 1/4 mile from the Seal Island Bridge 674-2473 Your Hosts: Billie & Joe Smolenaars ' H. H. Marshall Limited 0. Box 9301, Station "A" 3731 MacKintosh Street Halifax, N. S. B3K 5N5 (902) 454-8381 Atlantic Canada's Largest Distributor of Books and Periodicals OUR EDUCATIONAL DIVISION FEATURES OVER 5,000 TITLES: Children's Books Paperbacks for High Schools, Elementary Schools & Colleges Branches in Sydney, N. S. (902) 539-3220 St. John's, Nfld. Charlottetown, P. E. I. gummer 'pestival Showcase Nova Scotia's fine performing talent will enter? tain in community halls, parks, and special sites throughout Nova Scotia - Summer 1987. Watch for Sjinmer Festival Showcase posters for times and places. Summer Festival Showcase is a project of the Nova Scotia Department of Cul? ture, Recreation and Fitness. For further information contact: Co-ordinator Sjinmer Festival Showcase Provincial Building Prince Street Sydney, N. S. BIP 5L1 Phone 539-3594 E>epartment of Culture, Recreation & Fitness Hon. Maxine Cochran, Minister
Cape Breton's Magazine