Union Cooperation

In 1916, Chinese labourers in the lumber industry organized themselves into a union known as the Chinese Labour Association and used strikes as a means to bargain for treatment similar to that of White workers. White labour, which led the anti-Chinese movement began to recognize the power of Chinese unions. Some White unions discussed Chinese membership and saw advantages to forming an alliance with Chinese labourers. In the 1920s, the Chinese Workers’ Protective Association, a left-wing organization, had some fraternal affiliations with the Communist Party of Canada. During the Depression of the 1930s, left-wing White labour expressed solidarity with the Chinese, seeing workers of all races as victims of the capitalist system. In March 1935, the Chinese Workers’ Protective Association and the Unemployed Workers Association held a joint meeting and called for equal treatment in the employment and welfare of Chinese workers. Established in 1932, the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (predecessor of today’s New Democratic Party), worked on a platform that included support for Oriental rights. During the late 1930s, a popular political slogan was,“A vote for the CCF is a vote to give the Chinaman and the Japanese the same voting rights as you have.”