1946 Montreal Cottons strike

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The Montreal Cottons Company strike of 1946 was a hundred-day-long strike in which 3,000 mill workers from Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Quebec, fought for the right to obtain a collective agreement.[1] Mill workers in Valleyfield walked off the job on June 1, 1946, as part of a larger textile strike movement which included one of Dominion Textile's mills located within Montreal.[2] The strikes were organized by the Textile Workers Union of America (TWUA), an international union.[3] In Valleyfield, Kent Rowley and Madeleine Parent acted as representatives of the UTWA.[4]

1946 Montreal Cottons strike
Date1 June – 9 September 1946
GoalsUnion recognition, wage increases, shorter working hours
MethodsStrike, picket lines, rioting
Resulted inVictory for workers, improved wages and working conditions
Parties to the civil conflict
Quebec government
Lead figures
3,000 mill workers
250+ police
City centre of Salaberry-de-Valleyfield

By August 1, the strike had been settled in Montreal and workers had returned to work at the Dominion Textile mills after entering negotiations with the company.[5] In Valleyfield the situation was different, and only after a violent riot on August 13 would the company seriously enter negotiations with the workers.[6] After the riot, strikers returned to work September 9 and a collective agreement was signed November 26 between Montreal Cottons Ltd. (the parent of Montreal Cotton Co.) and union representatives.[7] Locally, the strike was important since it was the first time that workers at Montreal Cotton's Valleyfield mill obtained a collective contract.[8] The labour activism and the role of women in this strike challenge the historical narrative of a hegemonic conservative Quebec under the leadership of Maurice Duplessis.