The embodiment of steadfast perseverance
The late 19th century was a time of rapid unionization in North America. Craft unions were amongst the most effective organizers and the Amalgamated Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association (ASMWIA) was no exception. On November 14, 1896, a small group of sheet metal workers gathered together in downtown Toronto to discuss forming a local union of the ASMWIA, and just over a week later Local 30 was born. It was the beginning of a local union that prides itself on dedicated service to its membership.
Local 30’s founders were intent on making the local union’s presence felt. In 1898, Local 30 affiliated with the Toronto Trades and Labour Council and before the turn of the century the local union had already thrust itself headlong into political reform and community activism. But Local 30 never lost sight of its primary goal in its early years: the tireless promotion of its members’ interests on the job site and in its shops.
As the City of Toronto grew in the first quarter of the 20th century, Local 30 grew along with it. But the optimism of this period was dealt a severe blow by the stock market crash of 1929 and the ensuing depression. Local 30 was forced to make some difficult decisions. Although 1930 saw the introduction of Local 30’s first formal apprenticeship programs and a new system for dispatching members to work, the financial difficulties caused by the depression meant that Local 30 had to temporarily forego paying its per capita to Labour Council in 1931 and furlough its business representatives for a 6-month period in 1934. At the same time, the economic turmoil of the 1930s also fostered Local 30’s concern for its most vulnerable members, as the local union granted direct financial assistance via unemployment fund payments and dues credits.
As Local 30 emerged from the economic crisis of the 1930s, it sought to reassert itself in its relations with employers. Successive collective agreements through the 1940s and 1950s saw wages and working conditions steadily improve. Local 30’s growing confidence was reflected in its desire to organize roofers in the ICI sector, which was accomplished in 1952. Throughout the ensuing decades Local 30 has remained true to its commitment to improve the working lives of its members one step at a time. In our 125th year, the success of the local union has not been measured in grand gestures and flashy accomplishments, but rather in steadfast perseverance and the steady accumulation of small victories.