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A structure of labour unions that brings together workers within the same area of craft or skill (typographical unions, carpenters, stoneworkers, iron molders, boilermakers, railway engineers, etc.). These unions, because their members possessed crucial knowledge and physical and conceptual skills, had considerable influence in the workplace and struggled to maintain control of their work process and standards of training and apprenticeship. They became uneasy about the rise of industrial unions which brought together all workers in a single industry regardless of their craft or level of skill. In this way they were somewhat elitist and perhaps cautious. Elizabeth Comack argues that Canadian industrialists, with the assistance of the federal government, exploited this tension within the union movement and used craft union fears of the threat of competition from Asian immigrants to transform concern about labour problems into a race issue. The government introduced legislation to control narcotics, which they linked to the Asian community and this encouraged suspicion of Asians from other workers thus splitting and weakening the union movement. It took many decades for some of the rifts within the union movement to be healed. See: SYNDICALISM / .

Last updated 2002--0-9-

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Athabaca University ICAAP

© Robert Drislane, Ph.D. and Gary Parkinson, Ph.D.
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*This social science dictionary has 1000
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