The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.
The 1960s were a period of tension and turmoil in Sudbury, with huge changes in local labour organizations. It was also a period of massive urban renewal and municipal restructuring.
When the decade opened, the entire mining industry workforce was represented by one union — the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers. When the decade ended, the United Steelworkers Union had established itself as bargaining agent for Inco employees in Sudbury.
To mark its presence in the community, the union purchased the former Legion Hall at Frood Road and College Street. The building became the Steelworkers Hall.
It was also a time of increasing demand for nickel products throughout the world, helped in no small part by the war in Vietnam. Both of the community’s mining companies, Inco and Falconbridge, were expanding operations.
At its Creighton mine, Inco went down, deepening the facility to 2,180 feet. Inco also opened its Little Stobie, Totten, McLennan, Kirkwood, Coleman, Copper Cliff North and Copper Cliff South mines during the period.
By 1964, the company had also
opened the iron ore recovery plant at Copper Cliff and two years later a new mill was opened at Frood Stobie
And, as the decade closed, construction had started on a new nickel refinery with an estimated cost of $90 million.
But despite the international demand for nickel, the decade saw a drop in Sudbury’s share of the global market.
In 1950, the community’s share of nickel product was 90 per cent, but by 1968 that figure had dropped to 66 per cent.
In the early part of the decade, Don Gillis was president of Local 598 of the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers. He had won the post in 1959 in a contest with former president Mike Solski.
But the local and the national office were not on good terms and just as the new decade began, the national office had issued a charter for a new Local 1025 that would represent workers at Falconbridge.
Local 598 strongly opposed this and decided to withhold its per capita dues from the national office. The money was said to represent more than half the income of the national office.
Local 598 won the battle when the Ontario Labour Relations Board refused to certify the new local.
It was May 1960 when more than 70 per cent of workers at Falconbridge walked out in a wildcat strike over the compulsory wearing of safety glasses.
In 1961, the United Steelworkers began an aggressive campaign to become bargaining agent for all Sudbury area mine workers.
On Sept. 10, 1961, that aggression boiled over into a riot at the Sudbury Community Arena, where Steelworkers were holding a rally.
The dispute between the two unions was further aggravated when Inco announced it would not bargain with Local 598, saying it wasn’t clear who the legal bargaining agent for its employees was.
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