Toronto & York Region Labour Council
Union organizer, coalition builder, and fighter for equality, in 1966 Bill Howes became one of the leaders of a strike by Northern Electric office workers – the first successful strike at the company. Following that action, Howes joined the committee interviewing all the unions with a connection to the telecom industry. The commitment ultimately decided on the United Auto Workers, and Howes grew involved in organizing with the UAW. He was active in that local for several years before leaving in 1972 to work with the Canadian Labour Congress. He also organized the first chapter of the Association of Commercial and Technical Employees (ACTE).
Knowing his background in organizing telecom, the Communications Workers of Canada (CWC) asked that Bill be put on loan from the CLC for its organizing drive. The CWC eventually hired him, making him National Representative responsible for organizing in Ontario in 1974. Bill focused on a variety of organizing campaigns through his years with the CWC, primarily with office, technical and operator units across the nation. He also taught seminars on organizing.
In 1989, Howes took the position of Executive Assistant to the President of the Toronto and York Region Labour Council, becoming the labour link to social justice movements and forging social justice campaigns. Most notably, Howes was the Chief Marshal of the Metro Days of Action in 1996, a series of protests against the so-called “Common Sense Revolution” ushered in the Mike Harris’ Conservative government. The action culminated in a city-wide general strike across two days in October of that year.